Thursday, October 06, 2011

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.


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