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The X Factor: love it or hate it?

Nicola HTF ponders over this years X Factor

Having blasted through television screens in its trademark OTT style for six series, The X Factor has developed a distinctive pattern that maniests itself in the form of a soul-destroying check list. This year’s series in no way lacks the characteristic formula that has driven some to religious viewing and myself to the brink of insanity. Call me cynical, but here, in no particular order, is my most cringe-worthy of X Factor essentials:

1. Louis Walsh being his usual slimy self. This year, he’s taken things to a new level by unbuttoning his shirt one button too far. Enough is enough, no amount of approving someone by ‘1000 per cent’ can change this. Which leads me nicely to my second point…

2. Impossible percentages. ‘You’re through, a milion per cent’. Just. Not. Necessary. Louis is usually the most likely suspect of this growingly irritating expression, though Simon Cowell is occasionally guilty, too.

3. Deluded chavs. This feature is easy to spot: contestants who have been sadly misled by family and friends into believing they have talent, only to be crushed by the judges after an embarrassing performance. To make matters worse, sometimes the family get involved, trying to stand up to the judges’ remarks. This has been known to result in security having to step in.

4. Emotional sob stories. No X Factor would be complete without a healthy dosage of corny music to accompany the heartbreaking but often entirely irrelevant personal stories that contestants feel the need to bring up around the time of voting and whenever the judges are deliberating their future in the show. For sympathy? Never.

5. Weirdness. This self-explanatory essential pretty much defines the early audition stages, amplified by the boos and jeers of a live audience. Think this series is getting less weird? Simply cast your mind to ‘G & S’ (which stands for ‘Gay & Straight’) or the ever-baffling Shirlena and think again.

6. Cliches. When true talent emerges from a strange concocion of the above X Factor essentials, this touching moment is often quickly tarnished with the usual, mind-numbing mixture of over-used sayings. ‘I’m doing this for Scotland [or wherever it is they are from]’, ‘I want to make my mum proud’ and ‘I want to be somebody’ are only a few of many. And that’s before even considering the judges…

7. Judges being dull and predictable. Very much connected to the second and sixth points on my list, this point serves as a reminder of how the judging panel reel out the same sayings every year. ‘You owned that stage’, ‘you took that song and really made it your own’ and, of course, ‘you’ve got real star quality’. Thank God Simon makes this endless circle of catch-phrases entertaining with his blunt honesty and wit.

All this got me pondering over the fact that, despite my slight cynicism, I still find myself completely addicted to this year’s series of the ITV talent show. It may be highly contrived and an obvious money-making ploy for the already loaded Simon Cowell. Its winner may disappear into oblivion after one hit. It may be laughably over-dramatic. But it still keeps me watching every Saturday night; without fail I am always sucked into the frenzy of it all, a billion per cent. X Factor, despite all your many, many faults, I love you.

Who should win this year’s show? Gamu may seem a contender, but it’s still the very early (and most entertaining) stages…

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