The X Factor Tour, Brighton Centre, Brighton
Dizzee Rascal, Brighton Centre, Brighton
While 'The X Factor' stars milk their fame as long as they can, Dizzee Rascal shows how it's done
Sunday 07 March 2010
Ever since its inception, The X Factor has, with a ruthless efficiency normally associated with totalitarian regimes, turned out a steady stream of ululating robo-Whitneys and dead-behind-the-eyes dreamboats.
It's the inevitable result of leaving pop in the hands of telephone voters who don't get out much on Saturday nights, guided by the mainstream instincts of dollars-for-irises moguls like Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh.
For the past three years, however, there's been at least one silvery glimmer amid the cookie-cutter conformity. In 2007's series, it was the albino-haired tenor Rhydian Roberts. In 2008 it was the barefoot vulnerability and strangulated sweetness of Diana Vickers. The most recent series was the turn of the freakish John and Edward Grimes, identical twins from Dublin with fairground gonk hair, no discernible talent and little to say beyond the words "cool" and "amazing".
Unlike Roberts and Vickers, Jedward – as the tabloids quickly dubbed them – can't sing to save their lives, but nevertheless somehow pulled off The Great Talent Show Swindle. Week after week, the terrible twosome were rescued by the public to fight another day. They didn't come close to winning the show, but it is they who have become stars beyond The X Factor, and they who receive the loudest screams on The X Factor Tour. To do what they've done, with so little in the way of raw material, requires some sort of villainous genius.
For the rest of 2010's tour party, he Warholian fame-clock is already ticking its last seconds. Gamely they soldier on, fluffing the big key-changes and wondering what the future holds. For leather-trousered Lloyd Daniels, the puppy-eyed, monotone-voiced teenager from Wales, there might at best be a role as a love interest in Pobol Y Cwm if he speaks the llingo. The doors are closing on him before he's even finished saying "Hello Brighton!". Jamie "Afro" Archer re-creates his audition moment with "Sex on Fire", prowling like a panther among the pyros and milking it for all it's worth. Everyone sits down afterwards, and when he asks us to stand again for some godawful power ballad, few obey.
Similarly, Danyl Johnson reprises his cocky mic-juggling in "With a Little Help from My Friends" and holds the big note in "Purple Rain" longer than anyone else in the show could dream of. Decent bloke, decent voice, but you suspect that once this is over, he will continue to make a great schoolteacher.
Lucie Jones, an unconvincing rock chick, isn't helped by a "band" of models miming unconvincingly through "Sweet Child o' Mine", as if we can't see the actual band at the back. Maybe Jones, who has signed a modelling contract, is simply getting in with her new mates.
Then it's time for the Jedward monster itself: a hydra-headed homunculus in high tops and higher quiffs, doing backflips, break dancing, swinging on trapezes and – brilliantly – falling over on its arse. It, they, are amazingly watchable.
Runner-up Olly Murs will be fine in the short term: he's scored a deal with Epic. Tonight, in "Superstition" and "Twist and Shout", he dances as though the top and bottom halves of his body have learnt different routines. The reason he's loved by the girls – his bulging crotch – is present and correct. The reason he's loved by the guys – the Essex geezer – is exactly why he gets on my wick.
Stacey Solomon – half Su Pollard, half Big Bird – shouldn't try to do "sexy": seeing the Dagenham diva pole-dancing is a whole world of wrong. She's the next Cilla Black.
After the cannon fodder have reassembled in various combos, it's time for the victor himself. Joe McElderry, a junior Osmond with a West End pitch, beams through "Don't Stop Believin'", "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word" and some Taylor Swift atrocity. He doesn't fluff the big key changes. If Rage Against the Machine need a support act, they could do a lot worse.
When the cast is reunited for a finale of "You Are Not Alone", it's noticeable that Jedward are allowed just four words. But they're the reason the loading bay is jammed with fans for hours afterwards. In short, they're the winners.
"They said 20 days in prison or a 10 grand fine," brags the scallywag in the bar. "So I said 10 grand fine!" Dizzee Rascal may be the dickie-bowed darling of the Brits establishment these days, but he still brings out a certain mentality among the try-hard type of young man.
Not that Dizzee is the realest of the real any more, even if songs like "Sirens" still spin tales of the Bow Selecta's criminal past ("I break the law and I'll never change"). These days Dylan Mills is an established (if not establishment) pop star, and a CEO (of his label Dirtee Stank, and Tongue N Cheek clothing range). It's a relief, then, to catch him in his true element.
Romping around in an Obama-style T-shirt bearing his own face, Dizzee, his co-MC and DJ Semtex keep things pleasingly old school, albeit with few of the tongue-tangling freestyle interludes for which he was once known.
The topics of his tunes, summed up by the refrain "Money Money Money Girls Girls Cash Cash", may be predictable, but the sounds sure as hell ain't. It may be seven years old now, but "Fix Up Look Sharp" is still a slap in the face from outer space, with its chunky beats, Billy Squier sample and unmistakably British argot ("sweet as a nut" this, "Happy Shopper" that). And his recent mega-hits, the Calvin Harris collaboration "Dance Wiv Me" and Armand Van Helden-helmed "Bonkers", are irresistibly rousing rave alarms.
Dizzee Rascal's gleeful gatecrashing of the mainstream should be celebrated, not mourned. He's living proof that a council-estate kid with an exceptional vision will always beat a stage-school kid with an X Factor audition.
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