I stopped watching "American Idol" after Simon Cowell left, but now he's back with his new show, "The X-Factor." Like "Idol," this one is an Americanized version of a British talent discovery show.
The main gimmick in "The X-Factor" is that the judges actually have to pick talent to work with, so in a real sense, the judges are competing against one another. Here, it's Cowell vs. Paula Abdul vs. LA Reid vs. Nicole Scherzinger.
If that concept sounds familiar, it's because we saw it with NBC's "The Voice" (which I enjoyed quite a bit, actually). To be clear, I'm not saying that "The X-Factor" copied "The Voice," since the British version of "The X-Factor" with the same format came earlier. I'm just saying that the gimmick might not seem as fresh now.
Anyway, the premeire of "The X-Factor" was last night. I already think it's far superior to "American Idol." Why?
1) LA Reid, who seems to have adopted the position of designated foil to Cowell, was far more coherent than Randy Jackson ever was. All you got from Jackson was "it was pitchy" and "it didn't do it for me." Reid offers better critiques and has developed a sharper contrast with Cowell in just the first two hours.
2) Fewer bad auditions. I think this is true, but I'm not totally sure. My wife took control of the remote control and skipped through some of the bad ones.
3) Auditions with backup music.
4) Greater variety of singers, without the ridiculous 16-30 age range mandated by "Idol."
I had been a little skeptical, but the opening night earned some more attention from me.