When I first started university last September, I was invited round to the flat of a fellow public relations student for a girly night in. I turned up expecting an evening of Mean Girls and Julia Roberts DVDs, and instead found myself in for a night of watching something rather more alien to me, with more fake tears, dramas and fake tan than a year’s worth of Hollyoaks story lines.
I am, of course, referring to The X Factor.
I suppose now would be a good time to confess, I have never watched X Factor before, and as you can probably guess, I was less than impressed by it, and probably won’t be watching it again!
However, my personal dislike of the show aside, there is no denying that X Factor has a massive following here in the UK, and many former contestants have indeed gone on to bigger and better things – Leona Lewis, JLS and One Direction to name a few. So why is the show so popular?
The last series (series eight no less!) still managed to draw in an average of around 12 million viewers, and yet to me, the format is dated, the sob stories annoying and the ending predictable. Put simply: I cannot see the X Factor of The X Factor!
Perhaps it’s the controversy surrounding the shows?
Even an X Factor novice like me is often made aware of the ins and outs of the show thanks to huge media coverage from every angle possible, not to mention that X Factor seems to be the only conversation worth having to most people my age for a good three months of the year.
This series saw the scandal surrounding eighteen year old contestant Frankie Cocozza’s departure from the show, following rumours of drug abuse and a vague official statement from The X Factor which simply stated that naughty Frankie had “broken the golden rule”.
And then there was HMV’s “Winner’s Single” blunder, when only one contestant’s song was available for pre-download on the store’s website, weeks before the official winner was due to be announced. This led to dozens of rumours that the show’s outcome was fixed, and resulted in said contestant’s departure from the show the following week – coincidence? Hmm, maybe not.
So what does the future hold for X Factor? Despite staggeringly high viewer figures, the show’s audience had definitely dwindled from last series, dropping nearly a million viewers.
Even the god of high trousers, Simon Cowell himself, was not a judge on the show this year, prompting whispers that perhaps the show is on its final legs. The format is starting to wear a little thin with the masses, and rumours of fixed outcomes and fiddled voting figures have not done the show any favours this year.
And yet… it’s still the topic of the moment whenever it’s on, and those who don’t keep up with it – i.e. me – often find themselves social outcasts during its run. Not to mention the fact that gossip magazines and celebrity culture are still enjoying a period of rule in the UK right now, and shows like X Factor not only provide plenty of gossip, but also feature celebrity judges and guest performances.
For example, Gary Barlow (Take That), Kelly Rowland (Destiny’s Child) and Tulisa Contoslavlos (N-Dubz) were all judges in Series 8, and their rivalry, dramas and outfits provided enough gossip to keep the show in the weekly glossies for the entirety of the show’s run.
Well, it appears The X Factor does have some sort of X Factor, at least for the time being anyway. And for those who can’t stand the thought of another series of whiny, badly dressed contestants with a predictable, anti-climatic finale?
Well, at least we can look forward to another couple of months of empty nightclubs on a Saturday night.