Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Time for a change for X factor UK

I was asked what changes might usefully be made to enhance the X Factor UK next year. They may have been expecting something like Bring Back Simon Cowell or Fire All The Judges but, much as though these may have some appeal, that's not really what's gone wrong.

Here's what I said:

There seems to be a disparity between the aims of the show (other than the obvious requirement to be profitable, that is) and the desires of those who actually vote. The initial concept is sound and works well, with various experienced 'judges' and others, well-informed and with good intentions, generally selecting the best 24 or so out of the applicants and recognising talent or potential for development. It is usually obvious at early stages who the 'judges' believe stand a good chance of succeeding in the current music and entertainment market too.

Things start to go wrong at Judges' Houses when individuals appear to be allocated bundles of acts that they may not have chosen themselves and have to select 3 or 4 to go to the Live Shows. This should really be something that they are all involved with. I accept that there may be a need for a mentor for each Category and maybe he or she could have a final say or choose two acts and have the other two selected by 'judges' as a whole (and not necessarily just the four). This might ensure that, at least, those that reach the Live Shows do have general support across the board.

At the Live Shows, the judges have the dual role of mentor and judge which is almost impossible to do as they will always be inclined to 'judge' acts they mentor more positively on air in order not to adversely affect the votes. I feel that the competition between the judges should be considerably diminished - a sort of conversation point but not a highlight - and that they should be much more free to be totally honest about how acts are doing.

It has become quite evident that the voters have a quite different distribution to those who buy tracks. Looking back it has been acts who came 2nd, 3rd and even 4th who have gone on to do really well when the winner has become almost unheard of after the Christmas hit and maybe a follow-up. This shows that X Factor does indeed find people who have that 'X factor' but some device is needed either to minimise the impact of voters who have no real clue about talent and just vote out of sympathy, the contestants' location, his or her looks or some other reason disassociated with what would make someone a longish-term act that is to represent the best of new UK talent in this industry.

Many new acts do not even consider entering the competition as it seems to be 'not for them' which says a lot. So, if the system of keeping acts in the competition is changed there may well be a valuable corollary in that a better range of acts would apply in the first place too - as they would then feel that they would stand a chance of doing well.

'Doing well', as noted above, can be just as good for them, through the tv exposure and possible later support from industry personnel that can be as worthwhile as the winner's contract and title perhaps.

That change, I feel, is absolutely key to the show's continued relevance, if not actually to its prime purpose and, indeed, to lift its perception in the tabloids and chattering classes. It would be seen as genuinely worthwhile, finding good talent that succeeds at home and abroad - see how proud many people who never watch the show, let alone even think of voting on it, are of the likes of 1D, Leona, JLS and Olly. Even Cher wowed the USA audience recently.
So I recommend a much extended 'jury' to select who continues, with acts given longer to establish themselves on Live Shows so instead of 4 being kicked out after one short burst of a performance, just one goes or maybe none for the first few weeks. Double evictions later may be fairer (as in USA). I know that phone votes provide a proportion of the show's income but if more advertising, product placement, sponsoring by companies or even communities of acts (now there's an idea!) could replace that (or cut back the production costs if necessary) then a jury of people whose views we may not agree with but can at least respect (and see justified on the shows) would decide who stays. I firmly believe that would rebuild public confidence in the show which, in turn, would bring back the audience and hence advertising income too. Not competing with BBC major programmes would help a lot too! Huge audience lost because of that over the last year or two, as Strictly fans comprise a huge chunk of potentially much better informed X Factor fans.

Phone votes might still be invited but with far less direct influence. They could, perhaps, determine which of the bottom two jury's selection go - a reverse of the current system.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

And the winner is...


Well done, James Arthur.

This is his new single too.

Nice to see 1D back too.

Rihanna returns

and Kylie, of course.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

The Final Pt1

Yes! He's finally gone!

It's James v Jahmene in the Final tomorrow.

Kylie Minogue was good.

Full report tomorrow. Just celebrating the absence of Old Baloney now.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Semi final result

It seems pretty clear now that Old Baloney is getting huge votes and these have carried him through to the final, possibly to win the whole thing. This is regardless of the judges, including Gary Barlow, who, if the truth be told would probably much have preferred any one of his other acts in the Overs category, indeed in any category with the possible exception of Rylan, rejecting him after Bootcamp.

None of them really regarded him as having any X factor. He came across as an ugly bloke who was a nervous wreck with a good voice at his first audition. The bright red face, tears and dumb nature had some kind of tv appeal, though, and through he went. His history of cruise liner singing and nerve-free performances elsewhere were well hidden and some distinctly average and often quite dreadful performances of old songs of a certain type must have won over an awful lot of viewers week after week after week. Who could be voting in such numbers? These people have not just voted for Old Baloney but have made a decision that they prefer him to James Arthur, UnionJ and Jahmene Douglas.

There could be some clear distinction between the UnionJ audience and James Arthur's, each maybe not appealing to the older, more staid, less chart-minded viewers. It would have been Jahmene, though, not Baloney, that I would have expected to have the support of the old people and even some younger ones who like the gospel link. So I am at a loss to know how Baloney has topped the poll and has made it through. The bookies have consistently had him at short odds to go and if he had once finished in the bottom two that would have been him gone, Gary being the only one who would vote for him. Seriously, think about that: the judges would have had him out whoever he had been up against from week one. But some massive group of voters ensured that never happened. The fact that there exists such a group means the death of a good programme. I have been a big fan, totally addicted to X Factor and all its previous incarnations like Pop Idol and Fame Academy. They have been highly criticised as being cheesey and, yes, they have been but they have brought us acts who have gone on to chart success and, in a few cases, in America too. 

Yes, each year has annoying or incompetent acts or both. But they don't win these days. Steve Brookstein won, Andy Abrahams nearly won, Leon Jackson did but the last few years have had no-one like Baloney survive and look like winning. My guess is that other programmes have taken away a significant chunk of the 'modern-thinking', music-savvy viewers and, in particular, the teen viewers who were avid voters too. That has left the Coronation Street crowd, the grannies, cruise ship and Labour Club people who must now be in the majority by a big margin. I used to write for people who loved today's music, knew something about performing or were crazy fans of groups or boys or girls on the stage. I fear that I am now writing for Daily Express and Mirror readers who prefer a bloke from Liverpool who can stand up and sing a bit just because he's a bloke from Liverpool who can stand up and sing a bit and who says 'You know' a lot and talks about 'me nan' incessantly. They like underdogs that that we want to get rid of purely because we want to get rid of them.

On that basis, I have to conclude that Old Baloney will win. The only hope left is that the gospel supporters get behind Jahmene big time and split the dreary balladeers. That might allow James through to take the crown that has been rightfully either his or Ella's since day one.

Jahmene is a decent chap and almost too innocent for this business. I am not that impressed, though, with his singing which seems limited to one style of high wailing and wobbling around notes. I can so imagine him in the church choir, belting out the God songs. Maybe someone will write him some good tracks and he'll make a few top tens next year but he's not going to be around in the big time for long. You won't see him on the X Factor USA stage which even Cher Lloyd reached recently. He'll have a nice Christmas album this year and next too but that will be that.

James Arthur is the only remaining artist that we'd be proud to see representing X Factor UK. He writes his own stuff and will be open to collaborative efforts with plenty of others who will be keen to work with him. People will genuinely want to play and listen to his albums and, whilst even he will not be a massive act after his first year, he will be around for a while and will benefit from winning.

UnionJ were good but not that good. With support from Louis, I can see them getting a good contract, bags of promotion and they'll be the act that we see popping up everywhere over the year. If they're lucky and get some good writers too, then they may break through big time and get the teens screaming at a concert or two as well. They should have been in the final but not enough people who think that either watch the show now or bothered to vote.

If the working class grannies remain this show's driving audience next year then I shall not be writing about it. Hopefully, Simon will make some significant changes and, in particular, get ITV to schedule it better. BBC have well and truly stuffed them in the ratings this year. And many decent acts in the process.

