…the crushingly boring repetition of a song that once meant something to someone…
Being in a flat with a communal living room has advantages and disadvantages for your music taste. Advantages include a broadened spectrum for your musical appetite and the chance to force your own ‘brilliant’ music tastes down other people’s unsuspecting throats (well, my musical tastes are brilliant, for everyone else I will continue to use derogatory and frankly condescending quotation marks).
However, there are several disadvantages to this shared living space. Among the examples of melodic distress I suffer daily is the nightmare of feigning interest in an artist I happen to despise, which is about 99.9% of popular artists today; you will likely be forced to listen to music you consider beneath you, or too simple, which in the case of the UK Top 40, is probably true; and most devastating of all, you will be forced to encounter the harrowing but schmaltzy ordeal that is the X Factor on ITV.
I think I understand it now. Glowing eyed young does wander innocently across the road of fame. Some are instantly splayed across the bonnet of a passing car, landing in a crumpled heap of bones and disappointment. Some are more wily, they have a half decent voice, or a half decent body, and they make it across the road a little bit further before being ensnared in the headlights and forced beneath the wheels into demi-celebrity, daytime talk show oblivion. But nobody ever really makes it across the road, and they never quite meet the echelons of the real musician’s status.
The real problem with this is that we don’t like to think that the musical joie de vivre comes from consumer surveys and a team of PR agents so good they could talk you out of believing in gravity. It’s a nice thought that musicians still bring their own personality to their performance, but with the X Factor the performances are soulless. Every last one of them. No matter how often they play Coldplay over the top and all the judges weep ‘tears of joy’, I have never seen a performance where I saw anything other than the crushingly boring repetition of a song that once meant something to someone. And therein lies the problem, it’s not the singers personality we’re seeing, its a compound of all the audience feedback and marketing nonsense that the judges and creators have been told to smear all over their new-found blank canvasses.
I’m leaving aside the whole building-up of people to an inevitable let down thing, like cooing over how nice it is giving a plane ride to a load of orphaned kittens, then turning your head when the pilot proceeds to open the door and eject every kitten, one by one, out into the wild blue yonder of thirty thousand feet up.
So I’ve come up with an elegant solution to everyone’s problems. The X Factor needs to start taking some responsibility. For the output of consistently faceless automatons I won’t complain, its more for those left helpless and bloodied in the dusty wake of the Simon Cowell et al. dream-smashing-mobile. I think that if the X Factor was forced to follow round the contestants ejected after numerous stages, just to film them for a week in a special ‘return to heart breaking normalcy’ episode, then people might feel a little bit worse about letting these people believe this show will change their lives. We could watch as they weep into their sink full of dishes, gawp at their pathetic crying every time they hear the song that sent them tumbling out of the competition and back into obscurity, and maybe, just maybe, I wouldn’t be forced to leave the living room at seven every Saturday night.