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.

X Factor UK Live Show 1

The first UK Live Show. 16 acts, all with makeovers, not all better as a result, and a chance to show us what they can do for a full track instead of carefully selected clips of them doing stuff they might either not have chosen themselves or were obliged to do with others in Boot Camp.

At first glance this looks a strong crowd and I'd have thought it would be really difficult for three of the judges to select someone to send home. Louis, as ever, will pretend to have trouble but only has Kitty with any chance of lasting for a while and even she will need to overcome a lack of adoration in the voting public.
Welcome back Dermot, too, who is a breath of freash air after watching Steve Jones' wooden efforts and fatuous comments on X Factor USA which is running in parallel on ITV2, just a few weeks behind.

Someone does need to sort out Dermot's make-up, though, and most of the men for that matter, to prevent us being dazzled by the reflecting lights on their foreheads.

Amelia Lily has the task of opening and it's a great start. Brilliant, in fact, with her interpretation of Billie Jean by Michael Jackson. She is one of the few who look better now than in the early stages when the blonde and the black seemed heavy, being replaced by a new, slightly softer look. Amelia would normally be totally safe but in a group with Misha and Janet she must be glad that the comparatively unknown Sophie is on hand to make Kelly think a bit about who should take the hit. This girl has star quality. I can see her selling records but some of the notes need to be found more accurately. Let's put that down to a 16 year old's nerves.

Johnny Robinson tries to sing Believe by Cher. This is where the fun starts as this guy, whilst charming, is way out of anyone's idea of an X Factor winner. It just isn't going to happen. He's already won in a way. People like him. He's had a great month or two of an experience and his natural character may well find him jobs as a talking head on panels like Big Brother has after the show and things like that where I can see him fitting in and enjoying himself. He sounded as if he'd been inhaling some of the helium from balloons. Some dancers appeared and lifted him up at some point for no apparent reason. They should have dropped him. Wearing a ridiculous silver mac he is the show's JEdward, or the 'Circus Act' as Gary called him.

Rhythmix are complete unknowns. They sang Superbass by Nicki Minaj which not many viewers would be able to sing along with. They worked well together and the number was fast enough to disguise their singing or timing until they slowed down at the end when it didn't seem so good. There are definitely a couple of good singers in there and they're pretty and pretty different, standing out in the competition. They should stay this week but they'll need to be a bit stronger vocally to stay longer and give us a chance to get to know them individually.

Frankie Cocozza was the act we'd been looking forward to. There's been a lot of talk about him since the very first week and we know he'll perform well as he seems to have a natural confidence on the stage. In addition he can hold a note, find the next one and you get the feeling he lives the song. This number was The A Team by Ed Sheeran, again something more familiar to younger viewers but they may well be the ones he needs to vote. It was actually a damn difficult track too but he'd mastered it and I liked the way he didn't look for some big ending or overwhelming show. He just stopped and that performance will have done him no harm at all. Top 3 of the night on reflection.

Sophie Habibis Who? Yes, we don't know much about Sophie, except that every image we see of her presents a totally different character and that confuses us even more. Teenage Dream by Katy Perry suited her and she sat prettily like Diana Vickers used to and even sounded a bit like her. She surprised everyone with a really good performance but she's in a very tough group. One has to go and it may well be her which is a shame but Amelia has the edge I think for star quality.

Jonjo Kerr tried You Really Got Me by The Kinks. Nice guy but Ray Davies could have done better and he's 78. He just kind of stood there as if he was in a bar with friends and singing along to a track on the juke box. There was just no star quality, even if he did get the notes and timing well. I think he's likely to go in Louis' group. No, maybe he shouldn't but I think he will as he doesn't have that necessary entertainment value.

2 Shoes could have excelled with Something Kinda Ooooh by Girls Aloud. But they didn't. They started well but then it kinda fell apart. the whole production was rubbish with an old Peugeot painted pink and it was like a pathetic version of a Sheila's Wheels advert. Dreadful. they were also out of tune and out of time. They ought to go but I have a feeling they might not.

What on earth happened to James Michael? He was one of my tips to upset the whole applecart amongst the boys but whilst I could see what he wanted to do with Ticket To Ride by The Beatles, it just didn't work. Such a shame. He must be regarded as the most likely for Gary to send home but...

