The X Factor or 'the fix factor' as it has become known is a programme that you either love or hate. Personally, I have no qualms in saying that I love it. Nothing quite makes a Saturday night like sitting on my sofa shouting out expert comments such as “Oooh that was a flat note” or “How is *insert contestant's name here* going to do country and western week??”
As the final of this year's X Factor approaches, speculation over who is going to win is rife. According to the odds of the X Factor winner on this betting website, at the time of writing this Jahmene Douglas is the favourite- I'm rooting for James Arthur but let's face it, who deserves to win and who actually wins are very different things my friends.
Obviously the X Factor is more about the entertainment than actual talent these days- the contestants are becoming more mediocre and the sob stories more ridiculous by the year, because everyone knows that having a pet goldfish who died when you were ten makes you a better singer.
More and more often, the programme is reverting to 'joke acts' to keep people's attention. In 2009 we had Jedward, in 2010 we had Wagner, and who could forget last year's Tina Turner wannabe Goldie Cheung? This year it was the turn of vocally challenged but seemingly lovely Rylan Clark who, admittedly, was my guilty pleasure.
Whilst I found his banter with Gary Barlow hugely entertaining, the idea that these acts are put through while someone more deserving gets sent home irritates me. The premise of the show is now pointless; it's as much a singing competition as it is a murder mystery thriller.
The best performers get signed to a record label regardless of whether they win or not, and the winners are often not the most successful- One Direction compared to Steve Brookstein for example. (Many of you may be wondering, 'Who is Steve Brookstein?' My point exactly). It is pretty much common knowledge that it is more beneficial to come second or third and be signed by someone else, rather than win and become another of Simon Cowell's manufactured cover artists.
Alongside the joke acts sits the always-dire overs category. More karaoke than Carrie Underwood, this year's offering is the terrible Christopher Maloney. Who the hell is voting for him? And more to the point, why? His vocals are shaky at best, and his attitude is terrible. There is no way on Earth he should still be in the competition while super talented Ella has been sent packing, which brings us to the 'fix' part of this programme's affectionate nickname.
This year seems to be the worst for 'fixing' the results since the X Factor begun- although technically we can't prove it, the clues are there. Firstly, the crazy Pink impersonator who stormed off stage during her audition after being criticised for singing a Pink song, having announced that she wanted to distance herself from her tribute act. Just before she stormed off, she argued “you told me to sing this”, insinuating that producers had influenced her song choice in a bid to cause a drama for the viewer's pleasure.
Secondly, viewers can now vote for their favourite to remain in the competition before they've even sung each week, which means contestants are being kept in for their character more than their singing ability even more than usual. Thirdly, reports of vote rigging exploded when one of the show's producers was seen running onto stage and whispering to judges Gary Barlow and Louis Walsh during a sing off between two acts last month. When asked who he was voting to stay in the competition, Louis initially cast his vote and then changed his mind to take the vote to deadlock, meaning that joke act Rylan remained in the competition. Sounds fishy to me.
And finally, despite some terrible performances at bootcamp, Sheffield's sweetheart Lucy Spraggan was taken into the live shows. A few weeks later she announced via her Twitter that she would be removing her EP 'Top Room at the Zoo' from iTunes for reasons 'beyond her control'. She then mysteriously exited the show after contracting an illness- after such an explosive audition, Lucy was a favourite to win the whole show. The whole situation had me stroking my beard dubiously. It all screams of a big fat fix, and unsurprisingly 95% of 26,773 people polled by The Sun newspaper agree with me. Wise people, those Sun readers.
Vote fixing aside I can't help but look forward to it every week, partly because I know I could do better, and partly because I enjoy shouting at my TV and annoying everyone around me. One thing's for sure though, if Christopher Maloney wins I'll definitely be boycotting the show next year. Maybe.