Friday, December 30, 2011

Albania decides for Eurovision 2012. Time to hide behind the sofa.

My first reaction was to hide behind the sofa but on second play it has some merit, although there are some seriously wrong notes for my taste here and there. The choices are slowly being made for countries' entries for Eurovision 2012. Albania here with something that will either be a Top Ten or completely fail to make it past the semis. No half measures. It'll certainly get talked about a lot, though. And if that's an indication of the fashion trend for 2012 then I shall get an awful lot more work done next year.

Monday, December 12, 2011

As I said ... Little Mix win X Factor 2011

Well that's that then. Not a lot to say really. Coldplay were good. Westlife were predictable. Marcus did his best but there was this feeling running through the whole show that it would end with Little Mix jumping with joy and saying OMG a lot.

If anyone did manage to get hold of the winner's single by Amelia that was briefly advertised on the HMV site during the week then they probably have the best version of that track as well as something of a collector's item as I presume hers and the Marcus one will now have been melted down and the plastic reprocessed for more copies of Little Mix's main competition for the Christmas No.1, that choir hymn that Chris Evans has been playing virtually non-stop for the last few weeks.

One thing that was quite nice - Tulisa looked genuinely pleased.

Now, can Simon's altogether more superior efforts across the pond produce a Melanie v Josh final that both acts deserve. Follow me on XFUSA as I bid farewell to XFUK for another year.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Guess what: Little Mix win X Factor.

It's Final time after what seems to have been best part of a year. And what do we get? Dermot dancing. That's weird and must be some kind of in-joke or dare. I can hear the producers now: "Right, how idiotic can we make Dermot look tonight?" They'll dress him as Santa tomorrow and have him bouncing Louis on his knee.

Then we get Peter Dickson banking a nice pile for an endless bit of shouting, Tulisa in a dress that looks like something you'd put on a doll not a supposedly cool NDubz singer. Gary makes an extra few bob too as they all sing-along-a Gary song and, at last, we get on with the show. Oh, no, now we get some home town visit, back story and goodness knows what. After an age Marcus actually sings. He does Hey Ya! and, to be fair, does it well. Nice job and that won't do him any harm at all. What didn't look good was Scooch as backing in the blue air hostess uniforms and, at one point, I am sure he was straddling a jumbo which was not a sight to behold.

Little Mix next, well, after we watch them go to High Wycombe, Romford and South Shields to what looked like quite small crowds but that may just have been the camera angle. Instead of aeroplanes we get motorbikes for some reason that totally flew over my head. They had YMCA to support them. With You've Got The Look they really did not impress anyone. Yes, they do look good and do have the look, well, three of them do, but that was no winner's performance. They'd have been out first week if they'd done that eight or nine weeks ago.

Amelia Lily sang Ain't No Other Man and sang it very well, really showing how much better she is in so many respects to the four girls before. It may not have been the song that anyone's going to remember, though, and think 'Oh I must vote for her' afterwards. You just kinda watched, thought it was pretty good and moved on. She'll need something much smarter next time. Thereagain, they all will.

Gary took the place of Scooch and the aeroplane and sang along with Marcus for the second track, a Billy Joel number, Always A Woman. No comment. It was nice. Nice. Not inspiring or anything to leap up and down about.

Little Mix then came along and I guess Tulisa was up there two, not that I noticed. They did another mash up and the first bit was instantly forgettable, not very good but they did make up with the second section which actually showed, for the first time tonight, that they can be good. But not brilliant.

We haven't had the wow factor that you usually get on X Factor Finals. The track that one act does that makes the show worthwhile, even if they don't win. An approximation to a wow factor finally arrives when Amelia Lily duets with Kelly. Forgetting the dancing, which was not a pretty sight, this was a cool and very good performance.

There can be little argument that Amelia and Marcus are by far and away the better acts but I just have this feeling that it's the Little Mix Show this year.

X Factor 2011 Final Song Choices

This information from the good people at tellymix this evening. It appears that whilst Marcus and Little Mix will be presented with all the glitter, fire, smoke, background effects and stage decoration, choirs, dancers and gadgets imaginable, Kelly is just shoving Amelia onto a small stage and hoping for the best. I suppose all the added distractions will disguise the miming to their backing tracks. Amelia has also been trying to get a different Christmas song to do so we're not yet sure which of the two she'll do.

You do get the feeling all this is going Little Mix's way... Should be fun to watch, though. Expect a ghostly presence from Simon at some stage over the weekend too.

Duet with Gary Barlow – She’s Always A Woman by Billy Joel
Hey Ya by Outkast

First audition song – Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Stevie Wonder
Favourite performance – Reet Petite by Jackie Wilson
Christmas song – White Christmas by Bing Crosby

Duet with Kelly Rowland – River Deep, Mountain High by Tina Turner
Ain’t No Other Man by Christina Aguilera

First audition song – Piece Of My Heart by Janis Joplin
Favourite performance – The Show Must Go On by Queen
Christmas song – All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey / I Wish It Could Be Christmas by Wizzard

Little Mix
Duet with Tulisa – Mash up of Empire State Of Mind and If I Ain’t Got You, both by Alicia Keys
You’ve Got The Love by Candi Staton

First audition song – Cry Me A River by Justin Timberlake
Favourite performance – Don’t Let Go by En Vogue
Christmas song – All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey

Read more:

Sunday, December 04, 2011

It's Amelia v Marcus v Little Mix in the Final

Little Mix actually sounded quite good as they started whatever the group let's sing along song was to get the show underway tonight. Then I realised they were miming. Now that doesn't mean that they couldn't be a highly successful act - it may be the way it has to be for them, with well-written and recorded singles justifying all the hype that's building up around them and leave the live stuff for a while.

If they do get through to the final then that means they must have bags of support and so could well win.

Justin Bieber also mimed although the camera man had had instructions either to maintain a massive distance or take an angle that had the mike covering his mouth throughout the whole performance. It was a very uninspiring affair and I have no idea how he's made it so big or why they bothered bringing him over for this show.

Then we get an awful performance by Kelly Rowland which made you wish Cheryl Cole was back again. Dreadful, all over the place and in a bikini for no apparent reason whatsoever. She must have been wishing she could put on the sort of show that some of the contestants have been doing and I would find it quite difficult to pay much attention to her criticism of acts after watching that. Come to think of it, she has hardly said anything of much value throughout the whole series.

Eventually we get to the vote and, as the bookies predicted very accurately, MishaB is the one who doesn't make it to the final.

It's now anybody's guess and should be fun to watch and, hopefully, listen to. My vote goes to Amelia but it really could be any one and the big money is on Little Mix.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

It Ought To Be Farewell to Little Mix But...

The betting odds at the close of tonight's show say a totally different story to what we saw and heard.

These show MishaB as a virtual certainty to be sent home, with Little Mix (Betfair can't change the name from its original Rhythmix) and Marcus pretty definitely in. At one point Marcus was 40-1 against being sent home but his second performance didn't help him maintain that level. Amelia Lily seems to have those with the money in a bit of a quandary. So what does the money know that we don't? Interesting. We'll probably won't find out tomorrow either.

Misha B
Dancing In the Street
A reasonable enough performance. Not a lot more to say, really. She looks a lot better although the teeth whitening was a bit overdone. I'd much rather have been watching Martha & the Vandellas, though, on an old black and white screen or Mick and David with their version. There was just no excitement or real desire to go dancing that came across. All a bit designed and created for our benefit. She does make an effort, you have to admit, but it's all a bit average and notes just nowhere near accurate enough so recording companies will have to spend a fortune on autotuners if they do take her on.

