Pop go the Idols
Despite Pop Idol's 'talent required' banner, it became another 'feel sorry for me on a Saturday night' hour.
I’m definitely not alone in saying I am so glad Gareth didn’t win last Saturday’s final of Pop Idol.
It’s not just because he’s a flat-faced, white-suit-wearing little boy who cried when his best friend (fellow contestant Zoe Birkett) got voted off. It’s not just because he sings Westlife songs with the kind of sincerity that includes a clenched fist held to the chest and the pained expression usually associated with bad constipation. It’s because I get the feeling the 4.1million people who did vote for little G, rather than electing a winner, were all taking part in some mass exercise in victim support. Okay, so G-G-G-Gareth stutters and looks sweet – but does a speech impediment a Pop Idol make?
The thing I liked about the ‘nation’s biggest talent show’ was that, unlike most other cheesy TV programmes involving ‘real people’, these participants actually had to have a bit of talent. Unlike Jerry Springer or the Ricki Lake Show, where guests revel in all the abuses they have suffered, and unlike Big Brother or Temptation Island, where participants just had to have sex to stay on the telly, at least contestants in Pop Idol had to sing and face the judges’ criticism each week.
In spite of the ‘talent required’ banner, the threat of being another ‘feel sorry for me on a Saturday night’ hour was very real. It wasn’t just Gareth’s fault. Darius Danesh returned after humiliating himself in the show’s predecessor Pop Stars (you remember, the programme responsible for Hear’say?). He was humble and begging our sympathy for the fact that he went through an embarrassing learning curve in the public eye. And even nasty judge Simon Cowell ruined his hard image by telling the Radio Times that his first act as world leader would be to stop people being cruel to animals (1). Yuck.
And then there was Rik Waller. Rik could sing but had the body of someone who couldn’t fit out of the door at McDonald’s, so just stayed there and ate everything in the shop. Unfortunately, after getting through to the final 10 contestants, Rik had to drop out of the competition due to a fungal infection in his throat. Determined not to loosen his grip on near fame, Rik has recently been unromantically linked to Becky Assemakis.
Who? Miss Assemakis is the young lady who featured in the dire fly-on-the-wall reality TV show, Club Reps. She was the one who had a threesome on camera, spent all her time topless and drunk, and went on to get a job as a pole dancer on the Greek holiday island where the show was based. She’s the one I’ve heard described as ‘Body off Baywatch, face off Crimewatch‘. Presumably sex with Rik reminded her of her three-in-the-bed experience.
So Will is the winner and we must applaud him for being able to remember the tune of his forgettable first single Evergreen. Of course, the usual accusations of ‘manufactured’ will be flying now he has been crowned king of pop. (NB: These accusations are usually made by members of obscure Indie bands in smelly jumpers with bad hair cuts. They play three-chord songs and think because they got together in their secondary school gym that their music is better.) Who cares? It’s pop music.
Anyway, in a year’s time when Will’s record sales have dwindled and he’s made his first million, it is my prediction that he will leave the music business to marry Natalie Cassidy, aka, Sonia from EastEnders. Meanwhile, Gareth will be earning money to support himself and Zoe doing the voiceovers for chocolate bar commercials. P-P-P-Pick up a Penguin.
Judging Pop Idol, by Bill Durodié
(1) Radio Times 9-15 February 2002
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