Friday, 30 October 2009

The Joy of X

Being a self-proclaimed TV connoisseur I probably shouldn’t admit to watching shit reality TV, but around this time every year I can’t help but get sucked into the unrelenting media hype that surrounds ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and the focus of this week’s blog: ‘The X Factor’.

Ever since Simon Cowell decided to scrap the old ‘Pop Idol’ format in favour of the ‘X Factor’ concept we are all now familiar with, this show has been grabbing headlines like a Max Mosley orgy.

I maintain my theory that ‘Strictly’ remains the middle class reality show where as ‘X Factor’ manages to attract not only the intelligent but also the utterly moronic – how else do you explain the voting patterns of the show and the fact that everyone who appears on the show manages to achieve chart success the following week – I honestly believe William Shatner’s rap album would get to number one if Cowell let him on ‘X Factor’.

The judging panel and presenting personnel have undergone many changes in the show’s six year run but we are currently forced to endure a completely castrated Dermot O’Leary as host, Holly Wilo-boobies on ITV2 spin-off ‘The Xtra Factor’ and a judging panel consisting of the egos of Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh, Dannii Minogue and Cheryl Tweedy-Cole.

Looking at those judges, I know what you’re thinking – isn’t this a singing contest? Well the answer to that question would be a resounding no, but that said, I think the fact that, when it comes to the judges’ comments each week, the contestants are only ever interested in pleasing Cowell proves how much the other judges’ musical knowledge is regarded.

‘American Idol’ (maintaining the old ‘Pop Idol’ formula) remains one of the, if not THE, biggest show in America – a country with notoriously fickle TV watching habits. Cowell obviously is in involved in both and has this year taken his broadest steps yet to try and make ‘X Factor’ some sort of American ‘Idol’-lite.

Check back to my March post from earlier in the year American Idol Vs. X Factor to see a comparison between the two shows.

Cowell must be smart enough to realise though that ‘X Factor’ will never be ‘American Idol’ and it is his own fault that the two can not be realistically compared – ‘Idol’ has always been about the talent, ‘X Factor’ has always, and will always, be about the judges and their colossal egos.

I hate everything ‘X Factor’ is and stands for, yet I can’t help but watch and yell expletives at the screen anytime anyone other than Cowell opens their mouth. Bound for hell he may be for creating this monster, but Simon Cowell remains the only person on that show with a tiny shred of intelligence.

My personal vendetta against Cheryl aside, she offers nothing constructive to those contestants, blindly supports her acts and then cries if she doesn’t get her own way but that said she has more right to sit on that panel than Dannii Minogue. Dannii is only on that panel because they couldn’t get Kylie – that’d be like if Alec Baldwin had turned down ‘30 Rock’ and Tina Fey had got Stephen Baldwin.

Then there’s the old Sea Lion himself Louis “I liked it” Walsh – I really wanted to feel something other than utter disdain for the man when he returned to the show after the death of Stephen Gately and I sat there and tried to like him but within four minutes his uncontrollable evil began to shine through once again.

On the presenting front, Dermot O’Leary is almost unrecognisable from the ‘BBLB’ Dermot the nation knew and loved – he has openly talked about his hatred of the show in the press yet still stands there insincerely plugging the hell out of something he doesn’t believe in week after week – they could pay me all the money in the world it wouldn’t be a substitute for being true to myself – Dermot O’Leary is one of the biggest sell-outs in the world.

I never really watch the ITV2 show but I imagine it is the standard Holly Willoughby fare – dazed expression, incoherent babbling and two bouncy breasts on glorious display for the camera.

Looking back at last weekend’s shows just makes me angry, but here are some of the things that were wrong and remain fundamentally wrong with the show (and a few things that were right).

The highlight of the show each week remains mimicking the ridiculous intros that voiceover man does and laughing every time he tries to say “Rachel Adedeji”.

It was big band week which I’d already lamented in last week’s blog but surprisingly no one did the usual dogshit like ‘Mack the Knife’ or ‘Mr. Bojangles’ – instead we were left with a bunch of songs that weren’t even swing.

This fact seemed to escape everyone though until Louis decided to go ape on Jamie Afroman for doing U2. Louis puts his point across in such a petty way that he makes it impossible for anyone to like him, he’s like a child: “it’s not fair”. He didn’t just say it once though, he went on and on about how U2 wasn’t big band and how Bono would have been appalled – I’m sure Bono is on your speed dial Louis.

He did have a point to be fair to him – U2 isn’t big band, just like Blondie isn’t disco but that didn’t stop Diana Vickers doing that for ‘disco’ week last year did it? Louis’ comments wouldn’t have made him the most vilely hypocritical man in the World if, after he condemned Jamie for not doing big band, his own act: genetic experiment gone wrong John and Edward hadn’t taken to the stage and sung a Ricky Martin song – I must’ve missed Ricky Martin’s swing album.

And if we’re being pedantic (which I am) – how is ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ big band? They really need to set some guidelines for the song choices during themed weeks or at least not have the judges sit there and have one rule for one and one for another.

