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The X Factor

January 23, 2014

The X Factor is a talent show originally from The United Kingdom and created by Simon Cowell. This television music show is a replacement of the old program Pop Idol. It is now held in several countries such as the United States since 2010, or Australia since 2005. It occurs once a year, the end of the show is always around Christmas. The point of the show is to find a new singing pop sensation who possesses the X Factor, meaning that one special and indefinable thing that makes a good artist unique. The contestants are trying to be noticed by the panel composed of four judges. The judges change depending on which country you are in and sometimes even within two years the judges won’t be the same.

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The contestants are divided into four categories : the boys, the girls, the over 25’s and the groups. A contestant first needs to pass an audition in an arena in front of the four judges and a full crowd who came to watch the auditions. After they sang, the judges decide if they liked the performance by giving the contestant a yes if it was good and a no if it wasn’t. A contestant needs to have at least three yeses to go onto the next round. If he or she has a majority of no, the competition stops right away for that contestant. On the contrary, if the contestant has a majority of yes, he can go through the next level which is originally called boot camp (throughout the years and countries, the rules might change sometimes). During boot camp, the acts that first made it through will now sing again for the judges who will be more severe because the competition is now tougher.

Still according to the original rules, in each category eight or six contestants, depending on how good the contestants seem to be on this particular season, will go through the next round. The competition now holds only 24 or 32 acts. The next step is the judge’s house. Each judge gets to mentor a category; this choice  is made by the producers of the show. So the contestants are going by categories to the house of their own mentor to pass another step : singing in front of one judge and a celebrity he or she invited to help him/her. The sixth or eighth acts will be cut in half, meaning that only three or four of each categories will be able to go onto the next step : the live shows.

photo 3Simon Cowell

During the live shows, which occur every weekend, each contestant need on the Saturday nights to sing a song to prove they are good enough to receive the public’s votes and stay in the competition. At the end of each performance, the judges will give their opinion on what’s working and what’s not. Then, each Sunday, different celebrities will perform but more importantly the results are announced on who made it through and will still be there until the following weekend. Each week, one contestant leaves the competition until there are only three left. This is when the final occurs. One act is announced almost right away as the one leaving in third place, while the other two sing one more song to prove their point. Finally, the winner of the X a Factor can be announced. Each year, the winner gets a contract deal with Sony Entertainment, the producers of the show.

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The X Factor allowed a lot of great artists to be discovered, notably in the UK, where it all started. Indeed, in ten years, the show found talents like Leona Lewis, Olly Murs, Little Mix, James Arthur and so on. The X Factor UK seems particularly proud to have discovered the talent of boys’ band sensation One Direction. Simon Cowell always brags about him being the one that puts them together.


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