So it’s goodbye Simon, Cheryl and Dannii, and hello Tulisa, Kelly and Gary! Lisa Williams gives us the low-down on this year’s revamped judging panel, pictured right.
Before sole surviving judge Louis Walsh had the chance to say ‘Jedward’, The 2011 X Factor panel has been transformed.
Now we have Take That’s Gary Barlow, former Destiny’s Child songstress Kelly Rowland and N-Dubz singer Tulisa Contostavlos, as Cheryl Cole, Simon Cowell and Dannii Minogue leave the show behind.
The series certainly promises to be exciting, but will it live up to expectations? We put this year’s judging panel under the spotlight...
Name: Kelly Rowland
Credentials: Kelly found worldwide fame alongside Michelle Williams and Beyonce in the girl group Destiny’s Child, who racked up four chart-topping hits including Independent Women and Say My Name. Since disbanding, Kelly’s gone on to a diverse solo career spawning hits such as Dilemma, the worldwide number one with Nelly, and club anthem When Love Takes Over with DJ David Guetta.
Don’t mention: Bugaboo. Kelly has named this as Destiny’s Child’s worst song.
Star style: At the regional auditions Kelly’s been working the city shorts look like a pro and showing off her tiny waist and Bootylicious curves in cropped tops and skintight dresses.
Her thoughts on the panel: “We’re getting on wonderfully! We’re all so different but have so much fun. Backstage there are always smiles, laughter and messing around.”
What she’s looking for: “A uniqueness. A likeable factor. Heart. Passion. Hunger. Worldwide appeal.”
Our prediction: Kelly will be supportive all the way. She’s much more talented than her female predecessors so she can double up as a vocal coach as well as mentor, and is very likely to have a contestant in the final.
Name: Tulisa Contostavlos
Credentials: London girl Tulisa has she’s been singing in her band N-Dubz since she was 11. The band hit the big time in 2008 when their debut album Uncle B went platinum.
Don’t mention: Her rude girl past. The singer has spoken of her troubled childhood and teenage years, when she got into fights, shoplifted and self-harmed, although she’s since admitted “everything happens for a reason”.
Star style: Tulisa has already been a big hit with fans, as she’s rocked a number of styles at the audition rounds, including a red-hot dress and a Cheryl Cole-style fishtail hair plait.
Her thoughts on the panel: “We’re getting on almost too well. I feel like I’m part of a new family.
What she’s looking for: “Three simple qualities: talent, likeability and ambition. Someone that stands out from the crowd.”
Our prediction: Tulisa is what Simon Cowell might call a ‘relevant’ artist so she’ll be looking for original, spiky new stars and will have no time for the same old Whitney and Mariah warblers.
With the right amount of freedom from the producers, she could be on to a winner.
Name: Gary Barlow
Credentials: The backbone of boy band turned man band Take That and one of the UK’s most successful songwriters, Gary has had 11 number one singles with the band and two as a solo artist.
Don’t mention: Do What U Like. Take That’s first music video saw them parading around bare-chested in cycling shorts and studded leather jackets while covering themselves in jelly and ice cream.
Star style: Understated Gary has been keeping it simple in jeans, T-shirts and blazers.
His thoughts on the panel: “There’s no one more valid than me, Kelly and Tulisa because we’re out there doing it right now. We’re selling tickets and records – what these guys want to be doing.”
What he’s looking for: “They have to have a really good voice, as well as the passion, the personality and the stage presence.”
Our prediction: Gary has a lot to offer this year’s hopefuls.He’s likely to give constructive feedback rather than Simon Cowell-esque soundbites, but will this get a bit dull after a while?
Name: Louis Walsh
Credentials: Louis has been on the show since its beginning in 2004. As a producer he’s credited with the success of Irish boy bands Westlife and Boyzone, and kick-started Ronan Keating’s solo career. In the past he’s also managed JLS and the Spice Girls, and is still Jedward’s manager, after mentoring them in The X Factor in 2009.
Don’t mention: There have been a few duds amid his impressive roster of talent – does anyone remember The Carter Twins, Bellefire or Six?
Star style: Louis has gone a bit leftfield this year, jazzing up his standard suits with snappy ties and aviator shades.
His thoughts on the panel: “After eight years on the show and being the only surviving original judge, I was expecting to be head judge this year. But on day one Gary stole my head judge mug and sat in Simon’s old seat.”
What he’s looking for: “I’m looking for passion and hard work. This is all about finding someone who genuinely wants a career in the music industry and is willing to work for that. We definitely don’t want someone who’s just looking for 15 minutes of fame.”
Our prediction: Louis has a habit of putting through the novelty acts, and then getting his comeuppance by being lumbered with the category with the least talent. Once again, this year he’ll probably champion a popular but untalented act through to the later stages, who’ll crash and burn before the final.