...And I Missed The First 20 Minutes of Die Hard : The X Factor

Right then. Big Brother’s back, that much we know. Nothing can be done, I’ve checked. But as well as this cultural tumour, we have the return of another. One that is less painful, but one that still causes emptiness and death. Of variety in music.
Yes, it’s The X Factor, and I shall admit now that I kind of enjoy it.

I have managed to miss any hype there has been surrounding this launch, much as I had with the House of Idiots, but I’m led to believe that this time it will be different. A fresh, new X Factor. Which I’m sure you’ll agree is life alteringly exciting. So I’m expecting lions, explosions, an insight into the music industry and some lasting, original talent. A complete departure from previous years. I shall type as I watch the opening episode and we’ll see if I can remain calm enough to see it through to the end.

For some reason, they have chosen to Start with the most obnoxious, arrogant prick they could find. It’s called called Frankie. It ‘wants to be famous’ and ‘get lots of girls’. As I say, it is horribly self involved and cocky so it’ll probably achieve both. Eventually he gets to singing Valerie. He’s not very good. His is pursuit of fame for the sake of fame, with no real talent other than that of tattooing the names of girls he has presumably slept with on his arse. Prick. The judges seem to like him for some reason. He has shit, stupid hair and the bastard sheen of a serial adulterer, mistaken for a twinkle in his eye. Girls will love him because girls love a wanker. Apparently he brings something fresh to The X Factor. No. He doesn’t. If anything he is a stark warning, a reminder of past mistakes. Obviously he gets through, and I am left to wonder if someone has changed the definitions of different, new and fresh while I was asleep.

Next is Kitty. She has a needy, desperate edge to her and a boring growly, squeaky-at-the-end voice. Not Frankie bad you understand, just boring. The Judges are saying things like ‘wow, you give us hard, soft and medium. You fill the O2’. Strangely none of them point out that if they met her at a party they would punch her in the nose as soon as she spoke. Kitty is far too confident, sitting on the edge of the stage after her performance like some sort of professional compliment sponge. They say she’s quirky. I’m not so sure, it definitely wasn’t a haunting vocal anyway, that was a stupid thing to say. And she just doesn’t shut up. Comically, she says she’s speechless. No. She isn’t. She also gets through, with all the judges voting yes. Though they seem surprised that this format attracts sociopaths. Idiots. I hate her as much as Frankie, so she’ll probably do well.

The obligatory crowd shots are still here. Horrible self styled wannabes, all stood there, wann-ing to be. I’m not sure what they wanna be, and neither are most of them, but by God they want to be it. It’s been their dream all their lives: to be it. They couldn’t breathe without it, without being it. I think that’s worth testing. It could be the plot of the next M. Night Shyamalan film – tens of thousands of vacuous fools drop dead from suffocation because they weren’t on the cover of ‘Heat’.

Everyone’s got through so far. This is getting kinda boring, Where are my freaks? Where are the fat, ugly, disillusioned ones? Who can I laugh at here? Ah. Here they are. Through the medium of montage. They’re too old, too weird shape headed, too awful at singing. I love them – genuinely love them – they’re what this show’s all about really. I think they appeal because they seem to get the judges all irritated. They hold their heads in their hands, Gary and friends, looking up as if to God (who after just 10 minutes of this, i think we can all agree doesn’t exist) and look generally annoyed at having their valuable time wasted. As if they aren’t aware that this is all part of the circus. They have so many people paraded in front of them that they forget everyone involved is a real person, even the nutty ones. It doesn’t seem fair to laugh at people to their face, but then life’s not fair is it? Dance for us monkey freak. Hahaha. You. Are. SHIT. Hahahahahaha. Piss off and cry elsewhere, there are scores more of you to demean.

Gary Barlow is Simon Cowell. It’s not even subtle. He probably has the exact same script, which I’m pretty sure there definitely is. Not a bad thing as all Cowell did was tell the truth in a television friendly manner. When people are ludicrous, appalling or a joke, Mr Barlow says so. When the other judges say ‘I’ve got to see this hideous, tone deaf ghoul again’, Gary says no. Because he is right. Because he is Simon Cowell. Because his song makes me want to go to Morisons. The format obviously doesn’t really work without Cowell, and his absence was felt immediately. It is a relief that those involved are at least aware that he had to be replaced, and Gary seems to be enjoying his new role immensely. He relishes every moment, letting the word ‘no’ drop from his mouth like a little present from the back end of a cat.

