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The X Factor USA: So Much Better Than The UK Version It's Embarrassing

by Amber Paradine
12 November 2011 29 Comments

X Factor USA. It’s got talent, plenty of cash and it’s even got Simon Cowell. Two out of three isn’t bad. Here’s what you’ve missed so far....

You haven’t been watching The X Factor USA? Don’t panic!! This quick and easy guide will give you all the nuggets you need to make sure you’re not left out when you hear someone say, ‘OMG did you see Astro last night? Man he was sick’

Summer 2011 saw the infamous-high-trouser-wearing-hedgehog-hair-sporting-not-yet-outed-music-mogul Simon Cowell take The X Factor state side and give American’s another global platform to show off how much more talented they are at singing than us. Well… there’s that, and the fact it will make him millions of dollars. The familiar tale of everything being bigger and better in America is truly embodied in this show from the powerhouse judges to the huge $5m recording contract for the winner. If you choose to watch the US version in line with the current UK season, I can assure you that you will be embarrassed to be English. There is simply no comparison between the talent they have over the pond and ‘Two Shoes.’ Granted they have a few more gazillion people to choose from, but we’re still way behind.

The judges are made up of Simon Cowell, LA Reid, Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger. The calibre of judges on the US show also surpasses that of the UK version. Cowell needs no introduction, he simply is ‘The X Factor,’ hence why the UK version is struggling massively without him. LA Reid was chairman of Island Def Jam Music Group and he’s basically one of the key influencers in the music industry of our generation. He’s signed everyone from Jay-Z and Mariah Carey to Bon Jovi and The Killers. We also have him to blame for Justin Bieber. Abdul found fame in the 1980′s as a choreographer who also had her own successful singing career. I’ve got one of her albums on cassette somewhere, you remember, the one where she sang with that cartoon cat. Ex-Pussycat Doll Nicole Schzerzinger is the final judge who replaced Cheryl Cole after Simon let her try and play with the big boys, and fail miserably.

All of the judges are so passionate and excited by their groups, they see nothing wrong with getting up and dancing and cheering along. There is a great respect between the judges and although there’s competitive banter it is never catty or bitchy like we have to witness in the UK show. LA Reid’s spectacular facial expressions are on of my favourite parts. They are so animated I truly feel the show should be made compulsory viewing for everyone. He looks like he’s been smelling shit for the past 6 weeks. It’s a tell tale sign now that if he starts looking like his senses are being violated when you’re singing to him, you know you’re doing a good job. I’m not going to talk about the presenter Steve Jones. Not because he’s Welsh but because he’s very good looking with no personality. That to me is the worse kind of person. EVER.

If you choose to watch the US version in line with the current UK season, I can assure you that you will be embarrassed to be English.

Onto the contestants;

LA Reid and the boys.

Astro aka Brian Bradley

This little dude is straight out of Brooklyn. He’s a mere 15 years old but he has an ego the size of someone far exceeding his years. I’d go as far to say that if you added Kanye West’s, Simon Cowell’s and Louise Mensch’s egos together you still wouldn’t come close. The self-professed composer/writer/rapper is the first hip-hop artist to get through the live stages of a talent contest like this. His first audition was so compelling and catchy that the rap he performed was being rapped back to him by the end of his song. Granted the lyrics, ‘stop looking at my mom’ sound stupid out of context and aren’t particularly difficult to remember, but honestly… this kid is good. Annoyingly good. So good that a few weeks into this competition it’s clear to see he has massive huge talent and he can back up his over-confidence with his talent. He also writes all of his own lyrics and he delivers them with the ease and swagger of his idols like Jay-Z who are over twice his age. It is important to point out however that he has been, ‘doing hip-hop music since he was a baby’ so I guess he’s got an unfair advantage.

Chris Rene

Chris Rene is the contestant that’s ‘keepin it real’ and according to LA Reid, Rene’s ‘the truth.’ A lot of these assumptions are based purely on the fact that he is a recovering junkie and has been ‘clean’ for a few weeks. I’m not saying not doing drugs is ‘wrong’ or ‘boring’ but it’s nice to see a little destructive behaviour and substance abuse in music artists, the kind of addictions that build character. All I’m saying is it didn’t do Kurt Cobain any harm. Rene has one of those I’m-a-rapper-but-I’m-gonna-sing-a-bit voices. Just think Nelly, but much worse. His musical influences are listed as, ‘real musicians from all different eras, such as Mozart and Jimi Hendrix.’ You don’t have to watch the show to know one thing, that is total bollocks. Rene won’t last much longer in the competition as his voice is clearly weaker than the other guys. That’s ok though as I predict big things for him. He’ll get kicked off, get upset, go on a bender, go back to rehab, meet Lindsay Lohan, make a sex tape and then be in January’s Celebrity Big Brother. Dude’s gonna be fine.

