The Show: What’s Wrong With X-Factor?

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There is something very wrong with X-factor this year. Last year I had a great deal of fun tweeting about the unfolding hilarity from the performances and judges but something about this week’s show in particular has left a very bad taste in my mouth which I felt compelled to discuss:

1: What is X factor?

When judging anyone else except for Wagner Louis’ quick to point out that this is a singing competition? Is it really? Then why put Wagner through?

He’s a lovely person I’m sure but can he sing? In tune even? No. To even call the show X-Factor when the judges are so willing to put such acts through is a gross misrepresentation in my opinion. The public is obviously being misinformed as to what this show is about, shouldn’t we have the right to formally complain? Where’s the TV version of the ASA?

2: Crowd control

I don’t generally object to audience participation but I find the decision to let the crowd rage at undefined volumes completely bizaare. Am I not meant to care what the judges say?  If that’s the case why not just replace them all with a crowd-o-meter and let us decide on whether or not an act has done well based on the boos and cheers of the crowd. It’s all I can hear anyway.

3: Hostile takeover

A bit of heated banter between the judges was always a little entertaining but everyone seeming increasingly stressed and a tad vitriolic this season. Judges attacking contestants, acts attacking judges, contestants attacking the show itself and poor Dermot trying to keep the peace. It just seems to be getting worse and more distasteful by the week.

I’d much rather the days when I was left feeling excited by Leona’s incredible range and Alexandra’s amazing stamina to dance and sing like a pro. X-Factor use to leave me feeling entertained and happy. Now I just find it all annoying and unpleasant especially as all the surrounding drama is overshadowing what’s meant to be important… the acts.

4: Katie and Wagner

2 contestants who have had to face several weeks of public humiliation. The judges blame the public. The contestants blame the press and I blame the judges.

Wagner should never have been on the show in the first place and each time a contestant leaves instead of Wagner I hope Louis feels the weight of his decision. Why Louis put him on the show I will never understand and what’s worse is that the judges then show such disdain for Wagner in their critiques. Of course he’s not good but it’s not his fault he’s there either. It’s Louis’ so if you’re going to boo anyone boo him.

As for Katie, she should have been let go in the first instance instead of this attempt by the judges to force people into liking her. I’m not saying she’s a bad person or that she can’t sing, I even like her new hair cut but she’s not my cup of tea. And usually that’s all it comes down to when people decide whether or not they’re going to support an artist. Don’t judge us for it. I don’t know Mariah either but I’ll be playing All I Want for Christmas right though to January 1.

Katie and the judges should see the viewing public as that old adage “if you love someone set them free if it’s meant to be they’ll come back”. Set the audience free judges! Next time she’s in the bottom 2 let her go home.  Stop with all the begging and pleading and just let her go and grow and come back to a more forgiving public.

5: Who’s this show really about?

So much of this show doesn’t make sense to me. Especially Simon with his new found love of mediocre. There was a time when Simon’s opinion was one you can trust but I think it’s fair to say that ever since the Jedward debacle last year it’s become evident that his judgement has been greatly compromised.

With that and the way the careers of some of the winners has disappeared into oblivion we have to ask who is this show really about? The contestants or the judges? When all the contestants are long forgotten, the judges return year after year.

Are they just putting on a show to confirm their seat for the following year, with each controversy, cat fight and teary-eyed contestant working in their favour? Sounds cynical I know but I see no other explanation for what has taken place. Why is talent being looked over in favour of comedy value in what is meant to be a “singing competition”?

Why are subsequent winners given corny cover songs whilst so-called “losers” actually get their own identities cultivated and quality songs/videos recorded?

And so…

I’m sure all the publicity courted by the controversy is probably helping to line a few people’s pockets but it’s starting to look like the shows heading in the direction of cultivating that kind of activity on purpose.

X Factor’s had some good years but if it keeps going in this direction it might have to go on without me. Truly I wouldn’t even miss the show if it weren’t for my Twitter family who have made it so entertaining to watch but no worries, we can  giggle over the Apprentice instead.

Amongst many other things, I'm a 30-something contemplative Londoner making the daily commute between contentment and ambition.When not blogging, I'm using my talents for good as communications director at Gingerland and co-founder of Love Harlem.


