Type The X Factor into Google and you’ll find endless websites and images dedicated to this wonderful weekend family show. About 15 years ago (or thereabouts) UK telly companies were being criticized for not providing enough wholesome family entertainment. They had slumped into a pit of weak sitcoms and dramas that never reached beyond a series or two. I remember reading that TV critics were suggesting a return to the good old days of the big audience, live music, cabaret acts and TV personalities you could rely on to be friendly and happy. TV needed a new breed of shows that would plant bottoms on sofas for several hours over the weekend where they could be bombarded with advertising – brainwashed to buy products they don’t need in order to prop up a dying economy. Oh, and be entertained, can’t forget that.
So now we have a myriad of shows from Ant & Decs Saturday Night Throwaway, Strictly Come Jigging About On Stage and Britains Got No Talent, to The Sunday “big beard & camp snaggle tooth personalities” Night Project and The WTF Factor. Big family shows with lots of smiling and audiences dumbly applauding everything they see on stage and laughing when instructed. Ahh the good old days are finally back on TV. They all have their place, I guess, but it’s The X Factor that I’m going to rant about.
If you don’t know what The X Factor is all about it means you are either A) 2 months old, B) don’t own a TV, read a newspaper, listen to the radio, own a computer or talk to anyone, ever. C) are a blind deaf mute, D) dead. I’ll assume that because you are reading this you don’t fall into any of those categories. If you do then I’d love to hear from you!
The formula is pretty simple:
- Invite talentless fame obsessed masses to sing at an audition where judges separate the pathetic from the potentially profitable.
- After an exceedingly drawn out “today we are in Manchester….” TV series the groups are assembled and thrown into the arms of a mentor with pound signs for eyes.
- Then we arrive at the final live shows were a sing-off ensues, lots of glamour, glitz and the ever-present “just glad to be here – look I’m famous now” smiles into the camera.
- The public are forced to phone in and vote for their favourite singer thereby generating an obscenely large amount of revenue.
- A panel of judges offer their views and boot off the teary eyed loser who often claim: “This isn’t the end, I’ll keep singing.” Good luck to you…what was your name again?
- Live shows are peppered with adverts every 5.3 minutes which is good news for the electric/gas companies as the ad-breaks prompt the audience to pop the kettle on for a cuppa.
- Headlines are generated, rumour and speculation about the contestants private lives are wild and mostly untrue. Newspaper companies count their shiny coins in their big towers.
- Previous winners or other B-List singers fill in spots on the live shows in a desperate attempt to inject some interest in their failing careers.
- The final show down. Expect lots of tears, retrospective video diaries, interviews, dramatic back ground music and a nail-biting, texting in your vote for your fave singer and live footage of parties where communities get together to cheer on the singer who used to live around the corner, or who they went to school with.
- Don’t forget to tune into The Xtra Factor, now a very lacklustre show without Holly Willoughby, where after relaxing on your sofa for two hours, you can relax further and watch the tedious interviews and sound bites from people you don’t care about talking about topics no else cares about.
- Finally you have the chance to rush out and buy a copy of whatever dire musical accident the winning singer has released, unless you’ve already downloaded it for free or had it sent to your brilliant smart-phone by a mate, sat next to you.
It goes without saying that this formula can be transferred to any other type of family show like Britain’s Got No Talent. A side note here about that particular show – why do some contestants turn up and start singing? We’ve just watched a man juggling elephants, a woman who can eat watermelons whole and a monkey playing a trombone. Why then do we get an 8 year kid singing out of tune? Hey kid, ever heard of The X Factor? Of course you have, but your parents are so poor they believe their child can make them some quick cash by thrusting him/her on stage to the cries of: “Aww isn’t she cute!”
There are various types of fame crazy contestants. It’s time to poke some fun!
The Quirky Girl
These are girls who firmly believe they have some talent even though it’s apparent to everyone in the world there is more talent in a bottle of milk. They often have a strange singing voice, husky or squeaky or just plain weird, but then that’s what Cheryl Cole thinks is marketable. Oh Cheryl, you have my pity. If the strange vocals aren’t bad enough to get them booted in the early stages then forgetting their words should be enough evidence that they just can’t hack being a singer.
