- Tue, 2010-08-31 17:10
As anyone au fait with the pop world will be all too aware, the seventh series of the TV phenomenon X-Factor began just over a week ago in a storm of controversy. The revelation that auto-tune technology was used to tweak contestants’ voices (for the better and for the worse) was met with widespread outrage, causing many to denounce the show and label it defunct.
Well hold on just one second please.
Yes, if the X-Factor was simply a music talent show, then the producers’ decision to spruce things up a bit for the television audience would be pretty unacceptable. But the X-Factor isn’t simply a music talent show, is it? No. From start to finish, it is a soap opera, and self-consciously so.
When you settle down to watch an episode of the X-Factor you expect a number of things:
- There will be individuals for whom you develop an affection. You will become emotionally attached as you watch them overcome the adversity of Simon Cowell’s wrath/a difficult emotional past/lack of confidence.
- There will be individuals for whom you develop a dislike. You will shout at the telly as they proceed on the basis of their eccentricity/unconventionality/unintended hilarity, despite the fact that you consider them fundamentally talentless.
- There will be comedy. You will chuckle as the judges are left wide-eyed by deluded individuals who are tone-deaf/OAPs/dressed like the ‘90s threw up on them.
- There will be moments of elation. You will be subjected to endless slow-mo shots, sound-tracked by Take That, of beaming smiles/joyous weeping/group hugs.
- There will be moments of tragedy. You will be subjected to endless slow-mo shots, sound-tracked by Take That, of ashen faces/distraught weeping/group hugs.
Without the overblown pantomime that the above come together to make, the X-Factor probably wouldn’t be worth watching, regardless of the final results. After all, while it has produced a number of fantastic success stories in the shape of Leona Lewis, Alexandra Burke and JLS, when was the last time you spared a thought for 2004’s winner Steve Brookstein? How about 2005’s Shayne Ward, who Louis Walsh has now dropped, or the runner-up Andy Abraham, who only missed out by 1.2% of your votes? Anyone losing any sleep over 2007 victor Leon Jackson’s disappearance from the charts?
No, me neither.
Thirteen million people tuned in to watch the first episode of this new series. Thirteen million plus will tune in from now until the final. They will pay their money to cast their votes, and if a decent pop star emerges at the end of it all, they will buy their music. If not then they will have experienced highs and lows, they will have heard some brilliant music and some terrible music, they will have been amused and outraged, and they will be left looking forward to X-Factor 2011.
Auto-tune will change none of the above.