Thank heavens for X Factor USA which is looking really good - in a totally different class, both as a programme, in its currency, its judges (well most of them) and in its contestants, any of the Top 8 likely to match whoever wins the UK show in terms of longevity and likely impact on the market and charts.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Semi final review Pt 1

Peter Dickson and Dermot were more entertaining than the contestants, apart from James Arthur, I suppose, although even he brings on suicidal tendencies in clowns.

This was a drab, sad and generally totally missable show. And I'm a huge fan. In contrast Olly and Caroline were so much more fun and we learned far more about the contestants - and a live, off the cuff track from James too on XtraFactor afterwards.

There is really very little to say about it. Jahmene brought back a couple of good wailies, At Last being the one he started auditions with and the one track that might keep him in. He's the bookies favourite to get to the final by a long way but I have my doubts. That personality can only get so many symapthy votes.

Old Baloney did a reasonable job of whatever he sang first but totally wrecked a Michael Buble number in a pathetic attempt to sound 'modern'. Useless, but with what has been reported pretty reliably as the top vote throughout the whole series, I can't see how he can fail now. Dreadful, but that's the way things look like going.

UnionJ are at the opposite end of the bookie's list, being clear favourites, 6-5 on at the time if writing, to go. They performed some tired old Westlife numbers and, although one guy tried hard to rescue things, it was pretty average and none of their previous excitement and appeal came through. In fact, during the first part of the second track, one of them was looking at the others as if something had gone completely wrong but they did manage to cover whatever it was well.

James had all his usual angst but did, at least, sound like a current artist and his second performance was a genuine 'moment', something there have been precious few of this series.

That, folks, was it. Really depressing and tiresome stuff tonight mostly. The judges were dull and, knowing there was nothing they could do now to make much difference, most comments were pretty mundane and not worth repeating. They were all, even Gary, agreed that James was the one with the X Factor and my guess is that he's the one they have all predicted will win. Baloney was talked about a fair bit but no-one gave him much by way of a compliment other than polite agreement that he'd worked hard and done a good job with the first track. They all panned the second.

I don't know what will happen tomorrow. It ought to be Baloney going home but we've been thinking that since the start. That Buble mess-up might just have upset a few fans, enough to dent his No 1 polling position, but whether it's enough to drop below two other acts I don't know. Jahmene may even top the poll this week, although he is my tip to go. That'll be a shock. UnionJ might just get in by massing all the teen votes, if teens are still watching, that is. James has to be in the final. So if UnionJ get in, who doesn't?

Between Baloney and Jahmene it should be Baloney but it could be Jahmene. So maybe there will be a bit of excitement tomorrow after all.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Week 8 Review Pt1

You probably didn't follow my live tweets through this week's show so I've included them in this post as they do capture the good, the bad and the ugly tonight.

It's Abba and Motown Week which means there's a good chance we'll recognise the tracks. This is traditionally a harmless week when no-one does terribly well and no-one does terribly badly. 

To start with the judges have this and that to say about last week's Ella vote fiasco.

They might just as well have four OAPs on the panel for all the influence the judges have now
@radioleary is really sounding quite fed up. Has he seen the votes already?
Cue video of Rylan and James in a kitchen. It's Thanksgiving in America so someone on the production team must have thought it would be a good idea. But where's her third act??

Is Jahmene the turkey? #XFactor thanksgiving meal

Rylan suits Abba well. of is it vice versa? It's a chess set and he puts on a pretty reasonable performance and looks like he's enjoying himself.

Rylan is certainly entertaining. Lots of pawn action tonight on#XFactor

Good job Louis - bigging up Rylan in an effort to get rid of Baloney#XFactor
Louis almost begging people to vote for the guy in his complimentary summary,

UnionJ should have been told that The Winner Takes It All is not a smiley song
The boy band sing very well but this really is not a track when they should be smiling and the whole impact of a superbly written song is totally lost.

Good performers but crap representation of this track could land them in trouble

Lord Sugar tweets to Simon Cowell: I am not wishing to be negative. You get back here and do X Factor UK yourself and chuck Tulisa out. I'm not sure what he doesn't like about Tulisa but I thought I'd ride on the back of that one:
@SimonCowell unlike @Lord_Sugar I am wishing to be negative. Get back here and do #XFactor yourself and chuck Baloney out.

Jahmene does I Had A Dream but it's lame.
I'm bored with Jahmene now which doesn't say much for his chart chances, however well he sings. My vicar sings well too.

I wish Jahmene would just hit the note not wobble round it first.

Jahmene did say he wanted to do gospel so by leaving out half the track I suppose he got gospel

I think I preferred watching Agnetha and Anni-Frid but James is miles better than the others at interpreting ABBA songs

James Arthur does SOS. Not as brilliant as some of his earlier interpretations but still the best so far.

I have a feeling Ella voters may well transfer to James and keep him out of the bottom two this week

'Last week was amazing' Big smile. Baloney sounding chirpy is pissing me off. Funny how his nerves have gone.

Damn, Fernando was one of my favourites. I'm going for a walk. I may be some time. 

Has, he. finished. yet. All. those. gaps. between. every. ruddy. word. Baloney has to go, please.

Next we get the Motown performances.
UnionJ pick I'll Be There and we miss Michael Jackson even more now. They sing really well but that won't have won any extra votes. Maybe they won't need them  but I have my doubts.

UnionJ playing it safe in the Motown section. Maybe a bit too safe

Gary talking sense. It was a 'nice' performance. UnionJ should have done Baby Love

Louis doesn't want UnionJ in the bottom... eh? 

Any of UnionJ as solo acts would have seen off Baloney ages ago

Then we get a mix-up with Nicole getting confused with so many acts still in the competition.
Hang on, didn't Nicole just introduce James? Video intro is Rylan

'James' has grown and changes sexual preference.

Christ Rylan's trousers look uncomfortable. Should help with high notes

Rylan doing Jive Bunny

Not one of Rylan's better performances. If he's Eurovision then Baloney is Eurocrisis.

I can see #RylanStyle catching on

Rylan does a Supremes' medley in very tight yellow satin trousers. Muddley might have been a better word.

No question to answer on the #XFactor competition. That'll help the Baloney voters then.

Dermot chats to the audience and we get a shot of a ridiculous horizontal pigtail style on the head of Jahmene's mum.

Jahmene's mum's hair!?

James Arthur showing Jahmene how notes should be sung and what performing is all about. Brilliant. 

Caroline Flack is hoping James will take a cold shower before he appears on #XtraFactor

Jahmene is asking his mum what that song was actually all about. And can Louis borrow her hair

James puts on the best performance tonight. That was pretty good as he tries Marvyn Gaye's Let's Get It On.

Digital Spy tweet: Front page of tabloid alleges Maloney tried to strangle a cabaret singer on a cruise ship. So macho, as @sinittaofficial might say!

Ooops, dodgy notes from Jahmene. This song is muh more difficult than most people realise. Smokey was brilliant. Jahmene isn't

Remembering last week, a bet on Jahmene at 50-1 to go may not be that silly. Shocking but not silly. 

Jahmene really doesn't do that well with the Motown track. In fact I've already forgotten what it was. Oh yes, Smokey Robinson. He's a nice innocent chap but not for the X Factor world. Better back in church where listeners will be kinder and not swear or talk about girls and things he doesn't understand. Like charts.

Dancing on the ceiling? Baloney? Good God no.

Baloney's dancing is more like someone old trying to stand still on a rocking boat. Which is where he belongs

Digital Spy again: Maloney took our breath away. Then he released his grip.

Baloney gets criticism from the judges becauses he's a crap act. Simple, Gary. If he wasn't your act you'd say the same.

One of the highlights comes in XtraFactor when we get a video of James and Nicole singing an off the cuff, make it up as they go along song. I can't really explain what V and HB stands for without losing half my readers but that was really funny and showed a confident contestant and very relaxed mentor. No way would we see Britney in that style! Well done, Nicole.

I can see James and Nicole YouTube V & HB track going viral! Hilarious 

Finally, Simon appears to have got the earlier message!

"@SimonCowell: UK. Please vote for who you believe could be a star next year. It's in your hands." 

