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The X-Factor – Can we all calm down a bit please?

Well, it was the cute Geordie who won in the end up. Cherubic little Joe McElderry won ITV’s talent extravaganza, pipping the less charismatic Olly Murs for the title. It was probably a fair result, as he definitely had the best voice. He’s won a recording contract worth a million quid, apparently – aye, right – and a guaranteed Christmas number 1. He’s a lot more Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat than Josef K, but he seems a nice lad and ELM wishes him all the best.

Yet, today has seen much wailing and gnashing of teeth from those on the side of all that is good and pure in the music industry. The X-Factor is stopping real bands from making money. It takes up valuable resources which we could be putting into some type of utopian artist’s commune, where we could grow proper songwriters to sing about all the bad things like war and that. Or something. Anyway, it is categorically a bad thing and Simon Cowell might as well grow a pencil moustache to go with his black shirts and just admit he’s a fascist.

Except…well, the thing is…that’s all bollocks.

The X-Factor has nothing to do with music, really. It’s a TV show which has spin-offs in the record department, in the same way a big movie has a life on the toy shelves. It exists to fill prime-time slots cheaply for about four months whilst bringing in massive ratings. It does this very well. Occasionally, they get a big star – when I say occasionally, I mean once, in Leona Lewis – and more often than not they deliver up a one-hit wonder who has no more impact on the cultural spectrum than any other gameshow winner.

Yet the moaning this year has been pretty constant. Why? Well, say the detractors, they hinder real artists. What is a ‘real’ artist? Chris Martin? Gary Lightbody? They seem to be doing all right. No, say NME-reading types, real artists like…oh, I dunno. Foals. The Big Pink. They could be on the cover of the Daily Star and selling millions of records. To which we respectfully say – in what fucking universe?

Popular stuff is popular because it is usually (though not always) more universal and less complicated than other, more specialist things. It’s why there are more Big Macs sold than bottles of truffle oil. It doesn’t make one better than the other, just different. We get more annoyed here by people like Johnny Borrell thinking that they actually do matter than we do by a Geordie teenager winning a singing show.

So let’s just chill. X-Factor winner announced – world resolutely still spinning.


28 Responses

  1. ….but Stacey Solomon? Would you?

  2. In a fucking heartbeat.

  3. I think the truth lies in the middle.

    Example: the on-line campaign to make RATM #1 sees the royalties go to…..Sony BMG. Who also own the bands on X Factor. Thus all such campaigns are pointless. People should just ignore them.

    BUT it is still pointless trash for and by c***s and watched by retards. The fact more people voted than in last election is terrifying.

  4. I think you miss my point somewhat….it IS pointless trash. That is what it is. I don’t want to spend my Saturday night watching a Vivaldi retrospective on BBC 4.

    Personally, I find the pseuds as irritating as the proles.

  5. Nice to see a sensible response to all the complaints about the X-factor, ELM. It’s just light entertainment for the majority of us who are home on Saturday nights, retarded or not. We won’t give it another thought until it returns next year. I don’t know why people get so worked up about it.

  6. Exactly tillybud. 20m people wtched it…but I’d be willing to wager my pork sword to a penny that 20m people don’t buy Joe’s album.

    People who get awfully worked up about seem to imagine the entire X-Factor audience sit open-mouthed in wonder at it, when in fact it’s a Saturday evening TV show on after Harry Hill that they enjoy before flicking over to a movie. As you say, it’ll fallout of everyone’s conciousness till it returns.

    I’m just not sure when the tipping point came that watching a TV show was somehow the death of music.

  7. I wish more people did watch Vivaldi.

    I suppose it’s for you or it’s not….most people like it and I can’t imagine where you’d find the time or the interest to watch it. I have not watched a single episode ever…and have found this to be quite simple to achieve.

  8. I love Vivaldi, but not on Saturday nights. I enjoy Shakespeare and Spooks, Austen and Animals Do The Funniest things. I don’t know why it has to be either/or.

  9. That’s my take on it too.

    I’d have a massive problem with X-Factor if it pretended to be high-culture. It doesn’t.

    Similarly, I have a big problem with anything which expects respect simply because it is high-culture. Sure, it is a show about Vivaldi, but what if it is a bad show about Vivaldi? Do you watch it anyway? Is it inherently better than X-Factor because of its subject matter?

