The X Factor: Music Industry Friend Of Fiend?

.tags Congratulations Matt Cardle, 2010’s winner of the UK’s biggest talent contest/karaoke competition, The X Factor. The 27-year-old former painter and decorator beat fellow contestants Rebecca Ferguson and One Direction to win the competition on Sunday night, watched by some 20 million people in the comfort of their homes.

So what can we expect next? A Christmas number one single? Check. A significant contribution to pop music? The jury’s still out there.

Think back to who has won the show in the past and ask yourself when was the last time you heard from them? More often than not, it’s the person who finishes in second place that does the best out of the show.

The X Factor has been in the business of making ‘stars’ since it took over from Pop Idol in 2004. Cleverly timed to coincide with the most lucrative and biggest money-making event of the musical calendar, Christmas, lucky contestants have had the pleasure of lining Simon Cowell’s pockets every year. Well, except for 2009 of course… Joe Elderwho?

But then, every year when the contest comes to an end, we inevitably get a barrage of congratulatory messages of support from well wishers and the obligatory four-lettered fanatical outbursts from ‘real’ pop stars on how The X Factor is ruining music.

But is it?

Cowell would argue not: “I think it’s crazy to say, when you’ve got 20 million people watching a show and getting interested in music again, that we have a stranglehold… I think it’s really healthy.”

In an interview with the BBC, Brett Anderson – the lead singer of indy band Suede – puts the argument in perspective by stating “when you have a real, awful, stifling mainstream thing like The X Factor, there’s always a strong underground reaction. Lots of bands will grow up and make music almost as a reaction against that, and that’s a really healthy thing.”

Well said Brett. Even those that can’t make any sort of music have a go at fighting back.

Remember listening to The Chart Show on BBC Radio One on Sunday December 20, 2009? Did you share in the elation and sheer joy of hearing that Rage Against The Machine’s expletive-filled Killing in the Name was to be the UK’s Christmas number one? Whether you like it or not, this only happened because of The X Factor.

A group appeared on Facebook in the autumn, urging people to download the track instead of buying Joe Mcwhatshisface’s single, thus pushing the ten-year-old track to number one and beating ‘smirking’ Cowell to the top spot.

And as a thank you? RATM played a free gig in London for all those who supported them. Now if that’s not a service for music, I don’t know what is.

So next year, when you are reading about how Dave Pop left his trashcan-raiding, hi-vis jacket wearing days behind him to become the UK’s latest and greatest pop star, just think about what the show has actually done for music. I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s done a lot.

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