Fan Fare

Entertainment behind the scenes

Sting calls X Factor “appalling”

November 11, 2009

stingBritish singer Sting has waded into the X Factor debate. In a week where the show’s most famous judge Simon Cowell came in for some fierce criticism for what British viewers saw as a cynical ploy to fix the results, Sting has called the popular television show “preposterous” and “appalling”.

In an interview with London’s Evening Standard, ostensibly to promote his new CD “If On a Winter’s Night”, the Police frontman-turned-solo star launched into the music talent contest which regularly attracts peak audiences of more than 15 million in the UK.

“I am sorry but none of those kids are going to go anywhere, and I say that sadly,” he said of the contestants. “They are humiliated when they get sent off. How appalling for a young person to feel that rejection. It is a soap opera which has nothing to do with music. In fact, it has put music back decades. Television is very cynical.

“They … are not encouraged to create any real unique signature or fingerprint. That cannot come from TV. The X Factor is a preposterous show and you have judges who have no recognisable talent apart from self-promotion, advising them what to wear and how to look. It is appalling.”

Whether the 58-year-old’s comments will bother Cowell, the show’s other judges or the ITV channel which airs the hugely successful series is far from clear. They may be watching the upcoming viewing figures closely, however, after many fans vowed not to watch the programme again after Cowell’s recent antics.


100% Correct!
X-Factor and Simon Cowell are slowly destroying music.
A talentless repetitive karaoke show.

Cowell is the ‘mastermind’ of hits by – Mr Blobby, Robson & Jerome, Bob The Builder, etc., He is single-handedly the epitome of an anti-talent champion than anyone in the entertainment industry.

Posted by Jo | Report as abusive

i think that the contestants do get somewhere as it has been showed by contestants such as Leona Lewis, Alexandra Burke and JLS, who are all phenomenal singers, and the show is a chance for unexperienced singers to show a hidden talent as there is no easier way to find a singing career for talented young singers.

Posted by Daisy | Report as abusive

Sting is absolutely right! Simon Cowell produces cookie-cutter pop show-biz types of the most generic sort. Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Bob Marley, Bruce Springsteen, Pete Townsend, Joni Mitchell and Peter Gabriel wouldn’t get past the audition phase of any of his shows, yet they produced some of the most memorable music of the last fifty years. It may be a good way to go for someone who dances that has no discernable singing style, as long as he(she) looks good at a photo shoot.

Posted by JimJ | Report as abusive

I completely agree with everything he’s said in this interview, Cowell knows about generic pop entertainment and nothing more – a very very narrow view on what music and originality can offer. I’m so glad Sting’s spoken out about this, I’ve been saying this for years yet no-one ever agrees with me bar actual musicians. I’d love to see a real talent show where the performers are judged on originality and their use of the ‘materials of music’ and the judges have some kind of musical education or noteworthy experience.

Posted by Matt | Report as abusive

The sort of music that gets played in the charts gets narrower by the day – and shows like X-Factor are more about finding new celebrities than recognising real and unique talent. It is depressing. Cheryl Cole being top of the charts says it all. I have nothing against her but she is the wife of a major football star and at the end of the day that is now all that counts in our celeb obsessed culture. Just look at our magazine shelves. The problem is that real artists have nowhere to go these days.

Well said Sting. Someone has to do something about this. It is high time that people started to fall in love with REAL PEOPLE and REAL MUSIC!!!

Posted by Martha | Report as abusive

we don’t always see eye to eye with Sting, but he’s on the mark here, though we’d like to see more of the viewing public make the same decision and turn off these types of “talent” shows.

go see new music live, and decide for yourself.


How come no body has ever commented on the fact that he copied the concept of his show from the old Chuck Barris gong show.

