The X Factor is well and truly underway but, despite all the advertising, the column inches and the Kitty dramas, has it mislaid its own X factor?
Obviously it's still doing something right because I'm still watching it twice a week but this year I have found myself idly wondering what's going on on the other channels and whether force of habit will be enough to sustain me through another year of sob stories and singing. It's not just me either - the show is down more than 2 million viewers compared with last year.
Perhaps the lack of pizzazz is because The X Factor has been going for so long that most viewers will have seen at least part of a prior series and can see history repeating (or at least stage-managing) itself.
Does the new lineup have the x factor? Photo: PA
By this point who amongst us doesn't know how talent shows work? There's a palpable sense that we are just passing the time until certain events unfold, whether it's Kitty ending up in the sing-off for the fifth week in a row and the judges deciding that no matter how much energy she has, the public aren't buying what she's selling, whether it's Rhythmix (or Pick n Mix or Little Mix or whatever it is now) getting decent stage treatment while less favoured bands are left to flounder, or whether it's the latest attempt to bill Frankie Cocozza as the bad boy we love to love (flying directly in the face of public opinion where he is the not-particularly-bad boy we love to be vaguely irked by and who we rather wish would stop singing).
Once you realise who's being set up to stay and who's set up to leave then it's hard to stay emotionally involved.
Even the judge drama is lacking something this time around. We used to vaguely buy into the rivalries and the banter and Louis' tangential relationship with music that wasn't included on Westlife's Greatest Hits - who could forget his insistence that Radiohead's Creep contained the lyrics "I'm a winner" just after Wagner had belted out the tune in his best performance of last series. But now? Now the drama is signposted and stale. Does anyone - even Kelly Rowland herself - care whether Louis uses the word swagger? Has anyone bothered to bash out a complaint to Ofcom over Frankie's pre-watershed "F*ckin' ave it"? It's as if they've decided to save cash by bringing in a scriptwriter who would be kicked off WWE for being too derivative.
Finally, there's the Glee effect. Last week was rock week but it was rock as understood through the prism of Glee where songs from all over the sonic spectrum come together and become a samey album-length collection of faux-meaningful sound popcorn. Hence Janet Devlin's thin ballad-y take on Sweet Child O Mine, Sophie's limp Living On A Prayer and Tulisa deciding that this was an excellent opportunity for Rhythmix to investigate a Ke$ha/Salt and Pepa medley. She was offered a free subscription to Kerrang for her trouble. The only small mercy was that no-one wheeled out a rendition of Journey's Don't Stop Believin'.
So after all that complaining, what's keeping me watching?
I could plead 'professional obligation' but you know what? It's because I LOVE YOU JOHNNY ROBINSON.