A British singing competition that has run annually from 2004. It is the Spiritual Successor
to Pop Idol
, and came about because producer/presenter Simon Cowell wanted an intellectual property that he owned the television rights to.
It's basically the same as Pop Idol
(and American Idol
) except the contestants are split into categories. The categories originally consisted of 16-24 year olds, Over 25's and Groups. However with the addition of a fourth judge in Series 4 (2007), The 16-24 catergory was split into boys aged 16-24 (16-27 in 2010) and girls aged 16-24 (16-27 in 2010/2) with the Over 25's (Over 28's in 2010/2) and the Groups categories remaining the same to give four categories in total. After the initial round of frankly embarrassing auditions
, each Judge is randomly assigned a category and has to coach his or her group up until the weekly live shows, which enters a Final Battle
where the losers are voted off by telephone polls until only one remains
. After that, the winners pump out one guaranteed hit single (usually that year's Christmas Number One)- because the show is literally a two-month advertisement for their single - before becoming an answer in a pub quiz. It is worth noting, though, that five of the show's ten winners (notably Leona Lewis
and Little Mix
, who are the only successful contestants off of their respective series; Alexandra Burke
, Shayne Ward and James Arthur have done quite well, but didn't overshadow the other contestants the way the first two did.) have actually achieved continued success since their debut single. There have been other cases where contestants who didn't win have gone on to be arguably more successful than the winners of their series (the most significant example being One Direction
; although JLS, Olly Murs, and Cher Lloyd have also been quite successful). Australia also has the super successful Reece Mastin, Samantha Jade, Dami Im and Taylor Henderson.
It was probably the first show, before The Voice
, in this genre to glamorise and promote the judges over the actual singers and when it comes to the final rounds; the contest is promoted more as "Which judge('s group) will win?" than "Which singer will win?", despite this fact many winners world wide have gone onto be major successes.
Already having been exported to numerous countries, an American version
started in 2011. Tropes for the American series follow the British series.
Not to be confused with X-Factor
, one of Marvel's X-Men
spinoffs. Compare to Britain's Got Talent
.Now with a character page, which could use some building for the UK and USA versions of the show, especially.
The judges are:
- Simon Cowell himself (2004-2010, 2014)
- Louis Walsh (2004-present); an Irish Cloud Cuckoo Lander with a tendency to put forward joke acts. His bickering with the other judges is a source of much of the show's humour. May or may not be Obfuscating Stupidity
- Sharon Osbourne (2004-2007; 2013). Music producer and agent, also known as the wife of Ozzy Osbourne. The only judge prior to the near-total overhaul of the panel in 2011 never to have a winning act. Returned to the panel as Tulisa's replacement for the 2013 series, claiming to have signed a contract for a one-season deal and finally scooping up a winning act.
- Dannii Minogue (2007-2010). The younger sister of Kylie Minogue, and like her a successful former actress and singer.
- Minogue was absent for the 2010 auditions and temporarily replaced by a series of "guest judges" including Geri Halliwell, Katy Perry, Natalie Imbruglia, Pixie Lott and Nichole Scherzinger.
- Brian Friedman (2007); showed up for two episodes as a replacement for Louis Walsh. Demoted back to his choreography position after Louis was bought back, though continued to appear nearly Once an Episode in that role. Moved along with Simon Cowell to the US version in 2011, where he has a somewhat less visible role, though he did appear in the first few live shows of the 2012 series, before the corresponding US season's live shows began.
- Cheryl Fernandez-Versini (formerly Cheryl Cole; 2008-2010, 2014); member of the group Girls Aloud, winner of Popstars: The Rivals in 2002. At first seems the least cruel of the judges but is a master of the Stealth Insult.
- Gary Barlow (2011-2013); member of the group Take That.
- Kelly Rowland (2011); Former member of Destiny's Child, who's since carved out a niche for herself aside from simply being known as Beyoncé's bandmate once upon a time.
- Tulisa Contostavlos (2011-2012); member of the group N-Dubz
- Nicole Scherzinger (2010 as guest judge; 2012-2013); former member of the group Pussycat Dolls. First showed up during an incredibly popular spell as a guest judge in 2010. While her stint on the US version of the show didn't go down so well, she was still popular enough in the UK that she was invited back as a full-time judge in 2012.
- Due to the abrupt nature of Kelly Rowland's departure and a failed attempt to bring back Dannii Minogue, the 2012 series began without a permanent fourth judge in place. Geri Halliwell, 2006 winner Leona Lewis, Rita Ora, Mel B, Anastacia, and Scherzinger herself sat in the vacant judging seat until she was hired permanently for the role.
