|It's mid-way through the 2013 series of X-Factor so it's time for my annual lament.|
After years of watching the X-Factor I truly believe that the
winner producer's favourite is decided upon before the live shows begin. Of course, the rules and regulations of voting have to be adhered to but suggestive production can ensure that the voting audience is steered towards the producer's favourite through song choice and staging.
So why do we have a panel of judges that occasionally masquerade as mentors? Surely a mentor should be fulfilling their role by being seen to select the best song choice for that week's theme, coaching their team members through the process of learning the song and be getting involved in the staging and choreography so that their contestant is represented to the best of their ability during the live show. If they are only judges then why have them represent a specific category?
Why not show how the contestants are progressing each week? My mid-season X-Factor ramble from last year mentions the daily catch-up that used to exist on similar programmes. We got to see the person behind the microphone, became involved in the camaraderie between contestants and really got behind the person we wanted to win. This is a winner for Strictly Come Dancing as it shows that the participants are not just rocking up on a Saturday and taking part in a few rehearsals. With the amount of media exposure available, how are we supposed to champion the contestants if we are only relying on the propaganda we can read via various online sources? Take a look at the official X-Factor website, for example. There's very little information about any of the contestants.
So why, amidst all this negativity, do I think that Sam Bailey needs to win the X-Factor in 2013?
Sam Bailey is, I believe, the producer's favourite this year and, for once, it's no bad thing. Firstly, there has been no "Overs" winner since Series 1 when Steve Brookstein won and we all know how sour that turned out, don't we? Next, Sam has singing experience; she speaks fondly about her time on the club circuit and on the cruise ships - she really has cut her teeth in the traditional way and I feel that will translate to longevity. In the same vein, it feels like she appeals to a wide range of viewers (and essentially voters and then buyers of music). She doesn't look out of place even next to the younger contestants although I believe that she is being kept very 'safe' by being given simple staging, strong songs and complimentary outfits - almost as if the X-Factor styling team are trying to find a distinctive overall look for her.
It's a shame that 'discovery of talent' now relies on shows like the X-Factor. The trend for immediate fame means that people finding their spotlight are literally thrown in at the deep end. It doesn't seem obvious that the mentors/judges carry on promoting, managing and championing their winner after the main event (unless there is the opportunity for more positive media exposure, obviously...) and during an interview on Radio 2 this week, James Arthur (winner of X-Factor 2012) appeared to confirm this. Someone who is confident in their own skin and completely believes in their talent will survive with minimal support post-show and will enjoy the freedom to produce music that is fitting to their voice, rather than what music producers believe we want to hear.
There's no need to get me started on the way in which popular music is reflected in the charts today. All it shows is that the media darlings of the moment are experiencing sales of their record. And even more ridiculously, I read that the new One Direction song was considered a failure because it 'only' charted at number 4 this week. Maybe the music industry needs to change and stop pretending that the trends on Twitter reflect everybody's view and give us something (or someone) worth listening to.
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