The Price of Fame

As a singer, everyone automatically thinks you want to be famous. I have to admit that I would love to do concert arenas and big budget live shows, but that still isn’t about fame, it’s about success in my field. If it happened for me, fame would be the down side. This seems increasingly abnormal, and if I had a quid for every time someone asked why I hadn’t gone in for The X Factor, I’d be a lot closer to a deposit on a house. I try in vain to explain, seeing in their eyes that they think “what a waste – if I could sing, I would use it”. This can be quite hard to take, as I think being in work in this field is a success, especially in a global economic crisis. Of course I wonder about how far I’d get in a competition like The X Factor, but being an actual singer, middle class and without a noteable sob story, my guess is not far. Then if you don’t win, you are forever a loser.

Look at all the people The X Factor ‘breaks’. They’re in the final stages, so they should be really excited and driven, but instead they are crying, shattered and fainting. Not everyone can cope with the pressure of constantly having to prove themselves. It’s exhausting, and then we wonder why celebrities are always checking into rehab for ‘exhaustion’- how hard can their lives be – right?! It is these negative side effects that everyone seems blind to.

You only need to look at Britney, who was a wholesome, driven girl with a bright future, propelled too fast into a world where she didn’t understand the rules and behaving like, well, a teenager! She suddenly didn’t know who to trust and sought attention and approval through any means possible. Her desperation was summed up in her lyric “everybody’s talking all this stuff about me, why can’t they just let me live”.

It’s hard enough being a teenager – the insecurity, the need to be liked, to experiment and fight authority. All Britney was doing was all of these things. Magnified onto the world’s stage though, she just didn’t have the mental capacity to cope. it happens all too often, and looking at the increasing numbers joining the ’27 club’ ( famous people that have died at the age of 27 – Amy Winehouse, Heath Ledger and Kurt Cobain being only some of them) it can be the ultimate undoing of great talent.

It is scary then that these days, everyone can experience ‘fame’ in some way. As psychologist Pamela Stevenson argued in her documentary recently, the nearest thing the general public has to fame is Facebook and Twitter.

On one hand, social networking can be a great way to connect with old friends and family, share your holiday snaps and publicise your business. It can be enjoyable in the same way as reading a magazine, but now imagine you’ve been tagged in a photo, your eyes shut, wearing ‘that’ outfit that you only realised was see-through once you were in the club, and you’re talking to that person none of your friends approve of. Panic sets in, doesn’t it. Untag! Untag!

Now imagine that wasn’t Facebook but a magazine. You’d be on the ‘What Are You Wearing!’ page, the country laughing, people wanting you to explain why you were talking to her??? All of a sudden it’s not so fun. Everything is so much bigger… how do you cope?

Ultimately I believe the fame-hungry come under two main categories. The first are those who want to feel great success. The second are those who want to be known; that somehow if everyone knows them, their lives automatically ‘matter’ more.

These people, instead of living their lives, are in on a Saturday night uploading pictures and status updates about how “Crazy! LOL” their lives are, keeping up the appearances of the person they want to portray, then sitting down alone thinking how, in comparison, real life is awful.

Think about why fame would feel good to you, and see if it can be achieved in your real life rather than concentrating on your profile. Think how much time you could free up buy not checking Facebook all day. After all, if everyone thinks you’re busy and out all the time as your uploads suggest, they aren’t going to invite you anywhere.

Lose the Virtual Self and find the Real You again, and the next time you see the media tearing up Britney or Lindsay or Cheryl, remind yourself to be grateful you don’t have to defend yourself to the world, and that other peoples lives aren’t always the party they seem to be.

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Happy Birthday Cher Lloyd

On 28 July, City Connect celebrates the birthday of Cher Lloyd who was born on this day in 1993. Cher Lloyd rose to fame when she finished fourth in the seventh series of The X Factor in 2010. Shortly afterwards, Cher Lloyd was signed by Simon Cowell to Sony Music subsidiary Syco Music. Cher Lloyd’s debut album Sticks + Stones peaked at number four in the UK Albums Chart and features the singles “Swagger Jagger“, “With Ur Love ft. Mike Posner“, “Want U Back” and “Beautiful People“.