Monday, 19 November 2012

Shameless Voters Stifle X Factor UK

Ella left the X Factor UK competition this week. Here's her performance from the Saturday night show.

For almost every viewer and commentator I've encountered it was Ella and James who would have been in the Final in a few weeks' time. To see them having to sing off for 6th place has shocked them all.

This is James's passionate sing-off performance from Sunday.

Whilst James has survived, Tuiisa naturally voting for Ella and Louis making the valid point that James may well already have more or less secured a contract, it has to be remembered that this ridiculous choice was only necessary because the people actually caring enough to vote prefer Old Baloney and Rylan to each of these two. Coming 5th again, as the deadlock and public vote showed this week, would see him go next week if that audience remains dominant.

Now, it may be that outrage may lift his standing but things are looking grim on this show now. Union J may have to accredit their survival to the extra votes they may have accumulated from Ditrict3 supporters and, if James doesn't make it, remain the only potential winner that could truly be regarded as a future chart success we Brits would be proud to declare.

Jahmene is a decent chap but devoid of the quality that is exactly what this show is supposed to find, seemingly only at ease with the hotel doorman. On the show and even in the relaxed and fun atmosphere of the Xtra Factor he is painfully morose and dull. All he seems to want to do is sing gospel songs. Now there is nothing wrong with that and he'd have been a star in Choir Of The Year or that programme that created Sing a little while ago. Yes, he can sing and yes, he is pure and innocent but once his No. 1 single has dropped out of the charts in March 2013 he'll be filed away with Joe McElderry thereafter.

Rylan does have something and I can cope with his continued presence in a similar way to Jedward's survival. He'll be an asset to a tranche of reality shows that seem to be the thing these days and, whilst not likely to be on my 'must view' list, he has, totally through his own personaility, taken the opportunities presented by a stage, huge audience and his mentor, made himself into a star of sorts. He'll fade soon enough  but will brighten the screen for a year or so and be part of the wackier side of British entertainment life.

Christopher is just dull, outdated, wrong and the thought of his face staring out of some album cover at Christmas is a terrifying one. Thank heavens that vinyl albums haven't yet returned to the mainstream and that his face will, at least remain contained within a 3 inch square. The thought, too, that I am writing about and avidly following a tv show whose main audience comprises people who must genuinely believe that he is some sort of 2012 hero, deserving all the recognition, publicity, plaudits and money that will be attached to his name, and who do so in preference to the talents of Ella and James, makes me seriously wonder about continuing with all this.

I am annoyed and slightly embarrassed to admit to supporting and promoting this show. As my teenage son said yesterday, if James and Union J aren't in the final he'll not be interested in watching. I feel the same. We may just record it and watch bits later. I feel like stopping these articles in some sort of protest but I need an outlet for my frustration so they have their uses!

SYCO must be losing a fortune in advertising revenue as I doubt that either viewing figures or the all important profits from telephone votes are holding up as well as they'd hoped. The show's still profitable but I suspect Simon is relieved that he has kept his distance so far this year.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Week 7 Review

Guilty Pleasures is the name of the game tonight, not that that usually has much effect on what the contestants do.

Union J

Carly Rae Jepsen Call Me Maybe
Someone must have told them to get commercial so they certainly did that with one of the year's biggest numbers. The more I look at these guys the more they are looking ans sounding like One Direction and tonight they pressed all the lookalike buttons well, including appearing on boxes.

They're four excellent singers and may start to pick up District3 voters now and get through a bit closer to the final. Unless they're up against Ella, James or Jahmene this week, which they really shouldn't be, they'll be  safe, wherever they finish in the voting.


You're The One That I Want Olivia or John Travolta
I have never heard this track done any differently than as in Grease so a way slowed down version was a real surprise. It worked too and Ella did a pretty good job of bringing out the meaning, always the awkward spot with her. Notes perfect again too, she is a must for the final. What I particularly like about her is the fact that she writes her own stuff and each performance now is what she wants to do. That is what can make the difference between a good singer and a star.

Impressive tonight. How the voters will take it I'm not sure but her traditional fans should stay loyal.


Can't Take My Eyes Off You Andy Williams
This was a strange choice and possibly one of his worst performances. It seemed out of place and he didn't look right singing this either. Having said that he got rave reviews and all credit for switching a very much unhip track to his own style.

He's perfectly safe but I doubt if he'll be topping the poll.


When Will I Be Famous Bros
With Rylan it's all about the fun and the stage now. His voice was a bit off compared to most weeks and it's a dreadful track that even his fans probably don't like much.

It would be remarkable if his psychic is proved correct with her prediction that he'll last til the seventh week. It would also mean that Old Baloney doesn't go so I'm really hoping she's wrong. It does seem pretty much likely that he will though - if, that is, Old Baloney gets his usual bundle of votes and leaves Rylan up against anyone other than him.

If it is them in the bottom two, though, then Rylan would actually get through!

Old Baloney

Total Eclipse Of The Heart Bonnie Tyler
Yeah. He sang the song. Most notes there. No excitement or anything, just cruised along.


Communards Don't Leave Me This Way
This suited his voice but not his style as he's never had anyone to sing that to. He looked uncomfortable but then he always does. Maybe they should get him stacking ASDA shelves while he's singing or something. He's pleasant and didn't wail so much I do think someone who is favourite to win this thing (as he is at the time of writing) then he should be a bit more positive and cheerful.

So that's it. I've already gone through as many possible voting outcomes as I can think of. I'm hopeful that everyone did well enough to put Rylan and Christopher in the bottom two this week. It really should, therefore, be Old Baloney going but we've been saying that since the start, haven't we? Liverpool grannies have supported him this far and I am so worried that he will soon be knocking decent acts out.

Rylan's Psychic Could Be Right

For the first time this series the bookies got it right last week. This week they have Rylan as such a clear favourite to go I struggle to write that I disagree. Of the £10,600 bets placed with Betfair at the time of writing this afternoon, a massive £7000, nearly 70% has been on Rylan. On Old Baloney going there is almost the entire balance, 27% with next to nothing placed on any of Union J, James, Ella or Jahmene. In fact the bets on Jahmene going total just £30, a miniscule 0.3%.

But I am going to disagree and here's why. Regular readers will know that I have wanted Christopher Maloney gone since he got through to Bootcamp. And you do have to wonder about the sanity of the judges who selected those Overs to go through to Judges' Houses. Gary made some odd choices too but he didn't have the best six to choose from.

Anyway, here's how I think things might work out. Assuming there is a bottom two for the judges to choose from, there are only a few feasible pairings. Rylan v Christopher has to be the most likely so let's deal with that one. Gary will save Christopher. Nicole will save Rylan so it's down to Tulisa and Louis. Now both have made it pretty damn clear that they don't see Christopher as an act they want to see continuing and must surely vote for him to go. Christopher's only chance of survival in that pairing would be if one of them did support him and take it to deadlock when he may have the higher public vote.

In any other pairing that involved Christopher then there's no way the other three judges would send Union J, Jahmene, James or Ella home. Indeed, even Gary would have trouble justifying retaining Christopher against any of them.

There is, of course, the awful scenario in which he is still not in the bottom two. Let's be quite clear what that means: it means he is more popular than at least one of Union J, Jahmene, James or Ella. I really refuse to believe that there are that many annoying voters who prefer him over Jahmene, James or Ella. That leaves Union J, who we know he has already beaten at least once. So that puts Union J and, presumably Rylan in the bottom two. That's what the big money must be assuming: someone other than Maloney up against Rylan and hence the Rylan exit in week 7 (indeed - as his psychic friend predicted!)

Remember, though, that Rylan has been getting decent votes of late with the public genuinely warming to him. If he was going to go then it would have been after last week's pretty lame performance. If he does a reasonable job and does actually escape the bottom two then that would mean Christopher would have to have beaten two of the others in the polling. Now, if that happens it would be a ridiculous Ella v James, Jahmene v Union J or similar bottom 2. Cue protests, frustrated judges' remarks etc.

Any scenario that has Old Baloney remaining in this competition implies that it hasn't just been a particularly good performance by him in a week when the others do badly but that some old grannies out there believe he is a better singer / performer / potential British chart act than the rest. 

