Sunday, 28 October 2007

Music To Watch Bad TV Talent Shows By

Until yesterday, I'd not seen The X Factor since the early audition rounds, what seems like many months ago. Last night the first thing I saw after the channel changed was someone who looked like Spike from Buffy The Vampire Slayer proclaiming himself to be the Phantom Of The Opera. That caught be somewhat off-guard. I guess my point is, to anyone who watches this program, take a step back and try to see it how I do, coming to it for the first time.

For example, when Sharon introduced the following act as "little Emily", we just laughed. Then there was a boyband called "Futureproof", which is a delightful name for a group whose act is already laughably dated before they've released anything. The little recap showed me a girl group called "Hope", which is again a delightful name for an entry in a singing competition who palpably can't sing. There were others who weren't great, but Hope weren't even okay. I thought by this stage in the competition they'd all at least be halfway decent acts. The idea that out of 200,000 auditions there weren't even eleven who could carry a tune is presumably testament to just how deluded and insane you have to be to want to be on the show.

I'd naturally expect out of a random sample of the population that most would be fairly poor singers and almost none would be amazing. A random sample of X Factor contestants, I would expect more who were awful but loud, but also more who could actually sing really well, because I still think that winning The X Factor would be a perfectly good way to launch a lasting career in pop, provided you actually have some discerning talent -- it's just a way to get exposure. (One day, with luck, this theory will be tested.) But if the judges have done their job, there were maybe four credible singers out of 200,000 applicants, and that's a little scary.

Of course, the judges plainly haven't done their job: Hope is made up entirely of people who were deemed unable to hold a tune in the auditions, but were lumped together in the bizarre hope that they could hold a tune and harmonise.

I also enjoyed the judges repeatedly saying how brave the last contestant (who doubtless had a name but it isn't important enough to warrant another trip to Wikipedia) was to do a Celine Dion song in front of Celine Dion. The implicit and all-pervading assumption that Celine Dion is actually that full of herself that she'll rip you apart if you get the slightest thing wrong, especially compared to the clip of her saying "Well done... I don't always hit that note", was amusingly misanthropic. And aside from anything else, Dion didn't write a word of the song anyway. How her singing it is any different from an X Factor contestant singing it is something of a mystery to me.

There may also be a slight problem with one of the acts: Andy. He can't -- I mean literally can't -- launch into a pop career without changing his name. His surname is "Williams". That would be like us calling this website "Google". But he also can't change his name, because his only apparent selling point is the connection with The X Factor, and I think there's a real danger of people not recognising him if the slightest thing were to change. Presumably, he would have realised this before auditioning, and at least called himself "Andrew", thus limiting the problem to an unlikely confusion with an obscure guitarist.

Oh well, too late now, I suppose. It'll all be over soon enough anyway.

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