Cosmic Slop #37: Olly Murs is wrong, The X Factor is all but finished


Shaking his head at the delusions of noted philosopher Olly Murs, Getintothis’ Shaun Ponsonby pokes holes – and, in some ways weirdly agrees – with his statements. 

Oh, Olly Murs! Perpetual favourite of people who sometimes buy CDs at ASDA after they’ve watched The Wright Stuff.  He’s kind of like what Robbie Williams might have been had he pursued a career as a Butlins Redcoat. Not that there’s anything wrong with that sort of thing.

Remember Oliver Reed in the movie adaptation of The Who’s Tommy? He’s kind of like that, but squeaky clean, sober and actually able to sin…erm…I dunno, I guess he can sing to a point. He at least has a personality, even if it is an irritatingly chirpy one (why must be people on TV always be so fucking chirpy? Some of us are alone and miserable, you heartless mooncalf). Not that his material is particularly challenging vocally. His stuff reminds me of the kind of songs I’d have to sit through during Christmas parties we used to have in primary school. In fact, I recall one year I got so sick of that stuff that I brought in a CD where the first track was Pink Floyd’s Run Like Hell. It didn’t go down well.

In any case, Olly’s stuff is inoffensive and it exists. No worries.

Everything should be going fine for Olly. He’s had three number one albums, a Top 20 showing in the US and even had the honour of singing with Rizzle Kicks once. But life on Murs is not what it seems.  And the problem isn’t that his surname is the exact noise I make when I throw up (“muuurrrrrrsssss”).

Now hosting mankind’s finest invention The X Factor because he thought hosting a trashy TV talent show would give his musical career just the right amount of gravitas, he’s had a little vent about what he has perceived as negative press coverage of the show.

He said to Digital Spy; “Every week there’s always something written in the press about it. To be honest with you, Strictly and X Factor are watched by two different audiences. A lot more younger people will watch The X Factor, so they will go out and then watch it on catch-up.”

Well, yes, this is all true to a point. But, if the ratings war is entirely moot, why has Simon Cowell consistently made such a big fuss about the BBC having an overlap between The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing? The catch-up point is fair, but surely the decline would have been more gradual if that was a major component.

But lest we forget the press has always been full of X Factor crap. I recall tonnes of major hyperbole about the warbling idiots who now clog up bargain bins all over the country. Questions about whether some woman who was on it should have been voted off were raised in parliament. Interviews, backstage gossip, features, bullshit news stories. Every autumn/winter for over a decade, the press have been engaging in some kind of very grotesque bukkake race, where actual news stories are taken off the front page and replaced by pictures of Jedward and that Brazilian guy. I guess that’s fine when they’re playing your game, though.

Murs: “Social media is always talking about The X Factor and people will watch performances on YouTube and stuff like that. I know that the YouTube views have gone up this year compared to previous years because of how great the talent is, so the show works in a different way now.”

I have been told by quite a few bona fide young people that they for some reason enjoy searching YouTube for people no-one has ever heard of playing a cover of a recent hit on a webcam, as opposed to listening to the thing that cost thousands of pounds and back breaking work to produce. YouTubers are the new teen idols. Being young and stupid, that’s kind of what they want. So…perhaps that’s fair enough, even though repeated plays and the fact that this actually means very little for Cowell’s precious revenue. The X Factor was beaten in the ratings by Countryfile last week (seriously), but I doubt that YouTube videos of Countryfile get the millions of views that The X Factor does.

And, yes, X Factor does always seem to trend, but then the other week a 5 year old clip from Judge Judy was trending (again, seriously), so let’s not read too much into that.

Read our thoughts on Simon Cowell’s Ultimate DJ

His murring continued; “I don’t think it’s suffering as much as the press want to make out. The press just seem to have this vendetta against The X Factor.”

Well, perhaps.  But if someone has got a vendetta against me (many do…I have been responsible for much unpleasantness), I tend to reflect on why. Why is there a vendetta? For no reason? Surely there has to be a reason.

The X Factor has ultimately outstayed its welcome. The press have started to see the cracks appearing, and they’re not going to let The X Factor die a dignified death, because it is not a dignified show and hasn’t even treated people with dignity. The last part of Murs’ quotes on the subject reveal the issue with the great lie of The X Factor.

The fact of the matter is, the show is all about finding talent and giving people the opportunity to seek out their dreams, and I think that’s what we all want to try and get.” No, that’s not the “fact of the matter”. At all. The X Factor isn’t, never has been and never will be about finding talent. The X Factor is about lining Simon Cowell’s pockets.

If the show is about finding exciting talent, why have the vast, vast majority of people signed following the show very quickly dropped instead of nurtured? Why are all those joke acts that the producers see put in front of the judges and, by extension, the audience?

Would the X Factor opposers be so opposed if the show didn’t exploit people in the way that they do? It’s easy to say that people should know what they’re in for, but how could you really know?

An old line manager of mine once appeared on the show. He was made to sign a million and three confidentiality agreements, so I won’t reveal his name. Let’s call him “Phillis”. This is genuinely a true story (I’ve seen the proof that it happened).

Phillis appeared at the audition with the producers with a certain object that someone had given him for luck. The producers said he was through to see the celebrity judges on the condition that he brought this object. On arrival, he was given further props to take out on stage with him. Having been mistreated all day (he referred to it as “cattle hurdling”), he was ready to leave. At this point, a producer took him aside, told him he wasn’t going through, but if he went out there and really gave it his all, he would get on TV, and that “you’ve come this far, you might as well go for it now”. He said it was almost as if everything is designed to break your spirits.

They talked him into doing it in the end. He felt embarrassed afterwards, and hoped it wouldn’t be used. But it was. And for around two weeks following the episode, his life was a living nightmare to a point he wasn’t prepared for and put the entire experience down to one of his worst.

Now…what about Phillis’ story shows The X Factor as a vehicle for allowing people to seek their dreams? Does it matter that Phillis was essentially an awful, phoney human being and probably deserved it? No siree Bob!

I swear, I am absolutely fine with The X Factor existing, as much as I was fine with the existence of Stars in Their Eyes. What I don’t like is bullshit, and that’s where the difference lies.

There’s bending the truth and there is wholesale bullshit on what it is you stand for. It’s a TV show designed to attract the kind of lowest common denominator audience that you would expect from the TV channel that gave us two full series of Tom Daley’s Splash. Just admit it, and I for one would be happy.

In any case, the continued existence of The X Factor looks more and more desperate every year. Especially as most of Cowell’s other projects continue to fail spectacularly.

Preaching to another preacher here, no doubt, but please just put it – and, indeed all of us – out of our collective misery, or at least go the way Big Brother went and shove it on Channel 5 where no-one will notice it.

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