But that is this show all over – how about another double standard from last weekend? The weekend before when Cheryl lost the terrible Ricky she openly and rather bitterly commented on John and Edward’s utter shitness – yet this last weekend she sat there with that false Cheshire Cat grin plastered across her face with what looked like a reject from Whitney Houston’s ‘Bodyguard’ collection in her hair and told the twin idiots how much she enjoyed their shtick.

Moving on to the results of this weekend and we have what is probably this show’s major problem – the voting. How can Danyl, who for the record is in a different league to everyone else on the show and was actually more engaging and entertaining than Westlife on Sunday’s show, end up in the bottom two when also-rans like the little wooden boy Lloyd and blander than bland Lucie sail through? It’s fucking retarded and proves the mental capacity of the people who vote on this show.

I’m a big fan of Jamie – I like his whole pub rock vibe but he shouldn’t win, Danyl should. Danyl is the only one of these contestants even close to having “the X factor” and if the show does what it is supposed to do and finds this country’s next big recording artist he just has to win, like him or not.

It was painfully clear from a few weeks in that Leona and Alexandra should win and the same applies here. That is why the conspiring and tactical voting among the judges is so appalling. I called it as soon as the vote started on Sunday night that Cheryl would send Danyl home – anyone with an IQ higher than one knows that Danyl and Miss Frank cannot be compared yet our little national treasure put the vote back on the public rather than standing up and having some balls; because she knew that if, by some miracle, Danyl had less votes she’d got rid of the surefire winner but actually hadn’t had to pull the trigger herself.

But alas, Danyl survived and Miss Frank have now gone back to their day job – scaring the Billy Goats Gruff.

Yes I hate the judges, the host, the format, the hype and pretty much everything about the show but for some reason I have to watch this infuriating spectacle.

This year’s line-up is one of the weakest I’ve seen and it honestly makes me wonder who they sent home if this is the final twelve, but out of the remaining contestants Danyl and Jamie are the best closely followed by Stacey. The rest are all just making up the numbers and need shipping out as soon as possible because only one man is worthy of winning this year’s show and it already looks like people are determined to prevent that…

Can I just remind you what happened the last time the rightful winner didn’t actually win?

Leon Jackson.

Need I say more…?

If you also want to be pushed to the brink of smashing your TV each week – ‘X Factor’ is on Saturday and Sunday night each weekend on ITV1.

Other Musings this Week:

- The ‘24’ Season 8 trailers hit cyberspace this week and make the new season look suitably awesome.

The general rule with these trailers though is that they only show footage from the four-hour premiere, which should be one hell of a spectacle if these trailers are anything to go by.

It was very nice to see Benito Martinez from ‘The Shield’ popping up in the trailer but no amount of awesomeness can make up for one very large gaping Almeida shaped hole in these trailers.

- Armando Ianucci’s sublime ‘The Thick of It’ returned at the weekend and very quickly got to work re-establishing itself as the best British comedy out there.

The new female minister is an extremely deserving recipient of Tucker’s vitriol and I look forward to several more weeks of seeing her get berated by the single greatest comedy character to emerge from these shores in years.

I’ve heard a few mumblings that critics were less than enamoured with this opening episode, which completely baffles me – but these are probably the sort of people who think Michael McIntyre is funny.

Alongside ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ and the very impressive ‘Modern Family’, ‘The Thick of It’ is conspiring to give us a rare treat of three very funny shows all airing brand spanking new episodes at the moment

- Speaking of comedy, since TV or not TV relocated, and due to our lack of a dining table, tea times have seen me regularly tuning in for ‘How I Met Your Mother’ – a show I’m pretty sure I lambasted in an earlier blog.

Well I’m the first to admit when I’m wrong, and boy was I wrong about this one – E4 billed it up as being like ‘Friends’ when they secured the rights to it but ‘How I Met Your Mother’ is far superior to it’s more famous counterpart.

Edgier, more daring, often darker and a hell of a lot funnier ‘How I Met Your Mother’ deserves a larger following on these shores and hopefully if E4 hammer it in the schedules like they do with ‘Scrubs’ and ‘Friends’ then that could very well happen.

- When I was in Las Vegas one of the songs of the holiday (i.e. songs constantly on the radio), alongside Miley Cyrus’ unbelievably, and rather annoyingly, catchy ‘Party in the USA’, was Pitbull’s ‘Hotel Room Service’.

I returned to these shores to find it pumping out on Radio 1’s playlist only to find it was a remix featuring the unholy vocals of Pussycat Whore Nicole Scherzinger. Never has a remix ruined a song more – Scherzinger’s voice is akin to having a kebab skewer slowly inserted into your ear.

TV Moment of the Week:

- James Earl ‘Darth Vader’ Jones proving he still has it with an all too brief tour de force appearance on the back to basics new season of ‘House’ as a ruthless African dictator.

Take note kids, that’s real acting.


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