Written By Paul Connolly – Dailymailonline
So, is Simon Cowell about to be toppled? Should the man with the hair that resembles an open book be reaching for his coat and heading for the exit? Is The X Factor finished?
The answer to all three questions is almost certainly ‘no’. But there are stirrings over at Sky.
It’s probably hyperbole to talk about a broadcaster having courage, but it must’ve taken the schedulers of Must Be The Music some pluck to debut their new talent show format just a week before the behemoth that is The X Factor returns to our screens.
Especially a show that is so winningly different, so much less patronising than The X Factor. The differences are quite stark.
For starters, Must Be The Music is open to all musicians, not just singers. Second, and this is a vital distinction, while the show does allow cover versions, it actively encourages the acts to perform original material.
So, not only do the better contestants tend to be musicians who have always made music, but Must Be The Music also rewards those who write their own songs.
Ambition, musical ability and creative talent? Crikey, whatever next?
I’ll tell you what next. Must Be The Music has successful musicians for judges – jazz singer Jamie Cullum, Texas singer Sharleen Spiteri and rapper Dizzee Rascal. These are all people who know what it takes to succeed as a musician. What does The X Factor have? Kylie Minogue’s little sister, Dannii.
Given their own backgrounds, the judges also appear genuinely to care about the groups and singers competing for the £100,000 prize, so there’s much less of the rather unpleasant ‘let’s poke a stick at the freaks’ narrative that drives the early stages of The X Factor.
Ultimately, however, Must Be The Music feels British in a way that The X Factor never has. Those of us proud of the UK’s reputation as a hothouse for popmusic excellence have become increasingly vexed by Cowell’s betrayal of our pop culture.
One had only to watch the final of last year’s X Factor and the American singing voices adopted by both Joe McElderry and Olly Murs to realise that Cowell feels not a jot of pride that his home country has produced bands and acts as magical and exciting as The Beatles, Dusty Springfield, Blur and Radiohead.
Instead, his protegees, such as Leona Lewis and Alexandra Burke, look for inspiration to American caterwaulers such as Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, singers who mistake multi-octave showiness for emotion.
All the acts on Must Be The Music, from the muscular Britpop of Missing Andy’s Made In England to the quite wonderful folk of Emma Gillespie, were unashamedly British.
If The X Factor is the showbiz equivalent of McDonald’s, then Must Be The Music operates as the local British corner shop business, avowedly quirky and independent, and all the better for it.
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