Monday, 10 December 2012

X-Factor - Mending the Faults

I have been watching X-Factor for several years and over that time I have become disillusioned with the format for several reasons.  It appears that this series has seen a slump in ratings, and I suspect it may be due in part to the faults I perceive in the format;

  • There should never be an even number of judges with equal power to vote.
  • Judges should never be mentors as well.
There is basic common sense behind both the above comments.

1.  The even number of judges.  In Strictly Come Dancing for example, the head judge Len Goodman has the final say.  Therefore if there is a tie at the end of a dance-off with two judges each voting for the couples, the one that Len votes for survives for another week.

Unfortunately this would not work in X-Factor in the circumstance where the head judge was also a mentor of one of the acts up for elimination as they would always vote for their own act.

This brings me to the other, and I believe fundamental, flaw in the format.

2.  Judges as Mentors.  This can never work for several reasons:

The judges will always bias their feedback in favour of their own acts, meaning their own acts think they are better than they actually are, while their competitor mentors' acts will be given the impression they are worse.

Secondly there are major issues with the vote-off.  Two acts face each other, one to be voted off.  The flaw in this is that no judge will vote for their own act to be voted off, thereby rendering the opinions of half the panel of four pointless.  The only exception is the rare occasion when one judge has two acts in the vote off.  Therefore as a general rule only two of the judges' opinions will be genuine, and if they don't agree - as often happens - the result is that the one with a lower viewer vote, often not the worst singer, ends up leaving.

There has been talk of Simon Cowell returning to the show, and this could be incorporated into one of my suggested solutions for the programme to address the above flaws.

a)  Bring in different people to mentor allowing the judges to give their unbiased opinions.  There could then be a head judge appointed so that a deadlock never occurs.  This is I admit the more expensive of the two options as there are four more wages to deal with, however it has the benefit that every judge's opinion would be unbiased.

b) If Simon Cowell is to return he could be added to the existing judging panel as a non-mentoring judge to give five in total.  This would also fix all the flaws;
  i)    The contestants would always get one unbiased opinion of their performance.
  ii)   The vote off would always have a definite result as there would always be a majority vote.
  iii)  Each week there would be three judges giving an unbiased opinion of which act should leave.

I think if either of the above options were chosen this would add a new dimension to the X-Factor and result in fairer judging, and help revive ratings.

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