Misha Bryan is loud. Good, with probably the most accurate notes of everyone, but loud and uncomfortable viewing. Rolling In The Deep by Adele is one of those recent tracks that now sounds as if it's been around as long as a Rolling Stones' track. Yes, it was accurate, had a rap bit thrown in in an attempt to be a little bit different but this girl doesn't do anything for me. Respect her, yes. Like her, want to listen to her more? No. I can't imagine she'll be worried about not being here next week, though. Whilst she'd be my choice to go home that would be a complete and utter shock and I don't think Kelly does that kind of shock.

Nu Vibe did Beautiful People by Chris Brown and that suited them. They sounded OK but didn't come across as a group. Each seemed to have a character and the average that they'd gone for didn't allow any of them to shine. They're my prediction to go and I'm not sure anyone will be too concerned. Except them, of course.

I'd expected a lot from Marcus Collins and Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5 should have suited him well. He'd been one of my possibles for a Final in the early days but I was not at all impressed by this nervous performance which was only just average. It started strangely, possibly a transmission or audio problem which I don't think the judges saw. In fact they were full of praise so I'm left wondering what I missed. All very average and he'd be the send home act if I were choosing. Perhaps he's so lucky James cocked up.

Samantha Brooks is Louis' 'also-ran' act. She's a nice enough person and she has a great voice, accurate notes and all that. But she's no star, no X Factor winner and watching her doing Free by Estelle was like some Top Of The pops rehearsal from the 1980s. She'll almost certainly survive for another week, though, as JonJo will go first.

The Risk sang She Said by Plan B. Excellent. This is the group to beat after Week 1. No worries about whether they'll stay or not. Every member is a great singer in their own right and some should have made through themselves perhaps in another year. The lead, stolen from The Keys, is a cool guy and very comfortable on stage. Damn good all round and they'll be around for a good many weeks yet, if not all the way to the last three.

Craig Colton was someone I knew would sing well but how would he look? Jar Of Hearts by Christina Perri sounded more like an Anthony & The Johnsons number in the way he performed it. That's meant as a compliment as he really knew what he was doing and you also felt he meant the words he sang. A totally original take on this track and quite unique, he stood out from the crowd tonight and we all forgot his odd gait and silly hair.

Kitty Brucknell is the only real contender in Louis' category. She delivered Who Wants To Live Forever by Queen in a quite remarkable way. Unexpected. She's got a huge mountain of not being liked much to get over and tonight she made a lot of progress in winning back some love. She is a superbly talented singer and performer. If they can somehow transform her to be more likeable, and fix the horrid make-up, she's another who deserves not only to be there but to survive a long time. You just know that she'll be worth watching.

Janet Devlin brings the show to a beautiful close with Fix You by Coldplay. This girl is enchanting. She really  just is in a different league at the moment to the others. Whether future song choices, the others taking chances and getting big fan club following will be enough to help someone overtake her remains to be seen. What is likely to happen is that she'll be in the Final and lose out to the really popular other act, so be careful about those bets! Remember Leon and Steve won in previous years and Crystal and Adam Lambert only managed second place in American Idol!

Sunday will be an interesting show. My guess is that James, Sophie, NuVibe and JonJo leave.

Here are my ratings out of ten for singing ♫ and star quality ☼

Amelia Lily ♫ 7 ☼ 9
Johnnie ♫ 4 ☼ 7½
Rhythmix ♫ 6 ☼ 7
Frankie ♫ 9 ☼ 9
Sophie ♫ 8½ ☼ 6
JonJo ♫7½ ☼ 2
2 Shoes ♫ 6 ☼ 8
James ♫ 4 ☼ 7
Misha ♫ 9½ ☼ 7½
NuVibe ♫ 8 ☼ 6
Marcus ♫ 5 ☼ 7
Sammie ♫ 9 ☼ 3
Craig ♫ 9½ ☼ 8
The Risk ♫ 8½ ☼ 9½
Kitty ♫ 9½ ☼ 5½
Janet ♫ 10 ☼ 9

Information links from X Factor Updates

Saturday, October 08, 2011

X Factor USA Boot Camp Decision Time

Group 9 seemed to be on Cloud Nine as Marcus Canty and Chris Rene get plenty of screen time performing What's Going On with Brennin Hunt and a bunch of others who didn't. This set the scene for tonight's show where the cameras tended to follow certain people and you kinda guessed that they'd be the ones surviving. Something we didn't get in the UK shows or American Idol was the occasional exchanges between the judges either during the performances or just afterwards  - things only those nearby would have heard and not the usually more carefully considered announcements for the audience. "She's Gotta Go," from Simon as one little tuneless girl walked off stage being a nice example.

