writing panicked screeds saying "this is the end of American Idol" and so on.
I look at it differently. This is not so much the end of one phenomenon as it is the beginning of another. This is an evolution. The X Factor is pretty much the same show under another name, only bigger and better. Mark my words -- within a couple of years the American version of The X Factor will be so huge that people will look at American Idol as a relic of a lost era.
That's exactly what's happened in Britain. No one cares about Pop Idol any more. They've all moved on to The X Factor. And so it will be in America. The only question in my mind is why it took the Americans this long to follow the Brits' lead in bringing The X Factor stateside. It should have happened long before now.
American Idol is finished anyway now that Paula Abdul has left the show. If Ryan Seacrest is smart, he'd bail out for The X Factor as well.
The Idol is dead. Long live X Factor.