Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to like this show as much as I did. In fact, when I prepared myself to watch the previews of The X Factor’s fifth season, I did so with the feeling of someone facing an onerous task. I’d been through it all last year, had already watched six weeks of The Voice this year, and knew Australia’s Got Talent wasn’t far away. But five minutes in I was hooked – and do you want to know why?
It’s certainly not The X Factor’s format. Returning judges Ronan Keating, Dannii Minogue, Natalie Bassingthwaighte and Redfoo continue to look ‘all business’ as they sift through the thousands of contestants hoping to win the nods necessary to get to Boot Camp. In coming weeks we’ll see the survivors be given to a judge to nurture with the usual celebrity input. Finally the finalists will line up on stage for us to vote up until they reach the last show where one will claim the title of Mr. or Ms. X Factor 2014. With a few tweaks – blind auditions; bands, no bands; jugglers permitted – we could be looking at any number of similar talent shows. But these series continue to rate because we’re fascinated with the idea of discovering unknown talent.
The opening auditions for The X Factor have included tradies from Tasmania, single mums from Cairns and jilted fiancés from Melbourne. But their hard luck stories are only the setting. Many are looking for profitable music careers but it seems most would be satisfied with just being truly known. Former Scarlet Bell singer Reigan Derry shares with the judges that she turned her back on her band career because it had become so sexualised she wasn’t sure it had anything to do with her anymore:
“I kind of feel like I’ve always had this hidden voice that people never got to hear and it would mean so much to me if I could actually show it and have people hear what I have been this whole time.”
There’s also no doubt that hearing the talent hidden beneath some of these decidedly suburban exteriors never gets old. Mouths open and it’s like being ushered into a gallery to be awed by some masterpiece. No, better. Sometimes it’s like finding that masterpiece hung in an alley no-one would have given a second look. Sina and Soni, an islander brother and sister start to sing and you forget all about the terrible swelling syndrome that has disfigured Soni. In an unusually eloquent moment Redfoo sums it up for us:
“That was pure, that was from the soul. That was the stuff that humans have that we can’t see – and you just let us see everything in side of you, and that was beautiful.”
When we experience a masterpiece like that we want to know their back-story, what made them who they are, however sad. Which is as close as our secular world comes to recognizing that every masterpiece has a Master creator. But it’s clear that hard times and hard work have polished the abilities we see in a not so random way, producing the beauty we respond to. Likewise that great singer King David looks at everything that has gone into making him who he is and sings in Psalm 139 that he is, “…fearfully and wonderfully made,” – and that realization leads him on to praise his Maker.
X Factor Judges, celebrity, family and fans will say a lot of encouraging as well as sentimental and even naïve things over the coming weeks. But you can still enjoy the show without buying into the hype. Every time you hear heavenly voices, remember that it’s God who has made their owners, “… a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.”
Distributor: Seven Network
Release Date: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays