Sunday, November 27, 2011

Even though she didn't say, we know who Kelly wanted to stay

Much as almost everyone had predicted, Janet and Misha received the fewest votes. Janet may have hoped that her usual huge following might have kept her in and it still might if the judges take it to deadlock.

Janet is first to sing with a beautiful version of Chasing Cars, the Snow Patrol number that suited her so well and you did have to wonder why on earth she didn't do that on the show itself.

MishaB sings out of tune On My Own by someone I don't know. With her hair in some sort of atomic explosion cloud above her head she hasn't got the visual appeal right at all. She gets a lot better tuning-wise as the song progresses but she's no winner, even if she survives.

Louis has always been a Janet fan but sends her home. That must be her out. Tulisa sends Janet home and that's that. It doesn't really matter that Kelly can't decide because, by not deciding, she did, in fact, seal Janet's fate.

Not a good decision but, to a great extent, Janet brought that on herself by some poor recent performances and I'm just glad I didn't put a bet on her when tempted at the very beginning when we all thought she was a certain finalist. With Frankie. Ah, those were the days.

And MishaB must be a dead cert to go next week.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Killing on two channels tonight.

I had high expectations of tonight's show with the track list looking ideal for most of the five remaining acts. An hour and three quarters later, only Amelia really showed that real X Factor that we're looking for in both performances. Marcus was great in a slightly incorrectly titled I'm Your Man and that was about it. Janet and MishaB are in trouble tomorrow so Janet will be spending tonight working out how to put MishaB out on stage and MishaB will be seeing what she can do off stage. Maybe a Sunday headline will help her out. Little Mix? Oh, they were OK.

With the amount of song murdering going on tonight I wondered whether I'd have been more entertained watching The Killing on BBC4 after all.

Little Mix
Apparently that was a Justin Bieber song. Clearly I need to pay more attention. Mixed cleverly with a bit of The Supremes that worked well and should see the group safely through to the semi-final. They sound good together and have fun on stage. Some of the hairstyles and clothes don't show them as particularly pretty girls and I'm sure they looked better as individual artists many weeks ago.

Well, that was a bit boring and not exactly a good song choice but they did stay together and work well on stage. That won't have got them many more votes but they should still survive unless the others pull something extraordinary out of the bag and convert the extra phone votes they need.
♫7 ☼8

I was really hoping that she'd be seen to let go and have fun with the Hanson favourite. It's such a cheery song but she neither sounded nor looked at all happy and even forgot the words at one point, almost wailing as she tried to rescue herself. She did get through to the end, just. Lots of sympathy as it turns out that she was definitely not well but she'll need every single vote she can pull in if she's going to survive with the others doing so well.

Under The Bridge
This was more like it, the Red Hot Chili Peppers' track, but much reduced, ridiculously so. It is not a song that many will recognise, though, unlike her nemesis Misha's choice, and also challenging for her supporters to vote for as they'll need to. I can see she's going to need one hell of a good performance to survive tomorrow. Now that is something she can certainly do but if she continues to be below par like this then it could be her farewell, especially if she's up against either Little Mix or MishaB as seems likely.
♫7 ☼6½

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
I thought she would really deliver on this and be rocking around the stage and treating everyone to a Misha-Cyndi performance. It was accurate enough but lacked the incredible sparkle that the song should have. The rap bit in the middle was a reasonable modern touch and well-staged too but, overall, whilst far better than Janet's effort to revive an oldie, still didn't have that X Factor. And the trousers were awful. QAt least someone's finally fixed her hair and taken control of most of her image.

Killing Me Softly
She was either going to wow a lot of people or upset a lot of Roberta Flack fans with this. She missed some important notes and that was it. Downhill from there and the Fujee switch didn't rescue things much either.
♫7 ☼6

I'm Your Man
No chances taken with this one. Straight delivery, well sung by the increasingly confident and likeable Marcus. If George Michael was watching this from his hospital bed he'll be glad of the extra few bob in royalties and the chance to partner him in the final. Not bad but not fantastically brilliant by a potential winner of this competition.

Next came the Stevie Wonder number that he struggled with. Notes all over the place but he has got the ability to run and rescue things which I guess we need to give him credit for. He's safe tonight but this does show just where his limits are and, please, judges, cut out the sensational comments, please. Louis says that he nailed every note. No he didn't. maybe they get to listen to an auto-tuned version.
♫7½ ☼8

China In Your Hand
Wow. that was easily the best performance of the first set - and by a long way. She looks good, sounds excellent and is just so clearly passionate about performing. a natural star in the making but she needs some good luck and votes.

