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How The X Factor UK Has Changed Over The Years: The Scandals

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by Katie Thompson (subscribe)
University of York Graduate, aspiring to be a journalist with dreams of one day publishing my own novel. Blog: Published work can be seen at and
Published October 4th 2012
Oh so so scandalous
Stop press! In the volatile ingredients list that has made up The X Factor's eight years thus far, we've looked at the visuals, the judges and the acts but there's one final factor (get it?) to make the recipe complete. Back in 2004 ITV would have us believe that The X Factor was nothing more than a simple entertainment programme focused upon finding fresh new talent, but let's get real, people The X Factor is nothing without a bit of drama, so here's a look at just some of the scandals that have shaped the headlines over the years welcome to the fourth and final chapter of The X Factor Changes series.

Show Format

In eight years the show's format has been poked and prodded more often than Dannii Minogue's botoxed boat race, but this hasn't happened without its fair share of backlash from the general public. Perhaps most controversial of all of the changes has been the timing recent reports on The X Factor audition episodes have purported a meagre 8 minutes of singing time in an hour-long show, without accounting for the advert breaks, which were last year rumoured to be worth 250,000 for a 30-second advertising slot during the live finals.

Old Simon has probably been rubbing his hands at these ludicrous costs since series 6. Prior to 2009, the live shows would be followed by the results in the same night, whereas from then onwards the results show was moved to the following evening, increasing voting and advertising time. Ker-ching!

There's also been all manner of shake ups with the live show rules; from series 7 onwards judges were allowed to bring in a 'wildcard' act and bring their total 3 acts up to 4 for the live shows. Of course, for timing issues, this would later result in a double elimination, making for some epic comedy moments such as the double elimination of Katie Whinging Waissel and Wagner Creepy Carillho. The best of all the live show shake ups, however, has to be series 8, in which Kelly Rowland and the like had to tearfully evict (wrong show?) one of their acts in the first live show. Who could forget Kelly's crocodile tears as she dropped Amelia Lily? And then her face while Amelia was voted back in by the general public but more on that later.

Finally, let's not forget the way that the acts were put together, in particular, the groups. Prior to 2007 those entering in groups would have all known each other but then how would One Direction have been formed? That's right, thanks to Louis Walsh's ingenuity in 2007, rejected solo artists were put together in the form of Hope and Futureproof, a trend that seemed to carry on for years to come. In fact, it's difficult to believe that last year's winners Little Mix all entered as soloists, if you can indeed remember who they are. But enough about Simon's silly little rulebook here's a countdown of my ten favourite headline-grabbers to rock The X Factor over the years:

10) She punched her in the face!

The X Factor is not known for its promotion of physical violence, so this touchy little episode in the audition stages of 2010 certainly caused a stir. Deluded duo Ablisa woefully murdered 2005 winner Shayne Ward's That's My Goal, and, following Lisa's confusion as to just who guest judge Natalie Imbruglia was, singing partner Abbey thought it fitting to give her a whack across the chops, much to Cheryl Cole's horror. The worst part however? Abbey took her new-found fame and posed topless for The Sunday Sport. Classy.

ablisa x factor 2010 punch cheryl cole
Round one! Scary duo Ablisa

9) Keep your knickers on!

As we learned before in the judges chapter, acid-tongued Sharon Osbourne was not one for mincing her words. Hence her verbal attack on Rebecca Loos was both controversial and hilarious in 2006, not simply for the fact that she told Miss Loos to keep her knickers on, but for the follow-up comment in the subsequent week: 'I wasn't fair to you last week because I didn't comment on your singing.' Ouch.

8) Oh sod it!

Again, keeping in mind the wisdom we've gained from my previous explorations into The X Factor series, in 2010 Katie Waissel/Vogel/Fontaine spent more time in the papers than she did in the studio, and for all the wrong reasons. Having been in the bottom two week upon week, Katie whined her way through Please Don't Give Up On Me, but then seemed to lose sight of the song's message, slumping to the floor and screaming 'you know what, sod it.' Way to stay in, Waissel!

x factor 2010 katie waissel sod it
Katie begged us not to give up on her...

7) Maybe we didn't need to change the gender reference...

