Given  all the talk about the X Factor, it’s new US counterpart, and constant buzz about who the judges will be, I thought I’d take time to reflect on how that oh so little massive talent show has changed over the last year oh-so-drastically. And by that I mean the down fall of the nations sweet heart Cheryl Cole.

Last year it seemed like we all couldn’t get enough of the girls aloud star, with her covering front page after front page. Britain became obsessed with the ‘style wars’ between her and Dannii, the hatred of Louis when he put our Cheryl down, and the bickering yet oh so flirty relationship between her and Simon. “Oh look at Cheryl’s face!” I found myself saying when yet another hilariously bad act came on, and Cheryl played to the nations hearts. She was the nice, down-to-earth geordie girl with a checkered past who had somehow risen to be the face of cosmetic super giant L’oreal, to the point that she was the WAG who now overshadowed her footballer spouse. With British Vogue saying that if she wanted, Cheryl could throw an election, and Simon Cowell endorsing the start of the singer’s solo career – she was the WAG who could do no wrong. What a difference a year can make…

A lot has happened to Cheryl Cole over the last 18 months. From her very public divorce from her cheating Chelsea footballer husband, to her near death experience following contraction of Malaria. Two things out of her control. However, that was just the beginning of her nightmare. The malaria meant Cheryl missed the majority of auditions and boot camp, with guest judge Nicole Scherzinger taking her place until she regained full heath. And in this case – absence doesn’t make the heart grow stronger. The papers filled with rumours of how the singer was devastated that the public loved her replacement, and that the producers were even contemplating employing her full time. Given it was X Factor that gave Cheryl her huge stardom – imagine the irony if it was so easily taken away.

However, Cheryl did regain full heath and took her place back as a judge at judges houses. There are however, two words that are still possibly ringing in the former WAG’s ears today – Gamu Nhengu. There had not been such a media storm, nor public outrage over a reality show since the Celebrity Big Brother racism row. Cheryl reported received death threats after not picking the Zimbabwean national for the live shows, instead opting for 16 yr old Cher Lloyd who wow’d the judge in her original audition. And then when it emerged that each judge would be allowed a wild card act and Gamu was again left out of the line up – more outrage ensued. Many insinuated that Cheryl was a racist (especially given her assault on a black woman in a nightclub bathroom years ago), however many just said that it was out and out favouritism and that whatever Cher’s performance, the Geordie judge was always going to put her through. There was the issue of Gamu’s very public fight against deportation to contend with as well, despite the X Factor reject appearing live at the MOBO awards just weeks after not getting put through.

And so the now very controversial live shows began. With a huge weight on Cheryl’s shoulders for the acts she did pick to do well, and with many denouncing the show altogether, this was the most talked about X Factor to date. However, the judge didn’t exactly redeem herself a long the course of the competition. The style wars that Cheryl always seemed to dominate had a converse result this year. It was Dannii who everyone was looking at – classy, glamorous and always beautiful, and given the very recent birth of her son it just made her appearance ever the more impressive. Cheryl however, was turning into a Chav before our very eyes. Even Simon himself commented on the excessive amount of fake tan – the girl was orange. Her hair went from a seemingly effortless brown to a superficial looking red. More often than not, people were commenting on her current fashion faux pas and how much better Dannii looked next to her. It shows really how important vanity is to us all that it mattered what Cheryl wore, and how she presented herself. However to the nation this was just another indication of how our sweetheart was changing – for the worse. The do-no-wrong judge was doing wrong after wrong after wrong.

And then, off the back of the Gamu controversy, came the Cher Lloyd favouritism row. Rebecca Ferguson, a fellow scouser I might add, was another act in Cheryl’s category that had a huge fan base. The soulful singer performed well week after week, and her shy and down to earth demeanour only fuelled the public’s love of her. Yet it became increasingly more noticeable that the Anfield born singer wasn’t getting the help and support that a) she needed, and b) that Cher Lloyd was. Things escalated to the point that fellow judge Louis Walsh offered to mentor Rebecca himself, as Cheryl just didn’t seem interested. And on top of this, the public endured heart felt and down right cringey speeches by Cheryl asking for votes for her beloved prodigy Cher – an act who more often then not failed to deliver. It wasn’t so much the constant inappropriate rapping that we all had a problem with however when it came to Cher (she is talented when she sticks to bare bones and just sings) – but the constant and blatantly true reports of the 16 yr old’s strops and her out and out brattish attitude. In a lot of people’s eyes, she had Gamu’s spot on the show – which was never a good start to begin with. Couple that with comments such as, “Well if you don’t vote for me you’ll never see me again – will ya?” when asked how much it meant to her to be there and you have the beginnings of a shit storm. Cheryl’s constant endorsement of Cher, and lack there of in Rebecca’s direction meant that many just couldn’t relate to the judge any more. And after Cher’s appearance in the bottom two numerous times, and numerous saves – people became annoyed that their efforts to kick the singer off the show were being sabotaged by the judges themselves.

And so it came to the final weekend of 2010’s X Factor. The act’s? Cher Lloyd (FML), Rebecca Ferguson, Matt Cardle and cutsey boyband One Direction. This time, just left to the public votes – Cher was gone before her feet could touch the ground following a horrific rendition of two Black Eyed Peas songs with Will-I-Am. Next came One Direction after a performance with a very un-sober Robbie Williams, leaving Cheryl’s remaining act, Rebecca – who sang with Christina Aguilera, and Matt Cardle – who did a steamy duet with Rhianna. When it came to the final show with Cheryl and Rebecca, the whole thing felt forced. There was no heart felt speeches backing Rebecca – instead there was just what we expected her to say. Dannii who had rival Matt in her category said nicer and more believable things about Rebecca as did Louis – a supporter of the up and coming star since day one. There never seemed to be any genuine connection between mentor and act, and it even felt like the pair either didn’t get on or didn’t know each other. And so when the final announcement came and Matt was crowned X Factor winner 2010 – many were left asking if Rebecca had had proper mentoring and support from the beginning whether she would had lifted the crown. At the end of the day, Cheryl backed the wrong act and it has cost her a lot of fans, a lot of bad press and possibly another X Factor win.

What happens next year? We’ll see.

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