I know I usually crush on British actors I can’t have or amazing women I’d like to be or red pandas who would probably claw my face off, but every once in a while, something really out there captures my attention in such a visceral way, I don’t want to think, feel or talk about anything but that particular thing.
This week I feel that way about the 2010 Season of X Factor UK.
Or in layman’s terms, I’m obsessed with the reality show that formed One Direction.
I know I’ve talked in the past about how I didn’t “get” One Direction or how they look like urchins or make me feel old or something, but that was before I understood their origin story. Have you seen their origin story? It’s amazing!
Liam was coming back from being rejected the year before. Niall was almost dropped at the first audition round. Harry had beautiful curls that baby doves wanted to nest in. Zayn pouted in bootcamp and almost gave up because he didn’t want to dance. Simon Cowell literally sought him out backstage and had a “Boy, why are you crying?” moment. Oh, and Louis just showed up and was always genuinely excited to be there.
And of course, they were all cut initially and then brought back on stage and told that they would be Frankensteined into a boy band.
There’s additional drama, too. Someone cuts his foot on a sea urchin. Someone else’s elderly relative dies. Daniel Radcliffe says hello to them once. It’s really, honestly, truly, incredibly amazing to behold.
Look, I get it now. I get the majestic beauty of five British teenaged boys hopping around, singing harmonies and enjoying their youth. I get it now.
That’s what X Factor UK did for me. It explained One Direction.
But Series 7 of X Factor UK has done more than offer the creation myth of One Direction. Like, this is the weird part–One Direction is just one tiny part of an almost perfect season of reality television.
You also get the story of Cher Lloyd. She has a little bit of a pop/rap career in the United States, but she was a massive deal in this particular season of the X Factor. Of course, one reason why she was such a big deal is that she made the live shows even though she completely messed up her judge’s house song*. The thing is she did legitimately have tonsillitis and she did legitimately come back in the live shows like a tiny, cheeky, rapping phoenix and sort of proved in her first live performance that she had what it took to be a star.
The other girl who got into live shows even though she botched up her judge’s house audition was this girl named Katie Waissel who had a voice like Ellie Goulding and wore a weird robot costume for her first live show. No one liked her so she cut her hair and dyed it brown like Cleopatra in HBO’s Rome. What is that? That’s amazing.
Also, the reason the public disliked both Cheryl and Katie was because they got through and this really adorable, incredibly talented girl named Gamu didn’t. Gamu was also in London because her family was trying to escape the political situation in Zimbabwe. I mean, this season is full of drama. (Editor’s note: Gamu has an amazing new single out, finally, so it didn’t hurt her too badly!)
I haven’t even mentioned Mary Byrne, this adorable middle aged supermarket worker from Dublin, or Rebecca Ferguson, who had a smooth soul voice but absolutely no self esteem.
I haven’t talked about Storm Lee, whose name was “Storm Lee” or a duo called “Diva Fever”.
I haven’t even brought up Wagner, the oldest finalist, who was this weird guy from Brazil (no, he was just weird) who had a bloodshot eye and sang off key in vibrato, but somehow almost ousted One Direction from the competition.
And I don’t want to spoil you with who won, but hint-hint, One Direction was beaten by a guy who looked like Chris O’Dowd in a painter’s cap.
The entire thing is amazing! I’m obsessed! Everyone should watch this season of X Factor UK. I wish some American network would buy the rights and air it in the summer. It would be the best heat wave viewing ever. It’s already the best chilly March weather viewing.
Finally, how am I watching it? Let’s just say you can find all sorts of interesting stuff on YouTube. I mean you can find videos of girls burning their hair off and you do a little digging you can find entire seasons of British reality shows. See? Interesting stuff that could be taken down if corporations knew their exact address, but that you can find if you just search by show title and year.
But seriously guys, I “get” One Direction now. No, really, I get them.
*If none of this makes sense, here’s basically how X Factor works. There are a series of live auditions in massive stadiums where hopefuls sing and are judged in front of thousands of strangers. If they get a ticket to bootcamp, they are happy. If not, they cry. They need at least three out of four votes from the judges to get through. Niall, for instance, barely got three votes.
Then, they go to bootcamp. They are divided into four groups. Boys, Girls, Groups and Olds (aka anyone old enough to rent a car). They go through several rounds of horrific auditions and eight contestants are chosen for each division to go to judges’ houses, where they perform in a fancy room for their mentor/judge and the mentor/judge’s most impressive celebrity friend. Then the mentor/judge picks their three favs for live shows.
Then, there are live shows. The public votes to keep people in. The judges pick who goes home between the two lowest vote getters. Eventually someone wins and is supposed to become famous, but after a year disappears.
Is this confusing?
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