Joe’s Crow Country

On Saturday night, I was forced by my 12 year old sister to watch the X-Factor, which although provides 15 minutes of fame for a few ordinary people each year, has become stale, repetitive and predictable.

I have never been the biggest fan of reality television programmes, but could understand the appeal of the first couple of series of Big Brother, whilst music based shows such as Pop Idol and X-Factor created suspense and originality in their early outings.

Now though, the sob-stories and rags to riches hopes of wannabe stars have become stale. The show is nothing more than a vehicle for the fame of Cowell, Louis Walsh and Cheryl Cole, who although have helped launch the careers of a select few, have discarded of even more hopeful stars who believed they were on the road to stardom.

Steve Brookstein (second album reached number 165 in UK charts), Andy Abraham (latest single reached number 67), Leon Jackson (latest single failed to chart), Michelle McManus (latest single failed to chart) and Gareth Gates (no release in three years) are among the finalists of ITV music reality shows that have been chewed up and spat out by the band of merciless judges.

However, media hype about judges falling out and storming off ensures viewing figures every Saturday night, regardless of the fact that no contestant, however talented, will ever come out of the show with musical credibility.

Added to this, the exploitation of challenged and delusional hopefuls is cruel, as is the unneeded and staged nastiness with which Simon Cowell tosses aside contestants.

Granted, Leona Lewis has a good voice, Girls Aloud have made one or two catchy numbers and JLS are cheeky chappies, but, and call me old fashioned, what happened relying on song-writing talent and hard work to make it to the top? Reality shows are an easy way out.

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Girls Aloud can fill as many stadiums and sell as many records as they like, they will always be reality show winners, who will never have true musical integrity.

There is little point in rolling out another Joe McElderry or Olly Murs. Their only purpose is to excite young girls for six months, try (and if last year repeats itself, fail), to be Christmas number one, and get thrown atop the same heap as Rik Waller.

Well done to pupils of Meridian School, who managed to improve on last year’s A-Level results by achieving a 97% pass rate.

Three-quarters of the grades being above C is no mean feat, and is verification of the hard-work and effort put in by students.

I failed my A-Levels the first time I took them, something I put down to simply not being industrious enough.

This acted as a wake up call though, and I had achieved the necessary grades for my university course by the time re-sits came about.

Children live and breathe exams over the period (the ones that do well, anyway) when they would rather be using their time to do other things. They should be highly commended and are a credit to the town.

Sceptics among us say exams are getting easier, but are pupils just getting brighter?