So, X Factor is back.
And it seems that some are interested in what I might say about it. So, in an unusual gesture of acquiescence, I shall do so this year, as best I can.
I only caught a moment or two of the first show, but have checked YouTube since. It seems that young Janet Devlin of Tyrone, Northern Ireland, has stirred a few waves. She reminds me of Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter films. Very cute and endearing indeed. And some interesting quirks in her voice. Already a favourite for final selection it would seem. Ellie Goulding comparisons aside (and they were definitely aside for the judges, for some reason - have they never heard of Ellie Goulding?), she seems genuinely innocent. We can only hope the fame machine doesn't chew up her soul too soon (she's probably going to be this year's Rebecca Ferguson - which means she won't win, and may end up advertising deep-fried snack products by this time next year).
More interesting was George Gerasimou. Text-book "chav" (attacking the "chav" judge, Tulisa, no less). Quite embarrassing. Odd to see how Cheryl Cole is now detached from all possible implications of "Chavness", despite her history. Personally, I like Tulisa. And while her gutsy "streetness" might be a tad cloying in some contexts, I find it infinitely less cloying than Cheryl Cole's pseudo-angelic posturing. Although Tulisa's streetness has been reduced to odd turns of phrase rather than any obvious vibe. I expect women (mostly Daily Mail readers) to attack her dress sense at every turn. But the attack from George underlines that great British trait of hating the success of those with whom one most identifies. Gearge calling Tulisa a "scumbag" was possibly the single best example of televised irony since the last David Cameron speech you had the misfortune to ingest.
The judging panel changes are interesting in some ways. Gary Barlow, presumably now that the perennially popular Robbie Williams is back in the Take That fold, is wearing his grumpy elder statesman of pop head ("did he ever have any other head?" I ask myself). Simon Cowell seems like a distant memory already (although Barlow will never have that smarm factor that Cowell sweats from his bronzed carcass). Saying that, Gary should really lay off the 'ludes or whatever herbal remedy he's taking for insomnia. A bit more animation might help his cause. And a bit less of the "I'm too good for this, really, so I'm not taking it too seriously" vibe that chimed every now and again. If he was really better than X Factor, he wouldn't be there.
Kelly Rowland is doing exactly what you'd expect (while keeping her nips in), and being as gracious as possible in the face of some appalling audiodamage. But it would be good to see her spit some well-deserved venom occasionally. But that seems unlikely. While Kelly doesn't wander the pushed-up titty and pseudo-feminist babbling road of her former Bandmate, Beyoncé Knowles, she definitely follows the road of Judeo-Christian platitudes and near-unacceptable graciousness in the face of the obviously terrible. Clearly, she is the true replacement for Cheryl Cole's anodyne baby-voiced boredom.
Tulisa (when she actually speaks) is articulate, surpassing the expectations of most (although how many more attacks can we expect? And not just from irate wannabes, but from "reputable journalists" (whatever they are these days) who feel the need to perpetuate some kind of class war within the British media). She is the Dannii Minogue replacement, and as such, we can expect her to become a true bitch later when the mentoring starts. This is where she will truly shine as a source of aggravation for most viewers.
And Louis. Of the Walsh variety. There is something oddly charming about Louis Walsh. Yet so much of what he has said and done over the years renders one suspicious of his intentions and basic points of view. But he remains the clueless wonder (in relation to ACTUAL MUSIC) that he always was. A good thing. Expect future plaudits for the worst acts in history from Louis (but remain conscious that it was he who made sure that we love Jedward).
In relation to George Gerasimou, Dermot O'Leary showed his Irish side, squaring up to the mouthpiece (is George a repressed homosexual? My Gaydar was off the scale when he was on-screen). I honestly though O'Leary was going to punch him. THAT would have been entertainment right there. Not that I advocate violence, but I admit to a certain perverse enjoyment of a good scuffle.
Hopefully, once the politicking of the mentoring stage gets under way, we will see plenty of shite. Yes, shite. Because that's ALL that X Factor is really about. People don't just vote on the basis of the talent(s) possessed by the acts, but on the basis of the mentors. And how the mentors acquit themselves will be a key factor in discerning the X Factor, as far as the viewing public will be concerned.
If I had a dream panel for X Factor, it would include Lily Allen and Charlotte Church. Louis would have to stay in order to use his superpowers (gormlessness and fecklessness). And instead of Barlow? Boy George.
Recipe for disaster. Yet a tasty disaster indeed.
And a world without Cowell? Expect the Smarm King to appear at some point and make remarks that will turn 22% of the nation against someone undeserving of the aggro that elicits.
Now. I want a kebab.