Credibility Gap

Oct 10, 2019 by

Credibility Gap

“In the same way Pete Waterman made Kylie and Jason musical stars, and what I did with Robson and Jerome, I’d like to think through the process we’ll find someone who can sell records rather than just doing the show as a stunt.”

This is a Simon Cowell quote regarding the upcoming Celebrity X Factor 2019 which gets underway on ITV on Saturday night, straight after Strictly finishes, so the X Factor bosses will be hoping for people to switch over and remain tuned in.

There is a £1 million record deal with Syco up for grabs for the winner, so Cowell is putting his money where his mouth is, and based on this it looks like the onus will be on trying to find a ‘credible’ winner of the competition. Well, ‘credible’ in X Factor world.

The signs are, Vinnie Jones has pulled out so it looks like 14 acts will be taking part split into 3 categories – Groups, Overs and Unders. There is an auditions component ahead of the live shows, with Simon, Louis Walsh and Nicole Scherzinger acting as judges/mentors.

There is a £1 million record deal with Syco up for grabs for the winner, so Cowell is putting his money where his mouth is

Rumours suggest we will have auditions over the next 2 Saturdays before the field is whittled down for the live shows commencing on Saturday October 26.

In the Groups category:

The Islanders – Four former Love Island contestants, 2 male, 2 female. They look to be lacking in credibility, and probably talent too.

Cole and Edwards – Former Strictly pro dancer Brendan Cole and actor Jeremy Edwards. This duo might have some appeal to older viewers but don’t seem to have any commercial appeal, though Cowell did manage to forge a career of sorts for Robson & Jerome.

V5 – A girl group of influencers and bloggers from Latin America. They look like having more talent than the above 2 but they have zero profile at series start and it will probably be hard for them to forge a strong connection with the audience.

Try Star – A 3-piece boyband of former rugby players who could have mainstream appeal. Thom Evans used to be in a boyband, Ben Foden once auditioned for Pop Idol, and Levi Davis used to be in the band Majesti. So there is talent there but the concern is, are they credible enough? Ben Foden might have been better off entering as a soloist.

Max & Harvey – Identical twins from Berkshire who began singing at the age of 8 and rose to fame on the back of success on the music app, musical.ly. They have had a successful music career already, signed to RMI Records, and help to write their own material.

It is hard to tell how much impact their established, young social media fanbase might have when it comes to the X Factor app voting but they could fit the bill as an act Cowell gets behind.

In the Overs category:

Ricki Lake – Former American talk show host, starred in the movie ‘Hairspray’, lost her husband last year, and a contestant on a US singing show earlier this year called ‘The Masked Singer’, with Nicole S as a judge, in which she was eliminated. A vague hint of ability but she doesn’t scream contender.

Jenny Ryan, aka ‘The Vixen’ on ITV’s The Chase – Her looks and profile on the ITV game show suggest she could be popular with the audience, a Sam Bailey-type every woman, so if she makes it to the lives she might go further than her talent merits.

Martin Bashir – A journalist for over 30 years who famously interviewed Diana, Princess of Wales for BBC’s Panorama, and Michael Jackson for an ITV documentary.

Bashir has had a recording history as a reggae singer and might turn out to be one of the show’s big ‘surprises’ during auditions. He could potentially fit the underdog narrative and has prospects of out-running his current best odds.

Victoria performed as a Bluette in a stage production of The Blues Brothers in the US hinting at her vocal ability

Victoria Ekanoye – Former Coronation Street actress. Despite her acting background she describes singing as her first love. She performed as a Bluette in a stage production of The Blues Brothers in the US hinting at her vocal ability.

In the Unders category:

Hayley Hasselhoff – Daughter of ‘Knight Rider’ and ‘Baywatch’ star David. She has the looks and demeanour of a contestant who will struggle to gain traction with the audience.

Kevin McHale – Former ‘Glee’ cast member. His vocal might turn out to be too much of an acquired taste and like Hayley he might risk coming across as annoyingly American.

Megan McKenna – Former ‘The Only Way Is Essex’ cast member and one half of ‘Harmony’ which made the semi-finals of BGT back in 2009. She was also eliminated at the boot camp stage of X Factor 2014 and 2015.

She’s a trier, if nothing else, and Cowell loves a trier. Her ex-boyfriend committed suicide in March and that is the sort of thing that Cowell could well dig up along the way to help get the audience behind her.

Country music is Megan’s genre. She has been out to Nashville writing her own music and has performed at the famous Blue Bird Cafe there. She has also had a number 1 in the US country chart and toured the UK earlier this year.

Jonny Labey – A former Eastenders actor, Jonny is multi-talented as an actor, dancer and singer, and recently starred in the West End in ‘Strictly Ballroom’. He also won ITV’s ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ show in 2017. Middle-of-the-road, good looking guy with a guitar could prove popular with the audience. He might also risk coming across as too dull.

Olivia Olson – American actress/songwriter, she has already had a music career of sorts, with material available on Apple Music. She has been sourced from the US and looks the type Cowell might try and push for the win. She appears one of the more talented singers/musicians in the field, and she certainly ticks the ‘credible’ box.

Being American and unknown to the UK audience are the negatives but given the likely low viewing figures, this looks the sort of show in which Cowell could take a scorched earth approach.

Olivia appears one of the more talented singers/musicians in the field and ticks the ‘credible’ box

One wonders what is left of the X Factor audience these days, which has been in big decline over the years. Is it more the domain of middle-aged husbands and wives who have nothing better to do on a Saturday night than tune into this cheap talent show, or do enough teens still watch to have the greater say over the outcome, with the app vote seemingly geared to a younger audience?

The British contestants should have an in-built advantage over their US counterparts, and someone like Olivia will need a big push to compete for the win. But Cowell is shameless with his handling of these shows so it would be dangerous to discount that possibility.

It looks like a field you can whittle down to 5 or 6 suspects who could potentially enjoy TCO treatment. The eventual winner will be decided, as ever, by the dark Lord himself, Cowell.

We can probably expect a typical X Factor season full of his Jedi mind tricks in getting the audience fully behind his preferred winner, while systematically taking out his, her or their main rivals.

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