A bunch of what appeared to be mostly girls in Group 10 appeared briefly and we get two bars of I'm Every Woman which would have been a challenge to most of the male contestants. No idea who they were or who did well as we streaked into Group 11 doing Love Song where some people I'd never seen before demonstrated why I never seen them before. One exception was a good ol' boy called Tim Cifers who was quite impressive but that may just have been in comparison to the others who weren't.

The Brewer Boys finally get more than ten seconds air time in Group 12 and seem to be the only ones in this group who don't make a complete mess of Snow Patrol's Chasing Cars track. They seem a pretty together band and have a wholesome flop-haired look that you could imagine on the cover of an album. When they're older they could try striding over a pedestrian crossing maybe. We'll see more of them, I'm sure, if only because there seem to be precious few young lads who can hold a note in this competition, the older guys totally blowing them off the stage so far and SYCO need the mums and teen girl vote if they're going to make any money out of this. Boys don't redial umpteen times. In fact boys seldom call at all. It's not exactly cool. Can you imagine boys rushing into class the next day and jumping up and down and telling their mates how many times they voted the night before? No.

That was that. The judges now dismiss another third of the contestants and we get glimpses of one or two earlier hopefuls like Kelly going home. Not, interestingly, the little tuneless girl that Simon mentioned earlier. Seems like he doesn't always get his way. The next stage gives us a chance to see what the audience think as 60 or so move on to deliver solo performances of their choice from a range of tracks suggested. This is much more like the kind of territory they'll need to cover on the Live Shows and, with a good-sized audience too, the show is finally beginning to take shape.

First up again is Rachel Crow. I guess it must have been getting close to her bedtime. Being first on twice is still a bit strange, though. Still, she's confident and actually pretty good. I find her annoying to watch because I just don't get the feeling she gets what she's singing about. She should do Lollipop, not If I Were A Boy. and goodness knows what mum'll say when Simon gets her to do Let's Spend The Night Together on Stones Night. Anyway, yes, she'll be through, we all can guess that.

Audrey Turner follows with an earthy and loud number which included the line Ain't No Mountain High Enough which Ike would have approved of. No-one else seemed too impressed though and most of us were wondering just how old she must be beneath the stretched skin and wig.

Paige Elizabeth ought to have scored well but put in just an average performance of Somewhere Only We Know and disappointed those who'd seen her as a definite contender before.

Tiger appears and finally we get to see a genuinely good performance. He does Billy Jean, takes a chance but it works well. I tried hard to see him as a star, though, and just can't see him making it when he has the excellent Josh as competition. Josh, indeed, followed and did a couple of burrito promos before producing one of the top four auditions tonight with Up The Mountain.

Simone returns to the screen after a while. You'll remember her red hot pants. This time they were a sort of grey check and her legs seemed to have grown even longer as the cameraman also obviously noticed and decided to show us. She was supposed to sing Your Song but no-one remembers much about that apart from her forgetting the words which is probably just as well. I can see her getting through and then being the first to get voted off.

Then we get a blur of three or four acts. I can only recall Simon commenting "I don't want to hear it again" as Makenna & Brock walk off after what I had thought was a much better performance than some of the earlier stuff they'd done.

Siameze screeches something quite a lot and just looks too weird even for American TV. Brennin, in complete contrast, does the male model industry proud and sets out to wrap up his place at the Judges' Houses by looking sultry at Paula and Nicole. Either Simon or LA Reid, however, spook his style with what seems like an over-amplified piano drowning out whatever he was trying to sing and generally the whole arrangement sounded terrible. You just know we'll see more of him for all that. He's not going to win or anything but he makes good TV in the early stages.

Stereo Hogzz
Coming up next are a series of good acts: StereoHogzz are getting lots of screen time and add an great job of Cry Me A River to that. Another Top 4 performance of the night, also getting one of the best reactions so far from the crowd.

Brian Bradley does what Brian Bradley does. This little chap's amazing and very professional. I just can't see how he's going to handle the ballad round or the Let's All Dance Nicely In White Suits as the inevitable intro that will be necessary for the Live Shows. For all that, he'll be there.

