When Carly Rose Sonenclar appeared on the second season of The X Factor in 2012, judges and viewers were in awe of her singing ability. We all wondered how a 13-year-old could possess such a powerful voice, and it seemed from the very beginning that Sonenclar would be the frontrunner to win the competition.
To the surprise of many viewers, Sonenclar wound up losing to Tate Stevens. However, considering that other X Factor alums like One Direction and Cher Lloyd didn’t win and still became superstars, it’s only logical to assume that Sonenclar would do the same. But this hasn’t happened and I’m wondering if anyone can tell me why.
I have a few ideas about this topic. For one, a fantastic voice unfortunately doesn’t guarantee success in the contemporary music industry. One Direction has the heartthrob factor, Cher Lloyd has the cool factor, and recent winners Alex & Sierra have the OMG-I-want-their-relationship factor. In the age of catchy pop tunes and calculated star images (Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, and Katy Perry, oh my!), Sonenclar’s old-fashioned vocal talent isn’t going to cut it for most consumers.
This calls attention to the biggest problem X Factor contestants face. It’s a problem that similarly plagues many back-up singers as demonstrated by the recent Academy Award winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom. How does one stand out in a sea of talent? The stagnant career of Sonenclar thus far suggests that reality competition programs require more than talent from their contestants, and if an individual is to truly succeed after the show, he or she needs to grab the audience’s attention with some kind of shtick.
Sonenclar doesn’t have this, so she hasn’t become as famous as she deserves to be. Could it be that talent no longer rules the day? Is Sonenclar’s lack of success since The X Factor indicative of a culture that rewards headline-making gimmicks over the ability to hit a high note and play an instrument? Cast your vote below, and don’t forget to watch Sonenclar’s performance of “Over the Rainbow” during her tenure on The X Factor.