Resident X Factor expert Josh Ridgway will be blogging about the US version of The X Factor on FOX this season.  You can also follow Josh on Twitter: @JoshFactor.

Wednesday night is finally the premiere of The X Factor on Fox. You may have seen several promos for the show over the last few months, and if you haven’t, you have clicked on the right link to learn more about The X Factor and why you should be watching it. In fact, you will be getting X (ten in Roman Numerals) reasons as to why you need to watch The X Factor and stick with it.

I.              NEW REALITY COMPETITION SHOW

It seems like it has been awhile since America got a viable reality competition series on the air. Sure, there’s The Voice and The Sing-Off, but nothing has quite reached the massive success of American Idol or Dancing with the Stars.

Quite frankly, it’s about time for a new show to garner the attention of the public and draw you in. Let’s face it, a lot of the other options are getting a little tired (with the exception of a certain show hosted by Heidi Klum).  There are only so many races you can go on before they start to become a little less amazing. There are only so many D-list celebrities you can stand to watch dance before the choices start to become a little less interesting.  And how many American Idol contestants register on your list of singers to follow? I can only think of five that I still remotely care about: Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Kellie Pickler, Jennifer Hudson, and sometimes Daughtry.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with any of these shows. A certain show where stars dance for a shiny mirrorball trophy is still one of my guilty pleasures, but it’s time for something new. That’s where The X Factor comes in. The show has proven a HUGE success in The United Kingdom, where it’s frequently the number one television show from week to week, sometimes raking in nearly 50 percent of the viewing audience. That’s almost unheard of in a time where we have DVRs, 200 channels to choose from, and Netflix to watch anything we want at anytime.

However, if The X Factor is even half as successful in America as it is in The United Kingdom, it’s something you will want to watch. Without a doubt.

II.            JUDGES YOU KNOW

One of the biggest reasons The X Factor is such a hit in The United Kingdom is the judging panel. Over seven seasons, judges have consisted of Simon Cowell, Sharon Osbourne, Dannii Minogue (Kylie Minogue’s sister), Cheryl Cole (we will discuss later), and others you probably don’t know. The chemistry, and sometimes lack thereof, between the judges is one of the elements that makes The X Factor what it is.

The judges each take a category of contestants.  They then mold and work with their chosen ones and end up competing against one another with the hopes that his or her contestant(s) will ultimately win the show.

In an effort to rope you in with judge chemistry, The X Factor features two you already know very well from their time together on American Idol: Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul. Don’t deny you aren’t excited to see these two reunited. I think it’s going to be oh, so good. Let’s hope Paula pulls the crazy train back in the station for The X Factor, just as she did for American Idol. And let’s hope the flirting and sometimes tension is still there, too. Based on promos I’ve seen, it certainly is.

When it comes to Simon, I doubt he’s going to be a gentler version of the man we’ve all come to know and love. He tells it like it is, which is something The X Factor will definitely need. A voice of reason to balance out the positive reinforcement likely to be provided by Paula. Paula + Simon = television magic.  That’s an equation to live by.

III.           JUDGES YOU KIND OF KNOW

There are four categories on The X Factor (boys, girls, groups, and over 30s), so it makes sense to have four judges.  In addition to Simon and Paula, we have two others who will try to make the highlight reel, which will be tough, as Simon and Paula are sitting together at the end of the judging table. 

The first judge, other than Simon Cowell, to be announced was L.A. Reid.  While L.A. suspiciously seems like a Randy Jackson look-a-like with their similar glasses, the two are very different.  Randy is better known as a musician, while L.A. is an extremely successful record executive.  He was the one who helped give Usher his first break and has also worked to enhance the careers of Toni Braxton, Rihanna, and Justin Bieber, just to name a few.   Certainly you’ve heard a few songs by each of those artists, which makes you know L.A. knows his stuff.  I don’t know much about his personality, so it will be interesting to see how he works on the judges’ table. 

The fourth judge is Nicole Scherzinger.  You might know Nicole as the former lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls.  In fact, she’s probably the only Pussycat Doll you know the name of.  Nicole can tear it up vocally with the best of them and has prior judging experience on NBC’s The Sing Off.  I’m kind of excited to see Nicole on such a huge stage, mainly because I love her, but also because she says some…interesting things when she’s judging.  You’ll see.  Her metaphors might rival Paula Abdul as the most interesting judging moments on The X Factor. 

 

IV.           JUDGES’ BOOTCAMPS

One of the most intense parts of The X Factor, leading up to the live shows, is the Judges’ Bootcamp segment, where the judges select their final contestants.  Each time, the judges go to some fancy location with a guest to help them pick their finalists.  On The United Kingdom version of the show, these guests have included Nicole Scherzinger (it’s almost like she’s been groomed by Simon for this judging role), former Spice Girl Emma Bunton, Natalie Imbruglia, Kylie Minogue, will.I.am and several others.  If rumors are true, Mariah Carey is slated to join Simon Cowell at his Judges’ Bootcamp.  This would be a dream come true for me.  Mariah and Paula on the same show.  It might be an overload of ridiculousness.  Which I would LOVE.  It would be one of the things blogs and Saturday Night Live sketches are made of.

