We’re finally there. After 7 Audition shows, and 2 weeks of pre live shows, they’re here. The live shows of X Factor. The Next Generation of Judges. 16 contestants. There was a lot happening last night on the X Factor, and the 2 and a half hour duration of the first live shows, certainly allowed everything to be showcased. The viewers might have had a lit case of fatigue after the programme, but what the hell, right?
As this week’s BIG Twist (stylized as such by the XF people) we learn that every judge must pick one of their 4 acts and throw them out of the competition. I guess they couldn’t keep the carnage to a minimum. We had the obligatory “You’d better pick this act” from every judge, but seriously, it’s gonna be tough for everyone to choose, except, obviously, Louis, who continues to stupefy me with his amazingly bad choices in acts, songs, and overall performance. We’ll learn tonight who leaves and who doesn’t.
Let’s get to the performances. I would like to rank the performances per category. This way I’ll make the judges’ job easier, modestly.
The first category is the boys, mentored by singer-songwriter Gary Barlow. Gary is trying to emulate Simon in everything, the massive ego, the inability to see his acts’ flows, the bashing of other contestants’ by criteria he should have bashed his own acts, etc. I kind of expected more of him, but let’s wait and see. There are many weeks ahead of us.
1. James Michael, singing Ticket to Ride. The judges commented on his lack of comfort, and on the weak song. I do agree that he wasn’t as confident as he could have been (remember the Adele song in the auditions), but I think that the laid back and stripped down song, was exactly what was needed to showcase his delivery and tone. Especially his beautiful tone. The confidence will grow. It always does. James didn’t try to work the stage; he was one of the few performances to not have a production, instead a scenery. Artistry all around. I would like for him to return next week, and for Gar to keep focusing on his tone, above all else.
2. Craig Colton, singing Jar of Hearts. A very ballsy move, coming from the young artist. You see, he chose the song, and vocal arrangement, and he also lost a lot of weight. Not that the last one was a detriment, but it’s to show everyone that Craig means business, and he’s gonna pull all the stops. Gary labeled this the performance of the night, I really don’t think so. The vocals were brilliant, truly so, but the vocal arrangement leaved a lot to be desired. He sang the chorus four times (at least), pulled his usual Adele faces (you know, with the one sided lips), cried a little in the middle to show emotion, and again sang the chorus. He doesn’t need all that. His voice alone has the power and emotion he needs. It’s bad mentoring from Gary that he allowed it to go on live, like that. Not bad, not at all bad, but considering the potential, not good.
3. Marcus Collins, singing Moves like Jagger. Marcus gets a little time on his video, to clarify some things he read on papers, and kind of come out. All good. It’s nice that the producers this time around aren’t being homophobes, because I’d hate another Dannii-Danyl situation to happen live, again. With that out of the way, Marcus gets into his performance. I am very happy that this time around, the judges are at least trying to be contemporary, but Moves like Jagger is the wrong song choice for everyone but Adam Levine. It’s not an emotional tune, it’s not a vocal showcase-er, it’s just a fun, catchy song. He sounded a little bit shrieky, and the song wasn’t a fit for him by a long shot, but he kind of pulled it off, with his smiling and dancing, and the production. Would you buy that tune? No. Would you listen to it, while cracking a smile. Probably. I hope Gary gives the boy another chance.
4. Frankie Cocozza, singing The A Team. Also known as the song you sing at the karaoke machine, if you can’t sing. I like Frankie, he always is fun, but he has a three note range, a mediocre delivery and odd mannerisms. I get why Gary is trying, but I wouldn’t try. If he wanted to get a guy with a limited range to the live shows, he would have done better with Joe Cox. At least he felt what he sang. Anyways, Frankie did what Frankie does: a step forward, a step back, crouching forward to look like he moves, and delivered a boring and tiresome performance. If the world was just, he would be eliminated tomorrow. Let’s hope.
The next category is the Girls, mentored by Kelly Rowland, one third of Destiny’s Child, and hottest judge. Kelly is opinionated and isn’t afraid to show it, and uses an American jargon I just love. She chooses contemporary songs, always fitting the personalities, and I think she did a good job. The thing I do not like about her is the bitching and fighting with other judges, usually Tulisa, to protect other judges, usually Gary. But she does give constructive criticism, and I commend her for that.
1. Misha B, singing Rolling in the Deep. How to make a star? Add talent, originality, voice, style, confidence, mix well, bake for 18 years and release. Misha was great. Easily the performance of the night. The production was breathtaking, Lady Gaga would be jealous, looked exactly like something you would see on a concert. Misha was the queen of the night, no question asked.
2. Janet Devlin, singing Fix You. Yeah, I love Janet too. Her tone and delivery are unreal, and every song puts you in a trance, but the one problem I have with the girl, is that every song seems a little too much like the previous. While Fix You was head and shoulders above the previous, it was a classic Janet performance. But, I would like to give props for the improved range, and the rock edge of the song. All in all, a very nice performance.
3. Amelia Lily, singing Billie Jean. I am a rock guy. I love my rock. And when a rock chick comes along, I am sold. Her performance was amazing, and I am very annoyed I couldn’t put her on the number one spot, but her confident vocals and her stage presence make me certain I will in the future. She needs just a little bit more of polishing. A tiny bit more, and she’ll be ready to fill arenas and rock the hell out of those.
4. Sophie Habibis singing Teenage Dream. I don’t know Sophie much, and judging from her performance, I don’t really want to. She sang an energetic song, by pulling a singer-songwriter move. I like those moments, but I didn’t love this one. Her voice was nice and all, but the performance was uneventful. I think she’s the one who’ll get the boot (Channeling Kelly), because, the other girls are simply better than her.
