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The X Factor – the death of real music?

12.12.09 | 7 Comments

My first post on here (yes i finally got round to it!)!

I spend most of my time blogging profusely in my main cyber home (http://spiderplant88.wordpress.com) but thought that this post might be relevant here and I was motivated enough to throw the missive out there for comment!

I finally relented this evening and put the X Factor final on. Boy do I wish I had not bothered. What a travesty. None of the final three acts were in any way outstanding and worthy of the attention that is being thrown at them from all quarters of the media, music and otherwise. Now call me a musical snob, but there is a lot to be said for musicians working their way up the music tree and earning their stripes in the pubs and clubs of the land until they make it to a larger audience. There are hundreds of hard working musicians around the country plying their trade and trying to use every avenue open to them to get their music heard by the masses.

The Internet and the growth of social media has made their challenge a little easier in some respects and meant that they no longer have to rely on the major labels to get them into peoples ear space. For far too long the major labels have dictated who and what we should listen to. Years ago, when I left college, I couldn’t get the job I wanted in the design industry (took me ten years to get there) and instead i took a job with my second passion and worked for Our Price Records in Waterloo Station. In those days though the labels had a lot of control, we were still able in our stores, to lay out personal spaces for music suited to the demographic of the area where our store was. I worked in a number of stores as i worked my way up the ranks from part time sales assistant to store manager including Streatham, Wood Green, Covent Garden, Waterloo and Victoria Stations, Heathrow Airport and East Ham. Each area had a different musical ear from Reggae in South London to mainstream pop in the stations. It made it interesting for us trying to gauge what people listened to and making the sales walls relevant to each area. Each of the buyers knew their area and market and ordered stock based on what the public wanted to hear and requested in the store. It was a great time.

Then in the mid 90’s Our Price head office changed their strategy and took the control away. Ever harnessed by the major labels and their buying power, the store took the decision to standardise the range in all the stores meaning that local requests didnt count any more. It was the death knell for the chain and so proved to be. Within 6 years, Our Price was sold to Virgin Megastores and a little gem was gone forever. My passion for live music remained and by this time i had found a job working for a design agency and was doing the job that i had trained to do and was passionate about. I was struck by a certain irony that whilst i had finally been given the chance to do what i had always wanted to do, there were hundreds of music artists out there that didnt have that chance and although we only helped in a little way promoting local artists, yet another avenue for promoting them was gone. As i watch the X Factor churn out yet more manufactured pap that has no individuality and no creativity to speak off, I am reminded of how great the music industry used to be. The live music scene in London was something else. On a Friday night i was never happier than taking myself off to a small venue to see an unsigned act or a larger venue to see a favourite act.

Nowadays its all about how much money you can get from the act and the music is lost. As they are forever saying on the X Factor, its not just about the singing any more its about the whole package. To me that is garbage. I don’t care what an artist wears, i don’t care who they are seeing in their private life or what footballer or model they are shagging. To be its about whether they can sing or play their instrument well and entertain me. Today that is all gone. All the bands that grace our stages sound the same, the market is flooded with boy bands and girl bands whose only job is to titlate and half of them actually cant sing a note in tune in the first place. Tonights X Factor final was exactly as i thought it would be. Olly Murs the cheeky chappy from Cochester who relies on his charm when his voice fails him, Stacey Soloman the barbie doll from Dagenham who can hold a note sometimes but is a balladesque one trick pony and the stage school drop out Joe McElderry who pulls at your heart strings with his puppy dog eyes.

Its a travesty and not what music is about. I miss the says when playing or singing in a band and writing your own music made all the difference. That died a death years ago and this the drivel that we are left with.

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