V.            PERFORMANCE NIGHT

The biggest difference between American Idol and The X Factor is performance night.  This night will air on Wednesdays, once the live shows get going.  If you’ve watched American Idol, you know it’s typically the singer with a band and backing vocalists.  In The X Factor, it’s the whole shebang.  There’s choreography, costuming, dancers, bands, props, et cetera.  Each night is truly filled with performances to show off why each contestant either has the X Factor or doesn’t.  There’s no denying a well-rounded live performance makes or breaks the song.  True, sometimes all you need is a microphone and a spotlight.  However, other times, you really need some pyrotechnics.  You know, just to heat things up. 

VI.           RESULTS SHOWS

Here’s another instance of The X Factor being different from American Idol.  While you will get to vote on who you like best on The X Factor, the judges ultimately get to decide who stays and who goes on the first few weeks of competition.  The two acts with the fewest votes typically have a sing-off each week.  Then the judges decide who goes home.  If the judges have a deadlock, then it goes to the viewers’ votes to give someone the boot.  I think this definitely helps in building viewer support for contestants from week to week. 

If this would have been the case on American Idol, we wouldn’t have had disasters like Pia Toscano, Jennifer Hudson or Chris Daughtry getting voted off before it was time.  While it’s great viewers get the right to vote, sometimes the viewers don’t get it right.  Results shows also feature incredible performances from today’s top pop stars and former X Factor contestants.  On The United Kingdom’s version, these performances have shown off just why today’s top acts have the X Factor.  Katy Perry performed “Firework” and sounded better live than ever, and Kylie Minogue recovered from a near fall during her performance.  The results show is live!  You never know what you’re going to get.

Kylie Minogue’s X Factor UK performance (she nearly falls around the 2:34 mark)

VII.         DRAMA

When you get a diverse group of people together, there’s bound to be some drama.  Therefore, I expect some huge fights among the competitors on the show.  Maybe that’s just wishful thinking, but I think we all watch reality shows in the hopes of seeing a few cat fights here and there. 

If you’ve been following The X Factor, you know there’s already been quite a lot of drama with the judges.  Originally, Nicole Scherzinger was slated to be the show’s co-host with Steve Jones, who happens to be British.  Cheryl Cole, who also happens to be British, was originally the fourth judge.  However, it was determined after the first two auditions that Cheryl’s accent was too hard to understand.  Hmm.  And Steve Jones accent isn’t?  Am I bitter?  It’s hard to say.  I love Nicole.  I love Cheryl.  But I think Cheryl got the raw end of the deal.  She is a malaria survivor, after all.  But Cheryl went back home to The United Kingdom, where she’s a national sweetheart, so she‘ll be okay.  Perhaps it was all just a publicity stunt to get people interested in the show.  Either way, Cheryl was not treated the right way.  Am I bitter about this?  Maybe.  It’s hard to say.  I’ve only been holding a minor grudge about it for several months.

VIII.        THE WINNER

You know you want to watch The X Factor just to see who the winner is.  Especially since the winner will be crowned just before Christmas.  You’ll want to be in on the conversation while everyone opens their stockings.  Otherwise, you’ll be relegated to the corner with the fruitcake, all because you failed to watch The X Factor finale.  See.  You have to watch now.  Don’t watch?  Fruitcake.  Do watch?  Amazing Christmas.  Seems like the decision is simple enough for me. 

Anyway, some of the world’s top pop stars have come from The X Factor.  Leona Lewis is the most notable for Americans, as she has had a #1 single on the U.S. charts (“Bleeding Love”) and has sold millions of albums across the globe.  Other notable winners, who you’ll hopefully hear from soon, include Alexandra Burke and Matt Cardle.  So don’t miss out on who could potentially be the next Leona Lewis.

IX.           WATER COOLER CONVERSATION

The X Factor is going to be the biggest show of the fall television season.  That’s almost a given.  It’s going to top Dancing with the Stars in the ratings.  This is my prediction.  So if my Magic 8 Ball is telling me the truth, you’ll need to pay close attention so you can participate in all the conversation around the water cooler on Thursdays and Fridays.  This is assuming your place of business still has a water cooler.  If not, wherever you congregate is fine to discuss The X Factor.  You definitely don’t want to be the lump on the log when it comes to your co-workers.  So if you aren’t going to watch The X Factor, read The Josh Factor (available right here on fox4kc.com [how’s that for a shameless plug?]) so you can act like you know what’s going on.  It’s the least you can do to appease your co-workers and lessen the likelihood of you being uninvited to the company Christmas party.

X.            THE JOSH FACTOR

The tenth and final reason you should be watching The X Factor: so you know what I’m talking about on The Josh Factor.  This blog is strictly my opinion with a little bit of my wealth of entertainment knowledge sprinkled in for good measure.  Hopefully it will elicit emotion and response from each of you, and I invite you to share your opinion, too.  I’ll be blogging several times weekly to tell you everything you need to know.  So join me over the next three months as we follow The X Factor from around 70,000 entrants to the final one. 

 

Don’t forget, you can watch The X Factor every Wednesday and Thursday at 8ET/7CT, only on Fox.