As I've been watching both "American Idol" and 'X Factor" singing competitions, the differences between the two shows have me leaning towards "American Idol" rather than "X Factor" and here's why. While I've been watching "American Idol" for years, "X Factor" in the U.S. is new on the scene. And since I haven't watched the British version, the show is new to me.
First of all, the age of the contestants in "X Factor" allow for what seems like too young or too old contestants to vie for what is mainly a young person's venue.
I know this may seem prejudiced?- and the Susan Boyle example certainly shows what an older, unknown contestant can do - but in general, the setup for "American Idol" seems more likely to draw an audience rather than a 12-year old African American rapper like Astro who was voted off and, in my opinion, was just too young and inexperienced for the show.
Last week, the 14-year-old Drew also was voted off. Although she had an interesting ethereal quality, she seemed too one-dimensional to garner the wide audience needed to win the competition.
On the X-Factor, Simon Cowell mentors the girl singers and L.A. Reid mentors the boys, with Paula Abdul mentoring the groups and older contestants mentored by Nicole Scherzinger. The differences in types of singers represent another problem, with individual singers vs. groups being a kind of apples and oranges contest. This is where I think "American Idol" has an edge with the emphasis on individual efforts.
Also, the singers on "Idol" choose their own material, and their choices help decide their fates as well as their talent. On "X Factor" the mentors choose material whether, in my opinion, it is suitable or not.
An article about the TV shows noted Cowell's belief 'The X Factor' is better than 'American Idol' seems to come from the fact 'The X Factor' has his personality stamped on it. The judges see the change in how things work, but viewers are only supposed to see what they are used to.
However, this is where Simon Cowell and I part company. It seems to me the choices the singers make for songs can be as important as their execution of those songs. In comparing the long-running (now going into its 11th season) "American Idol," to the "X Factor's" one season in the U.S. - and only season since 2004 in Britain - well, the success of "Idol" seems clear.
I just think "American Idol" is more tried and true, but who knows, "X Factor" may still develop into more of a crowd pleaser. Just bring on some more Susan Boyles!
Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in New York City and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns and contact information may be accessed at her website at www.kathrynskorner.com