Is X-Factor Harming the Rise of New Talent?

By Caellin Rodgers

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Oh X-Factor. We all have a love/hate relationship with you and your ilk, don’t we?

To be brutally honest, I don’t think I’ve ever watched a singing show through to the finale – the episodes I adore are those at the very beginning, with those poor, naive people who have no idea how off-tune they are. You’d think, in this age of digital recording and instant return, that they’d never thought to listen to a recording of themselves.

Tone deafness is a serious affliction people, this is not a laughing matter.

But seriously, who has friends and family that nice/cruel that they let these people embarrass themselves on television? I guess these are the deep mysteries of life that we’ll never understand.

But yes, after the tragic people have all been sent home, I think it gets rather boring. While I don’t mind the odd cover, I’m not the biggest fan, and covers of songs that have only recently been released aren’t really my thing at all, so listening to various people trying to imitate an already professional artist has never really done it for me. Rockstar  – does anyone remember Rockstar? – on the other hand, I (comparatively) liked, especially the week they had to write their own songs. I’m an old school, classically trained musician. Having a good voice but never performing your own work has never screamed ‘X-Factor’ to me, I think that with the amount of talent out their, you should be able to do both. And if you can’t, there is always someone who can.

Is X-Factor, therefore, harming the rise of new talent? Surprisingly, no. The music business is ‘incestuous’, for want of a better word. People rarely get to be rockstars through natural talent and hard work (perhaps that was once the case but it hardly ever is today) – mostly they know a girl who knows the producer of a record label. Or their father is an old school country musician. Like most of the big fame and success world, it’s more about connections than talent.

And this is where the X-Factor is actually beneficial to the rise of new talent. You don’t need connections to get on the X-Factor. You need a good voice (annoying, if you’re not a singer), the courage to fail in front of millions of viewers, and enough talent and charm to stay in the show long enough to attract a fan base. You don’t even have to win.

The X-Factor isn’t ‘the most talent wins and will also therefore be a rockstar’, but its politics for who wins and who becomes successful (not necessarily the same thing) are reasonably akin to real life. Popular music, and therefore popular musicians need to be exactly that  – popular. You can have the voice of ten thousand angels, but if no one likes you you’re never going to make it. Like any performance-based art, your personality does affect your success. People have to like you as well as your music to want to buy your albums. Perhaps like any job after the dust has settled since the weekend’s finale, only those with enough talent and popularity will go on to have commercial success – whether they won the show or not.

Oh X-Factor, how horrible and great you are.

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