There are renewed rumours in today’s papers that Kelly Rowland is to leave The X Factor, after only one series on the judging panel of the ITV1 talent show. Reports say Rowland was unprepared for the pressure of judging and mentoring contestants, and that she disliked the media “circus” that surrounds the nation’s biggest TV show.
This puts the 2012 X Factor line-up in flux: Gary Barlow and even Louis Walsh have both previously hinted that they might not want to come back, leaving only Tulisa Contostavlos looking certain to remain. But could Rowland’s departure, if and when it’s confirmed, be for the best?
Rowland began her stint behind the judges’ desk very well when the 2011 X Factor debuted back in August. At the audition stages she was sharp, sassy and opinionated without being needlessly cutting – she also proved to be something of a sex symbol for many contestants, and was willing to display her emotions, as when crying over Jade Richards’ performance of Someone like You by Adele.
But the auditions are very different to the live shows, which are where the programme starts in earnest. First, there are no contestants to mentor or elimination decisions to make. Second, the auditions are carefully edited. Faced with coming up with song choices, eviction choices and live comments every week, Rowland soon lost her lustre.
Rowland mentored the girls category, which looked strong. But it was weakened straight away by the decision to take Sophie Habibis through to the live shows at the expense of Jade Richards, despite Rowland’s earlier enthusiasm for Richards – and by the decision in week one to safeguard Habibis again, this time to the detriment of eventual third-place finisher Amelia Lily. Of course the show’s producers will have had a hand in both moves, but Rowland was the public face of them.
Still, Rowland was in a good position even when it quickly became apparent that Habibis stood no chance of winning. Misha Bryan looked like one of The X Factor’s best contestants in years, while winsome Northern Irish chanteuse Janet Devlin was both the bookies’ favourite to win and, later figures confirmed, the runaway leader in the public vote in the first few live shows.
But Bryan was constantly in the bottom two, eventually doing well to come fourth, while Devlin collapsed: a sudden spate of poor performances saw her eliminated in only fifth place. Would contestants be confident in Rowland as a mentor next year?
More importantly, Rowland became a figure of fun among some viewers thanks to her repeated use of some odd catchphrases, many of which seemed to be unnecessarily emphasising that she is American, as if this were exotic. “You put it down!”, “You shut the building down!” and other strange utterances involving things being lowered or switched off were amusing to begin with, but soon became simply bizarre. On other occasions Rowland struggled to come up with interesting, constructive comments on the hoof, under the pressure of live TV – although to be fair, so did Tulisa Contostavlos in her debut year. And Louis Walsh still has difficulty after eight seasons. But the point is, Rowland didn’t shine as a million-selling artist probably should. Another year on the show would probably only see her get worse.
So do you agree that the show could use some new blood, starting with replacing Kelly Rowland? Leave a comment and let us know.