    I’m all for snobbery – have a cursory look round the site – but I don’t see the point in reductive snobbery.

  10. There is also no point in rehabilitating X Factor. I agree music fans should ignore it but there is also no future in trying to pretend it is watchable on any level. It is not ironic, it is not exciting, it is not good.

  11. I thought you had ‘not watched a single episode ever’…so how do you know whether it’s good, bad or indifferent?

  12. People review programmes these days. During these reviews they explain the content of the show and what it is about. People can read the review and decide if it’s worth watching.

  13. Ah, so when you say “there is also no future in trying to pretend it is watchable on any level. It is not ironic, it is not exciting, it is not good.” they aren’t your opinions, they are someone else’s that you’ve read?

    I haven’t read any Dan Brown books. Wouldn’t want to. Same reason – gather from reviews, word-of-mouth etc. But I avoid making blanket statements about Dan Brown books due to the rather large fact that I haven’t actually read them.

    I just feel more comfortable arguing my own opinion than someone else’s.

  14. When I was a teenager, I berated my Mum for watching escapist rubbish like The Love Boat. She retorted that if she had to use her one day off to do a week’s worth of ironing, then she needed escapist rubbish to keep going. I’ve never judged anyone’s viewing habits since.

    BDC, if I were to write a review of the X-Factor, I would say that it is good, escapist family entertainment, ideal for a Saturday night; it appears that 20million people agree with me: why don’t you give it a try next year?

  15. Fuck me, Bert. Lighten up. Its only Opportunity Knocks or New Faces for a different generation. Its yesterdays news now, the tabloids are getting in a froth about Celeb BB already, ffs!
    Its patently not the death of music, cos bet you’re bottom dollar, for every teenager that gets in a lather about Joe McElder-gay or whatever, there’s another thats giving it “What a lot of pish, I’m going to get into something different”, cos thats what kids do.I certainly did.
    “Hmmmmm, ABBA or The Sex Pistols? One you’re mum likes, one says ‘fuck’ on the telly”. No choice.
    Same story goes round and around.
    And Vivaldi wasn’t as good a player as Cantona, either.

  16. Vivaldi wasnt that great a player , granted…..but he did invent the four seasons pizza , for which we should all be grateful.

  17. You have misinterpreted me folks. I am not ‘scared’ of X Factor’s impact on music; nor do I believe it’s the death of music. It’s sh** is my argument and cannot be rehabilitated..ironically or otherwise.

    The counter argument is preposterous: it’s X Factor or Vivaldi on BBC3. What about EVERY shade of grey in between? Like reading a book? Watching something else?

    “You like X Factor or you’re an elitist snob” is an argument that doesn’t stand up to any scrutiny at all.

    C- for that…..must try harder.


  18. Bert , I think people were slightly surprised at being told that they can or cannot enjoy a show (ironically or otherwise) by someone who’d never actually seen it.

    You can also loathe X-Factor and not be an elitist snob, but when you say something is “BUT it is still pointless trash for and by c***s and watched by retards.” then you raelly will struggle to convince people you don’t simply dislike it because you think you should. Especially when – and I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but still – haven’t actually seen it.

  19. “I think you miss my point somewhat….it IS pointless trash. That is what it is. I don’t want to spend my Saturday night watching a Vivaldi retrospective on BBC 4. Personally, I find the pseuds as irritating as the proles.”

    There are other options. It is not black and white. There are other things to do.

  20. Two things; firstly, you are still missing my point.

    Secondly, you are not going to get the last word on it 🙂

  21. No, I am. And that word is “cocksocket”.

  22. Pot, kettle, black…….surely Mr Whippet?!?

    Last word…how to review X Factor without watching it:

    TV listings guide arrives chez Carte….”Oh look, a new show with Ant & Dec..and Cheryl Cole, and that guy with the huge trousers, and some gays….they judge a karaoke contest. Mmmm, sounds awful.”

    That’s how it is done no need to sit through an entire episode to realise what it will be like!!!!


    Yo ho ho anyway….

  23. Credit where it’s due, it’s a fairly accurate summation Bert!

  24. cocksocket was just a good word to have as a last one, not aimed at you Bert. Although you are a cocksocket. Only kiddng

  25. No I am a c*** socket….doesn’t mean I’m wrong!


  26. You’re still not getting the last word. 🙂

  27. I am an elitist snob . I find this position has never let me down yet.


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