The new mainstream

Posted on 19 October 2010


X-Factor's CherSo the new series of the X-Factor is off and running. Two weeks in and Simon Cowell is still repeating words like “current” and “relevant” like a mantra to ease the pain of last year’s humiliation at the hands of the successful online campaign to get Rage Against the Machine’s Killing In The Name Of to the Christmas number one.

It was the denouement to each series of the X-Factor that had become really stale: cheesy fresh-faced singer wins, has a Christmas number one, disappears into obscurity only to return with a truly awful comeback single just as the new series starts. Welcome back Joe McElderry.

Cowell must be wetting his over-sized pants this series. Despite completely messing up her final audition, Cher made it through to the live shows under the tutelage of Cheryl Cole. Rapping and growling ferociously, forever shaking like a comedown, Cher can make quite uncomfortable viewing at times; like watching a chav having sniffed too much glue. But Cowell, Cole and the X-Factor producers must feel she brings something truly relevant and current – yes, something “urban”.

They’re probably on to a good thing, too. What with the MOBO (Music of Black Origin) Awards approaching this week, the award organisers have apparently been quoted as saying that UK urban music “is the new mainstream”. I wouldn’t disagree. And great it is to see, too. There are young acts and rappers who are carving out good careers and making their music and good money no doubt. These include N-Dubz, Tinchy Stryder and Tinie Tempah (who has been nominated for four MOBO awards despite some of the worst lyrics in history: I’ve got so many clothes I keep some in my aunt’s house).

These acts and rappers join a hugely impressive roll call who have helped the current generation get where they are today: the Cookie Crew, London Posse, Soul to Soul, Ruthless Rap Assassins to name but a few.

Part of me just wishes that Cowell, Cole and the X-Factor producers would leave this rich heritage alone and stop getting Cher to trot out some attitude and a few third verse raps. But that’s just a downside of going mainstream, I suppose.

Listen to: Pass out by Tinie Tempah, Never leave you by Tinchy Stryder, Money mad by the London Posse, To the other MCs by Ruthless Rap Assassins

Catch this: MOBO Awards 2010