Friday, 19 August 2011

The X-Factor Goes Urban?

Whether you like it or not, it’s that time of the year when you start to kiss your Saturday nights goodbye.  Or, if you are anything like some of us at The Urbanite and want to try and maintain some form of a social life, it is that time of the year when you delay heading to the pub/club for an extra half an hour just so you can catch Louis Walsh telling a washed up karaoke singer that they are “simply brilliant”. 

Yes people, it is X-Factor time.  And apart from Walsh, who we just cannot seem to get rid of, this year’s X-Factor has taken on a new look.  Gone are Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole and Danni Minogue and in come Gary Barlow (Take That), Kelly Rowland (Destiny’s Child) and Tulisa Contonstavlos (N-Dubz) as our new judges. 

Now none of us here at The Urbanite have ever actually really liked any of the ex X-Factor contestants that have graced our charts (apart from Leona Lewis, who genuinely had an amazing voice) but there is something about the programme that keeps us hooked – the tragic real life stories, the delight in seeing someone completely flop on stage in front of millions, the cheering on of the ugly fat underdog with the good voice who is never going to win (last year’s Paige being the prime example). 

We must admit, however, that this year will be the most interesting for a while – purely because of two out of the three new X-Factor judges and the direction that British pop music has taken over the past two years.  A cursory glance at the charts this year has seen acts like Wretch 32, Chipmunk, Tinchy Stryder and Tinie Tempah dominating record sales, with the latter being one of the first British urban acts to truly break it in America. 

Love him or hate him, but Simon Cowell is an intelligent guy and he has not only noticed this shift in the British music scene but is seeking to ensure that his SyCo record label does not fall behind the movement.  That is why he signed Labrynth, the producer behind “Pass Out”, to his record label.  It is the reason why he has praised online urban channel SBTV to the hill.  And ultimately, it is the reason why he has chosen Rowland and, more specifically, Tulisa to his X-Factor bench as judges.

It is also the reason why so much work has been put into the annoying brat Cher Lloyd.  The problem with Lloyd was that, whilst she has the swagger for the scene, the girl cannot rap or sing.  Despite this, she tried to rap (horribly) every weekend on the X-Factor show and all the judges thought it was good!  Which begs the question, do we actually want Cowell and his label all over the urban scene when the type of acts they bring out look and sound like Cheryl Cole on meth?

Well hopefully the input of Rowland and Tulisa who, unlike Cole and Minogue before them, actually have talent and know a rapper when they see one, will change this.  Either way, expect this year’s contestants to be slightly edgier and urban than the years gone past.  Who knows, we may even see a good rnb/rap act emerge from this year’s X-Factor that can be the UK version of a Drake or Trey Songz. 

Even if we don’t, expect to still be glued to your TV screens every Saturday and Sunday evening from now on.  Don’t try to fight it.  And make sure that you have your Saturday night club guestlists sorted, because there is no way you are getting to the club before ten.

The X-Factor is back.  

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