Over the years, The X Factor has had it’s share of big characters trying to make it through the rounds on personality rather than talent. We’ve had over-the-top performers (Katie Waissel, Wagner), gimmick-driven groups (Jedward) and charismatic but talentless entities like Chico.
This year’s series takes it one step further thanks to Honey G, a 35-year-old rapper from Harrow, “North Weezy” – that’s North-West London, to you and I – who wears big shades and baseball caps and performs hip covers that are neither funny enough to be parody nor serious enough to be good. This weekend, judge Simon Cowell responded to her performance of Tupac’s ‘California Love’ by saying: “I thought you weren’t serious when you first came in. But now I realise that you are.”
Can she really be serious? Tabloid sleuths have figured out that Honey G’s real name is Anna Georgette Gilford and that she runs her own recruitment company. According to her LinkedIn profile, she’s also a big sports fan and player, citing tennis, netball and windsurfing among her interests. In fact, she claims she was Middlesex County Tennis Champion in 1992. None of this, of course, excludes her from making any type of music – but it’s difficult to imagine why anyone would put their career on the line to pursue something they clearly have so little aptitude for. And if The X Factor really wanted to represent UK hip hop talent, they could have found someone with some discernible talent, or at least one whose idea of freestyling goes beyond spelling out their name (“H to the O to the N to the E…”). But then, Simon Cowell is the man who brought us the toasting skills of Zig & Zag.
In her performance of ‘California Love’, she says she’s “been in the game for 10 years making rap tunes,” but there’s little evidence out there to support the boast. Until recently she had a single, ‘Your Loving’, up on her YouTube channel but it’s since been removed. The same page’s ‘About’ section reveals she’s worked as a DJ in Ayia Napa and has run a club night in the UK.
It’s not just Honey G bringing the unconventional to this year’s series. Sada Vidoo is a self-described “living doll” who, in her original audition, covered Pat Benatar’s ‘Love Is A Battlefield’ while pulling stiff, doll-like poses, and somehow managed to win over all four judges in the process.
Ahead of her performance in the six chair challenge, Vidoo said she was “fighting for the right to be different”, and going on national telly is a bold and brave way to go about that. But a cynic might question whether the show’s influx of unusual characters in recent years is really a search for mould-breaking artists or just a bid to halt steadily decreasing ratings by providing some funny characters to point at and laugh. Here’s a 30-something woman who thinks she can rap. Here’s a middle-aged woman who thinks she’s a doll. Women over 30 evidently make for easy punchlines.
Finally, a shout-out to one commentator thinks she’s cracked the real story behind Honey G. Johanna Deakin – none other than the mum of X Factor success story Louis Tomlinson of 1D – reckons she’s figured out why David Cameron really quit his job this summer.