Pretty Pretty Please
Pretty pretty good. Indeed, I have to say 'well done' to MishaB for making a big effort and she would deserve to get through to the final on the basis of her performances tonight.

Amelia Lily
Ain't No Mountain High Enough
What a difference. Looking like a ready-made pop star and so confident, every note where it should be. This is a pretty tedious song at the best of times and MishaB definitely picked the better track but Amelia Lily is the one who can really entertain and deliver.

I'm With You
Wonderful performance of the rarely heard Avril Lavigne number. This truly held everyone's attention and, whilst MishaB had really made a good job just before, this was far more.

Little Mix
You Keep Me Hanging On
Disappointing. The lead missed some important notes and when the blonde took over near the end it was like listening to a totally different track. How they can be favourite to win when sounding like this I do not know. Unless they pull something amazing out of the bag then they'll be lucky to get through to the final, never mind win it. No chance.

If I Were A Boy
Really nervous start but eventually they get it together just as it's time to go back to the slow low bit at the end which, again, they can't get right. The problem I have with this group is not just that they don't seem to gel any more, being presented on stage as four separate singers again who seem to come from completely different singing style backgrounds but also the fact is that they are not very good, well, not tonight anyway.

My Girl
Nervous start but once he got into his stride he was good, very naturally presenting this classic as if he was born to it. Great choice for him, although the slow number did catch him out a few times - not as easy a song to perform as you'd think.

Can You Feel It
Rubbish song but well done. Still not as competently presented as we're used to seeing him being but this guy is good and deserves to get through.

Although Marcus wasn't on top form tonight he should be a safe bet for the final and, indeed, is the favourite to get there. Amelia simply must be there after those fabulous songs. There's no judges' vote tomorrow so it's all down to fan votes. Rumour has it that Little Mix get through which could well cause some interesting headlines. MishaB not making the final after tonight's efforts won't go down too well (although I still don't see her making a huge impact in the recording industry). Perhaps Marcus will be the one to go, so helping SYCO avoid too much controversy and, to be honest, he wasn't that great. Monday might be a good day for the Chancellor of The Exchequer to announce that we're all doomed.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Even though she didn't say, we know who Kelly wanted to stay

Much as almost everyone had predicted, Janet and Misha received the fewest votes. Janet may have hoped that her usual huge following might have kept her in and it still might if the judges take it to deadlock.

Janet is first to sing with a beautiful version of Chasing Cars, the Snow Patrol number that suited her so well and you did have to wonder why on earth she didn't do that on the show itself.

MishaB sings out of tune On My Own by someone I don't know. With her hair in some sort of atomic explosion cloud above her head she hasn't got the visual appeal right at all. She gets a lot better tuning-wise as the song progresses but she's no winner, even if she survives.

Louis has always been a Janet fan but sends her home. That must be her out. Tulisa sends Janet home and that's that. It doesn't really matter that Kelly can't decide because, by not deciding, she did, in fact, seal Janet's fate.

Not a good decision but, to a great extent, Janet brought that on herself by some poor recent performances and I'm just glad I didn't put a bet on her when tempted at the very beginning when we all thought she was a certain finalist. With Frankie. Ah, those were the days.

And MishaB must be a dead cert to go next week.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Killing on two channels tonight.

I had high expectations of tonight's show with the track list looking ideal for most of the five remaining acts. An hour and three quarters later, only Amelia really showed that real X Factor that we're looking for in both performances. Marcus was great in a slightly incorrectly titled I'm Your Man and that was about it. Janet and MishaB are in trouble tomorrow so Janet will be spending tonight working out how to put MishaB out on stage and MishaB will be seeing what she can do off stage. Maybe a Sunday headline will help her out. Little Mix? Oh, they were OK.

With the amount of song murdering going on tonight I wondered whether I'd have been more entertained watching The Killing on BBC4 after all.

Little Mix
Apparently that was a Justin Bieber song. Clearly I need to pay more attention. Mixed cleverly with a bit of The Supremes that worked well and should see the group safely through to the semi-final. They sound good together and have fun on stage. Some of the hairstyles and clothes don't show them as particularly pretty girls and I'm sure they looked better as individual artists many weeks ago.

Well, that was a bit boring and not exactly a good song choice but they did stay together and work well on stage. That won't have got them many more votes but they should still survive unless the others pull something extraordinary out of the bag and convert the extra phone votes they need.
♫7 ☼8

I was really hoping that she'd be seen to let go and have fun with the Hanson favourite. It's such a cheery song but she neither sounded nor looked at all happy and even forgot the words at one point, almost wailing as she tried to rescue herself. She did get through to the end, just. Lots of sympathy as it turns out that she was definitely not well but she'll need every single vote she can pull in if she's going to survive with the others doing so well.

Under The Bridge
This was more like it, the Red Hot Chili Peppers' track, but much reduced, ridiculously so. It is not a song that many will recognise, though, unlike her nemesis Misha's choice, and also challenging for her supporters to vote for as they'll need to. I can see she's going to need one hell of a good performance to survive tomorrow. Now that is something she can certainly do but if she continues to be below par like this then it could be her farewell, especially if she's up against either Little Mix or MishaB as seems likely.
♫7 ☼6½

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
I thought she would really deliver on this and be rocking around the stage and treating everyone to a Misha-Cyndi performance. It was accurate enough but lacked the incredible sparkle that the song should have. The rap bit in the middle was a reasonable modern touch and well-staged too but, overall, whilst far better than Janet's effort to revive an oldie, still didn't have that X Factor. And the trousers were awful. QAt least someone's finally fixed her hair and taken control of most of her image.

Killing Me Softly
She was either going to wow a lot of people or upset a lot of Roberta Flack fans with this. She missed some important notes and that was it. Downhill from there and the Fujee switch didn't rescue things much either.
♫7 ☼6

I'm Your Man
No chances taken with this one. Straight delivery, well sung by the increasingly confident and likeable Marcus. If George Michael was watching this from his hospital bed he'll be glad of the extra few bob in royalties and the chance to partner him in the final. Not bad but not fantastically brilliant by a potential winner of this competition.

Next came the Stevie Wonder number that he struggled with. Notes all over the place but he has got the ability to run and rescue things which I guess we need to give him credit for. He's safe tonight but this does show just where his limits are and, please, judges, cut out the sensational comments, please. Louis says that he nailed every note. No he didn't. maybe they get to listen to an auto-tuned version.
♫7½ ☼8

China In Your Hand
Wow. that was easily the best performance of the first set - and by a long way. She looks good, sounds excellent and is just so clearly passionate about performing. a natural star in the making but she needs some good luck and votes.

Since You've Been Gone
The Kelly Clakson one, not Rainbow. I thunk she'd have been better with Rainbow but, for all that, she was really the only one tonight with a natural X Factor. Great effort and she really should survive. Watch the repeat and you'll see what I mean - the others just look amateur in comparison, even Marcus tonight although his Wham job was up there too.
♫9 ☼9½

Sunday, November 20, 2011

This Year's Famous Five Finally Fixed

Simon must have got a Buy One Get One Free offer on Rihanna and I wonder whether she'll do the same mime as she did on XFactor USA? Actually singing tonight was Rebecca Ferguson, last year's runner-up, with a well-written number hoping for a boost in time for the Christmas sales to compete with all the others. With 1 Direction, Cher Lloyd, even Olly Murs and, for all I know the MacDonald Brothers, releasing albums she has a lot to compete with but as long as people don't get too confused between her and Leona on the adverts posters she should do well.

In the usual 'How did you think it went?' interviews with the remaining six acts, Craig sounded as though he'd seen the latest betting which has him as favourite to go.