- Mel B (2012 as guest judge, 2014); formerly known as Scary Spice in the Spice Girls. She's no stranger to judging talent competitions, either, having previously appeared on America's Got Talent, the Australian The X Factor and guest judging the UK version before Nicole Scherzinger was officially hired in 2012.
Depending on the extent to which you view reality as subjective, the show is either an important yearly television tradition or an ever-growing armpit stain on the shirt of British culture.
Winners, their categories and their mentors:
- Season 1 (2004): Steve Brookstein, Over 25's, Simon Cowell
- Season 2 (2005): Shayne Ward, 16-24's, Louis Walsh
- Season 3 (2006): Leona Lewis, 16-24's, Simon Cowell
- Season 4 (2007): Leon Jackson, Boys, Dannii Minogue
- Season 5 (2008): Alexandra Burke, Girls, Cheryl Cole
- Season 6 (2009): Joe McElderry, Boys, Cheryl Cole
- Season 7 (2010): Matt Cardle, Boys, Dannii Minogue
- Season 8 (2011): Little Mix, Groups, Tulisa Contostavlos
- Season 9 (2012): James Arthur, Boys, Nicole Scherzinger
- Season 10 (2013): Sam Bailey, Over 25's, Sharon Osbourne
- Season 11 (2014): Ben Haenow, Over 25's, Simon Cowell
The show's most successful act is season 7's third-placed boy band One Direction
, with Season 3 winner Leona Lewis
not far behind. Some other notable finalists from this version of show include: Alexandra Burke
, JLS, Olly Murs, Jedward, Diana Vickers
, Cher Lloyd
and Little Mix
This series contains examples of:
The American version started in September 2011, taking Cowell away from American Idol
, and for a few weeks
, Cole from the UK X Factor. It ran for three seasons, before being cancelled due to mediocre ratings and Cowell deciding to return to the UK version.
The judges are:
- Simon Cowell again (2011-2013)
- Paula Abdul (2011); returning from American Idol to rekindle her on-screen chemistry with Simon and to add a note of sweetness to an otherwise snarky panel. note
- Cheryl Cole (2011); borrowed from the UK version for a few episodes until she either quit or was fired to return to the UK version (and then, for whatever reason, did not return to the UK), replaced by would-be co-hostess Nicole Scherzinger.
- Antonio "LA" Reid (2011-2012); black, bald, award-winning record producer willing to be harsher than Randy Jackson of American Idol, and thus more likely to confront Simon directly. Also even more experienced in the music industry than Randy, making him a Worthy Opponent for Simon.
- Nicole Scherzinger (2011); The Ace from the UK series in her guest judging, initially hired as co-hostess but promoted to judge/mentor on Cole's departure early in the first season.
- Britney Spears (2012); It's Britney, bitch.
- Demi Lovato (2012-2013); Disney Teen Idol known for her starring roles in Camp Rock and Sonny With A Chance, as well as her own career in music. Became a tabloid sensation in late 2010 when she entered a rehab facility for various emotional and physical troubles; after making a full recovery, she released a new album to great critical and commercial success.
- Kelly Rowland (2013); Former member of Destiny's Child, who's since carved out a niche for herself aside from simply being known as Beyoncé's bandmate once upon a time. She served as a judge for the 2011 series of the show's UK counterpart, before being replaced by Nicole Scherzinger - who was a judge on this incarnation of the show herself.
- Paulina Rubio (2013); Mexican pop star, commonly noted as being one of the most successful Latinas in the Spanish-speaking music industry.
Winners of the US version, their categories and their mentors:
- Season 1 (2011): Melanie Amaro, Girls, Simon Cowell
- Season 2 (2012): Tate Stevens, Over 25's, L.A. Reid
- Season 3 (2013): Alex & Sierra, Groups, Simon Cowell
The American series contains examples of:
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: No, not Paula Abdul. At least, not by comparison to Nicole Scherzinger, whose grandiose praise often contains very mixed metaphors.
: I'm sitting in Nicole's chair so I'm going to critique like Nicole
. I believe in you. You believe in me. You transcend the universe. God is smiling on you. Life is a waterfall, and you are the ultimate rainbow.
- Britney Spears in the new series said a person sung like "She was in a dream" and has said some other intriguing critiques.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Dylan Lawson's audition performance was basically a minute-long example of this trope. Granted, that was kinda to be expected since he chose to perform Lil Wayne's "Swag Surfin'," but Dylan certainly seemed very enthusiastic in his vulgarity.