We could be in Steve Brookstein, Andy Abraham, Leon Jackson land, folks. God (i.e. Simon) help us.

Monday, 12 November 2012


If you watch Dermot O'Leary carefully there's a sense of resignation, frustration in his voice as three acts are still left standing on Sunday's Results Show. Two of the acts are the 'bottom two', with all that implies - one has to go and the other carry on with the knowledge that not many people are voting for them and the third goes straight through and, for all we know, may actually have topped the poll. Surprisingly at this stage of the competition, he's told to go to an ad break.

A few minutes later, the name he calls out as 'safe' is Christopher. Watch his eyes as they momentarily flash to the heavens.

We're left with the two groups to sing off. District3 had been tipped to be in trouble but can hardly have expected to have been up against Union J. Both make a really good effort with their key singers leading and I didn't spot anything that either act should be at all disappointed about in those performances. You do have to wonder why they couldn't have brought such excellence out on Saturday night - as is so often the case, acts produce some of their best performances just before they go.

I liked Louis' decision not to vote for either act and half-hoped that the rest would do the same in protest, not that that would have prevented one going though. Union J had put in a particular strong performance and I am sure that most viewers would accept that they had the edge on that occasion so it was farewell to District3.

Most commentators have made the point that having two first class groups may well have split that section of the vote which is why we had this extraordinarily frustrating outcome. Whether Old Baloney was up their with the top votes or actually just scraped through with a handful more than Union J remains to be seen. I honestly have no idea now. The same commentators on both X factor and Xtra Factor struggled to say anything nice about Baloney other than that 'he's a nice chap' which I'm sure he is. I don't know about you, though, but for the second week running, I cringed at the way he kept attempting to cuddle Ella when Olly and Caroline have them on the bench. That's not right, however paternally he may intend the gesture to the 16 year old. Compared to the interaction between everyone else which is just innocently playful, that is odd and if I were Ella I'd be demanding that next week they bring her on with Union J or the Boys. Rylan crawls all over everyone but it just seems good fun.

Rylan, of course, was actually the worst vocal this week by a mile and he happily admits that, (which kind of makes him even more likeable!) He survives because his personality has endeared him to what must be millions and I can definitely see him with a great career in tv entertainment ahead. I'd say he ought to go now but next has to be Old Baloney. Then Rylan. Then I see Jahmene going as there surely has to be a limit on how much wailing we can take. He's a decent chap but I'm not as impressed with his singing now as I was when he started. He's not handling new, less familiar to him, tracks anywhere like as well. The only thing that might see him through further would be if he sang one of his gospel numbers that he knows like the back of his hand, with no complicated routines to remember.

That should leave Union J, Ella and James in the final. James is getting all the votes from the pundits now. Union J will certainly have a big-selling album and Simon will get them out there wherever they finish. I was about to put Ella in third place when she sang a few lines of a track she'd written herself on Xtra Factor. Recalling too that her audition track was also something she'd written herself I have had to remind myself that she has that extra talent and, if she could be allowed to do something of her own somehow, that might produce those 'moments' that this show really has lacked so far. She would be more confident and may sing with more genuine meaning and know where the notes should go as opposed to trying to reflect what someone has told her where they should go on someone else's number.

There is one thing that surely has to be the case, though: for any of those acts to lose a place in the final to Old Baloney would be awful, and possibly cause great damage to the show as a large part of its audience, realising that they were watching in the company of grannies, labour club-goers and cruise ship passengers, decide to watch something else instead. I'll see it through to the end but expect increasing frustration may result in my articles becoming strewn with expletives.

Happier times - Jaheme getting head patted by Dermot in a previous week.

Little Mix this week. Producers decided they were too scary-looking for Hallowe'en week

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Week 6 Review Pt 1

Watching the start of X Factor UK, you just have to appreciate how much more professional and in touch with the show, the audience, the judges and the contestants is Dermot O'Leary in comparison to the dreadful Khloe Kardashian on the USA version.

Tonight One Direction will be performing. I was wondering whether Simon Cowell would be coming across with them. He is bound to put an appearance in at some stage and that would have been a good opportunity. That group performed on both Wednesday and Thursday night shows across the Pond so I expected them to a number sitting down after flying across last night. Just as well they have a slow number out at the moment.

Old Baloney kicks off the show with the Elton John track I'm Still Standing. That's a good 80s track but he is so bland and it comes and goes in meaningless and very uninspiring style. To be fair the notes were right and in the right order but really that is all I cans ay to his credit. Listening to others reviewing his performance afterwards and on Xtra Factor is getting quite painful now as everyone tries to be nice about him but it is so clear that only a bunch of Grannies and some huge group of people in Liverpool want him to win. Unfortunately there is either a massive number of them or not many voting for the others and he has managed to escape the bottom 2 all the way through so far. This could be the week, though.

Jahmene gets a head patting from Dermot after another of his slightly strange wailing performances of the big ballad, Angels (which I think I've heard quite enough of already!). He seems to miss notes quite wildly but then run around getting them back again and everyone says he's brilliant. I'd much prefer he just hit them first time and stayed on them. He is increasingly being fancied to win the thing and has that endearing quality that must appeal to the Granny Brigade and Older Mothers too. I can't imagine many teens voting though. Still, the way things are going, he's safe for another week.

District3 do Eric Calpton's Tears In Heaven. It's do or die for them this week. They need a superb performance and produced a 'pretty good' one. It's not the most spectacular of tracks, though, and, whilst one guy did stand out with a great voice, it may not have been enough to get piles of votes coming in. Much will depend on how well Union J do.

Written In The Stars is a Tinie Tempah track that I'm not familiar with and I may well not have heard it on Radio 2 anyway. Ella is back on top form with this, though. Possibly her best so far.

Rylan! Spice Girls? Good fun but this time the tuning was way,w ay out. and he didn't jump off the plane either. He's at risk.

Union J all serious and vocal. At a distance from each other something is missing. Once they get closer it works. I do have doubts still about how they'll do this week. They may have outperformed District3 but not by much.

James. Adel. Oh dear. Lots of painful expression. How will that go down with his fans I don't know but it may not matter.

It ought to be Old Baloney v Rylan but I have a feeling there'll be a surprise tomorrow.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Week 6 One of these has to go tomorrow

And here are the odds half an hour before the show starts. There hasn't been a predictable elimination yet and, despite Rylan and District3 being heavily fancied (again!) I'm not so sure. District3 escaped the bottom 2 last week and they will be trying extremely hard to get back in the competition which has largely gone Union J's way so far. Who goes could vary depending upon who they're up against. There aren't that many combinations really.

Ella, Jahmene and James against any others would survive.
Union J would survive against Rylan or Baloney but could conceivably tumble out against District 3 (bearing in mind that for the two groups to be in the bottom two would mean they've both under-performed so it could be anyone's guess from there).
District3 would beat Christopher as I think they'd get Tulisa and Nicole's votes. I suspect they'd beat Rylan too needing only one of the girls to support Gary and Louis.
That leaves Rylan v Old Baloney. Only Gary would vote for Old Baloney which would also see him gone.

So all that would mean goodbye to Old Baloney if he ends up in the bottom two. That's a big if.

Friday, 9 November 2012

One Direction Perform On X Factor USA

One Direction performing on X Factor USA this week. Another really successful act discovered, indeed actually constructed, on X Factor.

So please just think before you vote tonight. Do we really want Old Baloney representing UK talent? There's no way he should remain in this competition, although one thing he could do perhaps is take the compère job being so badly done by the annoying Khloe Kardashian.

So get ready, folks, it's nearly time to hide Granny's phone again!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Week 5 Results

Gary Barlow had that expression that made it clear he realised that one of his acts would be in the bottom two this week. Neither Kye nor Old Baloney had exactly shown that they were anything other than average, vaguely interesting in the case of the former or dated and likely to be forgotten come January in the case of the latter.

Kye does, at least, write his own songs, although the fact that the producers, whilst happily promoting James Arthur's skills on The Xtra Factor and, of course, Lucy Spraggan's on the main shows, haven't shown any raises the questions of just how good they might actually be. He reminds me of Alexander in Fame Academy, runner up to Alex Park, who did a lot of his own tracks but wasn't terribly great at singing them himself. Perhaps Kye will be representing us in Eurovision 2013.