Rihanna did an entertaining mime of We Found Love In A Hopeless Place in a tartan dress she'd borrowed from X Factor USA Rachel Crow and the stage filled with odd guys throwing each other about for no particular reason. I liked the shot of hay bales in the video. I wonder if that was the infamous Irish field video? Seems a bit insulting to our neighbours, though, to film about a hopeless place there just because their economy's screwed. The track seems to have just the one line so that'll be nice and easy for the fans to remember. Maybe that'll be next week's competition: what's the missing word in Rihanna's new single.. We Found Love In A Hopeless ... (A) Mess (B) Irish field with big hay bales (C) Place.

In no particular order... MishaB escaped as I rather guessed she might. Little Mix through as they should be. Marcus sails through. Now for the big one... it's Janet! So the voting is still going her way big time. And it's down to Amelia v Craig.

I warned the neighbours about the possibility of exceedingly bad language should Amelia be sent home. Craig wobbled to start then did a pretty reasonably passionate thing for Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. Amelia did Lada Gaga. What confidence. You and I. Fabulous. Looking great and a real star, unlike the defeated and 'I'm still just a contestant' look in Craig's demeanour.

Gary obviously votes for Craig, saying Amelia had shouted. (Good grief, he must have missed most of Misha B's performances then). Kelly, of course, votes for Amelia. Tulisa? She votes for Craig, a bit surprisingly. Louis, thank heavens, votes for Amelia to stay so it's deadlock. Although the public vote was crazy putting her in the bottom two it was at least a little more sane in putting Craig bottom and so he goes. Phew.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Two of Six Sense Victory on Movie Night

O'Leary, Dermot O'Leary, with the JB pose and clutching on to a couple of girls in very gold dresses, starts tonight's X Factor show in a style that the contestants struggle to match. Luckily two save the day.

Licence To Kill
He tried hard but the set was far more interesting than he was. At least he has sorted his hair out and the stupid fringe has gone. The suit looked good too. But he's no winning act and he's still not getting the high notes properly. He's lost the battle against Marcus for Top Boy so he may as well go now. There are better finalists.
♫7 ☼6

Kiss Me
That was pretty boring too. Accurate and quite charming but very forgettable and I can't see how she keeps getting top of the voting polls. I'm really disappointed with her as she's got real talent and, doing the tracks she loves, she can move people but tonight, no moves at all on Movie night from her. Dressed in what looked like a large sweetie wrapper, she just came and went tonight. She can only get through to next week with the public vote as I reckon that, whoever she's up against in a sing-off, she'd not get the judges' backing. That may be wrong but that's how I see it. Hopefully, she will get the usual support so acts that have no hope can be got rid of and she'll revive to entertain us a bit more like she used to again.
♫9 ☼7

Wow! That was a class performance. The Aretha Franklin number that Tulisa said she'd never heard of may not be one of my favourite tracks but her presence on the stage, determined delivery and sheer professionalism just blew the previous two efforts out of the water. The other acts must all be so pissed that Frankie left and allowed her back in. They stood a good chance of beating him. Not Amelia. Even if Gary correctly pointed out that she was a semitone out most of the time she'll be through safely to entertain us for another week. Are we sure she's only 16? Remarkable.
♫8 ☼9½

I Have Nothing
Choosing a track from The Bodyguard I was worried that she was going to do the big one but instead we got the other Whitney Houston number. She was competent enough but still uninspiring and having to watch all the sympathy vote grabbing stuff beforehand was so tedious. After all the tears surely the producers must find a way to keep her out of the bottom two this time? That's the only way she will keep out. That's probably going to be more interesting than her performance was.
♫8 ☼6½

Little Mix
Don't Let Go
A decent group this. They're working together well. They look as if they're trying just a bit too hard in places - and occasionally more than one of Gary's semitones out. And they're hardly 'the best girl group to come out of the UK' as Kelly announced. Sometimes the judges seem to be on another planet.
♫6½ ☼8

Higher and Higher
Great performance. The Jackie Wilson style really suits him and he's so right to stick with it. He should get bags of support for this. After a lucklustre evening generally, he shone and seems totally at ease on stage and also gets the right notes in the right places.
♫10 ☼9½

So, if justice were to apply, Marcus and Amelia will be safely through and the rest all sharing the bottom two positions. If the Misha B sympathy nonsense keeps her safe this week then that leaves Craig, Janet and Little Mix. Craig should then be the one to go and, at the time of writing, he's the bookie's favourite.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lady Gaga to Kitty: "Let's Go Get A Drink!"

It really looked as though Janet might well have come to the end of the line but reliable sources tell me that she has, actually, been consistently top in all the voting polls throughout the live shows and so she stayed out of the bottom two after all.

That left Misha and Kitty to do battle. Kitty gave us a good but not really inspiring version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow and Misha produced a wonderful Who You Are, the Jessie J number in response that was better in all respects. I half hoped that it might go to deadlock with Kitty possibly getting saved with a higher number of votes but it didn't work out that way and it was her turn to go.

On the Xtra Factor later this evening, though, there was more than a little comfort for Kitty when Lady Gaga, in a wonderfully unscripted move, surprised everyone by giving her a huge sympathetic hug and then saying "Let's go get a drink!" And they did just that. any hope that Ollie and Caroline may have had planned to interview the superstar disappeared so I wouldn't be at all surprised if we hear a great deal more of Kitty and she'll get plenty of opportunities to put on some of the shows that I firmly believe she'll do well and, to be honest, she'll do just as well with a bit of help from Lady Gaga as she would from the show which she was not likely to win anyway.

The other news is that Amelia has now shot to become the bookies favourite, down to just 4-1 on Betfair, above Marcus after last night's amazing come-back. I still don't see where Craig fits in to all this and, if no-one does anything disastrous next week, that may be his last, leaving just Marcus to handle all the girls.

Amelia Returns And Steals The Show

It's Lady Gaga v Queen tonight. Well, it should be but I found myself watching people who left years ago. I had to watch a recording and had no idea what was going on but fortunately a quick fast forward brought the current acts onto the screen and it appears that London suffered some power cut or something. So, with Dermot once more doing a superb job presenting in difficult circumstances and, in addition, we get to find out who out of the four acts eligible, who will actually be back on the show.

It promises to be an exciting night and it starts well...

Kitty ♫10 ☼8
Don't Stop Me Now
Really powerful and a performance that was not only totally in tune but she genuinely looked a star too. She was mostly hidden behind some bits of furniture for ages but eventually came out and took over the stage. Dermot said that there were also some prancing leather horses on there too but I have to say I didn't notice them as she was worth watching. This girl is damn good and now she's getting better make-up advice is far more likely to appeal to voters than in the early days. I can imagine people paying to see her show and, as Gary says, if she is able to capture the public's imagination with a less staged and acted performance then she could match the others if not defeat them.

Craig ♫7½ ☼7½
A good start that made you think 'Yes, the guy's got an interesting version coming here' and then it went all a bit average until he pulled it back together at the end. There were quite a few strange notes along the way. He can bring a fair amount of originality and atmosphere to tracks but not enough to combat some of the problems of notes and, of course, the fact that he just doesn't look right.

Li'l Mix ♫8½ ☼8½
They did a brilliant job of a tough Lady Gaga track. Very tight and absolutely spot on with their timing and tuning and with excellent vocals from the strong lead. Looking fun and modern, they're justifying their existence as the most successful girl group act on X Factor and I see them in the final.

Janet ♫8 ☼8
Somebody To love
I was hoping this would be the Bee Gees track but, of course, it couldn't be and was the Freddie Mercury one. She seemed much happier back in her own zone and not trying to be something that she's not and you just couldn't help being moved by a captivating performance. A beautifully controlled and unique way of delivering the Queen track. and yet... and yet there was something missing that I can't put my finger on. With such strong acts in the competition now, and this show really has come alive a  last then I have doubts as to where Janet will fir in to the next few weeks. She could well be vulnerable this week and much will depend upon who she's up against.

