Views On The News #1: The X Factor

It has been an incredibly long time since I wrote an article on here (or, indeed, at all). I will attribute this to several things; university life, intense procrastination with the aid of Tetris and VDex, being hopelessly distracted by old and bad habits, and sheer laziness on my part. However, one of my New Year’s resolutions – pre-emptively – will be to write more articles more often, and there’s no better time to start than now. Thus it’s time to catch up with what I’ve missed out on in the past four months whilst being isolated in the Tremough bubble. I’m going to write a few short articles on things which have happened in the last four months – things that interest me. Hopefully these articles will interest you. If not – well, I guess I’ll chuck in the journalism dream and go and be a real Pokémon trainer. May the articles begin.


                Ah, The X Factor. The bane of thirteen million viewers’ lives; the scourge of forty-nine million others. It’s too easy to rant about the conveyor belt of karaoke-standard, tuneless non-entities who plague ITV for four months, the “one million percent yes” standard judges’ answer which grates five minutes into the first show and the increasingly unmerited obsession with Cheryl Cole, whose supposed epithet of ‘a national treasure’ seems to be built upon the fact that her ex-husband cheated on her and that she escaped a particularly horrific case of cornrows. But, as ever, with it being trumpeted relentlessly around every social networking site in existence – and probably more – it’s entirely deserved. This year’s gaggle of wannabes, however, was a cut above any of the previous collections of piss-poor song-murderers. Yes; this year, ITV somehow managed to coax the dead German composer Wagner out of the grave and onto the stage. Despite having been pushing up daisies for over a hundred years, rigor mortis had clearly not set in as he gave frisky and wholly-alive renditions of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ and Robert Palmer’s ‘Addicted To Love’ (albeit sadly not ‘Bring Me To Life’, which would have perhaps been more appropriate, or his own composition ‘Ride Of The Valkyries’). Whilst the Facebook generation complained in their droves, the elderly soaked in the culture – for what is more synonymous with ‘culture’ than ‘opera’? – and kept him in until Week 8 of the live shows, in between listening to their recordings of The Flying Dutchman. Sadly, ITV’s noble quest to return sophistication to the television was thwarted by those pesky judges, who voted him off of the competition and back to the graveyard. Never mind, Wagner – there’s always Corpse Idol.

                Even the other scientific twist up ITV’s sleeve, to clone the ever-more infuriatingly saccharine Cole and make her a contestant called ‘Cher Lloyd’, failed to create a half-interesting show winner. Judging by her audition tape, Lloyd actually possessed a superior singing voice to her mentor (though, given Cole’s dubious singing talents, this is not much of a compliment in any respect – in my humble and well-respected opinion, she is probably the weakest-voiced of Girls Aloud), but the public grew confused by the double act and sent her home; apparently she was prone to temper tantrums and aspiring diva fits. Let it never be said that The X Factor is not a singing (or, in Cher’s case, rapping) competition. The winner’s crown apparently went to someone called Matt Cardle in the end, who chose to send the NME fans into a frenzy by covering a half-credible song by Biffy Clyro and – horror of horrors – changing its title. In response to this, as well as to the existence of Simon Cowell (or ‘the Anti-Christ’ to his friends), the ardent counter-culturalists  revolted by way of downloading various alternative choices from iTunes. But there was to be no repetition of history. The evil capitalist media moguls crushed the insignificant rebel alliances with their brainwashing capitalist propaganda, which had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that if you have three separate campaigns to oust the X Factor winner from the top of the charts for the Christmas number one single, then you’ve divided your anti-X Factor ranks and made a giant strategic error. (Plus none of the songs on offer were as gloriously nihilistic, or indeed good, as last year’s counterculturalist victory ‘Killing In The Name Of’. Take ‘4’33’ by John Cage. Outré, yes; a waste of money, also yes. Let’s be entirely honest here. Last year’s victory was created by a backlash against the X Factor, against manufactured tack, but it was only made possible by a fitting song. ‘4’33’ is the sound of apathy, of nothingness. Why would you buy silence? What’s in it for you? You might dethrone the X Factor winner before he’s even been crowned, but does the Top 40 chart really mean so much to you that you’d waste your money on silence? If you’re going to spend your money on aiding musical counterculture, you may as well be getting something worth your money. Something that is sufficiently angry to convey your disgust at the travesty that is mainstream music. Something which gives the ignorant public a taste of the music you want to be in the charts which they so mindlessly mould. And no, I’m not going to launch into another ‘I hate chart music’ rant, because you can read that further down the page…)

                And so, the X Factor slumps contentedly into its well-worn chair at the top of the charts, and files itself away in public consciousness, waiting for next year’s throngs of cleaners from Scunthorpe performing caterwauling covers of cheesy, sentiment-poisoned ballads. As for Matt Cardle? I’ll be seeing you soon, mate. Filed next to Shayne Ward in my local charity shop CD section. Bah humbug to one and all.


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