Why Cher Lloyd is important for The X Factor

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Cher Lloyd on this year’s [[The X Factor 2010|X Factor]]. Regular Shout readers will know that I really don’t rate the girl’s voice – it’s not strong enough or developed enough for a show like X Factor. And another thing, Cher is one of those contestants who the judges give good comments to even when she’s delivered a clunker of a performance.

Sure, sometimes Simon will throw a bit of criticism at her – like on the twisty staircase in last week’s John Lennon song – but it’s clear that the show wants her to succeed. Often in the face of all logic.

Ask yourself why. Why is this scrawny kid so important to The X Factor?

The answer came tonight in a comment from her mentor, Cheryl Cole. After a performance of Aerosmith’s Walk This Way Cole commented “We have never seen anybody like you on the X Factor before.”

The missing ingredient from any year of X Factor is a contemporary urban sound. The X Factor never attracts urban acts, yet urban artists are among the most popular in the UK charts – look at N-Dubz (who never seem to be off ITV2), Dizzee Rascal, Taio Cruz, Chipmunk and rappers of a more international flavour. That’s got to be a very lucrative share of the market, and one that X Factor hasn’t captured yet.

And surprisingly, Cher Lloyd is the first such act to represent that British urban scene. Admittedly she’s not very good. Sorry, but it’s a fact folks. And it’s not particularly relevant that she’s not good. She’s a foot in the door for The X Factor. 

Imagine aspiring British rappers watching the show this year, thinking “I could do better than that.” And they probably can. And they might just audition next year. It’ll make such a difference from the dull and boring aspiring popstars – let’s face it, X Factor hasn’t had as much success with especially male winners like Joe McElderry and Leon Jackson.

If X Factor can attract some good urban acts, it’ll mean less of the cheesy copycat rubbish we’re getting now and more modern music representative of what sells in the charts today. Imagine them bringing on a black male and giving them something other than crappy soul songs to pigeonhole them. I’ve always thought that the X Factor has consistently failed black artists by never quite knowing what to do with them. Look at how Treyc Cohen, John Adeleye and Paije Richardson have been failed this year by rubbish staging, bad song choices and an intrinsic disconnect with the audience. Adeleye in particular might have done better if he’d been given more relevant modern R&B to sing.

So, Cher Lloyd may not be a winner in any of this, but she may be quietly ushering in a new era of X Factor, one where the show attracts artists capable of competing in the charts with great urban music and a certain kind of individuality.

It’s going to require some change on the part of the show too. The themes will have to remain broad to allow the right song choices for urban acts. Louis Walsh will have to broaden his comparison vocabulary from Lenny Henry and Lionel Ritchie! And the staging will have to change – Brian Friedman (a constant bone of contention for me) will have to dispense with the backing dancers and cheesy ‘street’ staging. The man is so cheesy, he probably thinks backwards baseball caps are still acceptable. 

Like I say, I don’t think Cher represents the best or the most talented rapper that will ever stand on that stage. But I hope that she encourages more rappers and hip-hop acts to join the show. With rival shows like Must Be The Music already attracting a higher calibre of talent (in their first year!) X Factor needs to change and they may be able to do that by tapping into the vibrant youth culture in this country. What do you guys think?

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12 Comments

  1. Ageing tart

    If Simon Cowell wants to get involved in the urban sounds that are in the charts he doesn’t need a singing competition to do that with.

    Maybes a smaller show altogether on another evening would suffice say at 11 o’clock at night on a Wednesday or Friday lasting one hour only or better still it could go to one of those other satellite channels that viewers pay to watch. I do not think a Saturday evening and a Sunday evening should be ruined by having an urban music night.

    It isn’t just singers who want to see a change in television programming it is the majority of over 35 year olds. Who want to see drama, documentaries, films, comedy  a good variety show or an equally good singing competition.

    Todays highlight was Merlin and Casualty and that was for a Saturday night.

    Now tonight I have seen the reminders of how the X factor competitors performed and most of it was horrendous absoulutely hideous. The best of a bad night was from Matt Cardle and Rebecca. But I have to admit its not worth watching a repeat online or indeed taking up TV time on Sunday.

    I do hope that if the urban scene is the way the programme is going that they choose a time which is not prime time viewing hours at a weekend.

    Maureen

    Ageing tart

    1. yum mum

      i really cant see how an urban music night would ruin someones saturday or sunday night tv viewing pleasure – its a matter of taste surely?

      i for one would particually enjoy something more comtempory at the weekend – im getting sick of hearing all the done to death usual tripe like.  and i do hope we see more acts like cher on the xfactor.

      i agree with gerard regarding brian freedman though – chers performance was almost like watching some american street kids trying to impersonate high school musical, but gettingit soooooooo wrong.

      and while im at it im truly loathing the current stylists and make up team ,they seem to get it wrong with at least 3 or 4 acts each week. that god awful shell suit and matching facepaint cher had on was just horrendous – she looked like a 12 year old trying to be hip.

