Entertainment General Chunterings Musical Notes TV and Film

The X Factor – another nail in the coffin of original music

Last Saturday night millions of UK viewers tuned in to see Leona win the third series of The X Factor, probably the most popular, and influential, talent show around at the moment.

Now, Leona is a real talent. She has an incredible voice and immense potential and I’m pleased that she’s won this competition. However, I have some real problems with this program in general.

My issues stem from the fact that this show is just a cash cow masquerading as Saturday Night entertainment. Sure, it’s fun to watch and there are some nice tunes sung by the artists, but none of it is helping to advance the British music culture. It’s a glorified karaoke show rehashing old hits.

This is fine for TV, but look where this is heading. Within seconds of winning the show Leona’s first single, and inevitable number one, began it’s printing run. A Moment Like This will no doubt jump straight into the top spot of the weekly singles charts next Sunday, and thus begins a £1 million recording contract.

That’s big money for Sony BMG. They’ll be receiving some nice profits from this and the following album despite showing a complete lack of imagination with regards to their new artist. Leona has such a lot of potential, and yet they’ve chosen to play it safe by having her cover the Kelly Clarkson hit. The whole X Factor show is based around the artists singing cover songs. Not one song in the entire show has been an original composition, and yet millions have tuned in and spent their own money voting through these acts.

What is it about these shows that allows sub-standard performances of old songs to become so popular? Two or three acts aside, these are singers that are no better than the sort found in Working Men’s Clubs up and down the country. Even Leona, the worthy winner, seemed happy enough singing the usual vapid, sugary ballads week after week.

This is killing original music, or at least subduing it. How many young singers are watching this show thinking “I could do that”. They’re being fed the idea that they can become rich and famous by becoming a covers singer. It’s ideal for all concerned – pretty young woman or handsome young man sings popular songs for large profits.

There’s millions in it for the companies involved and nary a composer in sight. Rehash those old tunes – hell, this one was only released four years ago but we’ll use that anyway. Who needs to encourage young bands to play their own instruments or compose their own tunes if it’s so easy to make money this way?

This manufactured crap is topping our charts week after week. There seems no end to chart recycling and it isn’t healthy for popular music in general.

Leona deserves better than this. She has the raw talent to become something worthwhile but I somehow doubt that the likes of Simon Cowell and Sony BMG could care less about that when it’s so much easier to find a new artist every year.

  1. True, Leona has a good voice, but it’s really just a Mariah Carey clone – other’s people’s songs with someone else’s voice, we really don’t need that. Also, like almost ever other contestant on the show, she has quite a weak lower register. I was shocked at how no one could sing low notes…

    Anyway, Ben was the most interesting – ok, a bit of Rod Stewart about his voice, but fantastic range (vocally, emotionally, musically), great spirit and a sense of personal creativity that should make his music career flourish – surely someone’s gotta sign him up.

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