Who doesn’t love The X Factor? Well, apparently 8 million less people than 5 years ago.
This year has seen the worst ratings for the show since it started and ITV are panicking.
Despite on the surface the show being the same as it’s ever been, a camp festival of fun and frolics with the best and worst singers the UK has to offer, a rot has set in and considerably less people are watching it this year. But why has Simon Cowell’s baby lost so many viewers? What has changed about the show that is putting people off?
It’s impossible to pin it down to one thing because that could be easily changed. A series of events in the history of the show has meant people aren’t as enamoured with the show. I’m going to take a look at what I believe has gone so terribly wrong.
1. The personnel factor. The first 3 series were the same judges of Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne, series 4 added Dannii Minogue then series 5, 6 and 7 kept with the same 4 judges after adding Cheryl Fernandez Versini who was actually relevant at the time after Osbourne left. But series 8 onwards has seen a rotating roster of judges changing year on year and constant changes in format to try and keep the show fresh and people can’t rely on what they know and couldn’t relate any more, and by the sounds of the reception of Nick Grimshaw this year, he won’t be back next year. Rita Ora also hasn’t made much of an impression; she’s just kind of there. The new presenters of the main show, Olly Murs and Caroline Flack, who went down well on the sister show The Xtra Factor, have even been compared to the car crash of a presenting team of Samantha Fox and Mick Fleetwood. The loss of Dermot O’Leary as main presenter and Louis Walsh as a judge has apparently really bothered people.
2. The contestant factor. In the early years the weird and terrible ones were always kept to the initial auditions and possibly made it through to boot camp, but didn’t make it any further. These were generally hilarious, and in some cases downright scary (Ariel Burdett anyone?) but we were safe in the knowledge that this would be the only time we’d see them ever again. It’s what made the show entertaining, you could cringe along to these poor idiots who had been told by their parents and friends they were amazing, only to be ruthlessly torn apart by Cowell and co. Yes there were the camp and cheesy ones like Chico and Same difference who made it tot the live shows in the first few series, but they actually could sing, and could be entertaining in a slightly cringey way, But in 2009, Irish twins John & Edward Grimes, who everyone could hear couldn’t sing a note between them, made it through to the live shows, and stayed far longer than was thought possible, and after that there had to be a contestant who wasn’t very talented yet the judges kept insisting were “entertaining”. Which leads me to…
3. The Fix Factor. Despite Dannii Minogue getting increasing annoyed, Jedward managed to survive to come 6th in 2009 and the whispers about foreknowledge by the judges started. Every time the twins ended in the bottom two, it would mysteriously go to deadlock or the judges would vote to save them, and they would get through another week. And year on year the same thing started to happen, contestants who were bad singers would survive much longer than expected and the whispers started to become chatter. The straw that broke the camels back though, was in 2012, when camp as Christmas contestant, Rylan Clark was dramatically saved by the deadlock vote after Louis was seen being talked too by a producer of the show during the save me song of Carolynne Poole. After he said he wanted to save Carolynne, the presenter Dermot O’Leary kept insisting that Louis say whom he wanted to send home, until Louis said he wanted to take it to deadlock. If you watch the video, you can hear a clearly exasperated Gary Barlow ask, “Why deadlock?” To which Louis appears to answer “Apparently I have to Gary” Seriously people go watch it. But it isn’t just the terrible singer contestants who were saved. After ranting on stage at the six chairs challenge this year, Mason Noise didn’t earn a chair, yet he’s on the live shows after Tom Bleasby quit before Judges Houses. There’s also the little issue of a picture of Seann Miley Moore being put up as part Nick Grimshaw’s final 3 before he was even announced. That could’ve been a technical hitch, but it raises questions.
4. The sustainability factor. Year in and out The X Factor promises to find the next big star, and fill their world with countless millions of fans and albums and money a plenty. But hold on a second, what are the odds actually like to get a sustained career out of The X Factor? Since 2004, 142 contestants (not including this year) have made it through to the live shows. Can you name me 10 of them who are still in the public eye without using Google? Don’t worry I’ll wait…How many did you manage? By my calculations, of that number, less than 15 of them have had a career that lasted over a year, and not always in music. These are not having the odds ever in your favour when it comes to getting a career, and I think the public has cottoned on to that fact and are rebelling against the format of all these types of shows. It remains to be seen if any of the 13 contestants from this year can forge a living out of it, but chances are we’ll have forgotten them by next year or simply not care enough about them.
6. The manufactured factor. Yes, yes I know, it’s reality TV and there is always going to be a certain amount of manipulation to make good TV, but it’s scary how many of the contestants are scouted by the producers rather than being a nobody who walks in off the street. Filipina girl group 4th Impact, have from the start been made out to be these four sisters who sacrificed everything to make it to the UK version of the X-Factor, but the truth is a little shadier. They have performed on various other talent shows in The Philippines and in South Korea and done reasonably well on them. The other side of it is that the genuine participants who haven’t been selected by the producers beforehand have been through at least 3 auditions already, before they even get to meet the main judges, so the reason why they seem so utterly put out when they are told they are awful is because they have been told 3 times they are good enough to meet the main judges.
7. The same old format factor. The show has become dull, despite the attempts to inject life into it; there is absolutely nothing new that makes it interesting any more. None of the finalists stand out for the right reasons, none of their voices are unique and even the celebrity duets aren’t anything like they used to be. In the past we’ve had Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, Beyoncé, George Michael and Michael Bublé singing with the final 3. Recently they’ve had to get the judges Nicole Scherzinger, Gary Barlow, Tulisa, and Kelly Rowland (hopefully they won’t let Cheryl do it this year) and previous contestants like Ella Henderson to do the duets. The whole show has become tired, and with one more contracted year to go, maybe 2016 should be the last time we see The X Factor.
How would you save The X Factor from certain doom? What would you do to breathe some fresh life into it?
by Andy Elliot Griffiths | @AndyEG1982
Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, it’s management or editorial teams. If you’d like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.
I’m a 36 year old gay man who’s been in a relationship for 11 years. I now live in Manchester. My interests include writing, movies and watching many different types of documentary. I’m not afraid to voice an opinion, but respects others views
Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.