For once, I’m totally behind Cheryl Cole. She’s been bombarded with criticism this week for selecting a skinny girl who broke down and failed to complete her audition song to go through to the live finals of The X Factor rather than her more polished rival.
Tabloid front pages were given over to the injustice of it all — rejected Gamu, they cried, was clearly more talented, and could sing just like Mariah Carey. Cher Lloyd was awkward, scared and weird-looking.
I don’t believe, as is claimed, that Cheryl chose Cher because her fragile state would make for good ratings. I think she saw something in her from the off, something utterly beguiling and unique which Gamu just doesn’t have.
Sure, Gamu has a big, strong, lung-busting voice. But so does Leona Lewis, Alexandra Burke and a hundred other soul divas currently flooding the UK and American charts.
Cher’s first audition, in which she alternately sang and jazz-scatted her way through Soulja Boy’s Turn My Swag On while strutting peacock-like around the stage, her eyes darting and her jaw defiantly set, was the most compelling thing I’ve ever seen on The X Factor.
Half-terrified, half-triumphant, she delivered those lines like a jumpy, watchful corner kid with more natural talent and chutzpah than I’ve seen since the young Lily Allen arrived on the scene.
Just because The X Factor has always been about picking the best note-hitter — regardless of how banal they are — doesn’t mean it always has to be. How about we go for someone genuinely special this time?