Phillip Lomax and Chris Rene are clearly going to be competing in the Boys slot, and I wouldn't want to be the one who decides. They're both potentially big and deserve the success they've had so far. We'll see more of them in future weeks. Phillip may win out on the cool front.

Nick Dean reappears. I could have sworn that he got kicked out earlier but, whatever, he does a reasonable job of rescuing himself and girls will like him. He just doesn't match the previous pair, for instance, and unless they stuff him in some group I reckon his days are numbered on this show.

I really do find Stacy Francis difficult to watch. She's good, bags of talent, great voice and tremendous emotion comes across as she blows the audience away with Summertime. The best performance of the night. But why oh why does she insist on that long high note. It just makes us think she's showing off. We don't want to hear it any more. We can hear you can sing so shut up now and go away. Come back next week and try and remember what one of the coaches had said before: "Less is more, OK?"

Steve Jones had been making the odd appearance here and there and all credit to him for a commentary that didn't remind you that it was him doing it. He's like an audio overlay, information is provided but not intrusively. Ryan Seacrest and UK's old hand Dermot O'Leary you can't ignore. Steve you can ignore if you want to. You get to choose. Unless, that is, he's got the short sleeve blue shirt on. Then it is impossible to ignore as he has a rich brown face and lily white arms which just look very odd.

Quite why they bring Steve on at this point is not clear but perhaps we needed a break before watching Tiah. Tiah's become one of Simon's Girls, with Tora and one or two others that we'll see more of however they perform by the looks of things. Add Simone to that list! anyway Tiah does do well this time and may have restored some faith amongst earlier doubters. She looked a lot better too. I can see her being one of those acts that look completely different each week. Following Stacy must have been tough but she did a good job. Ah, maybe that's why the inserted a Steve Jones slot.


Cari Fletcher sings well but is a bit Pia-like in that she'll do OK but not set anything alight. Drew, previously a major contender, seems to have dipped a bit with a song that didn't suit her or the audience as much as she'd probably hoped. Caitlin Koch won the day amongst this trio of talent this time with a spotless rendition of Cry Me A River. I love this girl and Steve gets her for his first ever after performance interview. She's not a likely winner, just great to watch.

Leroy Bell winds up this round with a nice tone and he's something of a dark horse in this competition. Great singer in a smart, quiet way. He and Cari should get together. Again, not a winner but nice to see him getting good reviews.

So, after a whole load of music and precious few silly interruptions in a good evening's entertainment, we get the lists of people through to Judges' Houses. Eight in each category. We also get confirmation of the allocation of categories to the judges. And here, at last, they are!

Simon's Girls

Rachel Crow
Caitlin Koch
Tora Woloshin
Simone Battle
Drew Ryniewicz
Jazzlyn Little
Melanie Amaro
Tiah Tolliver

LA Reid's Boys

Brennin Hunt
Brian Bradley
Skyelor Anderson
Nick Voss
Tim Cifers
Phillip Lomax
Marcus Canty
Chris Rene

Nicole's Over 30s

Elaine Gibbs
Tiger Budbill
James Kenney
Josh Kracjik
Christa Collins
Dexter Haygood
Stacy Francis
Leroy Bell

Paula's Groups

2 Squar'd
The Brewer Boys
Illusion Confusion
The Anser
In addition, two groups were made up from solo entries:
InTENsity (Nick Dean, Francesca Duncan, John Lindahl, Emily Michalak, Arin Ray,
Lauren Ashley, Ellona Santiago, Ma’at Bingham Shango, Austin Percario, Emily Wilson
Lakoda Rayne (Cari Fletcher, Dani Knights, Paige Ogle, Hayley Orrantia)

Bearing in mind that the huge kid's group includes the tuneless little girl I have my doubts about how far they'll go in that format and may well have to change their name to InNINEsity, I doubt if we'll see much more of that bunch in that form after Judges' Houses. On the other hand the make-up of Lakoda Rayne is superb and, if they get their act together, could be serious contenders.

In amongst this list there are several who the cameras have managed to avoid (or vice versa) clearly we still have a lot to learn. I'm not sure we will if all we get from Judges' Houses are snippets of performance and an hour of tears and judges justifying their decisions in words that mums can't sue them for! 

