Monday, March 30, 2009

regarding the x factor

denmark has just wrapped up their second run of x-factor, the amateur talent show. it ends up being all about singing, and there's no evidence of other talents (not that much evidence of talent in the singing, if we're honest), so i don't know why they don't just bill it as a song contest. we didn't really watch the first time around last year, but now that sabin, at 8, has a strong will of her own and a more overt need to have a conversation around the playground equivalent of the watercooler, we've watched the last 4-5 episodes, down to the final. here's a video with the 9 finalists that competed over those weeks, just to give you a taste of the level we're talking about here:

in (no doubt contractural) obligation to the concept, they have the nice lady judge (lina) who is enthusiastic about everything, the nice producer judge (remee) who is nice to everyone and the evil judge (thomas blackman), who is nasty to all (and therefore the most entertaining).  and a bunch of happy amateurs (4000) who put themselves forward for the challenge. in the end, each judge had one contestant left (they chose them in sort of teams)--a 15-year-old boy of "other ethnic background than danish" (as we put it when we're being politically correct) (his name is mohamed, if you're looking for a clue to that other ethnic b/g), a group of talentless young people who never did learn to sing together and only one of which could actually sing and a 35-year-old single mother from the farøe islands.

i know what you're thinking--it sounds like a nightmare.

mohamed could actually sing a bit, in a derivative michael jackson in the jackson 5 days kind of way and he has a super cute smile and some glimmer of what i suppose the whole show is named for. alien beat club, the group, sang as four individuals of varying (not high) degrees of talent and never got the group thing together (thankfully, blackman actually got that shot in during his final critique). linda, the single mother, has a good, mature voice, but frankly, she's fat and a bit of a diva (not in an attractive way).  the whole thing was decided by SMS voting and mohamed was booted out and the awful "ABC" and linda sang a song that was written for them by the talented søren rasted of aqua fame (yes, the barbie girl  people).  and linda won in a squeaker by 2% of the votes. which only shows that there is a slight margin of reason at work in this country (but only slight).

at our house, we have a lot of mobile phones, but thankfully, did not contribute to the voting. i was fortunate enough not to get home from norway until the very end, so i only saw the last song, which was more than enough.

my take on the whole thing is that this whole reality t.v./song contest thing has run its course (perhaps i'm just wishful thinking). there have been a number of these programs run in denmark under various names and frankly, the talent pool isn't deep enough--the country is after all, only 5 million people and 27 million pigs and as far as i can tell, they've largely (but not completely) kept the pigs from showing up for the auditions. people who can really sing already have record contracts and so you're left with a bunch of happy amateurs, which could potentially be charming if they didn't think they were the next britney spears just waiting to happen. there is a reason you weren't already singing for a living, people.

thirty or is it now forty years ago, andy warhol talked about everyone wanting their 15 minutes of fame. i'm sure he would be appalled to see what's happened today (or perhaps he'd be intrigued). he would surely revise his famous statement to 15 seconds of fame, because that's what's happened in this democratization of fame. these talent shows where the people vote are supposedly so democratic, right?

didn't people used to "vote" by buying someone's record or not buying it? isn't that market force of the vote a better indicator of talent?  what happened to that? i realize that to an extent it's still there. martin, the winner of the first round of DR's x factor has faded from the scene nearly as quickly as he came onto it. i saw recently that he was going to do a mall appearance--i remember way back when when tiffany and debbie gibson did those, but that was at the beginning of their careers, not the end.

this morning on the radio, i heard linda, the winner, idealistically talking about how much control she was going to exert over her coming album. she said she wasn't a 16-year-old boy who could be pushed around like martin was. yeah, right, linda. i think you've got a rude awakening before you. when they're finished with you, you won't be eating comfort flødeboller before bed every night anymore and they'll have sucked out that spare tire you've got around your waist. she already underwent a huge transformation in appearance hairstyle-wise during the couple of months it took to do the show. i don't know what makes her think she will have any say whatsoever, just because she is a 35-year-old single mom. i've already heard the over-produced, synthesized britney-ized version of her rendition of the winning song on the radio and it's a far cry from how she actually sang it on friday night. i wonder what makes her think the album will be any different.

at least linda can sing a bit--here's her rendition of abba's money, money, money:

we simply must work on the child to upgrade her taste in television. maybe by getting rid of the t.v. altogether.


Just Jules said...

I couldn't make myself watch the clips - maybe still picturing the torture that "American idol" put me through the season that we watched it (American version of x-factor).

There have only been a few successful winners from our show too - the rest seem to fade away after a bit too.

If I had to watch that show I too would consider throwing the tube into the sea!

Char said...

yeah...american idol is our version exccept that the age range is 16-30 so we don't get the mature people in our contest. most have been ehhh, but a couple have really made a lot of money from the show.