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17th September 2012

X Addiction – It’s time to kick the habit

X-Factor has returned, as predictably as the annual bout of the common cold, turning sensible people (me) into snivelling addicts.

Allegedly, Cuban-heel wearing lady-killer Simon Cowell is refusing to leave his L.A mansion after both the US and British versions of his juggernaut show, in search of that je ne sais quoi, have lost millions of viewers. This suggests that Britons are kicking the habit and expect more from their Saturday night viewing, no longer satisfied by heart-string tugging, human interest stories and tone-deaf gyrating OAPs.

Of course I know it’s brain-rotting guff and, as a music editor, I should be advocating X-Factor abstinence. Alas, weekly (and sometimes mid-weekly) I watch (and re-watch) audition after audition and regularly descend into a pathetic weeping mess.

Having Lancashire’s dullest slimmer-of-the-year, Gary Barlow on the panel hasn’t deterred me – I amuse myself by guessing which mundane sound bite will next pass his lips. Nor has the presence of the nation’s most irritating old biddy, Louis Walsh, discouraged my obsession. Even the arrival of “the female boss” FHM’s Sexiest Woman, Tuli-sha hasn’t brought me to my senses. I should know better, and I hate myself for it.

But, I’m no monster – I cringe at the hysterical simpletons wielding their hopeful X signs, only to be crushed by the patronising put-down of a Pussy Cat Doll as the crowd point and laugh. But if someone even slightly resembling a humanoid staggers onto the stage, I’m hooked. Welling up if anyone overcomes their nerves… or loves their Grandad… or even worse, is singing “to give my daughter a better life”.

I also abhor the live shows. Surely it’s morally indefensible to witness the Cowell Colossus snatch children, digest their personalities and fart them out ready to shag across the globe. Although, as their faces sometimes appear on their very own brand of coloured condoms, I guess it’s probably okay.

Deciding this had gone too far, my road to recovery has begun by limiting myself to watching the “good” ones on You Tube. Yet, this has led me straight to X Factor’s very own channel. Where previously I could return to normality seemingly unscathed as soon as the audition process was over, now, a dark online world of archived video footage means the audition process is never over. Anywhere, anytime I can return to my favourite tear-jerker.

I’ve even revisited ‘classic’ auditions from past series, watching “The Beast” Alexandra Burke rise from the ashes of 2008 to defy her ex-judge Ms Walsh and come back ever stronger. I’ve enjoyed Malvern marionette Cher Lloyd’s voice-loss in front of Will.I.Am and, rare and most precious of all, those auditions where the relative nobody, Brian Freidman managed to sneak onto the panel.

So please, no hate mail. Rather, view this as acknowledgement of the problem, an admission that I have no control over my compulsion. This is the first step on the road to recovery… 11 to go.

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