Friday, October 07, 2011

X Factor USA Rumours

I must have misread the bit about the Boot Camp being live or fairly recent. Seems it was recorded some time ago and Judges' Houses have been recorded too, mostly, which means news is trickling through from the girl who makes the tea, the boy who sets up the sound gear and, of course, all sorts of other interested people who are around at the time (including a photographer or two!), about who made it through Boot Camp as the Final 32.

I have also seen what seem to be pretty informed reports about the Final 16 appearing in the Live Shows - the important ones, what it's all about, really.

Some decisions may still be being taken though, especially in the Group department where you can expect some solo contestants to be thrown together in the hope they might do better than some of the ready-made ones who applied as groups.

It's going to be chaos, there'll be tears and there'll be more than a few surprises. In other words, Simon Cowell is up to his traditional English tricks again and that means fun for you USA viewers. The front runners aren't going to be affected by what goes on in the lower regions of the Top 16, although a particularly smart group could cause some upsets - witness 1 Direction last year in X Factor UK.

The Spoilers! page on this site contains details and will be updated as and when I get reliable information. But you might not want to look. Well, not until after the Boot Camp, at least!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

X factor UK The Big Twist is a just a little kink

After all the excitement and rumours all this has been about is the removal of 4 acts on Saturday's first Live Show. One from each group will be sent home. Quite frankly, that should be a pretty simple task for Louis. A bit tougher for the others, especially Tulisa who has only just managed to remember who is now in which group and I am still expecting them to get muddled up on the night.

Anyway, that's it. Official breathless wow announcement can be read here.

Apologies to Ray Davies for the post title.

X Factor USA Boot Camp 1. Five Hours To Impress

Steve 'The Chin' Jones tries out a Ryan Seacrest impression with "This is [pause] ..." I had to check the schedule to make sure I wasn't watching American Idol by mistake but luckily he eventually finished with "... Boot Camp." Pictures of a little girl being woken up by Mom and another brushing her teeth. (She needn't worry too much. Everyone that gets through will get the impossibly bright white treatment anyway.) Yes, this is the part where 162 acts get whittled down to the 32 who will go to Judges' Condos.

This was so much better produced than the UK Boot Camp which looked as if it had been filmed in a village hall and where chaos reigned on a damp wood stage and we spent more time being shown people arguing or wandering around than actually performing. This time they got it spot-on with full length auditions of the groups doing their bit, allowing us to see at least some of what convinced the judges to keep them a little longer.

In Part 1, 162 acts were rapidly culled to just 100 and those who either couldn't dance or who simply shouldn't have been there in the first place were got rid of. The rest were divided into bunches of seven or eight acts and given just five hours to learn the track the judges gave them. No questions, just get on with it. Prior to that, the 100 were treated to a party, presumably the 12 year olds getting fizzy pop instead of the champagne unless they managed to sneak back downstairs when their parents dozed off.

Chin Jones produced another classic piece of fatuous commentary with: "Some of the 100 remaining decide to have an early night. The others stay up and party into the night." Duh. Maybe, Steve, some went for a walk, some got off with the girl in hot pants, some watched X factor UK recordings or just said 'stuff the party I'm off for a pizza'. And whereas Ryan or UK's excellent Dermot O'Leary would have been in amongst the crowd having a good time, Chin Jones was nowhere to be seen. I guess he was rehearsing another truck window shot.

As the 5 hour fuse was set alight we discover that Ike Turner's ex, Audrey, is one of the contestants. She just appears from nowhere and even Simon seems a bit surprised as someone from the production team explains who she is and how she got in.

I struggled to catch the names of all the performers but the screen helpfully had some of the names - also a bit of a hint as to who is expected to be around for a while if they've gone to the trouble of making the overlays -and on stage came Group 1 with Drew, Caitlin Koch and The Anser looking and sounding good. Elaine outperformed Audrey Turner in my view but the Over30s category may need Audrey to make up the numbers and so both may survive a bit longer. They did Creep pretty damn well, Drew clearly establishing a place for herself.

In group 2 Jazzlyn, who I still can't believe is only 16 (and who wouldn't look out of place in the Over 30s if they're still a bit short next week), forgot her words to the appropriately titled U2 number, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. She was great, though, for all that, as was Melanie and some guys who didn't get their names on the overlay. Stacy had previously been shown holding a note for an annoyingly silly length of time - the clip in fact being shown twice which gave me enough time on each occasion to make a cup of coffee and have a chat with my mother. She managed to keep a bit quieter in the group performance and did reasonably well, seeming to impress the judges but still looking in all the shots we were shown as if she'd got a lemon stuck under her tongue and had the type of expression on her face that made you wonder whether she'd ever smiled in her life.

