Simon says…

AFTER watching The X-Factor last night, I’m struck by the same thought I’ve had after every episode of every series: in the run-up to their auditions, do the contestants think, “The key is to convince the panel that, however good or bad a singer I am, I really, really want to be a mega-rich superstar more than anything else in the world. It’s how much I want this that counts, not how good a singer I am…”?

What’s even more intriguing is that so many of the contestants don’t seem to be familiar with the programme at all. How else to explain their indignation when Simon Cowell tells them their performance was “woeful” or “bizarre”? That’s what he does. That’s what he’s done in every single series so far. Half of the auditions are only televised because they’re so bad, they’re good. Why haven’t they worked this out yet?

In 2002, shortly after the first season of Pop Idol won by Will Young, I was meeting my oldest son at Heathrow – he was visiting me in London for the weekend and was travelling down as an “unaccompanied minor”. As we were leaving the terminal building, we saw Simon Cowell and his entourage in the waiting area. Knowing my son to have been a fan of the series, I asked him if he wanted Simon’s autograph, to which he responded enthusiastically.

But I was nervous; what if Cowell’s persona in real life was as “nasty” as it appeared on TV? I didn’t want my son to be snubbed, or for me to be humiliated by a celebrity in front of him. I needn’t have worried – he was extremely friendly and charming, and chatted away to my son before giving him his autograph, even teasing him about why he didn’t apply to be a contestant on Pop Idol.

But he’s a pro. And everyone who applies to audition in front of him and the rest of the panel does so in the full knowledge that he’s going to tell them the truth. And as we all know, the truth hurts. More importantly, it’s top entertainment.



Filed under Family life, Hinterland, Media, TV

19 responses to “Simon says…

  1. But a bit harsh on that “Holistic Vocal Coach” and her splendid test piece showcasing just eight of her scattered personalities, sorry generalist vocal styles.

  2. Wes Mantooth

    Do you have time to watch ‘Britain’s got eXtra chromosomes’, too?

  3. “And as we all know, the truth hurts.”

    That’s clear from your failure to post some of my recent comments!

  4. Sorry, Stewart. As you know, I’m fairly relaxed about publishing most comments, but I see no point in publishing your offensive, paranoid and ill-informed homophobic rants, just as I wouldn’t publish racist comments.

  5. Tom

    I have an intrinsic problem with the show, in so far as it basically consists of the producers putting forward terrible singers, many of whom are quite clearly suffering from some form of mental health problem, to have them skewered by the judges for our enjoyment. Not everyone sings before the judges, so the only explanation is that these people are deliberately called back to be lampooned on national television.

    Deeply unpleasant.

    It gets much better when all the pantomime of the rehearsals ends and they get down to business.

    Anyway, Strictly Come Dancing is back soon, so Saturdays will be worth staying in on again!

  6. Andrew F

    It’s not just that only very good and very bad auditions are televised. Only very good and very bad entrants actually get to see Cowell et al.

    It’s manufactured crap. The producers listen auditions, and put through the worst and the best. The worst being for entertainment and the best being the people who might actually get through.

    I’m guessing they also put through the people they think likely to beg with the most melodrama.

  7. “I see no point in publishing your offensive, paranoid and ill-informed homophobic rants, just as I wouldn’t publish racist comments.”

    Tom, I know you are generous in publishing comments that are critical of you and the Government. Most fall into this category and as someone once pointed out, there wouldn’t otherwise be any point in you having a blog, but you allow the attacks and it makes the site enjoyable.

    I am offended when I am labelled ‘homophobic’ but that doesn’t occur to most people. Because I’m a native white British Christian; a heterosexual and tax-paying small business owner, I’m not supposed to say anything for fear of being called names.

    And why mention racism? Government policies are dividing Britain by ensuring there is no such thing as equality – just a scramble for ‘rights’ that has created a multiple-layered society where people have been pigeonholed and fight their corner, often ignoring what is best for the country as a whole.

    It’s classic divide and rule of course. While the masses are tied up promoting their own agendas, the Government gets a fairly easy ride doing whatever it wants and treating us ALL like schmucks.

    The traditional ‘class’ system was easy to understand, but this new way of dividing people based on inherent characteristics and ‘lifestyle choices’ has caused a new, dangerous and unpleasant level of discord throughout society.

    Btw, I always find that the last-ditch attempt to try and win an argument by dismissing and discrediting the other person without bothering about such things as evidence and logic is name-calling like ‘racist,’ homophobe,’ and ‘misogynist’.

    I was once accused of being all three in the same sentence. Boy, that other bloke was really losing the argument.

    In the particular case of my complaint, a poster called phattmatt said to me “I pity you and dread to think where you get this information from.”

    I simply replied by repeating the words of a world-renowned researcher and author. Yes, the wording was “strong” for this day and age and not what your average homosexual wants to hear, but this is Britain and a fellow is entitled to his right of reply.

    Anyway, I wish no ill to anyone. To see a just government is my vision (we all need to dream, don’t we?)

  8. Johnny Norfolk

    I just do not know how you can watch it. having heard so much about it I took a look. This man was singing. It was just toe curling. I switched it off after about 2 mins.


  9. broncodelsey

    Do you agree with the Chancellor that the economic mess is the worst for 60 years?

  10. Johnny Norfolk

    Now I watched Lang-Lang last night. He was just fantastic. Thats a performance and the dedication by him and his family. To have his father playing on stage with him was a delight. So please stop watching trash and try and develope yourself.

  11. Not familiar with Lang-Lang, Johnny, but I do love the music of his brother, Shang-a

  12. Johnny Norfolk

    Never mind Tom one day you may see the light and move on. I think I have continued to develope all my life moving on as became older to try things that I would never have considered in my younger days. Some people just get stuck at a certain point in their life and never move on.

    What kind are you. Do you still have the same tastes in music, food, drink and politics as you had in your 20s or have you moved on.
    I sent for the red book of Chairman Mao when I
    was 18 and was to the left of Anthony Wedgewood Benn, but I have moved on its called growing up and facing up to the reality of life.

  13. James

    Tom, how come that you have a link to Iain Dale’s Diary on your blogroll and yet despite being Top Scottish Blog, as voted by Dale’s mag readership, HE HAS NO LINK TO YOUR EXCELLENT BLOG

    Can you have a word in his shell-like please……

  14. James – good idea, but I’m too shy to ask…

  15. James

    Don’t ask him…TELL him, command him, use your influence…. if that fails..beg him

  16. Johnny Norfolk

    It was Iain Dales recomendation that made me start reading Toms blog. I am sure Tom is delighted.

  17. James

    I’ve sorted it out Tom, Iain has asked for the Links to be updated with yours and others.
    Now is there anything else you want sorting whilst I’m at it…….

  18. So where do I send the cheque?

  19. James

    Send it to: Labour Party Rescue Fund

    I’m sure you know the address:-)

    (Joke Tom, joke)

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