The glare of the no

This was a big weekend in the life of one of our favourite reality TV shows – the X Factor. Last night’s show ended with the top 12 acts being picked for the live shows. I cried.  I could so relate.

Not with the acts going forward. But with those who didn’t make the cut … rejection is an ugly thing to deal with. The contestants had pinned their hopes on “making it” in the music industry by getting through to the top 12. Many of them didn’t want to go back to their normal lives, they felt this opportunity was a make-or-break one for them. I do feel sad that so much rode on the show for them, and I do hope there was emotional support for those of them who didn’t get through. It’s tough to get a no with 13 million people watching.

For those of you who don’t know the show, it is a singing show, a lot like Idols, but with a slight spin. The acts are divided into four categories – boys (under 28), girls (under 28), groups and the “overs” (male and female, over the age of 28 but with no top age limit). There are four judges and each judge is assigned a category to mentor, so the competition ends up being not only between the contestants, but between the judges too. I know it is starting in the USA in the fall of 2011, so watch out for it if it’s the kind of show you enjoy.

Last week was “bootcamp”. Acts that made it through from the initial auditions held all around the UK had to perform to the judges again, and, after a series of whittling downs, eight acts per category were chosen to go to the judges’ houses. Each of the judges was assigned a category, and their eight protégés flew to their homes to sing for their place in the top 12: boys went to Australia (to Danii Minogue’s home), groups went to Marbella in Spain (Simon Cowell’s villa), the “overs” went to Dublin (Louis Walsh’s ‘castle’) and the girls to Ascot (Cheryl Cole’s estate).

On Saturday night we watched each of the categories, in turn, singing for their mentor and on Sunday we watched the mentors telling each of the acts, in turn, whether they had been successful or not. In true reality TV style, the emotion is squeezed till the tears drop; and the wimp that I am has tears rolling down her face from start to finish. The ones who have been successful scream and whoop and jump and stomp and hug their mentor. The ones who are unsuccessful sit and sob and hug their mentor.

I can’t imagine how the mentors feel, to have such power to bring tears of joy and tears of disappointment. I applaud anyone who has the courage to enter such a show, and my hope for each one of them – top 12 or not – is that they go on to make their dream happen, away from the glare of TV lights and sensationalism.

So what does this mean in my life? Apart from being a huge fan of the show – I can’t deny it – I also love watching young and exciting talent and hidden confidence unfurl. I always support the slightly shy guy who doesn’t look like a star but sings like an angel. My favourite favourite is exactly that, and he made it through.

But for me, I can so relate to the disappointment of being so close, yet not making it through. One of the contestants said last night that he has heard no so often, it would be easier to deal with a no than the unknown of a yes. He got a yes, and I threw my arms in the air. I look forward to the day that I hear that all-too-unfamiliar word too. And I might just scream and whoop and jump and stomp and hug. Even if no-one’s watching.

Sunshine signing off for today!


12 thoughts on “The glare of the no

  1. I remember the story that John Lennon once told about how he met Yoko Ono. She had a show on at a gallery which included a set of stepladders that appeared to go up to the ceiling.

    John climbed up and then saw that written in tiny letters on the ceiling was the word ‘Yes’. He was so taken with it that he immediately wanted to find the artist.

    You’re right that ‘No’ can appear more often than not in our lives, but it’s good to know that ‘Yes’ is out there, even if we do sometimes need a ladder and some glasses to find it…

    1. What a lovely story – thank you for sharing it with me. I appreciate your encouragement, and thanks for visiting my blog, Martyn!
      Now, where to find a ladder …

  2. I cry watching “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Amazing Race” when my favourites are eliminated!

    I’m sure you will hear the word, “Yes,” very soon, Sunshine! You’re smart and talented…


  3. I always feel for the harsh criticism that some of the contestants have to hear from the judges. Granted, some of them can’t sing or whatever, but is it really necessary to crush their spirits like that? A simple “no” is difficult enough to hear.

    1. I know, I agree with you. I guess it’s about making entertaining TV, but they are real people with real feelings standing up there. That’s why I hope there is some form of meaningful emotional support for the contestants … and I always hope they come from loving families too.
      Sunshine xx

  4. I’ll second Wendy’s “smart and talented” comment. I have no doubt in my mind that “yes” is in your future. Just keep reaching for it and marking your time until it gets here. Because it WILL get here.

    Hugs to you from Ohio!

  5. I don’t know about the X Factor (the U.S. version hasn’t started yet), but I’ve noticed that with American Idol and America’s Got Talent, the runners-up, the people used to hearing “no,” often end up doing better in the long run than do the supposed winners, so hang in there!

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