Today’s thought of the day article concerns that TV ‘music’ show everybody claims to hate but secretly watch when nobody else is looking… It’s the X Factor.
A critical opinion piece concerning the X Factor could be concerning a wide range of subjects, and would certainly have a lot of merit to it if gone about in an intelligent manner and not in an all too obvious superior-indiemusic-wanker kind of way. The X Factor represents to so many people so much to abhor that often it becomes hard to unpack much critical analysis beyond a simplistic ‘Contestant x is shit, contestant y is shit, contestant z is less shit and so should win’ view. However, we are going to try to discuss the way in which we most currently feel offended by the X Factor.
And it’s a simple one. It’s the performances by the real popstars.
We are two weeks deep in to the live rounds of the UK X Factor and out of 4 popstar performances (2 per week) there have been precisely 3 which have been awful. That’s a whopping 75%, stat fans.
1. Ellie Goulding.
Not only did she look terrible but she also couldn’t sing her own song live. Embarrassing to say the least.
2. Robin Thicke.
It’s hard to think of any object in the world with less charisma than Robin Thicke.
3. Katy Perry.
Katy Perry just stood on stage, looking more bewildered and out of place than a lemon, whilst barely managing to utter the words of her own song.
(If you’re wondering, Cher gets a free pass for being Cher, for having more atmosphere than Perry, Thicke and Goulding put together, and for being a showbiz age of 67. Oddly enough, if a 67 year old auditioned for X Factor, they would be cruelly laughed off stage by Sharon and co before you could say ‘But it’s me, Cher. See?’.)
Exactly why are we so offended? Well let us explain to you…
1. The popstars are meant to be able to sing. When contestants of the show can sing better than 3/4 of the actual popstar guests, which at least 2 of this year’s contestants can, it becomes hypocritical for all involved.
2. The popstars are meant to ooze an effortless pop star quality, the X Factor if you will, which makes you unable to take your eyes off them. The performances by Robin Thicke and Katy Perry were both littered with an obscene amount of dancers to cover the fact that neither of them had the slightest bit of likeability about them, performing without soul, appearing totally lifeless and ‘performing’ in such a lacklustre manner that even Sharon Osbourne’s face was moving more.
3. Dermot smugly grinning to us that ‘there is no better popstar than Katy Perry’ (paraphrased).
We don’t have an issue with Katy Perry, and we don’t want this article to be about why we don’t like Katy Perry. However, when a popstar such as J.Lo performs like this, earlier this year on Britain’s Got Talent, she is insatiable. She is so very watchable. She is the ultimate popstar. Does Katy Perry’s lacklustre performance of ‘Roar’ on Sunday replicate this? Not in the slightest. So don’t patronise us, Dermot, and tell us that Katy Perry is the model example of a popstar, when we are able to recognise when a performance is shit on a stick.
4. The studio audience blindly cheering everything. No, studio audience, do not cheer the misogynistic excuse for a man that is Robin Thicke. Don’t lower your standards by cheering everyone and everything. Cheer when something is worth cheering. When it’s not, demand better.
5. In the olden days the performances were better. We’re not getting all nostalgic, but seriously, there have been some absolutely epic popstar performances on X Factor. Our personal most memorable X Factor popstar performances of old for all the RIGHT reasons are Nicole Scherzinger’s ‘Poison’, Nicole Scheringer’s ‘Try With Me’, Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’, Rihanna’s ‘We Found Love’, Beyoncé’s ‘Run The World’, and ‘Listen’ from Beyoncé (with a little help from Alexandra Burke). Now try and tell us with a straight face that the performances from any of the 3 popstars named above are even in the same league as these performances.
6. The constant bigging up of everyone. Robin Thicke is essentially a one-hit wonder. Katy Perry’s a good enough studio vocalist but can’t sing live for toffee. Ellie Goulding… well she’s done two songs that we like. And that’s despite, rather than because of, her voice. We suggest the following respective introductions.
“Has one song which has a sick beat thanks to Pharrell but can’t even sing it live. Is a sleazeball. You might as well turn off your TV now.”
“Can’t sing live. Instead will just stand and look pretty whilst occasionally pulling a facial expression in a poor attempt to put some emotion into her singing”
“Has a horrible voice and an even worse frock on”
7. There is real UK talent which the X Factor is neglecting. Aside from the chosen few ‘wonderkids’ (Cher Lloyd, One Direction, Union J, Little Mix) there seems to be little support for X Factor alumni with brilliant tunes and amazing vocal abilities, such as Aiden Grimshaw and Alexandra Burke, or pleasantly-Radio 2-esque MOR material, such as Diana Vickers. However, thinking outside the box a little more, acts such as Frankmusik, Daley, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, or Charlie Brown all promise talent and could do with some extra promotion. Instead the same ‘heavyweights’ such as Katy Perry, Gaga,and Rihanna are rolled out every year. If the quality was up to scratch, this wouldn’t be so much of an issue for us. But it’s not.
8. We have transitioned from a UK to a US style of hearing hits that have already been (rather than future hits.) Yes, this is annoying because who, when they heard the intro to ‘Blurred Lines’on Sunday, really thought ‘oh wow I love this song but it’s been so underexposed and under-promoted I sure am glad I got to hear it live on X Factor!’ Similarly, UK radio have now been hammering ‘Roar’ and ‘Burn’ for weeks and weeks on end and they have both already peaked in the UK charts. It’s much more exciting as a live event, to hear a brand new single that you are seeing performed for the first time, and that hasn’t been available for approximately 10 months.
Basically, sort it out X Factor. We’re saying this because we wanted to be excited when we heard Katy Perry was performing. We want to enjoy The Wanted (!) and Lady Gaga next week. We really do. But we’re really struggling when you keep handing us such shit. X Factor, as you are basically TOTP now, it’s your civic duty to give us better.