Friday, September 23, 2011

Do we care? X-Factor joins American Idol vs The Voice...and so it goes

The fall TV line up is just beginning and already the comparison commentary has begun. This week "X-Factor", the singing competition highly promoted by Simon Cowell with good reason - it's his baby - made its debut. The American version of the successful Brit show that instroduced the world to Susan Boyle, boasted a live audience that reacted to the various singers.

As one of the original judges on American Idol since it first began in 2002, he announced his departure in 2010 to create the U.S. version of  "X-Factor." As one of the AI judges and along with Paula Abdul, the two threw verbal jabs at each other and in the end, Abdul ended up joining Cowell on his new project. Nothing like on view hostility, feigned or real, to get tongues wagging and viewers attention.

Have to admit that given all the pre-show attention and TV promos, I joined all the other viewers to see if the new addition justified a weekly committment to another talent show. Basically, that's what it all comes down to: the oldie-but-always-relevant talent parade. Years ago in the days of early TV when color TV was still in the dream stage, Ted Mack hosted "Ted Mack's Amateur Hour", the embryo of today's musical reality shows. It lacked the polish and finish of today's versions but the hopefuls did their thing hoping for stardom. The gimmick was that Mack spun a wheel with the names of the talent lineup to determine their order of appearance. Later the show was joined by the very weirdish, "The Gong Show." Obviously, TV viewers enjoy the idea of watching amateur talent put themselves at the mercy of judges critiques and the at-home voting machine.

As the French say, the more things change, the more they're the same and it will be interesting to see if X-Factor lives up to its hype. If initial ratings are an indication, American Idol has the numbers but it's still the early stages. To its credit, X-Factor doesn't have an age barrier, which is the reason the world is better for having Susan Boyle. In as far as originality is concerned, the show is basically same-old, same-old, IMHO, but some real talent was introduced.

At least the plethora of shows is giving singers, both good and bad, accross the country the opportunity to be heard. Let's be honest: it's an entertaining aspect of the programs. Always interesting to see how off-key some of the contestants can be. At least I restrict my singing to the shower.

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