I can see an album from Kye coming out and being sort of reasonable, with his gathering a small posse of fans and with a bit of luck his X Factor experience will mean he doesn't need to sweep too many more chimneys. He seems a nice enough bloke and may even have survived if he hadn't done the Rob Brydon impression on Saturday night or been wearing make-up that I can only assume had been left lying around after Hallowe'en.

Old Baloney had managed some decent notes in the well-chosen commercial track but his singing style, with massive gaps between each word, and general orange and brown appearance just cannot seriously be a good example of what the current British music scene wants to offer the world. Or our children for that matter. He may not descend to Wagner's low levels of appearance and lack of talent and weird, occasionally worrying personality, but beats everyone in averageness.

When interviewed on Xtra Factor after the results show, Kye was asked about Chris Maloney. Interestingly, he was stuck for something to say. He could easily have come out with some simple vaguely complimentary and harmless line and moved on but there was this blank look, a long pause and all he could say was something along the lines of Well, Christopher is Christopher. Olly Murs quickly moved on from that one!

The Results Show itself started with what was one of the worst let's-all-sing-along I can remember. Everyone seemed to be in a different key to the backing track and band. Dreadful and trying to watch James Arthur doing the commercial intro stuff is painful tv.

We did have some light relief from Rita Ora doing a Rihanna-type job quite well and No Doubt coming back from a long time ago and sounding very cool indeed.

Union J were delighted to escape the bottom two this week and were first to be called safe. After last week's surprise low votes they must have wondered what had happened to all the fans. Maybe they'd been taken away on holiday by their mums and dads at the start of half term. I honestly can't think of any other reason as there were several far worse. Anyway, back to this week, Ella, Jahmene, James all get through as you'd expect. It was down to Old Baloney, Kye, Rylan and the act that most people were predicting would go, District3.

When Christopher's name was called safe, Louis looked despondent. Even Dermot O'Leary's normally carefully non-expressive announcement had that slight sound of frustration  this time. Surely Kye would be next called, leaving Rylan and District3? No, it's District3 who are safe! They are absolutely delighted - and, I suspect, quite surprised, - and dance and hug everyone and let out some words that ITV didn't have time to bleep. So it's Kye and Rylan left standing. Gary's not looking as shocked as he might. Secretly, he's thinking that, at last, Rylan will be gone and Kye will live to sing another day.

Rylan sings first and delivers something quite different from what anyone would have expected. I didn't know the track but he used falsetto and his stronger ranges really well. This was heartfelt and showed, with no bum notes or fancy acting, that he is genuinely talented. I wouldn't buy his stuff but I would expect to see him on reality TV shows and genuinely entertaining people for some time yet, in the Jedward vein but with actual ability to get notes right. That might just save him.

Kye comes on stage and looks a bit better than the day before but still odd. He does, though, put in a very good vocal performance. Every note good and a more powerful performance than Rylan, beating him fairly and squarely on all fronts - except as an entertainer or as something current. Throughout Kye's performance, the camera catches Rylan's arm around Dermot's shoulder throughout the show, tapping appreciatively in time with Kye's song. I still can't get over how ruddy tall Rylan is, either, but that's another thing.

Now the judges have to vote. Gary and Nicole obviously vote for their guys. Louis I expecetd to go for Rylan but he chooses to save Kye. Hadn't expected that. Tulisa makes the very good point that it's Rylan that she and probably several hundred thousand viewers tune in to see rather than Kye. Good for her. Her decision leaves it to the public vote. I can see Rylan surviving after all now. He does. Remarkable.

There's a lot of sympathy for Kye who really had done well. Everyone is thinking it should have been Old Baloney up there saying farewell and certainly not being Gary's last remaining act! He hadn't actually selected him, so that places Christopher at least as his 5th choice (and I am pretty sure he would actually have been nearer 8th in Gary's list).

Once again, the bookies got it wrong. I wonder if they're actually right with Ella, still predicted to win? If you take a look at the Top 16 on X Factor USA, you may not see Ella as that good after all. Each of their female acts, including three 14 year olds, could do as good a job as Ella. That says a lot about this year's bunch. In fact, I have a feeling that, if the Granny vote doesn't continue to dominate, and current potential chart acts and big sales are better reflected, then both groups and James Arthur are the ones actually to watch. And Ella, still, who should be reliable and may fill a young Adele-type hole and is unlikely to make a mistake as each of the others might.

Just let's get rid of Old Baloney now - he really is spoiling this show.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Week 5 Review

Rylan kicks off in fine Essex style, including a clip of Amy from TOWIE training Nicole in the local habits. We then get him crashing through some sugar glass out of 'Rylan's Boutique' for some reason best known to whoever staged this. He actually sang pretty well, though and is certainly entertaining. I can imagine him getting through for another week with that.

Union J do the Taylor Swift Love Story track and make a reasonable job of it. Good choice, Louis. Slight shift of lyrics needed and it's a pity the show expects each individual band member to have his own 'slot' as they'd be better with one clear lead and the decent harmony the others can produce on tracks like this. Still, that should see them safely through.

Kye next. He's vulnerable tonight. He was before he started and certainly will be after some quite desperate effort there. He tried hard and there were mostly good notes and the upper ones were welcome but then he tried to do what stars do by high fiving the judges and prancing around oddly. That didn't work at all and he really showed his inexperience. Pretty poor.

James did No Doubt and started well but then started rapping and seemed to be struggling not to swear, It may have worked for his fans but you did get the impression that he was trying just that little bit, no, hugely actually, too ruddy hard.

Ella. Firework. No explosions. That worked very well, apart from some high notes that she doesn't seem able to manage. I could have sworn she managed notes perfectly before but this wasn't 100%. She's still favourite to win but I'm not so sure.

District3 get girls. Quite a fun number that I thought worked OK and they did a pretty reasonable job. The judges didn't, though, apart from Louis, of course. That'll be one for their fans to decide, I guess, Are there enough of them to keep them safe this week or are the bookies going to right for the first time?

Jahmene performed something I didn't recognise at first. It was a bit of a mess and he put some runs in where he couldn't quite make the notes and kinda got away with it. He's safe enough I should think, as he gets some of the Granny vote too but he needs to pick something more appealing and manageable next time.

Old Baloney. All By Myself. Wish he were, somewhere far away from my TV. Dreadful.

Let's see how the odds finished up at the end of the show.

Hmmm.. it looks like District3 v Old Baloney tomorrow night. At least there's a chance of getting rid of him after all. Even more fun would be Kye v Old Baloney.

Sometimes it's more interesting to watch the odds than the contestants...

Looking at Betfair's odds, there is little to choose between four acts vying for elimination in Week 5.

Assuming that the show does, indeed, go on as usual after Lucy's exit, District3 and Kye are the two expected to have to sing off. To be honest, though, Rylan and Old Baloney are only a whisker less fancied in that respect.

So, as someone has bound to have told them, expect them to make a particularly special effort to survive.

At the other extreme, fortunes would be made should any of Ella, Jahmene or James go home this week.

Of course, so far the bookies' favourite to go - even after they've sung - has survived each week and it's been punters' 4th choice that's gone. At the time of writing that would mean Old Baloney goes at last!!

We can only hope.

Think Before You Vote, Folks. And Liverpool Kids, Hide Granny's Phone.

Just a little reminder of what shows like X Factor can find - Carrie Underwood won American Idol in 2005. This track, sung live, no autotune or convenient vocal backing track, last week has to be one of the big ones this decade, even though there are a few years to go yet.

Remarkable lyrics and production by Carrie herself and Nashville songwriters. I'm not sure who did which but, as we settle down to watch some questionable talent on X Factor UK yet again tonight, before voting, just think to yourselves: can you really imagine Old Baloney (or, for that matter, most of the other acts) writing, singing and looking this good? As LA Reid asked on X Factor USA, Ok, you like them. But would you spend $5 million on them?