Since You've Been Gone
The Kelly Clakson one, not Rainbow. I thunk she'd have been better with Rainbow but, for all that, she was really the only one tonight with a natural X Factor. Great effort and she really should survive. Watch the repeat and you'll see what I mean - the others just look amateur in comparison, even Marcus tonight although his Wham job was up there too.
♫9 ☼9½

Sunday, November 20, 2011

This Year's Famous Five Finally Fixed

Simon must have got a Buy One Get One Free offer on Rihanna and I wonder whether she'll do the same mime as she did on XFactor USA? Actually singing tonight was Rebecca Ferguson, last year's runner-up, with a well-written number hoping for a boost in time for the Christmas sales to compete with all the others. With 1 Direction, Cher Lloyd, even Olly Murs and, for all I know the MacDonald Brothers, releasing albums she has a lot to compete with but as long as people don't get too confused between her and Leona on the adverts posters she should do well.

In the usual 'How did you think it went?' interviews with the remaining six acts, Craig sounded as though he'd seen the latest betting which has him as favourite to go.

Rihanna did an entertaining mime of We Found Love In A Hopeless Place in a tartan dress she'd borrowed from X Factor USA Rachel Crow and the stage filled with odd guys throwing each other about for no particular reason. I liked the shot of hay bales in the video. I wonder if that was the infamous Irish field video? Seems a bit insulting to our neighbours, though, to film about a hopeless place there just because their economy's screwed. The track seems to have just the one line so that'll be nice and easy for the fans to remember. Maybe that'll be next week's competition: what's the missing word in Rihanna's new single.. We Found Love In A Hopeless ... (A) Mess (B) Irish field with big hay bales (C) Place.

In no particular order... MishaB escaped as I rather guessed she might. Little Mix through as they should be. Marcus sails through. Now for the big one... it's Janet! So the voting is still going her way big time. And it's down to Amelia v Craig.

I warned the neighbours about the possibility of exceedingly bad language should Amelia be sent home. Craig wobbled to start then did a pretty reasonably passionate thing for Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow. Amelia did Lada Gaga. What confidence. You and I. Fabulous. Looking great and a real star, unlike the defeated and 'I'm still just a contestant' look in Craig's demeanour.

Gary obviously votes for Craig, saying Amelia had shouted. (Good grief, he must have missed most of Misha B's performances then). Kelly, of course, votes for Amelia. Tulisa? She votes for Craig, a bit surprisingly. Louis, thank heavens, votes for Amelia to stay so it's deadlock. Although the public vote was crazy putting her in the bottom two it was at least a little more sane in putting Craig bottom and so he goes. Phew.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Two of Six Sense Victory on Movie Night

O'Leary, Dermot O'Leary, with the JB pose and clutching on to a couple of girls in very gold dresses, starts tonight's X Factor show in a style that the contestants struggle to match. Luckily two save the day.

Licence To Kill
He tried hard but the set was far more interesting than he was. At least he has sorted his hair out and the stupid fringe has gone. The suit looked good too. But he's no winning act and he's still not getting the high notes properly. He's lost the battle against Marcus for Top Boy so he may as well go now. There are better finalists.
♫7 ☼6

Kiss Me
That was pretty boring too. Accurate and quite charming but very forgettable and I can't see how she keeps getting top of the voting polls. I'm really disappointed with her as she's got real talent and, doing the tracks she loves, she can move people but tonight, no moves at all on Movie night from her. Dressed in what looked like a large sweetie wrapper, she just came and went tonight. She can only get through to next week with the public vote as I reckon that, whoever she's up against in a sing-off, she'd not get the judges' backing. That may be wrong but that's how I see it. Hopefully, she will get the usual support so acts that have no hope can be got rid of and she'll revive to entertain us a bit more like she used to again.
♫9 ☼7

Wow! That was a class performance. The Aretha Franklin number that Tulisa said she'd never heard of may not be one of my favourite tracks but her presence on the stage, determined delivery and sheer professionalism just blew the previous two efforts out of the water. The other acts must all be so pissed that Frankie left and allowed her back in. They stood a good chance of beating him. Not Amelia. Even if Gary correctly pointed out that she was a semitone out most of the time she'll be through safely to entertain us for another week. Are we sure she's only 16? Remarkable.
♫8 ☼9½

I Have Nothing
Choosing a track from The Bodyguard I was worried that she was going to do the big one but instead we got the other Whitney Houston number. She was competent enough but still uninspiring and having to watch all the sympathy vote grabbing stuff beforehand was so tedious. After all the tears surely the producers must find a way to keep her out of the bottom two this time? That's the only way she will keep out. That's probably going to be more interesting than her performance was.
♫8 ☼6½