Next up, It’s Tulisa and the Groups. Tulisa is the most talked about addition on the X Factor judging panel. She’s not all that known outside of Britain, she’s really young, she comes from an Urban act, and she’s not the best singer out there. What Tulisa has, is a personality of steel, a clear inclination towards the modern, and an amazing nose. She manufactured three of the 4 groups she mentors, and she’s not afraid to dump 14 to get 4. Great girl. Plus she’s been given the groups, and she needs all the sympathy she can get. That is not to say she’s not doing a brilliant job.
1. The Risk sing She Said. Yeah! That is what I’m talking about. You get 4 singers, you get them to bond, you give them a cool tune, and you stand by them till the end. It’s a great prop the fact that they have the looks, and it’s brilliant that they can individually sing. The harmonies were nice, the solos were nice, and rap was nice, the production was nice. All in all, I’d say this group has potential and I would vote for them. I’d say that this performance was in my top three of the whole night.
2. 2 Shoes sing Something Kinda Ooooh. Now how many of you did not like these girls? First of all, this act is all organic, there isn’t nothing fake about it (except, obviously, the tan and eyelashes, and make up). The only group to have signed on as such, they deliver a fun performance as they sing and dance around the stage. One of them, the blonde one is pregnant, and to me, this adds points to their performance. And they were not only fun: the harmonies were flawless, as only the harmonies of best friends could be, and never during the performance, did one or the other try to hog the spotlight from the friend. I say go girls, and I say please Tulisa let them stay. There’s something infectious about them. Their energy.
3. Rhythmix sing Super Bass. Nicki Minaj is a rapper before everything else, and as Tulisa herself said, raping is not singing. The whole performance was based on raping, and I have to say it leaved a lot to be desired. The harmonies just weren’t perfect, actually they weren’t even average, and in this stage of the competition, you need something more melodic for the public to warm to you. They are a nice girl group, and they could potentially do well, but they need a lot of work. But they are not hopeless. (I can’t remember the names of past girl groups. I think Miss Frank had a nice performance, like three years ago… )
4. Nu Vibe sing Beautiful People. While the harmonies were not atrocious, the individual voices were. There is a clear reason why they don’t work as solo artists. They can’t sing (well). But they were jumping up and down, and they weren’t up some hill singing with microphone stands. I guess the comparison to One Direction is inevitable. While the past boys could sing (Bieber hair, curly hair, and Rebecca’s ex) these boys can’t. But these boys have more energy, a better mentor, and I guess you can hide the singing with enough harmonies. But, If it were up to me, they would pack their bags and go home. Seriously.
The last of the categories is the one mentored by Louis Walsh. You guessed it, it’s the Overs. I am not going to say anything you don’t already know. Louis is as useless as a piece of paper in the middle of the ocean. He cannot choose well (Goldie, Johnny?) his song choices look ancient, and his comments are the same. I do not understand how Simon threw Dannii, and kept this buffoon. Three days ago, on the main site, there was a list of possible big twists. Is it odd to say that I was praying Louis got publicly fired and someone else took his place? I don’t think so. Go check number nine.
1. Sami Brookes sings Free. A dance tune from 150 years ago. This girl has the voice, probably the best, most powerful voice in the competition, but she has a dumbass as a mentor. The girl worked the stage, killed the notes and delivered an all around great performance. And, I really agree with Gary, if Goldie didn’t pull out of the competition, what the hell would have Louis done? Be invited for season 9, probably.
2. Kitty Brucknell sings Who Wants To Live Forever. Everyone hates Kitty. I don’t really care enough to hate her. If she delivers a nice performance, I will vote for her. If she doesn’t, I won’t. And she didn’t. She went tuneless at times, she was wearing something not pretty, but I don’t really know the technical term for it, and she was pulling more faces than a mime. She gets the number two spot because the other two were horrendous. But I think she won’t go home for two reasons: one, she can actually sing, and two, they need the drama and someone to hate. Rest easy Kitts. You’ll live to fight another day. And then, you’ll go to sing in the bottom two for 5 weeks in a row.
3. Jonjo Kerr sings You Really Got Me. Oh Jonjo, I really don’t want to say anything bad to you, because you were a soldier, but I don’t have other words to describe the performance. Boring, crappy song, and awful stage presence. Nice voice though. Definitely something you can work with. And I didn’t mind at all those girls who were dancing on those cube thingies.
4. Johnny Robinson sings Believe. No offense to the LGBT community, but this guy is as queer as a three dollar bill. He performs in drag, he sings Cher, he wears aluminum foil and belts, he sings with a head voice, AND falsetto. Who the hell would buy his records? Maybe the ones who voted for the two Divas last year, but not many more. His voice is weak and thin, and even when he’s not going in falsetto, he’s just too high. Louis believes in him, so he might live to fight another day, but I’d rather not see him do that. Plus he said that if the public warm up to him, he’ll go drag. That’s neat. Maybe that’ll be gender bender week.
Maybe my predictions will come true. I certainly hope they will, because I wouldn’t like to hear the ones from the 4th spot sing again. But as long as the guys from the first spot are fine, I’ll be two. (And by the way, keep Amelia.)
Final thoughts: I miss Dannii Minogue, I think Kelly will win it, I think Louis should be shot, and I think Tulisa is doing a brilliant job. Gary is too much talk and not enough walk, and Simon leaving is a blessing. I hope they don’t focus too much on the rapping, and I like the new graphics.