- Cringe Comedy: In the final episode of the first season, trying to banter with Nicole Scherzinger, emcee Steve Jones asked her if he could come to her house for Christmas. Scherzinger twice said, "What?" forcing him to repeat the question before finally answering, "Yes. Yes. No." The already awkward moment was given an added layer of creepy the next day, when Jones told reporters, if fired from the show, he would ask Scherzinger out on a date.
- Cross Over: Season 1 contestant Astro is featured on a remixed version of British X Factor finalist Cher Lloyd's single "Want U Back". Astro was ironically not on the American version of the song.
- Cher herself appeared on Demi's single "Really Don't Care" which ended being her second hit.
- Louis Walsh took a break from shooting the UK version to fill in for Simon during one round of auditions in Season 2.
- Death Is Cheap: As was tradition with American Idol, all eliminees returned for an opening number in the final episode of the first season. Less traditionally, popular eliminees Drew, Astro and Marcus Canty were given duets with the surprise guest musicians (Justin Bieber, 50 Cent and Pitbull & Ne-Yo, respectively), while Rachel Crow emceed for one segue.
- Defrosting the Ice Queen: In season 2, Cece Frey toned down her bitchy attitude after Demi told her she was coming off as unlikable.
- Does Not Like Shoes: First season Justin Bieber fangirl Drew seemed to like to perform barefoot.
- Eyepatch of Power: Lyric Da Queen of Lyric 145 wears one, which is actually necessary for her; her left eye was already pretty messed up on its own, and then somebody at a club elbowed it...
- Face-Heel Turn: While Nicole Scherzinger was quite popular and well-liked on the UK version, American audiences had a much different reaction to her as a judge. At first, they were lukewarm, but then she voted to eliminate 14-year-old sweet Christian girl Drew just to punish Simon and received death threats afterward. The following week, she refused to vote against three-time bottom two member Marcus Canty, so as not to hurt his feelings, which caused the elimination of Badass Adorable Rachel Crow (and led to the Heartwarming Orphan falling to the stage in tears and the Crowning Moment Of Heartbreaking in which she begged her adoptive mother for forgiveness). From then until the final episode, fan opinion on Scherzinger was split. Some referred to her as a Dirty Coward, whereas others insisted she was a monster.
- Has Two Mommies: Beatrice Miller of Season 2.
- I Approved This Message: A FOX commercial calls Simon Cowell the "best judge ever" and has him stating "I'm Simon Cowell and I approved this message."
- I'm Not Here to Make Friends: Said almost word for word by Season 2 contestant, Cece Frey.
- Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Rion Paige from Season 3
- Is It Always Like This?: Similarly to Louis in the UK version, a frequent question from the US judges to Simon Cowell during the auditions phase.
- Logic Bomb: When Nicole was making the decision that would ultimately lead to Rachel Crow's elimination, she said "I don't want to have to send you home Rachel... so the act that I'm gonna send home is Rachel."
- Male Frontal Nudity: Within the first episode, Geo Godley sang about being a stud. Then he dropped his pants and showed off his ahem, "other stud" in front of the entire audience. It was such an awful sight that it led Paula to become quite nauseated by it, having to Rage Quit to the bathroom.
- He was wearing a thong, though that didn't stop people from leaving the auditions.
- The Mean Brit: Guess. Although, perhaps due to the mentoring process, compared to American Idol he seems almost cuddly to the contestants and typically reserves his harshest criticisms for their mentors. Cheryl Cole was a borderline case of this prior to being forced off the show; while not as mean as Simon or even LA, she was decidedly snarkier than either Paula or Nicole. Meanwhile, emcee Steve Jones at times plays this for the contestants, but usually by accident.
Steve Jones: (to eliminated girl group Lakoda Rayne) The dream is over.
- Mercy Kill: Simon seems to have done this when he eliminated Beatrice Miller because he felt she couldn't handle the competition anymore
- My God, What Have I Done?: This occurred during the first season; Marcus Canty (who was in the bottom 2 for the third time) and Rachel Crow (who was seen as a frontrunner by many) were in the bottom 2, and the deciding vote went to Nicole Scherzinger. If she voted to eliminate Marcus, he would have gotten the boot. Nicole didn't want to do that, though, so she voted to eliminate Rachel, sending the vote to deadlock. The final result? Rachel has the lowest amount of votes from America and was sent home. Cue a now-very sad 13 year old girl, sobbing while FALLING TO HER KNEES, in front of millions of people. Nicole (who was directly responsible for this happening), naturally grew inconsolable at what she had done and began crying as well.
- My Greatest Second Chance: Season 1 contestant, Arin Ray, returns to compete in Season 2, this time as a solo artist in Britney's Teen category.
- Season 3 had both Jeffrey Gutt (from Season 2) and James Kenney (from Season 1) return in the over 25's category, both making it past the audition stage.
