Lost In Music – Simon Cowell Has Left The Building

16 01 2010

In a previous incarnation, I flirted with the music industry.

I had a small record label, Sandman Records, which released four EPs by English bands that I took a shine to and made no money from. I don’t know what became of Baptiste, Omni and Four Way Trauma but I know that The Perishers are still around (in a doing very little sort of way), and I still have all the music on my Ipod. I even still have boxes of unsold CD’s sitting in a cupboard somewhere.

I co-managed a metal band from Cornwall, Fallen To, who flickered briefly on the industry radar before vanishing into a sea of alt-metal that promised much but had no longevity.

I got to hang out backstage, go on tour buses, sell T-Shirts, listen to soundchecks and look for mandolin strings at 4am in Brighton. There was no sex and drugs for me, but I always knew where my cricket bat was.

So I still keep some interest in what is shaking down in groovetown. But chart music has become an alien concept to me.

So the news that Simon Cowell has announced he is leaving American Idol to concentrate on his “new” US ad-venture, The X Factor, shouldn’t really matter to me.

But it does.

Mainly because The X Factor has been a part and parcel of the UK music scene since 2004. It has spawned some genuine talent (Leona Lewis, 2006), some winners who came from the working-mens clubs and who now probably work the cruise ships (Steve Brookstein, 2004, Shayne Ward, 2005) and Joe McEldery (2009), a young man who was the first X factor winner to not have the Xmas No.1 in the UK by losing out to a Rage Against the Machine song from 1992.

X Factor was the replacement for Pop Idol (2001-2003) which was the inspiration for American Idol and 42 other Idol franchises around the world. All controlled by Cowell.

So when he announces that he is leaving American Idol, it actually means that the USA is going to have another talent show foisted upon it that will be different only in the fact that X Factor has four distinct groups :

  • Over 25s
  • Females under 25
  • Males under 25
  • Groups – singing, no instruments allowed.

Plus of course, the early coverage will focus on the deranged and insane who actually believe that they have some talent only to be shot down by the acerbic Mr Cowell and comforted by whatever simpering non-entity is employed to make Cowell look crueller than he is.

I actually admire Simon Cowell.

I enjoy watching the no-talent individuals who have been told by friends that they are good enough to go on Idol/X factor (delete as appropriate) because they got drunk at a karaoke bar. But he has to sit through their delusion and then be the one to give them a dose of reality.

And that can’t be easy. Thousands of people apply for his programmes, the percentage of real talent is so small that it barely registers as a figure.

But Simon is the one that has to make the decisions, he is the face of the programme and he is the one that the wannabes wanna impress.

So when he leaves American Idol, be prepared for tears and tantrums because the other judges know that their moment in the spotlight is over. And that means that they may have to find another way to maintain their fifteen minutes.

Not for Simon Cowell, he has left the building. And he still has that X Factor.




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