  • Reply November 22, 2010

    jill (@polkadot23)

    When my husband was publisher at Esquire, there was a phrase called ‘X factor’ which meant.. I dunno, it’s like that certain je ne sais quoi that makes people come across well on tv and ultimately, makes them ‘famous’ and ‘successful’.

    I’ve been thinking there’s something wrong with me – and my husband, too – that we just can’t watch the show. The few times I’ve tried to watch bits of it – just to see what all the fuss was about – it was just so.. mean spirited. The closest I can compare it to is Rome, Coliseum, lions.

    That’s what I think ; )

    • Reply November 22, 2010


      Hi Jill, have to agree with you… having the X-Factor used to mean something now it’s just about a build-up to a “paint-by-numbers” christmas number 1.

      Thanks for your comments too

  • Reply November 22, 2010


    I agree with a lot of what you say. I used to really like xfactor but after last night’s show I just felt angy for
    ages afterwards. I just feel manipulated week after week as if the producers on the show think we are stupid. I have never seen Simon save someone who has been inthe bottom two 3 times like he did with Katie. Usually he says that is clear that the public don’t like you so you have to go. Back to Katie I said the a friend on Saturday night that she wouldn’t be in the bottom two this week and she would be saved first. That would be the twist and that’s what happened. I dont’t vote now because I don’t believe in the process. I no longer listen to Simon because he is inconsistent. I’m still watching but not for much longer. Really well written post by the way.

    • Reply November 22, 2010


      Exactly how I felt pink. Angry and that’s plain weird I mean it’s X Factor not Dispatches! I shouldn’t be feeling so perturbed by it but like you say with all that manipulation how else are you supposed to feel. I figure I’ll just watch the performance clips on YouTube so I can ignore all the surrounding palava and just pay attention to the acts.

  • Reply November 22, 2010

    Ruby A

    Agreed 100%. Reality TV shows are now as scripted as any soap and cast accordingly, but whenever I watch the X Factor I feel acutely aware of the naked manipulation (and not of the fun sort). Everything feels needlessly contrived.

    This competition was never about finding talent, but people who generated lots of publicity and money for Cowell and co. And I’ve never trusted his opinion as far as I could throw it on matters musical – from the time he launched Zig and Zag on the public, you know he’s about money, not art. You have to look away from the blinding light of the commercial pop/X Factor machine to find real quality artists; I could simply suspend my belief and watch this as pure light entertainment, but the show is so full of the sense of its own importance that I can’t stand it.

  • Reply November 22, 2010


    Hi Ruby, I didn’t know Simon was behind Zig and Zag it does explain a lot though especially his love for Jedward. Maybe after all this time he can hide his true colours no more.

  • Reply November 23, 2010


    All my thoughts written down! Seriously X-Factor is a mess this year and sadly the one person that you could rely on to give sound judgements (Simon)…has lost his damn mind! Thank God for Danni, the only voice of reason.

    As for Katie, if the rumours are true about Simon buying her out of her contract, then I see why he keeps saving her. But even at that, she isn’t that great a singer and unfortunately, not very likeable. So he took a huge risk doing that, and maybe it’s time for him to just let her go.

    Do not get me started on the audience….eurgh

  • Reply November 24, 2010


    I never watched X Factor until this year, although I have obviously seen random episodes in the past. What I find surprising is the public perception that X Factor could possibly be real, that somehow it matters. In my opinion it’s just a continuation of ITV’s tradition of Saturday evening variety shows which have been a central part of their schedule for decades.

    I agree with you on the wishy washy inconsistency, “This is a talent show” one week, “Look, I always say this show isn’t about talent, its about personality” on other weeks, depending on their agenda or who they need to push. I don’t really care, it’s just reality tv melodrama.

    If you really do want to complain you can do so to Ofcom as some 900+ people did over Cheryl’s refusal to vote between Cher and TreyC.

    I was moved to write a post about the Cheryl backlash after the judges home selection fiasco and witnessing the misplaced outrage this caused. I’m glad you posted this, I have a pending article called How I Came to Love the X Factor which I haven’t completed yet. I might just go ahead and hurry that one up!

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