Tag Archives: matt cardle

PURITY, PASSION or PAIN? The X Factor final decoded


There’s no way to get round it; every X Factor final represents a significant choice in the symbolic life of the nation. Who can forget 2010’s battle between coolness, cockiness and “credibility” (the Fergo/1D/Cardle showdown) or when Shayne Ward led cheekiness to victory over cleanliness AND cheesiness in 2005? Here in 2012, times are more austere and the UK’s choice is a solemn one between almost religious virtues: PURITY, PASSION or PAIN…

(NB Not to be confused with Trey Songz’ very good 2010 album Passion, Pain & Pleasure. If only.)



Cherubic reflex-giggler Jahmene is a role model for all those cautious kids you see hanging around drinking milkshakes outside Morrisons these days. Well I don’t see anything like that in the slightly stabby neighbourhood I live in, but I hear it goes on elsewhere. What with calling for a Gospel Week, admitting he’s never been kissed and saying he won’t sing any songs with swear words in them, he’s set a new gold standard for non-threatening behaviour in a reality show. Whether such a gentle soul will get very far in the music industry remains to be seen, but you know, there was, er, Dana.

Jahmene’s favourite virtue is his chastity, and I say favourite because it’s the one he aggressively advertises via the constant public display of a purity ring. I have begun to suspect that the power of his alarming falsetto is linked in some way to this holy ring, like a sort of anti-Sauron. Bust the ring and the spell is broken. But hasn’t that always been the way.


See no Maloney, Hear no Maloney, Speak no Maloney

See no Maloney, Hear no Maloney, Speak no Maloney [screencap by @baradar85]

No-one has brought raw emotion more firmly back into British public life this year than Christopher Maloney, as he stands on the stage each week violently shaking, sobbing or generally collapsing (Popjustice has a nice gallery). He only seems to find equilibrium when he’s singing. Famously, the great love of his life is his nan, who’s been passionately deployed as a bargaining card right from the start. Originally viewers were urged to vote amid grave concerns for her health, but now she’s more prosaically invoked with Chris saying he hopes to buy her a new kitchen.

The best thing about Christopher’s presence on X Factor is how completely it undermines his mentor, pompous control-monkey Gary Barlow. Gary’s preferred quality in a protégé is laddishness, which is why he picks acts like Kye Sones or Frankie Cocozza in some sort of attempt to vicariously relive his youth – or at the very least snare a “Robbie-I-can-control-this-time”. And as all the acts Gary chose for this year’s live shows were eliminated in the first few weeks, he’s been left politely endorsing someone he rejected while saving his most lavish fawning for rival James Arthur. So allow any smugness on Barlow’s part if Christopher wins.



The public’s final symbolic option is pain. Week after week James Arthur has taken one cheerful song after another, slowed it down a bit, unsheathed the Acoustic Guitar of Authenticity, and proceeded to sing with the sort of anguish that makes me wonder if he’s suffering from hard stool syndrome.

Oh he seems like a nice fella but you won’t get any sympathy round here for thinking that great pop songs need smothering with torpid angst to make them somehow worthwhile. Last year’s winners represented FUN after all. But the country gets the X Factor finalists it deserves and it’s been a fucking miserable year. So what’s it to be? It’s time to face the music.

Available from Greggs. I know.

Available from Greggs. I know.


The ridiculous world of the deluxe album version

Björk’s taking the piss with a luxury £500 edition of her new album. Perhaps it’s time that other artists got creative and did the same.


The Ultimate Edition of Björk’s new album Biophilia comes in a “lacquered and silkscreened Oak hinged lid case containing the Biophilia Manual, along with 10 chrome-plated tuning forks, silkscreened on one face in 10 different colors, stamped at the back, and presented in a flocked tray. Each fork adjusted to the tone of each of the tracks from Biophilia and covering a complete octave in a non-conventional scale.” Amazing. No, hang on, not amazing! What was she thinking? No, it’s alright, don’t write in, I know what she was thinking. FIVE HUNDRED POUNDS, that’s what she was thinking. I mean she’s never been shy of tapping her fans for a bit of cash, but this is an impressive new level of milking it.

Here’s how some forthcoming releases might look in game-raising special editions:

Will Young – Echoes

To reflect Will’s love of the dressing-up box, the deluxe album will come with a Will Young action figure and several interchangeable outfits so that you can play with Military tribunal Will, Circus artist Will, 70s Blue Peter Will, Equestrian Will, Superhero Will, Pregnant Will, Top Gun Will or of course the very popular Speedos Will. £75

Dolly Parton – Better Day

Dolly’s keen to rebuild bridges with the gay community after her recent apology  to someone who wasn’t allowed into Dollywood wearing a t-shirt promoting gay marriage (although she still supports the decision, saying the slogan was too controversial for a family theme park). At the same time she’s gearing up to promote the UK release of her new album by talking about her 1984 hysterectomy.

So the special ‘Hate The Sin, Love The Sinner!’ edition of Better Day will come packaged with a home insemination kit aimed at gay couples. (It is a standard insemination kit with a pink triangle drawn on it. Although in a terrible mix-up I’ve used a picture of a bovine insemination kit. Because I’m never above a cheap laugh.) £180

Example – Playing in the Shadows

Example’s ‘highly-anticipated’ third album is pitched at the youth market, so sadly no ultra-expensive special edition will be available. However every copy bought on pre-order will include a free hairbrush. £7.99

Tori Amos – Night of Hunters

Tori’s new album, released through Deutsche Grammophon (!), is “a 21st century song cycle inspired by classical music themes spanning over 400 years.” From Bach to Satie and so on. Yes, like Hooked on Classics. In keeping with the tracknames on the album, the special edition will include some snow, a cactus, a coffin, a ghost and the Moon. £4,500

Matt Cardle

Matt Cardle’s debut album — which I’m forced to assume will be called ‘Not Final Art’ — faces the difficult task of uniting his disparate fanbase, from the plucky painters and decorators who wish they too could go on a journey like his to the mums at home who voted for him on X Factor. And it will need to convey that Matt is a proper indie artist, not like the rest of the rubbish in the charts. So the ‘Genuine Geezer’ edition will be presented in a CD player fashioned to look like a plasterer’s radio, will come with a 28-page pamphlet in which Matt assures women of all sizes and ages that he finds them attractive, and will include just enough rope to hang yourself with. £28

Thanks to the lovely @itnorris for suggesting I write this post after seeing my rant about Björk on Twitter. Sorry that ‘Katy B trowels’ didn’t make it in…