If you’ve read any of the tabloids recently, you’ll be under no doubt whatsoever that, The X Factor is in crisis, with hundreds of thousands of viewers abandoning it each week. Indeed, last Saturday’s The X Factor was 2.2 million viewers down on last year’s corresponding episode, but it still pulled in 11.5 million viewers at its peak, with an average of 9.77 million viewers. These figures are still bigger than those of its biggest rival Strictly Come Dancing, which pulled in 11 million viewers at its peak and had an average of 9.45 million viewers. Despite the lower ratings, this year’s Strictly has been seen as a huge success for the BBC, which surely doesn’t make sense. They are still the two biggest shows on a Saturday night, and nowadays, getting 11 million viewers is a huge success, and something that most shows would strive to achieve. Take Big Brother for example, a show that is surely in a ratings crisis, with its ratings dipping to below 1 million viewers for the first time in its history.
What is the reason behind this ratings dip? Is it the new judges? Is it the lack of Simon Cowell? Are the contestants weaker this year? Or perhaps, maybe the show is just too predictable nowadays?
Personally, I don’t miss the old judges at all. I felt that the old judging panel of Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Dannii Minogue and Louis Walsh had become old. I felt that Simon and Cheryl versus the world had become a bit old and predictable, and whilst Dannii gave the best feedback in my opinion, her song choices for her acts were always a little questionable, whilst Louis was nothing more than a joke. I saw in American Idol how a new panel can completely rejuvenate a show, and I hoped that this new X Factor panel would too.
The 3 new judges were a breath of fresh air. In the auditions, it was like watching a completely new, fresh, exciting show. Even Louis seemed to be a half-decent judge (even if he was still completely biased to anyone from Ireland). It was nice to have 3 judges who were credible music artists, and understood how the industry worked from an artist’s point of view. Kelly Rowland had added a touch of class to the show, a hugely successful international artist, even if she was prone to crying whenever there was a vaguely emotional performance. Tulisa’s freshness was welcome, and Gary stepped into the head judge role seamlessly.
However, since the live shows have started, the positivity changed. Gary is no Simon, Kelly isn’t ‘putting it down’, whilst Tulisa has been criticised for her song choices, and alongside Louis has been slated for how she treated Misha on last Saturday’s show. For me, Tulisa and Louis shouldn’t have brought up what happens backstage, as it isn’t relevant to the performance, which is what they are meant to be judging. Louis has reverted to his old ways, and Gary summed him up when he said Louis ‘takes bad acts and makes them worse.’
For me, the current problem with The X Factor is not the judges, it is just the format itself. The big twist was predictable, and the bickering seems rather scripted, even if it is obvious Kelly and Tulisa do actually hate each other. It needs to go back to its routes, and make it a singing contest, rather than just an entertainment show which at times is almost a parody of itself. Frankie Cocozza is not a rock star, no matter what the producers try to tell us. Misha B, however, is already an artist, and is one of the most exciting talents we’ve seen on The X Factor in recent years, and alongside Janet Devlin and The Risk could have a reasonable career after The X Factor.
What I hope, is that as BBC launches The Voice in 2012, The X Factor will up its game, and we’ll have two quality singing talent shows to look forward to, because undoubtedly, Saturday nights without The X Factor aren’t quite the same.