Genius of Simon Cowell. Mogul behind and in front of the X-Factor, begins with the naming of the show.
The X factor, a factor which no-one can quantify. It’s just a little something extra (or X-tra, as Syco Productions would put it) So thousands of “hopefuls” every year queue for hours and hours to enter a competition which in theory has no criteria, as long as you have the X-factor you should go far. It’s predecessor in the UK “Pop Idol” has clearer aims from the outset, to create a pop idol. This premise will killed stone dead when Michelle McManus won, because she could sing, but a Pop Idol she was not.
,I hate to draw comparisons between Michelle McManus and Mama Cass, because Mama Cass had a much better voice and recording success but… both were larger ladies. Both could hold a tune. Both would not make it in todays pop chart because as Music Market men would say they have a “image problem” which is marketingspeak for “they are fat and ugly”
So with the fat and ugly tarnish on the “Idol” franchise in the UK, X factor was born. If the purpose of the competition is to find someone with the X-factor, this competition would be difficult if not impossible to judge. After all someone who can fart the national anthem has a certain X-factor but not one you could market and sell on iTunes. This problem is resolved because apparently you only can have the X-factor if you are singer, which sounds a lot more like the criteria for “Idol” hmmm.
It returned to Saturday nights last week with another refresh. New judges Gary Barlow, Kelly Rowland and Tulisa from N-Dubz (I’m assuming “from N-Dubz” is her last name) joined Irelands favourite son Lois Walsh. Walsh also appeared recently on BBC’s Top Gear program. Jeremy Clarkson quizzed him on his musical taste. Walsh is apparently a huge Led Zeppelin fan. Which begs the question why does he inflict the world with the likes of Westlife? Jeremy Clarkson to his credit asked this. Walsh replied, “Because the kids buy it” There is a market for making money in other words.
Why do the kids buy it? Well, they like the sound.. that’s an unfortunate given. But if you thought you were trapped in a room with only wallpaper to eat for the next 20 years, you might end up liking the taste of the wallpaper. I’ve written before about the saturation of “pop music” on UK radio in Sophie Rocks, so I don’t wanna bang on about that here.
Pop music is marketed to kids everywhere in the media. Disney push their artists Selena Gomez, Jonas Brothers et al in between programmes on The Disney Channel, Nick do similar things with Big Time Rush. Breeding familiarity, this works in a similar way to the success of the X-Factor artists. X-factor runs from August until December and whoever wins is guaranteed a hit single due to the mass exposure of Saturday night prime time TV. This success has for the most part tailed off when they are not on TV.
When these x-factor style programmes started I thought it was good. Wow the music industry is finally trying to find un-tapped talent, give exposure to someone who could take the world by storm. However what it actually is, is that the music industry know what they want long before the competition starts, they just want a puppet who they can mould to fit the market. Talent has nothing to do with it. The market is king.