Simon Cowell is trying so hard, too hard. He seems to be playing a caricature of himself and, doubtless aware of how Mr. Curmudgeon Cowell is the guy who viewers once loved to hate, he forever channels that persona. Consequently Cowell now lacks spontaneity and he's become as compelling and predictable as a mathematics teacher.
"You know how those boy bands always had the one singer who almost never sang?" he asked a male contestant he'd stopped in mid-song. "You're like that singer and the reason he never sang is because he can't sing and neither can you." It wasn't funny and wasn't true given every singer in boy bands do actually sing and given that the contestant
he was trashing wasn't all that bad.
The other judges? Brittney Spears said "yes" a lot, meaning that she was voting to pass a singer on to the next stage, and "no" a lot, meaning she wanted to eliminate them from the competition, and that was mostly it. She was more talkative than Demi Lovato, however, who mostly passed on her votes by a head nod. L.A. Reid at least sounds intelligent and as if he has musical knowledge, but Reid, too, lacks a compelling personality.
American Idol vs. U.S. The X-Factor
American Idol creates almost a sense of family, watching the first steps of the performers from audition to arrival in Hollywood, through surviving stages week by week. That feeling isn't there under the X-Factor format - breaking the performers into age categories doesn't help - and it cannot draw you in as deeply as American Idol.
Last season watching the contestants
fight it out for the $5 million recording contract (won by Melanie Amara) wasn't a habit enough North Americans took to. The 2011 debut was in the 12.5 million range of viewers and it fell off dramatically from there. This 2012 season debut though showed how Simon Cowell's brand is slipping, hitting just 8.5 million to start the year.
If those numbers fall off as dramatically as they did in 2011 then, for the X-Factor in America, there may be no 2013 and I, for one, won't bother to miss it.