Cowell’s ‘X Factor’ fails to keep up with rapidly changing music industry
Cowell’s belief show will go on for another 10 years proves how adrift from reality he truly is
This year’s X Factor winner Dalton Harris stated in his first interview that he doesn’t want to be known as ‘the X Factor Guy’
Like the Ghost of Reality Telly Past or an embittered out of season panto dame, Simon Cowell squinted down the camera lens assuring one of his X Factor “hopefuls” that they wouldn’t end up slurping up worms in the jungle. If only.
Chomping through a dessert trolley full of decomposing wallaby bits would be more enticing than having to sit through Cowell’s caterwauling contest. As former contestant Fleur East tackles her jungle tasks with easy-going charm and true grit, the X Factor sheds viewers with every change of its lifeless judging panel.
The more Cowell’s face visually morphs into Colonel Gaddafi in his final years, the more the show resembles the last gasp of a deluded dictator who is slowly losing his grip on his primetime fiefdom. The fact that he says the show will go on for another five to 10 years proves how adrift from reality he truly is.
The truth is, the X Factor is dead, it jumped the (Baby) Shark for the last time when Cowell’s four-year-old son Eric unleashed a school play mini-pops performance of the novelty hit for the finale’s opener.
Not even Take That with the addition of judge Robbie Williams could save it, as Mark Owen struggled to breathe throughout Shine, in his ill-fitting ivory tux he looked more like a knackered magician in a 1970s working man’s club than everyone’s favourite imaginary boyfriend.
It wasn’t always like this. Yes, we all remember when Beyoncé was welcomed to the stage by an overwhelmed Alexandra Burke and the unforgettable moment when Whitney Houston sang herself out of her dress collecting her million dollar bills, but there was also whole weekends where people rhapsodised about singing bin men and anonymous Dad-bods who sang like Nat King Cole.
We were wooed by the novelty of it all, moved by the sob stories that hadn’t yet become routine, delighted by “Tesco Mary” (Mary Byrne) howling down the house with I Who Have Nothing, charmed by the hydra-headed Jedward brothers stumbling through the Ghostbusters theme as uncoordinated as newborn foals. It was unmissable entertainment television, perfect for the generation who preferred to watch and scroll while waiting for the pizza to arrive. Cowell capitalised on our terrible attention spans as the Sunday show became a strange minute by minute recap of the Saturday show with a celebrity guest and a vote thrown in at the end.
Now it’s the retirement home for the desperate, for those acts familiar to Syco productions who are languishing at the end of a dodgy development deal, waiting for something better to come along. There is no magic left in this soulless dream factory. By now everyone has seen how the sausage is made and it certainly isn’t pretty. There’s no going back to more innocent times. To try to enjoy X Factor now without acknowledging its desperate chicanery is an astounding feat of self-deception.
The resounding vote of no confidence has ironically come from this year’s winner, Dalton Harris who has already stated in his first interview that he doesn’t want to be known as ‘the X Factor Guy’ instantly trying to shake off the show’s now undeniably naff reputation. It may have been the birthplace of Little Mix and One Direction but Cowell’s Midas touch seems to have faded as he continuously struggles to marry the importance of the opinions of the youth market and the reliability of the older viewers. Thus, the show has become an uneven mishmash of cultures with Williams and the preternaturally old Louis Tomlinson attempting to bluff their way through chats about grime.
With the music industry changing at the speed of light and young people finding their new obsessions on YouTube and through mixtapes, a karaoke show with aging Williams and Cowell slapping each other on the back joking about their former glories does not bode well for finding tomorrow’s musical obsession. The kingdom of Cowell has crumbled, leaving those “has-been” jungle dwellers as the sole survivors in the popularity contest of Saturday night TV.