Desperado for Group 3 might have been one of Simon's jokes but if it was it backfired. Dani KnightsPaige and good ol' Leroy in his woolly hat excelled. Skyelor didn't but I have a feeling he'll still get through as he looks good and can probably sing other stuff better. Cari Fletcher doesn't seem to have many fans amongst the judges, despite putting in a good performance but Paige did outclass her on this crucial occasion.

Group 4 had little Brian who was duly relieved to have the rap-embellished version of Wishing On A Star. The little fellow forgot his words but was still quite determined to take over the whole thing. He's good entertainment, which might still get him through to the live shows but JenniFay, Lauren and Reina showed him he wasn't the only one determined to show off with their own excellent input regardless of what he was doing.

Josh K totally took over the Group 5 performance of Superman, with Tiger B getting Simon's attention too. James K was another outstanding act in this bunch but little Nick Dean wobbled on and off notes and completely lost it midway. That'll be embarrassing when he goes back to school on Friday.

Group 6 brought us Philip Lomax and Nick Voss doing well with I'm Feeling Good. All American cheerleader girl Kelly hardly got a look in but Tiah managed to muscle into the act and make her presence felt and heard. Quite what Simon sees in her I'm not sure. I wouldn't keep her but you just know she'll be at the Condos.

I Have Nothing At All looked like a tough number to learn for Group 7 but it finished up as one of the best with superb short notice contributions from 4Shore, Hayley and Ellona as well as the cheeky 14 year old who started the whole series, Rachel C. We'd been tricked by some rehearsal footage into thinking she was going to make a complete mess and miss all the notes but she actually did pretty well. I just don't get someone her age singing those lyrics and it didn't do much to convince me she was that good. However, I expect she'll be good entertainment value too so expect more.

Finally we get Run, for which Snow Patrol had to share credits with Leona Lewis. Well, I suppose it was her version that made the Snow Patrol writers and SYCO the most money. This was a great way to end  Boot Camp Part 1 with every one of its members bar one act doing an inspiring job and impressing, even surprising, the judges.these included Siameze FloydJeremiah, the Song Preservation Society (who??) and StereoHogzz. Some 12 year old called Emily featured in Group 8 too. She was reasonably good and I don't recall seeing her before but 12?? Really? That doesn't make sense. The act that didn't seem to do anything for anyone was Makenna & Brock. Either they're really old-fashioned, have been brought up by maiden aunts who beat them if they show any inclination towards the opposite sex or they're putting on a damn good act for the cameras by staying a safe distance from each other at all times and not exactly setting their audience alight with any passion. I can imagine them doing lift music. They'd be ideal material for Back To The Future IV if it ever gets made and a couple from 1957 is needed. In a similar vein, it is also a relief to report that Ausem were not at all obvious. I suppose they may appear in Part 2 but we live in hope that they were amongst the 62 kicked out at the start.

I lost count of how many acts had been on screen by the end of this show but I don't think it was 100 so presumably we get some more tomorrow. That should be some show with a massive 68 of them being thrown out. Tonight's show started with Paula in tears for some reason never explained. I should imagine that there'll be plenty more where they came from amongst the 68, as well as some of the 32 successful ones, in Boot Camp 2.


Monday, October 03, 2011

X Factor UK: The Live Show Twist?

Olly Murs mentioned that there's "a big twist" coming up for the Live Shows. That's got everyone wondering what the hell that might be. All good publicity too, but that's all part of the fun. So I thought I'd round up what people are suggesting:

There'll be four wild cards, bringing back someone from each category who we think has been sent home. 

C'mon.. that's crazy! Managing 20 contestants is abit over the top and, anyway, we would have heard about it because the acts concerned would have to perform which means they'd be rehearsing and some cameraman or admin staff at ITV would have spilt a bean or two by now. And for some that could be the third or fourth time they've been sent home and then had a camera crew rushing after a judge rushing after them to say "sorry we didn't mean that."

Cheryl will be back as an extra, supposedly impartial judge. 

Possible. Avoids the drama of the two-two split and kicking out the one with the lowest public vote. But that's usually good TV.

