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xfactorIt’s that time of year again; the time when our Saturday evenings are filled by so-called ‘reality’ TV and we inevitably get sucked into the pantomime of it all. It’s hardly the Olympics and the talent doesn’t even begin to compare, but it does fill a hole for those who don’t fancy going out clubbing and getting drunk on cheap shots of tequila (or maybe x-factor winds you up and compels you to drink anyway?).

Four judges will sit in four seats and endure a nation of wannabe singers. If they’re lucky they’ll find the next big thing, if they’re unlucky they’ll find another Jedward; I’m guessing the latter will be more accurate. One thing’s for sure, there will be plenty of stellar meltdowns, weird personalities, diva-offs and shocking outfits. If that’s not enough to tempt you, perhaps the thought of watching Louis Walsh on your screen will be? Don’t all rush to your remotes at once.

As I write this it’s emerged that X-Factor bosses are being accused of ‘short changing’ fans, by giving them only eight minutes of actual singing during a 75 minute programme. Does this really come as a surprise to people? After all these years do we not know what to expect from the open auditions? Lets face it, the initial auditions are mostly about highlighting the sheer madness and tone-deafness the majority exude; it’s always been that way though. It’s mindless entertainment and if you don’t like it switch channels, don’t sit and moan simply for the sake of it.

I sat down with a group of friends to watch the first episode, popcorn at the ready and a mix of eager anticipation and the need to cringe before it’s even started. The episode was as expected – plenty of crazy. People who believe they can sing even though the reality is quite the opposite. I can’t be alone in wondering why the loved ones of these ‘singers’ don’t tell them how awful they are. Honesty really is the best policy and they would save themselves the embarrassment of ruining all other non-singing related job prospects for the future. Nobody wants to hire a maniac who swears profusely when they don’t get their own way or throws microphones at innocent bystanders.

Whilst we may have only seen eight whole minutes of singing altogether, they did manage to show small snippets of talent, a beacon of hope amongst the weird and weirder. Nerdy Curtis initially came across as slightly creepy when he stood on stage with a guitar, expressing to Mel B how he had a life-size cardboard cutout of her. However, he left pretty much everyone speechless with his acoustic reworked rendition of Candyman. It was quirky and actually very cool.  Add in the remarkable 16-year-old Ella, who sang her own song, which she wrote about her late grandfather, leaving many with glistening tears in their eyes. This was just a taste of what’s to come later on.

The next few episodes of X-Factor have served up much the same. Lots of horrendous singing and some gruesome hissy-fits, but also a few diamonds in the rough – need I mentioned Joseph Whelan? I will say this – X-Factor this year feels like it’s making way for indie talent rather than chart pop… my favourite auditions have all been on the alternative side. My only hope is that these real talents are able to retain their original and quirky traits. The world doesn’t need another Leona Lewis.

I can’t pretend that I don’t enjoy X-Factor, because I do. It’s the guiltiest of guilty pleasures and there’s always that hope that it will uncover a rare and wonderful talent. It gives singers a platform, an opening into a world that ‘s tough to break into and at times brutally disheartening. That in itself is a reason for the truly good singers to give it a go. As for the ones who can’t hold a note, or even remember the song lyrics…. thanks for being entertaining, but don’t go quitting the day job anytime soon.

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