‘The X Factor’: Does One Direction’s success signal hope for U.S. stars?

Britain has plenty of hitmakers.

At times over the past few months, we’ve been a little bit cynical when it comes to the ability of “X Factor” stars here in America to have much of a career after the show. After all, the show routinely brought in a good eight million fewer viewers than “American Idol” did back in season 10 — and of that crop, only Scotty McCreery has managed to have a career that has received any sort of genuine “star” level. (Granted, Haley Reinhart, Pia Toscano, Stefano Langone, and Casey Abrams all have upcoming albums.) Outside of Scotty, you have to go back to Adam Lambert to find someone who has legitimately become a big name in the music world.

So with so many fewer people tuning in, how will Melanie Amaro or Chris Rene become a star? While some may think that Simon Cowell has failed to find many stars in the past year or so, the success of One Direction proves otherwise. The British boy band — who came in third place during the 2010 season — is poised to hit #1 with their debut album “Up All Night” here in the United States. This is coming after a whirlwind publicity tour, strong marketing, and fans that have picked up steam ever since their time on the reality show ended. Typically, products of singing competitions end up losing fans over time, but One Direction has bucked the trend.

What Cowell may have lacked this fall in making a creative singing competition in the American “X Factor,” he makes up for in producing after the fact. While “Idol” now has Jimmy Iovine and the Interscope team, “Idol” has both Cowell and L.A. Reid — along with the connections that they come with. They also seem more interested in showcasing their artists’ versatility then “Idol,” as outside of Drew Ryniewicz we saw all of the artists take on dance music, rock, and of course the same sort of ballads we traditionally see here.

So while you may not necessarily think that “The X Factor” was much of a hit compared to “Idol,” Cowell is proving that he can even make contestants on international versions of his show stars in the United States. While there are no acts in Amaro, Rene, or even young rapper Astro that are going to produce the same sort of fervent fanbase as One Direction’s, they do have a far better chance than the contestants on a similarly-rated production in “The Voice,” which has yet to set up much of a plan for its artists after the show.

Do you think it is still possible for American reality show contestants to have successful careers, or are we just looking at a market that’s too saturated now. Also, do you attribute the success of One Direction more to their reality TV past, or their status as teenage heartthrobs?

Photo: Fox

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