Why I hate ‘The X Factor’

Everyone loves a good TV talent show. Currently the one that has captured Britain is ITV’s ‘The X Factor’. People just can’t get enough of it and it seems the […]

Everyone loves a good TV talent show. Currently the one that has captured Britain is ITV’s ‘The X Factor’. People just can’t get enough of it and it seems the hot topic of conversation at the moment.

Our Saturday evenings now consist of sitting in glued to the TV screen on the edge of our seats as we all watch intensely as the next biggest popstar is born. Who could dislike shows like this? How could anyone not like a program that gives someone, anyone, the opportunity to shine and provide weeks of pure entertainment?

These are questions that I hope to answer here because I think franchises like ‘The X Factor’, ‘Britain’s Got Talent’, and ‘American Idol’ really aren’t as brilliant as a lot of people think – and here’s why:

Every part of the show is designed to elicit a reaction out of you. Be it playing inspirational music over an exaggerated sob story or showing giggling presenters during a bad performance. I’m left just being annoyed at the program and saying ‘stop trying to tell me how to feel, god dammit!’

The producers can make almost anyone look like an amazing new talent if they cut the footage cleverly and play Westlife’s ‘You Raise Me Up’ in the background. It all serves as an emotional distraction from the fact that they really aren’t interesting people and often are not good singers at all (Katie Waisell, Mary Byrne).

Every one of these shows follows in almost exactly the same fashion: the initial stages where lots of joke candidates are laughed at, vaguely mediocre talents are over-hyped as being amazing singers simply because they’ve come from humble backgrounds, and tear-filled teenagers with their excited families exclaiming how this is the most important moment of their lives. This is all interspersed throughout with various backstage controversies and judges proudly saying ‘we’ve got so much talent it’s going to be really tough this year!’

As the show goes on to the later stages the judges have always chosen characters who fulfil certain criteria: a quirky eccentric type who is unpredictable and we can all laugh at (Wagner, Jedward), an older person who has been given a second chance proving its never too late to shine (Mary Byrne, Paul Potts, Susan Boyle), a group of best-friends-forever who are just there for each other no matter how bad the times are (JLS, One Direction), and relatively boring people giving average performances of power ballads that are too much for Cheryl Cole to bear (Aiden Grimshaw, Matt Cardle, Alexandra Burke).

This same stuff is dragged out for weeks on end until it culminates in an epic showdown where the winner has a Christmas number one hit and never really makes an impact on the music scene thereafter. If these people were genuinely talented and determined enough to be popstars (which they all emotionally claim to be over and over again), they wouldn’t need to be on ‘The X Factor’ in the first place!

The fact is that very few of the winners are good enough to be successful popstars (Joe Mcelderry, Leon Jackson, Shayne Ward, Steve Brookstein). They have their fifteen minutes gifted to them from a bored media and then share this fame and money with the X Factor producers and the likes of Simon Cowell.

He is the one who is profiting out of this the most, not the singers. Every time you watch his shows or, God forbid, phone in to vote for your favourite singer you may as well be writing him a cheque personally.

I find it staggering that anyone thinks he has any authority on spotting the next big thing. No one had ever heard of him before he appeared on ‘Pop Idol’ and he has been riding the fame from all the talent shows since. He isn’t famous for being a pop-music guru as these programs would have you believe, he’s famous for being entertaining and all part of the show.

He caused a storm on ‘American Idol’ simply by being Mr Nasty in a country where everyone is constantly reassured that they have talent and should follow their dreams. Instead of being a truly skilled talent scout all he is doing is being controversial and entertaining.

This, to me, is glaringly obvious and yet so many people fall for it. He is arguably one of the most famous and successful media figures in the world today and I was amazed to see that people had voted him in a recent poll on Channel Four’s ‘8 out of 10 cats’ as one of the top five greatest living Britons! Come on, really?! I may dislike Simon Cowell but I have to hand it to him – he knows how to make a lot of money out of other people’s singing careers.

So here we are – another manufactured ‘diamond in the rough’ will be born in the next few weeks and will auto-tune their way into the charts. We will be blessed with a cheesy montage of their journey to stardom and the tabloids will have something to write about that isn’t racist or sensational for a couple of months.

Will I be watching ‘The X Factor’ tonight, then? Of course I bloody will!