They told her she was beautiful; that guy down the local who smelled of stale Lambert & Butlers said she looked like the bird from The Birth of Venus. They told her she had an amazing voice; her best friend Lizzy reckoned she sounded “like, way better than Jessie J”. Her cousin told her she should audition for The X Factor, after all; he’d met Louis Walsh that one time in London outside Heaven, so he could get her through the first stages at least, right?
So she went to the X-Factor auditions, and they loved her. Tulisa told her she was “the easiest ‘Yes’ of the day”, and she was so happy she didn’t even think to crack a joke about that. As the weeks progressed the public told her she was fantastic as they fervently dialled her voting number with their grubby, Monster-Munch-dusted fingers.
But then tragedy struck. She was voted off. She was only the sixth best contestant in The X Factor 2012, or so the esteemed British voting public said. Dermot O’Leary said it was “one of the biggest shocks we’ve ever had on the results show”, and everyone knew Dermot never indulged in hyperbole. Stephen Fry, 2003’s Pipe Smoker of the Year, said it was “tragic”.
Then from that resolute darkness of incomparable anguish faint amber rays of tentative dawn ushered in a new day brimming with hope and promise. Sony Music Entertainment told her they liked her. Syco Music told her they liked her, and Simon Cowell had such a wonderfully persuasive way of shouting at her. So she got a record deal.
They told her to put some acoustic covers up on YouTube so people knew she could play four chords on a piano. They said they’d shoot an expensive music video for ‘Ghost’ in New Orleans because the lyrics talk about “going to the river”, so the river might as well be the Mississippi. They said they’d release ‘Glow’ as a single, it didn’t matter that the chorus was a single, laboriously-repeated syllable.
She was beautiful. Her voice was amazing. The album sold handsomely. Yet, despite all that, a single supercilious student reviewer said that Chapter One was sh*t.