Thursday 21 November 2019

John Meagher: Every show has a shelf-life and X Factor is way past its sell-by date

Music fans – proper music fans – hate The X Factor. If you’re a music critic, as I am, you’re likely to despise it even more. We’re obsessed by the idea of authenticity and anything manufactured on a TV show stands a paper-thin chance of rocking our worlds.

I wouldn’t be so bothered by The X Factor if it was possible to simply ignore it. But even if you’ve never looked at ITV or TV3 on a Saturday or Sunday night, you can’t escape the contagion.

How can you pretend it doesn’t exist when the tedious antics of a legion of wannabes (and that’s just the judges) provide such fuel for newspapers, websites and radio shows as well as any number of conversations that you’re exposed to on a daily basis?

And, thanks to X Factor, the once glorious battle to be Christmas number one has lost its potency. Last night’s winner – with a typically ghastly song in tow – is likely to top the charts come December 25 simply because they’ve had months of exposure on primetime television. (No, I’m not going to name him – or his winning song.)

Yet there is cause for delight for us haters. The X Factor looks like its lost its lustre. Although it still pulls in an enormous audience, the numbers are way down on what it used to get.

And there’s a sense that even those who don’t have an antipathy to such TV are getting tired of the same old formulas and pretend-spats and huge ballads which seem to exist only to showcase the vocal dexterity – or otherwise – of the contestants.

Even the most popular shows can outlast their welcome – a decade ago it appeared as though Big Brother would be broadcast every year for ever more. But when TV executives crunched the numbers and saw public stopped caring about a new batch of fame-hungry participants, they were quick to give it the chop.

The same, surely, will happen with X Factor – and probably sooner than later.

But us critics should not crack open the champagne just yet: chances are the replacement will be just another over-blown, over-rated Simon Cowell creation.

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