Well! After all that speculation, our Season 3 judges for The X Factor have been unveiled — and there were some unexpected choices! (Well, one unexpected choice. Kelly Rowland had already been revealed, sort of.) The final judging panel will include Rowland alongside returning judges Simon Cowell and Demi Lovato, as well as Latin superstar Paulina Rubio.
It’s been a bumpy ride for The X Factor: Season 1 saw the more-or-less incoherent Paula Abdul team up with the hugely unlikable Nicole Scherzinger and the authoritative-but-not-particularly-great-television L.A. Reid, resulting in mediocre ratings; Season 2 brought out the big guns with Britney Spears and Demi Lovato replacing Abdul and Scherzinger, but not even Spears could save the show’s ratings. Now, it seems, Cowell’s going for interesting characters: Lovato has proven her mettle as a capable and empathetic judge with a lot of insight to share, while Rowland already has experience judging The X Factor in the UK (where she proved to have a ton of character), and Rubio — while a lesser-known commodity in the United States — is enormous in Latin America and has been a judge on The Voice in Mexico.
Point being that they didn’t snag another huge pop star, as with last year when Mariah Carey, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera were all inking deals at around the same time. Instead, Cowell roped in judges who actually know how to deliver critiques effectively — people who aren’t great divas, necessarily, but make for great television. It’s a better strategy.
Most importantly, it means there’s a shot a contestant will audition with “Kisses Down Low” this year.