Unbelievable! The Shirley Bassey classic "I Who Have Nothing" deemed a guilty pleasure! Nope, this sort of theme should surely require songs à la "Tragedy" by the BeeGees, anything by Steps or Sonia. A guilty pleasures night should merge kitsch with ridiculousness, topped with a sprinkle of one-hit-wonders. Not a James Bond anthem! Not a Pink anthem! The sublime Rebecca performed a Peggy Lee monster. No no no no! She should have been singing something by Whigfield or the Vengaboys. Not Peggy Lee. Indeed the comedian Alan Carr put it much better than myself "Rebecca looks and sounds fantastic!! But 'guilty pleasures' - peggy lee - one of the greatest jazz singers ever - hmm! Sort it out". Epic and utter misfire.
Thing is...by this time I started to seriously smell a rat. The tweet feeds coming in left right and center tonight surrounding all things X Factor were divided on their favourites as expected and as per usual. As well they should be. But one thing that seemed to unite the often fractious X Factor viewers: the absurd song choice given the theme of the night. The girlband named after a famous European gay porn studio picked "I'll Stand By You" by the Pretenders. This is not a guilty pleasure but a shimmering diamond in the musical chamber of crown jewels. Surely, a Steps record should have made an appearance with a theme such as tonight. Indeed, the man behind Steps, Tim Byrne, is currently the creative director behind the entire show.
When the show finally wrapped up I paid a little more notice to the final credits than I usually do and wowza....it all made total sense. The show credits weirdly mentioned and thanked something called "Guilty Pleasures". And the penny dropped. Ultimately, tonight's show's entire theme has nothing really to do with the songs themselves or the theme or the show but rather the songs were crudely pegged to a club night called Guilty Pleasures.
It just didn't work. Maybe this could be because Guilty Pleasures was once a TV show itself (So really they should have known!). Created as a tie-in by ITV1, the TV show featured artists doing covers of maligned pop classics. Oh the frivolity! The hilarity! A trendy-cool-current act covering Dolly Parton, John Farnham or Baccara. Let us wrap ourselves in swathes of irony. The show floundered. Hosted by the remarkably unremarkable Fearne Cotton - who did her best to ensure the tone of presentation mocked pop music rather than celebrating it - Guilty Pleasures refused to take off. It was clearly an attempt to somehow replicate the success of the iconic Live Lounge on the rival network BBC. Moreover, it was based on a successful "club night" in parts of London. This does not equate to a successful context for a music show.
Which leads us back to X Factor. Not only were viewers force-fed footage of Top Shop, the entire theme of the show found itself based around a commercial club night. Hence the unusual and eventual song choices. Maybe, just maybe, tonight's show was pushing the commercial sensibilities to the limit. Am I saying X Factor lost its soul? I think so. Some would decry such a show had no line to overstep in the first place. Integrity! In a show like X factor! What are you smoking?!
But you see, I think X Factor has a backbone and indeed a spirit. A certain amazing force about it. That surrounds it. Courses through it. This to me makes it not as hollow as many of its detractors, quite understandably, form orderly queues in their multitude to line up and throw mud at any given chance. To me, that just adds to its bewildering energy. But tonight, seeing how some random club night controlled the song selection (and how certain judges refused to toe the line) and the genre of the show itself, sent the show into a downward spiral. Consequently the titan of TV shows became more a titanic with (over) commercialism being its iceberg. On Saturday, the quality of singers was good. And the arrangements by the likes of Biffco and Cliff Masterson were absolutely amazing. But the show itself sunk.
In the greater scheme of things, all of this doesn't really seem as shocking compared to X Factor's other controversial narratives that this leviathan of British TV shows has offloaded in recent months. Additionally it ultimately pales into insignificance when juxtaposed to the stories of miming, autotune and of course acts such as Rebecca, Treyc, Katie and Mary who've all been signed to other labels or already have management deals secured elsewhere in the world before coming to X Factor.
I understand these massive shows require the huge amount of funds to keep the ship afloat. I get the promotional tangents about some phone network that bookend each advert break, paving the way for an additional flurry of adverts for roughly 4 minutes. I just feel that maybe tonight the arrival of some rather pathetic club night within the core of the show weighed on the actual form and spirit of the show. Perhaps more than the show could muster. Indeed, many tweeters saw the entire complex of X factor erode and crumble away.....
Posted by Robpop at Saturday, October 23, 2010