As he prepares for the launch of X Factor USA, Simon Cowell must be relieved how well the latest UK series has been accepted. The fickle world of showbusiness has proved true once again. It is as if the "old" panel of judges never existed, as audiences take to Gary Barlow, Kelly Rowland, Tulisa Contostavios and veteran Louis Walsh.
There has been some criticism of Gary Barlow being a little "boring", but I don't think this is true. He obviously takes the job as Head Judge seriously and is looking for a real talent amongst the contestants, which could prove his downfall. As Louis Walsh has observed, Gary may be a great singer-songwriter, but he has yet to fully grasp the reality of the show.
At the end of the day it is not really about the final winner, but the "entertainment" provided by those on the way to getting there. The slick television production and the chemistry between the judging panel is what it is really all about, with the contestants just disposable fodder, like those poor folk thrown to the lions. Mr Barlow is a professional and will quickly learn, but meanwhile I think he has handled the job well, with a nice line in deadpan quips.
However, it has got to be said, it is Kelly Rowland who is quickly emerging as the star of the judging panel, but all four have a chance to develop and prove their worth when the auditions end and the Boot Camp, plus "live" shows, begin.
The singing talent is a good enough mixture to satisfy the rest of the media and keep the show on the front pages. Derry Mensah, the 20 year-old, who got Kelly all a-flutter, has form as they say, having served a jail sentence for mugging. However, according to his family, he has changed his ways and had been working at Burger King prior to winning his place in Boot Camp. His "evil" past has provided the required saturation tabloid coverage.
The big surprise on Saturday was Johnny Robinson, who hasn't got the most appealing looks and with a speaking voice on the camp side of Kenneth Williams, but who wowed everyone when he sang the Etta James hit "At Last". The 45 year-old declared "I know I look ugly" before his performance. The British love an underdog and it wouldn't surprise me if he went all the way in the competition. The Link to Johnny's audition is below:-
Meanwhile, both Simon and Louis have been bitching a little about Cheryl Cole, to the extent that you would think they had co-ordinated their attacks (!), but according to Katie Hind, the Showbusiness Editor of The Sunday People, the Girls Aloud singer will be returning to TV next year, having signed a deal with ITV, who also broadcast X Factor.
Cheryl needs to do something if she wants to avoid the fickle finger of fate that can turn a successful artist into a nobody. Ms Cole's whole persona as "The Nation's Sweetheart" was built around her weekly appearances on X Factor and she needs another vehicle quickly to maintain her star profile. Otherwise, the very paparazzi she now spends time avoiding may no longer find her interesting - and that is the fate that haunts most celebrities.