Posted by: Paul | December 13, 2010

The X-Factor and the Modern Music Industry

Well thank goodness that’s over for another year.

I do my utmost to avoid The X-Factor, but it’s everywhere. The very thought of Cowell’s smug face makes me quite angry! If it wasn’t bad enough that the terrible music these people peddle floods the radio, it stems from a TV show which in itself becomes a news item, appearing elsewhere on TV in news bulletins, in the papers, or on Sunday morning radio shows detailing ‘what happened last night on the X-Factor’. As if I care! I reach for the off button every time I come across it but now it’s a truly cross-media phenomenon it’s getting harder and harder to look away from.

But now, I read on the BBC website, comes the invasion that crosses the line for me. When the winner Matt Cardle (who’s a local boy incidentally, playing a ‘secret gig’ in the pub up the road from where my sister-in-law lives) unleashes his X-Factor sponsored Christmas single, it will be a cover of one of my favourite songs of last year – Biffy Clyro’s ‘Many of Horror’. I feel like sticking my size ten boot up Cowell’s backside.

The reason this is such a big joke and something I take as a huge insult is that Cowell and his cronies have taken a song by a brilliant, really really really hardworking Scottish band who have only recently found a modicum of success, ripped it away from them, and will be passing it off as their own. They’ve even gone so far as to re-title it (‘When We Collide’), because, y’know, people just can’t handle an interesting title. They will achieve far more success with this than Biffy themselves received when they released it as a single – and most of the impressionable youngsters who buy it will go through life blissfully unaware that it’s someone else’s song. It’s like saying ‘Is that your baby? I like it. Here’s 20 quid. You bore it and raised it, but it’s my baby now. I’m going to call it Fallabella.’ The whole thing sticks in my craw.

I hope they paid Biffy Clyro a very large sum of money for this travesty, and the watered-down crime against music which is Matt Cardle’s version of the song. I hope their royalties finance more albums from them and other emerging artists, and that the curious among the buying public will seek out the original, far superior version of the song, and by turns discover the brilliance of Biffy Clyro’s back catalogue. That would be some small crumb of comfort where none other exists. I’m off to buy ‘4 minutes 33 seconds’ by John Cage. Cage against the machine!

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