'The X Factor': 5 Things We Learned From Sunday's 8-Minute Promo (Video)
What awaits America when Simon Cowell's latest singing sensation premieres on September 21? Drama, attitude, inspiration and an appearance by Cheryl Cole.
If the digital billboards, mall posters, TV commercials and steady stream of tweets haven't drilled it into your brain yet, The X Factor is premiering on September 21. For good measure, Fox offered an eight-minute preview of the show during Sunday night's NFL double-header -- the first glimpse America has gotten of Simon Cowell's latest TV import. Wondering what to expect? Here are five things we learned from watching the promo…
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1) Drama, drama, drama! Whether it's the ominous music, the inevitable judges' clash, a testy contestant (one Xander Alexander) or a moody Simon Cowell, the drama bar has been raised. Perhaps that American Idol-bashing ad the show issued earlier this summer was on point: look for your niceties elsewhere.
2) In hard times, dreams can still be fulfilled. Look no further than 13-year-old Rachel Crow, whose family "has, like, no money," for proof that dreams are meant to be realized. She takes the stage with the confidence of a seasoned pro, launches into her sob story (six people living a two-bedroom house; "I'm a girl, I need my own bathroom!") and not a tear hits the ground. Then, little Rachel breaks into Duffy's "Mercy" and leaves the audience -- and presumably, the judges' panel -- absolutely floored. Message received: it's talent you can get behind.
3) Second chances have their place. If The Voice didn't quite satiate your need for second chances, The X Factor has plenty of singing career rejects for the offering, like 42-year-old Stacy, who was told for the better part of 20 years that she didn't have what it takes. The verbal abuse shattered her confidence, but after belting Aretha Franklin's "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," it was all in the past. Cowell marveled, "That's one of the best auditions I've ever heard in my life!" And that's saying a lot, considering he was there for the Kelly Clarkson version, which pretty much clinched her season 1 Idol title.
4) Cheryl Cole makes an appearance! While she's no longer affiliated with the show, heaving weathered her own drama in making an exit halfway through auditions, it's somewhat heartening to see that Cheryl Cole wasn't completely erased from U.S. X Factor history. Rather, you can clearly see her at the judges' table during 13-year-old Rachel's Los Angeles audition. As for her replacement Nicole Scherzinger and fellow judges L.A. Reid and Paula Abdul, they predictably seem to take a backseat to Cowell, but viewer beware: that Reid has got some serious bite.
5) Sony Music is ponying up the money. Although X Factor principles have been somewhat evasive about who was handing over the $5 million allotted to the winning contestant, Cowell clarifies that "Sony are putting up $5 million of their money to back a completely unknown winner." It's a stupefying prize in today's music business, when a $500,000-budget album can yield the same results, but Cowell is not concerned with getting bang for the buck, the man clearly just wants the bang.