X Factor? My Arse! Or How To Do It Properly! A New Series From Pie And Biscuits

December 9, 2011

The (British) X Factor 2011 final is airing this weekend.

Regular readers know how much I dislike the X Factor. It’s aural fast food for the reality TV generation. Our youth are in serious danger of becoming obese from consuming ropey covers of some decent songs, sung badly and stripped of the production values that made them good in the first place. Add to this the sob stories and other forms of manipulation that are now obligatory for these shows and I’m left shaking my head in despair. Is it because I’m Officially Old™? Probably. But I know the tunes I was listening to from tot to teen and beyond had complexity, with roots in the genres of Jazz, Blues and Classical, to name a few. For the duration of a song, my brain would be deliciously challenged and my heart would soar. What could be better in life than that?

My brother sends me YouTube clips from time to time to prove the point. He titles them “X Factor? My Arse!” or “How To Do It Properly!” I liked the title so much that – with his permission – I’m going to use it for this occasional series. I must make clear that these posts will not be coming from the point of view of a muso, or a music journalist giving you artist/group in-depth background, or the serial number of the last originally released Beatles track ever. If that’s what you’re looking for, you won’t find it here. What you will get on each post is a short breakdown of the song, as I understand it, memories the tune evokes, if applicable and why I like it. And although I am Officially Old™, the songs I like and post in this series will not always be from the dim and distant past.

So let’s kick off with the first musical gem in this series: Michael Jackson and Never Can Say Goodbye – in acapella.

I hadn’t heard this song in acapella before. I was struck dumb by the purity and maturity of the voice, the emotion and the effortlessness in which he sings. It drills right down to the marrow. He was twelve years old when he recorded this. Twelve years old, ladies and gentlemen. We didn’t need to know about his sob story to make us like his music more (that all came out much later). We just felt the talent. There’s nothing more to add here, other than to say he showed us How To Do It Properly.

X Factor? My Arse!



  1. I have to agree with your opinion of the xfactor. I cannot stand it and as good as some people may or may not be its just a conveyor belt and most of them will be nothing in.a few years. I am so looking forward to this series….. And what a start to this series… Chooooon is all I can say. Pure and Simple.

    • My brother posted that clip to me and it became the inspiration for this series. If you have any thoughts on my music choices as this series progresses, go ahead and spit it out. It’s an interactive forum, baby!

  2. All power to the Pie.. Looking forward to following all your future How To Do It Properly posts too, ta!

    • I’ll do my best to please you, 10secondwonders. You may have your own opinions on the music I post in this series. Welcome to my blog.

  3. Agreed, X Factor is shit and when they have decent people appear on the show like Michael Buble did on the US X Factor last month, Cowell turned his nose up at him and gave him a dirty look, Cowell wouldn’t know what talent was if it hit him in a face.

    • Ah, but you see Pete, it’s not really for him to discern the talent. That’s what the other judges are supposedly for, while he plays Mr nasty and crams this dross into the Christmas charts and beyond. Though you’d have to question the musicality of Louis Walsh, because he unleashed Westlife onto the world, did he not?

      Welcome to my blog, Pete Nice to have you here.

      • Nice to be here 😛 Louis Walsh is the reason Jedward exist and for that deserves to be stoned to death

        • Lol!

  4. Great slice of Pie!
    I trust you saw Charlie Brookers Black Mirror after the final. If not it’s well worth an x-factor related look.
    Great piece. Superb title so kudos to your brother too.

    • I haven’t yet seen the show you’re talking about, which for the uninitiated, is the second in a trio of dark stories reflecting the times we’re living in and the values we hold – or not. I’m still recovering from his first show which involved a princess, a Prime Minister and a pig.

      My brother makes a lot of throwaway comments like that. He’s good at that kind of thing.

  5. What an amazing voice. You wouldn’t think a 12-year old kid could sing with such feeling, not to mention virtuosity.

    Michael’s fringed vest brings back such memories. I had a suede jacket with fringe, and thought it was the most beautiful style that could ever be. The more recent versions of this look just don’t compare.

    I’m also looking forward to your series!

    • That fringed vest looks so cool, doesn’t it? When people go on about how bad 70s fashion is, I just point them to something like that vest and tell them to shut up. How lucky you were at that time to have a suede jacket with fringing. That voice is extraordinary, but he’d had that voice since he was around 5-6 years old. That’s a true gift. It’s a shame how it all went wrong and how it ended, but he did leave a cracking record of his existence. How many of these X Factor winners would be able to say that?

  6. Pie, this is going to be so much fun and off to a great start already! Can’t stand X -Factor but I can’t stand Celine Dion or Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey etc either let alone the tragics who wannabe them. Meanwhile, here in the US, it was announced the other day that Howard Stern is to replace Piers Morgan as a judge on the US show. Now that could just be the ticket for my watching the show. There is no way he is not going to hold back!

    • Howard Stern?! Oh ho ho. I hope the head honchos know what they’re letting themselves in for. I’m glad you liked my choice in this launch post of my series. I have a fairly large list that I keep adding to as I remember artists and/or songs. I hope I can find most of them on YouTube. Expect a new one in a week or so.

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