22 November, 2007

Chanelle Crossing

People push against a glass door, which is blocked by a woman trying to look like Victoria Beckham.

Listening to the radio the other day, I heard an advert for a new 'reality TV talent show' from VH1. Wannabe pitches failed Big Brother girl Chanelle Hayes as the judge in a contest for pop star hopefuls. This is the 19-year-old student who put so much effort into achieving her goal of becoming the UK's leading Victoria Beckham look-alike that she instantly lunged at fellow BB contestant and former pop-singer Ziggy because of a vague similarity to David Beckham (who is male, with blond highlights and, er... that's it).

According to the Daily Star, less than 20 deluded fools bothered to audition for the show, which might be an indication of how pointless the concept is, or maybe it's an indicator that this could be the car-crash event of the year.

What really worries me about this show is not that Chanelle has been put into a position of power over someone's career without any experience in the field, or knowledge of music beyond the stuff she hears on the radio. It's not even the further exploitation of people who are deluded enough to think that a singing contest on a minority digital channel is their best route to instant stardom, bypassing the much harder method of, y'know, working in clubs and gaining experience. No, my biggest worry is that somewhere out there, there's a record executive who believes they might make money based on both Chanelle's discernment and a wannabe's expanded horizons of expectation.

Is there really a recording deal attached to this show? Does the deal extend beyond the one tie-in record that will inevitably become available at the end of the contest? Is there a follow-up show already lined up as Chanelle pretends to guide her protégée through the terrible maze that is the record industry (a prospect as reassuring as getting Helen Keller to lead you across the mine-strewn wastelands of Bosnia)? Is there an audience for this, and if so, who are they? VH1 was always pitched as 'old people's MTV', so who exactly are they hoping to attract here? The same people who look forward to their weekly dose of power ballads and 80s retro?

Or is it all a bit of a laugh and a chance to poke fun at someone whose sole ambition in life is to be famous, regardless of the costs to their own sanity and well-being? Give her her dues, she's managed to extend her time in the limelight for longer than anyone from this year's Big Brother clan, and she's actually much prettier than the woman she styles herself on... in the same way that Michael Jackson was much cuter than Diana Ross until he took his obsessions to frightening lengths.

When she first walked into the BB house this summer, I thought Chanelle looked like a cute kid. It'd be a shame to discover that she's as cynical and manipulative as she is being allowed to appear, wouldn't it?

In the meantime, X Factor has finally become such a big turn-off thanks to the embarrassing attention-seeking pantomime exploits of judges Louis and Sharon. It's surprising to be able to say Danni Minogue comes across as the only one actually looking after her acts and thinking of them above the usual point-scoring at the expense of her rival judges. If I can bear to miss the biggest entertainment talent show on British TV, I certainly won't lose much sleep in forgetting to tune into Chanelle's vanity project.

And in other news, isn't Strictly Come Dancing fun this year? Who knew?!

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