So then: what exactly is an "X Factor?"

  Maybe the easiest way to describe it is as follows: "American Idol."
 
  The similarities are profound, which may be why there was a lawsuit filed against it and owner Simon Cowell by "Pop Idol" founder/owner, Simon Fuller, later settled out of court.

  But "Pop Idol" - model of course for "American Idol" - is long gone, and the reigning king of Brit TV is "Factor," and its famous judge.


 People have said the distinguishing difference between shows is contestant age - which is essentially true, although most winners of "Factor's" six seasons have been young. The groupings in "Factor" - which airs on ITV - are a little complicated - guy and girls split into different age groups (14 to 24) and an over-25 group.
 
  From there, viewers might struggle to see great differences between these shows, and when Simon joins "Factor" in '11, the confusion could be acute. There are the early auditions, with good/bad/awful contestants - just like "Idol." The auditions before judges - finalists from those go to "boot camp" where their skills are honed even further; there's a visit to the "judges' homes" - actually just rented lavish apartments in London; and finally the live shows, where viewers vote, and the winner is selected. 

  The victor is crowned just before Christmas, millions of people go out to buy their hit single, and Simon takes a bow. They also sign record deals with his company and Sony.

 Oh, yes, and four judges AND Simon sits to the far right too. (Simon Cowell, Dannii Minogue, Louis Walsh, Cheryl Cole.) Cole is kinda the Paula of the group - plus, has the same sort of background. Rumors she'll join the US show, too.

    Dermot O'Leary is one of the hosts, and he even kinda looks like Rycrest.
 
  OK, that’s your primer. Here are a couple clips. The winner of this season is Joe McElderry - he's your second clip. Interesting sidenote: some Brit protesters mounted a campaign against Simon, and tried to get Rage against the Machine's "Killing in the Name" on the charts. They did AND it beat McElderry's single, whatever it was. I suppose some people decided this was a jump-the-shark moment for "Factor," but I suspect it made SiCo even more famous, more omnipotent.

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  My parting thought: Because the similarities are so incredible, will the one problem that Fox has wisely avoided all these years finally and completely annihilate "Idol?" Unlike "Survivor," Fox kept the show to just one edition a year, reasoning two would be too many. It was right. But "Factor" essentially means we'll have two "Idols." Something may have to give.


 

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