Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Bugatti, a big truck and X Factor USA sets off in style

So Simon was appeased towards them, and fought no more against them but put them out of the city, and cleansed the houses wherein the idols were and so entered into it with songs and thanksgiving.

Well, that just about sums it up nicely. You may not be familiar with the Book of Maccabees in the Bible Apochrypha but you will have heard of Simon, as in Cowell, who has brought X Factor across the Atlantic to the good people of the United States of America.

It all kicked off in a fine, well-edited style this week - something that won't be quite so easy to organise, sorry, organize, when we get to the live shows.

The man himself appeared with one of the world's fastest and most expensive cars, in black of course, after a strange clip of a Welshman driving a truck across a golden prairie so strongly reminiscent of the Coke Christmas ads that I'm surprised Pepsi haven't demanded equal billing. La Reid and Cheryl Cole were given suitably massive build-ups with reference to millions of sales and artists galore. The fourth judge, Paula, stolen from early Idol panels, was 'someone who had had some hits in the past too'. We all love her, though, and just know she'll be everyone's favourite and is well-equipped to handle Simon should he need restraint.

Rachel Crowe was first on the stage to audition and an excellent choice by the producers. (It took a moment to get over the shot of her little sister stuffing a massive slice of pizza into her mouth, though.) In fact she could have been auditioning as a comedy act on America's Got Talent. She sang Mercy pretty well, although it was slightly worrying watching a 13 year-old wagging a finger at LA Reid and singing about being down on her knees. A pretty cool opening performance for all that and she'll be through to a future show or two, maybe further, if only because she'll also make good TV.

Terrell Carter represented the good looking guy in his late twenties group and impressed Cheryl with his package but not me that much, wobbling around the track and not an obvious No 1 act for Christmas in my book.

Ellona followed for the feisty girl section, trying far too hard and way OTT. Instantly forgettable. Er... who was she?

A young kid called John arrives and sounds pretty groovy for a young kid named John. He could be a contender but we only got a short burst to judge by.

Now here's the wacky section - one amazing dancer and Prince-like singer called Simonze could be worth a second look, combining Adam Lambert with a Circus Act with a bit of Alien thrown in for good measure. Then the fun, or tedium, depending on your view, continued with two old people wailing unrighteously through some completely unhinged melody. Oh dear. Add two idiot youngsters, a tuneless teen with bad attitude and that's more or less the complete X Factor set covered for anyone new to the way the show goes.

A pair of red hot pants appears and you just know that we're back on relatively normal territory again and, sure enough, Simone looks and sings well enough to get everyone except LA on board.

Now, there was a category missing: I'd forgotten the long back story, girl in tears, opportunities missed one. Stacy Francis fitted that slot nicely and put on what could be the best of the first show. She impressed Simon to the extent that he seemed to forget Leona Lewis's audition a few years back and declared Stacy's the best he'd ever heard. Maybe the wailing and uncontrolled screeching near the end didn't sound so bad there as it did through my speakers. The dog next door didn't think much of it either. Still, she'll be through to a few more shows, I reckon.

Silly bloke in silver suit was just boring. Quite what they saw when he dropped the chav trousers (sorry, pants) I have no idea but it made Paula sick. Oddly, they still proceeded to vote with LA Reid alone suggesting that he gets thrown out, something I would have done before he even came on in the first place. As the guy was clearly incapable of singing and just there to make a name for himself I shall not bother to write more. If I'd been putting this programme together then we'd never have seen what Paula saw at all. No bad thing, 'Too late', as Ray Stevens would have said.

Darlene came and went. Marcus looks like a real star - possibly one of two from the whole evening who'll get to the finals - and delivered one excellent Stevie Wonder track and wowed the place big time. Cheryl has now disappeared and Nicole did the dancing with Paula as Marcus looked on suitably pleased with himself and probably more than a little surprised.

In the second half, The Anser (sic) brought a great group act on to the stage with the first Rolling In The Deep cover of what were probably many the judges had had to sit through and mercifully didn't get through to the broadcast. I admire Adele but there are limits. In between countless obligatory references to Nicole's birthday this was a trio that clearly had rehearsed and knew what they were doing. We'll certainly see more of them and, as the subtitles here in the UK showed us Brits, Paula whispered to Nicole that the girls will like that one (that one with the woolly hat and exceedingly white teeth).

Unbelievably long and totally irelevant (or, at least, I hope so) ads for a DIY store both preceded and followed The Anser to help pay for the Bugatti Veyron shot. I would, though, have preferred another load of adverts to the girl who gave us a record six 'No's (four from the judges and two she provided herself, albeit with a couple of question and several exclamation marks) and a couple more forgettable weird acts. Chris delivered the Don't Do Drugs bit then really impressed us with an original bit of work and I fell off the chair laughing at the LA Reid seat slide dance and the expression on his face. Nice job. Not sure what Chris'll do in the Let's sing-a-long-with-Abba round or how they'll get him to perform the bland intro and dance around tracks in white suits à la Idol but he sounded like a star and will be around for a while for sure.

That's it for the first show. A good start. 

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