Dave Pollock: Sadly, X Factor is all part of Cowell's plan to own pop music

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The Independent Online

An air of depressing inevitability hangs over The X Factor winner Joe McElderry's version of Miley Cyrus' "The Climb" as it grinds its way to the Christmas No 1 slot next week. There will be those who remember when guessing the holder of the festive top spot was a bit of seasonal fun, before Simon Cowell annexed it as part of his masterplan to own pop music.

An impressive rearguard action has been fought this year on Facebook by resistance fighters endeavouring to have Rage Against the Machine's anti-establishment rant "Killing in the Name" – a choice that's somewhat compromised by the fact the Californian anarcho-punks are signed to Sony, the same empire of which Cowell's X Factor-releasing Syco label is an arm.

Besides, how to stand up to a pop cultural juggernaut which sees George Michael wheeled out to perform his own song like so much bronze-tinted window dressing, and Paul McCartney prostrating himself on the X altar with a version of "Drive My Car" alongside the ludicrously-coiffured novelty pop hydra Jedward and the other finalists?

The manner of McElderry's defeat of fellow finalist Olly Murs was notable mainly for the quantity of indoor fireworks unleashed, and the Victorian flamboyance of Cheryl Cole's black ballgown, which resembled a wedding cake constructed from licorice. Certainly the song destined to crush the competition by next Sunday is a damper squib than most the X Factor has bent to its will – an aspirational ballad from Hannah Montana which notes in familiarly overblown terms that there's always going to be "another mountain" and "an uphill battle", and that "sometimes I'm gonna have to lose". We can but hope that swaggering crooner – and newfound friend to Robbie Williams – Murs was playing close attention to what he was singing at that point.

Of the many other Facebookers who have declared their own favourite song as a contender, perhaps we should bow to the individual who has pitched up requesting support for Half Man Half Biscuit's "It's Cliched to Be Cynical at Christmas". Or maybe we should just note McElderry's doe eyes and heart-throb pout, and his resemblance to sometime talent contest idol Gareth Gates? The same Gareth Gates, incidentally, who could be seen playing along with Vernon Kaye at Family Fortunes just before X Factor started. The charitable might hope McElderry manages better.