The Denver Coliseum was a mob scene when “The X Factor” held auditions there this spring.
Now, Denver gets to be the stage as the judges choose the next standout singer or singers, soloist or group act, with that ineffable something — the next One Direction.
Denver will be partly responsible for the fate of the entire Fox network when “The X Factor” returns for season three with a two-night premiere next week.
Watch for the music, or watch for the bickering: “The X Factor” premieres 7-8 p.m. Sept. 11 and 7-9 p.m. Sept. 12 on Fox31.
Fox is going more male this year, but also more “X Factor.” The music competition will take up the bulk of the network’s Wednesday night schedule and a chunk of Thursdays this season.
And “X Factor” is going more Denver. If the Denver auditions play well on the air, the series will be set up for a better season.
You’ve probably heard about the declining interest in TV’s musical competitions. “X Factor” was down 20 percent in the youngish 18-49-year-old demographic last season. “X Factor” wasn’t alone among talent shows slipping in appeal: “American Idol” showed an even worse fall-off. Fox has taken a beating.
To combat that decline, the network has a new strategy for the chemistry at the judges’ table. Fox is playing up the angle that Simon Cowell will be outnumbered by female judges; the famously controlling judge will be controlled for a change.
He’ll still be calling out each judge’s name in search of their votes and reactions — Kelly, Paulina, Demi — but they’re clearly being coached to talk back and over him.
Kelly Rowland previously served as a judge on the U.K. version of the show and has a gracious way of expressing herself in contrast to Simon. She knows the business: The former member of Destiny’s Child (who was at Denver club Beta last weekend with Justin Bieber) helped power that group to four No. 1 singles in the U.S., 14 Grammy Award nominations with three wins (including Best R&B song in 2001 for “Say My Name”).
Paulina Rubio, a Latin artist who has sold more than 20 million records around the world, is no slouch. She launched her career in 1984 as a member of the popular teen pop group Timbiriche. She can dish out the sass to Simon as well as take it.
And singer-songwriter-actor Demi Lovato, who seemed able to put the testy Cowell in his place last year, returns to keep him in line.
It’s a bit of play-acting, of course, meant to provide narrative structure between songs and to give the proceedings a new twist.
“It’s a girls’ world at the moment in the music business,” Cowell told television critics last month in L.A. “So many girls (are) doing so well in the charts, we thought the panel should reflect it. But be careful what you wish for.”
Besides keeping Fox in business, the point of the show is unchanged.
“What we’ve proven with the show over the years is that it’s got an incredible track record of breaking artists internationally and not just in one country,” Cowell said.
You can’t take One Direction away from them.
Joanne Ostrow is the Denver Post Television Critic. For more TV news see Joanne’s blog.