Another year, another batch of X Factor rumours… It’s all unravelled early this time around, with Nick Grimshaw, Caroline Flack and Olly Murs all resigning from their roles. With the press machine in full force hyping another ‘revamp’, here’s why ITV’s fading karaoke parade needs more than yet another set of new faces.
Don’t get us wrong, those who’ve quit couldn’t have remained – Olly and Caroline, though likeable and upbeat, were dreadful at live hosting, offering gaffes galore from missing cues to spoiling a result. Awks. Grimmy was largely stitched up in the edit – made to look dull as dishwater whilst audience members told of his top-quality wit and banter. Shame that didn’t reflect live, then, as we fail to notice what he added to the finals – apart from following Simon’s script and assassinating poor Anton.
X Factor never changes – despite regular fresh faces, it’s the backstage tinkering which scares millions away each year. Judges are always aware of any backstory before an act trundles on stage. They are either told, or pressured, to advance joke acts in their category. Songs are often chosen for the purpose of stifling an act’s chances of progression. Sure, it’s far from the only reality show that’s tinkered with – Big Brother and Strictly possess similar flaws – but their desperation for Louisa to win last year (dressing her as an angel like so…) was insulting. It was also counter-productive, as contests are more fun to watch when they’re close rather than a rigged one-horse race. Shows like The Apprentice and BGT do possess slight fiddling, but mostly through the edit – the judges/candidates aren’t following scripts and are free to preach how they feel.
It’s not just this old custom they’ve found hard to shake. For a show aimed at the ‘trendy youth’, song choices are archaic. Each year we’re served up the same Whitney Houston, Elton John and Mariah Carey ballads which make us want to scream – the odd gem does emerge, such as Fleur East’s Uptown Funk stunner or Luke Friend’s Let Her Go rendition, but they’re shining lights in a sea of mediocrity. Oh, and a side note – it’d be nice to have some more non-Syco guest performers. But who wouldn’t use free promotion?
As Simon Cowell fans it pains us to declare this – but it feels like The X Factor has finally run out of steam. It’s seen by fewer live viewers than Countryfile, the excitement and gossip it generated as recently as 2014 is all but gone, and ITV have bought its (equally-flailing) rival The Voice. But a complete revamp of its misguided traditions could see the ex-juggernaut exit gracefully, and off-screen time could gift the show the energy it so desperately needs.
Where does The X Factor go from here? Tweet us your thoughts at @CelebMix!