Subjectivity occasionally mars TV talent searchBy Nestor U. Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
On “X Factor Philippines” last July 21, the jurors took 172 surviving auditionees to the next level, dividing them into males, females, over 25 and group categories.
The talents in each category were then given the same song to learn and perform—and they generally did quite poorly, prompting the four celebrity judges to express their disappointment, in one form or another.
From where we sat, however, we thought that the show shared part of the “blame” for the semifinalists’ poor showing, because it did not give them enough time to learn, absorb and figure out how to interpret the new song that had just been assigned to them.
Now, it could be that the TV talent search was trying to see how its new talents would do if they had to perform under time pressure, so they would reveal their toughness “under fire.”
Show biz is a really tough business, so the intention may have been OK—but, if the time restriction severely affected the quality of the performances the new bets came up with, then it wasn’t right.
New and relatively untested talents shouldn’t be badgered into coming up with a great audition—instead, they should be encouraged and helped. The stress factor can be not an X, but a hex factor, and thus works against rather than for a new bet.
Having said that, we’ve watched the show enough times since it began telecasting for us to be able to objectively observe that in the past, few weeks of televised auditions, it has discovered quite a few really promising singers.
On the other hand, the jurors have made some weird choices that have come off as too subjective by half. They seem motivated by the desire to discover “different,” “idiosyncratic” or even “fun-mad” singers, perhaps thinking that it is this unique and off-the-wall quality that will make them stand out in viewers’ perception.
But, this can be carried to the extreme, into weirdness for its own sake, and such “unique” talents may be initially disarming or shocking, but they can’t hold viewers’ attention for long, especially when the competition pits semifinalists against each other and real singing talent has to rule the day.
Now, about those really promising talents that the show has unearthed: We hope that most of them survived last July 21’s cut and weren’t unfairly eliminated due to the stress and time pressure factors that were made to come to bear on the competition.
However, if upon reflection and review, the jurors realize that a really good bet was eliminated, they should be honest enough to admit that they made a mistake, and invite the unfairly stressed-out talent back.
There’s a precedent for this in the original US show, when Simon Cowell passed on a good talent, realized what a big mistake he’d made, and contritely asked her to rejoin the group of finalists that he was mentoring. If memory serves, the female solo singer who was given a new lease on life ended up doing very well indeed in the tilt’s “final-finals.”
The operative fact is: Really good new talents is exceedingly hard to come by. So, if you’ve let one slip through your fingers, you have to own up to the oversight and give her or him the renewed chance to shine that his or her exceptional talent deserves.
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