X Factor 2012: Has it Lost Credibility? Does it Even Matter Who Wins?
Simon Cowell, Creator of the X Factor
I can't help thinking that TV talent show, X Factor, has changed since previous series. Once the Queen of Saturday night viewing, we have for the first time reached a situation where BBC rival shows have overtaken it in the ratings. Whilst Simon Cowell is probably grimacing in annoyance, it is a fact that everything has a peak; a moment to shine. The truth is that X Factor has probably reached and passed its peak. After all, television is an innovative and ever-changing medium. Even the best creations can become stale over time.
This series might not be the most popular when it comes to ratings, but I really do believe that it has been the platform for some of the most talented singers since the show began. Several of the acts put through to the Live Shows possess a refreshing originality that could sit well within the charts - for me, Ella Henderson, James Arthur and Jahmene Douglas stand out the most. However, last week two of those acts ended up in the bottom two regardless of their excellent performances. It resulted in Ella Henderson, one of the favourites to win the entire show, being sent home.
Has X Factor Lost Credibility?
It was a shock result. Two hugely talented young singers who are certainly capable of selling records in the 'real' world took the fewest votes. I also think this is the point where X Factor lost its credibility as a singing competition to find the best new act. Maybe I'm wrong. After all, the series isn't even over yet, and I have a gut feeling that in the end true talent will triumph over mediocre novelty. But the question is, does it even matter who wins anymore?
Winning acts on the X Factor don't always end up with the most successful careers. For some unfathomable reason, the voting public often end up crowning a winner who never quite manages to get off the ground, while those who come second or third end up making it. Perhaps that's the problem - the whole system of allowing the public to vote at all. As entertainment, it's a good format. But the voting public don't always have the same criteria as record industry bosses - or even the record-buying public. Television viewers like sob stories. They like to support someone who has had a rough ride. They like to support an act they think is 'nice' or who makes them laugh. Some people like to support the underdog. Others want to make a point. Or perhaps they hear a song they love sung well, and it fills their heads with nostalgia. The problem is, someone else has already made that nostalgic song famous, and unless the contestant puts their own very unique spin on it, it doesn't lead to success once the show is over. How could it, when it remains overshadowed by the original version?
Then we have to consider the types of people who vote - and whether these are the same people who go on to buy records. I was one of the viewers shocked to see both Ella and James Arthur land in the bottom two last week. Yet I didn't cast a vote at all, as I suspect many others don't. I think both are great singers, yet I didn't show my support via the show. I would, however, be more than happy to purchase both albums, if their performances on the X Factor are anything to go by.
Talented James Arthur
Winning Doesn't Mean Success
In past shows, One Direction, Olly Murs and JLS are some of the acts that have achieved phenomenal success in spite of not actually winning the show. One Direction came third. Olly Murs came second, as did JLS. Second and third can be classed as 'runners up', however. It's still a worthy result.
That's why i feel this year's X Factor (2012) has hit a different post. Ella Henderson was clearly one of the best acts in the show, yet she only managed to finish in sixth place. The public were shocked. The panel was eerily stunned, because there was not a single judge who was prepared to vote off either act. The name of the game, though, is that someone has to go - and in the end it was Ella.
Ella Henderson is a talented vocalist and will probably go a long way. Since being voted off, the mature sixteen-year-old has already performed at the Amy Winehouse Foundation Ball. Last week's media reports suggest that four labels are fighting to sign her - whilst I can't verify that this is accurate, it seems very likely. Yet how can the credibility of the X Factor remain intact when such undeniable talent loses out to other acts whom everyone with eyes and ears can see will never forge a long-standing career in the music business? Rylan is one act to succeed Ella Henderson in the show - with entertaining, novelty performances, he did acquire a supportive fan base. He seems a nice guy, and I think he might be one of the first to say that he did not expect to beat Henderson. I can see him on TV, though not as a singer. Christopher Maloney also seems to have a huge fan base when it comes to voting. He might have a good voice, but his songs never quite grip you. He has no originality; no uniqueness that can carry him further into the charts and beyond. Most (if not all) of the judges know this. Simon Cowell knows this. Probably those people voting for him will be more reluctant to go out and buy his album. He might even win the show. But he will not be the winner in the long run.
Olly Murs - Who Forged a Huge Career Despite Not Winning
If the real winners of the show can be those who come second, third, and even sixth, it is difficult to believe in X Factor's credibility as a show that finds exciting new talent. Actually, I should rephrase that. X Factor is capable of providing a platform for talented acts, but that's where it seems to stop. This is a competition where the end result has ceased to matter because the results don't always reflect what the show is supposed to be about. When an Olympic competitor, like Mo Farah, took the gold, nobody said that those who came in after him were better. It was a clear contest, crowning the winner in all his glory. That is not true for the X Factor. Whilst it is slightly different in that voters are bound to have varying opinions on what is good music, there is definitely a problem. And the problem is that the acts the public vote for, and the eventual winners who end up with a credible career, don't always follow suite.
This is bad news for Simon Cowell's most famous show - and he knows it. He is said to be concerned that Christopher Maloney might win - and he should be. The winner is supposed to step forth into the music industry, competing with every other current act in the business. That is essentially what the show is about. When the voting results start to separate from true star quality and vocal talent for whatever reason, then the show's format can no longer be taken seriously.