Little Mix
Don't Let Go
A decent group this. They're working together well. They look as if they're trying just a bit too hard in places - and occasionally more than one of Gary's semitones out. And they're hardly 'the best girl group to come out of the UK' as Kelly announced. Sometimes the judges seem to be on another planet.
♫6½ ☼8

Higher and Higher
Great performance. The Jackie Wilson style really suits him and he's so right to stick with it. He should get bags of support for this. After a lucklustre evening generally, he shone and seems totally at ease on stage and also gets the right notes in the right places.
♫10 ☼9½

So, if justice were to apply, Marcus and Amelia will be safely through and the rest all sharing the bottom two positions. If the Misha B sympathy nonsense keeps her safe this week then that leaves Craig, Janet and Little Mix. Craig should then be the one to go and, at the time of writing, he's the bookie's favourite.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lady Gaga to Kitty: "Let's Go Get A Drink!"

It really looked as though Janet might well have come to the end of the line but reliable sources tell me that she has, actually, been consistently top in all the voting polls throughout the live shows and so she stayed out of the bottom two after all.

That left Misha and Kitty to do battle. Kitty gave us a good but not really inspiring version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow and Misha produced a wonderful Who You Are, the Jessie J number in response that was better in all respects. I half hoped that it might go to deadlock with Kitty possibly getting saved with a higher number of votes but it didn't work out that way and it was her turn to go.

On the Xtra Factor later this evening, though, there was more than a little comfort for Kitty when Lady Gaga, in a wonderfully unscripted move, surprised everyone by giving her a huge sympathetic hug and then saying "Let's go get a drink!" And they did just that. any hope that Ollie and Caroline may have had planned to interview the superstar disappeared so I wouldn't be at all surprised if we hear a great deal more of Kitty and she'll get plenty of opportunities to put on some of the shows that I firmly believe she'll do well and, to be honest, she'll do just as well with a bit of help from Lady Gaga as she would from the show which she was not likely to win anyway.

The other news is that Amelia has now shot to become the bookies favourite, down to just 4-1 on Betfair, above Marcus after last night's amazing come-back. I still don't see where Craig fits in to all this and, if no-one does anything disastrous next week, that may be his last, leaving just Marcus to handle all the girls.

Amelia Returns And Steals The Show

It's Lady Gaga v Queen tonight. Well, it should be but I found myself watching people who left years ago. I had to watch a recording and had no idea what was going on but fortunately a quick fast forward brought the current acts onto the screen and it appears that London suffered some power cut or something. So, with Dermot once more doing a superb job presenting in difficult circumstances and, in addition, we get to find out who out of the four acts eligible, who will actually be back on the show.

It promises to be an exciting night and it starts well...

Kitty ♫10 ☼8
Don't Stop Me Now
Really powerful and a performance that was not only totally in tune but she genuinely looked a star too. She was mostly hidden behind some bits of furniture for ages but eventually came out and took over the stage. Dermot said that there were also some prancing leather horses on there too but I have to say I didn't notice them as she was worth watching. This girl is damn good and now she's getting better make-up advice is far more likely to appeal to voters than in the early days. I can imagine people paying to see her show and, as Gary says, if she is able to capture the public's imagination with a less staged and acted performance then she could match the others if not defeat them.

Craig ♫7½ ☼7½
A good start that made you think 'Yes, the guy's got an interesting version coming here' and then it went all a bit average until he pulled it back together at the end. There were quite a few strange notes along the way. He can bring a fair amount of originality and atmosphere to tracks but not enough to combat some of the problems of notes and, of course, the fact that he just doesn't look right.

Li'l Mix ♫8½ ☼8½
They did a brilliant job of a tough Lady Gaga track. Very tight and absolutely spot on with their timing and tuning and with excellent vocals from the strong lead. Looking fun and modern, they're justifying their existence as the most successful girl group act on X Factor and I see them in the final.

Janet ♫8 ☼8
Somebody To love
I was hoping this would be the Bee Gees track but, of course, it couldn't be and was the Freddie Mercury one. She seemed much happier back in her own zone and not trying to be something that she's not and you just couldn't help being moved by a captivating performance. A beautifully controlled and unique way of delivering the Queen track. and yet... and yet there was something missing that I can't put my finger on. With such strong acts in the competition now, and this show really has come alive a  last then I have doubts as to where Janet will fir in to the next few weeks. She could well be vulnerable this week and much will depend upon who she's up against.

