“The X Factor” continued on Thursday with the second installment of its two-part premiere, and considering the hardly-”Idol”-size ratings of Wednesday’s debut, the overblown intro music that opened the show (“O Fortuna!”) felt slightly out-of-place.
The premiere episode’s ratings — it pulled about 12.5 million viewers, roughly half the viewership of “American Idol” — were a stiff blow to the show, which had been buzzed about since Simon Cowell walked away from “Idol” to bring the British hit to American television. Suddenly, no longer was “The X Factor” the Titanic of reality shows, it was simply another vessel in a crowded sea of singing competitions. And Cowell was no longer the King Midas of reality TV; you could practically feel his T-shirt get tighter when he was given the ratings news on Thursday.
Thursday’s episode focused more on hapless auditions and gag contestants than it did winning ones, a reversal from Wednesday’s episode. As bad singer after bad singer was paraded before the judges, you began to wonder if, after 10 seasons of “American Idol” — not to mention all the other televised singing competitions (“The Voice,” “America’s Got Talent,” “The Sing Off,” et. al) — if America is simply out of undiscovered talent. The episode’s two best contestants did show promise: 18-year-old Melanie Amaro, who knocked the judges out with her version of Beyonce’s “Listen,” and 21-year-old Caitlyn Koch, a rugby player in her off-hours who positively Invictus’d the judges with her reinvention of the Supremes’ “Stop! In the Name of Love.”
So far, the takeaway from “The X Factor is Nicole Scherzinger, the ex-Pussycat Doll and “Dancing With the Stars” winner who replaced Cheryl Cole as the show’s fourth judge. Scherzinger, who’s been nursing a non-starting pop career for years — her debut album “Her Name is Nicole” was originally due back 2007 — is showing signs of a fun, bubbly personality, unexpected from a singer who’s seemed plastic for years. I’ve been anti-Scherzinger for as long as I can remember, but she’s starting to win me over. When the dust is settled, will she be the real discovery of “The X Factor?”