Marcus Canty

Similarly to Marcus from the UK show, Marcus Canty is the cute cheeky chappy with the soulful voice. You will largely see him singing 1990′s Bobby Brown style songs and wiggling his hips in shiny clothes. Marcus is a great singer but he’s a little outdated, I’d like to say retro but I think you have to be a good few decades passed the era you’re mimicking for retro to mean ‘cool.’ So for now, ‘he’s the cute archaic one.’ He doesn’t really have a story apart from the standard ‘this is his last chance.’ Yep, the old man’s just turned 20 years old. If he fails at The X Factor US his mother has said something that all teenagers dread to hear, HE HAS TO GET A REAL JOB. It’s heartbreaking stuff really. This fear has obviously encouraged him and he has great stage presence. He is a little vacant in person though and when asked how he got into singing he proudly said, ‘my mom was a singer and she heard me.’ Wow Marcus, that’s umm, that’s enthralling stuff. Why ruin a great story with adjectives.

Simon and the girls


Drew is the 14-year-old-girl-next-door with a set of pipes on her that can easily rival any of the big female divas. She’s so young that Kelly Clarkson was her idol ‘growing up’ and she counts Justin Bieber (that young lesbian popstar who just got someone preggers) as one of her favourite performers. She is from a very small town and she has a very innocent edge to her that allows her to appear more vulnerable and emotional when she sings. She sounds very similar to new singer Christina Perri. Her latest performance was again perfect but she wore a hideous ensemble that looked like a school recycling project. All the judges slagged it off along with her bad dancing and Simon Cowell sat their biding his time, letting them really rip it to shreds before telling them that little Drew designed it. All on her own. Bless. You’ve gotta love Simon; biggest bitch in showbiz. Drew’s mature for her years and criticism like that doesn’t phase her as she knows she can sing and the audience love her. Enough of that though… she can’t win because she’s got really big teeth and she said ‘singing is the only instrument I play,’ and that is one of the most stupid things I’ve ever heard.

Melanie Amaro

Melanie is one of the most incredible singers in the competition yet she wasn’t in Simon’s first choice of who he put through to the live shows. Don’t quote me but it may be to do with the fact she looks a little bit like Miss Potato head. Cowell brought her back in one of his ‘completely unplanned’ dramatic episodes where he turns up at the contestant’s house and exclaims that he’s made a terrible mistake. I mean there is no way they knew he was coming! Yes… her dad always wears his war medals and of course they always have champagne on ice in their 2-bed-8-people apartment. God. She doesn’t look like a pop star particularly but she will go far in the competition as her voice is undeniably spectacular.

Rachel Crow

This girl has got a ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ quality about her when she’s up on stage talking, but as soon as she starts singing… she brings a whole loada’ soul with her that is far beyond her years. She lists her icon as Beyoncé and she certainly has that ‘extra somthing’ when she sings… you can imagine her winning an argument whilst snapping her fingers and flicking her hair. Her voice is insanely strong for her mere 13 years and she has an almost incomprehensible range for her age. Her lower range in particular is very impressive… most 13 year old girls only speak ‘screech’ but Rachel is controlled and diverse. If I was feeling cheesy I’d describe her as a little power ball of goodness. She is truly amazing. Plus she said she wants to share her spark, ‘with America and the world.’ The fact she’s only 13, lives in America and she’s aware there are other countries outside America is enough to get my vote.

I’m not jealous by the way, I’m just saying they’re all really pretty and I hate them.

