In December 2011 It’s Time! To Face! The X Factor UK Final! As staged in front of an audience of 10,000 in the Wembley Arena, and hosted by the charismatic Dermot O'Leary, who treats us to a little dance pastiche at the start of each show. Yay Dermot! His smooth Irish charm makes Steve Jones, the hulking Welsh host of the The X Factor USA look even more robotic than he’s managed already, all by himself. So the acts have been bigged up, buffed up and honed down to three, though two of them have already been rescued from oblivion. Amelia Lilly was voted out by her mentor Kelly Rowland in Week One, then brought back again. Little Mix, the girl band, is made up of individual singers who were rejected, then fed a life line, and invited back to form a group.
It’s maybe surprising that there’s a girl band at all in the X Factor final, however they got there. This is a show where quantity definitely doesn’t define quality, as groups never win. Despite this X Factor boy bands JLS and One Direction have gone on to conquer the charts, and to highlight this (and underline the ethos of X Factor, ie massive record sales), they both come on to sing in the final. Little Mix was put together by judge Tulisa Contostavlos, and she talks a lot about girl power. She’s consistently insisted each of the singers are equal, though judge Gary Barlow said the bottle blonde one, Perrie should be lead singer, and in the final, Perrie heads up their opening number. Erm…girl power, Tulisa? Looks like he told you, then.
But this just highlights the tension at the heart of X Factor – the judges are not impartial. Who can trust what any of them has to say when they each champion and coach their own category? The final finalist, likeable Liverpudlian Marcus Collins is a good all-rounder. He can belt them out, as well as croon very credible ballads, but obviously as he’s Gary Barlow’s last act, there’s never been a better performer than Marcus in the whole history of show-biz. According to Gary.
This season X Factor has just generally been a cat fight – amongst the judges. Gary Barlow, Simon Cowell’s stand-in and the ‘lead’ judge, talks down to Louis Walsh, and humours the two women – when he’s not talking down to them. Rumour has it the female judges have had ‘words’, and thick-skinned Louis just smiles throughout like a loveable leprechaun, and begs everybody’s home towns to vote.
The Final is an opportunity for the judges to appear with their acts, and show us what they’re made of. Marcus and Gary perform a Billy Joel number, a bit unconvincingly. Little Mix and Tulisa belt out a song combo that tells us, at last, why she was chosen as a judge at all. The girl can sing! If Cheryl Cole was such a popular success, despite a very poor pop persona, perhaps Tulisa is destined for great things. Maybe SHE should win? And Kelly and Amelia sing ‘River Deep, Mountain High’ – a tall order for both of them, but still, they do it credit. You go, girls!
Anyway…back to the acts. It’s all a bit lacklustre for me, frankly, as I thought Misha B was the best of the lot, and she was sent home in the last week before the final, despite Louis begging her (and my!) home town of Manchester to vote, vote, vote for Misha B!
Well us Mancunians have never taken kindly to being told what to do, and clearly, we didn’t. Which is a shame. Though if X Factor history repeats itself, Misha may be as successful, if not more, than the finalists. Fabulous Rebecca Ferguson, from X Factor 2010 is all set for superstardom, despite only being a runner up. The risible Olly Murs and the even more annoying Cher Loyd have done all right for themselves, despite not winning in the past. So, go Misha B! Oh, and I’m not going to tell you who actually wins, as I wouldn’t want to spoil it. Except we all know who the X Factor winner will be, on both sides of the Atlantic.