Simon Cowell will be back. 

That's a popular one but pretty unlikely as he's tied up with X Factor USA. Or is he? Depends on the demands of Boot Camp USA and Judges Condos USA as they're a few weeks behind. Weekends look free on their schedule for a while so he could fly back and join in but unless he actually changes something that's no big twist.

They switch around the judges and categories. 

Now that would give Louis a chance of not getting quite so mauled on twitter but it's a bit much to expect some one to take over a bunch of people chosen by someone else. Sounds nonsense to me.

Double eliminations for the first couple of weeks. Or four acts going in the first week. 

Personally, I always feel sorry for whoever gets thrown out in the first week unless they're a complete and utter disaster - and truly disastrous acts usually survive for a while as they get the 'Wagner Vote' so it's someone who just didn't quite get their song or self together for that first live performance, possibly of their lives, who goes. They'd go anyway - I don't think anyone from previous years stood a chance - but I still feel it's a rough bit of luck.

No-one goes in the first week. 

Following on from the last one this could make sense. Then some doubles or whatever kick in from Week 2. Still no Big Twist, though. Just a Little Tweak.

The eliminations are decided purely by the public vote à la Big Brother. Or we vote to send home, just for a change. 

Not much point having the judges in the first instance and are people really going to spend money to get rid of people in the second?

Simon Cowell will merge the two shows and have USA contestants on the UK show and vice versa. Call it X Factor Global. 

I invented the name but someone else came up with that mad idea. Not only do the schedules not really make that feasible but the mere logistics of judges and votes makes my head hurt.

Contestants vote for each other à la Fame Academy (remember Fame Academy with Robin Gibb, Patrick Kielty, Cat Deeley and Richard Park?)
Well, they are having videos from the X Factor 'House' which will show what they've all been doing. Thereagain, that didn't exactly set the ratings alight.

The winner will be Britain's entry in Eurovision 2012 and/or sing the opening thing at the Olympics.
Bit boring for a Big Twist.

Week 1 is a Chubby Checker round.

Basically I haven't the foggiest idea. Have you?

X Factor UK: 16 Through To The Live Shows

So, at last, after two evenings of pretty mind-numbing TV, lots of pool shots, tears and really quite annoying editing that stretched out the judges' decisions to such an extent that made Dermot's pause before announcing last year's winner seem positively brief, we get the final 16.

Four acts in each of the categories have made it through to the real show. Until now, we've had snippets of performances here and there, extended ones for some (thanks mainly to Xtra Factor which has been far more interesting and informative to date) but from next week we should start to see just what these guys can do.

Because all the programmes to date were actually recorded a while ago, you could have found out who made it with a few searches anyway so there were no surprises but in the Over 25s Carloynn Poole must be disappointed that Louis chose Johnny Robinson, presumably for the show's obligatory comic act, and even preferred Sammie Brookes when Goldie left. In the Girls, Sophie has been almost invisible so far in comparison to Jade who had loads of screen time. Put the two side by side with the volume turned off, though, and you can see why Kelly decided to go with Sophie. Neither are potential winners, however, so it doesn't matter too much now.

Gary Barlow had Robbie Williams with him to help with some choices but, from the eight he started with, that wasn't too difficult. Whilst Frankie has had all the publicity so far, James looks like one of those acts that make the show really interesting in that if he's as good as I think he could be then watch his progress through the weeks. Craig will let the mums' votes.

The Groups have been a nightmare to keep up with, Tulisa mixing and matching and basically taking a bundle of solo applicants and juggling them around to make some bands. She even had the cheek to take the lead singer from an established band, The Keys, and re-make an already manufactured group, The Risk, chucking out two and bringing Charlie from The Keys in. She's also made a couple of other groups, Nu Vibe and Rhythmix, including some decent talent who didn't make it through on their own. If anyone had told me that 2 Shoes would be the sole original group out of goodness knows how many must have applied to make it through then I would have thought they were mad.

Kelly Rowland has three potential winners in the Girls category in my view. If Janet gets the right tracks to perform and keeps her nerve then she will be in a category of her own. Louis, I'm afraid, has a losing team once again. Gary's James and Frankie will be competing for the girl fan votes and one will be a contender. Tulisa's groups are a mystery - I have a suspicion two will be around for a long time in the competition.

The fun starts, next week, at last!

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