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'X-Factor' is 'American Idol' all grown up -- with Chris Rene, Marcus Canty starring

In this undated image released by Fox,%20judges%20Paula%20Abdul%20and%20Fox, judges

In this undated image released by Fox, judges Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell, appear during auditions for the singing competition series "The X Factor." (Sept. 21, 2011) Photo Credit: Fox

"X-Factor" exploded in its debut the myth that it was going to be just an "American Idol" clone  -- sure, it has Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul, but the entire feel of the show is much more slick and quick, from screaming stadium crowds to tight shots of parents crying to slick contestants who showed no trace of stage fright.

The judges don't ramble, the host didn't try to take over, the contestant bios didn't wallow in tragedy, the camera cut to the right person at the right time. In short, we saw what "American Idol" could be like if it were run by professionals.

I did wish at times it had a bit of the amateurish quality of "Idol." The show felt so scripted, so even though there were moments of strong emotion, you always felt a bit manipulated, like the producers were watching you and nodding as you laughed, as you teared up, as you yelled "yes!"

Let it flow a little more, Fox. A whole season of this is going to get tiring.

As for the singers themselves -- well, a contestant did pull his pants down during the show and . . . let's just say he put the X in "X-Factor. " Other than that unforgettable scene (which drove Paula into a bathroom in either apparent disgust, or an overdose of melodrama), what stuck out were two sweet-voiced young men.

Marcus Canty is a 20-year-old whose mom gave him two years to make it as a singer, or go to college. But after he knocked Stevie Wonder's "I Wish" out of the park, school is going to have to wait. As Simon said, he channeled Usher; same sweet voice, same likability, same natural showmanship.

But it was ex-addict Chris Rene's original "Young Homie" that brought the house down and closed the show. It was heartfelt, lyrical and featured a great falsetto. It's indescribable, as Nicole Scherzinger said. Just check it out on YouTube.

"You lit us all up," said Paula. LA Reid simply said, "you are the truth."

"My favorite feeling in the world is when I sit in this chair and I meet a star for the first time," said Simon.

"Maybe you need the show, maybe we need you."

Loved "X-Factor"? Hated it? How does it compare to "American Idol"? Tell us in the comments, below.


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