The U.K. version of The X-Factor just wrapped its seventh season, crowning Essex native Matt Cardle its latest winner, and now eyes officially turn to its next go-round: a U.S. premiere in September 2011.
To no one’s surprise, pretty much all the chatter surrounding the show’s imminent arrival has had to do with its judges panel. A slew of marquee names has been thrown around as possible tablemates to Simon Cowell — among them: George Michael, Mariah Carey, Mick Jagger and Noel Gallagher, along with current U.K. judge Cheryl Cole — and Cowell promises all will be revealed in the next month or so, after which we’ll shift our focus to an equally important element in guaranteeing a show’s success: the contestants.
What does Cowell have planned in that department? According to a weekend tweet by Dave Stewart, the songwriter, entrepreneur and one-half of the Eurythmics, it won’t be a Leona Lewis clone or even a Susan Boyle-like phenomenon. “Simon Cowell says X-Factor will discover the new Bob Marley, Bod [sic] Dylan, Thom Yorke, Win Butler, Jack White, Imogen Heap,” wrote Stewart. “Just a matter of time.”
A noble goal indeed, but the history of TV singing competitions tells a different story. Because each winner is positioned to appeal to the broadest audience possible, much like the show that launched their budding careers, the voters rarely award the candidate that’s “different” with the ultimate prize. To the contrary, they often rally against it, making for a few head-scratching results wherein the runner-up (ahem, Idol’s Adam Lambert) or even the fourth-placer (cough again, Chris Daughtry) eventually outsells the victor. And lest we forget, it’s all about having the full package — preferably in the pop vein — as Cowell reminded us on Idol countless times, and certainly the likes of Marley and Dylan don’t fit the bill.
So will U.S. X-Factor be a departure from the norm? Does Cowell have some secret formula up his sleeve that no one (except maybe his ex-girlfriend/lifetime confidante/go-to news girl Teri Seymour) is privy to? What are your expectations of his new show?