Tuesday, 1 September 2009
The Dark Prince Returns......
So, its finally back on our screens after what only seems like a few hours off it. Yes, the X Factor is back in my living room, along with more weeping and dead relatives than an afternoon with Dereck Acorah (and lets face it, if anyone can return Danni Minogue back to the grave she has obviously just risen from, then its our favourite camp medium/spiritualist/con merchant)
I do have a small confession to make though. For all the bile that I spew at the TV when this show starts, for all the splutters of indignation that I utter when its slickly edited, emotion tweaking, mind control begins to work its magic, I am safe in the knowledge that come 7pm the following Saturday, I, like millions of others, will happily plonk myself down on the sofa, awaiting the "Emotional roller coaster" to start once more.
It truly is TV manna from heaven. A fail safe concoction of just the right amount of tears and joy that will prompt the most jaded of housewives and hormonal teenagers to pick up their remotes and phones, spittle dribbling down their chins and with glazed eyes, press that red button, or text that all saving vote, and cause the Dark Lord Cowell's eyes to glow red as he views his latest bank statement.
For those who do not live in the UK, The X Factor is basically American Idol minus the glitz and glamour that the Americans do so well. To give ITV their dues, they do try to reproduce it, but sadly it is all so loud and quickly edited that it normally ends up resembling a form of all sensory torture that would make the CIA proud, but instead of revealing where the nearest insurgent camp is, it just makes you blindly pick up the phone and vote to save that nice bin man from Kent.
Bolstered by the success of his other care into the community show, Britain's Got A Bunch Of Mentalists, Cowell has decided to drop the closed auditions and have everything done in front of a live audience. This has obviously been a result of the two massive YouTube hits that have come about from the likes of Paul Potts and Susan Boyle, and he is now looking for the same from The X Factor.
Needless to say it doesn't work. The whole idea of the X Factor is stages. Small to motherfunking huge, neon lit, pyrotechnical wonders. So whats the point of this progression, if all you are doing is plonking these new wannabes in front of a few thousand from the word go? All you are basically doing is recreating the final stages, arse about face. The British public fear change. We like safe, warm, and cosy. Though judging by the viewing figures, this has in no way put anybody off watching the show, it just means like all successful formats, it has been tinkered with for no reason. Boo!
If the auditions have changed, then thankfully the contestants have not. Still the same mixture of pub singers, diva pretenders, and quite frankly, arse tightening scary folk who have obviously wandered in off the street because its warm, and suddenly find themselves on stage, microphone in hand, blinking in the harsh lights, and being ordered to sing in front of a few thousand baying people.
And the sob stories. Oh God, the sob stories. "I'm doing this for my dead goldfish Barry. I always knew he liked Christina Aguilera's Beautiful. He always used to swim that little bit faster in his bowl when I sang it to him."
The situation is always the same. Cue some sad looking person, sitting alone in the waiting room, staring wistfully into space whilst Coldplay's The Scientist plays mournfully in the background. Dermot O'Leary then sits down beside them, gets them to spill their guts about what ever horrible event has brought them here, then as the music reaches crescendo, he puts his arm round them for maximum blub shot material. Call me cynical.....Actually sod it, just call me cynical. I hate it.
And last but certainly not least........The judges.
Thank Christ on a bendy bus they have finally gotten rid of the old harridan, Sharon Osbourne. A blight on human society that will take eons to remove from our collective memories, much like Cilla Black. Louie Walsh is still there, like the evil Irish imp that he is, eyes lighting up like a Christmas tree when he spots some naive young blond talent to exploit. Danni Minogue is not too bad, though you do expect her to rip her dress off Hulk style the minute she is annoyed, and start throwing studio members around like Frisbee's. Cheryl Cole, ahhh lovely Cheryl Cole. The nations sweetheart. How this has happened, I don't know? It is quite some feat to go from a court room for allegedly assaulted black toilet attendant, to suddenly causing the collective granny population of Great Britain to spontaneously combust with unbridled joy. Eye candy she may be (and I actually have a friend who physically tries to insert himself in his TV whenever she is on it) all she is really there to do is look pretty and cry on cue. Something she manages to do quite admirably on both.
And then you have Mr Simon Cowell. Satan's mentor. Try as you might to hate the bloke though, it doesn't matter who you are, you cant help but have a small, sneaking respect for the fella. His is the life you want to live above all others. To be fettered on all continents like he is? Well, surely that takes some doing. But always watch his face. The moment he smiles upon seeing someone who at least sounds half decent on that stage, you can almost hear the massive KER-CHING! of the cash register going of in his mind like a mini atom bomb. He is the show, and God bless him for that.
So for now until Christmas, this is all the nation will be talking about and watching. For better or for worse, its a testament to how slickly it is made that it draws us all in, and wont spit us out till the final note has been warbled and that iTunes download has begun.