Louis Walsh confronted by irish music promoter at conference
Louis Walsh confronted by irish music promoter at conference

Wake Up! You’re Already Dead!
X factor  is flickering in the background with its avalanche of nothing, the boring bright lights of heavily edited emotional blips and desperation numbing the soul and crushing the spirit.
Comfortably numb as someone once sung.
Nothing making you feel anything. Like a blur of cathode ray heroin doping the soul.
Of course it’s harmless fun but your mind begins to wander.
Of course we need TV to mong out to. But the curse of X factor is that the whole circus has become the whole of music. There is no space for any music left. Infact there is no space for music on X factor. It’s all about the judges and their eternal soap opera. That fake series of rivalries and pretend concern for ‘their’ acts.
It’s so dull.
Jack Kerouac once wrote that
”ËœThe only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!””¦’
Of course it’s romantic but it’s true.
As you get older you feel every minute click away and every minute has got to burn. It has to burn with creativity or getting fired up by brilliance. The kind of dark hearted executives who sit there dreaming up the tightly scripted extravaganzas hate you but want your attention.
Like most people who read this stuff we didn’t get into this culture war to end up comfortably numb. There was a tear in the fabric and everyone jumped through. But what for?
Is Saturday night TV any different from listening to music, what’s the difference between Bruce Forsyth and Crass? Is there any difference? Are we deluding ourselves? Is any one branch of showbiz and deeper or more affecting than another?
Rule one of punk was questioning everything and I’m questioning the basic fundamentals that have been a big part of my life and I don’t find them wanting.
But was all that youthful idealism in vain? Is everyone slumped in front of the TV or doped out in the pub pissed and bitter? Where once was passion and excitement has turned into broken spirit. A shuffling semi life of slumbering. Grunting disapproval at Dermot O Leary as he fakes excitement to the latest caterwauling dullards.
Is there any alternative to the machine?
Is this why we are still all out there playing or watching? Are we still seeking? Or just escaping? Is there any point?
The TV avalanche continues- titillation, manufactured emotion, ‘celebs’ you don’t give a toss about ballroom dancing- followed by X Factor hell.
Cowell’s shameless bullying of the hopeless to boost judges careers and bank balances- a swift education into everything bad about the music biz. Before X Factor the icons were the likes of  Jimi Hendrix, Kate Bush, Johnny Rotten, John Lennon- an endless list of great musicians who burned bright and lit the sky with their burning madness and who made you feel alive- now we get offered Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh- smug and in control and their bleating co judges, the hopeless Cheryl Cole and the pointless Minogue sister.
They clog up the TV with their scripted emotions, their crocodile tears and their manufactured rows. Music reduced to background, an auto tuned filler before the judgement from people who love money before music.
Where’s the sex, style and subversion? Where’s their fucking X Factor? Is something as magic as music and pop culture reduced to this?
Why should I care?
I just want my share.
They get 99 per cent of the music coverage on TV.
There is no time for anyone else. Pushed out to the fringes- no space to mass communicate. No space to inspire or create. That leaves us comfortably numb. Warriors sat in arm chairs, suckered by the bright lights, slumped into a semi comatose oblivion. Once we ruled the plains now we are sacks of potatoes, stoned by the entertainment machine. Bored and sleep walking to oblivion.
It’s not enough.
I’m not saying stop X factor. I don’t have to watch it.
It just want all the other great stuff out there to have a chance.
Music is not elitist. It’s wonderful thrilling and powerful.
X factor are elitist. they dictate what music should sound like.
Let them have their circus. let them eat cake. I need inspiration.
I need soul power.
I don’t need this mad parade.
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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. i’m glad it’s fucking there. best excuse to get in my rehearsal room on a sunday. while x factor et al exist it makes every note i play all the more valid. if there was nothing to sneer at… well most of the musicians i love wouldn’t have bothered getting out of bed i don’t think… i agree that it’s a shame that young kids are getting fed total and utter tripe, because mainstream prime time tv might be the only thing readily accessible. but then when these kids do look out of the box and discover something amazing, it makes that find all the more precious i assure you. coming from someone who was raised on truly terrible europop and then went on to fall in love with nirvana… i have faith!

  2. Good Piece John. And pretty much a summary of how I feel about X-Factor. In the good old days original songs played live used to fill whole shows. With the X Factor pop is quite literally eating itself. No musicians, just backing tracks. No original songs, just covers. Don’t get me wrong. I love pop music. I was in HMV only the other day and “Living by numbers” by New Musik came over the pa and it sounded as fresh as a daisy. How will all these bland over-produced cover versions sound five, ten years down the line? It’s enough to make you want Coldplay’s “Christmas lights” to beat X-Factor to the Christmans number one slot.

  3. Been thinking along the same lines meself John:

  4. […] at LTW we love X-Factor and have published a number of articles from John Robb, Michelle Corbett, and Alan McGee – well maybe our message is getting […]


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