Saturday night: when millions of people neglect their social lives to sit in front of the TV to watch manufactured pop artists sing in front of an audience, and I use the word sing in the loosest sense of the word. After years of seeing acts “sing their hearts out” on their way to the million-pound recording contract and then disappear into the darkness of celebrity cast-offs, is there really a point to the X Factor?
First off, I do not like the X Factor. I do not like what it represents. I, in fact, think that it represents everything that is wrong with the world today; rich men (Simon Cowell) making money by taking advantage of the viewers at home by either annoying them so much that they watch purely to shout at the television, or by giving them some form of entertainment (again, in the loosest sense of the word).
I don’t really have anything against Simon Cowell. He’s made a lot of money by doing what he’s good at, which is developing artists or groups and selling them into an already over-populated market.
But, somehow, his show still gets millions of viewers every single weekend, without fail. The quality of the contestants doesn’t even seem to matter anymore. In fact, it sometimes appears that the less-talented acts are liked by TV audiences more (Chico, Jedward and Wagner, for example) because of their entertainment value. This is absolutely fine, if the main purpose of the show is a comedic look at talent.
But it’s not. The main purpose of the show is to unearth musical talent and give regular people the chance of a lifetime: to perform, not only in front of four so-called esteemed judges, but also in front of a live audience and to millions of people watching at home. Because of the need for entertainment, the four judges do, at times, choose to pick a less talented artist over someone who could actually go on to make records, because it keeps viewers watching the show.
The X Factor production company clearly realised that they could make a lot of money out of the show, and so decided, at some point, to turn it into some sort of extravaganza, which it undoubtedly is. The lights, the dancing, the displays on screen in the background, the flamboyant clothing, the big hair, the overdramatic comments, the fake emotions and the quite ridiculous booming voice that pops up in every interval, introduction and even post-performance; this all makes for an irritating watch. The constant adverts and elongated pauses leave people screaming at the television, yet they still watch, every single week.
The show isn’t even about the talent anymore. In this year’s competition, the most talented is Matt Cardle, a James Blunt-esque performer. He could actually be a respectable recording artist, although he will forever be known as “that bloke from the X Factor”. Wagner and Cher divide opinions (my opinion: both are talentless, neither can sing, and they are not “quirky” in any way) while the other contestants are simply mediocre and lack personalities.
It is little surprise, though, that they are boring and exactly the same as every other contestant even though they all say they are different. The judges are exactly the same every single week. Louis Walsh, in the six years that the show has been on-air, must have told a performer that they are “what this show is all about” at least a hundred times, if not more. Cheryl Cole “hates” the part where you have to choose one of the “bottom two” to go home, and the Girls Aloud singer usually manages some crocodile tears when making her decision.
No matter how many times Dermot O’Leary tells Simon or Dannii Minogue to give him a quick answer to the question “Who should go home?”, it always takes the pair an excruciatingly long time to tell the audience that they must “vote on the basis of the previous performance”. More often than not, the judge who is given the final vote levels the scores, meaning that the result is dependant on the public vote.
On the results show, there are always some live acts, and some pretty impressive ones too. Whether it’s Katy Perry, Cheryl Cole or Diana Vickers, these are people that the current crop of X Factor contestants looks up to. When someone like Cheryl Cole comes on stage, who has sold millions of records worldwide in both her solo career and her Girls Aloud career, you know you’re in for a performance. Then the Newcastle-born singer mimes to most of her new single, and even walks around like she’s the queen of pop. Michael Bublé, one of the most esteemed singers in the world and the biggest male recording artist in the UK in 2009, also comes on and mimes, as does Katy Perry and as does every single act that performs on the X Factor. Even when the actual competitors, who are judged on their singing, come together as a group and perform a song together, they quite clearly mime, simultaneously slaying the song in the process.
I should think that many of you are wondering what my problem is. It’s a television show that aims to entertain viewers on a Saturday. No one is forcing anyone to watch the show, so where’s the harm? Well, the over-hyped, over-exaggerated and most of all over-the-top show annoys me intensely, and I try my best not to have any involvement in it, which isn’t easy.
Even hours before the show is due to start, social networks such as Twitter and Facebook become under siege of users commenting on performances and their personal opinions of each act. There are always comments on how attractive the act, or a judge, is. But this is exactly what Cowell wants. He wants to people to be talking about the show, whether it be positive or negative (the Gamu saga played straight into his prosperous hands). And that’s why I hate the X Factor.
And don’t worry, I can assure you that this will be the last time that I write about the X Factor. Honestly.