Celebrity judges are so last year. Sure, the "X Factor" has a trio of chart-toppers in Demi Lovato, Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio. But to hear the show's panelists tell it, this season they're focusing on the talent in front of the judge's table, not behind it.
"You have so many of these shows now which all look the same," said "Factor" boss Simon Cowell of the star-packed panels on rivals such as the "X Factor" and "The Voice" who often take attention away from the contestants.
"That's the problem. So you've got to try and be different from the others." Cowell said his ace card is the experience he brings from his real job running a record label [Syco Entertainment], whose signings include One Direction, Leona Lewis and Il Divo. "My job is finding people and turning them into stars," he said.
Though she's got her own red-hot career to tend to, Lovato is also dead-set on making a difference on "Factor." And while last year she said she was looking for acts like CeCe Frey and Paige Thomas that the pop charts might like, this time she's just looking for that, well, you know.
"The difference this season is it's really all about talent and the likeability factor," said Lovato. "You really have to have the overall package ... This year I'm going to focus more on raw, incredible talent."
Newbie Rowland knows all about building stars from the ground up thanks to her tenure in Destiny's Child and as a solo artist. But she also knows that there's plenty to learn from Cowell's years of experience. "One thing that I respect about the 'X Factor' is you actually see stars who go off to have careers," she said of acts like 1D, Cher Lloyd and Fifth Harmony. "They actually get the chance and they actually make something of it."
Just one week in it already looks like "Factor" is going to need all the superstar talent they can find, since the show's limp opening week ratings were a grim reminder that some reality singing show fatigue might be setting in.