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FEATURE: Does Britain Really Have the X-Factor Talent?

Image courtesy of The Daily Goss.

And first, the news! So recently it was announced that John and Edward, fronted by aging buffoon Louis Walsh are to release a second god awful travesty. Yes my friends. It is regrettably true that those two Irish pillocks (affectionately?) shortened to JedWard, have surpassed all logic and reason with their release of their personal answer to the Nuclear Bomb, a cover version of Blink 182’s ‘All the Small Things’ (along side their new debut album). For those that may not know, John and Edward are 18 year old twins, who earned their reputation for covering poor renditions of tunes like the ‘Ghostbusters Theme Tune’ and ‘Vanilla Ice’s Under Pressure’ during last year’s series of X-Factor. The main problem was that they were at the time subject of much entertainment, because they simply weren’t good enough. How they made it into the knockout stages was a mystery to many. Nevertheless, they battled through the rounds with their out of sync jumping and cringingly tuneless vocal musings. Surprisingly, they made it to the 6th knockout round of the competition. Thing is, these boys need no encouragement. It’s not really a fair plan to expose them to the public in this way to be the subject of mockery. Whilst the novelty of watching these boys progress through the rounds bastardising tune after tune was admittingly entertaining at first, their sheer lack of quality soon became tiresome. To the point where, for many weeks, they were booed, live in front of an audience of millions. And now, as previously mentioned, they have landed a large record deal, 2 singles and an album. On what grounds? Success?

How can this be that the multimillionaire record labels and talent scouts have to resort to putting these talentless jokers up on stage and into our ears? It seems that it’s because these worldly know it alls have in their heads, the notion that Britain no longer expects imagination and originality in music to keep us interested. No, apparently, us dedicated music fans have sold our souls to the corporate machine that is the music industry. Yes you, the loyal music fans are now almost being forced to accept this churned out commercial garbage. Is this what we are to be perpetually subject to now? What is bothersome about this current trend, is largely that the runners up and (it seems) even those knocked out in the early rounds are becoming increasingly successful. The winners of these competitions win their contacts and album releases fair and square. Going back a few years, Will Young won the first competition of this nature with his innocent, timid yet wholly capable voice. His superb rendition of ‘Light My Fire’ made him more than a worthy winner all those years ago, and he still remains a highly successful (and deservingly so) figure in the industry. Next in the pecking order though, was Gareth Gates, he was the runner up in the competition, yet still went on to release a fair few singles recently touted to be among some of the biggest releases of the last decade. His biggest and most audacious release was his cover of ‘Unchained Melody’ which was on all counts significantly average and never any more than that. The lack of connection to the lyrics and his interpretation of the melodic work meant that the song was never going to contain any real substance. It’s a deeply moving song, written to contain a real depth of passion and longing. What we ended up with was a schoolboy singing a song totally out of his depth. Granted he has/had a pleasant tone in his voice and can sing better than many can dream of, but what gives him the right to attempt this as such a big release when it was never going to be anything above average?

It seems that the runners up in these competitions do just as well as the winners. How is that fair? The public votes for their favourite, and the largest vote wins, so now taking part means you win too (how very British). What this means is the mainstream ‘Pop’ industry is to become ever increasingly more heavily saturated in this churned out commercial garbage. So far, the most notable runners up to make the headline releases include the aforementioned Gareth Gates, boy bandJLS and samey singer Diana Vickers – and she didn’t even make it to the final! Sadly, this trend shows no signs of ending. These acts are only made successful because of their exposure, and in itself is an example that all publicity is good publicity. This would not necessarily be a bad thing, but it means that too much of the same thing is made to fill the pot. This is not really anything more than a drawn out for too long 15 minutes of fame.

A fine example of publicity being a step in the right direction for success is the story of Susan Boyle. Cast your minds back to last year’s Britain’s Got Talentaudition when she took to the stage. Yes, SuBo as she is now known nervously strolled onto the stage, where both the audience and audition panel expected her to fail. Then the music played and she began to wow the nation with her heartfelt rendition of Les Miserables favourite ‘I Dreamed A Dream’. Her efforts were awarded with a standing ovation and corporate fat-cat Simon Cowell and co admitted ‘they were wrong’. This notion is a shining example that appearances can be deceptive. That day was the beginning of a new chapter in the Susan Boyle story. She gave herself massive overnight notoriety and gave the nation a glimmer of hope in that she has shown in 5 minutes what many dream of for a lifetime. She has released a handful of singles and later in the year, debuted her first album, appropriately named ‘I Dreamed A Dream’. The negative aspect of this story which is often overlooked is possibly the bigger picture. Credit where credit is due, it is refreshing to see the typical mould broken in such a fashion from time to time. But it should be questioned though, that it seems she was only made to be a star because she looked the way she did. It’s a total hypocrisy that she was expected to fail because of how she looked. Yes she can sing nicely, but that’s really all it amounts to. As it appears to be these days with many solo performers these days, they lack the emotional connection behind their material. Notes alone don’t make a performance, it is the whole package that captivates an audience. Looking at Susan Boyle as a marketable brand (as the industry does) they seem to be missing the point that she was only again an average performer, the novelty will wear off, the variety will not be there, along with longevity.

If this industry is to continue down the path of the quick buck then we will end up with a soulless collection of artists, each spewing out its covers and ballads with nothing new. No sense of originality, passion and individuality, which is the main ingredient that the listeners crave. We need freshness and variety. Let us not be forced to be subject to this unoriginal churned out ‘novelty’ nonsense. We don’t need to be told we should be listening to this dummed-down dirge. Let’s broaden our horizons, open our windows and let a cool refreshing breeze of melodic magic back into our lives.

Mike Sheldrick

By Mike Sheldrick

Mike found the Spotisfaction team recently while, he claims, he was looking for his online identity. Ever the keen listener of music (and the voices in his head) he strives to leave no stone unturned looking for the Perfect Tune. In his spare time, Mike can be found lurking around sporting venues or at the golf course. Quite the amateur dramatic enthusiast, Mike can also be found treading the boards on stage in local theatres often 'playing himself'. He says he once located the precise frequency of the 'Brown Noise', but we are reluctant to test his theory.

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