“The X Factor” limped to its conclusion Thursday night, with 19-year-old Melanie Amaro being crowned champion over burrito slinger Josh Krajcik and “Young Homie” singer Chris Rene. Amaro — who was eliminated in one of the earlier rounds, before Simon Cowell paid a personal visit to her home and brought her back in the competition — was awarded a $5 million recording contract and a spot in a Pepsi commercial that will air during next year’s Super Bowl.
And so ends “The X Factor’s” disappointing first season. Cowell, who left “American Idol” after nine seasons to bring his British hit to these shores, promised nothing less than a reality TV revolution with “X,” but he delivered something of a dud. The show averaged a very respectable 11 million viewers an episode, but that was about half of the 20 he promised it would deliver, and half of what “Idol” brings in on any given night.
Over the course of its first season, “The X Factor” struggled to find its footing, between its overblown production, awkward host and lack of memorable talent in the Top 12. Its most buzzworthy moment was the elimination of 13-year-old Rachel Crow, when she reacted in horror to her ouster and collapsed on stage in a pile of tears. The next most-memorable moment was when arrogant teenage rapper Astro refused to perform after being voted into the show’s bottom two. You’ll have to slide pretty far down to the pole to find a memorable moment that involved an actual performance on the show.
“The X Factor” attempted to wring drama from its panel of judges, pitting Cowell in a season-long war of words with record exec L.A. Reid. But the feuds never seemed genuine, and were pretty transparently manufactured for television. Reid’s biggest tell, meanwhile, was his surprising lack of knowledge about current music and pop culture trends, such as when he seemed to have no idea who Demi Lovato was when contestant Drew Ryniewicz performed “Skyscraper” during one of the episodes and Reid showed no knowledge of the song’s existence. (It was a Top 10 hit this year, he should probably know it.)
The show has been greenlit for a second season, but expect a much different show when it returns in September. There are already rumors that host Jones is out, and could be followed by Nicole Scherzinger, who no doubt will attempt yet again to release her forever-delayed debut solo album. Paula Abdul will likely be back, but the once potent one-two punch of Abdul and Cowell lacked any sort of spark this season, and made viewers long for their memorable sparring sessions and Abdul’s charming loopiness during “Idol’s” early days.
Speaking of “Idol,” it returns to Fox next month, and after dealing with this poor imitation for the last three months I’ve never been so excited to welcome it back. Save us, Ryan Seacrest!
Oh, and that Pepsi commerical? My guess is that it will rank near the bottom of those Super Bowl commercial popularity polls. Just a hunch.