Marcus ♫9½ ☼8½
Another One Bites The Dust
He'd never match last week's definitive Marcus performance. This was good but, again, something was missing and it was a bit like the sort of thing that they do to introduce American Idol . He was happy enough on the stage and dancing well but the whole thing was just a little forgettable. A nice guy, though, and he deserves to be here.

Misha ♫7 ☼6
She was singing the track that Kitty had wanted. She seemed to leave exactly the same gaps between each word and you just didn't feel that she actually felt or meant the words that she sang. She's a confident and competent performer but I wasn't impressed and no way would I pay to hear that track again. Presenting a much better and more pleasant image to the cameras, however, will not do her any harm. She'd be my act to go this week but I suspect she'll stay. In many ways I'm glad that Kitty didn't get the track because she may have done something else much better!

Amelia ♫10 ☼10
Winning the come back vote by a very substantial margin, that may be an indication of just how wrong Kelly was not to keep her at the outset. Looking great and, especially bearing in mind that she only has had 48 hours to get used to being back as well as rehearsing and remembering words, where to stand what to do and all that jazz, this was absolutely superb.

The Show Must Go On she sang and, although it did actually stop after her performance many people would have been delighted if it had. I'm really delighted to see her back but not so sure the other contestants will be after this really controlled and professional performance. The song suited her well and she looked as if she'd been on the show for the whole time. This was, without a doubt, the performance of the night. fabulous. She could even win.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Second Chance. For The Show As Well As Amelia!

Now this is fascinating! X factor UK producers answer to Frankie's departure is a cool invitation to vote back in again one of the four ejected in Week 1! So tomorrow we'll get a chance to see 2 Shoes, James, JonJo and the lovely Amelia once more and, hopefully, a lot more in the case of the 16-year-old who really should never have gone in the first place. This might be just the boost the show needs to start to match its American counterpart that has totally eclipsed the original in terms of talent and judges' abilities.

Perhaps Misha and Craig could be caught with a bag of sherbet or some ex-NOTW journalists can find some PIs to follow Marcus around and discover that he really is Jackie Wilson after all.

Mr Wilson

Mr Collins
Betfair have Amelia as 4th favourite to win at 7-1 (above Misha on 9-1 and only a little behind Marcus, Janet and Craig) with the other three still on 100+ odds. I just hope they're right and that she justifies all the high hopes we have of her when she performs again.

With Janet flagging slightly as the Live Shows progress, Kitty consistently performing brilliantly and finally getting respect for all the hard work and entertainment she's bringing to the show, L'il Mix being popular and Misha just beginning to recover from some disastrous PR, the scene is set for the girls to dominate the next few weeks in the UK edition.

The only scary news that is also doing the rounds is Louis threatening to leave too. Please don't go, Louis. You may be a fool but anyone would be preferable to giving an opportunity for the ghastly Alex to take a seat in a judge's chair. She was fortunate to win in the year that she did, with Hallelujah not exactly suiting JLS in a most unfair final. I admire some of her hits but not her manners.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Risk and Johnnie Eliminated, and Frankie Leaves

Quite a night. JLS performed their latest single Take A Chance On Me. That sort of reminded us that The Risk aren't really competing at the same level and, however good some of them have been individually, Saturday's performance was not brilliant and, sure enough (but still quite surprisingly for all that), they're the first to go.

That left us with Johnnie and Kitty, Frankie somehow having escaped what everyone had thought was certainly a bottom three position. Johnnie did Unchained Melody. He got the notes right, even the high ones, but it was still not something I can imagine many people rushing out to buy. Nice guy but I can see him doing TV work as a reward for entertaining us and singing a damn sight better than Wagner. Or put him in the jungle? Not Eurovision, though, please!

Kitty was absolutely superb with Kelly Clarkson's Beautiful Disaster and even Louis had to vote to keep her after that, as did everyone else. She looked as if she reckoned that Johnnie had won more hearts out in voting land and I would think that, had there been a 2-2 vote, she may well have gone. Thank goodness some sense seems to have prevailed.

The highlight of the show was surely, however, Florence + The Machine singing Shake It Out. Powerful and still probably echoing around the corridors of the studio as a reminder to the remaining 7 of what a really good performer can do. Amazing.

As I'm late publishing this, I can add today's news that Frankie has left too!! So we're down to the last six. What once appeared to be Janet's cruise to the final is now very open indeed. Since her early wonderful performances she's had some poor weeks and Marcus, Misha and even Kitty have shown a real sense of understanding what they need to do to win. I can even see Li'l Mix reaching the final. Craig seems to have bundles of support too and would be my choice for the natural next to go but it really does now all depend on each weeks' performances and that crucial factor - song choice.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Uncomfortable Numbers.

Dermot welcomes us to Week 5 and announces 'Brace yourselves!' which he wouldn't have done on the USA version. This was a curious night. It didn't start at all well with several people distinctly uncomfortable with 'Club Night' whatever that meant. and that made uncomfortable viewing, especially if you had a bundle on Janet winning.

Johnny ♫ 8½ ☼ 7
The crowd love this fellow who this time switched the helium on and off and you had to check it was still him singing. You Spin Me Round he did in some ways better than Dead Or Alive, although that's not saying a great deal to be honest. It was just a bit of fun but (1) he did hit the right notes and (2) the audience love him so goodness knows what'll happen. He ought to go in a double eviction but I'm not so sure. There were some surprisingly much weaker performances tonight.

Janet ♫ 9 ☼ 4
I Want You back may well be what all her fans are calling out after this very uncomfortable track. She even forgot some words but recovered professionally and got away with that. Her hair and general look didn't work either and I feel she's totally lost that first image of a star in the making that we all had at the start. No-one's going to buy that as a single. She is very likely to be in the bottom three this week and is vulnerable. Much depends who she's up against if the judges have to choose.

Craig ♫ 7½ ☼ 5
We're In Heaven he sang but we weren't as we watched another good singer who can't dance and sing at the same time. Or shouldn't dance anyway. He missed notes tonight and just looked flabby and silly. Not a pretty sight at all. He may have a marginally greater appeal tonight, though, than Janet and should scrape through. He'd be likely to win a judges' vote against most of the other likely candidates too.

The Risk ♫ 6½ ☼ 7
A Night To Remember. No, a disappointing night as the show dips to lower levels further. The lead is good and really should have been told to stay as the lead and leave the others to do the oo-oos. When he switched to one of the others it went seriously wrong. They could do so much better and you can't forgive them like you can Janet and Craig. They're a pretty popular group of lads, though, amongst voters and I don't see SYCO letting it descend to just the one group just yet so we can assume they'll be here next week.

Marcus ♫ 10 ☼9
Very nearly full marks for Marcus, possibly as much out of relief that the show sprung to life as for anything else. He did an excellent rendition of Jackie Wilson's Reet Petite. A good song choice for him - he enjoyed himself, was natural and absolutely spot-on with the notes, the moves, the lot. Comparing him to the other Marcus, Marcus Canty on X Factor USA, he would have blown that one out of the pond this week.

Kitty ♫ 10 ☼ 7
Like A Prayer. Kitty does Madonna. And does Madonna very well with an excellent vocal and plenty of drama on the stage. She does have a strange facial expression, especially annoying around the eyes and the cheek lines (which maybe due to the botox she admitted to using on XtraFactor). For all that, she doesn't deserve to go this week and I feel the public are actually beginning to warm to her. The judges, oddly, weren't, with Kelly and Louis having a right go at each other over her.

