Monday, 12 November 2018

Live Shows Week 4

We are now watching the Top Ten for 2018 perform - the acts who have now made it in the sense that they should be included in the X Factor Tour next year and where they'll have many more opportunities to build upon their TV screen success. Whilst it will be disappointing for any act to leave now when the final is not far away, I suspect that most acts now recognise and have figured out where they stand in the rankings.

Gio

The Greatest Show
All totally natural for this guy, making the remarkable stage show seem effortless. This was actually a very complex performance - all praise due to this this guy.

Dalton

California Dreaming
Remarkably good yet again. Whilst I found some of his vocal antics a bit OTT for this particular song which I prefer to hear stripped back, he is now the clear winner of this year's series.

Scarlett

I'll Never Love Again
She did well. Lady Gaga's original is not going to be surpassed but Scarlett put in a good effort. She is here now on personality rather than outstanding ability but ought to be safe this week.

Brendan

Everybody Hurts
An excellent choice and much needed to boost his confidence. I still found his interpretation a little too soft - I need to see a bit more force and he does start to provide this in the second part. This should turn things round for him and Nile makes the great compliment of saying that he would love to record him. I still have to remember that this guy has already been on the huge Eurovision stage, albeit in semis not the final. That must have seemed like a failure at the time but he has already had major support from the industry and so this ought to be pretty safe ground for him and I am surprised that he is not doing better.

Acacia & Aliyah
Survivor
These two perform really well. they had hardly any rehearsal time but still come out with such a great show and fabulous production as if they had known each other for years not weeks. Great style.

Bella

A Million Dreams
Nice job. Well produced and sung but not spectacular. She was a bit more ordinary this week but nonetheless looked and sounded excellent on the big stage. She might be at risk this time.

Misunderstood

Maniac from Flashdance
This sounds like it should be a great choice. It's neat but perhaps a bit restrained for how I would have seen this track. The dancers really need to go a bit crazy as that is the whole concept of the track and these two should be capable of interpreting that easily. Extremely competent, though, as always. Great guys.

Danny
My Heart Will Go On
Good choice as everyone will be able to sing along. It is almost more pleasant than Celine in paces who always annoyed me with the Goo on bit. all a bit karaoke still and I just don't see him on albums other than for the Christmas Grannies. It's all a bit average but it'll please the oldies.

Anthony
Eye Of The Tiger
Patched together again with Danny. Anthony spends most of his time in amongst the audience. The song suits him swell. He shows inexperience, though, when bouncing around and loses control over the notes and timing a bit. Overall this was enjoyable karaoke and you tend to root for the guy without really knowing why.

Shan
Never Enough
Another song from the Greatest Show On Earth and another fabulous, beautiful, flawless performance from this young lady. This girl simply has to make it. She is superb. Maybe the song was not the best tonight but still she is brilliant and if she doesn't win she'll still win contracts as a Runner-Up this year.


In a major upset in this year's competition, voters put Misunderstood at the bottom of the pile and they're out first in 10th place.

Gio has to sing off against Acacia & Aliyah and the panel send him home to give the new girls another chance. They know Gio already has established a good West End career and this show can only have enhanced that for him.

It is still another week or big surprises. That is slightly worrying. Just when will Scarlett, Danny and Anthony go?


Live Shows Week 3

Molly

Competent. She's good but I don't think she has yet found her true style. She can do modern girl pop really well and has a super voice but isn't being presented well.

Dalton

Creep. Fabulous. A classic track and always a moment. This guy is great and really looking like the winner already. A genuine artist.

United Vibe

Still not good. Maybe one of the mics didn't work. One guy seemed to be kissing his arm at the start and several times afterwards, This was very average and they're on their way out.

Shan

Sound Of Silence
Brilliant! Just brilliant. She has to be in the final versus Dalton. That's it as far as I am concerned.

