X-Factor: Semi Final

I feel as if I have been watching X-Factor for ever; my own personal purgatory – even the Talk Talk billboards seem to be the same. If I hear that Talk Talk tune one more time, or see people arsing around with glowsticks, I swear I will descend into madness – whatever song it is it has been ruined forever. I had the same with Replublica’s Ready to Go when I worked on an promo with this track as backing and I cannot listen to the tune ever again without facial twitches and uttering slight yelps.

Michael Jackson week this week. I have mixed feelings, as I am sure everybody does, about Michael Jackson. On the one hand I think he was one of the greatest pop icons – a genius even – and Thriller still remains an amazing piece of work, a classic. On the other hand he was as mad as an arsonist in a fireworks factory living a life so completely barmy that only his celebrity status and big, fat chequebook protected him from being sectioned. Oh, and anyone stupid enough to send their kids round his ‘house’ needs a social services S.W.A.T team rappelling in through their front window tout sweet. Enough said.

So our four remaining Neverland-owning wannabees duked it out singing Jackson songs and then a choice of their own:

Olly meets his hero...

Olly Murs

Olly went totally large this week, necked 12 j2os and picked the tightest, whitest pair of pants and he could squeeze his gorilla-like frame into – you could practically tell what religion he follows. I thought he was just okay. I still think he has more to give than he has already – he has got a great voice and he has got great moves but he just comes across as a bit retro. I think his natural format is soul and R&B and he obviously has an affinity with Stevie Wonder (which is a good thing) but in the final he is going to have to sing some crappy MOR dirge from Simon’s hit factory and he is going to crash…and…burn.

Joe thinks of Michael...

Joe Mc…what’s his name.

Joe stuck to his strengths and sang his way to the final.

I hate the Michael Jackson song he picked, but I can tell it’s a hard song to sing and he totally nailed it. The thing is – and this is just a theory – I think that Joe’s arrival at the final has been engineered completely by Simon Cowell. None of the other acts can carry the kind of insipid, mindless pop that makes his production company – and thus Simon – oodles of dosh. So Simon and the other judges have, I think, made it their mission to get Joe to the final. Job done.

She's just a normal girl at heart...

Our Stace’

Bless her, she went all raunchy for her King of Pop turn and she just about pulled it off (in a manner of speaking).

She sang alright, but she compensated for that by having legs up to her eyeballs and walking about on chairs from a Café Rouge. My first thought, unfortunately, was Allo Allo; the utterly dreadful ‘comedy’ from the eighties about French Resistance fighters, rather than Madame Jo Jos. The illusion was doubly broken when she opened her mouth and sounded like a checkout girl from Leighton.


Danyl: is this Janet or Michael?

Danyl Johnson

I think that the biggest problem that Danyl had was that he just couldn’t not muck about with a song. No matter how good the song, or how well known, Danyl would feel the urge to get all Ne-Yo on it and start doing the R&B version of yodelling. He did it with Elton John and he did it with Michael Jackson. The problem is that the audience want to judge him on how well he sings a song, but if he just goes off on one and ‘interprets’ it then I think that they think: well I could interpret a song, any mug could… The only plane of reference they have is the bloody song and he goes off piste…and that comes across as slightly arrogant. The maths is thus: messes with song I know + arrogant + no votey = back home in an Addison Lee cab, thanks for playing.


11 thoughts on “X-Factor: Semi Final

  1. I know what you mean about feeling like you’ve been watching it for ever.

    That doesn’t really make sense since not only do I choose to watch it every week, I also blog about it. It does have a strangely addictive quality.

    What I do know, following yesterday’s show, is that if I didn’t have Sky Plus then I definitely wouldn’t still be watching.

  2. Michael, I think you are a little bit behind the curve on this one.

    The X factor is destroying the once-proud british music scene by churning out nice little anodyne eunuchs that any mother would be proud of her daughter bringing home. Anyone who looks like they might be any trouble to the Simon C marketing machine is quickly disposed of, not by the much-hyped democratic process but by simple cheating (AKA corporate fraud).