Frankie ♫ 7 ☼ 4
I've Got A Feeling Frankie's going to go tonight if all the polls and papers and boos from the audience are to be believed. As it happens the polls were wrong last week and so were the papers this week, at least about the 'blonde' story at any rate. So it's down to whether he's got a chance of surviving. This performance wasn't at all bad and probably the first reasonably modern interpretation all night. But the judges were dreadfully bad about him, Louis leading the charge and some bad telly with Gary and him arguing. He looked a bit lazy but then I bet Mick Jagger did when he was that age. Because it is highly likely that he'll be in the bottom three and, if he doesn't get the bottom score, he'll be in a vote-off and I can't think of anyone they'll keep against him, I'm afraid he must be on his way out.

Misha B ♫ 9 ☼ 8
Proud Mary was a good number and helped her recover a lot of lost ground from her appearance and attitude last week. She is a great singer, no doubt, and seemed very natural and comfortable on the stage. She also looked much more friendly with good hair and less brutal clothes. Despite her big voice and presence, though, there were times when she was lost behind the backing track. She'll be safely through to next week so she'll not be worrying about that.

Little Mix ♫ 9 ☼ 9
Please Don't Stop The Music they sang and danced and generally impressed everyone. A good, tight, well-rehearsed performance and probably only the second tonight to sound particularly modern. A sure-fire act through to next week. That, of course, makes it tougher by far for the others! I do think they should change their name (again) to L'ilMix, as that's what everyone is going to call them. Sounds cooler, too.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

X factor UK Week 4 Results: Voters put Misha on notice.

Frankie must have been delighted to have survived this week. Sophie was a predictable bottom two partner but Misha was quite a surprise. That just shows how unpopular she has been as no-one can really criticise her singing voice at all. The fact that more people voted for Frankie and the really not very good Janet this week, not to mention Johnnie, might make her wonder whether the brutal design and attitude she's shown to date are the best way to succeed.

One comment on  Xtra Factor that may resound with many was "if we're voting to keep someone in and consequently have a chance of winning and having an alum released then if I had to choose whose face I' d prefer to see on that album then I'd definitely want Sophie." As someone who thinks of 'album' as a 10" square card affair then add hair, shoulders, arms and legs to that statement. But, in all reality, unless she'd suddenly found some amazingly suitable tracks and the ability to start on time and in tune, Sophie wasn't going to get very far.

Sophie gave us a very controlled and emotional track, wobbled a bit at the start but she did a lot better than yesterday. It was another surprise to find Misha off tune as well when she did Kings of Leon Someone Like Me. She was better than Sophie, though, and deserved to stay.

So no more surprises tonight then.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

X Factor UK Week 4: Should they stay or should they go?

Sometimes you wish they'd just not bother with silly themes for X Factor. I mean, it's scary enough with Louis and Kelly and even more so with Alexandra Burke on the other side of the desk. Dermot O'Leary also did a good job of frightening the pants off anyone who knew him well by dancing at the start. Suppose that was marginally better than the contestants dancing, though, so let's be thankful for small mercies.

The Risk
The new version of The Risk kick off the show with Ashford brought back yet again, this time from recently evicted NuVibe, when Ashley left in the week. I guess we need to be a bit gentle on them as they've only had a few days to work out what they're doing, plus all the strange requirements that the show needs. At this rate Louis and Simon will be part of the group by the final. This was an easy-listening version of Thriller. Not very impressive at all. their star quality has improved, though, as the new guy is popular.
♫ 6 ☼ 9

Here comes the pencil-shaped old guy. Take a suck of the balloon and keep away from the flames on those big candles, Johnny. Louis was going to dress him in latex but didn't want a rubber Johnnie bouncing round the stage so he gave him a suit. He sang well enough. Well enough for a wedding or something, but not a £1 million contract. The crowd are loving him, though.
♫ 8 ☼ 9

She did Bang Bang, as it was in the David Lynch movie theme. Cool start but lost it a bit in the middle. She let nerves get to her by the seems of it. I also wonder where that special quality will be coming through that I think she possesses but we have seen little of yet.
♫ 6½ ☼ 5

He was well in his element with Superstitious. an excellent performance which woke us up a bit, thank Heavens. He did look more like a Marcia tonight than a Marcus but I suppose we can't hold that against him. Nice job.
♫ 9 ☼ 8½

Tainted Love. Very competent, if a bit predictable version. Just can't get excited about this woman and her outifts and styles really put me off. The rhino horn hairdo was bizarre. Not Gaga bizarre but yuk bizarre.
♫ 9 ☼ 5½

Every Breath You Take. Oh dear. What happened at the start? I almost expected her to stop and ask to start again. So off tune from the one you always thought would be spot on. Nervous and wobbly, she did eventually gather herself together but it was only a glimmer of her former brilliance. Not good enough, reminding me of Vicky's fate a few year's back (although she did go on to do really well).

Funny thing is that when I listened to a recording this did sound better. Perhaps we should always hear her tracks twice to give us a chance to tune in properly. Instead of her tuning to us we tune in to her. Novel.
♫ 4½ ☼ 8½

He seemed much more relaxed tonight. Obviously had a good night's rest! This guy's good but Should I Stay wasn't a brilliant way to show off his qualities. Not bad and he should definitely be safe but I'm waiting for those star performances that we all expected at the start. He's far better when he let's go and does it his way.
♫ 8 ☼ 9

Sweet Dreams. At last. a really good act to make the programme worth watching this week, which it hasn't been so far other than for some morbid reason. She was first class, with vocals that made you forget even how good Misha had been in that department. add to that a great show and, slowly, the make-up people are getting it right and, perhaps, the public will start to warm to this genuinely talented star.
♫ 10 ☼ 6

Little Mix
Once a bunch of disparate individual contestants, then a group or two, then Rhythmix and now Li'l Mix. they did the Britney Poison number really well and you can imagine them winning if they keep up this good work and get the right tracks each week. Several of the singers are excellent on their own and this li'l group could be the surprise in future weeks.
♫ 9 ☼ 8½

OK, the boy can sing. Pity it was an Adele number which we are beginning to get pretty sick of now. He should have left this for one of those dangerous weeks when he might have been at risk. Tonight he could have sung a Pinky and Perky number and been safe in comparison to most of the acts.
♫ 10 ☼ 7½

Difficult to call this week. Frankie is vulnerable, despite a reasonable performance. I just don't think he'll get the support. Remarkably, he could be joined by, real shock, horror ... Janet, or even, dare I say it, The Risk! More likely it'll be Sophie with Frankie and, this time, it could be the one with the lowest public vote. Too close to call. Against either of Janet or The Risk, though, Frankie or Sophie would be doomed.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

X Factor UK: Louis has to choose

Why it took nearly 8 minutes for the judges to decide between Sami and Kitty I don't know. For a moment I thought that Louis was going to say he'd send Kitty home just to leave it at deadlock and then the act with the lowest votes would have been sent home.

My guess is that he genuinely does think Kitty has a better chance of lasting longer and that he also sees how poorly she has identified with the voting audience to date. So there was a big risk that she might have been the bottom in vote numbers and he'd have lost her.

Incidentally, Kitty did produce an excellent performance of On The Edge.

So bye Sami. You won't be missed much.

A week when Johnnie gets the most applause. Says it all really


More confident but still no star and missing notes left, right and centre. This was a lively and determined performance after a wet one last week but Louis' "What a brilliant opening" and the praise heaped on him by all the others were way, way over the top. And he seemed to have a black pudding stuck on his head. I listened to this again and, second time around, I realised just how bad this was - totally out of tune at the start and just awful. "Turn it off!!" called my 13-year-old.