Cher Lloyd in 2011


Cher Lloyd had previously auditioned for The X Factor twice before (when the minimum age was lower) singing ballads, but did not make it through. In 2010, she successfully passed the audition stages and got through Boot Camp, going on to judges’ houses. Cheryl Cole had been selected as mentor to the Girls. At judges’ houses she was unable to complete her song. She was given a second chance, but broke down sobbing and could not complete the song. Despite this, she was still picked as one of the final three girls by Cheryl Cole.

Cher Lloyd managed to reach the final of The X Factor being saved from the public vote by the judges along the way even though semi final voting statistics after the show revealed that Lloyd had the fewest votes. In the final she performed a mash-up of “The Clapping Song” and “Get Ur Freak On”, followed by a duet with, which was a mashup of “Where Is the Love?” and “I Gotta Feeling”. Lloyd was then eliminated in fourth place, having received the fewest public votes.

After The X Factor final, it was announced that Cher Lloyd had been signed by Syco Music. Songwriter Autumn Rowe and producer RedOne worked on her debut album, released in November 2011. The debut single, “Swagger Jagger” was released on 31 July 2011 and peaked at number one on the UK Singles Chart on 7 August 2011.

"Swagger Jagger" "X Factor" "Sticks + Stones" "Cheryl Cole"

Cher Lloyd in the video for Swagger Jagger

With Ur Love” featuring Mike Posner was Cher Lloyd’s second single and was released on 30 October 2011. The single sold 74,030 copies in its first week becoming the highest-selling number four single since Rihanna’s “Only Girl (In the World)“.

Cher Lloyd confirmed the album’s title “Sticks + Stones” on her Twitter. The album was released on 7 November 2011 and peaked at number four. It has sold 198,199 copies in the UK as of January 2012.

On 21 November 2011, Cher Lloyd announced her debut headlining UK tour, the Sticks + Stones Tour, set for March and April 2012. In December 2011, two more dates were added due to popular demand for tickets. Also in December 2011, Cher Lloyd signed a record deal with L.A. Reid to Epic Records in the United States. She released her debut album in the United States in April 2012.

Want U Back” was the third single from her debut album. The single version features vocals from American rapper Astro and was released in February 2012. The single peaked at number twenty-six on the UK Singles Chart, due to digital downloads from the album. Cher Lloyd confirmed via her official website that “Beautiful People” will be the fourth single from the album, but there is no official release date announced as of May 2012.

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Happy Birthday Dannii Minogue

This week, Born This Day celebrates the birthday of Dannii Minogue – Kylie Minogue’s younger sister – who was born on 20 October 1971. Although Dannii Minogue first became known as an actress and singer, in recent years she has achieved fame as a talent show judge having joined The X Factor judging panel in 2007 for three seasons and she has appeared as a judge in all 7 seasons of Australia’s Got Talent. In 2010, Dannii Minogue launched Project D, a fashion line in collaboration with London-based designer Tabitha Somerset-Webb. In February 2012 Minogue officially opened Madame Tussauds Sydney, unveiling a waxwork of herself at the launch.

Danni Minogue at Madame Tussauds Sydney in 2012


Dannii Minogue rose to prominence in the early 1980s for her role in the soap opera Home and Away, before beginning her career as a pop singer in the early 1990s. Minogue achieved early success with hits such as “Love and Kisses”, “This is It”, “Jump to the Beat” and Baby Love, though by the release of her second album, her popularity as a singer had declined, leading her to make a name for herself with award-winning performances in musicals with Grease (1997) and also in Notre Dame De Paris (2000), as well as other acting credits in The Vagina Monologues (2000) and in Macbeth (1999) as Lady Macbeth. The late 1990s saw a brief return to music after Minogue reinvented herself as a dance artist with “All I Wanna Do”, her first number one UK Club hit.

