View all newsletters
Sign up to our newsletters

Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
  2. TV
1 June 2016

The new X Factor line-up of old faces proves the show is beyond even nostalgia

When will someone give The X Factor a Do Not Resuscitate order?

By Anna Leszkiewicz

This morning, The X Factor announced which judges will be returning for the 13th season: Louis Walsh, Sharon Osbourne, Nicole Sherzinger, and Simon Cowell.

The press release is peppered with phrases like “very familiar faces”, “eagerly awaited comeback” and “revived” – but it feels like this is a desperate attempt to resuscitate a show using old methods that didn’t work the second, third, or fourth times around. Popjustice called it “a bit like when all your relatives turn up for a funeral”. Certainly, X Factor is dying an extraordinarily slow and painful death. It would be kinder to let it go gently now.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team. The best way to sign up for The Green Transition is via spotlightonpolicy.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

The announcement shows that the producers are sticking to the same techniques they’ve applied for series: make a small change one series and bill it as a “shocking twist”, then change it back for the next in order to emphasise the show’s longevity and bestow upon it an element of nostalgia.

Alongside the returning judges, Dermot O’Leary will come back to host the show (after handing the baton over to Caroline Flack and Olly Murs last year), and “one of the fans’ favourite aspects of the show” will be back: “the legendary room auditions”.

The programme is trapped in a miserable merry-go-round of oscillating features. Room auditions are swapped for live auditions back to room auditions and live ones again; “wildcard” candidates come and go; six-chair challenges appear; different stages are broadcast live or pre-recorded; judges are wheeled in and out of an endless revolving door.

It’s easy to complain that The X Factor will have no musical relevance this year. But when has it ever produced a cutting edge artist? Only Little Mix and One Direction have really broken through the show by sticking to bouncy pop and appealing to younger audiences; the rest have succeeded because of, not in spite of, their musical mediocrity and familiarity among middle-aged X Factor viewers.

The new judges have an average age of 54,and have appeared on an average of eight seasons of the show. The latest changes do not show that, as the Guardian writes, the programme “finally accepts its old age”. Next year, we’ll no doubt see some younger faces back on the panel and a weird new feature where the contestants fight with their bare hands in order to cling onto a literal greasy pole in the middle of the stage. Instead, they reveal that the show remains trapped between two mirrors, forever staring at consecutively flipping variations of itself. It will continue to do so until it finally fades into nothing.  

Content from our partners
Future proofing the NHS
Where do we get the money to fix the world's biggest problems? – with ONE
Labour's health reforms can put patients first

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com Our Thursday ideas newsletter, delving into philosophy, criticism, and intellectual history. The best way to sign up for The Salvo is via thesalvo.substack.com Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates. Weekly analysis of the shift to a new economy from the New Statesman's Spotlight on Policy team. The best way to sign up for The Green Transition is via spotlightonpolicy.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU