The FiX-Factor


So as I explained in my earlier blog, I got through the first stages of the auditions for the x-factor. After a long wait I finally found out I wouldn’t be facing Simon Cowell and the other judges for the live auditions, not because X-Factor had contacted me, but because I heard on the radio that the auditions were happening in Birmingham in a few days time. The fact that I hadn’t heard from the production team before hearing this made me certain I wouldn’t be there. A few days later I received an e-mail saying the following:

Thank you for taking the time to audition for The X Factor 2010. We were overwhelmed with the number of people auditioning and the high standard of talent.

Unfortunately, on this occasion you have not been successful in going through to the next stage of auditions.

Thank you once again for auditioning. We hope you enjoy the series and wish you all the luck in the future. Applications for next year’s series of X Factor will be available at the end of the year.

Best wishes,

THE X FACTOR

A generic e-mail was nothing more than expected but the issue I (and many others) had with this email was that X-Factor had sent it out without data protecting it… the e-mail addresses of all recipients were visible to everyone…

Although this did give us the opportunity to discuss our experiences…

I had been quite certain that I would get through at least to the live auditions, due to the fact that I was playing the game, however I had missed one important element out of my plan, that being the need to appear like a mouldable piece of plasticine… let me explain…

The whole premise of the X-factor and many other shows of the same nature is that first and foremost they are reality TV, in other words the singing competition is NOT actually the main element of the show, what is most important is interesting and entertaining viewing – something that makes people want to watch the show. As we all know if you watch the audition stages it is the freaks, sob stories, and idiots who scream, shout and throw water that make it worth watching, regardless of whether they can actually sing or not… They want someone who will play along and do as they are told, even if (as you can clearly see in the later live TV stages of the show) this means singing a song that is GUARANTEED to get you voted off! (I for one would not have allowed them to do that to me, if I couldn’t/didn’t want to sing the song they wanted me to, I would refuse and even just walk off the show myself rather than be ridiculed!)

I thought I had planned well to play along with this game – I have a TRUE sob story, and I am certain that it did indeed ensure I got through those first few rounds but I had failed to recognise that I also needed to show I was ‘thick’, as another person recieving the e-mail pointed out in his story:

Dear All (and sorry to email you all, but) I’ve been thinking whilst crying into my coffee, and I have a theory about this.

I’m not deluded and I’m a self-effacing sort, but I just don’t see how there’s any way I couldn’t have got through to the first proper phase. I have a modicum of personality and while no Oil painting I don’t resemble Shrek either. Crucially the feedback I got from anyone who heard me sing at the preliminaries suggested I may even have gone some way in the competition, yet it seems they and I were all wrong..

However, I have a decent job (I run a software company) and I have a theory about the casting policy for the show which I want to share with you.

Can any of you recall a single ‘professional person’ (I use the term with caution) being a contestant during the entire history of the programme? A Doctor, Lawyer, Accountant, Dentist, Architect, Company Director – even a middle manager of any description? I can’t, so I can only conclude that if you happen to have forged a career and/or an above average salary, then you don’t fit the bill for the X Factor.

Conversely if you’re a student (Diana Vickers), a receptionist (Leona), a bin man (Andy whatever his surname was), a telesales rep (Olly Murs), a retail worker (Shane Ward), a fruit loop (too many to mention) or a sob story, you’re in with a fighting chance. Casting in this way enables the show to appear grounded and appeals to the viewing masses, giving credence to the ‘anyone can make it’ mindset. But I believe that the door is closed if you don’t meet the criteria as above.

Doubtless all of the contestants I mention had talent, but I find it impossible to accept the absence of any of the above is simply circumstantial.

I apologise if this offends anyone – it really isn’t intended to.

All of which makes me feel no less gutted for not having gone further in the competition, but a little better for having maybe explained it to myself. And to have shared it with you in the hope of finding others who might agree.

Of course I could just have been crap J

Upon reading this I realised my fatal error in my game plan, I had backed up my TRUE ‘sob story’ with my TRUE ‘making a success of myself despite my situation’ story, here is what I explained to the others who received the email from X-Factor:

When I auditioned, I knew I would get through the initial stages before I’d even sung a note, because I was playing the game (which is basically all this and any other ‘reality’ TV show amounts to). while my story is true I knew that no matter how good or bad my singing the only chance I had of getting to the TV stage was to have a good story for them. So I gave them my story and it worked.

Clearly my ability became my biggest disadvantage in going any further though. Anyone who enters into these things without their eyes open is setting themselves up for a huge let down. Bear in mind that the majority of the people who have gone through to the next stage have gone through purely because they will make good TV, nothing to do with ability or lack there of. While I was disappointed not to go any further, it wasn’t the be-all and end-all for me, I was more worried about what would happen if I did get through as I doubt I have time in my life to ‘take off’ for all the filming! Maybe it would help people if I tell you my story…

I’m 33, widowed with two teenage children with medical problems (My daughter, 15 has a congenital heart condition, and my son 16 is autistic, with epilepsy and a myriad of other problems). I had applied to audition for X-factor twice before but due to caring for my husband (who had a brain tumor and I had been caring for him for 11 years) I had been unable to go along for the auditions. My husband died in September 2009 and I was able to get to the auditions this year – so there is the ‘sob’ story that got me through the initial rounds.

However, the reason I have gone no further… I graduate from the Open University next week with a 2.1 Hons in Science, which I have achieved whilst caring for my family, in addition to this I am setting up my own business in Quality Assurance and working as Business Manager for an IT Networks company – in other words as (name withheld) rightly points out, I am far to ‘intelligent’ to be good TV! I look good and I am a ‘good’ singer, I would by no means classify my self as ‘excellent’ I’m far too grounded for that. Had I left out the details of my ‘intelligence’ and just stuck with the basics (being a single-mom on benefits, as I am) I would probably have gotten through to the next stage to either be let down ‘gently’ due to only being ‘good’ at singing, or having a ‘good’ story I may have gone much further so long as they could drag out the ‘sympathy’ vote for me…

At the auditions I did portray that this would ‘mean the world’ to me, as again ‘playing the game’ I knew it was important to show that I would ‘break down’ in tears or kick up a fuss if let down on TV! (even though I was not actually that bothered, setting up my business is far more important!).

I have a Facebook fan page with two of my songs – the recordings on here are not a good representation of my ability, but feel free to check them out and leave some feedback!

Thus, it is a ‘game’ they are playing with us, I tried to play them back and it worked to a degree – I was even filmed individually ‘waiting around’ ‘signing in’ etc during the audition stages – which made me think I would be going through to the next stage at least as they only did that with a few people and from those I could already pick out the ‘stories’ attached to each character, my own ‘sob’ story, the ‘sad’ not very impressive young couple doing ‘glee’ (bound to be ridiculed), the old lady who dresses up (bound to be ridiculed), the girl whose mom kicked up a stink pestering the production crew for another chance when her daughter didn’t get a golden ticket (bound to be ridiculed, again), a returning act from last year who reached the judges houses (will they make it this year?)… and so on.

So, my suggestion if you are going back next year – have your story, leave out anything that makes you look smart and don’t worry about the singing it really doesn’t matter in the early stages at least!

So there you have it, the key to your success if you want to apply to the X-Factor – have a ‘sob’ story, but also have a ‘rags to riches’ story and leave out ANYTHING that makes you seem even remotely clever, because unless the production team think they can mould you into what they want you don’t stand a cat in hells chance of looking down a camera lens…

Who’s up for next years auditions!? 😉

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