‘The X Factor’ Is Back, And Not All That Better Than Before

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The US version of ‘The X Factor’ returned to FOX on Wednesday with little fanfare. I was surprised to learn that it would be debuting so early in the Fall season, perhaps this was the networks way of competing with NBC‘s ‘The Voice.’ The premiere featured more of the same. Over produced shots of the crowds, Simon Cowell and Demi Lovato trading unfunny barbs. Why is this show so bad, and why do I keep watching?!

My biggest issue with the show is that it is unnecessarily fake. Take a moment during Thursday night’s airing when a smarmy singer by the name of Jorge Pena whose day job is running an ice cream truck, tells a girl that he is a contestant on the show. She replies with a lazy “cool” and I wondered if they couldn’t have gotten someone who could have said “cool” a bit more convincingly. Jorge goes on to annoy Demi by calling her “woman” and just being an all out jerk. I’m sure that part was real, but for some reason he makes it through. There was another cavalcade of goobers lacking self awareness, one of whom got Simon to “sing,” if that’s what you can call it. Though X Factor is only in it’s third season, I feel like we should have moved past the “look at this awful person be awful” part of these things.

There were a couple of highlights to kick off the new season. 13-year old Rion Paige wowed the judges with her rendition of Carrie Underwood‘s “Blown Away,” a very hard song to sing. Rion was born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita, a condition that caused her joints to curve at her hands. Even with her disability, she never let that stop her from pursuing her love of singing. She had such a bubbly personality, so I hope she does well in the competition.

The duo of Alex & Sierra had “YouTube sensation” written all over them, and I wouldn’t be surprised if hokey version of Britney Spear‘s “Toxic” they did wasn’t done by someone else first. (Melanie Martinez from The Voice, anyone??) 

Alex & Sierra got four yeses anyways, as did Lillie McCloud who did NOT look like a 54 year-old mother of three with seven grandkids. She was dressed like Foxy Brown, but sang “Alabaster Box” by Cece Winans. She has competition from Denise Weeks, 41, a subway singer who had a little trouble with “The Greatest Love of All.” Chalk it up to nerves. Whoever gets the Adults this year, I hope they treat Lillie and Denise well.

The show does benefit slightly from having dropped one host, the awkward Khloe Kardashian, and gained two new judges. Kelly Rowland is cute and there are times when I can’t tell Demi from Paulina Rubio, but they are a huge improvement from L.A. Reid‘s shiny lips and Britney Spears‘ inability to emote. I don’t have high hopes for this new season, but I’m a glutton for punishment, and X Factor is like bad food you got for free. It’s not good, but you eat it anyways.

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