So. From London to Birmingham, where the first auditionee is throwing up backstage. Brilliant. And she’s foreign. Fantastic. She says medicines instead of medicine and millor instead of mirror. Hahahahahaha. There is no way it can go well, no way at all. Nope.
Of course, it doesn’t. She is clearly insane and the first madly-bad contestant to get the full focus of this episode and indeed series. She dances manically, sings like an out of tune, pubescent school boy and she is almost completely unintelligible. Man, she ticks all the boxes. So much so that they get her to do her second song, seemingly in the full knowledge that she’ll go no further. This also seems cruel, but then, if cruelty wasn’t a strong theme in previous series (it was), then it is now.

Yet of course, Goldie – I think her name was – gets through. So she can be laughed at for a while longer before she’s humiliated, caricatured and dropped. Gary stays true to his word, which is no. He might as well be the only judge there as far as I’m concerned, as Louis Walsh is as ethereally weak as usual and I have no idea who the two females are. One was in Destiny’s Child and one is, I don’t know, some sort of rapper? I am old. I feel old.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m enjoying this. I always have, every year, but then I’m a bastard. I can find fault in most decent people and humour in war and famine. What’s your excuse? There isn’t anything new or fresh about New and Fresh X Factor, at least not to my eyes and these eyes have seen a lot of this rubbish. Enough to know when nothing has really changed. Oh sure, they’ve swapped out the yes and no machines, but they’re effectively useless as the contestants who get through are a forgone conclusion anyway. They’ve got Wembley Stadium for the final, but I’ll still be watching it on my TV so big deal. It’s the same. It is Simon. It’s the same.

Oh. Here’s the first Cute Young One From Ireland. Which might as well be a category of it’s own. “Is this a big dream of yours?”. Obviously it is Gary, it’s safe to assume that the answer to that question is always going to be yes. No one is going to say “no, I just saw a queue and joined”. She’s 16, and as soon as she opens her mouth to sing it is obvious she’s going for the Diana Vickers vote. This exposes my X Factor history. For those not aware, Diana Vickers was a previous finalist who got through because of her simple innocence and kooky voice. There, you made me say ‘kooky’. Happy now? I shall begrudgingly admit that I like this new ones voice. It’s clear, uncomplicated and different. Well, different from everyone except Diana Vickers. Cue soul stirring, plinky plonky music, shots of judges looking amazed and spellbound. Oh, she’s so shy. Oh, you’re amazing. You have no idea how good you are. You’ll sell around the world. Oh, shut up. Don’t say those things to an impressionable young dreamer, standing atop her glossy magazine dreams. It’s a long drop from second place X Factor finalist to stacking shelves. She’ll be a bitter alcoholic by the age of 30. Still, she got through. So that’s nice.

Next we’re shown a group and a solo male. These acts will almost certainly get their screen time at bootcamp. They probably have the sort of back story that sucks all the moisture from your tear ducts, and squirts it, forcefully, from your corneas. But for the moment it’s just short little bits about these two, clearly designed to preface something special. Something sublime. A massive future talent. No – wait – he can barely speak. Innit. He’s been before and made a cock of himself by throwing the mic down and telling Simon Cowell to shut up. He’s looking to clear his name, but sadly, under the dust and grease, his name is still a fucking mess. He doesn’t just give a rubbish vocal, he is a rubbish person. He is though, also, dreadful at singing. Which is not a good thing in this environment. He has no singing talent, nor I imagine, any ability to speak of. He is a thug. But it makes good television. I also find it comforting that these people exist because it gives my snobbery some sort of justification. Because no matter who you are, when you find yourself in a situation where someone has said something like – “Why? Do you think you’re better than me?” – the answer in your head is invariably: yes.

Which is, of course, the point of The X Factor. Isn’t it. To allow us all to sit there sneering. And you’re sat there thinking I’m not talking about you. I am. We all do it. We all sit there sneering at the rubbish ones or the chavvy ones. Or the rubbish, chavvy ones. We all pick our sides and defend them violently. We all shake our heads at the I-have-a-dream mentalities and the you-can-be-a-star platitudes. We all feel better. Because we are.

And that is great television.

Unfortunately, it also means I’m a moron. Swings and roundabouts.

Post a Comment