Paula Abdul & the groups

Lakoda Rayne

One thing that is very noticeable about Simon Cowell on this show is that when he’s excited he flares his nostrils… and boy do these girls get his nasal holes wide. I’d definitely take it as a compliment if someone flared at me. These girls are made up of Paige, Cari, Dani and Hayley and they were put together in one of The X Factor’s ‘you weren’t good enough on your own but how about you sacrifice your soul and join a group of strangers and become best friends whilst we film you’ deals. They are, I have no idea how, the last remaining group in the competition as similarly to the UK show, all the groups have been seen as the weakest acts and have been voted off already. These are probably the only act from the US X Factor that would lose to the UK version, girl group ‘Little Mix’ Lakoda Rayne are your stereotypically pretty all-American-girl group and to be honest I wouldn’t be able to tell if different girls were swapped in and out the group every week. I’m not jealous by the way, I’m just saying they’re all really pretty and I hate them. Sometimes they sound good, sometimes they don’t. They don’t stand out vocally in the competition and their ‘country pop’ feels a little dated, even though they do look like pop stars. Did I mention how stupid their name is too? It is. It’s really stupid.

Nicole and the overs.

Stacy Francis

In The X Factor in the UK the ‘overs’ category is always seen as somewhat of a joke (if anyone disagrees I would like to refer you to Wagner, Tesco Mary and Johnny Robinson.) In the US, this category ain’t no joke. Stacy Francis is a soul diva who takes it to church every week with her Aretha inspired screams. You can usually see Stacy singing-whilst-shutting-her-eyes-really-tightly-and-stamping-on-invisible-grapes-with-her-feet or flirting outrageously with Simon on stage. She can definitely sing but her voice is sometimes a little wild and untamed meaning she sometimes loses control of where it will go. Much like Simon’s hedgehog hair. When asked what gives her the ‘X Factor’ she said, ‘I sing from a very pure place.’ I’m wondering if that’s the same pure place she made her first album from. Which she denied all knowledge of, and lied to production staff about. It’s unlikely she will last through to the finals as she’s not got the ‘je ne sais quoi’ (or as the English like to call it ‘X Factor’) that some of the other contestants have.

Josh Krajcik

Josh’s day job is slinging burritos in a diner and if you saw him before you ate… you’d probably think twice about eating. He appeared at his first audition massively dishevled and looking like he would stink of old sweat, wood and beer. He then sang ‘At Last’ by Etta James and totally and utterly blew everyone away. I have goosebumps just writing about him as his voice is so outstanding. The closest comparable singer to him is Joe Cocker, who funnily enough sounds just like – in my head. He is not just a singer but a talented musician and song writer too and unlike Drew he can play more instruments than just his mouth. At only 30 years old you’d hope he will go on to have a full career in the music industry. I’ve nothing bad to say about him, apart from he looks smelly. That didn’t do Kurt Cobain any harm though.

LeRoy Bell

The ‘overs’ really do have some of the strongest singers in the whole competition and the incredible LeRoy Bell is no exception. LeRoy is 60 years old, that’s right folks, 60 and Not only is he one of the best singers in the competition, he’s also one of the best looking. Check him out for yourself if you’re judging me on a ‘grandad fetish.’ I assure you, the man is hot. The show does play a little on the, ‘this is his last chance’ angle but at that age you can’t blame them. LeRoy’s voice has the rough soul of Clapton and the soft tones of my childhood idol, Labi Siffre. (I had others but he was just so cuddly looking.) He’s very humble, has a very cool sleeve tattoo, great stubble and good hats. LeRoy not Labi. Plus, his name is built for headlines; he can ‘LeRoy my bell any day.’

Here all week folks.

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image descriptionCOMMENTS

Ronke 12:51 pm, 12-Nov-2011

Great article! Well done Emily, thoroughly enjoyed reading it, well written, humourous but captured all the important bits I wanted to know about the judges & contestants. I had missed a few shows as I'd been outta the UK, this has brought me right up to date. Thumbs up girl!!!

Stick 1:50 pm, 12-Nov-2011

Who gives a flying fu~k if one is better/shitter than the other. They are both massive bags of crap that promote shite music. Not really I just cant wait to see what happens after Cocozza-gate eeeek!

Iz 2:29 pm, 12-Nov-2011

If you choose to watch the US version in line with the current UK season, I can assure you that you will be embarrassed to be English. I think you mean 'British', not 'English'.