Now there is a serious sound problem with the whole program but no-one seems aware on the set. You would have thought that, for a live programme, feedback would tell someone this is going badly wrong. I can only conclude that, in fact, this was not live at all!

Danny

Yet again this guy has trouble but, for a change, it is not his fault! He does a Freddie Mercury number. Pretty good  but nothing to get excited about.

Anthony

He is also affected by the broadcast sound issue. He sings Where My Demons Hide which is also pretty good and he is more entertaining than Danny.

We hear these tracks without the sound issue in a playback on the second show and voting is not counted until then.

Misunderstood

The sound is fixed now and they do Thriller! Very well done, another great performance from this talented pair. They're fixing themselves as a clear 3rd place act in the final.


Scarlett

I Put A Spell On You
An excellent singer this week and she does a good job of this classic track. I have to say, though, that I was wishing I could see Shan do that track as I feel she'd do it more justice rather than simply belt it out.

Acacia & Aliyah

So much older than 14/15. Very professional and an excellent performance again. I have no idea what they sang but, provided that there are enough youngsters voting, they'll do well again.


Bella

In My Blood
Not a track I recognise, it is a serious number and very well performed. It will be a tough decision for people tonight.

Brendan

He does a very odd song and it doesn't work well for me at all. A pity. I suspect he might be in trouble. the sound quality was not good for him either.

Gio

Live And Let Die
Crazy but very classy - another OTT performance but you have to admire his courage and sheer talent.


United Vibe are the bottom of the vote and leave.
The panel save Acacia & Aliyah, sending Molly home in another surprising bottom three.

Live Shows Week 2

LMA Choir

Proud Mary should suit them well but this is a confusing noise. The lead is just trying too hard and this didn't work well at all. As entertainment on board a cruise ship they're Ok, I guess, but not for the UK music scene in 2018.

Shan

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
A very nice job of this. Just her against a simple white set. Excellent. A finalist, in my book.

Danny

He's lost his voice. He's a nice guy but this is the second time he's had problems and sympathy only lasts so long. He just seems to be in trouble all the time. He has a nice tone but it doesn't work for me and is actually quite poor in places this week. I can't remember the track.

The judges start doing their vote catching camera grabbing thing which really does not make attractive TV.

Brendan

Believe
The Cher song is a good choice and matches his style well. This is a stronger performance than we've seen before but it is still just a little light. More power is needed to bring out what he can do and emphsise the special tone he has.

Misunderstood

Just Want To be Close To You
Their first cover after a series of great original tracks. They're a 2018 Wham for me. Very good. they deserve to be around for a long time. Not the most exciting song, to be hinest but they must be safe for a while and their tuning and performance are faultless.

Molly

Dermot says she's too young to have any guilty pleasures! She's still a great little pop star, despite all the mistakes she makes. Overall, she pulled this together but i am not at all sure what the voters will make of her performance. I hope they like it as she deserves to get more chances and to establish what she really intends to be as an artist.

Dalton

I Have Nothing
The Whitney number. Brilliant. One of my favourite acts this year and outstanding in many ways. He has a fabulous range and control and is always in tune, spot-on and can interpret lyrics so well. He gets a big crowd approval too.

Scarlett

Always On My Mind
Nice choice but she wanders around the notes far too much and I don't like that. Otherwise she's OK but I don't see her getting much further than the last eight or nine. She'll be safe for a while, though.

Acacia & Aliyah

Another weird combination from this great pair of youngsters who are 14 going on 24. They mix a gentle intro with Shut Down which is entirely the opposite. very good but also very odd. An excellent performance.

Gio

Hit me Baby One More Time
Who would have imagined this guy doing Britney? But he can try and is brave and just one hell of a performer. This didn't work but he is so competent and professional that he may survive and get away with it. He is a lot more likeable now too.

Anthony

I Want To Know What love Is
The Foreigner number that everyone knows and he gives us a nice version. He's a bit karaoke in places but he should outlast old Tetley in that respect. You can't help liking this fellow and he'll survive for a while but, like Scarlett, his days will be numbered.

