Oh god, it’s that time of year again when Saturday nights become media blackout nights just to avoid the flooding rants about Britain’s favourite show to hate, The X Factor. Although ratings have been dropping steadily for years now, the show still does fairly well, with one in five Brits watching and the vast majority of those heading to social media to keep the rest of the uninterested public updated.
The format goes through several different stages, with probably the most voyeuristic at the beginning – thousands of us watch while tens of thousands of talentless individuals line up to be dissected by the critical public. This is where we get a lot of the sob stories and drama, we see teenage girls punching each other and find out about the shameful professions of hopeful stars. The British public like to see an underdog doing well, so it’s not all pointing and laughing like a freak show but also rooting for the little guy – and subsequently booing at the cruel judges.
For a lot of fans of the show, X Factor means Christmas is coming. It’s how they spend those darkening nights in the run up to December, by following the contestants along their path to potential stardom – but almost inevitably failure. Betting has recently become a popular element of the show, with websites like http://freebets.org offering odds for a number of different gambles which manage to add some excitement and the chance of winning something – for even if you vote for the winning act, you’ve really just lost that text money and the cost of the Christmas number one single.
Terrible covers of classic songs from the show made it to number one for four years running thanks to the success of the show, but many artists and critics feel that winning a reality TV show isn’t enough to earn that spot. In 2008 a campaign was launched to prevent Alexandra Burke’s cover of Hallelujah from reaching the top spot by replacing it with the original, but unfortunately Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah only made it to the number two spot. A much more successful move in 2009 ensured that Joe McElderry’s cover of The Climb by Miley Cyrus failed to get number one, beaten by Rage Against The Machine’s Killing in the Name Of. This was the first Christmas single in the UK to be achieved purely by downloads.
Unfortunately, hating the show just sucks us in more as it perpetuates the “water-cooler effect”; everyone is talking about how much they hate the show and threatening to stop watching but in doing so, they give it more fuel. Simon Cowell’s domination of our televisions and Christmas dinners is nearly unavoidable when hating the X Factor is on par with hating Christmas – although complaining on Twitter gives us some sense of control over the situation.