Monday, November 09, 2009

Number 1s of 2009: 8 November 2009

The X-Factor continues to bestride the charts like a colossus. As a Saturday night ratings juggernaut, the show simply has a profile that the rest of the music industry can't match. And so, once again, it's an X-Factor-related number one.

That's JLS, "Everybody in Love." The official video isn't embeddable, so I've gone with their appearance on the X-Factor results show a couple of weeks ago. If you want to see the video, here's the link, but it's nothing especially memorable.

As British readers will know, and the rest of you might recall, JLS were the runners up in last year's show. Simon Cowell has an option to sign all X-Factor finalists, but to general surprise he passed on JLS. They duly signed to Epic instead, and their debut single "Beat Again" was number one for two weeks back in July. "Everybody in Love" reportedly sold more. I can only assume that's because they got to promote it on the X-Factor - they may not be one of Simon Cowell's acts, but as finalists who have moved on to legitimate success, they're still valuable to the show.

It surely can't be because of the single itself, which is such treacly nonsense that it reminds me of Blazin' Squad. If you don't know them, Blazin' Squad were a fantastically ludicrous ten-teenager pop-rap squadron who had a brief spurt of success in Britain during 2002 with some thoroughly mediocre and unbelievably overpopulated singles. Here they are in action. This seemed like a good idea to somebody at the time.

Back to JLS. If you're feeling generous, you could actually credit them with a third number one: "Hero", the charity single for war veterans which the X-Factor Finalists released last November. British viewers may enjoy watching the video and trying to remember what they were all called. The show is doing another charity single this year, so all the finalists are guaranteed a technical number one later in the month.

Just how much does X-Factor affect the charts at this time of year? Well, the previous number one was "Fight for this Love" by judge Cheryl Cole, which spent two weeks at the top and has apparently already shifted half a million copies. And before her, there was "Bad Boys" by Alexandra Burke, the 2008 winner. So that's three consecutive number ones all generated by the show. Leona Lewis has a new single out this week, and after that there's the 2009 charity single - so chances are they'll make it a straight five. Meanwhile, Cole has also picked up a number one album.

And because album track downloads count as singles sales, every week the show seems to spawn at least one spontaneous hit, as people suddenly realise they always wanted to own the original of a song that one of the contestants covered. This week, it's "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey, which is currently sitting at number 19. It didn't even chart in Britain on its original release in 1981.

Down at number 32, there's even "You Should Have Known" by Laura White, a 2008 finalist who got knocked out in week five. It's not that bad, actually, but it's missing something.

The show is still raking in publicity thanks to the last remaining group, Irish twins John & Edward, whose near-total lack of anything resembling conventional talent continues to divide audiences, depending on how seriously they take the show. Actually, to be fair, they're getting slightly better - which is to say, recent performances have been within spitting distance of the right key. This week, common sense finally seemed to catch up with them, though, as they found themselves in the bottom two, and regaled audiences with this gleefully cackhanded rendition of "Rock DJ."

They were up against Lucie Jones, who can actually sing, and must naturally have felt confident, given that Simon Cowell's spent the last few weeks telling the papers that it would be a catastrophe if John & Edward won the show. And so, of course, that's not what happened. Note the point at about 1:40 where it suddenly dawns on Lucie that she's about to get screwed. Cue howls of viewer outrage.

Simon Cowell is an awesome, awesome heel. The WWE could learn so much from him.