The X Factor UK is soon to grace our screens again. Please, children, calm down. I know that the excitement is difficult to cope with. After all, there’s nothing better than watching the same exploitative, utterly tired format year in year out. The show will be returning this weekend with what will no doubt be many exciting twists designed to destroy the lives of countless young hopefuls who will never make it in the music industry.
The format has been getting old now for a while. The moment Simon Cowell abandoned it for his USA version of the show, the whole thing went downhill. Admittedly, the show did have an ability to entertain its viewers at one point. Entertain is the operative word – despite a couple of occasionally talented singers, most are moulded into the clone required by the record labels straight after their first audition shows at least a little bit of sex appeal. For many, there is also the requirement to be able to hold a note, but if the sex appeal is really great, it can be done without. Or if you’re Jedward. Because nobody can account for that. Nobody.
Last year, it possibly descended to even further depths than it ever has before. For the first time ever, I have no idea who won. No, I won’t Google it – I just don’t even care. I don’t remember there being anything interesting about last year’s robot. I do recall that he had tattoos. Is that right? Yes, the slightly edgy pop-punk look was in last year.
What I find perhaps most frustrating about the X Factor is the twists. I’m sure many of you who have had the misfortune of being stuck at home on a Saturday night have experienced this. Every year, somebody whips some ludicrous new twist out of the bag. A random booming voice shouts something along the lines of: “AND WAIT UNTIL YOU SEE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, THE X FACTOR’S MOST SHOCKING MOMENT EVER!!!!!!!” And then the ads come on. After a few violins have been murdered and we’ve been thrown a competition for winning a holiday, or a car – or something else vaguely middle class or suburban, we find out that the twist isn’t really that shocking at all.
This year’s twist (and look away now if you don’t want spoilers) involves six chairs. Yes, chairs! And no – they’re not for the judges. I shiver with anticipation – they’re for the contestants who get to go to the Judges’ Houses. In the words of Louis Walsh:
‘There was a lot of drama, a lot of tears, a lot of tension, but it’s fantastic for the show. We didn’t know it was going to be as emotional, and as draining, and as real as this. It’s like the gladiators in Rome. Getting them to sing, and picking them, and then saying, ‘Hey, we’ve got somebody better – go.’
Of course I can see the comparison between X Factor candidates and the gladiators in Rome. When you get kicked out of the X Factor, you go home and enter Big Brother. When you lose as a gladiator in Rome, you die. Perhaps a slightly skewed comparison there, Louis, and if proves just how important you consider the X Factor. You know what? Losing the X Factor isn’t the end of the world. It doesn’t mean your life has ended dramatically. Options are limitless, and to be honest, winning the X Factor really only guarantees you a Christmas number 1 and a token album released by Simon Cowell a year later, which will flop – because everyone is already bored of you, and has moved on to the next big thing.
On that note, I think it is time we said goodbye to the X Factor. Farewell, Louis Walsh and your insistent repetition of “It’s a shame, cause you look like a popstar!” It’s time we waved goodbye to this terribly tired, wasted formula, and accepted the basic facts. The X Factor has churned out few good musicians. With a couple of minor exceptions to the rule, there is little longevity in the careers of X Factor winners. So let’s kiss goodbye now, while we still can, and give these aspiring musicians a proper chance at success.