The X Factor – Quarter Final

by

And so the longest advert in history trundles on, destroying all that might dare to threaten the global dominance of Cowell et al. The contest itself is an irrelevance, a deus ex machina of neccessity in place to guarantee the further financial obliteration of all rivals and to homogenise the music industry so that it can be controlled by one man and his Blackberry.

There was a time when asset-stripping was a tactic reserved exclusively for the hardnosed Gordon Gecko’s of the world, but Cowell has admirably stepped into those shoes – cherry-picking the elements of art, music and culture that will make him the most profit and willingly discarding all that is extraneous and unnecessary. Even the songs the contestants perform are fractured into two thirds of their original length, just in case the audience become bored or there’s not enough space left for tie-in adverts, painfully repetitive VT autocues and phone number announcing.

It’s hard to blame the contestants here. Each have genuine talent and see the show as an opportunity to become recording stars. They naively believe they’ll be the ones to defy the curse of Cowell-meddling that will see them reduced to bargain bins and further reality show humiliation over the next few years.

It’s sad to think that, not only does that man resculpt the still growing identities of a number of teenagers to further his swelling bank account, he also does it under the guise of concern and consideration. He’s an evil soul – not the pantomime villain he plays – but the face of corporate greed, pummelling and psychologically bullying all in favour of a third house in Barbados.

The X-Factor didn’t used to get to me too much in the years past – it was always an ignorable piece of fluff that didn’t matter much. I’d watch the auditions for a laugh and then abandon the show as the remaining contestants were whittled down to the least offensive, most bland nadir and then roll my eyes at the woeful Christmas release that inevitably followed.

This year I’ve stayed with it all the way through – mostly at the bequest of my lady – and I’ve found my eyes opened to the summit of evil that the show really is.

The music industry is, by and large, a hugely corrupt and morally bankrupt industry. The X-Factor manages to represent that far better than any sharply-worded critique or snappily dressed indie anthem ever could. From the fawning faux-praise of the grown up Martin Prince that is Louis Walsh, to the bought-and-paid-for ‘controversies’ in the newspapers, this is not a television programme – it’s a vertically integrated business model that’s found a legally allowable method of advertising during the period in which networks are meant to be broadcasting content.

This week was Britney week. The overproduced pop princess decided to bestow a rare UK miming event upon us and so, as a result, we were forced to watch a clinically depressed redneck being forced to pretend to sing her latest vocoder-featuring single while a bunch of semi-talented amateurs all murder her previous hits by occasionally alternating the intonation on a couple of words.

Actually, scratch that, it wasn’t Britney week – it was Disney Cross-Platform UK Tween-Push week as the show also featured, inexplicably, an appearance by Kevin Federline fuckee-in-waiting Miley Cyrus and a ‘spirited’ performance of a High School Musical number by the shows resident dashboard-nodding grandson fantasy, Eoghan Quigg.

And yes, Britney – poor, poor Britney. If ever there was a warning shot across the brow of the contestants it’s Britney. Brought in to stumble across the floor, forget which lyrics to lip-synch to and to display no knowledge of what show she was on – she was a walking / talking advert for the destructive nature of fame. Still the contestants blithely waffled on about how fame and money were their dreams. It was like watching smackheads looking at an ODd corpse and not being able to make the connection.

Dead-eyed Britney was the low point of a show that has plumbed the depths more times than I can count. I wouldn’t object so much if it acknowledged its fakery, but it insists on ploughing ahead, repeating the lies enough times to be heard as truths – it’s about the artists, it’s about music, it’s about making people’s dreams come true.

It’s none of these. It’s about making money – huge, unimaginable piles of money – and may God have mercy upon whatever singers, songs, impressionable children and cultural legacies get in its way.

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67 Responses to “The X Factor – Quarter Final”

  1. Swineshead Says:

    It’s good though, isn’t it?
    I like Alexandra.

  2. Quincy Phd Says:

    Yeah. I like her too – if she doesn’t win I’ll write an even more bitter and scathing piece of commentary and that’ll show ’em.

  3. Swineshead Says:

    I had to go crazy with the edit fingers on that – hope you don’t mind but you went a bit crazy on the scathing adjectives. It’s a bit much to say Cowell is ‘evil’…

    Anyhow, I too watch it and enjoy it despite being hyper-aware of how riddled with stupidity the whole thing is. Cowell is set to win no matter what happens, so any underdog or sob story is null and void before the audition stage has even started.

