Music Blogs

'This is my dream.' NO IT ISN'T!

  • By AndyVale
  • 14 September 2013

You've probably already seen, but X-Factor is back! I've barely watched any of this series, so don't expect any updates or insight into the current batch. But I'd like to talk about one particular thing I often see in the show, and also on many other TV talent shows (The Voice did it about three times in one episode). But before that, it's time to have a quick look at everyone's favourite picture of Gary Barlow's sad and weary eyes.

Can you imagine the rampant internalised existentialism that burns behind those eyes? What can a man do with his life when he's already written 'Back For Good'? Did he remember to put Turkey Dinosaurs on the shopping list? Anyway...

I'm pretty neutral on X-Factor, it barely affects me so I don't have the boiling level of dislike for it that many do. I watch it occassionally with the family, mainly during the audition stages when there's sometimes a bit of drama (that I accept is totally stage managed and frequently takes advantage of people who probably shouldn't be on TV). When it becomes karaoke with elaborate lighting then interest fizzles out.

People complain about it dominating the charts, but if you can't name 30% of the current top 10 then why do you care? They complain that its always on the radio in some way, change the station. They complain that it fills TV/Facebook/Twitter on a Saturday night. How about going out to a gig or a pub or a bowling alley or ringing up the first person you fancied and telling them everything you've ever felt instead? They say it's a cheap/easy way of getting famous. Maybe, but the odds of being a success via a TV talent show are probably just as slim as doing it the old fashioned way.

But saying all that, there is one aspect of these shows that always frustrates me. We've all seen this situation. A contestant has sung, it was either good or bad and they're trying to convince the judges to give them a nod of approval. It often goes something like this:

"I really really want this..."

Oh what a Samaritan, of course you want it. Fame, influence, adoration, wealth, a greater choice of mating parters, an enjoyable vocation. Who wouldn't want all that?

"...I'm going to give 110%..."

That means nothing.

"...this has always been my dream..."


"...it was actually my first time performing in public!"


If they were any good then this is often greeted with stunned cheers, a presenter putting their arm around them, and a load of hoo-ha yay yay.

Well hogwash. Either they're lying, or they really haven't performed in front of people before. If the former is true, that's just TV and they may be one of the many plants that these shows often have. But if the latter is true, then why did it take them so long? I thought they said it was their dream.

When being a rugby player was my dream, I played/practiced/exercised 3-6 times every week for about five years. I wasn't good enough, but at least I gave it a shot. If someone dreams of being a doctor, they have to put in a barely fathomable amount of work before being let near a patient. Even if you only dream of working in McDonald's, they're going to be pretty suspicious if you've never tried a Big Mac.

Yet some people waltz onto this show having done precisely nothing to achieve their dream and are applauded for it?

It's not as if they're trying to enter a closed club, the barriers of entry for performing in some capacity are inexcusably low. Unless you are solely required for round-the-clock care of a dependent relative then what excuse could there be for never stepping up at an open-mic, entering a school talent contest, or even grabbing an upturned hat and singing on the side of the street in a town centre?

Health or disability? I have no medical background, but I'm pretty sure that if someone is physically able to rock up on The X-Factor then they're healthy enough to do any of the things mentioned above.

A lack of confidence perhaps? Boo-hoo, this is the entertainment industry. If you're too scared to sing in front of a bar of people, you don't deserve to sing on TV in front of millions.

Age? I just came back from a festival where I saw an 18 year old girl called Aimée do a great set on one of the outdoor stages. She's been playing on a weekly basis and writing her own songs since she was about 12.

Money? Okay, no denying that a lack of cash can hinder your chances. Lessons and instruments rarely come free. But if you can afford a TV to watch the show on then you can afford a charity shop guitar and play it 'til your fingers bleed.

What the hell has been stopping these people?

I don't blame anybody for taking a quick route to stardom, but this is the only aspect of the shows that I feel are truly insulting to the 'real' musicians trekking up and down the country. People who strap guitars over their back then whack £40 of petrol in the tank to go and play a £30 gig. The ones who try and make that dream happen every day, rather than whenever the Britain's Got X-Voice auditions roll into town.

I think at the core of it I just don't understand these people. As far as we know, you get one shot at life. If you have one vital love that you desperately want to pursue then why would you do nothing proactive until prodded by a TV show?

Do you know how many guys got the woman of their dreams by sitting there and watching her walk by everyday but never doing anything? NONE, probably. This is the reward they deserve.

This is how music should work. Here's what should happen the next time someone timidly tells the judges that this is all they've ever wanted to do but they've never actually performed in public. Gary Barlow should jump up onto the table, fire his foot firmly into their stomach, and make a pun about that being the closest they'll ever get to BOOTcamp. They are then banned from auditioning again until they've opened for Ablisa on at least three UK tours, which they have also footed the bill for.

Now that's television.

Andy is a Supajam writer who has been a small-fry at numerous Commerical, BBC and Student radio stations over the last 6 years. He is also a music promoter in the South-East of the UK. He has a website where he interviews musicians with only one question, and he is currently typing in third-person. You can tweet abuse at him if you fancy letting off some steam.