Sunday, 14 December 2008

So I watched the final of X-Factor...

Yeah, so I was feeling kind of peaky on Saturday and sacked off Vivian Girls and instead watched the X-Factor final with my housemates. NOT THAT I NEED TO JUSTIFY MYSELF, YEAH? I mean, in a week's time I'll be an ex-Bristolian, really it was me being benevolent.

So anyway, when I've previously watched X-Factor or American Idol it's kind of been an attempt to find, y'know, a soulman or a diva in a relatively old school, 50s to 70s style vein, and then sort of sculp them as appropriate (which actually I suppose is what happened in the 50s to 70s). This was, though, deep 90s shit man. Both the curious little Irish guy named Eoghan Quigg and the very odd looking boy band thing (on a scale from 'most' to 'all' wonder how many of them let Walsh touch them with his soggy paws?) both sang in that very curious sort of slightly gentle, slightly nasal post Boys II Men vocal style that was so beloved of also-ran boybands and male solo artists in the late 1990s.

I only actually caught the last song of each, maybe it was different elsewhere, but it just seemed incredibly bizarre and anachronistic for these judges to be so apparently moved by something so painfully dated. I suppose for Cowell, Walsh and Minogue it was a reminder of a simpler, happier time (while in Cole's case it probably just stood as confirmation of the fact she hates her own music), but in a peculiar way I actually found the whole thing a little tragic - it's stating the bleeding obvious to say they're using the bells and whistles of a TV show to substitute for the fact that these artists probably wouldn't stand much of a chance on their own, and blah blah blah, there are huge sums of money flying around for all in general, but I dunno, so much effort to create something so small, like millions of pounds and man-hours put in just so that the judges can feel comfortable being moved by bland throwbacks.

Oh yeah, and since I started writing this there has been some hooplah over the X-Factor winner singing 'Hallelujah'. Firstly, to provide a commercial break, I shall drop in the video of the biggest loser in all this: John Cale. Everyone knows the song was written by Cohen (who must by now have made enough to BUY his own Buddhist monastery by now or whatever) and everyone knows the Buckley version, but poor Mr Cale has received precious little props for his vocal arrangement (the one Buckley and X-Factor used) and is presumably making dick all money from the thing. Well, here is his version of 'Hallelujah', up on an obscure blog that has to date been viewed approximately 340 times, probably most of them being me when I log in.

So yeah, these petitions to get Buckley up the charts, reclaim 'our' song from the darkside - wankers, the bunch of them. Sue there are some very lovely versions of 'Hallelujah' out there, but the fact is that over the last few years the song has made its own cultural crossover independent of the machinations of Cowell's evil empire; sure a lot of that was to do with Shrek 2 (the Rufus Wainwright version) but the fact is it's just better known by people like TV producers/the people whio were teenagers when Grace came out have more sway on the media, so it gets used as an emotional background song in TV shows, football highlights, etc... the idea that Buckley's version is 'ours' is pure fallacy.

Don't want to make some boring comments about class warfare here (eg X-Factor version haters being middle class snobs), as I don't really believe that's the case, but the fact is anyone has a right to make a shitty cover of whatever song they please, and the suggestion that 'Hallelujah' should be special when it crossed the cultural line into yuppie product a few years ago is just bollocks. I'm sure the fact that Buckley managed to idiotically drown himself is a major reason for people thinking his signature song should be untouchable but it's not, it shouldn't be, and no song should be.

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