The X Factor USA launches tonight on American TV (coming to ITV2 tomorrow) and stateside previews are already consistently pronouncing Cheryl Cole to be a better judge than her replacement, Nicole Scherzinger.
The former Pussycat Doll, previously intended to be the show’s presenter, was upgraded to judge after bosses at the Fox network overruled Simon Cowell and removed Cheryl from the position in May. But Cheryl still features in the first half of the opening show and many senior US reviewers agree in their verdict that she does a better job than Scherzinger.
“The opening episode gives a surprising amount of screen time to Cheryl Cole,” says the New York Times. “In the premiere she just kind of disappears mid show, without much explanation, and suddenly Nicole Scherzinger of Pussycat Dolls is in her chair. It’s a downgrade.
“Ms Cole showed glimmers of being interesting; in two seasons as a judge on The Sing-Off on NBC, Ms Scherzinger was a pretty face but, judicially speaking, not much more than a seat warmer.”
The LA Times says of Cheryl “on a first impression, she is much more interesting than Scherzinger, if only for her fabulous Geordie accent”, pronouncing Scherzinger “more interested in tearing up and out-glamming Pop Idol’s Jennifer Lopez than bringing much to the commentary.”
The Chicago Tribune says, simply, “Scherzinger doesn’t come off as an obvious improvement [over Cole].”
It’s a clear win for Cheryl over her US counterpart and could leave Simon Cowell – who initially wanted Cheryl for the show, but more recently explained her removal by saying she looked “bewildered” in the role – considering whether he is quite the judge he thinks he is.
Meanwhile, Cheryl’s fellow Brit, Steve Jones, who landed the job of presenting the X Factor USA despite being unknown in America, has fared less well at the hands of the critics. He is described by the New York Times as “utterly irrelevant” and by the Boston Herald as “so far in the background, he might as well be on another network”.
Perhaps more evidence that Cowell and co should have stuck with the original plan of having Scherzinger as the show’s presenter and Cheryl as a judge.
Cheryl may have lost the X Factor USA war but she’s won this battle, it seems…