Well, you know… I did wonder. It looks like George Michael might go on UK “talent” show, X-Factor, probably to promote his forthcoming single, December Song – but why?
On the surface, there’s a simple explanation. That is – X-Factor ratings are through the roof. The ratings are so high that, as an artist, if you want to reach your fans – to let them know you have a single and live concert DVD out – then performing as a guest on the show is a perfect way to go about it. Yet, in the case of George Michael in general, and December Song in particular, it just doesn’t make sense to me.
Firstly, it doesn’t make sense because George cares about music; and he surely hasn’t failed to realize that the contestants on this year’s X-Factor are even more talentless than usual (with the exception of Joe, none of the contestants can even sing in tune). Without a doubt, every single contestant on X-Factor will have a recording career that will sink rapidly without trace. That means – X-Factor this year is even less about music that it usually is… and let’s be honest, it’s never about music, even if the occasional talented singer like Leona Lewis enters the competition. Why would someone like George Michael want to be associated with drivel like this?
Yeah, yeah, I hear you (and Simon Cowell) say – don’t be such a snob. The reason George is prepared to go on is that he wants to sell his record. After all, it was George that said, “”Everybody’s got to sell”. Which brings me to the second point. As great as December Song is – and it is a great record – it’s not going to sell. No amount of promotion – even to tens of millions of people on X-Factor – is going to persuade people to buy this record. As I say – that’s not because it’s a bad record. On the contrary, from an artistic point of view, it hits all the right spots. The problem is – I just don’t think people want to buy songs about a man reminiscing about an unhappy childhood with a largely absent father who, when he was home, just made the house a miserable place to be. It’s a beautiful song. It has a beautiful video. People will be touched. The song will affect them emotionally. However, they won’t buy the record – it’s not the kind of music you play at a Christmas party, or on Christmas morning while everyone opens their presents.
For a song like this, even making it into the Top 25 best selling singles would be an achievement. I hope I’m wrong, but I think it has no chance of being a Top 5 or even a Top 10 record. So, why the hell bother to promote it on a horrible show like X-Factor where you have to compromise your artistic integrity to tell Dermot that, “The finalists are really talented, and I’ve been so impressed with their world-class singing”? It makes no sense to me.
Or, at least, I should say – it didn’t make sense to me. And then I understood. George Michael has an important, personal link to Simon Cowell. That is – via his friend and faux-manager, Andy Stephens, who works for Simon. You see, it turns out that “global superstar” Susan Boyle is managed by Andy, on behalf of Simon. Of course, those people that understand music understand that Susan Boyle is essentially an untalented singer, with the emotional sophistication of a teaspoon. She’s “OK” considering the fact that the brain damage she sustained early in life has so negatively affected her development . However, in absolute terms, she’s completely uninteresting as an artist, her music is without merit, and as a person she’s bereft of charisma. The whole Susan Boyle project is nothing but a cynical exercise in exploiting a vulnerable human being for profit. Everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves.
But I digress. The truth is – George Michael should be insulted that Andy Stephens got the job as Susan Boyle’s manager. The thinking was thus – “If Andy can ‘mastermind’ the career of George Michael, with all his problems of going into toilets to buy drugs and proposition men, and all his problems of crashing cars… then he is well-qualified to handle the crazy, emotionally unstable. difficult-to-work-with Boyle.” Of course, George’s success is nothing to do with Andy, and Andy has zero impact on mitigating any negative PR that George gets. In fact, the reality is that Andy has held George back. Still, they are friends, and George is loyal to his friends.
And so it becomes clear. Why does it look like George might go on X-Factor? Because Andy Stephens works for Simon Cowell, which means there’s a clear line of communication open from X-Factor to George. Whether George will end up doing the X-Factor final, I don’t know. For sure Simon Cowell wants it to happen. For sure Andy Stephens wants it to happen. So, they’ll be bending George’s ear, saying what a great idea it would be for George to go on the show, and generally blowing smoke up his ass.
The people that will benefit from George going on X-Factor, then, will be the X-Factor team and Andy Stephens. George will get no benefit. He will likely be slated for singing a miserable song on the show; the song won’t do well in the charts; and he’ll be humiliated. Perhaps there might be a right time for George to go on X-Factor to promote a record. I don’t think this is it.
Caveat: I’m more than happy to be proved wrong about all this – I’m just giving my opinion. I would love it, if: George would go on X-Factor; give a performance that blows away anything else that’s ever been on the show; December Song soars to be a huge chart success; and the public generally raves about his performance.