Let’s not forget the fashion sense, or lack of. I understand that as people mature they grow out of certain types of fashion and acquire new ones. And the older generation look down on the younger with mocking eyes as they wonder what is going through the heads of the teens of today. We were all there once. So when I look at these two anorexic failures I wonder why their mentors are dressing them in peasant clothing. It takes a huge personality to win this show if you have hair that looks like it was scraped from the back of a camel and glued onto your own head.
The Quirky Boy
Every year we have to watch the overly dramatic facial expressions of some kid who probably should have gone to drama school or was kicked out of drama school for being too dramatic. Like The Quirky Girl, these lads tend to lack a certain something, style, grace, charisma, you name it. Something doesn’t fit, or perhaps it’s their ability to put way too much effort into everything which results in more misses that hits.
But hey, it’s not always their fault. I sometimes blame the mentors, Louie Walsh you should be ashamed. I’ll get on to him later.
The Old Boys
I’m not saying that anyone over a certain age shouldn’t even attempt to audition for The X Factor. There have been some weird and surprisingly good 80-year-old ladies bellowing at the top of their voices, so 10 points for trying. What I want to point out is that as people get older some tend to get stuck in a musical time bubble. Storm Lee is a prime example of this. He has the type of image that I just want to point at and say: “No!”
He clearly refused to move with the times, stuck in his own little bubble of 80’s rock. Does he even listen to the charts? Rock music has its place but it needs to be contemporary, as does the image. No one wants to see a grown man wearing punk-esque buttons on his jacket. And the public certainly won’t warm to a guy who dyes his hair pink, wears a weird thing across his face and…let’s not forget…he calls himself Storm. That’s normal behaviour.
Sorry dude, but you missed the boat a looooong time ago. The fame game has judged you and found you wanting. As for Wagner, well I kinda like him even though my dead cat could sing better. He’s smiles and never takes himself seriously. He has a happy feel to him, like his life is a constant fresh set of events that makes him smile all the time – Ooh Cornflakes [smile] Ooh a hairbrush [smile] Oooh an ordinary looking cardboard box [smile]. He can’t win but I hope he makes it to the final show!
The Girl Band
There has to be a girl band each year, and they usually suck. Sometimes girls who auditioned solo are thrown together by the judges for fun. I could be completely wrong here but I’m guessing more girls watch this show than boys, and that means they are more likely to vote for lads, boy bands composed of cute school boys than any girl band.
There’s something wrong with the way girl bands are presented on The X Factor. If you compare them to the polished media hyped chart big sellers like The Saturdays or Girls Aloud, you’ll see the x factor is seriously lacking. From style to vocal harmony, none of it really gels. What gets on my tits is when they cry into the camera or at the judges and plead to be given another chance as next week they’ll really show what they are capable of…er…why didn’t you do that this week? Eh? C’mon girls, you’re shit and you know it. Go back to working the till at Poundland and put all this showbiz dreaming behind you.
The Boy Band
1) Saturday night. A sleepover. Girls aged between 12-14. They’re watching The X Factor. They all like some of the acts but when One Direction come on they get all excited and start texting to vote. They watch with dreamy eyes as their perfect boyfriend (doesn’t matter which one) sings for THEM. You watch the crowd when the camera passes overhead as One Direction are singing, the girls are going nuts! It’s not so much about the singing but the cute/lovely/wholesome nature in which boys are presented that does it for the girls at the sleepover.
2) Lads in a pub. Talking about The X Factor. Naturally they discuss which of the lady contestants they would “do” before moving on to the boy band. I can hear the words “wankers” and “silly little boys” being bandied about. What do they know about singing? Jesus they look stupid. I can sing better than them. And so on. The lads move on to a night-club. They don’t send in a text to vote for their fave singer. They have better things to do. And that is why girl bands on The X Factor get the boot.
