Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Why Factor

It's true, I have watched The X Factor in previous years, but only as a means of killing some time on a dull Saturday night back when I was sad and lonely and unmarried. And I've knocked it along with millions of others and been dubious about the popufactured products that emerge from its 'dream factory' every year.

And if Simon Cowell ever wonders why people knock the show and are wholly sceptical about whether it's the best way to seek out singing talent, well, he only needs look at Eggnham and his sub-High School uberbland karaoke tat that somehow made it through to Saturday's Final. The wee Thunderbirds puppet had a fairly smooth ride in the face of some actual singers, surely in part because of the judges remarkable talent for studiously avoiding giving the deluded boy any critique while picking holes in the performances of far stronger contestants. Oh and the fact that every time he appeared on stage, his weedy little voice was duly accompanied (reinforced? mercifully drowned out? you decide) by a 400-strong choir or some helpfully loud music.

So much for the cynical side, but it's there because it's acts like that, making it through against the odds and coming so close to threatening our airwaves and 'music scene', that represent the worst of the X Factory.

Thank God then that, when it came down to the Final, despite a torrent of votes from High School Musical's legions of fans and the entire of the Tracy family (even the one who was permanently posted to the space station), he went out in the first round and the show was given over to a duel between two acts in a different class.

Thank God mostly though for Alexandra Burke. Frankly, if the series was truly a talent contest, this young lady would have won it back in Week One. Awesome singing voice and fantastic, mature (well, okay, apart from when she was breaking down and blubbing - but the poor lass was emotional, bless her)stage presence from a very early stage - and she just got better and better. Highlight of the night had to be her duet with Beyonce - in which she somehow managed to hold her own *and* be utterly in awe of her singing heroine.

JLS finally overcame some ropey song choices in the run-up shows and shone through, but Alexandra was still in another class again. Talent actually won out in the talent contest. Which is a huge result and I'll happily buy the lady's record.

The question left in my mind was why I'd become so invested in the show and the outcome this time. Looking back I think it had something to do with the fact that there really were some stars in the mix this time round, whereas I don't think I'd ever been convinced before.

More than that though, it has to come down to identifying with these people chasing their dreams. It's what I do, all the time, with my writing and pie in the sky ambitions in the publishing world. But also, this year, in Alexandra you had a genuinely inspirational story. Young girl gets turned down, dreams crushed - regular feature of any writer's world! ;-) - and then she comes back three years later to not only attain her life's dream but to totally own that stage.

Well done, girl. You got my vote.

And I'm going to remember that every time I get a rejection letter from some agent :-)


Stuart Douglas said...

SAF: "And I'm going to remember that every time I get a rejection letter from some agent :-)"

You go, Simon!

iCowboy said...

Oh god! You didn't!

Don't you know it's a scientific fact that all the wit, wisdom and insight obtained by reading the complete works of Jane Austen can be undone by five minutes of X-Factor?

What other grisly skeletons have you got in your closet? So come on, just between you, me and Google - you've been TiVoing 'Strictly Come Dancing' haven't you?