Marcus ♫9½ ☼8½
Another One Bites The Dust
He'd never match last week's definitive Marcus performance. This was good but, again, something was missing and it was a bit like the sort of thing that they do to introduce American Idol . He was happy enough on the stage and dancing well but the whole thing was just a little forgettable. A nice guy, though, and he deserves to be here.

Misha ♫7 ☼6
She was singing the track that Kitty had wanted. She seemed to leave exactly the same gaps between each word and you just didn't feel that she actually felt or meant the words that she sang. She's a confident and competent performer but I wasn't impressed and no way would I pay to hear that track again. Presenting a much better and more pleasant image to the cameras, however, will not do her any harm. She'd be my act to go this week but I suspect she'll stay. In many ways I'm glad that Kitty didn't get the track because she may have done something else much better!

Amelia ♫10 ☼10
Winning the come back vote by a very substantial margin, that may be an indication of just how wrong Kelly was not to keep her at the outset. Looking great and, especially bearing in mind that she only has had 48 hours to get used to being back as well as rehearsing and remembering words, where to stand what to do and all that jazz, this was absolutely superb.

The Show Must Go On she sang and, although it did actually stop after her performance many people would have been delighted if it had. I'm really delighted to see her back but not so sure the other contestants will be after this really controlled and professional performance. The song suited her well and she looked as if she'd been on the show for the whole time. This was, without a doubt, the performance of the night. fabulous. She could even win.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Second Chance. For The Show As Well As Amelia!

Now this is fascinating! X factor UK producers answer to Frankie's departure is a cool invitation to vote back in again one of the four ejected in Week 1! So tomorrow we'll get a chance to see 2 Shoes, James, JonJo and the lovely Amelia once more and, hopefully, a lot more in the case of the 16-year-old who really should never have gone in the first place. This might be just the boost the show needs to start to match its American counterpart that has totally eclipsed the original in terms of talent and judges' abilities.

Perhaps Misha and Craig could be caught with a bag of sherbet or some ex-NOTW journalists can find some PIs to follow Marcus around and discover that he really is Jackie Wilson after all.

Mr Wilson

Mr Collins
Betfair have Amelia as 4th favourite to win at 7-1 (above Misha on 9-1 and only a little behind Marcus, Janet and Craig) with the other three still on 100+ odds. I just hope they're right and that she justifies all the high hopes we have of her when she performs again.

With Janet flagging slightly as the Live Shows progress, Kitty consistently performing brilliantly and finally getting respect for all the hard work and entertainment she's bringing to the show, L'il Mix being popular and Misha just beginning to recover from some disastrous PR, the scene is set for the girls to dominate the next few weeks in the UK edition.

The only scary news that is also doing the rounds is Louis threatening to leave too. Please don't go, Louis. You may be a fool but anyone would be preferable to giving an opportunity for the ghastly Alex to take a seat in a judge's chair. She was fortunate to win in the year that she did, with Hallelujah not exactly suiting JLS in a most unfair final. I admire some of her hits but not her manners.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Risk and Johnnie Eliminated, and Frankie Leaves

Quite a night. JLS performed their latest single Take A Chance On Me. That sort of reminded us that The Risk aren't really competing at the same level and, however good some of them have been individually, Saturday's performance was not brilliant and, sure enough (but still quite surprisingly for all that), they're the first to go.

That left us with Johnnie and Kitty, Frankie somehow having escaped what everyone had thought was certainly a bottom three position. Johnnie did Unchained Melody. He got the notes right, even the high ones, but it was still not something I can imagine many people rushing out to buy. Nice guy but I can see him doing TV work as a reward for entertaining us and singing a damn sight better than Wagner. Or put him in the jungle? Not Eurovision, though, please!

Kitty was absolutely superb with Kelly Clarkson's Beautiful Disaster and even Louis had to vote to keep her after that, as did everyone else. She looked as if she reckoned that Johnnie had won more hearts out in voting land and I would think that, had there been a 2-2 vote, she may well have gone. Thank goodness some sense seems to have prevailed.

The highlight of the show was surely, however, Florence + The Machine singing Shake It Out. Powerful and still probably echoing around the corridors of the studio as a reminder to the remaining 7 of what a really good performer can do. Amazing.

As I'm late publishing this, I can add today's news that Frankie has left too!! So we're down to the last six. What once appeared to be Janet's cruise to the final is now very open indeed. Since her early wonderful performances she's had some poor weeks and Marcus, Misha and even Kitty have shown a real sense of understanding what they need to do to win. I can even see Li'l Mix reaching the final. Craig seems to have bundles of support too and would be my choice for the natural next to go but it really does now all depend on each weeks' performances and that crucial factor - song choice.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Uncomfortable Numbers.