The Obvious Winner
From the starting auditions it is very obvious who the main contenders are. This year it is clear that the best singers are Rebecca Ferguson and Matt Cardle. They both have passion and quality for their craft. What makes the show interesting is watching to see if either of them gets booted off, and then the ensuing public outrage is hilarious.
Putting all the cynicism aside, for me the only reason I watch the show is to see the clear winners improve each week. The others never do that, they just potter along doing the same old stuff. And when I say I watch the show, I mean I let it record first then forward through all the junk/adverts/talkie crap and watch the singing. Reduces the time spent watching by 3/4!
I actually don’t bother voting as the text isn’t covered by my free minutes! Yeah, yeah, cheap bastard jokes are more than welcome.
Let’s start with Simon. We should remember this is his show. He is well-known for his honest opinion and 99% of the time I agree with what he says. He doesn’t mince his words, and has a wealth of experience when it comes to judging quality of voice/stage presence and indeed the x factor. He is a mixture of Miami Vice & Yoda.
Cheryl Cole on the other hand is only famous for her looks. Her singing is second-rate at best despite selling plenty of records. She wears way too much make up and her comments are amateurish at best. I give her 10 points for effort but take 5 away for that horrible way she smiles at the contestant when they are singing. It really annoys me! The way she tries to convey how she is right there with the act on stage, and how they are sharing some kind of connection. Bollocks. And I also can not stand how she uses the show as a platform for promoting her own new song release. It’s a good idea because she grabs a ton of media attention but it feels wrong.
Dannii is a strange one. She is closer to Simon than Cheryl with her professionalism. Her comments are based on her intelligence and she also seems to speak her mind without bias. She gets 10 points for her ever-changing hair styles too! Good on yer Dannii!
And now to Louie. Oh Louie, Louie, why are you on this show? This guy is out of touch not only with singing acts but reality in general. I don’t know if this is a persona he shows to the public or whether he really is a prat. There have been so many comments made by this guy that are just plain wrong yet he insists (with his ever false idiotic smile) that everyone else is wrong.
Okay Louie, let’s take a look at the comment you made to Simon about the Halloween show. He questioned the use of the Eclipse song and what it had to do with the theme. Simon tried to explain but it didn’t come across very well. Total Eclipse of the Heart, it has the word Eclipse in it, right? It has to be assumed that Louie doesn’t watch movies because the very famous film Eclipse was all about vampires. And that in turn links nicely to Halloween. I made that connection in a second, and I’m pretty sure everyone else watching did too.
It bugs me to see Louie wrapped in his little bubble (probably with Storm) where he derides the other judges for being shit and smiles that moronic smile of his every time someone makes a comment he doesn’t like. I can think of only one reason why Louie turns up for The X Factor each year, for comic effect. He thinks he has some knowledge of the music industry because he markets shite music to brain-dead, high street fashionites, teen girls mostly, and that when he speaks others should listen. Stop talking about Westlife for God’s sake!!!
Post Rant Reflection
I’m done. That’s my rant over with. There’s no doubt The X Factor is a big hit with audiences, whether people love it or hate it there’s a lot of people talking about it, which I guess is no bad thing. I do enjoy the show, well the singing part really, and I’m never really that interested in what the judges have to say. Like Simon says, the public isn’t stupid, they’ll vote for the person to win who most deserves it.
I have to ask the question why do people want to audition for The X Factor? Is it for fame, 5 minutes or otherwise. Is it for their passion for music? Is it just so they can get on YouTube? Too many times has a contestant come on the stage and asked: “Why do you want to be on The X Factor?” to which they reply something like: “I want to provide a better life for my family…” and they bang on about their troubled past or home life or their poor mother/son/dead uncle. That’s not a reason you muppets!! You should audition because it’s your life, your passion, the only thing you think about when you wake up in the morning.
The X Factor is a good show but I question the reasons why people want to enter the competition because many of them seem like nervous wrecks with only a vague grasp on reality. They are opening themselves up to a world of media invasion, lack of privacy and the chance of failure after having their hopes built up. I guess it boils down to the fact that we live in a world where youngsters are taught that being famous is a quick way to make money without all that much effort. And that is a sad truth.