It’s a marmite kind of show, dividing us neatly into two categories: the lovers and the haters. I guess I am the latter, but you would not believe the number of people who come up to me in the meet-and-greet at the end of my gigs, gleefully suggesting that the next best step for my career would be to go on X-Factor. I always smile and take the comment the way the person intended it, as a compliment, but honestly, they have no clue!

My usual response is that ‘X-Factor is just not my style’. I am a songwriter as well as a singer and they’re looking for a puppet, not an artist. ‘Yes but it would really help your career’ they say. I refrain from rolling my eyes - this person has fallen prey to one of a number of common misconceptions about X-Factor: that it’s an overnight career fix for a talented singer. Well about 200,000 people apply every season, most don’t make it to the TV auditions, and only one person wins. The rest are judged as not good or not popular enough, and are sent home again (probably with a broken heart and some new insecurities). How’s that for an overnight fix?!

They’ll make you a superstar, just like that! No, it takes a lot time and practice to be able to sing every night of a tour, to do quality shows consistently, and be able to connect with and command an audience. So, most X-Factor winners fade back into obscurity because they lack the proper foundations on which to build a lasting career.

It’s a fair fight. No, sadly it’s not. Scouts have already found some of the top competitors and invited them to apply. These contestants skip at least the first round of auditions which are primarily about finding the freaks.

It’s okay for musical talent (or lack thereof) to be judged and exploited. Making entertainment out of the humiliation of others has become alarmingly acceptable and I now see people judging performers like they’re Simon Cowell, rather than appreciating the courage, talent and creativity it takes to get up there and do it live. Not cool.

On any given weekend there are thousands of musicians across the country, with more genuine talent and musicianship, performing live on local stages and growing their careers themselves, than you’ll find on all the series’ of X-Factor put together. They, and the venues they play, need encouragement and support. Of course I am biased but I believe that real gigs leave you with more magic-moment memories than glorified TV karaoke ever will! So why not get out there are see some?

Have I ever auditioned myself? Find out next time!