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It'll Take More Than A Biffy Clyro Cover To Make The X Factor Cool

By Luke Lewis

Posted on 12 Dec 10

 
 

So Matt Cardle is the winner of The X Factor 2010 - and his victory single release is 'When We Collide', a retitled (and abysmally sung) cover of Biffy Clyro's 'Many Of Horror'.

The show's media stooges will tell you this is part of an over-arching strategy to make the show cool, to repair the damage done by the Rage Against The X Factor campaign last year, which prevented Joe McElderry from getting the Christmas Number One.



This in turn is posited as evidence that Simon Cowell is "clever" and a "brilliant businessman" who "understands what the public wants" - as opposed to a dismal huckster who's built an empire by insulting people's intelligence.

Now, I've been avoiding The X Factor this year, but I watched the final. I'd been told it was different to previous series - it had gone edgy.

Right. Those 'edgy' finalists in full, then. Cher Lloyd (USP: can rap a bit) couldn't even warble a song as rudimentary as 'Where Is The Love' without veering wildly off key.

Matt Cardle (USP: sometimes wears a hat) was more pitchy than the San Siro. One of his hometown supporters made a pizza in the shape of his face: it had more charisma than he did.

Then there was One Direction, a wafty boy band made up of H&M winterwear mannequins, and Rebecca, a sub-Heather Smalls balladeer who I suppose is "good" in the X Factor sense of the word, which means she can sing hackneyed pop standards without totally ballsing them up.

This is what people have been banging on about on Twitter for the past four months? This is the best we can do? It's pitiful.

And what's it all for, anyway? To crown the next McElderry, whose latest single just entered the charts at 68? The next Shayne Ward? This is the most pointless talent search in the world: it creates 'stars' who the world has already forgotten about by the time the next series starts.

OK, admittedly it's not just about the finalists. There's also the hilarious novelty contestants, like Wagner. Ah yes, Wagner: it's funny, because he's completely useless! And yet people kept voting for him!

Sure, he was entertaining, but only in the sense that a dog keeping a balloon in the air with its bite is entertaining. You might watch, and you might laugh, but you wouldn't download the performance from iTunes afterwards.

Hate the contestants? You can always watch the judges instead. Except Simon Cowell couldn't look more bored: mentally he's already on the US version.

Meanwhile, Cheryl Cole gets to sit there and narrow her eyes and dispense advice. Yet when she had the chance to sing live, she couldn't be arsed: she mimed instead.


Forgive me if I'm being naive here, but does that not UNDERMINE THE ENTIRE POINT OF THE SHOW? Not that anyone cares anymore. It's a festival of phoniness.

This year viewers have found out the singing's auto-tuned, and the voting's fixed. Still, thanks for watching, eh?

X Factor apologists always baulk at this criticism. Of course it's stage-managed, they say. It's a TV programme, you idiot! Can't you enjoy the artifice?

That's OK if you're a media type, watching at an ironic distance and making gags on Twitter. If you're someone who actually pays money to vote, and is drawn in by the emotional back-stories of the contestants, you may not feel so cheerful about being lied to and sneered at by the show's producers.

As an X Factor hater, I'm often accused of being an indie/rock snob who thinks pop is beneath him. That couldn't be further from the truth. I love pop an enormous amount - but I expect more from it than this.

Pop at its best is a celebration of freakiness, difference and outsiderness: it's not this grim parade of interchangeable crooners who regard the chance to duet with Christina Aguilera as the highest honour imaginable.

And no, Cher does not count as a renegade just because she's heard of Soulja Boy.

This is a show that represents all that's dismal, low-rent and predictable about British life. It's tinsel draped round a turd - a cavalcade of gaudiness, manipulation and fake emotion. It recycles a pathetically narrow version of pop history, and creates almost nothing new.

Matt Cardle won The X Factor, then. Next year it'll be some other bozo.

So bring it on, Cage Against The Machine. Sure, it might be childish, a pointless act of sabotage. But anything that pours scorn on this loathsome farce deserves to succeed.

Dan Martin: Biffy Clyro deserve their X Factor moment of glory

 
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