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August 23, 2010

The X Factor – Here We Go Again

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At the beginning of series 5 of the X Factor I can’t help wondering why some contestants put themselves through excruciating auditions. Some are embarrassingly bad and I can only think that they are either suffering from delusions or they know just how bad they are but still think it worth the embarrassment to appear on TV.

This year the popular UK TV music talent contest has attracted over 180,000 contestants at auditions up and down the UK. All of them dream about hitting the big time and winning a lucrative record contract. Though this year one of them was more interested in meeting and giving her idol, panellist Louis Walsh a red rose. Just as well she was there for love – she isn’t exactly a singer!

The panel of 4 judges has altered this year after Sharon Osborne quit. I liked Sharon being in the show and felt that she offered experience, compassion and was pretty good at standing up to judge Simon Cowell – billed as the most influential man in pop. She knows what she is talking about and calls a spade a spade – sometimes OTT but not to the point of cruelty as sometimes happens on the X Factor.

The official reason for Sharon quitting is not being offered enough money to work on the show for 6 months a year, but there are also rumours that conflict between Sharon and panellist Danni Minogue was the real reason. On the Graham Norton chatshow Sharon likened Danni to her backside and said “She knows she’s there because of her looks, not because of her contribution to the music industry.”

Personally I have wondered why Australian singer Danni Minogue is on the panel. She seems a bit too wishy washy to me and not as knowledgeable as the other panellists. Although her act Leon Jackson won last year I agreed with the other judges when they often criticized her choice of songs as a mentor. Maybe my view isn’t fair, although it’s supposed to be reality TV I wonder just how much is real.

Replacing Sharon is Girls Aloud star Cheryl Cole. The girl band won TV talent show ‘Popstars: The Rivals’ 6 years ago and having been a contestant herself should understand what the contestants are going through. It’s early days with Cheryl as a panellist but there are already rumours that her and Danni don’t get on!!

Simon Cowell is the mastermind of the X Factor and is also behind the TV shows Britain’s Got Talent and American Idol. A very busy man who to me appears to have a Jekyll and Hyde personality. Sometimes his remarks about contestants singing or appearance are very caustic and rude. Then at other times he mellows and is really nice and helpful to the contestants. I’ve often wondered if the cruel or blunt comments might be purposeful to help increase the viewer ratings!

Dubbed King of the Irish Pop Scene Louis Walsh is the fourth panellist. I sorta like Louis but not enough to give him a red rose! There occasionally seems to be some rivalry between Louis and Simon but not enough to mar the proceedings.

The first 2 shows of the 2008 series have already produced some dramas. Notably one contestant made claims about his childhood that were then disputed in the press. As he is a great singer and a hunk I couldn’t give a flying fig what the press says. I want him to do well in the series because of his talent and not because of his background whatever it is.

On the first show panellist Cheryl Cole walked out of the audition room in tears when she realised that she knew the contestant Nikk Mager. Nikk was a fellow contestant of ‘Popstars: The Rivals’ and Cheryl did not want to make public judgements about somebody that she knew. I don’t blame her for that; I couldn’t have done it.

Once the initial auditions are over the selected contestants go through to bootcamp where they go through a further selection procedure. After that they are split into 4 groups: bands, female singers, male singers and over 25s. Each of the panellists is allocated a different group to mentor and the contestants in their group get to visit the panellist’s homes where the finalists are chosen – 3 for each group.

By then only the best acts remain and we should be treated to some great shows. Last year my favourite act was Welsh singer Rhydian Roberts. He put on an amazing performance every time that he hit the stage. His Phantom of The Opera gave me goosebumps, a great singer and performer that left me spellbound.

This year it’s wide open with many auditions still to be seen. I would like to see a band win for the first time instead of a solo artist. Next year who knows? It won’t be me that’s for sure, I don’t want my mouth comparing to a cave or my singing likened to stepping on a cat even if it is true!

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