Matt Cardle - 'When We Collide'
Nothing gets in the way of the X Factor. As a TV event that becomes a real-life EVENT event, the show continues to be an unstoppable force which will either squash or absorb everything in its path.
It's like a jelly juggernaut with a blue whale on top, rolling down a steep hill in a paper town, with no brakes and a push at the top from Brian Blessed. Raise a hand in protest, it'll just roll over you. Try and ignore it, and you'll end up with flattened feet. Jump on board, and you become part of its rolling mass, making it faster and heavier than ever before.
Oh sure, it leaves a trail of squashed and bewildered people in its wake. All of whom thought they knew what they were doing when they hitched a ride, and none of whom are quite sure what happened to make them lose their grip so quickly, but there are always more passengers to pick up, more customers to hoick in.
Even the people who stand in direct opposition, the people who wish most to stop the thing, are also adding fuel to the engines by caring about it in the first place. So long as there is attention on this one TV show and the talented people it hopes to find, it will continue to run, and it will continue to do whatever it wants, in the name of satisfying public demand.
What's confusing, especially to someone who can't watch it (I honestly find the mix of ambition, disappointment, ruined dreams, karaoke, deliberate selling-out of your own life history to gain votes, scathing critique, stupid critique, self-regard, smugness, cruelty and freak-show giggling so upsetting it keeps me awake nights) is quite what this Matt fellow has done to win so much public support.
I'm assuming he's been very, very brilliant in the backstage bits, cos on the evidence of this song, he sure as hell can't sing.
Never mind that this is a Biffy Clyro song, that it's about a curdled relationship with an obsessive edge, that it already exists in a pretty damn-near perfect form - sung by a man who knows how the tune goes - and that it already had a perfectly serviceable title in 'Many Of Horror'. To object to the idea of this cover without hearing it is as far removed from an appreciation of music as, well, the show itself.
Watching Matt perform the song - the performance is here, on his website - is not a fun thing to do. Listen to him slide around all over the notes like a giraffe on a frozen pond. Marvel at his thin, reedy voice. Whoever came up with this probably should've run through it with him a few times first, surely? I mean I'm not sure how these things work, but I'd say that would be a good first step.
The second step might be to check that the Westlife Key Change moment doesn't stretch the poor lad's voice even further, into sonic territory which could be described as 'just plain unpleasant', if it were even possible to listen to the whole thing without running out of the room. That last high note? The bit where he falls to his knees and really goes for the climactic BOOM? Yeah, that's horrible.
Of course, it'd be tempting to run off a big rant about how much harm this is doing to real music, because the public are being conned into believing this is good music when it's not really good music even though the original song is good music but it's being turned into bad music by evil people who want to hurt good music because it doesn't make them any money. Some people really want to believe that this is the case, but it's probably not true.
All you can really say is that this is a song from a TV show. A TV show which places a premium on telling a story, one that starts with many and ends with one. What that one person goes on to do afterwards isn't really part of the story. It's interesting, in the sense that Harry Potter fans might like to know what Book 8 would be like, but it's not really that important. The big stuff has already been and gone.
So, even though the X Factor is a real event, the reality of the show - that Matt Cardle is the best singer of the year - is not the reality of, y'know, reality - not by a LONG shot. Sometimes the two things do coincide - Leona Lewis, Alexandra Burke - but it doesn't really matter to the story if they don't.
As for the No.1 thing...well it'll make a nice Christmas present for Biffy Clyro. Anyone who cares more about chart positions than the songs the positions represent isn't exactly serving music all that well either.
Popjustice says: "A charisma black hole with a lovely voice used mainly to sing songs made famous by ladies while wielding a crap acoustic guitar."
Digital Spy says: "The boy really does have a good recording voice."
The Dam Nation says: "At first, I thought it was a dud but I'm loving it now after each subsequent listen."