18th October 2011

I’m in a light mood this month, partly because I love autumn and partly because I’m finally getting enough vitamin D. As I’m both American and British, I thought I’d compare and contrast this year’s bi-continental X-Factors. I’ve made it a point to catch both (purely as research for this blog obviously…ahem…)
Anyhoo, let us begin with THE JUDGES.

US: Okay, so maybe it’s because Simon has been doing this for sooooo long, or because his catch phrases are just well, not very catchy (‘what I love about you is….’), or perhaps he’s had a bit too much botox, but this year I’m finding him a bit tired. As for Nicole, I think she might be a new hyper realistic robot from Japan, or perhaps a mannequin come to life, either way, she b-o-r-i-n-g. As soon as she speaks, i want to stab myself with a folk. No explanation is offered for Cheryl’s exit, and everyone on the panel kind of ignores her in a mean girls sort of way. I find myself feeling quite sorry for her in the end. Paula is her usual, ‘I’m quirky me, with a capitol Q!’ self, while LA Reid is fine, professional, but sort of forgettable. If only he had Randy’s verve, to this day, I find myself saying ‘it’s bad dog…pitchy in places’ when I don’t like something.
FINAL SCORE out of 10: 4

UK: Well, well, well. What a difference a year makes. The UK judges win this one hands down. Now that Gary is no longer competing with Robby for attention and has (finally) settled into his own skin, he is perfect as a judge. Despite his s-l-o-w, monosylabic lilt, he is, in a word: awesome. Some people just get better with age and he’s one of them. You get the sense he actually understands something about music, and whether you like his stuff or not, he is an expert song writer and an experienced performer. Similarly Kelly, she is warm, down to earth, professional, and again, expert. It’s nice to see people who actually know what they’re talking about in an advisory role. Tulisa is holding her own admirably well, she’s no PhD, but she’s bright, confident, caring and, well, what’s not to like? Louis is his usual infantile self wrapped up in a 50 year old’s body, but all in all, the panel really gels for me. Plus, despite the media’s best efforts to say otherwise, they seem to respect each other and get on well.
FINAL SCORE: 9 out of 10!

Usually, this is where the US shines. It is, at the end of the day, a massive place and hugely competitive, so the level of talent is always high. The UK often seems like the uglier, younger sister in this rivalry, but this year, I think it has finally edged ahead. Misha B alone has the skill and professionalism one would expect from a US contestant, but with a huge dollop of English edge and quirk. There are also other voices that are interesting as well as technically strong. So: FINAL SCORES: US 7 out of 10 UK 8 out of 10

As for the rest, it’s familiar and similar in equal measures, although the US does seem to like its silly, set ups. Ghosts in the arena? Pah-lease! The styling on the UK show is slightly edgier. Song choices in both are similarly anodyne. The US show’s production is expectantly slick, while UK choreographer Beth delivers a slightly more innovative array of numbers (although perhaps I’m biased here, since my assistant Nikki is assisting her). In the end, it’s a tie, with each scoring 5.

So, my decision is….the act that has received the lowest score is…the act I will be sending home tonight is:



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