Wednesday, August 22, 2012

X Factor UK returns with more hair

So here we go again. Either Peter Dickson was speaking more quietly than usual or the letters were smaller but this was a classier start than usual and Dermot O'Leary is in there at the start, along with Olly Murs in fine form, on video at least, with Caroline and the judges.

This year for Kelly Rowland read Nicole Scherzinger which could be confusing for American readers, especially when X Factor USA kicks off soon. Nicole steered the excellent and not immediately marketable Josh Krajick to 2nd place in America's version, (Simon winning, naturally, with Melanie Amaro) and if she can actually make her mind up and keep back the tears a bit while she's over here then she's likely to be an improvement on her predecessor. Gary seems a little less desperate to impress, Tulisa looks older but still very pretty and Louis has more hair in several shades of grey. He is so fortunate that Simon isn't on the panel.

The show was under way really quickly and someone calling himself Sheyi takes the stage with a big smile, great manners and obvious talent. A natural entertainer but for some reason he rasped away in a bad impression of Louis Armstrong in tight trousers which no-one in their right minds would expect to get through. I'm convinced that this was some kind of set up - maybe they didn't have anyone amusing and reasonable for the first act so got this guy to act up for a few grand. Two reasons: one, when he dropped out of the rasping growl voice for the intermittent 'yay' or 'hey' you heard a decent and absolutely in tune voice, the sort you'd expect from someone like him and, two, my daughter tells me that he's Deputy Head Boy at Royal Latin School in Buckingham, or was last year, and that's neither his name nor his style. She also rather doubted that he worked at Nandos in London - Milton Keyenes, maybe - or came from Camden. Camden does sound cooler than Buchingham, though.

We moved on and someone with a name like Feckton sings Freedom pretty well, Rick's a fireman with red blotches and gets through as does Tasha with a nice tone and a first glimpse of some real talent. Then comes Jahmene Douglas. You think he's going to be the joke act and whine a lot or something. He has a nervous laugh at the end of each short sentence and long ones seem to be beyond him. The shiny grey suit is worrying too, looking like something someone bought for him and poured him into before feeding him up.

Then the guy sings. At Last is a pretty smart song at the best of times and he is just brilliant. Every note absolutely spot on, a totally natural singer. Outstanding voice but I don't know - despite all the raves from everyone there - how will he fare as the stages progress and can we really, honestly, imagine this chap dancing to an Abba song or whatever they get the poor contestants to do on the Live Shows? Writing this rather later than I should did give me the befit of a peek at some odds and the bookies have him as an early favourite so I guess he's safely through for a while yet.

We get a better chunk of Peter Dickson now with some competition that doesn't even have a question to answer. Eh?

Zoe does a Pink tribute not particularly well, despite a build up that made us think she'd be a good act. There's some nasty behaviour as she storms off and you do have to wonder whether the return of Brian Fieldman to direct the shows has had an influence on upping the drama.

Off to Manchester next and we get Scary Spice Mel B in various shades of strange orange being particularly grumpy with almost everyone. To be fair, they all deserved it and it was quite refreshing to see a judge telling acts that they weren't much good instead of pussy-footing around as most of the others have tended to do for fear of breaking some Single Equality Act regulation.

The one that didn't get the grumps was Ella Henderson who sang one of her own compositions. Now that's a brave move anyway but both her writing and her singing are damn good. Perhaps she will find herself aligned with Adele too much and it is to be hoped that she can pull herself away from that overdone genre. One class act and another tip for the top.

These are, though, very early days. It is, thank heavens, a long time 'til Christmas and the Final! I suspect there will be more contenders than the two everyone is talking about this week.

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