The ratings for the inaugural US season of X-Factor took a nose dive last week. The results show, held on Tuesday night, didn't even break 10million viewers. This is the lowest rated episode since the show pushed back the second half of the judges' house episode to a Sunday night due to baseball. Schedule shifts are not friendly to reality TV shows and Simon Cowell's latest program is no exception. The show has done nothing to address concerns of poor lighting design and a myriad of other problems. The judges are still bickering over inconsequential things, making the show all about them at the expense of the contestants. The groups are all gone, making this just another solo singing competition with one exception.
That exception's name is Astro and he's a rapper. I don't mean a singing rapper like Cher Lloyd on X-Factor in the UK last year. I mean a rapper. Astro does not sing. He does not dance. What he does do is provide a fresh edge to a very tired reality show format that should be praised for the audacity of the choice.
Astro is a teenager from Brooklyn. Yet, he's out there every week writing brand new verses and choruses to well-known rap songs. His best performance so far came last week on Inspiration Night, where he took that abysmal P.Diddy cover of "Every Breath You Take" and turned it into something that wasn't filled with cliched sentimentality.
He's not always this strong with his verses, but his mentor LA Reid is making him write new lyrics every week. That's more than anyone else is doing in the contest. He has a great stage presence and is probably the easiest artist left in the contest to package and sell as a $5million recording artist.
Here's an example of what he did when left to his own devices. This is his single on YouTube that he reprised as his X-Factor audition.
Obviously, it would be foolish to release what is essentially a novelty song to debut an artist on a major label who is getting that much money. What X-Factor is allowing him to do is put out new songs every week to a national audience. If he makes it to the finale, he'll essentially have an album worth of material already in the public sphere. That's huge.
The reason Astro should win X-Factor is a really simple one. He's the only contestant left ready for the limelight. The young female solo singers need more coaching and a unique sound. The older solo male artists are a bit better defined, but not as marketable as this teenager.
Astro winning would also be a boon for X-Factor as a program. Imagine what a rapper winning would do for the type of acts auditioning for the show. After Carrie Underwood won American Idol, the show suddenly opened itself up to putting through a lot more country acts. Astro winning would encourage other rappers and hip-hop acts to audition for a show that will have them.
No other music-based talent contest allows rappers to compete, yet rap records are consistently some of the most successful songs on the radio and the charts year after year. Astro winning this show would force the reality genre's hand in a new direction. Do you think the producers of the other shows want to be left behind with what kind of music the voting public is willing to support?