The title 'me-me-me' was supposed to be the sound of a singer warming up, but it's rather appropriate in that I want to briefly explore the X Factor debacle, and let's face it, this is a show that is very much about 'me, me, me.'

In case you haven't come across it (or like to pretend so), the X Factor is a 'talent' contest for singers, where thousands of hopefuls are whittled down to a few potential recording stars, from whom one winner gets a lucrative contract. In essence the show splits into two distinct halves. The first, the 'open' auditions and then the live finals, where around a dozen acts get to perform live before the nation.

Some, such as the serendipitious Dr Gee, find it difficult to understand the appeal of the X Factor. While I personally don't like the show, as it is hugely manipulative of the audience, I can see why it's popular. The two halves have a totally different attraction. The first is a direct descendant of the Roman circus - it's primarily about watching desire and suffering in contestants. The vast majority of auditionees never make it to this stage, whittled out because they aren't interesting enough/bizarre enough/don't have good enough sob stories. The second is a more a matter of settling on your favourite and supporting them, so is more like a knockout sports event.

However the mild uproar in the news has been because it has been discovered that X Factor has been using tuning software to manipulate the auditions of the best singers to make them sound better. 'This is not fair in a competition!' trumpets the media.

Phooey, I say. The first half isn't a competition, it's bread and circuses, remember. But more to the point I have heard two separate individuals (Channel 4 News' Jon Snow, and the presenter of Radio 4's Media Show) have their singing put through the tuning software so we could hear before and after - and frankly, I couldn't hear any difference. It doesn't take a rubbish singer and make them sound like a superstar. Yes, it can round off mild tuning issues, but that's all. It's really no different from using a mixer to get the best balance of sound. Get over it, press people.


  1. Well said! The only way I can watch this type of programme is to treat it as a Nature programme looking at a different species.


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