In 2001, Minogue further returned to musical success with the release of her biggest worldwide hit to date, “Who Do You Love Now?”, while her subsequent album, Neon Nights, became the most successful of her career. In the UK, she has achieved twelve consecutive number one dance singles, becoming the best-performing artist on the UK Upfront Club Chart.

Since 2007, Minogue has established herself as a successful talent show judge and television personality. She is currently a judge on Australia’s Got Talent in Australia and, until 2010, The X Factor in the UK, where she was the winning judge in both 2007 and 2010 with Leon Jackson and Matt Cardle, respectively.

Since joining the X Factor and Australia’s Got Talent in 2007, Dannii Minogue has become a Style Icon, receiving critical acclaim from various fashion designers such Victoria Beckham and wearing dresses from J’Aton Couture, Antonio Berardi, Dolce & Gabbana, Marchesa, Philip Armstrong, Carla Zampatti, Gucci and Aurelio Costarella and has featured on fashion magazines like Cosmopolitan, InStyle and Vogue. The press in Britain have especially taken notice of her sense of fashion and different hair styles since Cheryl Cole joined the X Factor in 2008 often comparing both of them. The praise Dannii Minogue got from the tabloids on The X Factor lead her to set up her own line called Project D along with a fragrance. The first line from Project D by Dannii and Tabitha was sold exclusively by Selfridges in the United Kingdom, the Spring / Summer line was showcased by Minogue during the live first Sunday night show of the X Factor Season 7, wearing her Jingle prom-style dress. In August 2012 the label was rebranded and relaunched as Project D London.

Dannii Minogue in her Project D Jingle dress

Throughout her career, Dannii Minogue has often been compared with her more successful sister, Kylie. Referring to the comparison, Minogue said: “It is hard to be compared all the time to Kylie. On the other hand, however, people will always try to compare you to somebody. Look at Britney and Christina.” In an interview with Elle in April 2009, Kylie criticised X Factor judge Louis Walsh for his jibes at her sister: “I’m so proud of my sister and it annoys the hell out of me when comparisons between us are made. In England you lot don’t know where she came from. She was on TV every week from 7-years-old. It makes it harder for her when she gets Louis Walsh’s rather pathetic jibes – one of which is she hasn’t had a hit record and that’s just not true.” She also denied rumours that she did not get on with Cheryl Cole or former judge Sharon Osbourne as “so cheap”.

Dannii Minogue has performed multiple times at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and the London nightclub G-A-Y. She credits her gay following for much of her success, commenting that gay culture has “always been a part of [her] music”. Minogue openly supports gay rights causes for social equality and believes that same-sex marriages should be accepted by all governments.

Dannii promoting World AIDS Day

Dannii Minogue is an ambassador for the Terrence Higgins Trust, an organization that works to increase awareness of AIDS. She joined the charity in hope that her endorsement would encourage people to discuss safe sex and the disease more openly. In 2004, she posed nude, wrapped only in a red ribbon, to promote World AIDS Day in Australia and the UK. She has long been a supporter of breast cancer research and, in August 2008 became an ambassador for the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre Appeal.

In August 2008, Dannii Minogue began dating English model and ex-professional rugby league player Kris Smith (born 20 August 1978). They met in Ibiza, where Smith was celebrating his 30th birthday. It was announced on 9 January 2010 that Minogue was pregnant. This was confirmed on her personal Twitter page when she tweeted “Woo hoo I’m gonna be a mummy!”. Minogue gave birth via caesarean section to a boy, Ethan Edward Minogue Smith, at Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia on 5 July 2010.

In April 2012, Dannii Minogue announced on Twitter that “It brings me great sadness to tell you that Kris & I have separated. We still care for each other & ask for privacy at this difficult time, in particular for our son Ethan who remains our number one priority.” Smith also confirmed the split via his Twitter account.

