Louis Walsh is the master of snagging the local vote, persuading people from his contestant’s area to vote en masse to support ‘their contestant’. And judging by tonight’s shock news that Nicholas McDonald is in the final two for the X Factor finale, the ploy is working. Scotland seems to be voting in their droves for Nicholas.
Here’s the thing though: If you’re not prepared to buy Nicholas’s records when they’re released next year, stop voting for him. Now. You’re setting him up to fail.
Long-time X Factor watchers have seen this scenario before. A handsome, non-threatening young man will sail through the competition backed by a strident voter base. I’m thinking Joe McElderry, Leon Jackson and (almost) Eoghan Quigg and Ray Quinn. All powered their way through the competition and all failed to set the pop world alight.
The problem is, when these guys flop, they’re often not forgotten. Their names are remembered in the national press as “X Factor flops”. And it’s often not their fault, because what people will vote for on a national talent show is not what they’ll buy when the singer releases their records.
And that’s what’s about to happen with Nicholas McDonald. The kid could barely believe it this evening when he found himself standing next to Sam Bailey as the final two in this year’s X Factor. He’s totally outclassed vocally, and the Sam he was closest to in vocal skill was Sam Callahan. If Nicholas wins tomorrow night, I can confidently predict that his music career will sink without a trace.
So I’ll say it again: if you think you’re helping Nicholas by voting for him to win tomorrow night, ask yourself “Will I buy his record?” And honestly, if the answer is no, stop voting. Because here’s what’ll happen:
- Nicholas will win X Factor tomorrow night. Glitter will rain on the stage, judges will say nice things about him and the press machine will go into overdrive.
- Almost concurrently with this, all of social media will be underwhelmed. This will be decried as one of the lamest, most forgettable X Factor finals ever. More people will predict failure for Nicholas.
- Six months will pass. As the X Factor rumbles back to life for auditions next summer, people will start wracking their brains to remember who won.
- Live shows will begin. Nicholas will return for his ‘homecoming’/debut single performance. Unless it is a thoroughly amazing piece of music, the public will be thoroughly underwhelmed.
- Sales of the record will falter, Nicholas will get dropped from his record company and the “X Factor fail” label will haunt him for years.
I’m not saying this to upset people or to talk Nicholas down. From what I’ve seen on the show, he’s a nice guy, but he’s not the best singer that’s ever been on the show. There’s no One Direction or JLS buzz around him. And because he’s a nice guy, the worst thing that could happen is that people make him the winner and then fail to support him as a recording artist.
Sure, people think they’re doing the right thing helping him win. But what they’re really doing is saddling him with high expectations. If he walks away the winner, I just hope that the fans who are supporting him now will be still with him next year. Sadly, experience doesn’t suggest that they will be.