    But that Alexandra girl is as good a singer as any I’ve ever seen in the charts and she deserves the win that’s coming her way, I’d say.

    *cries at the overwhelming emotion of it all*

  4. Quincy Phd Says:

    It’s a fair edit – the piece is meant to be kind of tongue in cheek but, like my last article on the X-Factor where I basically said it’s doing the world a service by neutering the ambitions of the working class, the irony gets overlooked slightly…

    And I genuinely agree with you about Alexandra. She’s the only one with a proper stage presence – an X-Factor if you will…

  5. Swineshead Says:

    What do you make of this Diana character?
    The squeaky one who can’t sing?

    *breaks down in floods*

    *overcome with emulsion*

  6. Quincy Phd Says:

    I have an instant dislike of people who are blatantly being sold as kooky when the only kooky thing they do is wear a Kate Bush dress and sing barefoot. Like Cat Power, for example.

    Mah. She’s ok. A better singer than me so I can hardly criticise her – however it’s not like she’s going to set the charts alight or even be remembered in a few weeks time.

    She has openly said she regrets entering the competition and has misgivings about the way the show is produced, so kudos to her for that.

  7. Swineshead Says:

    Did she say that? That could just be a PR move from Cowell, you know.

    She’s about as Indie as Scooch. It’s not her fault she’s being sold down the river. The second she came on they referred to her as a ‘little hippy chick’. God knows why – she wasn’t smoking weed and she didn’t obviously stink.

    Her voice is flat and has that horrible Dolores from the Cranberries squeak at the end of each line. Totally affected.

    Anyhow, I find it upsetting that you found no room to diss Cheryl Cole, as she is a husk of a human being.

  8. Jo Says:

    I am well aware of it’s shitness, but it’s compulsive viewing. I was so glad when they got rid of that stupid spanish bird. She pissed me off. She was about as rock chick as Enya.

    Funny how they stopped her warbling on in Spanish after a few songs too.

    The Squeaky one has lost it in recent weeks…She used to be semi-bearable in a very ‘are you, aren’t you out of tune?’ way, but I think her throat lurgy put shot to that. She’ll be in the final with the little Irish whatsit if the gossip mags are to be believed…

  9. Quincy Phd Says:

    I feared my rant was getting too long so I decided to leave out the dissing of Minogue and Cole. Minogue is a slightly pitiful character as everyone in the room clearly knows they’re more talented than her and so they let her stay because it’d be rude to point it out.

    It’s at this time I like to link to this picture of her misformed fake boobies for comedy effect: http://striporama.co.uk/danniiminogue.jpg

    Cole though – uuurrgh – she’s like the queen bitch who made your life hell at school and then tries to befriend you on Facebook years later.

  10. Swineshead Says:

    Jo – I disagree. Ruth rocked in a way Sabbath will never understand.

    Nice norks too, I’m duty-bound to say.

  11. Swineshead Says:

    Minogue’s alright, I’ve decreed.
    I like her immovable face and her constant use of cliches.

  12. Quincy Phd Says:

    Is it me or was there a little bit of romantic tension betwixt Ruth and Simon on Saturday?

  13. Swineshead Says:

    He definitely had an erection and I spotted some lactate on Ruth’s dress.

    Who can blame either of them? They’re both incredibly handsome.

  14. Quincy Phd Says:

    And I suppose they have their love of terrible rock ballads and bull fiddling to bring them closer together. I’d support a Ruth/Simon union.

  15. Swineshead Says:

    Purple Rain is not a terrible rock ballad. It is a great song.

    Good news for idiots:

    http://www.unrealitytv.co.uk/celebrity-big-brother/blake-fielder-civil-for-celebrity-big-brother-2009/

  16. ugeine Says:

    This is one boat that left me on the Island. Apart from it been in the background at a friend’s house, I don’t think I’ve been motivated to so much watch the advert. Is it that much more evil then your average common or garden reality tv show?

  17. Jo Says:

    ““He thinks it is the perfect chance for him to show Amy he is off drugs and loves her to bits.” ”

    Preventing yourself from having any contact with someone = I love you?

  18. Quincy Phd Says:

    That’s true. Purple Rain is a great song. Only bested by Sign O’ the Times and When Doves Cry, in my humble opinion.

  19. Swineshead Says:

    You’re forgetting Alphabet Street, Raspberry Beret and Little Red Corvette, sunshine!

    Ugeine – it’s the reality show that makes the most money as a commercial enterprise so it’s pretty much a ruthless cash-generator.