United Vibe

Simon wants Twitter to vote on a name change. At last these guys sound good together. they might just have saved themselves and start building a fan base to carry them further through. They're still a bit weak but a lot better. Simon says they were 'terrible' and Louis is not impressed either.

Bella

Diamonds Are Forever
A good, strong performance but just a bit 'ordinary'. I am not sure how voters will react.

Janice

She just got through last week. another professional performance but simply uninteresting. However stylish she appears, she doesn't attract an audience in this competition. This also did not suit her at all.



It is Janice who is out straightaway, joined by LMA Choir who sang off against Brendan in a surprising bottom three.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Live Shows; Week 1

Sixteen acts. that's quite a lot to fit in, especially as we'll see all of them with reasonably full-length tracks as opposed to the one-liners we've had to put up with for quite a few so far.

Dermot has his proper job back now.

Misunderstood


A good choice for a reliable and impressive first act. WHAM for 2018 perhaps?! It's a song about chewing gum which they've written themselves. That's cool but, whilst the song's OK it's not great. But this pair for a major contender. Robbie says they're the bookies' favourite. Not sure about that but they're certainly in the running.

Anthony


You have to feel happy that he's made it this far. Now I was worried that he might crack up but he did very well. Actually an excellent job of We've Got Issues. I can see him getting support and can't imagine him being 16th this week. Everyone likes him although he isn't going to win.

Danny


The old-style guy who is only 37. He really seems a lot older. Peter Dickinson introduces him as 'Anthony Russell'! Oh dear. Bit of a balls-up and he gets to restart. The song's Hero. All a bit cruise ship. He does have a strong voice and accurate notes and is an excellent singer but he's not a contender for this year's winner. Nice chap but he'll go soon enough.

Molly

Looking very good - someone for whom the makeover has worked well and she seems much older than a mere 16. Fake Love is the song and it's a confident performance. In complete contrast to Danny, she's modern and is a pop star more or less ready to go. Nice personality and this girl should do well. She just needs to be more than ordinary as she is up against some cool acts this year.

Janice

Stylish lady. But she's not one of the cool ones I was talking about. The song Clarity? was not great and seemed to suit a West End stage better than this one. She struggled quite a bit which surprised me as she is one of the most experienced here. Quite average.

Brendan


I'm expecting something good from this guy. He may not be cool but he is good and, unlike the others who are not cool but good, he has a remarkable talent and comes across well in this sort of show. He has bags of big show experience, having represented Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest. Admittedly he didn't do very well but that was a poor song. He certainly can manage the huge venue and I see him making it this time. He had a slow build and it was great but missing something. He really ought to be safe but he'll need to impress more with his choice of tracks next time.

Bella


Merging Beautiful with some rap style delivery is going to be her trademark. She's good at this sort of thing. It's current and should keep her around for a while. She is a confident performer and a good personality who is going to make it, I'm sure. Maybe not win but she'll be there next week for sure.

Armstrong


Story Of My Life is his song. Nice job. He starts with his own rap and that switches smoothly into the more familiar refrain. That's original and quite powerful. A brave effort but weak in places and I'm not sure how the voters will go for that. Simon says that he and Bella are his favourites. 

Giovanni


He is in the Bat Out Of Hell musical and does eight shows a week so this guy is one experienced fellow in that respect. You almost wonder why he needs to be on this show as he clearly is well-established and the success of that show provides fame and, I should think, opportunity. He is excellent with a brilliant performance, basically showing most of the others how to do it. Saturday Night's All Right For Fighting was super. I don't know how voters will take to him, though, as he doesn't look so good on the big screen and isn't immediately likeable. I hope he gets to be around a bit longer. Robbie says he wants to perform with him. That's quite a compliment.

