Talent in a Previous Life

Because It's Never Just About the Music

Monday, October 09, 2006

Music Week 

It's Monday! And in just under a week's time X Factor goes live until either Christmas time or the end of the world itself, which ever comes first. We'd put a few quid on it being the latter to be honest. Well, we would if we thought there was any point. As always, we'll be there to bring you our weekly insight into the show - and by 'there' we mean 'watching it on the telly' and by 'insight' we mean the usual bitter, angry, barely coherent ramblings on the subject that you've come to love and expect. Well, expect anyway. It's a busy week ahead for us as we try and psyche ourselves up for the prospect of once again seeing how dried up both the UK's pop talent pool and Sharon Osbourne's face have become, but it's nothing compared to the sort of week the three judges have in store. What's going to happen? Let's take a look shall we?


As the twelve finalists become more aware of the terrifying reality of performing live on a weekly basis in front of a TV audience of millions, all baying for their blood, it's time for the judges to ease their charges into the new world they've entered by giving them a pep talk to try and calm their nerves while simultaneously avoiding dulling their competitive edge. Simon Cowell cheers up his group of 16-24's by pointing out that now the contest has begun his normally astute powers of critical awareness will entirely desert him and he'll happily shower them with the sort of praise normally reserved for demi-gods and other wondrous things, even if they come on stage and honk like a dying swan before wetting themselves with fear and bawling for their money. Louis Walsh will take his groups down to the popular London nightspot for the homosexually inclined G.A.Y. so they can have a taste of the sort of venues they'll able to perform in should they hit the big time and strike the right chord with the general public and not in any way because he quite fancied a night out there himself and needed to have the right excuse. Sharon Osbourne, however, gathered her group of over 25's together with the promise of helping them to get over their fears and making sure they're all fully aware of the fact that they're in the contest because they deserve to be and shouldn't in any way feel uncomfortable about the whole process, but instead proceeded to talk about herself for five hours like the self-obsessed shrew that she is.


It's song choice time today, and it's possibly the most important part of the week. After all, a wrong choice here could have the viewing public instantly losing faith in the artist you've so carefully weeded out from the, umm, other weeds and failing to pick up the phone and vote for your contestant. Not only will this lead to them being voted out of the competition, but more importantly it also means that the lucrative revenues from the premium rate voting lines won't be maximised to their full potential and that is something which simply can't be allowed to happen. Simon takes this job very seriously and will be spending this morning pouring over the track listings from every Robson and Jerome albums and the 20 Karaoke classics CD he bought for 2 quid in the garage on his way down to the studio, desperately trying to find the right song which will remove any sense of excitement and energy from his supposedly youthful protege. Louis' task is even harder, as dealing with the groups means that he has to ensure that all the members of each band has something to do and doesn't just end up standing around, looking like a spare wheel, something he entirely failed to do with Westlife. While he could direct his energies to choosing a song which could be expertly arranged for the appropriate number of singers, allowing for some beautiful harmonies and a fulsome sound which the other categories would be unable to even come close to attaining, Louis will instead pick any song at random, tell them each to sing a line from the verse before they all join in on the chorus. Sharon will give all her acts My Sharona to sing, but tell them to drop the 'a' from the end of it.


Rehearsals, and a time for the mentors to hear how their acts are going to sound on the night. Simon will find this a revelatory experience, mainly as it's revealed to him in its full, horrible glory just exactly how charisma free and irritating his acts are. Clenching his fists together behind his back, he will force a smile as he congratulates his acts on their performances, before going up to the soundbooth to remind the engineers exactly whose production company makes the show and suggesting that if they'd like to keep their jobs they might well want to consider making the audio as muddy and unlistenable to as possible for all the other acts. Louis is always keen to win the contest and so is making a special effort this year to make sure his acts are at the very top of their game. To this end he's already identified who he feels to be the most promising group in his category and is making sure that they get the very best of his attention. It just happens to be one of the boy bands and Louis has been taking them all back to his discreet London flat where he's been giving them all one on one tuition. He's also taking special care of the lead singer and has been giving him a daily dose of salty medicine to make sure his tonsils remain in tip top condition. Sharon refused to let any of her acts perform during her rehearsal time, instead monopolising the stage for the entire two hours by prancing up and down bellowing Life is a Cabaret at the top of her lungs like she was sort of insane Liza Minelli. Well, insaner, anyway.


It's a busy day for the acts as they all troop off to get styled and clothed for their big night. Simon, always with an eye on the pennies, sends his team off to the local market to pick out a few outfits, making sure they make subtle enquiries about the possibility of getting a refund if by some strange quirk of fate the outfit didn't fit properly but they only found this out on the Sunday and it definitely hadn't been worn by a contestant on a nationally televised talent show. No siree bob. Louis initially takes a passionate interest in clothing his acts and spends hours with the first act to enter the changing rooms, who just happen to be the boy band, making them take on and off - mainly off, it has to be said - many different outfits as he tries to find them the perfect look which may or may not involve leather. Unfortunately all this energy early on quickly tires him out and by the time the girls arrive to pick their outfits he makes his excuses and leaves, clearly exhausted judging by his departing mutterings about taking the boys to bed. Sharon forces her group to choose items from her own wardrobe to wear, before taking them to her personal hairdresser who's swift to style them after his mistress. They then have to stand in a line and swear an oath of allegiance to her, before she patronisingly pats them on the head, gives them a cookie and lets them go to bed.


And while the acts nervously ponder tomorrow nights events, the judges all gather together for a top secret meeting with the show's producers where they decide who's going to win, in what order the acts will leave and exactly what share of the profits they'll all make from his resulting, brief, and ultimately futile success. All, that is, except for Sharon, who's too busy supervising the construction of a 100ft statue of herself, to be position in Buckinghamshire. Or possibly Croydon.


Showtime! And for one contestant their dream will come to a quick and painful end as the public as one decide that that person is a bit shit, when you get right down to it. That contestant, however, will be the lucky one, as the other 11 have to watch their dreams come to a slow and painful end as they realise that this pop lark isn't all it's cracked up to be and what they think they wanted isn't quite the same as what they're actually going to end up getting. Still, watching people cry is always good telly, isn't it?