The American version of "X Factor" is the latest reality TV competition show to get attention. But as the contestants compete for a huge record contract, they have to put up with some questionable behavior from the judges, who double as mentors. While it might admittedly be sour grapes -- I haven't received singing accolades since I was in my hometown church choir -- here are some reasons I am thankful I'm not an "X Factor" contestant.
Weird Costume Choices
The four judges are competing against each other, each mentoring a group of contestants: Simon Cowell has the girls, L.A. Reid the boys, Nicole Scherzinger the over-30 contestants, and Paula Abdul the groups. The judges/mentors make all decisions about song choice, costumes, and performance.
While they're trying for impact, the judges sometimes produce some real sartorial turkeys. That includes Simon making Rachel Crow look like a red-and-black striped Muppet in an acid-washed denim jacket with fringed sleeves.
An even worse look was inflicted by Nicole upon Stacy Francis, who wore a shiny red vinyl dress with an unflattering pleat that ballooned around her waist. When paired with a limp hair style that accentuated her large forehead, she looked like a character from a bad 70s SF movie.
And don't forget the producer-invented group Lakoda Rayne, dressed by Paula to attend a junior prom.
Questionable Song Choices
To be fair, sometimes the contestants make their own song selections, so when Stacy chose an overworked rendition of a Celine Dion song on Rock Week, complete with a wind machine set to "hurricane," she had only herself to blame. But the same week, Simon made 13-year-old Rachel sing the Rolling Stones song "I Can't Get No Satisfaction," known for mature lyrics; and directed Drew to sing the U-2 song "With or Without You" like a dirge.
Not all choices are obviously bad. Since the beginning, Nicole has saddled LeRoy Bell with tepid songs, such as "I'm Already There" by Lonestar. While you could argue these safe ballads give him a chance to show off his vocals, they fail to stand out while contestants like Marcus Canty, on the same show, are performing in glittery jackets with smoke, spinning lights, and back-up vocalists.
Being Upstaged by the Judges
After the contestants do their best, the spotlight moves back to the judges, who seem to believe the show is all about them. This week, Nicole wouldn't wait that long to steal attention, "rawking out" to Josh Krajcik's performance of the Foo Fighters song "The Pretender."
During their commentary, time and again, the judges turn the conversation to themselves. While admittedly, the judges on "The Voice" were far too nice during the live shows, providing little useful feedback, the "X Factor" judges go too far the other way: sniping at each other relentlessly.
During Rock Week, the judges spent most of their time arguing over whether the songs selected were truly rock songs, including a protracted argument over whether reggae Bob Marley counted as a rock artist.
No one suffered more that week than Stacy, who had to endure a heated exchange between Simon and Nicole, arguing over her performance (Simon called it "cabaret," while Nicole insisted it was "glam rock"). It's hard enough to have an off week, but then to be caught in the middle of a snipe-fest must be terribly awkward. There's no mystery why Stacy looked like she wanted to disappear. It's rough when Mommy and Daddy are fighting.