Posted by kelly baldwin | Report as abusive

Sting is spot on. The show produces people with a bit of copycat vocals without any underlining talent. The likes of JLS and Leona may last a bit longer in the industry, but unfortunately Alexander will not make it. Reasons are that both ALexander & Leona lack any creative talent and depend totaly on writing and production skills of others which will hamper originality. Compared with American Idol, the difference is quite clear as the contestants in the states are allowed the freedom to expreess their creativity given that they are not put in an X factor style groups with inept mentors like Cherly Cole or Danni Minogue or even Simon who has made a career out of been a copycat

Posted by Obi | Report as abusive

What a breath of fresh air! we needed someone of this stature to say the truth. Hopefully there will be more ‘real’ celebrities (you know, the ones who have earned it with years and years of real blood, real sweat and real tears) coming forward and backing Sting. Well said, thank you Sting! (not a fan, but I respect you:)

Posted by Donwilco | Report as abusive

Well said Sting! It is absolutely the worst thing on TV, which is really saying something!!

Posted by hambone | Report as abusive

I think it is a lot of fun and needs to be taken with a pinch of salt! Can’t wait for this week when all the contestants will be singing queen :-) Did you know about the X factor gang releasing a single for Great Ormond Street Hospital? (Michael Jackson’s “You are not alone”) There is a lot more info about it at the charity blog We are very excited about it, hope you are looking forward to supporting Great Ormond Street Hospital children’s charity in this; there is a lot of good to come from X factor this year.

Posted by GreatOrmondSt | Report as abusive

Sting is just showing his age and also a big misunderstanding of the industry that he works in.

X Factor is no different to the talent shows that have been on our TV’s since the 70′s.

Music fans will always be split and tastes will always very. Pop music will always be popular and other more serious types of music will always be popular to a different audience.

To link X Factor’s popularity to the end of real music is really quite ridiculous.

Posted by Phil | Report as abusive

Apart from the fact that he’s being excessively polite about it, I couldn’t agree more. The programme is little more than broadcasting sewage glitzed up to look like bilge.

Posted by Matthew | Report as abusive

X-factor has never sold itself as anything other than a show about making “popstars” thats why there’s voting.. duh! And good on ‘em for being a success in that regard

Sting only pointed out the blatantly obvious.

Posted by tom | Report as abusive

bang on the button sting
its the worst part of the music industry
for everyone to see

Posted by chris | Report as abusive

I also agree with his waspish comments, but what does it say about the 15 million of us all who watch it?

I’m still going to vote for those Grimes who just don’t chime.

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

Yes if anything he’s understated the awfulness of it. And yes American Idol encourages individual interpretation and SOME level of skill (minimum of course). Albeit they put them into ridiculous formats and do a terrible job promoting them after. Not to mention the disgraceful voting method that ensures the most creative in “voting” can push their own favorite. As we saw this year with Adam Lambert who stood lightyears ahead of ANY Idol talent of ANY year and still came in second to a kid who tried out for a lark and had only performed a couple of times in his entire life.

Posted by mediafreaks | Report as abusive

The popularity of Show’s like the X Factor show the worst side of our greedy, un-educated race. The X Factor is one massive candy bar with 15million feasting on its contestants. Sting, like any learned human being, is pointing out the affect it has/is on the health of the music industry. 15million probably don’t care, but 15million is an incredibly some amount to the rest of us!

Posted by Chris J Dean | Report as abusive

Even though it comes under the guise of being a ‘talent’ show, we all know it’s just a mindless, popularity contest and is a reflection of the insta-fame era of reality tv.

The show clearly doesn’t take itself seriously and neither should you. No musician worth their salt would appear on there unless they needed a bit of quick self-promotion for an upcoming album.

Take it for what is is. Fun for thick people.

Posted by Rachelle | Report as abusive

Sting – of course is correct. However, there is one contestant who has the possibility of being a great star. I have not bought any CDs for years – but there is one voice on the X factor that stands out and has star quality and would make me start buying music again. That person is Danyl. He should – of course- not be in such a ‘cheap’ show but I am sure that the whole of the UK public watching it will ensure that the best man wins. The humiliation when an act gets voted off is too much to bear.

Posted by jayne | Report as abusive

well a man of his genius would know , the real talent comes from pubs clubs ,I remember the john peel sessions on the radio that was great there is no musical culture anymore , there is this thing called steam punk which is interesting but nothing else ,I remember john peel playing the Cocteau twins and I thought wow ,nothing will come of these poor young people

Posted by twins8956 | Report as abusive

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see