Rebecca Tyrrel: 'In The X Factor's land of musical mediocrity, Louis Walsh’s weirdness is the only oasis of intrigue'

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The Independent Online

Who knew that Louis Walsh says, "The best thing about The X Factor is it's real... nothing is staged"? Blessings upon him, for of course the best thing about The X Factor in its present manifestation – and who knew such words would ever appear in print? – is Louis Walsh.

Admittedly, this is not great news for the post-Cowell era, given that Walsh has little competition; Gary Barlow looks nice but isn't trying hard enough to be as scary as Cowell and if, heaven forfend, we were to not believe Louis about everything being real, we might think that Tulisa and Kelly had been coerced by ratings-alarmed producers into staging their catfights.

Meanwhile, the contestants, everyone agrees, just aren't that great this year. So in this barren land of mystifying tearfulness and musical mediocrity, Louis' other-worldly weirdness is the only oasis of intrigue. Is the 59-year-old music manager from Dublin technically human, or an early android prototype long disowned by its developers? Does he know as much about pop music as the average middle-aged man who long ago lost all interest in pop music, or a little less? Why, long after Cowell sacked and reinstated him in one of those unstaged incidents with a knack of generating tabloid headlines, is he still there? Why is Sharon Osbourne the only one to have poured a jug of water over his head?

Louis Walsh has half the vocabulary range of a 1970s' string-pull Action Man doll. "I love everything about you. You're what this show's all about. You were in/out of your comfort zone tonight. You're what this show's all about. You could be the next big boy/girl band. You're what this show's all about. You're young, you're fresh, you're full of talent. You're what this show's all about."

Following his entirely genuine apology to Misha B for his entirely unstaged claim of backstage bullying, the red-tops filled with rumours that Cowell was poised to sack Walsh again. This would be a disaster. He is not young or fresh, despite the plastic surgery. There is no zone in which he seems comfortable, and he has not a shred of talent for anything, yet it is Louis Walsh, middle-aged, clueless and repetitive, who, in a very real, unstaged sense, is what this show is all about.