Thursday 10 December 2009


It appears that there is a campaign underway to try to stop the X-Factor winner having a Number One single at Christmas.  I've got absolutely nothing against X-Factor.   I don't watch it myself, but I don't really care that other people do.  It's just entertainment, isn't it?  For myself, I find it mildly distasteful that someone like Simon Cowell is able to use primetime television as a beauty parade designed entirely to make him money: he owns the acts; he makes money from the phone calls made by the public to vote; he makes money from the guest artists who appear each week to promote their albums released on the record company Cowell makes money from; he even makes money when the songs chosen for the acts to perform on the show inevitably find their way back into the charts the following week.  Why do you think Cowell decided to put Jedward's eviction to the public vote when he had the chance to evict them - this was an act, remember, that he'd repeatedly said was hopeless and bad for the programme?  He put it to the vote not because he felt the people should decide, but because the phone revenues are divided between ITV, Cowell's company, and Cowell himself.   Putting it to the vote made him a pile of cash.  Why would anyone expect him to do otherwise?  Does anyone really think it's a competition rather than a pure entertainment/money-making machine?  You or I might not like it, but people don't have to pick up the phone and ring in to vote, do they?  Nor do they have to go and buy the records if they don't want to.  Cowell ruthlessly promotes his artists and carefully presents them to us so that we will make him piles of money, but we still have a choice.  Lots of people happily give up their money because they feel they have been entertained.  Who can argue with that?  What qualifies us to say that the music we like is inherently better or somehow more deserving?

I don't really like the fact that the output of the show -- to my ears, anyway -- sounds suspiciously like it's aimed squarely at the lowest common denominator; designed to appeal to as many, and to offend as few, people as possible.  Leona Lewis is a decent singer, I'm sure, as is Alexandra Burke, but do you think it's an accident that they sing like the big American divas, all quavers and tremors and high notes?  No, it's because that's what sells.  It's safe.  If that's what people like, then I suppose there's nothing wrong with that.  It's not to my tastes, but live and let live, I suppose. 

....but it seems that someone really, really wants to piss on Cowell's chips this year by getting something else to Number One.  Sort of funny, I suppose.  I was all for Jeff Buckley or Leonard Cohen's versions of "Hallelujah" giving Alexandra Burke's cover a run for its money last year... not especially because I dislike Burke or really wanted to try and stick one to Cowell... more because I thought they are both much better versions of the song.  I suppose a part of me was a bit put out that a song I loved was being used like this, but actually I thought it was good that more people were discovering it and making Leonard Cohen a bit of much-needed cash.  Mind you, I imagine Cowell was smirking all the way to the bank again anyway, as his company owned the song itself... and so he was making money out of every version of the song in the charts, no doubt more than Cohen himself made (and he was reported to have made £1m from it).  I'm sure that taught Cowell a lesson he won't soon forget, eh?  Not.

This year's campaign was started on Facebook by Tracy and Jon Morter:

"Fed up of Simon Cowell's latest karaoke act being Christmas No 1? Me too ... So who's up for a mass-purchase of the track 'KILLING IN THE NAME' from December 13th (DON'T BUY IT YET!) as a protest to the X Factor monotony?"

WTF?  Check out the record they've chosen..... "Killing in the Name" by Rage Against the Machine?  Now, I don't know what song the X-Factor winner is going to sing, but I do know that I think that this is one of the finest, most powerful songs ever recorded and I am absolutely delighted that I keep hearing it on the radio.  It's a corking song.  Cowell owns none of it, apparently.

I already have a copy of this song, so I doubt I'll be downloading it on the say-so of someone on Facebook just so I can stick my fingers up at X-Factor....I was mildly amused by the story and pleased to hear the song again, but then Simon Cowell said something this afternoon that made me shake my head in disbelief:

"If there's a campaign, and I think the campaign's aimed directly at me, it's stupid. Me having a No 1 record at Christmas is not going to change my life particularly.  I think it's quite a cynical campaign geared at me that is actually going to spoil the party for these three [the X-Factor finalists]."

What?  Simon Cowell is saying that this is cynical?  


That, my friends, is about the funniest thing I've heard this week.

You tell'em Zack.

Brilliant band.  I hope you download the song because it's brilliant and not just because you're trying to make a point.


  1. (and by trying so hard to beat Cowell to the number one he so clearly feels he is entitled to, aren't you just saying you still think that the hit parade means something and that you care what's number one? Really? And you object to the X-Factor more than - say - NDubz or taio cruz because.....? Why be more offended by this than by any of the other shit that's drifted through the top 40 this year?)

  2. Technically, Cowell put Jedward to the public vote when the lines had already closed. With 2-1 against them, he voted for the other act and then the decision was made by the number of people who had voted by phone in the previous 24 hours, not by the judges.

    I take your point, though.

  3. lack of X-Factor knowledge exposed!

    I'm surprising myself with my view on X-Factor here. When I sat down and thought about it, it turns out that I've far less of a problem with it or its output than I imagined I might have.