Tuesday, December 16, 2008

X Off !

The X-Factor is over for another season, hurrah. I hate it. I love the early parts of the show when a Victorian freak show of varied talents are paraded for us to love and laugh at, but when the formulaic artist training section kicks in I switch off.

These sort of shows stand against everything I love about real music. I am not saying that the winners of these programmes are not talented, some of them can certainly perform in that narrow window of style that the show will allow, but year on year the show churns out a winner who is fairly indistinguishable from the last year's in style and presentation.

Music for me is all about wanting to create something for yourself, to have that burgeoning desire to write your own material and play it in your own style. The thought that you could build a career solely by performing cover versions of other people's material is anathema. For these people the desire to become famous occludes all other considerations, most of them probably don't want to become singers, they just desire the fame, if there was a version of the X-Factor for acting, ice skating or roof insulating these same people would be on it, desperate for their rapidly diminished moments of fame.

I know that when I moan about these shows my staff always say Leona Lewis, yes, but for each Leona Lewis there are going to be half a dozen Leon Jackson's. Do you remember Leon Jackson, winner of the X-Factor Series 4 ? His last single reached the dizzying height of number 94 in top 100. Steve Brookstein, winner of the first series, where is Steve now ? Does he have a hugely successful recording career, or is he currently performing on board second rate cruise ships to audiences of old folk who vaguely remember him from the telly, I think you know the answer.

I'm also glad that attempts to push the X-Factor formula into the world of rock have largely failed, it just does not work for real music fans. We do not want to see a band chosen by a panel of 'celebrities' and voted for by the masses, we want real talent, bands that have honed their art playing support slots and pub gigs, singers who have real passion for their words because they wrote the lyrics themselves.

I'm listening to Led Zeppelin right now, in her whole career Leona Lewis might gain the tiniest fraction of love and respect that rockers hold for Led Zep, thousands of young people formed bands and learned to play and sing because they wanted to be Led Zep, nobody wants to be Leona Lewis, they want to be like her, and that is a crucial difference.

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