Think before you vote. Kids - hide granny's phone.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Live Shows Week 4: Results

Fun and Robbie Williams were entertaining. Just as well as the sight of James Arthur taking part in the intro sing-a-long was not pretty. Robbie was quite remarkably good and the brief run through of his past hits was a salutary reminder of how Kye hadn't really done a great deal with his efforts at Let Me Entertain You. In the middle of his performance of Candy, his brilliantly commercial current single, Robbie shouts out his support for Rylan. That must have made the guy's week.

The votes won't have made Union J's week, as they found themselves in the bottom two, much to everyone's surprise. Every judge and commentator had expected a group but it was District3's useless performance that was supposed to have been the dud, not Union J who, whilst not exactly inspiring, were far better.

Jade was the much predicted other low vote recipient, deservedly so after a very strange song selection. She might have rescued herself with a careful and excellent sing-off track had she been up against anyone else than Union J. She wasn't though and so didn't.

She was likely to go in the early weeks but I had expected her to survive longer. Once again, it is abundantly clear that the people voting are still an entirely different mix to those commentating, with Old Baloney through yet again.

Next week it's Number One's Week which, unfortunately, could be up Old Baloney's voting supporters' street. Anything is possible, with such a vast range. So who'll be doing Firestarter?

Saturday, 27 October 2012

X Factor Live Shows: Week 4 (Mostly rubbish)

Kye looked awful - and that wasn't just the make-up for Hallowe'en night on X Factor. Must have been a bit inspired by meeting Robbie Williams, though, as he certainly put in a good effort, running up and down through the audeince to where a camera was conveniently focussed. He kept in the range he's good at as well so no obviously dodgy notes. I just don't see him drawing huge crowds and Let Me Entertain You remains very firmly Robbie's track and Kye just a pale imitation.

UnionJ next. Amid clouds of smoke but thankfully not made up as ghouls, the four lads were OK, James stand-out with the vocals. They didn't make any mistakes and it was the sort of thing that goes on track 5 of an album, easily forgotten afterwards. But, look, they're through anyway and din't even get a plug from Robbie so must be content to drift this week.

Rylan can certainly put on a great show. Not one I'd want to go to, mind, but he's got Kylie and Robbie backing him which has to be to his credit. Nice job.

Ella. Evanescence. Excellent. Critique from Nicole though who thought it could have been more exciting and didn't really impress as much as she'd hoped. Fair point.

Old Baloney another 80s cruise ship job. Gary complains about Tulisa's fag breath. Nicole lost her horny horny moves after that.

District3 messed up. Started well with the police number but it all went wobbly afterwards.

Jahmene sang nicely but so sleepy with the Roberta Flack track. At least he didn't do the Fujees' version.

Jade was a disaster to listen to but lovely to watch. Great set, on a par with Rylan's. But the song? The voice? Dreadful and no way will the Daily Star readers vote for that.

James almost put us to sleep too with a strange version of Sweet Dreams. Not that it matters, he could have just stood there this week and still survived after a very tiresome trawl through the 80s.

I can see District3 and Jade being in trouble. Kye actually must be much safer than he seemed at the start,

All in all, another very poor show. At this rate, both Xtra Factor and XFactor USA will be making ITV2's ratings higher than ITV1's. Well, they would but there's a lot of grannies in Liverpool, I suppose.

And here are the odds at the end of the show.

Bookies Predict Scary Old Baloney Scrapes Through Hallowe'en Night On X Factor

So we start tonight with Kye and Rylan neck and neck for the bottom spot, and Old Baloney only a few points away. Jade and  District3 look a bit like they're lacking support - in the Betfair community, at least. The slightly higher odds for Old Baloney must be some indication that punters, smarting after losing a bundle last week, have started to believe the Daily Star.

They may regret it. After going home instead of attending a session with just about everyone's hero and big X Factor supporter, Robbie Williams, he has angered production staff and they'll be inclined to want him at the bottom of the pile and gone. However, it is Hallowe'en theme night tonight at which he may excel, visually, at least.

I just hope he's annoyed the camera crew sufficiently and gets blurred or something.

We'll find out soon enough.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Week 3 Result: MK1 Denied Another Week By Idiot Voters

Kyes Sones and MK1 were the two acts with the least votes on Sunday night. The judges voted sensibly enough and produced another deadlock, with the decision as to who goes home being simply the act at the bottom of the public voting pile.

That proved to be MK1. It was quite a sad evening as they had put a great deal into trying to make what they do a little more commercial for what they'd assumed to be this show's type of viewers and, whilst I don't think many expected them to last that much longer, this should not have been the week they went.

The sing-off was one of the best for a long time, both MK1 and Kye choosing tracks that they clearly both knew well, cared about and were able to perform really well. As is so often the case at times like these, you wonder what might have been the outcome had they produced those performances for the public to vote on. Despite still not really coming across as an act that will come close to winning this thing and actually being quite disappointing to date, Kye might still manage to find some numbers to do that are exactly in his zone and will please the voting audience and must be wondering how on earth Christopher Maloney keeps beating him.

MK1 may well have expected to have to struggle in this show but, strangely, may well be the act that is first to be snapped up by a publisher. Now that they're available I wouldn't be at all surprised to see someone take a chance on them and give them an album deal later this year. That should also remove some of the sting of being judged worse than Rylan, Jade and Christopher Maloney too.

Jade had a lucky escape and I think she knew it. She'll need to show us something pretty spectacular, and more than the spectacular makeover she's had, to stay around for much longer.

Ella, Union J, James, Lucy, District 3, Jahmene all easily deserved to stay but the real lucky ones must be Rylan and Christopher. Now Rylan I can sort of understand as this year's odd ball contestant who entertains people and even gets people voting juts for the hell of it. He can also sing well, not that he did this week. What he can do, though, is put on a good performance and get the crowd cheering and laughing, for better or worse. Christopher's survival, on the other hand, leaves me totally speechless - and not in a good way. In fact, it's got to the point where I am beginning to believe the Daily Star reports that he has been topping the public vote and, therefore, making me lose interest in this show as a vehicle for promoting new talent and finding an act that will entertain us with chart tracks, albums and live performances over the next year or two.

I am resigned to the winner not necessarily being the best but I do expect the votes to stack up in such a way that the last four or five are about right. Rylan surviving Jedward-like a bit longer than he should I can cope with but just as I found Wagner's continued survival offensive, so too am I already actually quite annoyed that Christopher is still there.

Absolutely none of the popular on-line polls had him anywhere other than bottom with a tiny percentage of the votes - some with over 5000 people and, whilst not, I understand, able to be termed representative of the X Factor voting public, you would expect there to be at least some correlation. You would think that the type of people visiting the official X Factor site and places like Tellymix, Digital Spy and others would cover a fair spread of those who vote. With hundreds of thousands of bets (and pounds) placed on the outcome, too, at bookmakers, you would expect the odds to bear some resemblance to what happens and old Baloney was as close to being a certainty to going both last and this week as you'll see on programmes like this. Nor did those odds change as the show progressed - in fact, they got considerably worse! So it wasn't a case of his live performance on the day changing punters' opinions of his X Factor suitability.

I can only conclude that it is the phrase those who vote that is key in all this. Much as many of my friends and colleagues might not like to admit it, they do watch the show. Very few would dream of voting, though. I know that lots of teens watch the show and love the groups in particular, even Rylan. Quite a few do seem to vote but there's not a single teen I have ever encountered out of a good number since the Live Shows began who would even think of voting for the bumbling Baloney. So who the hell is?

It seems that there has to be a very significant bunch of people who are watching and voting consistently and specifically for the likes of Christopher. Think about that - these people are willing to spend good money and time pressing buttons or texting because they reckon Baloney is who they want to win. That can only be women over 45 with little or no knowledge of the current music scene, no clue as to what is in the Top 20, probably never listening to the radio as Daytime TV is on wall-to-wall until the soaps start at five thirty. If they do ever hear music it'll be in the Labour Club down the road, a karaoke bar in Huddersfield or a wedding at Sandals in Saynt Looseeea. Christ, give me Rylan's gay bar and TOWIE crowd any day over that lot! So do I really want to spend time writing semi-informed and hopefully amusing-in-places stuff about a programme in which the outcome is heavily influenced by that lot? Not really, because it is impossible to draw any sensible conclusions and I do not want to start having to consider the DE category vote in gauging good contestants' chances.

