Opinion: How I learnt to stop worrying about The X Factor

Opinion: How I learnt to stop worrying about The X Factor

by Lewis MacLean.

Recent English Eurovision contender and runner up Sam Ryder needs no introduction. He will go down in history as the closest we got (since Bucks Fizz) to winning what England generally condisers the most biased and contentious global competition of all.

However, enthusiastic Sotonites who turned into his NYE GIG might be thrilled to learn that three of his loyal backing singers are homegrown talent.

The bubbly redhead on the left that Sam sometimes rubs elbows with was none other than Southampton born Charley Stride, pictured top (click here for a Facebook video).

Sam Ryder at Victorious Festival. Photos: Peter Nicholson.

Such an achievement shouldn’t really be a surprise to anyone who had the fortune to hear Charley (formerly known as Charley Macauley) sing live after all these years. One week she might be supporting legendary soul singer Roachford at Southampton’s flagship venue; The Brook. Or another week singing at St Marys Stadium live with fellow Southampton music protégé Callum Lintott. These are just a few of the recent highlights from her impressive career to date. 

Singing to Charley’s right on New Years Eve with equal grace and excellence were Kimberly, Emily and CJ Edwards. If you have spent enough time in our fair city,  you will have likely seen (and more importantly heard) the natural-born talents of Kimberly Kirby at countless gigs.

Contrary to belief, it is not an easy life we see singers on stage in a bar or at a music venue and think it looks all glamorous and easy. What isn’t seen are the years of hard work promoting and performing. Usually whilst balancing day jobs to pay for studio session work. 

What this means to someone such as myself who grew up playing and watching live music in Southampton, always endlessly confused by the seemingly illogical music chart success of some artists who didn’t even have the same level of talent, is a renewed hope in the timeless parable; that if you work hard enough good things can happen.  

On a personal level, I’ve seen artists like Charley and Kimberly slog their heart out at live gigs every week, as the masses stay in and watch televised spectacles like The X Factor masquerading as a substitute for live entertainment; simulating a genuine social experience with engineered pantomime of spectacle. Local musicians achieving success on any scale makes it feel more heartfelt and deserved. They are certainly worth documenting and In Common seems the place to do it.    


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