Who is to blame when contestants go home on The X Factor?
Sure, the singers perform as well as they can before leaving their fate in the hands of America's voters, but if you ask the singers, The X Factor's well-hyped mentors also bear some of the responsibility for shaping that performance. In theory, it sounds good: Successful music producers and artists coach wannabes into becoming stars. But as we've already seen, there are apparent flaws to the formula.
TVGuide.com takes a look at some of the pitfalls to the popular mentoring process:
Inexperience: Britney Spears' and Demi Lovato's chart-topping success doesn't mean either of them understands how to produce anyone beyond themselves. At age 20, Lovato is still finding herself, and has been criticized for going overboard with her singers' makeovers -- making CeCe Frey somehow even more unlikeable and Jennel Garcia, who was eliminated last week, into a Demi clone. And let's not forget Spears' horrifying attempt to make 13-year-old Carly Rose Sonenclar more pop-friendly by dressing her up in a sexy schoolgirl outfit, a la her "Baby One More Time" video. Awkward and inappropriate!
Too genre-centric: Even producing veterans run into problems when faced with acts that are outside their areas of expertise. Given One Direction's shaggy-haired ubiquity, there's no arguing with Simon Cowell's pop savvy. His hip-hop/rap judgment, however, is woeful at best. We give him credit for recognizing Lyric145's talent to take them to the finals, but beyond that, he failed them miserably. Whenever the newly formed group chose their own songs to perform, they commanded attention. But one of Cowell's mash-up choices for the group had fellow judge L.A. Reid commenting, "It sounded like someone put you in a washer, dumped in bleach and took all the soul out of you."
Also, Cowell ultimately nixed their planned diva tribute and had them switch to a head-scratching Queen song at the 11th hour for their weakest performance yet. They were eliminated the next day. In an exit interview, Lyric145 member Lyric Da Queen told reporters, "Our original plan was to take a legendary diva song and actually write our own original lyrics. It ... arguably was going to be our best performance yet. This is coming from the producers of the show. Simon felt the other song was stronger, and unfortunately it wasn't."
Lack of enthusiasm: It was no secret that Reid was unhappy about being assigned the Over 25s group to mentor, to the point that he even told them so. There's nothing like being told you're unwanted to engender confidence! And although he claims to have had a change of heart, we can't help but wonder if his lukewarm attitude is what made him eliminate fan favorite David Correy, who was eminently more popular and marketable. Letting producers assign acts is a problem when it comes to mentor motivation. Wouldn't they do a better job if they were able to pick who they like and feel like they could work with the best?
Inter-panel squabbling: Cowell and Lovato's banter was initially entertaining, but ever since the live shows started, the tone has become snippier and it's become painful to watch. None of their acts have landed in the Top 3 in the rankings of shame so far. Coincidence? Perhaps. The angry rivalry between Christina Aguilera and Adam Levine on The Voice last season was a huge turnoff for the audience, and may or may not have pushed them to vote Blake Shelton's finalist to become the winner. Not every critique has to be a personal insult, guys!
What do you think about the mentors' advice so far? Who's the best? Who's the worst? Sound off in the comments below.
The X Factor airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8/7c on Fox.