Who could forget Dannii Minogue's awkward slip of the tongue back in 2008, which inadvertently turned into a gay jibe at finalist Danyl Johnson? In reference to recent headlines claiming Mr Johnson's bisexuality, Miss Minogue questioned whether or not Danyl had to change the word 'boy' to 'girl' during his performance, which was awkward enough, made only more so by Simon asking her to repeat the comment. Not cool Dannii.

6) One kinky granny

2010 and Miss Waissel made the headlines once again, or rather, her sexually-active granny did. As Katie's reputation plummeted from bad to worse, it was revealed in the press that her grandmother was a 250-an-hour prostitute who had a crush on Wagner. However, good sport Katie took it on the chin and sang Sex On Fire on the live shows that week the irony was not lost on us!

5) Gamu-gate

Zimbabwe-native Gamu Nhengu wowed the judges in 2010 with her rendition of Katrina and the Waves' Walking On Sunshine. However, her calming voice didn't do enough to win Cheryl over, and she was booted off at the judges' houses stage, much to the annoyance of the public, some of whom even sent our Cheryl death threats. Worse was still to come for Gamu, however, when it was revealed that her mother's visa application was turned down and they were to face deportation. It had a happy ending, however, and following Simon's full support, her appeal was approved by the Home Office.

4) Cheryl refuses to vote

Beginning to notice a pattern here? 2010 was truly a controversial year, with one of the biggest media hits being Cheryl's refusal to vote when her two acts Treyc Cohen and Katie Waissel were in the bottom two. Supposedly the rules dictate that all four judges have to vote, but Mrs Cole claimed she 'didn't have to' and that she would take it to deadlock after Dannii and Louis' votes. For some reason however, this was allowed, and tragically the public saw Katie Waissel surviving another week, causing a barrage of complaints to Ofcom. I was definitely not one of the people making a complaint...

3) Audition autotune

Here's the sixth and final controversy from 2010, and quite a large one, considering the nature of the show. During the audition stages, wannabe popstars had their auditions recorded and later digitally altered for television, effectively cheating the viewers of the true experience. The X Factor producers were quick to dismiss the editing as 'wanting to give viewers a more pleasurable listening experience' but, after the backlash it caused, the autotune was quickly removed from the broadcast show the following week.

2) Frankie Coke-cozza

One of The X Factor's most shocking controversies hit our screens only last year, in the form of raspy-voiced rocker Frankie Cocozza. Wayward Frankie seemed to have more of an affinity for the rock-star lifestyle than the performing itself, enjoying wild parties and sleepless nights, but when he was accused of boasting about his cocaine use, X Factor producers decided enough was enough and sensationally booted him off. A vote was cast to bring back one of the previously-rejected 'wildcards' and Kelly Rowland found herself eating her words when Amelia Lily was voted back in, making it all the way through to the finals. Whoops!

frankie cocozza gary barlow x factor 2011
Wild child: controversial Frankie

1) Rage Against The X Factor Machine

Fight the power! In the biggest controversy to hit the papers in all of The X Factor's years, Facebook users Jon and Tracy Morter proved they could beat the Simon Cowell Christmas #1 formula. After four years of X Factor winners taking the coveted Christmas #1 title, poor Geordie Joe lost out to a Facebook campaign, which sought to get Rage Against The Machine's Killing In The Name to the top spot. Proving the general public's angst against Simon Cowell's manufactured pop and the true power of social media, McElderry's cover of Miley Cyrus' The Climb faced an epic battle to the top spot over the brief period between being crowned X Factor winner and Christmas Day. In the end, however, solidarity prevailed, and Simon Cowell had to admit defeat at the hands of the public. The joke was on us though , as it was reported that the 1992 track was released by Sony BMG, who owned Syco, the label to which McElderry was assigned, meaning that either way, wily Simon was laughing all the way to the bank.

So there you have it the biggest media scandals to rock The X Factor over the years. Now that we've seen all of the show's biggest scandals, it's time to focus on this year's series. Will Nicole Scherzinger prove herself? Will Lucy Spraggan perform outside her niche? Tune in to ITV this week as The X Factor finals 2012 kick off with a bang.
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Why? To see the media scandals over the X Factor's 8 years..
Your Comment
That Ablisa photo is hilarious ;)
by Erin (score: 2|546) 2693 days ago
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