Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Desperate for an "X-Factor"

Someone has decided on your behalf that the artistic and individual development of bands and singers is so not 21st century.

I had the misfortune to watch bits of ITV's X-Factor in the last couple of weeks and it’s even more depressing than I thought. Not even my lowest expectations were prepared to find it so misrepresentative of the type of people who are actually interested in “doing” music in this country.

Aside from the fact that the contestants are not allowed to introduce their own material, the overly hammed up production of the auditions makes you rummage around for a bucket nearby. Songwriting skills? Different genres? Erm...What are they... The producers will probably patronise you by saying that the public will find it too complex, nevermind the fact that nowadays under the guise of “rock” music you can push extremely accessible and commercial products (think Gwen Stefani, Pink, The Killers and many others).

No-one’s suggesting a context that involves experimental 23 minutes progressive rock or pipes from the Andes. But the fact remains that the X-Factor' s minimum common denominator is as trite as follows:

- If you’re a white male you’ll be a Ronan Keating/Gareth Gates/Rick Astley replica, rugged boyband look, gel in your hair, TopMan casual clothes and the most inoffensive disposition;
- If you’re a black male you’ll be a bland Lemar/Craig David type with the usual mock-soulful vibrato singing style. Also obviously attired with a nod to TopMan casual section;
- If you’re a white female you’ll adopt a bit of a Britney Spears stage persona.
- If you’re a black female you’ll instead sing, look and act like a Jamelia.

It truly is as tame as it sounds.

Simon Cowell, and the money-making circus behind X-Factor and his sister programmes wouldn’t care less about investing in new talents. Not one dime. A hit-single on the trail of their incessantly promoted TV-circus is what they’re after and sure they’ll get it in no time at all. The zillions spent on marketing the X-Factor must reap a quick profit. Someone has decided on your behalf that the artistic and individual development of bands and singers is so not 21st century.

The author Anthony Sampson once wrote that “television [has been] trivialised by a new profession of ‘celebs’ who were famous for being famous rather than for real achievements”. There you are.

1 comment:

John said...
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