X Factor’s singing and hosting: what in the hell?

Since the early days of American Idol, I’ve argued that it—along with other talent competition series, from Top Chef to Project Runway—aren’t primarily talent competitions, especially when the public’s vote is involved. They’re popularity contests for which talent is, at best, one data point, and that’s what makes them reality shows rather than mere talent competitions. Everything from personality to backstory to hotness plays a role.

Yet I was still blown away by the lack of talent on The X Factor’s first live performance show last night, both in terms of the contestants and new host Khloe Kardashian, who couldn’t have seemed more out of place if she was wearing a Steve Jones mask for Halloween.

The singing was, at best, medicore, and at worst, atrocious. And I like shitty pop music! The worst offender was the final act, Emblem Three, a trio of hot teenage guys who act goofy and take off their shirts a lot. After they performed, L.A. Reid dropped his anti-Simon act and said the performance was a success, and Simon Cowell said, without a single bit of irony, “remember this night, because you are seeing a future superstar here.”

Really? This group? Because of this song?

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