I Have To Do This: X-Factor USA

I know this isn’t what this blog is for, but I ABSOLUTELY have to do this post about X-Factor, because I feel like this can be connected to the publishing/marketing process. So first I’ll rant a bit about the show, then I’ll make my point.

Firstly, the groups.

Simon Cowell is mentoring the groups, of which two are left: Fifth Harmony and Emblem 3. He’s not very happy with how they’ve been ranking, but they’re both still there as of right now (I’m probably going to be writing this as they’re doing the double elimination…)

Fifth Harmony are GREAT. They’ve got beautiful voices, they blend really well, and I could see them being the next big girl group if things work out for them. They’re lovable and I think the way they sound together is amazingly wonderfully exciting. Putting them together was a brilliant idea. But girl groups are always a hard sell, and that’s always on my mind as I watch them struggling to move up the rankings.

Emblem 3 are… well… They have a very distinct sound and feel and I’m really not a fan of it. That being said, I’ll try to judge them fairly. They can get pitchy. I find them annoying.  On the other hand, I can see how someone who likes that sort of music would really like them, and boy bands are sort of a big deal right now. I’m willing to bet that everyone voting for them is between the ages of 10 and 18, and probably a screaming female. Probably. In all fairness, though, they had a great performance this week and I think they should be very proud of it. Great song choice, for starters.

Next, the young adults.

Demi Lovato (whom I adore on a personal level), is mentoring the young adults. It’s not going well, with Paige Thomas and Cece Frey both having been in the bottom two. To be fair, though, Demi didn’t get a lot to work with, so trying to figure out what to do with them to work them up the leader board has been a bit of an uphill battle.

Paige Thomas has a nice voice, but it’s not particularly special. She loves to dance, but when she does she gets pitchy. She went with fantastic presentation previously, but this week was a more typical presentation and I feel that it suited her better. I didn’t like the song and I didn’t like the performance, though, even though I loved her outfit, and I think she could be facing elimination this week despite her best efforts. (UPDATE: Paige was sent home straight away, so I called that one)

Cece Frey has killer high notes and a crazy fierce attitude. I love her outfits, and while I was surprisingly pleased with her performance, she’s not going to last long. She’s a bit whiney, her voice grates, and she gets REALLY pitchy quite regularly. The judges are right, she should probably go home soon.

Next, the teens.

Britney Spears, queen of teen singing, is mentoring the two thirteen year old girls who are absolutely phenomenal. She literally doesn’t even have to try, these girls are so good.

Carly Rose Sonenclar is literally unreal. Demi and Simon have decided that she has to be an alien, and I’m inclined to believe them. This was her second week in a row of outdoing the originals she’s really blowing us away. There’s no way this girl is going home, and honestly if she doesn’t win, firstly I’ll be shocked, and secondly she won’t have to worry. She’s getting a record deal anyway.

Diamond White is just a star. They send her home, they bring her back, and then she just blew us all away week after week. This girl has a spark, she’s so frigging adorable, and she’s got the voice of an angel. She can’t compete with Carly, but she’s able to give any of the others a run for their money.

Finally, the over 25’s.

L.A. Reid is their mentor, and he drives me nuts. He’s silliness and annoying and inflammatory, and if I’m going to disagree with a judge it’s nearly always him. He’s got easy sailing so far with these two, but there’s still plenty of room to go wrong.

Tate Stevens should already be famous. I mean, seriously, the fact that he isn’t already on the country hits list is almost unconscionable. His voice is so rich and full. The only concern I have is that I feel like this week he picked the wrong song for his voice. I’d like to hear him do some Garth Brooks or Tim McGraw, but him singing Keith Urban was distracting to me because I spent the whole time thinking about how he shouldn’t be singing it. BUT even if he doesn’t win, he should be getting a record deal, absolutely.

Vino Alan… K, I’m going to be fair. I really don’t get this guy, but I can see how someone could. Is tattoos don’t bother me too much, but his hand motions do. I’m not a huge fan of his voice, but it’s good, and I can appreciate it, except that his stage presence is just incredibly distracting. Somehow, though, America REALLY LIKES this guy, so I’m not sure. (UPDATE, he got sent home this week in the sing-off against Diamond, so apparently I’m not the only one who wasn’t a fan)

SO, now for the point.

Basically, the way the show works is a TON of people audition. This is like sending out a query letter. Then they do bootcamp, which is like getting to the point where they’re taking your manuscript. Then they sit down and decide who’s going to the judge’s homes, which is like picking out books to represent, and then they support those books through the rest of the process. The judge’s then decide who goes to live shows, which is like sending it to the publisher, and with a week of live shows where each judge gets rid of an act, that’s the publishers deciding who to promote (roughly, of course, number’s wise it would be much fewer). After that, it’s ALL up to the fans, and if you are going to be number one, it’s the fans you have to please, not the judges.

And sometimes, the publishers (judges) get it completely wrong! They love something that America hates. Even industry professionals don’t always get it right, and they’re competing with other industry professionals who sometimes do get it right, as well as other books by the same publishing company that they are also promoting, which could take away some ‘votes’ (sales) from your book.

It’s a tough world out there, and if you need a reminder how how unfair things can sometimes be, how sometimes publishers don’t give the best advice, and sometimes a bad day can get even the best books to be passed over. The wrong mentor (agent, publisher) can mean disaster for a career that could have been blossoming into something beautiful.

If you get put down at any stage on this process, don’t lose heart. It doesn’t mean that your book is bad or that your pitch was terrible, it just means that you are a human marketing to other humans, and all humans make mistakes, whoever’s mistakes they were. If they were yours, learn from them and move on. If they were someone else’s, don’t take it personally. They’re allowed to screw up sometimes, too.




About Charlotte Blackwood

Charlotte Blackwood is a self-employed aspiring author working on perfecting her first novella/ first novel. She is a current student at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, CA. If you're looking for a reading list (someday she'll add her own works to the list), she's currently supporting Anna Karenina, anything by Dickens, anything by Tolkien, anything by JK Rowling, A Song of Ice and Fire, and The Hunger Games.

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