We’re going in-depth all weekend long about season 2 of “The X Factor” USA, and after getting into some details about the various successes and failures of both the judging panel and the hosts yesterday, we are now placing our focus on something that really makes or breaks any singing competition: the singers. You can still watch a show with bad production values if you care about a contestant; but otherwise, you are up a creek without a paddle.
Let’s start out by saying that the primary issue for “The X Factor” was not necessarily last singers standing when it comes to their pure talent level; instead, it’s just how marketable some of them may be following the show in order to make this program relevant.
The top 4
While we would have liked to see Tate Stevens take a few more creative risks on his path to victory, he is someone that could fare pretty well in the country community with the right amount of support behind him. The only problem he may have is that while there is technically not a Garth Brooks sort of singer in that community right now, we don’t know how much more room this very-crowded genre has a whole.
Carly Rose Sonenclar is the same way when it comes to having a great deal of vocal talent, but why in the world did she sing strictly ballads for almost her entire time on the show? Her one fast performance, a take on “Good Feeling,” was marred by Britney Spears deciding that everyone needs their own schoolgirl outfit moment.
Finally, we turn to Simon Cowell’s two groups, which in our mind have the best ability to actually become superstars in the pop world out of anyone: Emblem3 and Fifth Harmony. We know that all season long the music mogul wanted to make Emblem3 the American One Direction, but in the problem he forgot something that is extremely important: who these guys really are. They are actually much more like Hot Chelle Rae than any boy band currently out there, and we’re not sure that came through on the show. Fifth Harmony is a little bit different in that their identity was formed on the show, and Simon can mold them better moving forward into what he wants them to be. Plus (save for Little Mix in the UK), there are not too many girl groups currently out there in the market.
This is where some of the problems come into play here, as the top 4 seemed pretty obvious early on thanks to a pretty weak crop of singers early on. Vino Alan and Arin Ray suffered from a lack of personality, Jason Brock was a nice guy but cannon fodder, and Paige Thomas only showed the real vocal chops she needed once. Two of the better acts, Lyric 145 and Beatrice Miller, were sandbagged either due to bad mentor or producer intervention. Diamond White was an example of a great talent that probably should have waited a few years.
Now, we come to the interesting case of CeCe Frey. Has she went with her pre-live show attitude, we almost think that she would have fared just as well, and may have actually been more successful in the long run since real pop stars have a bit of attitude. She’s not the best singer in the world, but we actually still believe that there is enough creativity and work ethic here that if she had the right mentors at her back, she could have a chance on pop radio to be along the lines of Ke$ha or at least Willa Ford. Controversy and crazy personalities play well right now.
Some of the irony here is that many of the more interesting acts did not even make it all the way to the live shows. Remember Panda Ross from the auditions? What about Jeffrey Gutt? We also still think that had Demi kept Willie Jones instead of Paige early on, she would have had a far stronger group of young adults for the entire competition. That was basically this show’s version of Christina Aguilera sending home De’borah on “The Voice.”
If we were to actually compare straight up the contestants on “The X Factor” this year to the other singing shows, they would probably come up short vocally. However, there is still an entertainment value there with them that proves that you really need more than just a voice to be a star. We put the odds at 50-50 that any of these singers has a top 40 hit, but that would be better than any singer from “The Voice” has done. It was not the best crop ever, but we hope that the success of some of these singers will convince some stronger talent (however much is actually left) to give the show a try.
What do you think about the contestants on “The X Factor” this season: were they lacking to you, or did you love every one of them? Be sure to share your thoughts below, and once again you can go back and read part 1 over here.