United Vibe


A new name. Previous Vibe 5. Neither are great but I don't think it will matter a great deal. I reckon they were fortunate to get here. Slow Hands is a track that seems a bit of a 1D copy. They seem OK but nothing special so far. Nice enough looking lads and some can sing well but they lack any 'X Factor'.

Shan


This girl has been my favourite to win. She does Imagine. Now that's a big song. Wow! That's the big moment we've been waiting for on this show. Superb. Her voice control, pitch, performance - all were 100%. Very good indeed and she is surely a real star.

Ola


Another person with his own number. I thought it was called Jubilant but then I realised it was Jiggle It which kinda loses some of my enthusiasm. It's all good fun and the discos will like this in the summer. He's a great performer too and you tend to want to see him do well but I do feel he can't last that long.

Scarlett


She's a bit less orange now. Does Natural Woman. A good performance, excellent voice and she's been dressed and presented well. Nice job but I don't see her as much of a future star. She's likeable now but it is all a bit karaoke for me. Simon says he thought she was a bit of a pub singer! Bearing in mind she's actually one of his four that is very surprising! I feel her days are strictly numbered. She's made it to the Live Shows but that's it now.

LMA Choir




The Circle Of Life is a good number for this mass of people. It's all very good stuff. Nice presentation and performances. I just don't think they will get very much further.

Acacia & Aliyah

Not A Star any more. Finesse is the Bruno Mars number. I'm not sure if that was a great song choice but they gave it their all. They're so young but do look great on stage and work well together. Very smart and 'in' for 2018. Almost the most 'in' act that there is this year. Everyone was waiting for some more 'street' type stuff, though, which didn't come and that might disappoint the voters. They may just scrape through this week but need a big improvement next time.

Dalton


This is the show closer and a nice spot to get. Interesting. He was one of the best in the auditions and tries Life On Mars tonight. Beautifully done and not easy. Very good vocals indeed. He was one of the best for sure. Super contender who ought to be around for many weeks yet.

We learn that two will go tomorrow night. One being the act with the lowest public vote and the other being the loser in a sing-off between the other two in the bottom three.

I see Danny and United Vibe in the most trouble but also suspect we may see Janice, Gio, LMA and Acacia & Aliyah in the bottom six. I can't really call it at this stage but, if pressed will say Janice and Acacia & Aliyah to go.



Can you believe it? Ola and Amstrong go, the panel saving Janice.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Judges' Houses: The Boys and The Overs

Louis T watches the boys perform with Niall Rogers and Liam.

Dalton


This guy is brilliant. He has to get through. Very good, totally natural and he looks good too. A star in the making here and the sort of act that X Factor seems to be good at attracting, regardless of the criticism that some of the other contenders tend to justify.

Armstrong


Another strong contender so far. His interesting and challenging version of the Friends theme is pretty brave. A good effort but I'm not sure it was that great an idea. He may deserve a place but it will depend on how the others do in this pretty talented group.

Thomas


One Night Only. Nicely done. An excellent performance which showed his vocal skills well and he kept the showgirl out of things which I think was a good idea. He has a very genuinely enthusiastic and likeable personality but I can see that he could soon get on our nerves as he is a bit one-dimensional and the trans things soon wears off. He really is not attractive to watch on a big screen either. He's confident so might get through as he helps ITV meet diversity and all that and could be relied upon to perform well.

J Sol


Not so good. Nice enough but this was not up to the standard of the other three so far. I think he will be one of the two who don't make it.

Anthony


Everyone seems to be rooting for this guy this year. He has a great story and has had super support from Louis. there is a lot of real soul in his voice and he pours emotion into the song. He's not perfect but, almost a capella, that was a super job. The observers reassure him about a bum note. He thinks he's out. No. He'll make it.

We have to wait overnight for the last act.

Brendan


Nothing Compares 2 U. This is really excellent. A copy of Sinead's single in a way, perhaps, but very well done and absolutely note-perfect. I do wonder where he fits in nowadays. If all he does is this type of track then he will get a little predictable perhaps as the show goes on. He could be a good runner-up rather than a winner and I do see him selling a lot. We do need to recall that he was Ireland's entry in Eurovision too and has had some pretty big gigs so far already.

