At last a step in the right direction. Has it really taken this long for Simon Cowell and co. to realise what constitutes entertainment and to give the audience what they want? After years of insisting that the show focuses on the pure ability to sing, it looks like the current crop of X Factor wannabes may finally buck the trend. Expect the unexpected.
Ever since the unforgettable Susan Boyle first took to the stage, there has been a long succession of unpredictable, unusual and at times downright bonkers contestants to grace the stage. I realise this concerns Britain’s Got Talent but one can only envisage The X Factor going down the same route. And it shows no sign of stopping. Take Tesco worker Mary Byrne, 50, and retired P.E. teacher Wagner Fiuza-Carrilho, 54 for example. The pair look set to become cult figures of this year’s offering. And why? Because they’re different and make great viewing for the audience.
In a culture saturated by reality TV, the more interesting and bizarre the act, the more it is talked about and the more column inches it gains. Anyone discussing it over lunch at work on a Monday morning or who takes a glance down their Facebook news feed during the show on a Saturday or Sunday knows it. It’s how Big Brother took a downward turn in popularity after initial success. Ordinary people are put in front of cameras and manipulated as if circus performers in order to satisfy the audience. And the general public controls them, taking part in voting each week to decide who stays and who goes. Up until now The X Factor has remained a straight forward competition based on raw talent, but, like a long succession of entertainment programmes recently, it all boils down to who can keep the audience watching.
Even though no group has won The X Factor to date, JLS are without doubt the most successful yet, even more so than previous solo winners such as Shayne Ward, Leon Jackson and Joe McElderry. The ‘older’ category has produced some compelling characters too, but likewise has no winners. A year after JLS’ appearance saw the arrival of Jedward, who, like Marmite, you either loved or hated. Similarly to JLS, their debut album success and a reality TV show on ITV2 proves that the most successful are those that make the best entertainment. Another thing that increases viewing figures is the rivalry between Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh. To have the pair mentoring the groups and the over-28s category is in my opinion, a stroke of genius. Gone are the days of the inevitability of a young, fresh solo singer triumphing then vanishing into thin air. This year may just be the year of the unsung hero.