X Factor 2012: Axe the Overs category!
By Adam Postans
Stop me when these names start to sound familiar: Beverley Trotman, Daniel DeBourg, Verity Keays, Robert Allen, Maria Lawson, John Adeleye...
Still struggling? I’m not in the least bit surprised. Yet you’ve almost certainly seen each and every one of them on numerous occasions on Saturday night TV.
The common theme, in case the clue’s too hard, is that they have all been contestants in the Overs category on The X Factor.
Or, to describe it more accurately, the No Hopers. And it's time it was scrapped forever.
The only singer from the Overs who went on to win the show was, of course, Steve Brookstein way back in series one. Let’s face it, he’s not exactly been an enduring roaring success story, unless touring coffee shops is more glamorous and lucrative than I’ve been led to believe.
Since 2006, only one member of the Overs has achieved a top three podium finish.
The downward trend for the category was set in motion the following year when binman Andy Abraham finished second and embarked on a journey that took him all the way to joint last place at Eurovision with a song that peaked at the dizzying heights of number 67 in the UK charts.
Since 2006, only one member of the Overs has achieved a top three podium finish on The X Factor, and that comes with a huge footnote because it was Olly Murs. He was 25 when he lost out to Joe McElderry in the final three years ago.
However, because the lower age limit has chopped and changed and now stands at 28, Olly wouldn’t have been eligible for the Overs by today’s rules and instead taken his place among the boys category.
We’re only two live shows into the current series, but already both contestants who have bitten the dust have come from Gary Barlow’s help-the-aged camp – Carolynne Poole - controversially axed over Rylan Clark - and, as of Sunday night, Melanie Masson.
What speaks volumes is that the pair of them were eliminated by the public vote after the judges took the results to deadlock; quite simply, the audience doesn’t care about them.
And of Barlow’s two remaining acts, I can’t quite see a singing chimney sweep (Kye Sones) or the human equivalent of a half-pound cheeseburger on a cruise-ship restaurant menu (Christopher Maloney) sticking around for too much longer either.
The pop music industry is a young person’s game. Always has been, always will be. Yes there are some older stars like Madonna, Tom Jones and The Rolling Stones, but they became famous in their younger days.
I’ve got an idea for a replacement if they’re interested: replace it with the Novelties.
With the exception of the likes of blues guitarist Seasick Steve, if you haven’t made it in the business by the time you’re in your mid-20s, you never will.
Not even the gigantic leg-up that is The X Factor has been able to make a difference.
But here’s where it gets infuriating for me; the category’s very existence is diluting the programme, padding it out unnecessarily with acts simply passing through, wasting everybody’s time.
I propose they axe the Overs. And I’ve got an idea for a replacement if they’re interested: replace it with the Novelties. It would be a category where joke acts can live out their remaining X Factor days, with Louis Walsh as mentor (naturally).
Rylan Clark would fit in a treat. It would also dispense with the pretence that performers like him aren’t chosen purely for entertainment reasons, not singing talent. It’s where Chico and Wagner would have been placed because that’s the only reason for the Overs to be on the programme at all.
Face facts; nobody who’s passed the age of 25 is ever going to win the series again. Call it The Curse of Steve Brookstein.
Overs and out.
Adam Postans is a journalist and commentator on all things celebrity, showbiz, television and music. Twitter: @coachpotatoadam
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