In 2012, in an “unauthorised” biography about the life of Simon Cowell written by Tom Bower it was revealed that Cowell and Dannii Minogue had an affair during their time together on The X Factor in 2007.

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Happy Birthday Gary Barlow

In this week’s Born This Day series, City Connect celebrates the birthday of Gary Barlow who was born on 20 January 1971.

Gary Barlow


Gary Barlow OBE is a British singer-songwriter, pianist and record producer. He is frontman and lead vocalist of British pop-group Take That and he serves as head judge on the The X Factor. Barlow is one of Britain’s most successful songwriters, having written twelve Number 1 singles. He has had three Number 1 singles and two Number 1 albums as a solo artist, and has had sixteen top 5 hits, eleven Number 1 singles and seven Number 1 albums with Take That. He is also a six-time recipient of the Ivor Novello Award and has sold over 50 million records worldwide. He was appointed OBE in 2012 for services to the music industry and charity.

Barlow, who wrote the majority of the group’s songs, is widely recognised as the musical talent behind Take That. The media have widely acknowledged Barlow’s talent and labelled him as the mastermind behind the unprecedented success of Take That’s comeback and the new musical direction they have taken. Barlow’s solo career was predicted to be very successful, being described as ‘the next George Michael’.

At the beginning of May 2010, it was announced that Queen Elizabeth II had asked Barlow to organise her 86th birthday and her Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012. Gary Barlow was named as the lead organiser and producer of a concert that took place outside of Buckingham Palace and featuring globally recognised superstar artists. On 4 June 2012 the Diamond Jubilee concert was held outside Buckingham Palace with it acting as a backdrop to a stage built upon the Victoria Memorial featuring artists from all across the world. The concert included music stemming from the 50’s to the 00’s with each decade of her reign reflected in the music performed. Barlow himself appeared alongside Andrew Lloyd Webber and his own Commonwealth Band to perform the self written official jubilee single “Sing” while also dueting with Cheryl Cole on the night which won praise from critics who called “the performance as [two of] the best of Britain [who] proved their pop credentials with a dazzling duet.” The reception from the concert was universal in praise for the efforts of Barlow with Prince Charles himself personally thanking him for putting together the concert.

On 7 May 2011, it was announced that Barlow was in advanced talks to replace Simon Cowell as a judge on The X Factor. He was officially confirmed as a judge on 30 May alongside the returning Louis Walsh and new judge Tulisa Contostavlos and fellow new judge Kelly Rowland, who replaced Dannii Minogue. Barlow was given the “Boys” category for the live shows and mentored Marcus Collins to the final of the X Factor where he became runner up.

After a successful debut as a judge on the The X Factor in 2011, it was announced that Barlow would return to The X Factor for a second year. He was later joined by returning Louis Walsh on the judging panel, alongside Tulisa Contostavlos. With Kelly Rowland being replaced by Nicole Scherzinger who later became the winning mentor with James Arthur. For his second year as a mentor, he was given the “Overs” category which featured both male and female artists over the age of 28. He became the only judge to have four acts in the finals after singer Christopher Maloney was voted into the show by the public and became the 13th finalist. Barlow guided Christopher Maloney to the final of the show, becoming Barlow’s second X Factor finalist in consecutive years.

Barlow revealed on 9 December 2012 that he may not return as a judge for a third series on The X Factor, stating that he doesn’t know “if there is room” in his diary for the programme.

After 20 years within the music industry in which Barlow has achieved phenomenal success across the world; coupled with his efforts to raise money and awareness for various charities he was honoured in the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours. He was appointed an OBE by Queen Elizabeth II on 16 June 2012, which he was awarded on the 21st of November for “services to the Entertainment Industry and to Charity”.

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Losing The Fame Game

Lorna Bliss unsuccessfully auditions on X Factor 2012

Nowadays I tend to avoid shows like the X-Factor but as I was scrolling down my Tumblr feed last night a clip popped up of someone’s audition on the show. Normally these clips posted around the Net are auditions that are either amazingly good or horrendously bad and I try to resist my guilty pleasure of laughing at the expense of some poor soul about to get their deluded dreams shattered. However the comments on this clip referred to a judge running away and so my curiosity clicked the play button.