♪ 4 ☼ 6


A harp. Rock week? Yes - it woks for the Guns n Roses number. Her red hair seems to have exploded. This was a controlled but very professional performance, not exactly rock but it worked for me and will easily get her through. Every note was where it should be and I was pleased to see the clip before showing how she dealt with odd-looking journos asking stupid questions. This girl has gone up in my estimation but still may not inspire enough to win but should be a clear finalist in what, so far, looks mostly very poor opposition.

♪ 10 ☼ 8½


Cher's Turn Back Time sung well enough, I suppose, apart from some tinny and stretched top notes which I was surprsied she failed to deliver. Gary said it was boring and he's dead right. She's OK, but no star and, if it weren't for Louis and Goldie leaving, she'd not be on our screens at all. We could have heard that on a pile of old MFP albums or those where people covered hits that sold for 99p in Woolworths. She'll probably get through because there's a bundle of old people who'll vote for her out of some sympathy and maybe some Welsh people have phones too. Not prime time ITV stuff at all.

♪7 ☼ 4


These girls are very together and proving popular. This was an odd combination of a rap number I'd never heard of and "Push It" which I do. Both kinda worked but not spectacularly. I'm not sure where they'll get votes from with that mix but they should get enough this week. Dermot did a great job as Tulisa, Gary and Kelly got boring about what does or doesn't constitutes a song for 'rock' week. I mean, they've had a week, rehearsals and plenty of time to see what others are doing and discuss it. we don't need to get involved. Maybe they thought some argument would make good telly. Wrong. As for this group, well, a bit out of tune and my 9-year-old (who did know the track) said it was rubbish. I'm prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt and wish them through for the next week and, hopefully, improve enough to continue. At least they have some potential.

♪ 7½ ☼ 8


Sophie does Livin' On A Prayer in tight black leather and, finally, someone has sorted out the way she looks. We know she can hit the right notes at the right time and this was a great version of the track. I would have preferred to see her let go in a big way from the middle on instead of sort of holding herself back and almost disappearing amongst the candles but here we saw someone who deserves to be there and who could be interesting to watch develop. With the right songs, the right clothes and style, we could be in for a surprise as I have a feeling she can handle a whole range of stuff which might trouble others.

♪ 9 ☼ 8


Talk of rock week - Crying Your Heart Out??? Eh?? The old lip curl is still off-putting but he has a great voice and most of the notes are there. I still don't see him in the hit parade except for the album you buy for mum at Christmas. He'd be most comfortable in gigs where someone slightly off-beat with a good voice but little star quality can be best appreciated. Comparison with Oasis says it all. No idea what else to say about this chap. Sorry.

♪ 9½ ☼ 5


Live and Let Live is one really difficult song to sing and I'm amazed that she attempted it, not only attempted it but actually delivered really well. Compare her voice and control and accuracy to Sami and there's just no argument about who should stay in. The public still don't seem to like her much but I feel she's slowly winning back some of her detractors. Quite why she messes around with her eyes so much I do not know

♪ 10 ☼ 5½


Here's the bad boy. Seems like the only one in the whole pack this year. This was a decent performance and he looked like he was enjoying himself and was at home on the stage with the scantily-clad girls. Gary thought he did "pretty well" and that's about right. X Factor UK need Frankie. They don't need Sami. He's front runner with Betfair to go at the time of writing by quite a way. They got NuVibe right last week but £16000's worth of bets so far may have got it wrong this week. I hope so.

♪ 7½ ♪ 9

The Risk

Well, we know that we're not going to lose a third group this week. This was a slow version of Crazy, well-staged but not really that great. they just managed to hold their harmonies together, all credit for that, and there's no doubt that they've got bags of talent and support out there. This was just one of those X Factor performances that we'll just forget.

♪ 7 ☼9


Starts with a clip of Janet and Johnnie on a sofa. Johnnie clutches a mug of tea. You wonder if she's doing her bit for the community by visiting the sick or elderly. Hey, Johnnie made my household crease up with laughter and the judges too at one point. Listen to that crowd too. Bearing in mind that they're the people who'll be inclined to vote too, he must be way ahead in the poll this week! I fear he'll be around for a long time yet but, please, not a winner. He's got the JEdward / Wagner tag this year and I guess X Factor needs one. What? oh, the song. Who cares. he'll be around next week and maybe then he'll do something worth commenting on in that respect.

♪ 6 ☼ 10


There's always one performance of Purple Rain. Misha is a natural performer and is so confident on stage. In fact, you wonder why someone hasn't already snapped her up. However well she sings, she didn't get that song across anywhere near as well as I expected. It's normally a track that you find yourself riveted to but I was bored half-way through. Nothing really happened. Obviously, she'll be around for a while yet and the whole image thing was better than it has been, although she does seem rather less than friendly and you do wonder whether she actually ever speaks to any of the others or just goes home and comes in when she has to. When she does go home she should take a look at the X Factor USA Judges' Homes performance by (I think) Stacy.

As Dermot says at the end, someone has to go. The bookies say Frankie. I say Sami. Marcus is also vulnerable.

♪ 10 ☼ 7

Sunday, October 16, 2011

NuVibe go home in first public vote.

Good to have the proper theme for the judges' walk on back. Obligatory sing and dance along song came and went, unfortunately titled Hello when one of them would be saying goodbye but it could have been worse. No-one looked particularly uncomfortable except Frankie who we tend to excuse anyway.

The Wanted and Katy Perry did world exclusives of their new singles. The Wanted had a great stage display but most of us were watching the dancers. They kind of set the scene as to why NuVibe will have to work hard to stay with a good mime along to the backing track. Katy has a way with words and always manages to write something that thousands of teenagers will identify with and her latest, while not of the California Girls standard, will do well for those contemplating a break-up this Christmas and showed us what Sophie should have done but didn't.

Frankie is the surprise partner to the predicted NuVibe in the bottom two. So it looks as though the bookies had it right from the word go: NuVibe must be the judges' majority choice. Frankie's performance was definitely a bit lazy the night before so I guess he'll be turning the heat up next week now.

NuVibe didn't really stand a chance.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Week 2: Wailing, warbling and a white rabbit

The boom of Peter Dickson and cheery professional tones of Dermot O'Leary still beat the USA version hands down to get us started although Love Is In The Air as the judges enter isn't quite as impressive as the previous devilish theme.

What certainly wasn't in the air were in-tune notes (with one or two notable exceptions).

NuVibe kick off the show hoping it's not first on, first out. The bookies don't offer them much hope, odds dropping from 2.1 when they started to 1.8 by the time they'd finished. To be honest I thought they'd improved no end and the whole act seemed pretty together and not the sort of rubbish that usually needs to get kicked out in week 2. Gary was very critical but the guys may well have attracted a good number of teen votes, although the U2 number, With Or Without You was a little safe and is one of those tracks that everyone does at some point. Maybe getting it out of the way now was a good idea.

Sami looked over 10 feet tall in a massive pleated blue dress with the camera down on the floor somewhere. Very odd. Her song was the tedious I Will Always Love You but delivered in what Gary described as Cruise Ship style. Good old Louis was playing his cards safe and is clearly going to keep her banging out the easy big numbers for as long as she can get away with it. Looks like the strategy paid off with her odds leaping briefly to 20 at one point before settling back at a point which should still mean she's safe this week. The audience loved her but maybe they'd been giving away free tickets at Bingo this afternoon.

Craig warbled through a Beyonce number I'd never heard of and made a mess of it. He's not easy to watch either as his mouth goes one way and his fringe another. I can't see the voters being that impressed but everyone seems to think he's brilliant.