- Nausea Dissonance: The first act of one episode featured a flasher who got on stage just to expose himself to the judges. While 3 of them were totally fine, Paula went to the bathroom to vomit for about 15 minutes.
- Now Buy The Merchandise: Played straight by Simone Battle during the first season. Just moments after being eliminated, Simone announced that her first music video was going to officially premiere the next day on YouTube.
- Not to be outdone, The Stereo Hogzz also released their first music video within a day of their elimination, though they didn't announce it onscreen like Simone did.
- Older Than They Look: Rachel Crow from the first season plays up a precocious, Shirley Temple-like image, which is somewhat disconcerting because she was actually 13 years old when she auditioned.
- Only One Name: In the time between the Judge's houses and the live shows, first season finalist Drew Ryniewicz dropped her last name.
- Only Sane Man: In the first episode of season 2, after wedding-dress/panty-clad Quatrele Da'an Smith auditioned, Britney, Demi, and SIMON all said yes, largely for the potential entertainment factor and the fact the he actually sang well. LA Reid, however, said no, and looked at the other judges like they were high after saying yes.
LA Reid: "My fellow judges have gone mad..."
- Positive Discrimination: Nicole voted The Stereo Hogzz off the show in favor of Lakoda Rayne purely because the former was an all-male group, and the latter was all-female. On top of that, she said after the show that she would always vote for a girl group over a boy (or mixed) group, irrespective of how well they actually performed. At the time, some praised her for sticking to her beliefs even though they may be controversial, but in retrospect many regard this as where things started to go horribly wrong for Nicole.
- Reassignment Backfire: The decision to replace Cheryl Cole with Nicole Scherzinger, if only because of the mess surrounding Rachel Crow's elimination. If, as many have speculated, Cheryl was deliberately set up to make a total ass of herself and get fired, then Nicole was supposed to come in and bowl US viewers over in the same way she had done in her brief UK stint, then it's an even worse case of this trope.
- Re Tool: Steve Jones, Nicole Scherzinger, and Paula Abdul all parted ways with the show after its first season... on the same day. Simon wasn't kidding when he said the show would undergo changes ahead of its second season.
- And then, the show underwent another panel shakeup following Britney's and LA's respective departures; they were eventually replaced by former UK X Factor judge Kelly Rowland and Mexican pop star Paulina Rubio.
- Revolving Door Casting: The panel of judges (including the host(s), for that matter) has never stayed the same for multiple seasons.
- Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: After initially eliminating Melanie, Simon decided that he would add a fifth member to his team.
- Surfer Dude: Emblem3's stylistic shtick.
- Take That: To Demi Lovato after she told an unlucky auditionee that "it's not meant for everybody" he replied "That's why you use auto tune and I don't".
- Technician Versus Performer: On season 1, Melanie Amaro is a technically perfect pop belter, whereas 3rd place finisher Chris Rene may not have the best voice, but his simple message ("Love life!") and sincerity connect with the audience on a larger scale. Meanwhile, Josh Krajcik, who finished in 2nd is both a multi-talented composer/musician with a stunning set of pipes for blues and rock and also a relatable and extremely likable bloke (albeit decidedly not in a "prefabricated pop star" way - which is, like Rene, part of his charm). This was everything just short of lampshaded in the penultimate episode with the final three's duets with established pop stars. Amaro's partner was R. Kelly, whose personal life is... let's just say "off-putting"... but who is undeniably, even to his detractors, as competent a singer and songwriter as they come. Rene's was Avril Lavigne, who has been lambasted and spoofed for her less-than-polished voice and often simplistic music, but who has maintained a career long since many of her "pop diva" contemporaries faded into nostalgia collection obscurity with her seemingly boundless energy and grungy charm. Whereas Krajcik's partner was Alanis Morissette, who began her career, in the eyes of many, as a sort of poor man's Sheryl Crow, Liz Phair or Courtney Love, due both to her slightly less conventional attractiveness and slightly more formulaic songwriting, but who has since established herself, in the words of judge Nicole Scherzinger, as "rock royalty," thanks to both her willingness to use her unique stage presence to her advantage and her nearly encyclopedic knowledge of music industry history and current events.
- Title Drop: Astro
"WHEN YOU SAY X, I SAY FACTA!"
- Transatlantic Equivalent
- Walking Shirtless Scene: Drew Chadwick of Emblem3, though the group as a whole seems to like losing their shirts in general. Lampshaded by various contestants.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: Carly Rose Sonenclar of Season 2 definitely comes across as this.