    Jo – that amazed me too. That Blake character looks like Paul Kaye with rickets.

  20. extremelisteningmode Says:

    I’d have to go with Little Red Corvette myself. Do you still get Corvettes? Sammy from Cheers had one.

    I’m finding it hard to get annoyed by X Factor;

    http://extremelisteningmode.com/2008/12/03/reality-show-bites/

    I don’t find it as evil as Tesco music.

  21. Napoleon Says:

    Can’t be doing with Prince. Bloody rubbish.

  22. Nick T Says:

    It’s not for punters to get a chance at a recording contract it’s for people who want to be famous.

    The sentiments of those who gush “This is my last chance” or “This is what I’ve always wanted to do” bemuse me.

    I want to sing therefore I go and sing.
    If it’s been yo0ur dream to sing then go and join a band or sumink, why wait for the Xfactor roadshow to come calling.

    I hate the show, it’s exploitative and manipulative and probably some other tives too.

    Opportunity Knocks, now that was a good show……

  23. Do I not like that! Says:

    The sentiments of those who gush “This is my last chance” or “This is what I’ve always wanted to do” bemuse me.

    Couldn’t agree more Nick. Also these sentiments are echoed on Masterchef and The Apprentice etc. If you want to do something, go out and do it and learn the craft.

  24. extremelisteningmode Says:

    What I love is when they plead with the public for their votes with the desperation of a junkie begging for money.

    ‘Ive always wanted this, i want it so much’ they squeal. Well, I want to be in The Simpsons, but that’s not enough to make it happen, is it? You dicks.

  25. Napoleon Says:

    That last chance thing is a bit weird. Are they saying Cowell’s planning to put ’em down if they’re voted off?

  26. Swineshead Says:

    It is weird – it’s not like they’ll never have the chance to sing again. You can get a gig at a pub with a one string guitar and a yelp.

  27. Napoleon Says:

    That’s it. The way these folks go on, it’s either The X Factor, The Apprentice, The Restaurant etc. or a bullet in the back of the head.

    Not that that would be a bad thing, mind.

  28. Swineshead Says:

    Thing is, they’re either auditioning for a place in something and are pre-fame, or they’re a hasbeen trying to win a popularity contest post-fame.

    There’s no actual fame. It’s all before or after. It’s a mirage.

  29. Sue De Nymh Says:

    “It’s hard to blame the contestants here. Each have genuine talent and see the show as an opportunity to become recording stars.”
    .
    Really? REALLY? ‘Genuine Talent’?? REALLY?
    .
    Hahahahahahaaaaaaa!!!
    aaaaaaa-Hahahahahaaaaaaa!!!!
    .
    I’ve not heard such woefully tuneless droning since Jemini on the Eurovision Song Contest. These people are supposed to be the best of the bunch yet all but one of them couldn’t carry a tune in a plastic bag.
    Hateful, HATEFUL programme.

  30. Swineshead Says:

    Alexandra can sing, Sue. Denying that fact’s a bit silly… it’s a truth.

  31. Nick T Says:

    I saw this one guy do a gig with a one string guitar.

    He was called “Brushy One String” he was very good.

    It was at The Bedford.

    In the sound check , he broke the string!

    I did chuckle, he didn’t have a spare.

  32. Jo Says:

    Yeah I never get the whole ‘This is it, this is my last chance, I don’t want the dream to end’

    It’s a bit like the only way they’ll be validated as a good singer is by getting shitloads of money and fame out of it. Saying that though, there have been distinctly more people from last year’s competition getting exposure than other years, I think.

    Same Difference, the incestuous smilers?
    Rhydian the albino tenor?

  33. Sue De Nymh Says:

    Note I said ‘all but one of them’, Swineshead.

  34. extremelisteningmode Says:

    Unrelated thing, but I’ve been offered a training course in either London or Northampton.

    Sell me the delights of Northampton.

  35. Napoleon Says:

    ELM – Shoes?

  36. mostlylouche Says:

    And on vaguely the same thing, I’m going to be spending a lot of time in Peterborough for the next couple of weeks. Is it as bad as I suspect?

  37. Napoleon Says:

    Louche – It’s FUCKING AWFUL. I used to go out in ‘Boro all the time, and it’s a fucking monstrosity of a town full of violent, pig-ignorant arseholes. I wouldn’t go out at night if you don’t want to get the shit kicked out of you for looking at someone funny (i.e. glancing around).

  38. mostlylouche Says:

    Ah, so it will be just like Dundee but with slightly different accents. Happy Happy joy joy.

