My Beautiful Laundrette: Scottish referendum? It was nothing compared to The X Factor

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In his latest column for Altrincham Today, Conor Slevin, the owner of Altrincham Dry Cleaners, takes a sideways look at life and work in the town. This week: The return of The X Factor.

Scotland voted NO last week and it was all very tense and dramatic but, let’s be honest, it was NOTHING compared to the rigmarole The X Factor puts us through these days.

Yes, it’s BACK for what feels like the millionth season. I’m not jumping on any particular bandwagon because I actually believe there’s space in the music industry for X Factor alumni. Its franchises and imitators are cornerstones of global pop music, pumping much-needed cash through an ever-changing industry and inspiring wannabes, whatever their reasons, to grab guitars and belt out a few tunes.

You might wonder what the X Factor has to do with Altrincham. It’s a bit tenuous, I suppose, but while you probably wouldn’t accuse Altrincham of being the Music Capital of the North, it’s very satisfying to see a few pubs and clubs throwing the stage open to a range of brilliant local acts. Check out the bars on Goose Green or the Cinnamon Club in Bowdon for some home-grown potential stars.

[blockquote]I wouldn’t have the faintest idea how to accurately explain what a “Cheryl Cole” is[/blockquote]

Many “proper” musicians will tell you how offended they are to see manufactured, saccharin girl/boy/notquitesure bands rocketing to stardom. Maybe we should tweak the format a bit to appease the critics. Let’s install a trap door in front of the judges. Let’s put one under the judges. Let’s find out who Really Wants This More Than Anything when the grand prize is headlining a fifteen-date pub tour and just enough cash to put diesel in the Transit. I’d tune in for that.

Actually, I’d Sky+ it so when I detected the ominous rumble of a “sob story” I could fast forward to the next mediocre Adele cover. I’m not unsympathetic, but Cowell & Co are so keen to persuade you that tragedy is the preserve of X Factor contestants that it’s become uninteresting.

A friend of mine reckons he’s never seen a magpie. He’s 37. See? Everyone’s fighting their own war.

When a genuine talent arrives in front of those X Factor judges and shows some convincing credentials, I’m prepared to look the other way if they end up knocking out a half-decent album and manage to pay their bills. And what qualifies those judges in the first place? If Martians landed tomorrow, I wouldn’t have the faintest idea how to accurately explain what a “Cheryl Cole” is. My best effort might be to describe her as “an IQ-threatening humanoid who can smile herself inside out”.

So pervasive is the X Factor phenomenon that I even have recurring dreams about a musical adaptation of Die Hard with the role of the evil Hans Gruber played by Simon Cowell. I hope I haven’t just given the high-trousered one an idea…

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