Last night was spent alternating between football, Strictly Come Dancing and X-factor. I have joined the massed herds of middle-England, pointlessly jabbing a finger at the television screen as a series of mediocrities are served up for my amusement.
I wasn’t watching X-factor properly, because watching X-factor properly makes me feel like a grumpy old man who is out of step with the popular trends of the day. But let’s face it – it really is a pile of shit. This year the final was between Eoghan, a small Irish boy who looked like a Turnip and had a voice unable to fight its way out of a paper bag, boyband JLS, who had average voices and no charisma, and a good-old-fashioned Diva/belter/warbler called Alexandra. As it happened, Alexandra won, which was indeed the triumph of the lesser of three evils. She was merely average, whereas the other contestants were actively crap. It’s easy to knock reality TV contestants, but honestly, I’ve heard kids singing Christmas carols outside Boots with more melody and harmony than JLS.
The low point of the evening was watching the final two contestants sing versions of Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen (or Jeff Buckley, since no-one actually listens to the Leonard Cohen version). It’s the song that will now be released as a Christmas single and will no doubt go to Number 1. It’s a strange choice of song, given that a) it’s quite good and b) it’s lyrical content is the precise opposite of the traditional aspirational bollocks of most X-factor songs, which normally go like this: I’m going to reach for my goal/my perfect moment/reaching for the stars/climbing every mountain/eating every cloud. It’s a song about finding grace in suffering (I think). Anyway, the judges obviously just saw the title and thought: “Hallelujah! It’s a Christmas song!” Never mind that it was written by a Jewish Buddhist.
There was some supreme irony in hearing the contestants singing: but you don’t really care for music, do you? as the camera panned across Simon Cowell and Dannii Minogue.
Meanwhile, back in the world of Strictly, there was controversy as all three contestants made it to the final. Which was the correct result, given the way the voting worked. All the votes made will carry over to the final, so no-one has wasted any money, and everyone goes home happy. Of course, that hasn’t stopped the story being the FRONT PAGE headline of The News of The World, and causing hundreds of people to furiously ring the BBC to complain. I just don’t get it. Britain seems to have become a nation of simpletons, waiting for the tabloids to tell them who to be manically outraged with each week. At some point we may as well just bring back hanging – not for criminals, but for comedians, chat show hosts and BBC executives – basically, whoever has offended the Daily Mail’s sensibilities in the last six months.
On the bright side Spurs drew with Man Utd and Berbatov didn’t get a sniff of a goal.