‘The X Factor’ is back for its 14th series this weekend, and before you roll your eyes and prepare to spend the next three months moaning about how it is still on telly, allow us to explain why you should actually be excited for its return.
We were shown an exclusive preview of the new series at the press launch in central London earlier this week, and can confirm its definitely had a bit of a zhush.
Of course, TV bosses can’t reinvent the wheel, but after ratings have dropped off in recent years, a raft of changes were ordered and the show feels all the fresher for them.
While some of the alterations will only be seen later in the series, here’s what we can tell you about the auditions stage...
Original songs break the usual cycle of monotonous covers
We don’t know about you, but we are sick of hearing the same old songs year-in-year-out on ‘The X Factor’, and were already rolling our eyes in anticipation of hearing endless covers of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape Of You’ (something which the show actually mocks, in a special montage dedicated to Ed).
So good job then that this year, the contestants are being encouraged more than ever to bring their own original songs to the audition room, which really breaks the cycle of predictable try outs, and gives us - and the judges - a real insight to what type of artist they would be.
It’s a lot less about the judges and more about the contestants
Of course, the judges are still there, but it feels like the focus is much less on them than it has been in previous years.
They all still have the chemistry that seemed to have resonated with viewers last year, but there’s less of the waffling and cliches in their critiques, and less attention paid to their antics, which means the contestants are allowed to shine much more brightly.
There’s no novelty acts, and less uncomfortable auditions
Even the most ardent of ‘X Factor’ fans will admit it has become increasingly uncomfortable to sit through some auditions due to their ‘let’s all point and laugh’ nature’, and it seems producers have taken note.
While Simon Cowell previously promised there would be less novelty acts - something which is evident, the footage we were shown at the press launch also only featured one - how shall we put this? - less vocally able contestant.
There’s some seriously impressive talent
We don’t want to spoil too much of the episode, but we will tell you to look out for one contestant called Grace who wows the judges with her self-penned song ‘Roots’.
There isn’t a member of the panel that doesn’t have tears in their eyes by the end of her audition, and it delivers arguably the best ‘X Factor’ moment since Ella Henderson tried out in 2012.
The Schermazing Nicole
With rumours rife she wouldn’t commit to another series, we are SO pleased Simon managed to persuade the former Pussycat Doll to stay on.
And while, as we’ve already said, it’s not all about the judges, she does bring that something to the panel that no-one else before her has, and early signs indicate this year is no different.
‘The X Factor’ returns on Saturday at 8pm on ITV.