And so it’s X Factor season once more. And by some grand, certainly-not-orchestrated coincidence, the children of X Factor are back.

#1 Olly Murs – Please Don’t Let Me Go

To this day, I haven’t heard this song on the radio or seen it on any music channels. I would, of course, skip straight past it. But, still, I haven’t been given the chance. Which raises the question how exactly it became #1.

The actual content of the song is probably the answer: Take That piano/straining-vocals opening. Easy cheery singalong bit. The usual wet earnest pop-boy sentiment.
Familiar music; Lyrics you’re sure you’ve heard before; that bit, isn’t that..? – and then your brain gives up from sheer boredom.

I’m being unfair. A bit. I’d pre-decided my opinion on this, pretty much. X Factor is the one thing that can harm my modern-day poptimistic outlook on music, especially when it means . I was actually pro-Rage last Christmas. It brings out the angry teen in me.

Being fair: the opening, at least on this video, is actually a bit interesting. It’s all degraded, old record texture; unfortunately, then the song proper kicks in and it’s bland, it’s non-threatening, it’s … I’m sorry, being fair is hard. Another disinterested sigh of a #1, readers.

#1 Alexandra Burke – Start Without You

This is much more silly.

Which is possibly X-Factor-output’s highest calling. I’ve noticed some strong reactions to this from various pop-inclined friends and relatives. Ugh, turn it off, can’t stand it. But I quite like it.

It probably helps that I first saw this on breakfast-time TV (see? This one actually gets played), with Alexandra Burke in her underwear and similarly ridiculously-dressed muscled sailor men. I was groggy, it was strange, I went back to bed.

Seaside souvenir shop tacky chorus. Multiple Boom!s. “I’m like a beast”. Garbled cyber-goblin voices.

Again, I admit the role bias plays. A lot of the stuff in here, if it had caught me a different way, would be listed with the usual pop-crimes: not least its continuation of the recent theme of pointless dancefloor setting. It is a bit rubbish (see: the rap) but its heart seems to be in the right place. (And it actually has one, which is hardly guaranteed with X-Factor stuff). I reckon it deserved a #1, just about. File alongside Green Light. I won’t listen to it again, no guarantee I won’t turn the radio over, even. But it tickles something in me.

And as I put the finishing touches to this, ‘today’ clicks around. A new Top Forty, a new #1. Will it be good? Will I write about it in the actual week it comes out? Find out in the next installment of … NUMBER ONE.

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