First, a bit about the live performances this weekend. The theme was, apparently, Guilty Pleasures. Most of the songs sung were loved by me and many and not guiltily either! Matt Cardle stole the show, in my eyes, singing Baby One More Time brilliantly. Record it, sell it, have a number one hit. Then there was Cher's take on Shout (better than the James Corden/Dizzy version!) which was, once again, brilliant! And Rebecca Ferguson's Jessica Rabbit was trouser-burstingly sensual and pitch perfect. In fact, this week there was a higher quality across the board, almost. Belle Amie and Wagner should be gone next. I haven't enjoyed such a varied and wondrous mix of music on a show like this so much ever before. And Katie's '40s starlet turn singing King Of The Swingers!!!! WOW! Utter magic. She should win this thing, hands down!
But! There seems to be a misconception among some as to what The X Factor really is!
Some complain that it's not fair or even good that Cher Lloyd raps every week. "She can't just come out and rap! That's not singing!" - tell that to Eminem, or to Lil Kim, or Kanye! What Cher does is her own thing. What Aiden does is not - contrary to the beliefs of some Tweeters - be an intense, alienating bore, but a quiet musical master. He does his own thing. Wagner - if left to sing the wonderful Classical stuff he sang in the auditions - would be great! He'd be doing his own thing. But he has Louis as a mentor and that means he's been aimed at The Viewers.
Let me explain.
I think there's a split in the audience of The X Factor. There are people who watch it 'for the lulz' and there are those who watch for the "singing" and there are a small few - myself among them - who watch because - again, contrary to popular belief - these "flashy, celebtastic, public acceptance/public flaying stage shows" occasionally turn up a real star. This year, there are a few. Occasionally, someone comes along who needn't be on the show any longer than a week or two - not because they're no good, but because they ARE! This is Cher Lloyd. This was Storm Lee. This is the fabulous Katie Waissel. This could be Wagner, given a chance to sing - beautifully - an operatic classic; because he CAN. Nobody remembers the winners. It's always the quirky ones, the talented, misunderstood few, that are remembered. in the long run. Who won The X Factor in 2007? Or in 2008? I don't know! I know who HAS won! But only because they become names for a while then disappear! Where's that Steve what's-his-name from the first one? Where's Leon Jackson?! But where's Diana Vickers, Jedward, Alexandra Burke (who won!). Real, bona fide stars - maybe not the best singers, but selling.
Unfortunately, many who vote think that a nice ballad, sung in a suit, with an old microphone and a smoke machine; some song about "climbing a mountain of ambition to live the dream" or some shit; people think that's talent! People think that Leon Jackson, crooning Sinatra, is enough for him to win. They don't remember "The Unconventionals" - a group consisting of men, women and weirdos - who could sing, well, and make it more like poetry to music than a pop song... They don't remember Rhydian, the classical would-be superstar - the only man to frighten me with his singing (The Phantom Of The Opera - wonderful), because he's not tiddling Boyzone tracks to a pre-made mac-produced backing track, with a key-change and a choir...
These people make the minority hate these shows, not the shows themselves... Give a rocker a chance. Give Cher the Christmas No1 with an obscure Jean Grae track or something - no sleigh bells, no spark-curtain, no snow machine... Just what she does, and see the opinion change. Let Katie win and steal the Christmas top spot with a sweet, warm, festive, fireside tune. Or Matt Cardle, with a cover of Silent Night, done properly! Not "Trake" with a beefed-up, OTT rerecord of something called "My Wonderful Dream" or something just as cliché!
Anonymous anybodies, like we've had most as winners of The X Factor, make people who know what music is (and it's not Beiber, or bloody Westlife - copying songs done infinitely better in the 60s, or - sorry - Joe McEldery covering any of the aforementioned songs... It's not) do things like start Facebook campaigns to counter the tedium... Nobody WANTED Rage Against The Machine to be Christmas No1 per se. But it was reassuring that it could be.
Wouldn't it be nice, though, if this sort of childish spite didn't have to happen at all? Wouldn't it be nice for someone a bit different - maybe a rapper, or a singer-songwriter like Matt, or an eccentric talent like Katie - wouldn't it be nice if someone who WASN'T wearing a tight, shiny-blue suit or a sparkling-navy evening gown won? Wouldn't it be nice for - and this could happen this year, there are enough stars there to do it on this year's X Factor - for an original song, sung by a genuinely exciting talent were to take the X Factor crown. Then maybe, in a year's time, people will still have heard of the winner! Someone who is not a clone of every other winner - black female warbler with weak knees/white male teen idol dressed as Bobby Darin. I dream of the day when I go into a shop and there ISN'T a sepia-tone photograph of the X Factor winner, clutching a vintage microphone, with an undone bow-tie, sitting on a theatre stage, looking away from the camera, on the front of the winner's single. Let's have Cher, or Katie, or whoever, looking at us from the cover, daring us to buy this. Saying to us "I won this, but I don't NEED it".
Many on the stage tonight could be stars without this show, using the publicity they have now gained. But we'd slam them for leaving to pursue their own creative ideals, wouldn't we? Well, I wouldn't. It's about time The X Factor had itself a decent, deserving, talented and different winner. If it doesn't, then I'm afraid it may just be the end of the format, once and for all...