So until Baloney goes, expect my articles to be rants like this. Or maybe I shall ignore him completely.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

X Factor Week 3

This was not a memorable show by any stretch of the imagination. Club Classics? Hardly. I can't imagine anyone in a club feeling like getting up and being classic if any of these acts had been on the stage. That doesn't mean there weren't some good performances, just nothing that we'll look back on and think Wow! or rush to YouTube to add to our sites.

For X Factor USA and even last year I was including videos for the best each week but I'm really not bothered at the moment.


Quite glad that we get old Baloney out of the way at the start. Strong enough voice but he's just so tedious and who on earth will want to buy his album? As LA Reid would have put it across The Pond, Would you give this old Baloney $5 million? No. Of course we wouldn't. and nor is anyone on this side of the ocean either. He started the show at odds of nearly 4 and finished at 3.2, clear favourite to be at the bottom of the voting pile. But then he was last week and must have done better than at least two others. Damn the Liverpudlian Granny Vote. Can someone go round the old folks homes and remove all the ear plugs.


The idea of this being their week is a bit ridiculous but I suppose it was more suitable than Abba week will be. They have a strong, faithful fan base from what I can make out and actually put on a good show. If could get over here and give them the sort of treatment he's been dishing out to several other acts (including a remarkably good job for Jessica Sanchez, American Idol runner-up) then they'd get some more fans but, as it stands, they'll be lucky to survive each week from here.

They didn't do themselves any harm, though, with a professional and confident performance, especially from Charlie the girl lead who is quite a star in her own right. They started at 6 and ended 7. Going up is good, but that's still likely to be bottom 3 range.


Once we get past the emotional back story stuff (I wonder whether each act will be getting this extended sympathy vote treatment?) the guy does his bit looking very smart with a nice blue bow tie and matching highlights on his black shiny suit. Not bad. The guy can sing but he can sing a lot better than he did tonight. He didn't look comfortable with the faster track and seemed a beat behind most of the time. That won't have increased his fan base but the back story stuff might so he'll end up safe and sound.

He started at 90 and finished at 85 which is as close to no change as you'll get at those odds which would make someone an absolute fortune if he did go home. Hence it's not going to happen this week.


Another sympathy vote plea as she's lost her voice. I've always thought her a strange selection for the live shows. She's OK and has a certain different style in her voice, when she has a voice, and has certainly been made to look pretty spectacular by the make-over people, but there were better in this category during auditions. She seems to have really impressed the judges, though, so they must have seen something I missed. This performance was just average. She ought to be safe enough but for how much longer I'm not sure, unless she can really discover some character that makes us want to get behind her.

She was quite well fancied at 20 at the start but dropped heavily to 12.5, probably still safe but now in the land of the here today, gone tomorrow or the next days.


At last someone who actually seems to know what he's doing and looks comfortable doing it. Protected by a guitar, James sings well and really puts a lot into the track. He's quite impressive and is someone you can imagine getting an album contract. Not a No 1 at Christmas but a steady No 8 maybe.

He went out from 80, below Jahmene, to 130, well above. people liked that performance. Two in a row for this guy. Good job.

Union J

This is the band that really got themselves together last week and probably were the best act of that week. they've got a huge fan base already and it's only Week 3 which is remarkable for a manufactured affair. They do look good and this week sang well again, making their position nicely safe and a guaranteed run through to Week 4.

With odds moving from 90 to 200 they're going to be a force to be reckoned with. Already being talked about as the next 1 Direction, I see them in the final if not winning the whole thing. These are very early days, though, and it may only take a few dodgy performances for votes to drift.


I still find this chap's height amazing. He towers over anyone else nearby and Dermot tends to keep well away. My children spotted the two together last week and reckoned that Dermot was going up on his tip toes and Rylan was making himself sag to be a bit shorter while the camera was on them. See for yourself, too, the extraordinary difference between him and the two boys on Xtra Factor!

He was looking forward to Club Classics. That seems to be his bag. You wouldn't really have known, though, other than from his outfit and a whole pile of dancers everywhere. You hope that he'll at least be a bit entertaining. Last week he actually sang well too but he didn't manage either the entertainment or the singing this time.

We're just hoping the crazy fans that he's accumulated in Wagner-Jedward-Chico style will, at least, carry him through and send Christopher home, whether that be by judges' votes or the public vote if someone else backs Gary in a deadlock.

It's not looking good at the end of the show, down to 4.9 from 6.6 at the start.


Well, Lucy does what Lucy does and this was pretty much indistinguishable from all that has gone before. Good, but how long can she last with that style? She's sure some odd ball in this rack. Definitely heading for an album and that will sell too. I can see her occupying a sort of slot of her own in the charts for a while and she should make it through for a week or two more.

The bookies think so too, stretching from 11 to 19.5.


It was nice to see Gary giving it to Kye straight after last night's show, pointing out, even if it was a little pedantically, Kye's thirty two bum notes in that performance. Whilst this was better, it still wasn't good and Kye's going to need every vote he can lay his hands on and another bum lecture from Gary if he's going to get his act truly together to justify his selection. Disappointing as I think everyone expected much more than we've been getting so far.

Kye dropped from 9.6 to 8.2, and into a danger zone.

District 3

They'd been lucky to survive last week with a very lacklustre performance and that seemed to ahve had the desired effect as tonight they may well have been the one of the best acts or, at least, the most improved. they sounded together, relaxed and seemed to know what they were doing and with a desire to entertain and do well. Much more confident, in tune, looking good and more mature than Union J but still probably feeling in their competitor's shadow.

They moved from a low 4.5 to 9, which ought to have lifted them out of the danger zone but we've seen groups go at this point even when they've put in a really good performance. Last year is still fresh in their minds no doubt.


Closing this less than inspiring show was the ever-reliable Ella. She did the Florence number really well and looked a lot better and moved around more. She said that she wanted to feel sixteen again and I guess she made it back to somewhere in her mid twenties.Yes, she's good and seemingly miles ahead of everyone else in the competition but I still have a doubt about how things will pan out. She is just a little cool still on stage and lacking that something that would make her the real star as opposed to someone who'll have a decent album or two and then not do a great deal more. We don't actually want another Adele.

She'll surely make it through to the final, where my guess is that she'll be up against Union J and James. By then I do hope she'll have got back to sixteen and also something a little original.

She started at a massive 200 and finished at 360. She ain't goin' nowhere, as The Byrds would have sung.

The Xtra Factor was actually far more entertaining a programme and you learned more about some of the acts in that programme's hour, with Caroline Flack and Olly Murs up to mischief and getting all kinds of admissions from everyone. There it was fairly clear that people are fed up with Christopher and also see Ella as the likely winner.

So maybe ITV could swap with ITV2 and put X Factor USA mainstream at weekends where there looks like being some stunning talent coming through and some really interesting rounds. The USA show is a week or two behind ours so no particular problem with finals clashing either.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Week 2 Results: Deadlock, Melanie.

Twelve become eleven tonight as the votes come in for this second (and mostly much improved!) week of performances.

Entertaining the crowd while the producers added up the scores were Rebecca, runner up to Matt Cardle last year, looking totally different and so much more confident than during her weeks on the show. She still stayed pretty much in one place, as was her trademark last year, but sounded fabulous. She shared the bill with the remarkable Taylor Swift. Taylor writes her own material and presents in a way that so much confirms that. This was a performance of the single with Never Ever Ever in the long title that everyone under 21 knows well. Maybe not her best ever ever track but it was a joy to watch her knock the years off the X Factor stage and show us something fresh and fun rather than the heavy over-production of some of the contenders' acts.

This should have been the week that Old Baloney went home and you could the cries of 'Oh no!' echo round the audience as his name was called out along with the favourites Ella, Union J and James. MK1 were clearly delighted to escape the Bottom 2, and must have expected to have to perform again but clearly someone somewhere liked both their style and strange renditions of Jackson Five songs. Lucy, Jade, Jahmene and Rylan names are called too, the latter's resulting in Nicole being lifted up and transported around to cries of 'Oh no!' from Rylan himself.

