The ratings are in, and it's time to ask: What went wrong with
Season 3 of
Remember back just before the show launched its first season and Cowell predicted that he was going to beat
So why is "X Factor" going down like a tone-deaf warbler at an audition? Blame it on Cowell, who seems to have no fixed vision for the show.
In season 1, he hoped to rekindle his old "Idol" magic with former judge
This year, the producers have decided to move back to the format's amateur-hour roots. The idea is to focus on those who truly need a break -- such as Wednesday's heartstring-tugging 54-year-old mom Lillie McCloud, above -- as opposed to more jaded singers who've already been through a busted record deal or two.
What is "X Factor"? Well, what would you like it to be?
True, you could argue that the singing-show format has simply gotten too crowded, what with "Idol" and
In Britain, "X Factor" was a much bigger hit. Cowell was able to leverage the contestants' personal lives and scandals into tabloid fodder that fed viewership. But the U.S. is a much larger, more cluttered TV market. And "X Factor" had the luxury of years to build its audience, after it drove "Pop Idol" -- the British version of "American Idol" -- out of the market.
Cowell brought on new judges Paula Rubio and
But that's one act that needs to be sent packing. And the repercussions will extend far beyond Cowell and his mini-empire. Fox has spent more than a decade relying on singing shows. After this week's ratings, it's clear that era is quickly winding down.
What do you think of "X Factor"?