Already Heard is pleased to welcome back singer-songwriter and Engineer Records employee Mikee J Reds for his latest instalment of his monthly column – ‘Mikee Vs The World.’

With experience from being involved in several bands, touring throughout the UK and involved in an independent label, Reds has worthwhile valuable knowledge which we feel makes him ideal for this feature.

In this month’s column, Mikee discusses reality TV singing contests, the fame and money they bring and how they sometimes produce a surprise or two.

If you’re in a band, run a label or is involved in the music industry and would like to write a column for Already Heard, contact Sean Reid at

Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions in this feature are solely of Mikee J Reds and not of Already Heard.

Cheap TV is what it is. No real thought is needed, very much like ‘Big Brother, I’m A Douchebag Get Me Out Of Here and The Only Way Is Shit.’ Having said that it doesn’t mean that it is purely a bad idea to have shows like X Factor, Britain’s Got “So Called” Talent. The main issue of all these reality TV shows is that we, as a human race, are not there to watch someone succeed but to watch people fail miserably.

Much like the time of the gladiators, the majority of the crowd go to the Coliseum to watch a man be ripped from limb to limb or be given the thumbs down by the Emperor to action the death of some poor slave. People like failure and most importantly they like to see dreams be crushed. Now this isn’t to say everyone is like this, however the TV show makers know this is the way that a majority of people are programmed, so most of the time a reality show is just a firing range, lining up those with hopes and dreams waiting to pull the trigger. That is not to say some of these contestants don’t deserve to be taken out back and shot like Old Yeller. Some of these things crawl out from under their rock and believe they have something magical; they have that “X factor,” the will and raw talent to win. Most cases they don’t.

The thing is, I don’t question the people with the dream to succeed as a singer, musician or whatever you wish to call them, it’s those who are in it for the “fame and money”. A pure example of this would be as of recent where a so called three piece “band” got on stage and performed to the judges. It was clear from the get go that two were the talent of the group with literally a third squeaky out of tune.  When asked what does his role in the band was, his answer was the “producer,” not a great role to be in when you are in a talent contest. The judges soon decided that if the “band” wanted to continue, they would have to drop said third wheel and carry on as a duo. Clearly the third wheel was not happy with this, but he saw that it wasn’t all bad for him as he wanted 30% of all their earnings from there on in. To me that shows you exactly how people’s minds work, money. Well I hate to break it to you buddy 30% (no sorry he stated he wanted 33.3% on stage) of very very little is well, very very little.

Now if you are a true hater of the X Factor, you will find it hard to see what good comes out of it and quite frankly I do find it hard to see a glimmer of light in so much greed and power. Every now then it does happen. I am not one to sit down and watch it on TV, but my Mrs does enjoy it and most of all enjoys showing me the auditions on YouTube to see my reaction/annoy me. I always start off moaning about the idea of it being wrong, how so many bands work for years, have so much talent and are just forgotten in comparison to some wannabe pop star looking for a quick fix. Sadly though after a while I get drawn in, and in all honesty there is no better feeling than seeing a shy, shaky contest quietly tell the judges their name, their goals and turn in to something else when the music hits in. It can give you goose bumps, tingles through out your spine when someone is that good and you feel “Yes they are being discovered.” It feels like somewhere a long the lines the system is being beaten, that this person or these people are not going to be paraded around like the village idiot but may have a chance of succeeding with what actually seems like raw talent, which is what music should always be all about – talent and of course passion. This can then lead some people on to a better life.

Recently I was sitting in the front row of the Dominion Theatre watching ‘We Will Rock You’ (for a fifth time) and I am loving it as always, but without knowing it, I was in fact being entertained and impressed of two reality TV contestants one being Noel of Hear’Say Fame from ‘Popstars’ and the other is Brenda from a very early series of X Factor. This shows, the program does in fact find talent but what it shows is that they really don’t know what to do with it. Thankfully for them and the audience they are now in a hit West End show that has been going strong for over a decade! Ahmen!  

My questions is however IF this is a TALENT show, why the back story? You don’t see bands going on stage, hoping to be enjoyed by a crowd by opening their set up saying “Hi we are (enter band name here) and my cat just died.” If you want a back story to add to the arc of entertainment, sure that’s fine but do it AFTER the audition. Don’t let someone get through on pure sympathy, it is that sort of thing that winds me up. This is where I feel ‘The Voice’ had it right. At the start, the show based the whole concept of the contest purely on their voice; no look, no back story, nothing but the voice. Genius! That seems pretty fair. Sadly after those first few auditions, the back stories start coming in, image starts getting questioned but hey at least they had it right at the first step, maybe they can keep something going on the next season, but in all honesty how do you keep something like this ever fair? Maybe just don’t have a back story then at least its only based on vocal talent and maybe a little on image, big boobs equals big cash. I am pretty sure that’s how Simon Cowell’s business mind works. Sex sells.

All in all as much as I whine and I moan about the X Factor and its clones, they do have a purpose just sadly they don’t seem to know it quite yet or we just don’t see eye to eye on the fact it should be talent that leads on to great careers. Sadly this isn’t usually the case. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it but you may miss out on some diamonds in the rough.

Thanks Mike

More information on Engineer Records can be found at

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