Saturday, September 24, 2011

Miami, Melanie, Raisin' Long Horn and Caitlyn Plays Rugby

Something in the water in Miami seems to have given everyone some excessive self-belief. We started with Ashley who even said that she inspired herself but that doesn't say a great deal about how she felt beforehand. The view of the judges' panel seemed to show that Paula had shrunk and Simon had grown which tended to help take one's mind off the family collecting the first performer as she was sent off with four Nos. "Was my performance that bad?" she asked. Interestingly, there was no answer.

The nightmare continued with Chanel who was awful, Kanan Road who were lost somewhere along the way and the bad Dream Girlz themselves and clips of adoring parents or friends saying how great their children or relatives were and confirmed how misguided they all were themselves.

Nicole still hadn't actually said anything on the show until after the sixth act and two ad breaks. Paula was getting tinier by the minute and LA had the look of someone who had applied for a top chauffeur's job and been given a Citroën 2CV. Gloria Estefan tried to rescue Miami's image, which was rapidly descending into the mire, by appearing briefly high up in some seats somewhere but didn't quite have the same effect as Lady Gaga had had last year when singing On the Edge from a similar height on American Idol.

Caitlyn Curtis arrives on stage. I love LA's expression as he says "How old are you? Sixteen? Wow, really?!" thinking that she looked 26. Caitlyn did Taylor Swift and I could see Simon putting her through and then maybe adding her in to one of those manufactured groups that usually get put together for the live shows. However, they didn't like her and we got the real Taylor as background to her departure which was just a little harsh but there you go and there she went.

Nick Voss had one of those big build-ups before an ad break so you kinda knew he'd be OK, especially as there were prepared clips with his parents names subtitled as well. "The next contestant's going to have it hard." says LA. The Equal Opportunities Commission would have been on the phone to sack him immediately in this country. The guy does an animated version of Trouble and Paula shows just why she's so good as a judge with some spot-on advice and comments. Looking at yet another desperate mother shot, though, I can well understand why X Factor UK host Dermot O'Leary is happy to leave the job to the Welshman.

Ashley Deckard says she's 14. "Aren't you cute?" says Paula. Er, no. She talks to ghosts and assures Simon Cowell that she could bring some to the show. She had a brief shot at Price Tag and it nearly worked but her talents as a ghost-bringer were clearly better than as a singer and proven as she was followed by an appalling load of rubbish. In fact, I was beginning to think that the space débris falling through the sky this evening had actually landed on Mirabella in the middle of her performance of Summertime. Somehow they vote her through to bootcamp. Things are not looking good in Miami.

Finally, the producers must have decided that they'd annoyed viewers sufficiently and brought on 2 Squar'd - OK but nothing special, Kendra - tinny at times, Brendan - pleasant chap and much needed in the Over 30s category, someone else who sounded like Joe McElderry (X Factor UK winner 2008) that other boys will like in bootcamp and finally we get someone really good. In fact, really very good. Melanie Amaro was one of the best voices I've heard in a competition for a while. (I honestly did write that before Paula said it!) She gets a standing ovation from all four judges and she'll be in the finals.


From Miami we go to Dallas and expectations were high. "I just love raisin' long horn" isn't the sort of thing you can say on the UK version of the show, though. We saw plenty of low-voiced, laid back guys in big hats and jeans and Dylan in a strange baseball cap. I guess they don't have mirrors out on the ranches. He was pathetic.

Wesley was almost as bad and you could see the production team's work again - give us a load of crap for twenty minutes and then slowly bring us up to some good stuff before the end. Michael and Michelle looked downright ridiculous and Curtis Lawson made us all wonder whether Ashley Deckard had brought the ghosts up from Miami to Dallas, being totally out of this world but not in a good way.

The weep-and-then-feel-good bit came at last with Dexter. Starting with a reasonable James Brown tribute you could see he was going to get through but we'd have the 'Try something else' bit from Simon before he did. He could be another much-needed addition to the Over 30s.

A couple more acts whizzed across the scene and thanked everyone profusely for putting them through but I have no idea why. Caitlyn Koch pronounced her name very clearly as Cook and proceeded to head us closer to the end of the show with a second Wow Factor with an original and immaculate version of Stop In The Name Of Love and it was difficult to tell whether it was that or her looks which blew Simon away. She'll be around for a good time too.


There was a chap called Storm on the UK show last year who Simon insisted on calling Lee and it all got a bit embarrassing. Same again tonight with Zander who really did not want to be called Alexander and, despite the contestant's attitude, Simon's insistence did get a bit tedious after a while. For all that, Zander had a decent voice and, whilst he doesn't stand a chance against two or three of the acts we've seen so far, he deserved the bootcamp place and support they all gave him in the end.

Looking at how massive the queues and crowds have been for these auditions we can surely only be seeing a tiny proportion of who is actually getting through. If Simon doesn't put a fourth Cease and Desist Notice on X Factor Updates' site or tweets as @tvcritics then we'll probably find out soon who actually does make it to the Judges' Houses section. That's when it gets interesting. For now, though, it's entertainment and we do have to remember that one of these people is going to be $5 million better off by Christmas. Have we already seen her, I wonder?



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