Janet did Falling In Love With You but didn't actually do it terribly well. Maybe we've got used to the amzing numbers she's already given us in the auditions and last week. She'll be safe for a while although I'm not convinced, as many others are, that she's this year's winner.

Last minute change by Gary has the guy doing a ColdPlay number. He's the kind of act you can throw almost anything at and he'll perform. Casual style but a lot more going on in the emotions than some give him credit for. Looks like an accident waiting to happen, or possibly having already happened and involving a hedge and backwards but, hey, who cares? He'll survive for a while yet.

Johnnie has Kylie Minogue not only in the backing track to the la la la, la-la la la laa number but also has her tweeting in support! Check out @kylieminogue for yourselves. So what can I say. I mean, she's adorable and I couldn't bear to upset her. Johnnie Robinson is a sort of stick insect who has been taken completely out of his environment and stuck on a stage. The funny thing is he loves all the camp stuff and, of course, with Louis as his mentor, they're both in their element here. A totally ridiculous helium-injected voice and some bizarre stuff going on had the audience cheering their loudest all evening. Odd but beats Wagner from last year for entertainment.

A Rihanna track I didn't recognise. Tough song. It could have worked but it didn't. Marcus clearly not on top form tonight and a final note that was neither here nor there. He won't want to remember that performance so maybe it's best if I don't write about it any more.

Nice job of the Nelly Furtado song. Not a lot more to say really. They're a bit vulnerable according to the bookies but I reckon that'll see them through safely. A cheery bunch who seem to get on well and have some fun. XFactor USA's Lakoda Rayne could learn a lot from them. One or two have great voices and we might get some surprises from this bunch if Tulisa works them well.

Professional performance. Only one of a few this week. Looks dreadful but sounds good.

The Risk
Cool guys. Sat on stools. Looking a bit uncomfortable as if Gary had glued them there. Sang really well and still up there as possible winners. Dermot O'Leary dropped the name #Riskettes for some reason I missed.

Eh? She was really not good, wobbling all over the place and Kelly really did send the wrong girl home last week. Strange choice of track and dress and, well, everything. I guess she might survive but by no means certain.

Great. At last, someone who can put on a great performance, in tune and look like someone that could make records. She needs a lot of work still in the make-up department but a considerable improvement on last week's masculine horror look. The audience really don't seem so keen and if that is translated across the nation then she's not going to be around long. Great set on the Alice In Wonderland theme for the Oh So Quiet number - and a white rabbit. Not that I recall a white rabbit at the table in the book but never mind. Anyone who does Alice In Wonderland deserves a break!

This was not a good week, I'm afraid. If you've got the programme recorded, you'll need a stiff drink and occasionally something else to do for a couple of hours.

X Factor USA Judges' Homes Pt 1 Recap

This is the show in which three pretty girls ask Simon Cowell "Help, be mine tomorrow, touch me now" while one can't get no satisfaction either. As he says at the end, "It's going to get hard.."

Enrique Iglesias, Rihanna and some guy called Pharrell join the other judges to help them decide which of the 32 remaining acts make the 16 to appear in the Live Shows. Mariah Carey should also have joined Simon but rain stopped her play or plane for this first part of the next round.

I lost count of the number of times we get told who was going where and with whom. If you don't know you'll find out soon enough. Suffice it to say we're talking about grand, really impressive sets in glorious sunshine except for Paula's Place where it looked like it was a typical English rainy afternoon in October and as drab as anything compared to the picture perfect scenes that Simon and Nicole had created.

The girls rushed to clutch Simon as he entered and, with some teenagers made up to the extent that they were looking like they could have been in the Over 30s group, the scene was slightly uncomfortable viewing, especially the bit where Caitlin Koch, who didn't do the run and scream and grab bit, realises she does need to compete and attempts to give as many as she can a group hug from behind. Maybe she thought she was in a rugby scrum.

Little Brian B was first up at LA Reid's place. You have to be impressed with this kid. He's got piles of words and awkward rhythms to remember and just gets everything right in his way and in his style. He is a complete, marketable package and is bound to get some deal from someone soon. He'll be good TV for a while too so is pretty much a certainty for the Live Shows now. Not a winner but he'll be there for a few weeks. Until the round where they have to sing, that is. And can you really imagine him doing the synchronised dance number in matching tops that they're bound to introduce the Live Shows with? No. Still, the clips of him getting stroppy during rehearsals should be amusing.

Simone appears with even longer legs than I remembered and moves gracefully down the immaculate decking next to a mirror-like pool. Any shot of that scene would make nice desktop wallpaper and, whatever happens she'll surely have a calendar full of really nice photos to take home and send to her friends at Christmas. Performance-wise, Simone's been unimpressive so far. She's here because Simon likes her and, with just young lads around for advice, you get the feeling she'll get through somehow. She does have more than a passing resemblance to Sinita too, which will help. "You look fantastic," says Simon, something I just don't reckon he'd have started with had Mariah been there. She does a nice version of the Beatles' Help, restrained and thoughtfully presented. A safe audition and if she's on the Live Shows you have to wonder at whose expense? Now that's the question.

First of the groups is The Anser. Nice harmonies, great singers but not sure where they'd fit in commercially these days. They have talent but how memorable are they going to be? Hmmm. I can't remember what they did and it was only a few minutes ago.

Dexter seems to have got through largely on personality and being occasionally different enough to stand out. He's made good TV so far with a lot of after performance emotion and Jagger moves and James Brownesque bursts of delivery. He's a natural entertainer, fun and lovable. Who would have expected him to attempt a classic Beyonce track? Plenty of props to the guy for that - and he wowed Nicole on the beach in a scene he couldn't have imagined in his wildest dreams a few months back. There's always an odd act or two that gets into the Live Shows in the UK and he could be one if Simon's going to follow the same plan. Paula will be batting for him too so I reckon Nicole will be getting a few calls to help her with the decision.

Skyelor is one of the weaker acts to make it this far. A nice guy and, yes, nice voice and he even threw in a nod towards the country vote but I see him in a group rather than a solo success. Ah, too late for the groups - unless they change InTENsity to InELEVENsity. Having said that, I can't imagine ten kids staying together for long so he might still get a chance. He's probably due for the tearful "Sorry I have to let you go" shots in part 2 or 3.

Tora, on the other hand, is a strong contender. Once we get past the annoyingly obviously set-up shots of her with a spanner under a car, leaning into the engine bay with a low cut top and tight shorts, Sir Mick features once again as she hits Simon with Satisfaction. An awkward start but then she gets going and she'd be an exciting addition to the Live Shows. Rock Chick needed. She'd fit that bill nicely. Pity about the tattoos  though. Her dancing seemed out of sync with her singing - or at least with the track we heard which did make me wonder how much re-editing there'd been. The sound quality at all the scenes seemed amazingly good for open air performances. In the UK X Factor Judges' Houses shows it was really poor. Here we're getting decent lengths of tracks too and much better viewing all round. I'll not criticise the editing although I'm sure some will, especially after the autotune problems of the past!

Lakoda Rayne perform for the first time for us. Four girls who didn't make the solo categories but each with talent and, of course, looking great too. We even get a caption to say "Cari's House" where they rehearsed initially and, by the looks of it, the prize money might not make that much of a difference to her family finances. I accidentally ran their performance twice which was just as well for this review as I just didn't get it first time round. They seemed more like four girls doing their own thing, doing it competently but not exactly inspiring anyone. Second time round it clicked. They're actually very good. there's tension in there and I can't imagine them all getting on that well off camera and they'll never win but they do have appeal and clever management and song choice might get them through.

