During the lead up to Christmas, the X Factor takes the nation by storm and students, whether they admit to it or not, cannot seem to avoid having at least something to do with all the hype.
The first live show, broadcast last weekend, began the 12 week process of hopefuls singing for the nation’s vote, in a bid to escape elimination and win the top prize recording contract. The question remains however; do we really need to create any more short-lived pop careers for the benefit of Simon Cowell’s wallet?
Cowell devised the show in 2004 which, year-by-year, has grown in popularity; now in its seventh series. Viewing figures for the live final last year peaked at 19.11 million viewers when Joe McElderry took the winning title, capturing 61.9% of all viewers.
Last year, McElderry’s battle for Christmas number one was lost to the Rage Against The Machine campaign to top the charts which was achieved through downloads alone. The campaign began as a means to fight against the commercialisation of the music industry, as well as the past 4 successive years where an X Factor winner has won the battle simply due to their 12 week public promotion over the course of the show.
There is already said to be another campaign to beat the X Factor winner to number one this year; John Cage has ‘composed’ a song of four and half minutes of silence which at present has over 3000 facebook followers in support.
This year, Cowell seems focussed on creating someone distinct and unconventional for the show, rather than the generic ballad singing pop star of previous years. This, unfortunately perhaps, has shown up in bizarrely styled contestant Storm Lee and the lady-gaga-esque look of Katy Waissel, with little regard for actual talent.
Cowell continually emphasises this need for something different to come out of the show. Yet, being the mentor for the group category, two out of three of the remaining group acts are those he created out of solo artist rejections. Manufactured bands such as these are definitely not something different and wont, I don’t think, alter the stereotypical image of an X Factor winner.
The frenzy surrounding the X Factor is undeniable however. Facebook was inundated with status updates during last weekend’s show and the student population can’t seem to get enough. Students were publically airing their views via social networking sites with updates such as “pizza and X-Factor, good Saturday night combo” and “I’m absolutely in love with Simon Cowell”.
Unfortunately, a number of people quite clearly take this programme too seriously. An example of where hype can go too far was demonstrated in media reports last week; uproar due to a decision made by a judge not to put a contestant through resulted in death threats and Facebook campaigns with 10’s of thousands of people joining to help bring ‘Gamu Nhengu back’.
So you may hate the idea of it but with the main show filling nearly 4 hours of air time over the course of the weekend and if that isn’t enough, the Xtra Factor on ITV2 as well, it’s pretty hard to avoid the hype and, as a student, it is definitely the kind of harmless evening entertainment you need while recovering from a Friday night out.