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X Factor: the annual moan.

October 29, 2014

Simon Cowell is back in the show, so that’s one thing fixed. Having been glued to it since it began, though, I wondered why I ended up chatting through most of it last year, and why I’m doing the same now.

First up, it’s the music. “Standards” are called “Standards” for a reason… everybody knows them. The joy of the original was hearing how a contestant interpreted “Wind Beneath My Wings,” “Angels” etc and comparing them to the original. Now, truthfully, I often don’t have a clue what the song is, except that the sound (an inanity) is not what I’d want to listen to. Sure, I can hear if someone is in tune or not, but I just can’t form an opinion. If you want a wide audience, you have to appeal to everybody, not just those with a knowledge of the last 5 years of chart output. Hence the mix on “Strictly” is drawing what was once the “X Factor’s” ‘Family’ demographic. Interestingly, the “80s” episode two weeks ago was entertaining for me… while “movie night” using recent films I’ve not seen wasn’t…

Second, frankly, is the that the prize isn’t worth having. At first, we really believed that we were choosing somebody who could light up the charts and ‘go places.’ With so many winners scrapped, and scrapped so quickly, and telling painful stories in the press of what happened… it’s nearly like cheering for “The Hunger Games.”

Third, and I really don’t care if anyone thinks it’s discriminatory to point it out, because I think it is true: how come every black and / or poor contestant has a feckless past? Criminal convictions, illegitimate children etc. I know plenty of black entertainers, and plenty more folk from less than wealthy backgrounds. All of them are exactly the same as me… normal people who work hard and wouldn’t know trouble if it bit them. It’s one thing having “sob stories,” another to confuse the viewing public as to how an entire community doesn’t actually live.

There’s a lot to be said about redemption of course too (Cameron Mackintosh and Susan Boyle made a lot of cash out of it), but sometimes you wonder if some of that is even what those applying actually want – though perhaps the public humiliation is occasionally justice of the roughest sort. Or am I being cynical?

Fourth (and fifth through infinity), are all those clichés. Not just the repetitive rubbish the judges spout about “nailing it / making it your own / I’m storming off (yeah, just to pick up a pay cheque) / we chose the song because… (it’s under licence to our record company already so is cheap) / 110%” etc. And not just the pathetic sob stories already mentioned. We have the “We made a mistake, bring them back” / Make a band out of losers (works once in a hundred, otherwise the results are execrable) and the numbnut that the public love to hate.

OK, we went without the last in 2013, and they’ve kicked out anyone interesting (loved Chloe’s voice until her last performance) in 2014 already, but frankly we know and can spot every manipulation the programme tries now – and I just can’t be bothered to list them all. Is it just me who wonders if Ben Elton’s book “Chart Throb” is a manual for the producers – as in Elton’s idea of “give the one we want to lose the worst song” etc…

Last, and by no means least, I’m afraid Dermot O’Leary manages to be both dull and insincere. Best friend one moment, ‘who are you again?’ the next. And unable to raise a laugh even when something truly funny happens. Paging “Ant and Dec,” please…

With all that said, roll on Saturday night (and 8.30pm Sunday, when I know I can miss the first half of the show and just find out who is through – come to that, let’s get it back to a single night, no need to draw it out!). I’ll be watching again. What do I do with my life?!

2 Comments
  1. Sarah permalink
    October 29, 2014 9:11 am

    Wow Steve.. I could have written that as I feel exactly the same! I actually think Chloe sang badly on purpose to exit the show – no-one with a voice like hers could possibly sing that out of tune throughout the entire song. Andreas to win ! 🙂

    • Steve Rich permalink
      October 29, 2014 10:03 am

      I know. I didn’t like to say it in the blog, but I think she “threw” it too. If you believe the tabloids, she was already railing against the strict rules about social life… and she struck me as the type of person who got bored very easily. She got the exposure she wanted and moved on. Real shame as she was the most interesting voice in it.

      Andreas to win? Maybe. Also a big fan of Lauren Platt, Ben Haenow and “Only the Young.”

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