In 2005, an Australian version was created, consisting of a 13 episode season that was cancelled due to low ratings.
However, in 2010, it was Uncancelled
via a Channel Hop
and, after undergoing a major Reboot
, has been a strong hit with the Australian public ever since.
The judges from the 2005 season were:
- Mark Holden, mentor of the groups.
- Kate Ceberano, mentor of the 16-24s.
- John Reid, mentor of the over 25s.
The judges in the current series are:
- Guy Sebastian (2010-2012), Australian recording artist and winner of the first season of Australian Idol. Known for his down-to-earth approach to his contestants, he balanced kindness with constructive criticism. Won twice with Reece Mastin and Samantha Jade
- Kyle Sandilands (2010), radio and television personality. Known for his tough critiques, he is one of the harder to please judges the show has had. Left after one season due to the show being to hectic for his schedule.
- Natalie Imbruglia (2010), Australian recording artist known outside her native country almost solely for her hit "Torn". Was a very sunny personality at the judging table.
- Ronan Keating (2010-Present), Member of the Boy Band Boyzone. While usually serious in tone, he knows when to lighten up. Currently the only original judge from the 2010 revival still on the panel.
- Mel B, AKA "Scary Spice", (2011-2012), former member of the Spice Girls. In contrast to many female judges on Idol and other X Factor versions, she is very abrasive in her judging style.
- Natalie Bassingwaigthe (2011-Present) Australian recording artist. Known for her Cloud Cuckoo Lander style of judging.
- Dannii Minogue (2013-Present) Again. Won with Dami Im
- Redfoo (2013-Present) American rapper (LMFAO), who notably did not know about the franchise until being asked to join. Possibly a bigger Cloud Cuckoo Lander than Natalie.
Winners, their categories, and mentors:
- Season 1 (2005): Random, Groups, Mark Holden
- Season 2 (2010): Altiyan Childs, Over 25s, Ronan Keating
- Season 3 (2011): Reece Mastin, Boys, Guy Sebastian
- Season 4 (2012): Samantha Jade, Over 25s, Guy Sebastian
- Season 5 (2013): Dami Im, Over 24s (changed from over 25s), Dannii Minogue
- Season 6 (2014): Marlisa Punzalan, Girls, Ronan Keating
- Adorkable: Season 5 finalist Dami Im is the cover girl for this. At her first audition alone, she has stockings with kittens drawn on them by her and in response to the judges about what the judges could expect from her, she replied "awesome singing." Surprisingly, her husband Noah is as equally goofy as seen in how he supports Dami at her audition.
- From season 4,Shiane Hawke is only a fourteen year old girl who still has braces. Her stage presence is very much how you'd expect it to be, which comes off as endearing as opposed to many singers her age whose main draw is how mature they are beyond their years.
- Also from season 4, Bella Ferraro.
- Boring Invincible Hero: Averted on the show as a whole. Back-to-back winners Reece Mastin and Samantha Jade were both in the Bottom 2, once for the former and three times for the latter, and still won. Compared to the UK version that's had only James Arthur who was in the Bottom 2 once and the USA version which has no such winners, this is as much an aversion the show could be expected to have. Interestingly, both of them had Boring Invincible Runner-ups who were never in the Bottom 2 and thought likely to win.
- Also averted for Series Six. Winner Marlisa and runner-up Dean Ray each had one appearance in the bottom two, in weeks 10 and 9 respectively, while third-place finishers Brothers 3 had never been in the bottom two, prior to the finale.
- Canon Discontinuity: The first season is hardly ever referenced in later seasons.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Natalie Bassingwaigthe and Red Foo fight out for this title. As for the contestants, Dami Im has her moments.
- The Determinator: Samantha Jade was in the Bottom 2 three times, including the the first week, yet still won the entire show.
- Expy: Kyle Sandilands is like an Australian Simon Cowell.
- Final Season Casting: Inverted, the first season's judges and host are different from all the other seasons.
- Funny Foreigner: Red Foo is the only American on an Australian show, and it shows. Dami Im, who was born in South Korea, counts to a lesser extent as well.
- Good Is Boring: Samantha Jade has this thrown at her a lot, with her detractors claiming she has little personality to put into her singing.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Natalie is an Australian recording artist whose very excitable . . . is a sentence that can be applied to both Imbruglia and Bassingwaigthe.
- Transplant: Several. The most obvious one is Dannii Minogue from the British version. Kyle Sandilands was also a judge on Australian Idol for a while and Guy Sebastian won its' first season. All three have/are on the panel.
- Taylor Henderson was originally on Australia's Got Talent before becoming a finalist on X Factor. Interestingly, Dannii Minogue was a judge at the time.