I was expecting Louis to choose Brendan, Dalton, Anthony and Thomas but he goes for Armstrong. That's a good choice and would be my preferred four boys too. They'll all do pretty well.

Next we get the last category finalised as Ayda, with Robbie in the background, chooses the four Overs acts. She has Leona Lewis and the great Adam Lambert to help her.

I do find the level of talent, or stardom, in this category very lacking this year. I gess it has been like this most years but at least we don't have Louis Walsh making it a great deal worse! Several acts that he would have had in the Live Shows have already, mercifully, disappeared!

Ola


This cool guy from far away is great. He's happy and fun, putting on a super performance that seems just delightful to watch and is at the same time professional. I really don't think they should have been put on the grass to do this, though. It just looks odd and not idea for anyone who naturally wants to dance around. He stands out amongst this lot and I hope he gets through.

Janice


She has looked the part from day one. She is always nicely presented and does her own song. It has some good bits with some passion there but she gets hoarse in places and is not that great. However, she deserves a place amongst this lot. The song itself wasn't well-structured. She seems a bit needy but I see her making the Live Shows.

Ricky


He does When A Man Loves A Woman but I feel the occasion has got the better of him. He seems a little lost and just not exuding much personality a all. He had been better in the earlier auditions. He shows his big voice and passion but it is all a bit on the surface. He is quite off-key too and not enjoyable to listen to after a few lines. He was clearly disappointed himself and knew that he could do better. I cannot believe, though, that, having flowen everyone out there, they don't get several performances to do. I wouldn't mind betting that we get shown this and not some better ones.

Louise


A nice confident start as she goes straight in and maintains it really well. I like her performance. Very nice and likaeable. I hope she gets through as she des emotion well and seems a reliable contender who could grow as the competition goes on.

Gio


This is a strange fellow and coms across as a bit aggressive when compared to the others. Use Somebody is a good track for him and he does it justice. He is very professional and you can see he has acquired stage skills, working well with the backing singers. He has good West End stage experience and is strong and eager. He has to have a good chance in this group but I am not sure he looks that great on the big screen. He seems to be a different person each time and I am not sure he'll be that liked.

Danny


Every series has someone like Danny. He seems so much older than 37. He lives in Benidorm which really should exclude him from the start as he just exudes 70s. He sings Somewhere Over The Rainbow and I can imagine him in some club at 3am doing this to the oldies remaining. He is actually surprisingly good most of the time and sounds great. You just don't want to watch him very much. I have a feeling he will get through.

My choice would be Louise, Ola, Janice and Danny.

Ayda chooses both Gio and Danny and sends Louise home. Pity.

Anyway we now have the Top 16!


Sunday, 14 October 2018

Judges' houses: The Groups

The show continues and, with Robbie Williams selecting his four groups, we will know half the acts for the Live Shows by the end of this edition.

I thought it would be a pretty straightforward choice. But I was wrong.

LMA Choir

Almost everyone says at some point that, whilst there are some good individual singers in this big mass of people, we never really get to know them or to see them shine. At best, we see someone for a few seconds and, no matter, how good the choir's interpretation of a song may be, it is still a sort of distant bit of entertainment and not anything we can feel connected to. Their Hold Back The River is good enough but it just seemed to be a group of individuals singing and left me feeling nothing great at all. BGT material, really.

A* or maybe A Star


The two youngsters. Back To Life starts as a bit boring but then they bring it to life and take the track in a completely new direction. The girls are too young to call 'hot' as Robbie or maybe Dermot wanted to say but stopped as we are now in an era where I can't even write that without getting sent abuse. They look good and you'd certainly not guess they were merely 14 and 15! They are current and very together and their audition went down very well. I can see them succeeding whatever happens but they should make the Live Shows.

