American Idol and The X Factor have something new in common: Both shows have faced accusations that contestants have concealed professional music backgrounds, thus gaining an unfair advantage. Perez Hilton has unearthed evidence that The X Factor's Stacy Francis — an early favorite for her tear-soaked audition of "Natural Woman" — had a Broadway career; has performed with Madonna, Prince, and Whitney Houston; has starred in a made-for-TV movie produced by Oprah; and had a record deal with Warner Brothers. Hilton is branding 42-year-old Francis, who portrayed herself as a confidence-challenged failure, "a fraud," noting that The X Factor is supposed to celebrate undiscovered musicians, not singers who have spent years mingling with top talent. In a statement on her website, Francis says, "I have always been honest." Should she be disqualified?
If she's not famous, it shouldn't matter: Does it really matter if Francis has a professional resume? asks Kelly West at Cinema Blend. It's not likely that many X Factor viewers remember any of her past appearances. Many aspiring singers spend decades struggling for a big break in the music industry — that's why The X Factor's inclusion of contestants over 30 is so wonderful. Disqualifying such journeymen musicians for having blips of meager success would shut out too much talent. "If they haven't hit it big and we don't know who they are," then "let 'em play!"
"Is The X Factor's Stacy Francis lying about her past?"
Besides, she hasn't broken any rules: Only would-be contestants with current recording contracts are banned by the X Factor rules, says Katherine St. Asaph at Popdust. Francis doesn't have one. So why is she being picked on? Arguably, audiences and critics "don't like what they've been shown of her personality." They want a fresh, bubbling talent, and her sobbing desperation doesn't reflect "what they think an ideal contestant should be."
"Stacy Francis is not a plant"
But Francis' response is hurting her: Much of "the outrage stems not from Francis' previous success, but from her attempts to downplay it," says Laura Prudom at Aol. Many American Idol contestants have had similar professional pasts, so Francis' former credits shouldn't be especially controversial. The problem is that she denied many of the revelations on Twitter, "thereby whipping fans and gossipmongers into a frenzy." If she wants to limit the damage to her reputation, Francis would be wise to acknowledge her whole background before the controversy affects voters' opinions of her.
"X Factor contestant Stacy Francis accused of lying about past success"