Nowadays it seems like we can’t turn on the TV without seeing an advert for a talent show. Since Pop Idol burst on our screens in 2001 it seems like the British public have become obsessed with these type of shows. Even though they claim to all have different formats, they all have certain elements. Usually they have 4 judges, a rather judgemental audience and a sob story to help them become appealing to the judges. Seems like you can’t get through one of these competitions without having a sob story
X Factor is the biggest offender of people using a sob story to get far in the competition. They often give these contestants more air time so that the public feel sorry for them and vote for them. An example of this is last year when the X Factor producers were accused of playing up Misha B’s sob story to get the public to vote for her and to get ratings. The story was allowed 2 minutes of air time whereas the other less emotional videos were allowed 90 seconds each. Just to add the icing on the cake the producers then showed a video of her mentor Kelly Rowland telling a sad story about her own family history. The X Factor also seems to put contestants through based on looks or in the case of Jedward, they are so bad they are good. Contestant Ceri Rees has apparently often been persuaded by producers to return to the show even though she obviously has no singing talent and fans have complained over the fact that they are exploiting her naivety. Katie Waissel was also proved to have a recording contract in the USA prior to appearing on the show. Frankie Coccozza was also asked to leave the show after he boasted openly about his use of cocaine. Musician Sting slammed the X Factor in 2008 calling it ‘televised karaoke’ and that the contestants were encouraged to conform to stereotypes.
In 2012 came BBC’s answer to the X Factor in the shape of The Voice. Although the format of the show is basically the same there is one difference. The auditions are blind. The judges – Jessie J, Will.i.am, Tom Jones and Danny O’Donoghue – sit with their backs facing the auditionee. When it first aired it seemed as if there was finally a show that didn’t base their singing talent on how they look. However, it seems like the show is slowly becoming more and more like X Factor. The sob stories are starting to surface and also there seems to be quite a few good looking contestants on the show. One story that has been in the paper a lot recently is the story that one of the contestants Bo Bruce is estranged from her aristocrat father. Why does it matter about her family life? Thought the show was about her voice not if she has a relationship with her father or not. You can’t set up a show up to be completely different to X Factor then borrow one of the most well known devices.
It seems that even though The Voice is apparently a breath of fresh air it will soon become more like X Factor. Controversy about anything equals publicity and in the matter of talent shows it also equals higher ratings. If The Voice purely was based on the voice then the sob story wouldn’t matter but apparently to be popular and do well in the music industry you have to have some sort of heart breaking story. In the end the winner of the show usually ends up disappearing after a few years. Haven’t the music industry learned by now that manufactured pop stars don’t last long?