Panda & Burgandy


Ain't No Mountain High Enough started way off key. This was all very old-style and not really that good. They seemed to be two separate acts. It got a bit more solid and they can each perform but really they are fortunate to have got this far. This has to be the end of the road, despite a possible 'TV' appeal of the pair.

Vibe 5


They look very good but didn't do at all well as a group singing.They have five very different voices and the nasal, high stuff was not great. Some harmonies worked and they seem likeable, not that we really got much character coming through. There is no obvious lead or style or, for that matter, market for an average white boy band. I'm not at all sure they're worth pursuing any further.

Sweet Sense


They do 1D's History and it's an OK sort of audition but lacking anything we'll remember. They're good together and have much more personality than the boys. I can recall previous Judges' Houses, especially at Simon's House with the girls on X Factor USA, when some real class performances were put together and they stay in one's mind, even for acts who didn't do a great deal afterwards. Drew Rienowicz, and I may have got her last name a little wrong, for which I apologise to her now, for example, was absolutely stunning. I expected so much more from these girls.

Misunderstood


Now here is a good group. These two guys are brilliant and will surely fly through to the Live Shows. They sang their own number - I think that could be a first for Judges' Houses - which was London Girls and that was a sure-fire hit. Far superior to every other act there by a huge margin. They could well win the whole thing.

My votes go to Misunderstood, A Star, Sweet Sense and LMA.

Robbie chooses Vibe 5 instead of Sweet Sense. Oh well. They'll go pretty early unless the intervening weeks gets them serious coaching and performance advice.


Monday, 8 October 2018

Judges' Houses: the Girls

At last, X Factor begins to show some quality production and decent performances. This was a very fine show and quite remarkable from the very start when we learn just who Simon Cowell has managed to assemble at his home abroad.

Just to mention a few, we see Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson and Ryan Seacrest from American Idol! Dionne Warwick is there, she may be getting on but she's still some celebrity. Paul Anka! Adam Lambert, Leona Lewis. Many more I don't know the names for plus producers and people who have a lot of influence and knowledge but may not be well-known faces to us. We even see Sinitta!

This array of celebrity and singers and sheer buying power did not deter the six girls at all. Naturally they were pretty impressed and amazed to be singing in front of rather more than just Simon on a couch with Louis.

Molly
An excellent start from this 16 year old. A super first audition proper. Not the simplest of songs to perform, I expected her to crumble but she seemed confident. Young and likeable. Maybe a little bland and will she prove to be memorable? Certainly good, whatever the case.

Georgia
Her spoken voice was a bit nervous and she looked strange in red trousers that were too short but I guess would have been 'fashion'. a strange song too. I didn't like it but several in the crowd showed respect for her doing it. A good response indeed.

Shan
My favourite to date for the whole show by quite a margin. She does 'get Back' but it's not the Beatles' song but her own, written just recently. Wow. That's a risk at this stage. It was very good, though, and she got that moment almost. very competent. You could hear some people tell Simon that he has to keep her. I agree.

Maria
She couldn't get a visa so was performing over a video link from London and I got the impression it had been recorded. She performs an inspired version of California Dreaming and I love it. She is definitely the best of all the Filipinos we've had on this competition. I could see her being a star in future and filling concert halls. It was a simple audition and worth the gamble perhaps.

Bella
She's modern and a bit different to all the other entries. The song - supporting a lesbian theme I think - meant a lot to her and she permed it well. It's all OK, edgy and she's unpredictable. The assembled Gods like her a lot.

Scarlett is last up. She sings a song that Dionne Warwick wrote. Difficult. She strats low in er register but eventualy gets into it and gets a standing ovation. That's impressive. I wouldn't have chosen her but that should see her safely through.

I would choose Shan, Maria and Molly, maybe Bella.

It's Shan | Molly | Scarlett | Bella who go through. That seems fair enough.

Dermot O'Leary gives and gets one hell of a lot of hugs in that week!