That left Kye, District 3 and Melanie standing looking forlorn. Kye, who had been called first in Week 1 was the last safe in Week 2 and must have thought himself pretty fortunate, especially if he'd listened overnight to some very dodgy notes in his unimpressive performance.

So, between Melanie and District 3, everyone was working out who would vote for whom. Louis and Gary, of course voted for their acts and Tulisa voted for District 3 to stay. Bearing in mind Nicole's complimentary remarks about District 3's appearance yesterday I had expected her to confirm Melanie's exit but she went the other way and one again it was down to who had the least of the public votes.

District 3 had made a good effort to hit the right notes, show some brotherly love and stay in tune, apart from the very last note. Melanie had put on a really good show, a track that you got the feeling she had performed many times before, and anyone judging the two acts on those performances would have had to go for Melanie. However it was she that had the lowest vote and that meant she had to go, the second of Gary's acts, reminiscent of Tulisa losing two groups in quick succession last year.

Hopefully Club Classics will see the end of Christopher next week.

X Factor UK Week 2: Dermot Takes Charge

At least it's now even - with three in each category after Carolynne failed to impress voters sufficiently and found herself at the bottom of the pile last week. Louis got all the blame and Gary walked out but it's time to move on now.

I like the way Dermot's taking charge of the show. And there's a change of seating 'after nine years'.

Dermot lists the numbers. Cue the screams. On that basis, Union J win and Melanie doesn't. But let's see how they all do tonight.


Spot-on singing but no connection between the amazing voice and the lyrics. Great performance but lacking real emotion. One of Louis' 'favourite ever ever contestants'. What? Out of all nine years?

Nicole calls Jahmene 'Baby Cakes'. No-one quite likes to ask.

Dermot said he wouldn't but, yes, he does the heady patting eventually, despite Jahmene ducking out at his first try!


Big ears looks like a football ref. Sings like one after a few beers. dreadful start. Oh, it's the Heart number again. Typical karaoke stuff. Solid voice but who'd going to buy this sort of stuff? He separates each word. Sounds odd. looks odd. He gets only modest applause. He needs to go.

Dermot doesn't heady pat Christopher.

Union J

Hope they get the song together better than they did their attempt at 'Team Louis' in unison. My God, it's bleedin' Bleeding Love. That works really well actually. An excellent arrangement. Brilliant. That'll go down well with the fans - and the voting fans too.

No heady patting though.


Can someone please leave her hair alone? She looks so good naturally. Are the 40s coming back? If so then release her album now and get it over with. This, though, is one of the most difficult songs ever. Loving You Is So Beautiful. OK, she hit the notes, amazing notes at that, but... but there was no emotion or connection at all. It was a bit clinical and, talented as she may be, that's not going to get her the most votes this week. Minnie Ripperton had the feeling and the notes and, whilst she didn't have any more success than that to my knowledge, if you dig out her version you'll see what was missing from Ella's. That might change the odds a little, especially with such a strong Union J performance. Doubt I'll get 25-1 on them again for a while.

So, will she get some heady patting from Dermot. With that hair? Perhaps not.


Nicole says 'This is my first time in a pub' during the preview bit.
James gets a call from Mary Blige and, unless he's acting really well, he handles that extremely well - he's looking and sounding very mature, not at all as I'd expected him to be coming across.

Now this guy can do feeling. No More Pain was delivered as if he meant every word. This guy's good. That was a 'moment'. Well done, James.

Nicole likes his trousers. No heady patting.


After all the bad news she'd had in the week, and in 'Love and Heartbreak' week, she does a cheery song. Gold Digger. Remarkably well done as if she'd written it herself. Nice performance, totally natural and relaxed. That should be popular.

No heady patting for Lucy either.

District 3

They didn't like the song. I Swear. Heavy production. These guys have good voices and harmony and pull off this tricky number. Not bad but Union J get the boy band votes this week.

Nicole wants them like tabasco on apple pie. And baby oil, with all the actions. Well, not all of them but enough to make you wonder.

It'll be interesting to see how the votes total up - will there be enough for both to be safe? If so then when one does eventually go that could well seal the deal for the other. If not, they'll be out soon.


Forgettable song last week, despite an excellent makeover. Love Is A Losing Game. Accentuating the tone of her voice that distinguishes her but that also showed the notes that she didn't make which was a shame. I'm not a big fan and I'm not sure how many voters are. She seems very much on her own in this competition - that might help her but she needs to make her own space somehow, like Rebecca did.

Louis says she's in a tough category. That's right, for sure, and I think she knows it but there's nothing to stop two girls being in the final four. Unfortunately, I don't see her being one of them.

She gets a shoulder pat from Dermot instead of heady patting which sends her off before he's had a chance to read out the voting number so he has to call her back. Still no heady patting, though.


The bloke in the group puts on some sort of comedy act this week. Charlie's great but even her style makes this version of I Want You Back weird. That didn't work and even the dancers were totally irrelevant and mostly off screen. It was a bit like Jedward had returned in places. They may be in trouble.
they did make a good point themselves that they are aware that the people that like their style of music are not the type who normally watch X Factor, let alone vote! Fair comment and all credit to this pair for that.
They get hugs from Dermot. No heady patting.


This guy could easily be a future producer. Reminds me of Chris De Burgh. Great voice and production - I just wish he'd hit the high notes better in the first half. He may have rescued himself near the end when he was right in his best range and sounded good. He's a talented chap but may struggle. Christopher's and MK1's unpopular-sounding performances may just save him, as should the judges if it comes to it.


Clear favourite to go at the start of the show but now looking safe with the bookies, at least! He doesn't wind up the show but he does wind up Gary by starting sing one of the Barlow numbers. Lovely. Starts then stops and is very relaxed in swapping from number to number in this weird mash-up and way OTT production. The budget's gone to hell. Groove Is In The Heart was never in tune in the 70s so he could get away with some dodgy bits but actually was not at all bad. It was weird but interesting and even included reference to Gangham Style and loads of references to the new wave of Korean stuff coming our way in there too. An informed production for which Brian gets all the deserved credit. I've no idea what to make of it and nor will many voters but it was bizarre enough to keep him in.

No heady patting as he towers over Dermot like a giraffe.


White trouser suit. Flares. That says 1970 to me. Bond-style silhouette behind her is more interesting than Melanie. Two Worlds Collide was over sung but oversung pretty well. Not sure how that'll go down. I'd have given her a Righteous Brothers track.

Louis says the old school is now new school. OK? Whatever that means.
Tulisa, in an attempt to catch up with the million points already scored by Nicole this week, says Melanie was in MILF mode. No baby oil, though.

Nor heady patting.

So that's Week 2 done - apart from the results. It should be Christopher going home but might be District 3 or MK1 getting the close shave. Jade, Melanie and Kye should thank their lucky stars for another week.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

X Factor UK Ella and 11 Dark Horses

Look at Betfair's odds at the time of writing (Tuesday evening, 9 October). The odds are greater for someone not actually in the final 12 to be the 2nd elimination than they are for Ella to go!

Her position as favourite, not just to survive this weekend, but actually to win have been cut even further and are now under 2.0 (which means you win less than $1 for each $1 bet).

This chart shows how the odds have dropped - they can't go much lower  now - and you can also see that nearly half of all the bets placed have been on her.

Remarkable. If you think that someone else really stands a chance then now is a good time to place a bet. I'm not encouraging this and always hedge my bets so that (almost) whatever happens I break even at worst. It should be said that the bookies have been proven wrong in the past too although, apart from Little Mix last year which totally caught us all by surprise and must have made someone a fortune, they usually get the top 3 about right, just the wrong way round. Leona Lewis was the last early favourite to win and even she was at 3s and 4s.

25 for UnionJ is attractive. If their fan base grows - Louis may be frustrating but he knows how to build support for boy bands - and they manage to do lively covers, stay in tune and please the fans then who knows. There's a long time to go between now and the final.