The X Factor is a UK Saturday Night reality show, which allows thousands of narcissistic wannabes the chance to humiliate themselves, their families and their towns in front of an audience of millions.
The X Factor, also known as "The Nation's HighHorse", premiered in September 2004, rising victoriously from the ashes of shows such as Pop Idol. Media mogul Simon Cowell backed the show (solely) because he wanted to be a part of a show that his company held the rights to. This move shocked many, as Simon Cowell is a notoriously introverted, humble man.
The premise of the show is simple: Perform an audition for the judges, singing a song of your choice unaccompanied (until season 6). If this is successful, progress to later stages. If this is unsuccessful, throw dignity to the wind and beg, plead, insult or otherwise endear yourself to the judges until they realise the error of their ways and overturn their decision. This is always an 100% successful tactic.
The main attraction of the series for the auditionees (bar the 15 seconds of cheap, ill-gained fame) is a Â£1,000,000 recording contract with Sony and SyCo. In later years this is becoming redundant, as the more famous runners up are reaching greater fame than the winners.
(NOTABLE TRIVIA: The biggest "career launch" to date performed by the X Factor is not any of the contestants, but Peter Dickson, also known as "Shouty Voiceover Man"
In the beginning, 3 judges...judged the auditions, namely Simon Cowell, Sharon Osbourne and Louis Walsh. Reports of their peaceful cohabitation have been greatly exaggerated.
SIMON (Series 1- )
Simon is the cynical grouch of the panel. Completely uninterested in the actual musical ability of the contestants, he spends the entire audition thinking of crushing one-liners before spitting them out with the pompous smugness of...well, "Simon Cowell" is the only way this comparison can end. If you are young, attractive, and female, your chances of getting a "yes" from Simon increase 500%.
LOUIS - (Series 1- )
Louis is the easy-going, friendly member of the panel. To this end, he is the constant butt of Simon's own specific brand of sarcasm. To THIS end, he has "quit the show for good" an estimated 100 times. While quite entertaining the first time, this has become the main talking point at the return of every series. "WILL....LOUIS...RETURN???" Answer = yes.
SHARON - (series 1-4)
Sharon is in no way similar to Cruella De Ville. Legal reasons require that we say that. Anyway, Sharon was the Woman of the panel, for the first couple of runs. Her known turn-offs include: anyone mentioning Ozzy, being demure, and Louis. The UK got it's own Watergate in 2005 to rival the original - when Sharon threw her cup of water over Louis. He mentioned "drugs" and "ozzy" in the same sentence, just like anyone else who has ever lived.
DANNI - (series 4 - )
Danni's addition to the show bumped the number of judges up to 4, and the number of judges Simon was obsessed with up to 2. Danni is the only judge to have cried on camera more times than the contestants. The ongoing yearly rumours that "(new judge) has trouble getting along with Danni" must be doing nothing to help this.
CHERYL - (series 5 - )
Cheryl Cole brought some much needed sex appeal to the X Factor, starting in Season 5. Her chirpie Geordie optomism is beginning to restore a little hope to the series. Moreover, any man would drag his balls through 20 miles of broken glass and rusty knives just to audition for "Cheryl Cole's Human Punching Bag".
BRIAN FRIEDMAN - (Series ???)
The X Factor is no stranger to controversy. Broadcasting regulators "OFCOM" reportedly have 120 employees on standby purely to answer irate calls from irate X Factor audiences.
You told me Louis would be FUCKING GONE!
Most famously, there are yearly complaints that the voting is fixed/votes for an act weren't counted, or that the judges rehearse their famous "spontaneous" bust ups. An Ofcom official courteously answers each complaint personally, with "why are you complaining about television on a saturday night, instead of doing something productive you useless bastard?"
In series 4, 15 year old contestant Emily Nakanda became the pride of her demographic when she was publicly outed as the instigator of a "Happy Slapping" escapade. For international readers, this means she videoed herself attacking some innocent bystander with her friends, with intent to steal stuff. She then proceeded to audition on the X Factor with a sob story that won her the hearts of the nation. You know, until she was a violent thief.
tinyurl.com/24wrau (The happy-slapping video)
These are what the majority of the viewers tune in to see. A dystopian amount of people are apparently willing to cluck/jive//holler/warble their way through an excruciating 30 seconds in front of the judges. 1% of screentime during the audition weeks is dedicated to the outstanding individuals who manage to hold a note; the rest is a showcase of Britain's delusional youth (and more often than not, delusional OAP's). The Audtions have become saturated with the phenomenon of the "Sob Story". Dozens of contestant's auditions are prefaced with interviews in which they detail some specific family tragedy which has prompted their audition, of course set to atmospheric piano tinkling in the background. Despite the growing mocking this gains from the press/public, these are as prolific today as they ever were.
Boot Camp is where the successful auditionees move on to. Boot Camp is also where the "put through for a laugh" auditionees move on to. This always creates the awkward "the joke is over" moment where they must perform again for the judges, where they are always swiftly booted out. The show always reaches an emotional peak during bootcamp, where the judges must dismiss the "worst of the best." Excitingly, each judge is then allocated a demographic - Boys, Girls, Groups and Over 25's. Louis, a famous boyband manager, has taken control of the Groups just a little too many times to avoid suspicion
The Judges' Houses`
These are not the Judges' Houses. They are locations rented by the Judges to further whittle down the contestant stack. Inexpicably, this section of the show is filmed in European hotspots such as France, Spain, and...Dublin. The ridiculousness of this was actually played for laughs in Series 5. Following the decision process at their respective "houses", the judges have selected the Final Twelve
The Live Stages
This is when the real action kicks off. After each wannabe has performed in front of a live studio audience, voting is transferred to the viewers, who decide the fate of the "final two", or "instant drama maker" as the production team call it. Then the judges decide which of the two deserves to go, and which can stay. This is in no way ever dominated by personal judge's rivalries. Each week has a theme, such as Big Band Week, or Disco Week. Each song that week will be performed within that genre, and if everyone holds their breath and wishes really hard, a celebrity will come in to "coach" the acts. This means they will impart vaguely optomistic 10 second soundbites onto a vastly uncaring audience. Then both will gush over the "honour" it was to meet the other. Finally 3 acts are left, and they duke it out in a christmas extravaganza episode, which lasts about 15 hours, wherein each act performs 40 times. After a lot of rigged voting, a winner finally emerges. Then, eventually, releases one flop album and fades from the public eye long before the next series fires up.