An American Idiot’s Take on This Week’s X-Factor Performances

With one singular exception, X-Factor pulled off another live show in which the contestants — and talent — took a backseat to the iTV talent competition’s big, brash and braindead brand.

Quick note to the UK readers: You’ve just wondered onto an American Idiot’s blog about nothing — on which I’ve taken a particularly keen interest in the latest X-Factor series, based on the shrinking-by-the-minute possibility that Executive Producer Simon Cowell will succeed in launching an American version of the show that we used to hear about over here in the states. (From time to time, I know you still do. We don’t hear much anymore. Outlook: Bleak.)

I’ve got a soft spot in my little Welch heart for the battle royale between the Brit business moguls. And I find Uncle Si’s Napoleon-like need to be welcomed into the pantheon of great UK businessmen like Richard Bronson and Sir Philip Green to be at once pathetic and infinitely intriguing. In fact, I’m kinda rooting for the little guy. Anyway, about Saturday night’s show…

Inarguably the biggest story to come out of this year’s X-Factor, 17-year-old Cher Lloyd improved upon last week’s fairly blech performance of “Just Be Good to Me” with another go at hiphop: Jay-Z’s “Hard Knock Life.” The Worcester native  continued to underwhelm despite a star-making audition during X-Factor‘s early rounds in which she performed Keri Hilson’s “Put My Swag On.” Swag time, it was not, last night.

Watch Cher Lloyd Perform Jay-Z’s “Hard Knock Life”

In fact, the bashful little Orphan Annie face she adorned when the performance began was awkwardly real — and an uncomfortable reminder that she is, in fact, still 17 —  made all the more uncomfortable by the arrangement X-Factor‘s producers saddled her with. It was not, as mentor Cheryl Cole said, right up her street. In fact, for most of the performance, the music was wedged right between Cher’s strong upper range and the growl she adopts when she’s rapping. In other words, the dead zone right in the middle.

No singer should — or could — sing Jay-Z, especially the vintage song samples that make up the choruses. Mean, X-Factor producers!

Also, it looks like judge and mentor Louis Walsch reads more than just the tabloids: He seems to agree with me that Treyc Cohen bears striking similaries to Tina Turner — all good, mind you. In eight seasons of watching American Idol, I can’t remember any contestant performing Prince’s “Purple Rain” during the live shows — despite numerous pleas from Entertainment Weekly‘s Michael Slezak that one of them pleasedeargod do as much on one of the many “Songs from the Movies” theme weeks.

Thus, while Cohen’s performance of the Prince classic may have been “Been there, done that” for the Brits, it was brand spankin’ new — and the best of Saturday night’s — for this drooling Yankee.

Watch Treyc Cohen Sing Prince’s “Purple Rain”

Cohen shone even brighter than Mary Byrne, who — with that big ol’ voice of hers — seemed to be taking her coach’s notes a little too literally, elongating all the me’s and eeeeeee‘s as if she’d been holding in a you-know-what (#2) for way too long prior to taking the stage.

Cohen, however, from where I’m sitting here in Atlanta, appears to be the only contestant remaining on the X-Factor — with the possible exception of Matt Cardle — who’d ever be welcomed onto American Idol‘s — and thus the unlikely X-Factor US‘s stage. The other contestants, even Ms. Lloyd, all lack a certain polish (Read: pitch), which — at this stage in the game — is something of a prerequisite for even stepping onto the FOX reality competition’s set. Sure, Randy the “nice judge” rambles on about “pitchiness” for what feels like days sometimes. Still, pitchiness on Idol usually means a missed note here and there — not a 2-minute-long lesson in the Bobby Brady School of the Effects of Adolescence On the Male Vocal Chords, as I found Aiden Grimshaw’s performance of “Jealous Guy” to be.

All in all, X-Factor 2010 is shaping up to be all about the stories told in the tabs — and nothing about the stories told in the songs performed by the contestants each week. The former, alone, cannot sustain a talent competition in the US without the latter. Finally, by the looks of the performance embedded below (from Sunday night’s live results show), X-Factor‘s producers share American Idol’s producers’ opinion that it’s, like, totally cool to let all of the contestants lip sync the group performances on a television show that is — by design — about identifying talented singers.


The Top 14 Perform Lady Gaga’s “Telephone”

Who Got Eliminated from Week 2 of X-Factor?

As predicted by most observers, Storm Lee finally got the boot, along with camptastic duo Diva Fever.

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  1. Gerard McGarry

    John, I’m kind of disappointed. Why not post the whole article here? Why the teaser and link off to your own site?

    My heart leaps every time I see someone join this site to share their views with our community. I feel a bit cheated when someone comes along to only drive traffic to their own site. Now, you’re clearly a fantastic writer, but I’d suggest that if you’re going to contribute to Shout, the best way to do it is to post full articles and put a ‘bio box’ at the bottom saying who you are and where you normally blog.

    Let me know what you think.

    1. John Coggin


      I had a sneaking suspicion…  Duly noted: Consider that my first and last warning. 😉

      Updating with full article. Love what you guys are doing here — want only to contribute another voice, but to do so in a way that’s compliant with user — and fellow writer — expectations. 

      Thanks for the feedback. 



      1. Gerard McGarry

        Thanks John, I genuinely appreciate that. I’m happy for people to contribute guest posts, especially if they have a blog elsewhere. I hope that what I’ve suggested works out as mutually beneficial for us here on Shout and for your own personal blog.

        On to other matters….Treyc Cohen? I love her voice, but that was the third time we’ve been ‘treated’ to Purple Rain on X Factor, and possibly the screechiest. I think people are trying to use it as a showcase for their voices, but often at the expense of musicality. Trecy – for my tastes – was too screechy/shouty on Saturday night.

        That said, she’s one of my favourite contestants. I want better from her next week.

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