X Factor 2016: in defence of Honey G

This year's X Factor "novelty" act is the latest in a long line of popular performers who keep the show "the same but different" - and that's what the public keep voting for

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The X Factor is an entertainment show. For more than a decade it has entertained people throughout the autumn with a heady mix of pantomime judges, Saturday night glitz and glamour, some songs and a lot of silliness.

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It is clearly more than a show about singing. If you want to see an endless parade of young polished teens performing pop songs back-to-back you need only tune your television to MTV or load a two-hour playlist of the Top 40 on YouTube.

Yes, it has produced some big pop acts from Leona Lewis and One Direction to Little Mix and James Arthur, but that is clearly not its sole purpose.

The X Factor is a carefully crafted piece of entertainment television that despite its repetitive nature is designed to keep people interested for a couple of hours a week for three months a year. This is done by offering “the same but different” formula.

Each week you know what you are going to get, and although there is variation, there is not so much as to make you feel uncomfortable. Each year, this is also true. The judges change, the acts change, the format is tweaked – but essentially the world of X Factor stays still. It’s a constant, it’s a comfort and it’s a welcome distraction from the turbulence of the real world.

So why is everyone so angry with Honey G? And why is anyone surprised that the public are voting for her?

Honey G (or Anna Georgette Gilford as she is better known to those who use her specialist IT recruitment consultancy), is the latest in a long line of “fun” acts on The X Factor who have captured the imagination of the voting public and made it deep into the live finals. Yes, her act is a bit silly, yes, she dresses in an outlandish way, and yes, she has another life where she has to earn a living outside of the world of comedy rap (that’s reality if you’re not 16 and living with your parents).

Is there anything wrong with this? No. 

Just like Jedward and Wagner, Chico and Stevi Ritchie before her, Honey G is in the show to make it fun. People are voting for her because she makes people smile – in exactly the same way they’re voting for Ed Balls in Strictly Come Dancing. Without some fun, talent shows become a dull precession of slightly above average young singers showcasing various levels of vibrato control. That’s no way to spend Saturday night. That’s no way to spend any night.

This does unfortunately mean that some contestants who may be considered “better” singers will have to be eliminated while the public enjoys what Honey G has to offer. Not fair, maybe? A fix? Wishful thinking.

At some point in the next few weeks, the audience will get bored of Honey G, or find that they are unprepared to eliminate another more traditional talent in order to save her. Believe me, Honey, that day will come. Wagner, Jedward, Stevi and Chico will be happy to back me up on that.

Remember, it’s “the same but different” every year. The same fix rumours, the same outrage at “joke” acts fuelled by the same tabloid newspapers. It’s what makes the show go round, and it’s what makes people care about X Factor.

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Honey G’s reward will come when she is welcomed with open arms to student unions across the land, but for now don’t vilify her, enjoy her act. She’ll be gone soon enough, and we can all get back to forgetting who won X Factor 2016 and enjoying I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! in peace.