    So sad has this pile of commercialised piece of shite become that across the land people have been willing in their thousands to download a very tedious track by some barmy yanks simply to reassure themselves that they are still alive and that their brains haven’t been turned into goo and used to lubricate the machine.

    Simon Bowel is just plain sinister. When was humiliation deemed to be appropriate as a national pastime? I think the Romans intended to parade Cleopatra naked through the streets, but I hoped we had grown up since then. I hope that he falls and breaks both his legs. And knocks his teeth out.

    The professional Paddy reminds me of the John Lennon lyric “first you must learn how to smile while you kill”. O begorrah. I’m a millionaire so I am. A hiddley hoddeley hoo the hoo. I wouldn’t trust the phoney old fucker with my pet goldfish.

    And then there’s that bird the nice one with the tear of compassion in the corner of her eye. Having failed to make a living out of singing she rather quickly got them off for some rich footballer. Wonder what attracted her to him? Other than looking pretty and wearing nice frocks, she is totally devoid of talent. Are her words of advice really the kind an aspiring young musician should be writing down in his notebook?

    I say destroy these false prophets and breathe new life into our rich musical heritage.

  3. I think there’s way too much emphasis placed on the X Factor’s negative effects on British music. My argument can be summed up in two points:

    1) The high proportion of bland artists that there’s always been.
    2) The incredible lack of success of most X Factor\Pop Idol acts – the only exceptions are the genuinely talented ones who would have had a career anyway.

    There have been massive changes in the music industry but they’ve largely been internet driven. Probably the biggest two factors are the abundance of illegal downloads and the way that even the smallest band can easily make their music available to the world. There’s more musical options than ever – it’s just harder to find them.

    Somewhat coincidentally, I’ve written a vaguely related article, here:


  4. 1. The Bay City rollers and The Osmonds were shite. But the X Factor winners have redefined the term.
    2. This is a reason for NOT having the X Factor isn’t it? Unless your argument is that we should put shite on a pedestal and worship it? Are things OK just because they are crap and soon forgotten? What low expectations you have.

    1. Andy, we’re always going to have programmes like this and we’ve always have had programmes like this. Talent shows have been around for ages and sometimes they reveal someone with genuine talent (I am struggling to name anyone here…) but most of the time they are the stocks for Jo Public to throw rotten tomatoes at. ITV have always found the lowest common demoninator and X-Factor is no different.

      Do I buy X-Factor winner records? Of course not. Do I watch and enjoy X-Factor? Hell yes.

  5. It’s slightly strange that I’ve put myself in a position where I’m defending music that I don’t even like.

    I wouldn’t buy the records of either of them, but Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke are clearly very talented singers, and clearly are talented enough to warrant recording contracts. Tastes vary and music is totally subjective, but a good voice is a good voice.

    By it’s very nature, the more ‘cutting edge’ or challenging that a piece of art is then the smaller its audience is going to be. The majority of people prefer something unchallenging the majority of the time, whether it be a soap opera or an insipid ballad. This may (or may not) be a sad thing, but it’s also human nature, and definitely not the fault of the X Factor.

    The X Factor is there to provide a big, spectacular Saturday-night variety show. You should enjoy it, or not, on that basis.

  6. The debate also puts me in the awkward position of wishing to deny millions of people the pleasure of watching this undoubtedly popular television show. But I will occupy that space, not because I think it is a healthy thing to try and impose one’s own musical taste on others (as seems to be the underlying suggestion), but because I feel that The X Factor has become a very damaging influence on British culture and deserves harsh criticism.
    I feel (felt?) the same way about Big Brother, The Black and White Minstrel Show, anything with Peaches Geldof in it and shows where smirking policemen chase burglars in stolen cars through busy high streets at high speed.

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