Ex Factor

Usually a television phenomenon with continuously high ratings from autumn until Christmas, entertaining the public in its quest to find the latest pop sensation, X Factor has recently taken a turn for the worst, with diminishing ratings and surprisingly coming second to it’s main prevalent rival Strictly Come Dancing. But why has the X Factor lost its own component of the same name?

The past two weeks have witnessed a loss of around three million viewers (average of 9.6 million viewers last week compared to an average of 12 million in 2010), beaten by the BBC rival in which celebrities including Anita Dobson and Jason Donovan dance before a live audience every week. Are we to believe that the general public are more interested in dancing than singing this year, or are the reduced ratings for X Factor a result of a new panel of judges and the loss of Simon Cowell’s presence since his departure to the US?

Not just Cowell, but the loss of Cheryl Cole and Dannii Minogue has also rapidly changed the judging panel. In their place, Take That singer Gary Barlow, ex-Destiny’s Child singer Kelly Rowland and N-Dubz band member Tulisa Contostavlos, all of whom have tremendous popularity and success within the music industry. So are the panel to blame for the slipping ratings? Ben Preston, editor of the Radio Times, thinks not, exclaiming, “I’m not missing Simon Cowell. The new judges are the freshest thing about the show this year. They’re not hysterical, pantomime figures jousting for headlines. They know their stuff and I actually want to listen to the thoughts of chairman Gary.” Barlow in particular has proved to be the general public’s favourite judge, with an overall sense of respect and appreciation from the public in the audience and the public watching the show in their homes.

If the judges aren’t the problem then, could it simply be the contestants? The quality of this years contestants and their singing abilities has undeniably fell from a great height of such past successors as Leona Lewis and last years winner, Matt Cardle. The only impression the majority of the contestants are having on the public seems to be that of a unison of exhausting yawns, or worse still, screams of exasperation and frustration, with many of the public being understandably annoyed with the singers rather than entertained or compelled by their performances.

Ultimately, shows like the X Factor rely on the talent and like-ability factor of the contestants for their popularity and ratings, both of which appear to be almost non-existent this year. Instead we have bland bands, average singers, a girl who sounds no different from Ellie Goulding’s talking version of singing, an egotistical blonde bombshell who thinks she’s Lady Gaga’s long lost twin, a tone-deaf middle-aged camp man, and a big-headed teenage boy who only wants to be famous in order to increase the amount of girls’ names he has tattooed on his bottom. Have we entered a freak show, or just opened the gates to desperate nobodies who want to become somebodies, no matter how much self-respect it costs them along the way?

Well, the joke’s on them. A new leaked report has shown that this years winner of the X Factor will have to make four studio albums before they reach the usual past £1 million prize, with many past winners struggling to make a first successful album, let alone any additional releases. There has been a total of seven previous winners, with only one gaining international success (Leona Lewis), so what hopes do this years contestants have in ever truly succeeding in an already competitive and difficult industry? It doesn’t matter who wins this year’s competition, the fact remains that there is only one winner, and his name is Simon Cowell.

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