  39. Who Says:

    I don’t know how I’ve managed to get tangled up in the X-factor this year. Apparently there’s a ‘hate’ group on Facebook for Diana and her funny hand. I might have to sign up specifically to join it. She always sounds like she’s singing down an empty toilet roll tube to me, which is entertaining when you’re 5.

    As for shiny faced Minogue, she is useless but for that, I have to applaud her. Her comments nearly always include ‘you really rocked tonight and I really like your hair’.

  40. Swineshead Says:

    Sorry Sue.

    Louche – it’s like I told you earlier in the week. A total dump.

  41. Nick T Says:

    Just saw last nights screenwipe.

    It bored me.

    That is all.

  42. Swineshead Says:

    I thought it was the best edition of Screenwipe I’ve seen. Tony Jordan is an interesting bloke…

  43. piqued Says:

    I agree about Tony Jordan, the most likeable of all the writers who all appeared a bit, well, odd, depressed and pretentious so nothing new there I suppose

  44. mostlylouche Says:

    Did you know that the Italans lost more soldiers fighting in the mountains in WW1 than the English did in total?

  45. Nick T Says:

    Just not my subject I ‘spose.
    Some parallels with todays subject, kind of. If you want to write, write.
    How about “The W Factor”

  46. mostlylouche Says:

    I watched this X factor because Britters was on and I was curious but I gave up before she appeared.

    The one whose name is not spelled correctly, Owen has the same hair as Sharon Osbourne.

  47. Nick T Says:

    Italians never good with maps in my experience….

  48. Nick T Says:

    My daughter has a crush on the Irish hobbit……

    *shivers*

  49. piqued Says:

    Fat cocks

    Sorry, I was thinking of something else

  50. Nick T Says:

    I’m listening to Sinatra’s “Wee Small Hours”
    Should be manditory for every human…..

  51. extremelisteningmode Says:

    Ah, Eooghnanyan and his ever so ‘Oirish’ family. Makes me sad that I’m not allowed to randomly hand grenade people.

    I take it back, it DOES annoy me!

  52. Swineshead Says:

    What were the Italians doing in the mountains?
    Did they get lost on the way to the trenches?

    I’ve never understood war. Why can’t we all just get along?

    *does a Barrowman*

  53. Napoleon Says:

    Why can’t we all just get along? That would be boring! No ‘Guns of Navarone’? No ‘Dambusters’? No ‘Great Escape’? What the hell would we do on Bank Holiday Mondays?

  54. Swineshead Says:

    Peace be upon you, Nappers.

    *pass pipe of peace*

    *curses trapped wind*

  55. Nick T Says:

    The film of Please Sir is on!

    Just saying

  56. Napoleon Says:

    That’s a shit film, Nick. All the ‘schoolkids’ in it are in their late thirties.

  57. extremelisteningmode Says:

    The only thing worse than 70’s British sitcoms are movie versions of 70’s British sitcoms. With Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads the exception which proves the rule.

  58. Nick T Says:

    The Bless This House film has a special place in my heart.
    Father Dear Father is shit, but the On The Busses film set in the holiday camp with the pervy Bramble and exploding toilets was what made this country great.

    I’ll watch Dickenson’s Real Deal instead.

  59. Napoleon Says:

    I don’t mind the Steptoe and Son ones. And the Dad’s Army one’s alright too.

  60. Nick T Says:

    Both diamonds.
    The “seige” scene in the DA film was shot outside my old local in Shepperton. They used to have photos in the bar. The landlady used to bang opn about it all the time. That and the fact that she once met George Chisholm (or JISM as we used to quip)

  61. Napoleon Says:

    If you were trapped on a lifeboat in 1991 with Freddie Mercury and he died off of The AIDS, would you eat his corpse even though you know you’d end up with The AIDS as well?

  62. Nick T Says:

    Just had the wierdest dream…

    Mummy?

  63. Kremble Says:

    *slinks out from under rock*

    I have nothing to say.

    That is all.

    Carry on.

    *slinks back under rock*

  64. ugeine Says:

    I came back to follow the damned twitter link, and now it’s not here. You’ll be hearing from my lawyers.

  65. Swineshead Says:

    Front page, top right m’boy. Sorry about that.

  66. ugeine Says:

    *runs off to buy the biggest turkey in the shop*

  67. Gilbert Wham Says:

    Eoghan(Is that spelt right?) Quigg is not a name, it is the noise you make when you’re being sick.

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