       

  2. justME

    the show could do with urban more sounds, but i’m not sure if all rap is the answer- i think that rap is beginning to sound all the same now and getting over commercialised with that sameness sound these days.when cher tries to rap i can’t understand a word she’s singing, which ruins the whole idea of bothering to try to be part of the urban sound. i don’t rate must be the music though at all because i think their choice of judges is restricting new and unusual talent – i thought the must be the music show only had contestants that were middle-of-the-road types sounds and nothing new or unique about the contestants, another boring show like the xfactor has become.in both shows i’d like to know how many contestants are genuinely never been known by the tv media, or have’nt ever had a paid venue for their singing/music before entering the contests – i’m getting very skeptical about all the talent shows on tv lately.

    1. Gerard McGarry

      No, I don’t think saturating the programme with hip-hop and rap is the answer either – that would turn it into what Maureen says is a different show altogether.

      Where I think X Factor is failing is that the ‘mentors’ (and I use that term loosely) are not shaping these singers for a career in music. They’re shaping them to win the X Factor, nothing beyond that.

      The inconsistent song choices, the failure of some contestants to connect with an audience, the judges allowing comedy performers like Wagner through to live shows. It’s exactly what Elton John was moaning about – this show isn’t preparing these people to be the next rock legends, it’s turning them into light entertainment.

      To be fair, that’s what The X Factor does well – light entertainment – with all the bickering between judges and tabloid scandals. And that’s why many of us are up in arms about it – it’s definitely not a talent contest. It’s a one-song-a-week singing competition where the singing comes secondary to everything else. Maybe that’s why some of these people have no hope of crafting a career in the music biz when the show’s over.

      1. canadiangal

        EX-aaactly Gerard!  The mentoring is so bad in some cases this year it should be renamed “hindering” (witness John Adeleye).  I don’t understand why some of the productions are so overblown (a cast of thousands)…it distracts from the singing performances, but maybe that’s the object????  Being a mere colonist, I only discovered X-factor on You Tube last year, and thought it was a much superior show to the Idol series (American and once-upon-a-time-Canadian).  This year, I have totally altered that opinion!   You’re right, it is a form of light entertainment…..a weird kind of musical soap opera I’m thinking.

  3. Gerard McGarry

    Ladies – Yum Mum and Canadiangal – stand by for my Why Brian Friedman Should Be Fired post. I have no beef with Friedman personally, but ever since he ‘almost’ replaced Louis Walsh and ended up in the inexplicable role of ‘creative director’, he’s brought the stage performances into a whole other realm of cheesiness.

    The only show where I’ve approved of his staging this year was the Halloween night – the background graphics were really spot-on and the costumes/routines were faultless as well. Beyond that, I think the staging often covers up for a severe lack of talent from the singers. Case in point: Wagner.

  4. Ageing tart

    Ok I understand where Yum mums comment has come from as we do appear to have some choice with the normal channels BBC1 and BBC2, Channel 4 and 5 and lastly ITV also I suppose for people who are telly addcits than they no doubt have a free view digi box with about 25 or more channels to watch. And anyone desperate to search for something else could always stick on a DVD to watch, browse the net or read a book.

    If I want contemporary than I’d opt to watch Jules Holland and truly enjoy it because the contemporary programming is varied for his show. Trouble is his programme is not on at peak hours it is on a week night late on. Simply because of its contemporary nature it does not grab the millions of viewers the X factor does or Strictly.

    Sadly television is about viewers numbers, and if 20 million people can be found on a Saturday evening to watch tv reality shows than tv programming has succeeded and will get paid by the advertisers who also find it appealing that an advert has reached 20 million potential buyers.

    What I am sad about is that the programme could do so much better if it was done with a view to being selective about who it chose to compete, how it chose its competitors, and who it chooses to judge. So in other words the show looks like its to big for television.

    Saturdays show has become like one big arena style pop concert with screaming banshees for an audience. The only thing missing were the big screens to relay out to the masses what the shows performers were going to do.

    Its also becoming a platform for established artists to promote their stuff whilst anxious X factor fans wait a year for their favourites to get their singles or albums out. What the show is promoting from the established artists is not all good stuff either and as this is so influential upon the X factor programmers and BMG or SYCO anyone who can sing is selling themself short to do nothing else other than shout. 

    Katy Perry from the other week did nothing but shout. The pussy cat doll did the same this week, shout. It seems that its also very sad and very dangerous for someone who can sing or can belt if they are told to just shout.

    Cher’s performances this week was nothing other than a shout. In my own personal opinion this was the worst week as far as shouting was concerned.

