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Welcome to L.A.('s House)
Well, THIS has never happened on American Idol! Tonight's X Factor (baseball weather permitting) brings the top 32 acts to the judges' homes, where they'll be coached by their new mentors and special guests (like Rihanna, pictured). As you daydream about what treasures Steven Tyler and J. Lo are hiding at their top secret, no-contestants-allowed mansions, click through for a closer look at the differences between two competitive singing series...that honestly seem pretty much the same.
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Who is that man? Four weeks into the series, and I've never seen him before in my life! Just kidding, but The X Factor's Steve Jones has some giant tiny shoes to fill considering viewers likely miss the banter among American Idol host Ryan Seacrest, Simon Cowell, and Paula Abdul.
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The Judges' Vibe
L.A. Reid, Nicole Scherzinger, Paula, and Simon have already showed much more interaction — and conflict! — in The X Factor's audition rounds than Idol's Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez, and Randy Jackson did throughout all of season 10. Simon seems intent on setting up rivalries between himself and everyone else. Sure, they're totally fake, but it's fun to watch Paula squirm. And as you'll find out on the next page, it's fun to watch L.A. Reid do anything.
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So far, the various seated dance moves of L.A. Reid are The X Factor's most promising answer to The Many Faces of Steven Tyler. Keep inhaling the aromas of those invisible exotic dishes, L.A.!
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More Judging-Panel Visuals
Nicole Scherzinger is already giving J. Lo a serious run for her money/shoe collection with her go-to ''masking my disdain for the atrocity that's happening onstage'' facial expression.
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''You are so pretty'' (Paula) vs. ''You're beautiful'' (Steven). This one's a draw!
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Audition Setting: Packed Arena Vs. Private Room
Right away, contestants must stand in front of an enormous ''X'' and face down five or six thousand strangers to prove they have that special ''XF'' chromosome. The Idol hopefuls only have to deal with three people who usually agree with one another. (And the occasional window washer.)
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Crunch Time: Boot Camp Vs. Hollywood Week
It could be all in the editing, but compared with Idol's annual Hollywood Week stress fest, The X Factor's Boot Camp seemed fairly tame. Poor Idol nervous breakdown candidate Ashley Sullivan (pictured, bottom) probably could have used a quick hot tub sesh and a martini at that Boot Camp bash.
Is The X Factor actually Jersey Shore? EW.com investigates!
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Who Gets Through
During the audition rounds, both series devote plenty of screen time to the tragic and potentially uplifting backstories of contestants — like The X Factor's Dexter Haygood (top), who'd been living in his car, or American Idol's Danny Gokey, whose wife had recently passed away. It remains to be seen how much a contestant's past will affect his or her X Factor run from here on out. How important are personal histories? ''Personally, I think they're crucial,'' says Simon.
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How It Sounds
On The X Factor, contestants come prepared with backing tracks — often for original songs, like Chris Rene's spoken-word ''Young Homie.'' For Haley Reinhart and the Idol hopefuls, those first auditions are a cappella or bust. For a viewer, the backing tracks can be jarring and overwhelming, especially if we want to figure out whether the person in question has a decent voice. It's already clear from the audition rounds that The X Factor will prioritize performance quality over vocal talent.
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The X Factor's creepy zoom-ins on the hand pumping up the volume on a contestant's backing track is by no means a worthy replacement for American Idol's habit of showing us how many people can't figure out how to open doors.
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Proof of Potential Stardom
We miss Idol's golden tickets! Is it even possible to fully process the impact of ''four yeses'' unless they're followed by a shot of Ryan Seacrest dwarfed by a sheet of paper? The X Factor is taking a serious risk with this one.
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Who's Crying Now?
The season is young. Paula will get there.