With all the singing competition shows on television, it’s easy to get confused about what makes them unique from one another. Although very similar, American Idol and the X Factor have some key differences that make them stand apart from the rest.
The premise is basically the same, with virtually unknown people singing to win the contest of a lifetime. However, there are some differences to make X Factor a great new show to watch.
The biggest difference between the shows is the cast. The judges on American Idol have changed in number and personalities depending on the season, but have always maintained some sort of gimmicky trick. Whether it’s been Randy Jackson’s cheesy 90’s lingo of “Dog, dog, dog,” Ellen’s comedy monologues between contestants, or the debate over whose outfit was more over the top; J-Lo or Steven Tyler.
The judges on X Factor are a better mix of what a judging panel should be for a singing contest. Nicole Scherzinger is a singer who got her start on a reality TV singing competition, Paula Abdul is a Grammy Award Winning singer and world renowned choreographer, and L.A. Reid heads up Epic Records with a pivotal role in helping the careers of Mariah Carey, Justin Beiber, Lady Gaga and countless other music superstars. Simon Cowell, the fourth judge, is also the creator and executive producer of the show.
A huge difference between American Idol and the X Factor is the role of the host. Although the host’s job is to transition from segment to segment, American Idol’s, Ryan Seacrest, makes himself a key member of the show. With his intrusive questions to the singers, battling comments with the judges and unbiased behavior; Seacrest has become a completely different kind of host. The Wrap posted an article entitled, “Idol’s Problem Isn’t Ellen Anymore, It’s Ryan” where he was called “an arrogant, overconfident jerk.”
On the contrary, Steve Jones, of X Factor, is actually just a host. He offers a hug for distraught or enthused contestants, helps to transition between segments, and instills a bit of British eye candy as the strong SILENT type.
Another difference between the shows is the variety in its contestants. American Idol only allows singular contestants between the ages of 16 and 28. On the other hand, X Factor allows groups, singular contestants, and anyone 14 years and older.
Mentoring in American Idol is a barrage of different celebrity guest stars that come and go from week to week, but in X Factor each group of contestants are designated a judge to mentor them. Instead of residing in a group house, like in American Idol, X Factor contestants are invited to the judge’s homes. On top of the excitement of residing in a lavish celebrity home, the locations are places some of these contestants couldn’t even dream about. This season’s girl group is being mentored by Simon Cowell in his home in Paris, France.
The most important difference between these two shows is definitely the grand prize. American Idol’s finalist receives some prizes that are nothing to scoff at, but there is no real defining answer to how much they will actually make. Idol winners get a car, a record deal, and a spot on the American Idol tour. However, X Factor’s grand prize is more upfront about what the winner will actually receive. Billboard reported X Factor winners will receive $5 million in cash in addition to a recording contract with Syco/Sony Music.
The only question now will be whether X Factor’s winner will have any success in the music industry. Although there have been some great artists born from American Idol, like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, there have also been some winners who have never been heard from again. Whatever happened to Taylor Hicks, David Cook, Kris Allen, or Lee DeWyze?
No matter what the differences are in these two shows, the common denominator is the American Dream. Despite the grand prize, all of the contestants are gaining an experience that can never be duplicated and they all get a chance at their 15 minutes of fame.