I’m a fan of X Factor in the same way that I’m a fan of Domino’s Pizza; it’s the perfect accompaniment to an otherwise vaguely depressing Saturday evening spent indoors Youtube-ing 30-second clips of mid-Nineties BBC2 comedy sketch shows.
The idea of a Top Five sponsored almost exclusively by it is pretty depressing, but ultimately if it gets the proverbial ‘kids’ putting posters up on their walls, then it can’t be too evil. In fact, that last poster-related point can’t really be applied to Domino’s, but let’s brush that aside for a second…
As much as I’ve dipped in and out of various series of Cowell’s franchise, picked favourites and acknowledged certain singer’s talents, I can’t say I’ve ever really felt any audition truly blew me away.
No matter how great a voice the contestant has, how pretty they are, or how special their presence and charisma is – the auditions themselves never seem to step outside the uber-blandified parameters you’ve come to know and, erm, love, with ITV.
That ended last night. I know I’m a couple days late on this, but watching Saturday’s show on Catch-Up, I witnessed Cher Lloyd‘s audition.
I love how patronisingly positive Imbruglia is in her comments, while her internal dialgue is running: ‘Fuck, that 30-second performance was better than anything I’ll ever dream of doing.
Not only did she tick all the usual idealist X Factor boxes: stunning, individual voice, sweet and charming personality, amazing presence and delivery, great backstory, blah, blah, blah… But it was the first time I’ve seen an audition that actually felt relevant and in-touch with exciting breaking music cultures.
Sure, I might be a bit biased considering that her song choice – Soulja Boy’s ‘Turn My Swag On’ – has been one of my most overplayed tunes of the year. But I’d argue that successfully adapting a track that embodies all that’s amazing about the Dirty South’s ongoing crunk revolution for a British MOR talent show like this is pretty inspiring.
We’re talking about a beat that’s built around gunshots, slang phrased lyrics that 90% of the British public won’t be able to even begin to comprehend, and a single deemed ‘too hood’ for the record label to bother releasing in the UK. Watching her ‘do her thang’ in front of monsiers Walsh and Cowell’s dropped jaws genuinely felt a bit subversive and special.
I don’t think people should underestimate what a milestone it is, not only for the show itself, but for the whole reality-TV-music-machine-model. Cher Lloyd can do no wrong in my eyes right now.
I’m taking her audition as a big, bold step into far more intriguing territories for shows like X Factor. Hopefully producers and entrants will both recognise the potential power in stepping a little outside the established comfort zones.
Sign up for the newsletter
Unsurprisingly the likes of Chezza, Soulja Boy and Keri Hilson have all scrambled aboard Team Cher as quickly as they could. Well, here perhaps a slightly more unexpected applicant. Radar’s in! Who’s with me?
Cher casually repping Nicki Minaj on This Morning, yup. It just gets better…