Stacy gets a much improved appearance with the makeover, although the mouth still troubles me. What comes out of it does too when she starts screeching the long high notes. If she could stop doing that then people will love her because otherwise she is one brilliant performer, confidently and expertly presenting Purple Rain with a version Prince would have been proud of. The notes were all spot on and she's got that presence already that says she's going to get somewhere. Stacy's a sure-fire Live Show act and we'll be seeing her on screen for a good many weeks yet. Enrique Iglesias made the quote of the evening with "I think the neighbours heard that!" (Cue horizon shot and not another property in sight!)

The Brewer Boys - another act that had virtually no screen time before. I guess they were too busy playing computer games. Once you stopped wondering what kids Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan might have had together and could concentrate on their performance you got the impression that here's an act that you could just say "Hey, kids, go and entertain people," and they'd do it. Really accomplished. Geeky dancing that wouldn't have been out of place in a Footloose movie but, strangely, it didn't seem to matter. They were doing this as if it was in their own back yard. They have to be in the Live Shows. Pharrell didn't get it but I think Paula did.

Phillip Lomax has stayed under the wire so far and neither got the big write-ups or the embarrassing put-downs either. You had to have some respect for the guy doing a Rihanna number whilst she-with-the-big-forehead sat there a few feet away. Some challenge but he took it and brought yet another quite unique style to the show with his Brat Pack 50s style and good looks. A good job done here and I'd love to see him make it but he'll need five of the other boys to be less impressive. A difficult time ahead as I couldn't call it as to whether he gets through or not.

Elaine G does an Oasis track, and does it confidently and almost immaculately. Maybe too perfectly, I wonder? She is very professional but she has Stacy to compete with and I don't see both of them getting through. I wonder what she'd have done with Purple Rain? That would have been interesting. As she finished on the predictably annoying big high note the scene panned back as if the camera guy had been blown away, literally rather than being that impressed! Or both, I suppose, as she was pretty damn good.

Back to Simon's pad - and it's interesting that the places are called Judges' Homes in X Factor USA as opposed to Judges' Houses in X Factor UK. I suppose you folks get to see the actual places they live whereas UK contestants are flown off to what look more like hotels in foreign lands (or a small holding in Ireland for Louis Walsh's unfortunate guys in the past). Caitlin graces our screens and we're reminded that she's a 'Cook' not a 'Cock' once more. She's obviously realised that Sinita, I mean Simone, has made all the moves so far and asked for "Help" from the boss so she tops that completely by looking him straight in the eye and gently singing "Tonight you're mine..." Completely. Once you got over wondering what on earth must have flashed across Simon's mind at that point you'd hear a beautiful version of this 60s number. Every note and intonation spot on. Why hasn't this girl already been taken on by someone? In a way, it may be too late for her as she lacks that modern edge that would make her stand out. Or she could have lied about her age and not been out of place in the Over 30s where she would have stood a better chance of getting through. She's another excellent act who will be on the margins of coming or going in the next shows and, strong though she looks, tears could well fall. Steve, brace yourself.

Nick Voss next. I keep hearing Elvis which I suppose could be regarded as cool nowadays rather than just an impression act but I just don't see how he'll fit in to the Live Shows where he'll be told to do something else. Sometimes he looks and sounds very good and then sometimes he looks and sounds plain wrong. Had he stayed in character all the way through his track then it might have been better but switching from the 50s to 70s style actions served only to confuse us all, not least Rihanna.

Quite how Steve Jones managed to get from one part of the world to another in such a short time I do not know and perhaps the editing team could at least make sure he wears the same things for the sake of continuity if nothing else. Sun up, sun down, rain - and they say the English have crazy weather. Thereagain he is Welsh, and that might explain a lot.

4Shore are the band with the silly name but they can sing and sing well, naturally together and they've flown through the rounds so far. They may have come to a halt here though, without LA Reid on their side. They get a poor song and just didn't make any lasting impression other than memories of something like The Four Tops in red. They know what they're doing and deserve another chance to get through but are probably up against the StereoHogzz for the one place to fill with their style.

James Kenney is another act that has escaped a lot of the cameras to date. he reminds me of David Cook and might have stood a good chance in that year's American Idol. Here, today, 2011? I don't know. He's a solid, reliable performer but will he sell records? I say that we've hardly seen this guy so far but maybe we have and just haven't remembered him as much as the others. And that could be his problem. If he does scrape through then good luck to him and it would be good to see more of an earthy rock element too from someone not bordering on 50. Nice guy, though.

The first part of the Judges' Homes edition ends with Drew. This is a fabulous way to leave us wanting more. In a stunning scene this 14 year old going on 24 year old absolutely shows how it should be done. A standout audition so far and watch the download figures for this clip on YouTube. Amazing. But...  "It's going to get hard," says Simon afterwards, ominously.

Now what he could do instead is put Drew with Janet Devlin from X Factor UK and there he would have a guaranteed Christmas No 1 Album across both continents. Neither need win their respective competitions to make their money and leave the show clear for someone else to have a chance.

Friday, October 14, 2011

X Factor USA The Brewer Boys at Paula's House

Again, something we missed last night that deserves a replay. Whatever you may think about these guys looking like that and doing a Rihanna number,  this is another classy act in the rain. Why couldn't the UK find a pair like this?

X Factor USA Drew Ryniewicz at Simon's House

While we're waiting to catch up with the missed show, here's one of the stand-out auditions we didn't see last night in the UK.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

X Factor UK Week 1 Results

Well, what a night. Louis, as expected sent JonJo back to the real Boot Camp to do Kinks karaoke numbers in Afghanistan where he'll be more appreciated. Of course, that implied that he kept the ridiculous but 'entertaining' (eh?) Johnny Robinson, the gay helium singer and the tedious Sami who will do 80s karaoke numbers here for a while and bore the pants of us.

Gary, again, as expected and pretty sensibly, sent James home as punishment for losing his nerve and not exactly inspiring anyone with his rendition of Ticket To Ride. The guy does have talent but singing to yourself half a mile away from the audience only works if you really get all the notes right and don't look frightened stiff.

Tulisa has gone up in my estimation for her brave decision to get rid of 2 Shoes, the Essex comedy act. That I hadn't seen coming but was delighted to have got it wrong. NuVibe were her other option but, whilst the chunky loud girls had bags of character and made you smile and even could manage a few more notes than most of us would have guessed by looking at them, there was no way they were going to go far in the competition whereas NuVibe might just turn it round for a few weeks more.

Kelly, however, produced the shock of the night by sending Amelia Lily home. This girl has already built up a huge following, looks good after the makeover and has all the makings of a cool young rock chick who could do well. Her auditions have been excellent to date and whilst Billy Jean last night may not have been a great example of what she can do, she had far more star appeal than Sophie, who'd been nervous and is someone no-one quite knows yet. I would have loved to have seen Misha go home. She had a terrible dress on, yet again, and seems to me to be one of those girls who has a massive wardrobe at home and determined to show just how bad her design taste can be each week. I can vaguely forgive the dress sense, well I can't but I was willing try for a while, but what I didn't like was the smug look she had when she was told she was staying. It kinda said "Yeah, of course I am, bitch. I got rave reviews yesterday and the week before and the week before that and no sister o' mine is sending me home today. I'm gonna kick that Irish chick's butt too and now the pretty chick's gone I gotta free ride through to the final. Yo sister." As you'll gather, I don't like Misha very much and really don't look forward to her performance next week, whereas I would have wanted to watch Amelia Lily get her act together and bring some non-Diva excitement to the place.

I do wish Sophie well, though. She should survive for a while if she chooses well and doesn't mess around with makeovers too much. Her performance last night was pretty unique and competent but it's Janet's votes she'll be fighting for, unfortunately, which could be hard to win.

OK, got that out of my system. We now have the final 12 and from next week it'll be you and I who get to choose who the judges can pick from.
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