The X Factor. Time to face the music.

Last weekend I left the flock, set my television free and deleted The X Factor from my Sky+ box. Yes, it’s true, I have stopped watching it. For good. Now, before I go into the reasons, I must make it clear that I know it’s simply entertainment. It’s just the way it’s always been, easy-to-watch fodder for the masses on a Saturday night and as such it’s not to be taken too seriously. Except X Factor has changed everything, like its predecessors such as Pop Idol, it has altered our music taste, our view of success, fame, showbusiness. People DO take it seriously. Youngsters aim to be on X Factor as a shortcut to fame and wealth, to falling out of nightclubs and into the Z-list. The contestants dominate the trashy gossip magazines, the tabloids, the music charts. We all hoped that the success of London 2012 would rid our media of these types, replaced by news of amazing sporting feats, fit, hardworking and talented people. X Factor has become so entwined into the popular culture of the UK (and beyond) that I think we’ve all truly lost the plot.

How do we get back from this?

How do we reclaim our charts and get some *real* talent back on top? I accept that there have been a few exceptions of genuinely talented people who’ve come through the ranks but on the whole and in my opinion, they are mostly a bit crap. How do we make this all go away so that sitting by the radio the Sunday before Christmas is actually fun again, waiting for the countdown to the number one song. Nowadays, they have it in the bag weeks before and nobody else stands a chance. Unless you’re Rage Against The Machine of course.

This is all a tad hypocritical as up until last week, I was a viewer and have been since this genre of shows began. I too have enjoyed the schadenfreude of the auditions round, chuckling at other people’s deluded hope. I’ve laughed and rolled my eyes as the next 16 year-old cries that it’s all they’ve ever wanted as long as they’ve been alive. I’ve been annoyed when someone wheels out a dead relative and then warbles a power ballad to get more votes in tribute to them. I too was sucked in by it all.

So what changed? Well, I was watching one night, getting annoyed at the tellybox, fast-forwarding through half of the songs on my Sky+, wondering who on earth the songs were written by or for (my music taste has stuttered since the 90s you see, I thought Rita Ora was a drink), watching the faux-arguments between the judges…….and the penny dropped. “THIS IS NONSENSE”, I thought. And I switched it off.

I’m trying to not be too holier-than-thou about it, I know that the masses love this stuff and that it is just entertainment. I love an easy bit of TV. But come on people, we are being taken for mugs here. Syco and Sony, plus the odd contestant not to be unscrupulously dumped after a year, they are the only beneficiaries. Everytime you see Simon Cowell (and inevitably Sinitta) on a jet-ski, you are paying for it!

I am a huge Take That fan (minus Robbie, but that’s another post) and I want to just bang my head off the floor in despair at my beloved Mr Barlow judging this drivel. I fear for his credibility just a little bit. (Still love him though, but not as much as Howard). And Dermot O’Leary too, a talented and intelligent man who I can’t help but suspect is capable of far more. But then he’s the presenter of the number one show on UK TV, so maybe he’s reached the pinnacle, dumbed down or not? Would any of us turn down a squillion pound deal if offered by Simon Cowell?

I’ll come clean and admit that I do have an Olly Murs song on my iPod (but that’s because my daughter likes it), I did buy Rebecca Ferguson’s album (for my Mum) and I have a Leona Lewis download too (no idea why, sorry). So, yes, I’m guilty too, I won’t lie to you. But I feel that I’ve been set free, free from the shackles of this Saturday night hypnosis. It’s quite a nice feeling. I notice this evening that Twitter is awash with people upset about who’s gone, who’s stayed, who’s quit, does Tulisa really have fag-ash-breath? And do you know what? For the first time I can genuinely say that I DON’T CARE.

In the words of one of my favourite childhood programmes – “switch off your TV set and do something less boring instead”.