Later this month the same old glorified talent show format will be returning to the prime time Saturday night slot on ITV, that's right the X-Factor. Simon Cowell's money machine is crawling its way back onto our screens for a seventh series. Now there's nothing wrong with showcasing the best musical talent that the country has to offer, but sadly this isn't the case.
The X-Factor, despite its best intentions, is killing the music business. Firstly we have the first few weeks of the show which is basically a montage of god-awful deluded members of the public who think they can sing, which are laughed out of the room for our pleasure. A bit sadistic really.
It is usually at this point that Simon will ask someone: “What do you think the X-Factor is?” and a generic response will be given. Here's the actual answer though, the X-Factor is not a factor of musical talent – it's a level of marketability. Every winner of this poor excuse for reality TV is the 'cute one' or the 'fit one', it's never the 'he-doesn't-look-much-but-my-God-he-can-sing one'. Which appears to be the problem, they are all POP stars – not music stars.
There has never been a single act in the history of the X-Factor which are portrayers of metal or punk or anything edgier than Coldplay. If you want to see real talent head down to your local open-mic night or the next battle of the bands competition in your area. I can guarantee anyone you see at these venues will have as much if not more passion to make it in the music industry than anyone who has crossed Simon Cowell's path.
The winners of X-Factor get a cash lump sum and a record deal on Syco, which is a large label by any standards. However if you do consider yourself a music fan, why not consider the indie labels? Not 'indie' in the Kaiser Cheifs/Arctic Monkeys vein, but independent. Struggling artists signed to labels run out of a bedsit would be much more appreciative of your money for their EP than the Cowell mechanism.
If you're looking for some real talent check out some of these smaller label artists: Blackhole, Your Demise, Brontide and Throats. These guys work much harder to get to where they are today than by going through a series of auditions. They've toured relentlessly all over the UK and Europe to crowds of varying sizes – some of which probably didn't like the music at all – yet the bands kept on going. If someone on the X-Factor were to be booed then the singer would break down in tears.
There is no stopping this TV show though - the ratings are astronomical throughout the series. Admittedly last year a battle was raged (excuse the pun) against winner Joe McElderry for the coveted Christmas number one spot. A Facebook campaign managed to stop the X-Factor winner from claiming the number one position as actual music fans/people who dislike Simon Cowell joined together to get Rage Against The Machine to the top instead.
However if such a movement is forged again this year I doubt it will be as successful. What happened last year was a one off. What would be a much more worthwhile protest would be to not watch the show or buy the CD, just go out on a Saturday night to your local venue and buy their merchandise instead. Bands don't get big overnight, it's the support and encouragement of their fans, not the result of a phone-in.