    Shouting is not singing and never will be. High energy speech song is Rap and is not singing. Belting is a specific type of high energy throat singing which very few belters can do for any length of time, but there are some exceptions. Shirley Bassey for one.  But the fact that Shirley was highly offended when Industry reps and the public used to say she was a belter she was always highly offended, because she used to say but I can sing aswell. She took years before she decided to prove it with softer and more meaningful songs. But Shirley to this day will be known more as a belter than a singer, because once a singer has created that image than that is what the public expects to get.

    Mary from the programme wll have a career as a belter, but she will have to be careful she doesn’t mistake belting for shouting and then destroy the vocal chords in the process.

    Unfortunately tonight was not so much a singing competition but how well you could shout competition.

    Maureen

    Ageing tart

     

     

    1. yum mum

      maureen, i just have to post this in reference to your pussycat doll comment, im sorry i completely disagree

      nicole gave, by far, the best LIVE perfrmance of any other professional female artist who has appeared on the show so far this series….she blew cheryl cole way out of the water ………completely live , comtempary dance moves to boot, big high energy stage production (clearly by the professionals who know what there doing – which made poxy friedman’s idea’s look completely amatuer) and she never faultered.

      she was outstanding!

  5. Ageing tart

    Hello Yum mum,

    If people want a high energy dance show than, ” So you think you can dance” might fill that need.

    If you want a talent show, than you have to be able to hear singers sing without all the flashy stage sets, smoke, the fireworks, the dancers which over-ride anything a singer is trying to do. In theatre if to much of this takes place its called, ” up staging you”,  and I can tell you if anything happens to block the singers or singers from the audience all hell would be let loose.

    I was not impressed with Niclole nor Justin Beiber who I am sure had problems with the microphone set up and whatever the monitors were feeding him.

    What I want to see and hear is a band or a small orchestra with a singer at the front, giving it everything she or he has got. That is what singing is about, that is what entertainment is about.

    Anything else might as well be karaoke or a dance act with wanabes learning how to mime to a song. As this is also what so many commercialised pop artists do today.

    The pop charts are riddled with rubbish and has been for a number of years. Sadly as soon as something good comes out it tends to be on a sharing webiste or a personalised marketing website being sold via the internet for coppers. We also have far to many charts as well. Google , Yahoo,  x number of radio stations, HMV, Virgin, Asda, Tesco’s. I’ve lost count of the number of charts that exist today.

    Furthermore, because we have so many charts getting into the charts is no longer a goal post for wanabe singers or bands if they get there, they get there.If they don’t it makes no difference to their sales potential because they can actually do quite well online courtesy of BEBO, Youtube, Itunes , MySpace. etc. Or some online agency sites.

    Maureen

    Ageing tart

  6. Ageing tart

    Hello Yum mum,

    If people want a high energy dance show than, ” So you think you can dance” might fill that need.

    If you want a talent show, than you have to be able to hear singers sing without all the flashy stage sets, smoke, the fireworks, the dancers which over-ride anything a singer is trying to do. In theatre if to much of this takes place its called, ” up staging you”,  and I can tell you if anything happens to block the singers or singers from the audience all hell would be let loose.

    I was not impressed with Niclole nor Justin Beiber who I am sure had problems with the microphone set up and whatever the monitors were feeding him.

    What I want to see and hear is a band or a small orchestra with a singer at the front, giving it everything she or he has got. That is what singing is about, that is what entertainment is about.

    Anything else might as well be karaoke or a dance act with wanabes learning how to mime to a song. As this is also what so many commercialised pop artists do today.

    The pop charts are riddled with rubbish and has been for a number of years. Sadly as soon as something good comes out it tends to be on a sharing webiste or a personalised marketing website being sold via the internet for coppers. We also have far to many charts as well. Google , Yahoo,  x number of radio stations, HMV, Virgin, Asda, Tesco’s. I’ve lost count of the number of charts that exist today.

    Furthermore, because we have so many charts getting into the charts is no longer a goal post for wanabe singers or bands if they get there, they get there.If they don’t it makes no difference to their sales potential because they can actually do quite well online courtesy of BEBO, Youtube, Itunes , MySpace. etc. Or some online agency sites.

    Maureen

    Ageing tart

  7. canadiangal

    I agree Ageing Tart!  There certainly has been a lot of shouting this year and too many production numbers!  A small band with a couple of backup singers is just fine. Maybe they could limit large productions to just 1 week to show how the contestants handle themselves in that situation.

    Note to inside_man:  Being from North America, I wouldn’t hold my breath that Cher would have any mass appeal on this side of the Atlantic.  Rebecca might be okay if she gets in with the right music producer.  She will have to be very careful not to get an overproduced album like McElderry’s (too bad, cause the kid has a nice voice – just bad advice) 

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