Steve 2:57 pm, 12-Nov-2011

I have watched the UK version for the last 3 years via the internet and have to agree that this is the weakest year to date and the US version has much stronger talent one through 10. But after so many series in the UK, maybe the untapped talent has run dry.

brian 3:55 pm, 12-Nov-2011

Hello from across pond. Right on about your descriptions. One exception. DREW had the #1 viewed performance in 3 out of 5ravens weeks

brian from america 4:13 pm, 12-Nov-2011

Hello to you guys from across the pond. Spot on. One exception. DREW. Don't discount. In terms of worldwide video views, drew has held the #1 spot in 3 outta the 5 performance weeks. She also leads the pack in twitter followers & FB fans. Simon has to know this which is probably he proclaimed her the one to beat. "Watch out Drew; Astro is on your heels."

Byn Walters 4:22 pm, 12-Nov-2011

Confirming what Iz writes;I'm reading this, I'm not English, I'm Welsh, although I am from the UK. If you look on the map you'll find that England is the largest part of the island limited to the north by Scotland and to the West by Wales, or as we call it 'Cymru'. The English descend from the Germanic Anglo-Saxons whilst the Welsh are the indigenous British/Brittonic with their our own distinctive heritage & language.

Natalie 5:12 pm, 12-Nov-2011

The person that wrote this rubbish is a xenophobic moron!

Emily 5:36 pm, 12-Nov-2011

Thanks for the comments guys x

Iz 6:35 pm, 12-Nov-2011

Thanks Byn. I'm Scottish and it gets so annoying when people refer to England/English when they really mean the UK/British (Scotland, England, Wales & Northern Ireland). It happens all the time. Rant over. Otherwise, Emily, an amusing article. And I do agree, that this year the talent on the US version is superior to that on the UK programme. I think it's run its course in the UK but I'm sure Simon Cowell will squeeze another few years out of it.

Mic 7:02 pm, 12-Nov-2011

I disagree. I can't stand the US version. The contestants just...I think overall they are more talented than the UK ones, but the UK has stand-out contestants that I prefer to the US ones. Plus, the judges are so much better in the UK. Paula and Nicole as judges? Seriously?

Daisy 7:09 pm, 12-Nov-2011

I got emo keychange goosebumps just from reading this. Ace.

Dan 9:15 pm, 12-Nov-2011

Let's be honest - Astro, Leroy, Josh Krajcik, Stacey, Melanie, Rachel and Marcus would all absolutely walk the UK X Factor. So much more entertaining when you can actually watch for some talented performers rather than the boring fights between the UK judges.

ryan 12:37 am, 13-Nov-2011

If you think the american one is better youre are brainwashed.. the girls group may have alot of talent but the rest are crap and they don't sing their group show live with i think is pathetic... the prize IS 5 million dollar contract and they are having them lip sync? the usa xfactor is just stealing peoples money if you ask me and paula as a judge is a joke. the usa obviously don't like her her groups getting sent home week after week! why don't they put someone on the panel who actually has experience in this area. i forgot to mention the overpowering echo they use on their singers... at times you can hardly hear them it's awful Although i do find Melanie Amaro outstanding. if she does not win the show is rigged.

LeLe 2:21 am, 13-Nov-2011

Who cares if Drew is leading in views the girls voice is not that great. Out of the whole competition I'd say her and Chris Rene have the weakest voices. They are only pushing her because she's young, white and blonde.

Jill Kennedy 8:55 pm, 14-Nov-2011

You have got to be kidding me! The X Factor USA is terrible! A really bad, over-produced mess... Are you one of those paid bloggers I hear so much about - the ones who are paid by studio marketing people?

Megan 5:25 am, 15-Nov-2011

Rachel is probably the most likely to win. Lakoda Rayne would sell albums, country artists rake in the most bucks and country pop isn't dated, it's growing like crazy here. People hate fake liar Stacy and Chris Rene, who is so trashy and prob still doing drugs. Oh and BTW, EVERYONE here adores Cher Lloyd and can't wait for her to come here!