A woman called Lorna Bliss wearing what she described as a ‘Body Stocking’ exploded onto my computer screen, talking excitedly about wanting to be on TV all the time. She was enthusiastic and friendly, chatting away to anyone she met, you knew this was a set up for something awful. After she had introduced herself to the judges she turned around to start her performance, receiving an mixed reaction from the audience about her thong showing clear underneath the stocking. The music started and she jumped straight into a well rehearsed routine in which she climbed up on the judges table dancing. This was the point in which one of the judges ran, undeterred she followed him, still singing and dancing into the audience. She then made her way back to the stage for the end of her song and stood nervously awaiting her comments.

The judges slaughtered her. Saying she was only in it for the fame and that was not what this show was about. She didn’t get through. This girl had been completely set up. The judges audition would have been the fourth one she had attended, going through two initial rounds and one round in front of the producers on the show, they had seen what a performance she would give and put her through to be publicly humiliated. After bad press in recent years about reality shows being fixes with pre-decided winners and bad talent put through to make good telly, this girl was set up to ‘prove’ it’s about wanting to sing, not wanting the fame. If she had entered a few years ago, she would most likely have got into the live performances. Cleverly done by the show though because despite this act being so obvious the only thing going viral is a poor girl throwing her heart into her audition and being self righteously cut down for the entertainment of thousands.

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X Factor 2013: The Public Have Got This Wrong

Week 4 of the X Factor 2013 live shows and there was total shock as two talented acts ended up in the Sing Off. Kingsland Road and Tamera Foster got the least public votes and had to face each other in a fight to stay in the competition.

x-factor-sam-callahanBut why was Sam Callahan not in the Sing Off? The handsome boy with the ugly voice. All the judges – except of course his mentor Louis Walsh – thought that Sam’s performance on Saturday had the weakest vocals… and when they say weak, they mean WEAK! I call him McPitchy. Sam managed to charm the tone-deaf girls of Britain and they voted in their hundreds to save their favourite pretty boy. It might not be The Voice but The X Factor is still a signing competition, not a modelling shoot. Sam Callahan looks good. Hell, he probably smells good too. But the boy does NOT sound good!!!

x-factor-abiAnd what about Abi Alton? Why was she not in the Sing Off? Maybe she was hiding behind a piano as this is the only place she feels comfortable! Don’t get me wrong, it’s very nice that she can play the piano AND the guitar but the girl has absolutely no X factor and appears to have had a charisma bypass. Her daisy chain hair accessories are cute… for about 5 minutes. But for how many more weeks can we endure this one trick pony making every musical genre “her own” by using breathy vocals, big glasses and boring the audience to sleep?!

x-factor-kingsland-roadBack to the Sing Off. Kingsland Road sang first with their rendition of James Morrison’s “I Won’t Let You Go”. You could see the panic in their eyes. Their performance reeked of desperation as their vocals faltered and tuning took a nose dive as the boys struggled to keep it together at the end of the song as the tears flowed and voices trembled.

Tamera Foster then took to the stage and she was sensational. Her note perfect performance of Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing” blew us away like any good power ballad should. Tamera gave it her all and then some. She was pushing all the right buttons and kept her emotions in check right until the end. Tamera Foster might only be 16 but she is a ready made pop star who would sit very comfortably next to Beyoncé, Rihanna and Leona Lewis.

No surprises then that when it came to the judges verdict Nicole, Sharon and Louis all voted to send Kingsland Road home.

But I have to agree with Gary Barlow when he said that the “public have got this wrong”. Kingsland Road were not as good as Tamera but they were head and shoulders above the likes of Sam Callahan.

I hope that by next week the Great British Public realise that The X Factor is about finding the next big singing sensation and they stop voting for McPitchy Pretty Boy Callahan and Breathy Big Glasses Boring Abi!

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