Monday 16 November 2009

Is X Factor killing pop music? No!

On Saturday I was reading an article in the Guardian entitled Is The X Factor killing pop. My first reaction was to think no it isn't! People are just taking the programme and the themselves far too seriously!

The feature reported that the singer Sting believed X Factor had:"put music back decades". This was said in his own words as part of his general attack on the show. I always find comments like this a little bit pretentious to be honest.

In previous years I haven't always been a huge fan of X Factor but to say a Saturday night singing competition is killing the music industry is rubbish!

The article highlighted the current dominance that the show has over the pop charts, and how in recent years the Christmas Number One has been exclusively held by the winner of the show.

Personally I can't think of a time where the charts have been more irrelevant to me. Who actually listens to the charts these days? I barely know who's number one anymore, and to be fair I don't need to know. The album charts are far more important and a more accurate reflection of what the public are listening to.

This type of attitude shown by Sting and other critics is just the same old argument about the merits between manufactured artists and supposedly 'proper' bands/artists. This is where some of the backlash against the X Factor is coming from.

I'm actually quite bored of hearing this argument now. X Factor performs two functions; yes there is the music element of trying to find a new star, and to be fair the programme's record of this has improved quite a bit in recent years.

Firstly with Leona Lewis, and now with JLS and last year's winner Alexandra Burke. The Second element is about providing pure Saturday night family entertainment. How else do you explain the appeal of Jedward?

Clearly you have to except that only a certain type of artist can win X Factor. There's no point watching the show expecting to find the new Blur or Radiohead, that's not going to happen. Bands like that would never go anywhere near X Factor and Simon Cowell wouldn't even pick them.

Why don't people just except that there are different routes to mainstream pop success. There's nothing inherently wrong with becoming a star through an X Factor style show.

If you've got talent and ability then what's the problem? The artists that I've mentioned such as Alexandra Burke and JLS seem to be doing well for themselves. They clearly have a good team of writers and producers behind them who can bring out the best in their talents. This is what you need.

The most successful girl group around at the moment are Girls Aloud and they emerged from a reality TV talent show, but again with good writers, producers and their own talent they've established a relatively long pop career producing good credible pop music.

I get the impression sometimes that people are always looking for someone or something to complain about, by saying this or that is killing 'real' music. It's increasingly boring to hear.

When I first started buying music in the late 1980s, critics always complained about the producers Stock Aitken and Waterman whose records dominated the charts. A certain 'national treasure' by the name of Kylie Minogue emerged from this production stable.

In the 1990s with dance music being quite big, there were too many 'faceless' dance acts dominating the charts and killing pop music! Now people are moaning about X Factor.

It's funny how back in the 90s you had the whole Britpop thing going on, and only a few years ago, you couldn't move for indie guitar bands dominating the charts. Nobody seemed to be complaining then!

I for one was getting tired of indie guitar music dominating, so I don't mind the fact that things seemed to have moved on a bit.

These so called 'real' bands have had their success and haven't been hampered by anyone. It's simply that music goes in cycles. You still have Glastonbury which is now the biggest music festival in the country.

It's now also a mainstream cultural event far removed from its 'alternative' roots! Live music has never been bigger, and many artists old and new make most of their money touring. Is X Factor killing this aspect of the music business? I don't think so.

Much of X Factor is simply Light Entertainment and Karaoke. At the end of it there may be one or two contestants who might have a certain something about them to go on and forge a pop career.

Good luck to them, I don't have a problem with this. Just don't tell me that their success is killing pop music and preventing supposedly 'proper' artists from developing. They're not!

1 comment:

  1. My Saturday nights are not proper nights until I've watched Harry Hill at 7:30 and X factor after. It's only in the last few weeks that I've started becoming interested in the charts and have found myself checking the Top 40 on a Sunday to see who's at number 1! After years of not being interested I think there's quite a few decent artists around now and I seem to always end up researching someone's website to find out more about them e.g Pixie Lot, Florence and the Machine, Chipmunk (silly name). I think JLS are quality - the events in Birmingham last Saturday shows how popular they are. Maybe people like Sting make those comments out of jealousy - at the end of the day you can literally see the money dripping from Simon Cowell when he walks out onto that X factor stage!