Greg 5:48 am, 16-Nov-2011

Hi, great article and I love all your facts. I tend to agree with most of what you said, with some minor exceptions.... 1. The US version has two of the best that happen to be 14. While great, it is more of a novelty. I cannot imaging Leona Lewis style record sales from a 14 year old, however, we shall see. Chris Rene has too many limits and only one great song, his audition. Astro, he is great, just not sure of his mass appeal. Melanie and LeRoy are to me the strongest potential winners. The US talent to me is very poor. Other than Melanie and LeRoy, I believe that the UK with Misha B, Marcus, Craig, Amelia are really fantastic and even Kitty was coming on strong in the end. There just seemed to be much more quality in the UK version than US. Winner - UK 2. Judges UK- I find the UK judges to be much more relevant. Gary, Talisa, Kelly all have careers and have great personalities. Louie, not sure of the history, however, I do like him in spite of he always choosing to support acts like Wagner last year, which was annoying. Louie is annoying, however, I like him anyway. Judges USA - Paula is not relevant at all. Nicole, she is not much better than Cheryl Cole, but lets face it, Cheryl is a so perfect in her role in the UK Version. LA Reid and Simon are great. However, Simons overt and manipulative ways to incite tension amongst the judges is just too over the top, even for him. It is a bit condescending to me to have to watch it. Winner - UK 3. The hosts. Dermot is much more affable and likable. He has presence, relevance, and is articulate. He is a normal guy, or so it seems. Steve in US is so stiff, so calculated, that it is painful to watch him try to be cozy with emotional contestants. When he has to be direct with the judges, it seems as if he is asking for permission. No backbone at all and a bit annoying. Winner UK To me, the UK is still the bomb. Seeing Cher Lloyd doing great for a "weak" contestant last year is also great! UK is definitely worth it.

Jude 2:14 pm, 16-Nov-2011

I would definitely eat at Josh Krajcik.

Mike 10:36 am, 17-Nov-2011

Either Drew or Josh Karjik will win the USA X factor. Drew has a combination of singing, looks and winning personality. The last two things are rarely mentioned in comments about the contestants but in real life matter HUGE. The statistics about Drew mentioned here by Bryan from America tell the TRUE story. America LOVES Drew. Josh only has a chance because of GREAT talent at both soulful songs as well as Rock (shown in the show the week after Emily's blog comments). Drew has not even tried to do Rock or similar. So Josh has a chance. None of the others have a chance to win. Melanie may have a great voice BUT she is (as noted by Emily) far from good looking and does not have a winning personality.

John 3:54 am, 19-Nov-2011

I seriously doubt that Simon will award a $5 million recording contract to any 14 year old. It's too risky and they will be minors for another 3-4 years which will cost him a lot of money providing extra care and supervision, neither will have a drivers license for awhile, etc.

Lee 11:04 am, 20-Nov-2011

Bitch just because you can't sing doesn't mean you post crap about people who can. Keep you big mouth shut and just enjoy the show and the music. Drugs aren't so bad?? They didn't do kurt cobain any harm?? Are you fucking out of your mind??

LYMAN 10:57 pm, 23-Nov-2011

Astro hey isn't that the name of the cartoon dog on the Jetsons.You talk about stupid names what you call this one the best in the world and buy the way he's no Eminen he's over rated

LYMAN 11:13 pm, 23-Nov-2011

DONO Ttell what to say take your Nazi crap else where

LYMAN 12:17 am, 24-Nov-2011

if you don't like it don't post it there will be no Moderation just take my off the post list

Matt 9:36 pm, 24-Nov-2011

Hate to say it but both shows are appalling, with the USA living upto it's stereotypical mannerism's that we all know it for ("OMG" it's a TV show about sob stories and people who have their electricity cut off) as usual they have managed to over hype it because that's the American Dream. As for Simon he's a genius an English person who's behind pretty much all of the hype at the moment, puppeteering the likes of Antonio Reid and the rest of the cattle on the show, he's got you yanks eating out of his hand (and it's a lot of food so I'm told) but good on him to expand Botox into the market and by the way he's not the first (from England) to do it. "create a business success hype". Finally this article is totally biased the writer's talent is to be questioned, she writes like a flimsy Tabloider, (sorry to say it but it's true) this is an Air headed tabloid blog or article whater it is. But you know simple people write talk and watch simple things, the only thing that is going to come out of this program "is wait for it!" Not talent but Money or Wonga. I found this page by accident by the way and thought that common stupidness should go un commented...

LYMAN 4:38 pm, 26-Nov-2011


rita allott 3:47 pm, 10-Dec-2011

us version as got better talent get rid of nicole la reid is great bring him to judge on uk with simon back as well cheryl cole and sharon osbourne it would be great for the ratings xx

Dave 8:36 pm, 13-Oct-2013

Watching 2013 seasons and it looks the both have excellent talent, the UK version has deffo not run out of talent.

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