Last week Simon Cowell announced his new reality show that will, regardless of content, receive millions of viewers each week. This year he is going to be bringing the X Factor to Dj’s.
Opinion amongst my friends, who are largely fans of electronic music, seem to deem this new venture an outrage. Opinions suggest that it is a horrible idea, that Cowell will succeed in terrorizing the “cool” image of electronic music like he has with chart music, not that chart music had a cool image in the first place (NOTE: this is not a dig at chart music, this is merely saying that cool music is often the music that isn’t readily accessible to a whole spectrum of listeners).
Beliefs run high that no electronic music or DJ’s worthy of playing a warehouse party at 2am will be spawned from his show. These views are perfectly justified if you look at Cowell’s track record: (Who can remember Leon Jackson!?) X factor winners, by and large, win the show – release a christmas number 1 – disappear for a year to make an album – and never return to justify why/how they won Britain’s largest singing contest, if that’s what you call it. I do not call it a singing contest. It is entertaining in a cruel sort of way, and it is good entertainment, but a singing contest it is not.
Now, there is much to argue about when suggesting what’s wrong with the show, as any music purist will tell you. And I’m sure any electronic music fan, be it house, drum and bass, or electro will tell you that they are not keen on the idea of a Cowell makeover. But what about those in support of it? I’m not talking about Cowell fans, nor X factor fans, but genuine dance music producers.
This week Deadmau5 wrote an article in support of Cowell’s new show. He suggested that more light would be shown to the genre and consequently more sales, more raves, more gigs etc. This is a good point. Although Simon Cowell and his empire may seem like Satan to the music industry, nobody can deny that he knows how to make hits. His involvement with the genre could bring new opportunities for electronic music to expand and step out of the shadow of RnB. One day we could be hearing the likes of High Contrast, Andy C, or Deadmau5 on radio 1 instead of Chris Brown, Rihanna, and JLS. This could actually pay off. However, there is always the very real danger of the purity of electronic dance music being watered down to the shallow, purpose serving genre that fills Cowell’s pockets and sickens music purists.
So, is this going to be a horrific step backwards for dance music where we end up with a boom in repetitive, soulless, computer generated shit playing on the radio. Or could it be an amazing opportunity for dance music to grow? For it to reach people that wouldn’t usually be open to a rave. Will it change the direction of chart music? Because let it be clear that electronic music will shortly become a main player in chart music once Simon Cowell gets his alchemic fingers involved.
I am in no way an advocate of X factor as a music benefactor. I see it as an entertainment show but that is all. So maybe we’re taking this new venture by Cowell a little too seriously. Will it be detrimental to electronic music, or beneficial, or will it just be another form of entertainment and have no effect on our music tastes? I doubt the last one, but whether it will be a good move for the genre or a bad move I think is still very much in the air.