Tag Archives: Aphex Twin

The Diabolical Schemes of Gary Barlow

18 Nov

So, last night I watched X Factor for the first time in about a month-and-a-half. Don’t know what it is, but this series really hasn’t grabbed me in the way previous years’ have. Usually I stay away until the sadistic – not to mention deeply unethical – audition stage is over.

I know, I know… “But that’s the best bit,” you’ll say. But the whole “Victorian asylum tour” vibe leaves me feeling grubby.

“That was possibly the worst rendition of Christina Aguilera’s ‘Beautiful’ I have ever heard.”

Take this clip for example. Simon Cowell describes Cardiff auditionee Rachel as “rude, cocky, deluded”. Anyone who lives in Adamsdown – as I do – will tell you she is also mentally ill, and can be seen most afternoons staggering up and down Clifton Street, laughing to herself, or shouting at the people in Gregg’s. Now, while it isn’t for me to accuse Syco and ITV of ruthlessly manipulating and exploiting the mentally ill in the name of entertainment… Oh, wait. No, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

“La la la… I’m not listening… la la la…”

So in recent years I’ve found myself enjoying the live shows much more than the auditions, but this year… not so much. Maybe the format is tired. Maybe the judges just aren’t witty or ascerbic enough. Maybe Nicole Scherzinger’s brutal rape of the English language (“Shamazeballs”) makes me want to reach down my throat with a greased-up fist and pull out my own spleen. Who can say?

Seriously, lady. Sha-fuck off.

What struck me, though, while watching last night’s episode, was that Gary Barlow has one act left in the competition, and – inexplicably – it’s peachy Scouse club singer Christopher Maloney. For the uninitiated, Christopher was the guy whose first audition nerves saw him shaking like a Golden Pond era Katherine Hepburn, and who won the nation’s heart. Then, for reasons I couldn’t care less about let alone remember, he didn’t make it past “judges houses” but somehow got through to the live rounds. And he’s still there, after so many others have been booted off and turned into a cheap, Soylent-Green-style foodstuff for the cast of The Only Way Is Essex.

Look at them. These people would eat their own children if they thought it would get them on TV.

Christopher Maloney is a man out of time. Had he been born anywhere between 1935 and 1940, he would have been huge. Just a couple of years later, less so. Look at Tom Jones and Tony Christie. Tom was born 1940, Christie was born 1943, and if it wasn’t for Peter Kay most of you would never have even heard of Tony Christie. The world has not been kind to big voiced crooners this last, what… 40 years?

Especially ones who do this with their face.

Now, obviously, being over 28 years old Maloney is in a category the X Factor audience gives least of a fuck about, so it was always likely they’d be down to a single act this late in the competition, but why him? Well, here’s where I have a theory.

Gary Barlow, you see, is like the evil scientist in The Human Centipede. From day one he has seen, in Christopher Maloney, the potential to achieve something he could never do alone. He is out to create the most middle-of-the-road act the world has ever known.

This is the face of a madman.

Picture him pacing around the hospital bed on which – for no particular reason – Christopher lies.

“Oh, they accused me of being middle-of-the-road when Take That first took off, Christopher, but let me tell you… We were the Velvet fucking Underground compared to Westlife. It was Robbie, see? When you’ve got a wildcard in the pack, it taints the rest of the endeavour. How could I ever stake my claim on the very middle of the road when we had a crazy character like Robbie in the band? He had to go. But by then it was too late.

“He’d poisoned everything. No sooner had he left, than Howard grew dreadlocks, and Mark started getting ideas very much above his station. Before I knew it, we were doing Nirvana covers. It was insane. And when you’ve gone over to the far side of the road, there’s no coming back to the middle, no matter how hard you try.”

Christopher looks up at him, his eyes rheumy with the promise of tears, his bottom lip trembling like a plate of Liverpudlian blancmange.

“B-b-b-b-b-but what’s all this got to do with me, G-g-g-gary?”

“Oh, Christopher. Don’t you see? You’re my protege. The zenith of my dreams, my ambitions. The crowning achievement of my entire career. You, Christopher, are the most middle-of-the-road act the world will ever know. You have a big voice, but which carries virtually no genuine emotion. Though clearly batting for the other side, you’re non-threatening, and the grannies love that. By the time I’m finished with you, Christopher, you’ll make Richard Clayderman sound like Aphex cocking Twin.”

Anyway, to atone for all this, my next blog will probably be about Stavinsky and Holst. It’s all about the balance, people.