The X Factor is back… again.
Just as you thought you’d had your fill of this year’s caterwauling contestants thanks to its celebrity spin-off, Simon Cowell and co have returned to create “the UK’s answer to K-Pop” with The X Factor: The Band.
It’s a brave move to put on a second series of the show so soon after The X Factor: Celebrity failed to capture the imagination of reviewers and much of the viewing public. However, it feels like there’s calculation in getting the show out fast before Little Mix launch their very own band search format on the BBC.
But before you roll your eyes at the prospect of watching Cowell crush dreams for the second time this year, I can happily report The X Factor: The Band is actually… well, good.
The show has stripped back the clichés, the gimmicks and trademark sob stories and returned to doing what it does best – unearthing raw, real talent.
The welcome return of the closed audition, now taking place in Cowell’s plush Syco offices (complete with a portrait of himself) allows the show to feel more intimate as finally, the focus is on the talent. At long last we’re rid of the pointless Gogglebox-style commentary from random people in the arena audience watching – we only get to hear the opinions of those that matter: namely, Cowell, Nicole Scherzinger and the four industry experts on the sidelines. Including excerpts of our talent’s audition tapes is another nice touch, giving an opportunity to get to know our hopefuls as the fresh-faced, genuine people they are instead of over-edited, polished products we’ve become too used to on The X Factor. It almost feels like a return to its glory days as opposed to another rehashed spin-off.
So it almost feels like such a shame that The X Factor: The Band has apparently been rushed-released in order to compete with someone else as I feel this show could have fared far better in the ratings if it was just given a bit more time to evolve.
While it’s totally the right decision to shorten The X Factor’s goliath run-time of about three months, on the other hand, it’s hard to replicate the One Direction/Little Mix-esque mania with only four days to get invested – particularly with general feelings of apathy and exhaustion surrounding the show.
It seems show execs realised too little, too late that all they needed for The X Factor to work was the simple format they had all along as opposed to silly gimmicks, judges feuds and endless twists. With reports and rumours swirling that The X Factor may have only been renewed for one more year, bosses may be losing faith too.
So I’m sorry ITV, but now might be the time to send your once-prized cash cow out to slaughter.
The X Factor: The Band continues Wednesday, Friday and Sunday on ITV