Saturday, December 05, 2009

The X Factor reaches 'mine, all mine' stage

We might not have to deploy R Kelly, it turns out. The X Factor - through the link-up with Philip Green - seems to be busily sowing the seeds of its final, helicopters on the roof stage.

Taking the thing to Vegas kind-of makes sense - a gaudy tribute to losers who think they're winning, only to discover they're going home hungry. But given the majority of visitors to Vegas are American, why would you build it under the British brand of X Factor rather than, say, American Idol?

And where will the constant stream of contestants wanting to be humiliated come from (humiliated, I'm guessing, by robot versions of Cowell and the others, like those automaton versions of Norm and Cliff in the old Cheers airport bars)? Surely part of the X Factor attraction is that some of the contestants are chosen because they can sing tolerably well - if Factor in Vegas is going to keep going round the calendar, won't it be relying on 'people who have lost all their money' as its contestant pool?

If finding enough people to be on stage is going to be a trial, you've got to wonder where they think the audience is going to come from:

"The home of the X Factor – live from Las Vegas!" enthuses Green. "We'll have a store. And it'll all be online. You have 20, 30, 40 million people tuning in twice a week. You bring two or three hundred million viewers to a venue – off we go! It's taking it up a peg. The rest of the world is Part Two."

300 million people streaming X Factor online twice a week. It's a bit more than taking it up a peg, isn't it? This is lifting it up like a field full of rotary driers.

You've got to admire Green's personal auction there - "we'll have a shop - no, and a webcam, watched by ten, no, twenty, no, a billion people. And NOBODY WILL EVER DIE." The most realistic outcome he should really expect, though, is a few hundred thousand for the first couple of cycles before interest gradually flows away.

And there's a comforting thought: the X Factor slowly melting in the Nevada desert, surrounded by people who have just emptied their 401ks on the craps table.