The reason I am able to put up with yet another season of the X Factor is because I was so quickly able to forget the previous one.
For 10 Saturdays and 10 Sundays in a row, we laugh, we cry and we tweet about the emotional roller coaster that is the X Factor. There’s no escaping it. It’s the talk of the water cooler.
Can you believe that [insert wacky contestant’s name] made it through another week? That [insert hunky 14-year-old boy contestant’s name] is soooo cute! I cannot stand [insert girl who can’t sing]’s weird eyebrows.
People even place bets on the winner- using real money!
Fighting back tears, we watch the winning contestant belt out their victory song and reassure ourselves that the poor loser who came in second-place will “probably still get a really good record deal.”
And then, we immediately forget the whole thing.
It is because of this phenomenon that the show’s producers are able to regurgitate the exact same show year in and year out without us even batting an eyelid. The format does not change, and that’s probably, subconsciously, what makes the show such a guilty pleasure. Unashamedly formulaic shows like the X Factor are blissfully familiar and I like them like I like eating toast- it’s simple, yet tasty and it requires very minimal effort. After a long week, sometimes I just want to eat some toast and numb my brain with an emotionally-charged dose of competitive singing.
However, this year I have vowed to commit the show’s formula to memory by actually writing down the components that make up a season of X Factor. Here’s what I have so far:
Sob story that’s not really a sob story:
This year we were wowed by Jade Richards’ soulful rendition of Adele’s “Someone like you.” Of course the audition was even more powerful after hearing Jade’s heart-breaking backstory; she’s from Fife and her gran is in a wheelchair. Wait a minute…that’s what’s passing for a sob story these days?
At least one group with a really, really terrible name:
This year’s winner goes to the girl group 2 Shoes. Such an awful name can only be rivalled by past X Factor groups Addictiv Ladies (series two), Bad Lashes and Girlband (both from series five).
The inevitable visa debacle:
While last year Britain was up in arms over Gamu Nhengu’s rejection during judges’ houses, this year the visa debacle surrounding contestant Sian Phillips has been more gracefully swept under the rug. When Phillips couldn’t get a visa to Miami due to her criminal record, the producers quickly replaced her and that was that.
The joke contestant:
The ‘Wagner’ of series 8 was Goldie Cheung, but she unexpectedly left the show- throwing the tried-and-true X Factor formula for a loop! Goldie says she left because she would miss her family too much. However, sources tell the Daily Mail that she quit out of fear that she was going to be treated as a “joke” contestant. Whatever could have made her think that?
A rebel that Simon (er, I mean Gary Barlow) will have to tame:
Filling this X Factor archetype in the current series is Frankie Cocozza, a trouble-maker with insane hair. The 18-year-old has already been making headlines for his supposed love of partying (yes, I used “party” as a verb- CRINGE) and his rumoured romance with a fellow contestant.
The love her or hate her free-spirit:
Last year this role was filled by Katie Waissel and this year it’s the former Lady Gaga impersonator Kitty Brucknell. She’s so wacky and free-spirited that she- wait for it- jumped in the swimming pool with her clothes on! If that kind of monkey business doesn’t divide the nation, then I don’t know what will.
That list really only skims the surface of the X Factor format, but feel free to use it as a guide to the current series and every future series that will ever be made. And just to double-check my theory, let’s meet back here in a year’s time and put the list to the test.