On the record

Fri, May 25, 2012, 01:00

JIM CARROLL on music

Chasing the X Factor dream won't win record buyers

Do you remember Matt Cardle? Even though this is On the Record and not Pop Corner, I have no recollection whatsoever of coming across this X Factor winner in the last year or so.

It seems we’re not alone in this regard; Cardle was quietly dropped by Columbia Records this week, 18 months after winning the TV talent show. Well, it would have been quiet had Cardle not tweeted about this to his 705,334 (at the time of writing) followers. That’s a lot of followers who are not, please note, actually buying his music. Cardle also mentioned “big news” to come which we await with interest.

There are several takeaways here. For a start, winning The X Factor is not all it’s cracked up to be. One Direction finished third to Cardle in 2010, and look at where they are now. Along with several other lads who dominated past X Factor shows, Cardle failed to turn that coverage into substantial record sales.

Then again, are record sales the most important part of the equation anymore? Look at Jedward, dropped by Sony in 2010 after one single and now making out like bandits with a plethora of other projects.

But, more importantly, we may finally see a return to labels practising real AR and talent development instead of relying on the vagaries of Simon Cowell’s TV remote-control. Yes, it takes time, patience and money to do this and you’ll have much more misses than hits, but hasn’t this turned out to be the case with the X Factor carousel too? If labels are really serious about futureproofing themselves, they need to go back to the research and development work which they relied on for years. That’s what you need if you want acts with sustainable long-term careers such as Adele, Arcade Fire or Coldplay.

New music


An Australian duo based in London, Splashh have featured in despatches from talent scouts won over by the scuzzy pop, beach-punk grooves and sunny disposition on tunes such as All I Wanna Do. They featured at the Great Escape the other week, so keep an eye out for them.



There’s been an impressive run of one-man electronica outfits from Ireland in recent times. Cork producer Decentfolk has been putting together atmospheric and engaging emotional bleepers such as Tufts and a beguiling remix of Joanna Newsom’s Bridges Balloons.



Sparkling, charming, dreamy electropop from the London-based trio fronted by ex-Larrikin Love dude Ed Leeson. Debut tracks on their Making Waves EP were produced by Kwes and are chockablock with warm, ethereal hooks.


Now playing

Dexys Midnight RunnersDon’t Stand Me Down (EMI) While we wait for the new album to arrive next month, let’s dig this brave, bold and audacious soulful odyssey from Kevin Rowland and his bespoke-tailored cohorts.

Sleep ThievesIslands (self-released) Superb, ambitious, full-bodied new tunes from the Dublin band taking a marked different direction from last year’s debut album.

Nicolas JaarEssential Mix (BBC Radio One) Two hours of high-quality twists and turns with Jaar grandstanding in some style.

GaggleArmy of Birds (Transgressive) Thumping tune from the 21-strong all-female choir’s forthcoming debut album, From the Mouth of the Cave.

Neneh Cherry & The ThingDream Baby Dream (Smalltown Superound) Neneh Cherry and co take Suicide’s original for an extra-terrestrial, spacey, jazzy trip.