'X Factor' Season 1: What worked, what didn't

avril-lavigne-chris-rene.jpg "The X Factor" just wrapped its first season and we know it's coming back next fall. So we have a few cheers and a few jeers about what the show did well and what the show needs to improve upon for next year.

What Worked

Hollywood Week

Actually pre-setting the groups and giving them vocal and dancing coaches was a stroke of genius. The Hollywood Week of "Idol" may be kind of fun because it's a hot mess, but honestly, we actually liked seeing the groups do well and make the eliminations hard on the judges. -- Andrea Reiher

Allowing Original Performances

Too often singing competitions turn into karaoke competitions with better backing tracks. But what made "The X Factor" interesting were the periodic original songs -- specifically those by Brian "Astro" Bradley and Chris Rene. They broke up the predictability of the show and also demonstrated that contestants have real creative talent, not just good voices. We're also fans of letting the contestants play instruments if they want. This went over well on the times that Josh Krajcik did it. -- David Eckstein

Giving the Judges Power

The judges voting who goes home is a wonderful sliver of control to give them. It prevents the crazy too-early eliminations like Pia Toscano on "American Idol" last season. On the other hand, until the judges can stop acting like it's a personal competition between themselves, it doesn't work perfectly. -- Andrea Reiher

Stage Shows

Let's be honest. These competitions are as much about entertainment as they are about finding undiscovered talent. And one thing "The X Factor" did well was create impressive stage shows during every performance. While these didn't always hit the mark, it wasn't for lack of effort. For the most part, they offered entertaining and compelling visuals to go along with solid singing performances. -- David Eckstein


What Didn't

Steve Jones

The Welshman meets the aesthetic requirements of a TV host. He's tall, dark and handsome. And off camera, he's even charming. But when the lights are on, he's borderline robotic and has no rapport with any of the judges. And it's ever worse with the contestants. In a lot of ways, the host represents the emotional center of the show. Jones doesn't deliver on that. He should be voted out before next season. This might be a great spot for Nicole Scherzinger, who was initially set to co-host the show with Jones before she replaced Cheryl Cole as a judge. Which brings us to our next point ... -- David Eckstein

Nicole Scherzinger

As much as we like watching her for the "train wreck" effect, she's a lightweight when it comes to judging. She doesn't have the credibility that Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid bring to the judges table. And Paula Abdul earned her stripes through her years on "American Idol." Nicole didn't do herself any favors during the whole Rachel Crow fiasco. She seems ill-prepared to deal with the emotional part of her job. Scherzinger should be kicked up to hosting duties and replaced by an artist who has more heft. We're fans of the rumor that former Destiny's Child singer Kelly Rowland might leave the U.K. "X Factor" and return to the U.S. --  David Eckstein

The Judges' Dynamic

Speaking of the judges, how about the awful dynamic where Simon was unnaturally mean to the female judges (even for him) and the three other judges acted as though it was a personal competition against Simon to get their acts through, regardless of talent? We have to say we prefer the way "Idol" has the judges as impartial in terms of having no actual horses in the race. We do like "The X Factor" judges having voting power, but not if they view it as a competition. -- Andrea Reiher

The Groups

Perhaps it was just Paula's bad luck that none of the groups had much to offer in terms of talent. Or perhaps it's the concept in general. Whatever it was, the group concept failed. It's hard enough to get one person to demonstrate a skill set that'll work in a show like this. But that challenge is nearly impossible to overcome in a group setting. Plus, as the members of Lakoda Rayne astutely pointed out, the group members never really get to form that emotional bond with the audience because of how they're presented. -- David Eckstein

The Age Limit

Simon said early in the season that Rachel Crow was the reason they lowered the age limit to 13. But we think Rachel, Astro and Drew more than demonstrated that they are too young for this kind of environment. The pressure and the stakes caused them to absolutely melt down on stage when they were either in the Bottom 2 or eliminated. We think keeping the age limit at 16 is just fine, thanks. -- Andrea Reiher

Duets during the finale

When the show is down to the final three, the last thing a contestant should have to do is a duet that might influence whether they win the top prize. Sure it's nice that R. Kelly, Avril Lavigne and Alanis Morissette willing and able to participate, but it's just not the right time. Either schedule something earlier on or, better yet, have it on the final night after all the votes have been counted. It's not fair to the contestant if they get a bad pairing or catch a singer on a bad night. -- David Eckstein


What do you think, "X Factor" fans?

Photo/Video credit: FOX