Looks like the writing is on the flashing LED screens for X Factor

Fri, Dec 14, 2012, 00:00

REVOLVER: BRIAN BOYDon music

What is it with The X Factor and Impossible? This is the third time they’ve tried to get the song away. Previously turned down by Leona

Lewis and Cher Lloyd, Impossible is now this year’s winner’s song.

The song may be performing well for James Arthur in the download charts this week, but by releasing it so early the programme has more or less given up on its usual full-on attack on the Christmas No 1 slot – especially after Little Mix got elbowed out by The Military Wives last year.

Last weekend’s final saw the lowest viewing figures in the show’s six years. With ad revenues down, the one-time Saturday night TV staple is now being regularly trounced in the ratings by Strictly Come Dancing.

Once a cash cow that did get the full attention of the pop music world, The X Factor is now like a bad tribute act to itself. Viewers have become habituated to the sub-Dickensian sob stories of the contestants – suffering a family tragedy is almost a prerequisite to get through the heats. Musically, they’ve lost the plot entirely. The last big name winner they produced was Leona Lewis – and she was never really that great in the first place.

The show badly misses the presence of Simon Cowell. He was the perfect pantomime panellist, and the programme regularly pulled in more than 15 million viewers when he was in situ. Since his departure the figures have plummeted to around the 10 million mark.

The real problem, though, is the competition itself. If viewers are being asked to select the best act each year, how come the most successful act ever on the show – One

Direction – only managed to limp in to third place the year they competed? Viewers lose confidence when they realise that once the music industry takes over, third place can become first and first place can mean nothing (just ask Shayne Ward or Leon Jackson).

With “crisis talks” apparently taking place this week, it looks like the show will undergo a number of changes if it is to return next year. Usually at this time of year the bookies are busy slashing the odds on The X Factor winner’s song to be the Christmas No 1, but this year the betting seems to be all about whether the X Factor will be cancelled.

James Arthur’s Impossible will be whacked in the charts by the Hillsborough charity single, with all money raised through sales of the song going to cover the legal costs of the families of Liverpool supporters killed in 1989. This will be the third successive year that The X Factor has failed to capture the symbolic Christmas No 1 slot.

This chart stranglehold once defined the show but now that it’s lost its musical muscle the writing is flashing on the big LED screens: the show is over and the bargain bin awaits.

And, just as it’s a changed music world, television has also changed. The word is Simon Cowell’s next TV venture is a reality cookery show.

Mixed bag

It’s come full circle: Noel Gallagher will perform with Blur at a charity show next year. 

German Football club Frankfurt FSV and their version of Prince’s Purple Rain. Quite incredible.

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