Must Be The Music – TV Review

Submitted by Liam Tucker on 16/08/2010 – 04:54

Watching the old Twitter timeline yesterday evening as the opening double bill of Must Be The Music came on, it was clear that audience reaction was something of a mixed bag. Unabashed love for the show from confirmed cynics sat alongside spewed hatred from normally placid people. It’s fair to say that the bulk of the criticism was centred around the fact that the show is Sky1’s answer to The X Factor. But those tuning in and expecting the schmaltzy tone and easily-deconstructed pantomime of Cowell’s vehicle will have been disappointed, because Must Be The Music was an unexpected treat. A reality music contest with a brain. Was anybody expecting that?

That’s not to say the show is entirely schmaltz-free. We have sob stories, we have emotive backing tracks and we have a crying presenter as might’ve been expected from the initial signs. Fearne Cotton hosting immediately put this in the Fame Academy bracket – and when the news arrived that the judges would be inane pop-rapper Dizzee Rascal alongside soft-rock has been Sharleen Spiteri and irritating jazz-gnome Jamie Cullum, the knives were definitely out.

But despite the sentimental aspect (which is just about forgivable), there’s much to admire about the show. Like it or not, the judges are all relatively successful in the music industry in entirely separate genres, and all of them have worked from the ground up. Also to its credit, despite a recap overload, the show moves at quite a zippy pace. But the real winner here, the aspect that gives it the buzz over The X Factor once and for all, is the fact that 90% of the acts write and perform their own material. And, if they don’t, they’re treated with a lot less sympathy by the judges.

The talent last night was patchy, but in amongst the more dreadful output were some musicians who genuinely impressed. 11 year old girl, Hero performed a self-written song that actually amazed, considering her age. Fiddle sample-looping Daithi was close to mind-bending, and self-taught pianist and soul singer Kyan was also close to incredible. What’s more, these are all acts that probably wouldn’t have been given the time of day by X Factor because they use instruments, and certainly would be booed out of Britain’s Got Talent.

For a TV reviewer, there’s very little that beats finding something entertaining in the precise spot where you expected to find unmitigated crap. Surprising though it may seem, it’s efforts like Must Be The Music that occasionally make the job seem worthwhile.

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