As most people know, I'm a bit of a fan of reality TV shows, although I don't watch them indiscriminately. With most, a healthy dose of cynicism is required. There's always an element of pantomime in such shows, and hyperbole is rife.
Last night, Sky's new talent show "Must be the Music" started. Heavily billed (as was Five's lacklustre "Don't Stop Believing") as being a different type of talent show which was less about the judges and all about the acts, it had a lot of it's own hype to live up to. Did it succeed?
Yes, I think it did. The programme's unique selling point is that it is open to Singer-Songwriters, Bands and Musicians irrespective of age or genre. Artists can perform a cover version or their own material. In fact, unlike singing contests such as The X Factor, original material is positively encouraged. After the acts perform the votes judges' decisions are announced before with the feedback following rather than having a long drawn out section during which the judges comment and then vote.
The biggest difference, though, is that although the show isn't about the judges in a sense it is. All the publicity material has featured pictures of the three judges - Dizzee Rascal, Jamie Cullum and Sharleen Spiteri. All three have reached the top as Singer-Songwriters and Performance and been rewarded with both commercial and critical success - including (variously) the Mercury prize, Brits and Ivor Novello awards. As such, their feedback carries more weight than it would if they were, say, a pop artist and is more empathetic than that of a producer who is interested in the commercial potential.
Having high profile judges is also a reason to watch the show. Without the involvement of Spiteri, I think this would have passed me by. As it happens I'm glad I didn't. Earlier this year Sky has a big success with Got to Dance - with Must be the Music they've done it again.
P.S. Don't get me wrong, when The X Factor recommences next Saturday, I'll be cheering and booing along with the best of them!