Half of America seems to be lining up for some sort of singing competition and it’s not even the season for “American Idol.”
After two episodes and three hours this week of “The Voice,” Simon Cowell’s “X Factor” met it face to face Wednesday and immediately showed itself to be more entertaining.
All of these shows have outgrown their formats, but the revolving seat concept may need some oiling. The sheer focus on the judges over contestants continues, their fake arguments on whose team a singer should go to becoming more rote. The shock with the early episodes is the news that each of the four “Voice” judges will have 16 contestants (!). The most anybody has after four hours and three nights is the seven on Christina Aguilera’s team. But this will go on for weeks – Cee Lo Green only has three on his team (13 to go!).
Each singer has to have a big dramatic story, and family members there and a moment to themselves before they go out to sing. It’s such a rut. But that’s how Mark Burnett constructs his reality shows – to make them easier to edit, they’re all cut to a format. How I wish for a singer who comes up with no backstory, no biography but a name and just sings.
It’s not so different on “X Factor,” though the chairs don’t move. Their auditions are also conducted before crowds, in their case huge arenas. And the focus is ever more on the judges this year due to the addition of Britney Spears and Demi Lovato.
Britney is introduced as the biggest pop star in the world, but when’s the last time she had a Top 10 single? Two years ago.
Through editing, she was made to look like the meanest, most frank judge, but her criticisms and saying no comes out of context. Were they for acts that everybody else criticized too? The mark of an independent judge is holding an opinion that might be different than others.’
As on “Idol” last season, just about every decision was unanimous, whether they were overpraising a singer or dismissing one (the mixed vote was for a soul singer in pink lipstick and a wedding dress, whom Simon called the result if Madonna, Bobby Brown and Dracula had a baby – the fourth judge L.A. Reid didn’t go for his version of Lady Gaga).
Oh, there were tears and manipulations. Someone had been bullied in school just like Demi. She gave her a hug. Simon looked like he was crying a little. Nobody was very harsh on the performance.
They breezed through these cities – Austin, San Francisco, Providence. One imagines they’ll come up with an unweildly number of people for their boot camp in Miami as well. But, as with “The Voice,” it won’t happen any time soon.