X Factor USA Premiere Preview: What The Critics are Saying

Last Wednesday’s premiere party of the X Factor at the Arclight in Los Angeles started 2 hours late (which Simon blamed on down-to-the-wire-editing), but the consensus around the net seems to be that it was worth the wait. “Huge”, “Glitzy” and “Entertaining” are words that come up more than once. Also, the old Simon/Paula dynamic is back. But there’s also a Simon/LA Reid rivalry afoot. And backstories. Everyone’s got one, usually quite heart-tugging.

The premiere was a mashup of the 1st two episodes,–audiences saw Cheryl Cole–the judge Simon unceremoniously fired–in the 1st hour, only to be inexplicably replaced in the second by Nicole Scherzinger.

Here are what the critics are saying, plus on-the-scene reports. LA Reid hinted that he’ll be mentoring the older contestants. Paula reveals she’ll have a hand in the show’s choreography. (Brian Friedman is the head choreographer as he does on X Factor UK)

Lyndsey Parker, Yahoo Music:

…and the question on the minds of everyone in the cinema, including myself, was: Was it all worth it, Simon? In a word, yes. In two words, heck yes. This was real popcorn TV, people. Simon may have recently claimed that the folks at Fox would’ve been happy if he and Paula had remained on “American Idol” forever, but those Fox execs ought to be pretty pleased now. Judging from the hooting and hollering by fans inside the theater Wednesday night–and judging from the compulsively watchable highlights shown from “X Factor” audition cities Los Angeles, Miami, Dallas, and Seattle–Simon has done it again. His gamble is paying off. He and Fox seem to have another hit on their hands.

TV Guide – My God, It’s Huge!

1. Simon’s gone soft. At least, that’s how he comes off in the mashup that was screened. His signature stabs — “You look like one of those creatures that live in a jungle” — are noticeably absent. The meanest he gets? “It was horrifying.” (And even then, he said it to a sweet 83-year-old in a good-natured way and then wished her and her husband luck on their way out.)

2. That’s because the auditions actually have way more in common with The Voice than they do with Idol. From the live audience, to the performers’ anxious friends and families watching from backstage, structurally, the two shows are not so dissimilar. The most significant crib is that the majority of featured contestants are very talented — and an overwhelming number of them come with heart-warming, feel-good backstories. One woman even earns a standing ovation from the judges.

Billboard – ‘X Factor’ Has Glitzy Premiere, Complete With Simon-Paula Bickering

“There have been a few that blew me away,” Reid told the crowd, which included Irving Azoff, whose company will manager the winner. He singled out Marcus Canty’s version of Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish,” Melanie Amaro’s moving rendition of Beyonce’s “Listen” and Chris Rene’s original rap tune as “amazing.” Stacy Francis, a 42-year-old mother of two, also received props for her rendition of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”

Focusing on auditions held in Los Angeles, Dallas and Seattle, the merged version of the shows emphasized feel-good moments and three astoundingly good performances, all from females. Back stories are generally tales of struggle and in nearly every audition, the singers were traveling solo or with a full ensemble of family and friends that gathered backstage to watch on monitors.

Los Angeles – Five things you can expect from ‘The X Factor’

Yes, Paula and Simon are reunited and it feels oh-so good. But it seems L.A. Reid is elbowing his way in to some fun interactions with Simon — and it’s a bonus that we actually understand what he’s saying.

Steve Jones is willing to go above and beyond Ryan Seacrest’s stand-up shots. He’s practically hanging out the window of a big rig traveling at highway speeds while yapping to the camera about the show’s structure. We don’t understand what those shots add to the series, but we’ll allow them.

The contestant pool is polarizing. Some will make you teary-eyed, others will make you want to gouge out your eyes. Increasing scale wherever possible, the show has elevated the level of gimmicky contestants looking to score some air time (See: desperate use of censor blur and how it brings about Jones’ use of the term “flapping”).

Too Fab – ‘The X Factor’ Premiere: Does It Live Up to the Hype?

The show sticks close to the blueprint laid out by “American Idol,” but manages to make it fresh by keeping the focus on the strong singers with stronger backstories.

Right off the bat, the show sucks you in with an adorable 12-year-old girl with a big voice — then keeps the amazing singers coming. From 18-year-old college student Melanie who kills it with Beyonce’s “Listen” to a 70-days-sober, former drug-addict with an original song … it’s a compelling group.

Associated Press – ‘X Factor’ goes X-rated as singer’s pants drop

LOS ANGELES (AP) — On “American Idol,” a contestant performed “Pants on the Ground.” On “The X Factor,” a singer dropped his pants to the ground and sent Paula Abdul running for cover.

The man auditioned for Fox’s new talent contest by performing his original song “I’m a Stud,” pulling his pants down and dancing onstage in front of an audience that responded with boos. In a clip shown at a preview Wednesday night, a graphic of the show’s stylized “X” was superimposed over his crotch.

The man, identified as Geo, may have thought underwear was optional.

A grimacing Abdul got up and retreated backstage. Fellow judge Nicole Scherzinger covered her eyes and then, like a spectator at an accident scene, took a peek from between her fingers. Panelist Antonio “L.A.” Reid didn’t mince words, calling the display disgusting, upsetting and offensive.

EW – ‘The X Factor’ premiere: On the scene with Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger, and L.A. Reid

Was it worth it? Well, this former skeptic says yes. Cowell, along with his bosom buddy Paula Abdul and newcomers Nicole Scherzinger and L.A. Reid, sat down at the ArcLight Hollywood Wednesday night for a 90 minute-screening with an assortment of Fox employees, reporters, radio contest winners, and USC theater students. After the screening, the audience was treated to a bizarre and occasionally awkward question and answer session that debuted the tremendous chemistry between the judges.

The X Factor will eventually feature a mentoring aspect similar to The Voice, with each judge leading a group segmented according to age—anyone over 12 could audition. The premiere episode was your standard early audition fare, but with more drama than American Idol and fewer painful auditory experiences. Think longer, more fleshed out backstories (Meth addiction! Verbally abusive husbands! Someone named Xander Alexander!), and less of this. Also, the contestants performed in front of thousands of people instead of just the judges, and ranged from a middle schooler to an octogenarian. A few powerful performances stood out (watch out for Melanie Amaro), and one almost made Abdul vomit.

You can get a pretty good idea how loopy and off the wall the X Factor judges panel can be by watching the Fan Q&A that happened after the new FOX show premiered in Hollywood Wednesday night.
Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Nicole Scherzinger, L.A. Reid, and host Steve Jones answer questions in the videos below. There are definitely plants in the audience asking questions.
Part 1
Paula Abdul hints that she’ll be creating her own choreography for her team, in tandem with creative director, Brian Friedman. The mother of a contestant takes Simon to task
Part 2
The Simon Cowell dress down continues. Paula gets tough with the upset mom. Nicole natters on uncomprehendingly. Simon & L.A. could not shut her up.
Part 3
What is it like seeing a contestant and their families “get their moment”. Simon accuses the girls of nixing attractive girl. When she objects, Simon tells Paula to look at the editing. She says, “who edits it?”
Part 4
Discussion about Xander the Diva. Supposedly Simon said “Yes”
Part 5
L.A. likes working with the older contestants. Simon says the show is all about “giving older women a chance”
The X Factor USA premieres on Wednesday, September, 21 on FOX.

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