Dermot welcomes us to Week 5 and announces 'Brace yourselves!' which he wouldn't have done on the USA version. This was a curious night. It didn't start at all well with several people distinctly uncomfortable with 'Club Night' whatever that meant. and that made uncomfortable viewing, especially if you had a bundle on Janet winning.

Johnny ♫ 8½ ☼ 7
The crowd love this fellow who this time switched the helium on and off and you had to check it was still him singing. You Spin Me Round he did in some ways better than Dead Or Alive, although that's not saying a great deal to be honest. It was just a bit of fun but (1) he did hit the right notes and (2) the audience love him so goodness knows what'll happen. He ought to go in a double eviction but I'm not so sure. There were some surprisingly much weaker performances tonight.

Janet ♫ 9 ☼ 4
I Want You back may well be what all her fans are calling out after this very uncomfortable track. She even forgot some words but recovered professionally and got away with that. Her hair and general look didn't work either and I feel she's totally lost that first image of a star in the making that we all had at the start. No-one's going to buy that as a single. She is very likely to be in the bottom three this week and is vulnerable. Much depends who she's up against if the judges have to choose.

Craig ♫ 7½ ☼ 5
We're In Heaven he sang but we weren't as we watched another good singer who can't dance and sing at the same time. Or shouldn't dance anyway. He missed notes tonight and just looked flabby and silly. Not a pretty sight at all. He may have a marginally greater appeal tonight, though, than Janet and should scrape through. He'd be likely to win a judges' vote against most of the other likely candidates too.

The Risk ♫ 6½ ☼ 7
A Night To Remember. No, a disappointing night as the show dips to lower levels further. The lead is good and really should have been told to stay as the lead and leave the others to do the oo-oos. When he switched to one of the others it went seriously wrong. They could do so much better and you can't forgive them like you can Janet and Craig. They're a pretty popular group of lads, though, amongst voters and I don't see SYCO letting it descend to just the one group just yet so we can assume they'll be here next week.

Marcus ♫ 10 ☼9
Very nearly full marks for Marcus, possibly as much out of relief that the show sprung to life as for anything else. He did an excellent rendition of Jackie Wilson's Reet Petite. A good song choice for him - he enjoyed himself, was natural and absolutely spot-on with the notes, the moves, the lot. Comparing him to the other Marcus, Marcus Canty on X Factor USA, he would have blown that one out of the pond this week.

Kitty ♫ 10 ☼ 7
Like A Prayer. Kitty does Madonna. And does Madonna very well with an excellent vocal and plenty of drama on the stage. She does have a strange facial expression, especially annoying around the eyes and the cheek lines (which maybe due to the botox she admitted to using on XtraFactor). For all that, she doesn't deserve to go this week and I feel the public are actually beginning to warm to her. The judges, oddly, weren't, with Kelly and Louis having a right go at each other over her.

Frankie ♫ 7 ☼ 4
I've Got A Feeling Frankie's going to go tonight if all the polls and papers and boos from the audience are to be believed. As it happens the polls were wrong last week and so were the papers this week, at least about the 'blonde' story at any rate. So it's down to whether he's got a chance of surviving. This performance wasn't at all bad and probably the first reasonably modern interpretation all night. But the judges were dreadfully bad about him, Louis leading the charge and some bad telly with Gary and him arguing. He looked a bit lazy but then I bet Mick Jagger did when he was that age. Because it is highly likely that he'll be in the bottom three and, if he doesn't get the bottom score, he'll be in a vote-off and I can't think of anyone they'll keep against him, I'm afraid he must be on his way out.

Misha B ♫ 9 ☼ 8
Proud Mary was a good number and helped her recover a lot of lost ground from her appearance and attitude last week. She is a great singer, no doubt, and seemed very natural and comfortable on the stage. She also looked much more friendly with good hair and less brutal clothes. Despite her big voice and presence, though, there were times when she was lost behind the backing track. She'll be safely through to next week so she'll not be worrying about that.

Little Mix ♫ 9 ☼ 9
Please Don't Stop The Music they sang and danced and generally impressed everyone. A good, tight, well-rehearsed performance and probably only the second tonight to sound particularly modern. A sure-fire act through to next week. That, of course, makes it tougher by far for the others! I do think they should change their name (again) to L'ilMix, as that's what everyone is going to call them. Sounds cooler, too.

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