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By Georgie Evans on 20.10.2023

The Fix Factor

The fact of the matter is we’re unlikely to ever find out what the X-Factor producer really whispered into the ear of Louis Walsh during Carolynne Poole’s sing off performance. I wouldn’t be surprised if the ‘dead lock’ scenario was a pre-planned effort to provoke the current controversy, but regardless the first live show succeeded in provoking a barrage of media frenzy. Yet it’s not the talent that has grabbed the headlines but the Gary V Louis battle and of course Rylan, the supposedly least talented contestant who is becoming the face of X factor 2012. Viewer ratings are finally ahead of its rival Strictly Come Dancing, and I expect Simon Cowell is flashing his bright white veneers as we speak.

So what are these new ‘entertainment’ shows doing to the face of music? The majority of airtime seems to centre on heart rendering backstories of single parents and jailed dads to produce an image of the contestant before they have even performed. The fact that phone lines are now open for voting before they have even sung seems to convey that they are being judged on this carefully edited image rather than their music ability. Radio 1 DJ Greg James recently told Digital Spy that he supported the concept of the X factor declaring it as ‘good trashy drama’. However, the concern is that this ‘trashy drama’ is having a significant influence on today’s music scene. One Direction have become the first British group to go to the top of the US Billboard chart with their debut album, and Jedward, as a result of their appearance on the show launched a successful career raking in an estimated £4.5 million.

The X Factor demonstrates what the music scene of today has become. A manufactured market centred on mass production and consumption with download chart positions shifting daily and new artists being introduced frequently to keep the charts ‘fresh’. It seems that the endurance of an artist’s career is reliant upon them constantly churning out singles, Rihanna being an example who, to keep herself ‘relevant’ has released 8 albums in 7 years. It appears to have become far easier to establish yourself in the music industry but much harder to sustain a career in it. Each year on the X Factor a fresh batch of ‘talent’ rides the accelerated path to fame by being thrown into the exciting, but unforgiving world of British television and past contestants fade away into ‘normality’. And more so than often do the previous winners, Joe McElderry, Leon Jackson, Shayne Ward.

However, is it a demeaning environment launching innocent individuals into a pit to be judged by the masses, or does it give the chance for an individual, regardless of age or background the opportunity to pursue their passion in a business which is constantly striving to fit a mould? The likes of Susan Boyle and Paul Potts have already demonstrated that a ‘popstar package’ is not compulsory for success. Are these only exceptions or is it that these entertainment shows delve deep into society and every so often uncover unconventional talent of the most extraordinary kind?


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