Monday, 16 December 2013

Do We Really Need Another Version of Skyscraper?

Yes, the bookies were right this year as Sam wins the X Factor UK Final.

Katy Perry brought along her new single Unconditionally from yet another variation on the suspended theme we've had on the stage this year. One Direction also performed something new - a much raunchier number about midnight somewhere like Madison (I think).

Nicholas sang well. Sam sang better. Neither strike me as long-term star artists but Sam has massive support out there amongst an older generation and I wish her all the best. She certainly has talent and can entertain and is a worthy winner of this competition.

The show itself dragged terribly and seemed to be stretched out far more than it should have been with Nicholas being asked at almost every break how he felt or, if was not him, how his mum or someone else felt. All the family stuff went on and on and I lost interest after the first few questions. The judges were also straining to find anything new to say and, despite wearing ridiculous MacDonald tartan trousers, I swear I heard Louis say that we should vote for Sam and that her version of Skyscraper would be No 1.

Why on Earth have they got Sam Bailey recording another version of Skyscraper? What is the point of that? Demi Lovato, interestingly a judge with Simon Cowell on X Factor USA, has charted twice with this in the UK already, reaching the Top 40 in 2012 and No.7 in October this year.

Although this was not a particularly memorable season, I must say that the quality of performers did seem a lot higher than on many previous occasions and we have been spared the 'joke' act too.

The one memory that will remain for me, though, will be Nicole Scherzinger's remarkable performance yesterday.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

The X Factor Final. Part 1.

Dermot starts by descending from some pole for no reason that I could fathom at all. The obligatory sing-a-long next with Luke looking a bit uncomfortable. Sing-a-longs aren't really his thing. Thereagain, they weren't James Arthur's either.

We then get a very long drawn out visit by Nicholas to Scotland with Louis. He eventually starts singing Candy from a silly balloon and an absolutely huge number of dancers and whoever on stage with him. He sort of disappears. Gary makes a good point about that performance not exactly showing off his voice very well. That was very average. I almost expected Robbie to emerge at one point.

Another long, long set piece of Sam in Leicester. She and Sharon doing karaoke at some pub more or less summed the night up. Oh dear. Sam is better than that. Maybe the producers aren't that bothered. They did get Peter Dickson to do the announcement at the Leicester Hall, though!! Unless it was a recording. Still, sounded quite impressive.

When Sam eventually gets going it's the splendid The Edge Of Glory. She is doing reasonably well but then very deliberately puts down the mic and grabs some fireman's pole. Terrible blue outfit and she did not look at all right doing the pole thing. Good voice but I'd rather watch Lady Gaga. That wasn't an obviously winning performance like some of her past have been.

48 minutes in and just two performances. That'll give you an idea of how tonight's going.

Luke does the Fun number We Are Young. Not the best of starts but once he gets going it's better. He doesn't have a pole but he has a train set. Looks good on TV. That was OK but no better really than Sam. Beat Nicholas, just.

The bookies started off with Sam 1/5, Nicholas 9-1 and Luke 11-1. Nothing seems to have changed half-way through.

Tom Odell is great - and actually if you listen to him you can see how successful Luke could be. Now it's Luke with Ellie Gould supporting him. Anything Could Happen is one of those songs that come true - remember what it did for Fifth Harmony? Launched them into outer space, chart-wise, although I suppose they did still come 3rd.

Nicholas gets Shane from Westlife. He only gets to sing a line before the compulsory intro. Whereas Ellie and Luke genuinely seemed together, Luke was quite dominated and outclassed by Shane in the annoying Flying Without Wings song.

Sam gets Nicole Scherzinger who is pretty amazing! She should do more like that. Actually , despite Sam's efforts, Nicole totally dominated the whole thing and that was quite a good reminder of how Sam, good as she is, is not stunningly good and may only just ever be an album artist doing good covers after winning. I hate to say that but I guess we needed the reminder as to just how powerful you need to be really to warrant the prize.

Unbelievably, Kitty JEdward, Rylan, TwoShoes, Diva Fever and goodness knows who else, oh, Johnny Robinson and the ghastly Wagner too, appear n some crazy reminiscence that reminds us how weird this show has been.

In complete and utter contrast, The Killers have a set and start with the marvellous Human. Second track Mr Brightside, also excellent and here is a band that set the whole place alight.

Nicole, Tom Odell and The Killers really have shown what the X Factor actually is. And, to be really honest, so far only Luke has shown a glimmer of that.

Dermot's results time: first through has to be Sam. Yes, of course. This is the big one, though. Luke or Nicholas? Grannies rule. It's Nicholas they vote through. That's going to be a tedious Final.

Monday, 9 December 2013

I wonder what else is on next Sunday? X Factor may be very missable.

Michael Bublé and Leona Lewis entertained with old and new performances. Someone has written a great and really commercial Christmas track for Leona which I expect will be played in supermarkets all over Britain next year.

This the the time when the final three are chosen and they're the ones we get to vote for as winners so getting on that Final show is pretty important. Anything can happen on Final night as we've seen in the past with unexpected results. I don't think anyone is planning to put any money on anyone other than Sam Bailey this year, though.

Then we get an extremely long an very tedious and poorly produced ad for Sainsbury's. I have remembered who is was for, I suppose, but, if anything, it has inclined me to keep well away from the orange-coloured store.

Dermot announces the results and, sure enough, Sam is through. He couldn't really have called out another name anyway. As whoever had been left would then know who the Bottom Two would be. It is the next name that is the important one. The one I didn't want to hear was Nicholas but that was the second one through, implying that people are voting still in a big way for him.

So Luke v Rough Copy in the sing-off. The worst result as both would have enlivened a Final next week. Luke performs really well again - he is proving very consistent and ultra-reliable but still original. Rough Copy do another Smooth Copy number and, for the first time, really are not terribly good at all. In fact several notes are distinctly off and,in particular, the last one was quite painful to listen to. Will that make a difference? It is, after all, just down to Sharon and Nicole to decide. Nicole saves Rough Copy. Sharon does the decent thing and saves Luke, so taking it to the public vote results.

Luke gets through and the boys go home. Coming 4th ain't bad, though, and they've got a lot of fun coming up on the UK tour as well.

So now we have the three finalists. If the public chose Nicholas over Luke based on Saturday's performances then I can't see them changing their minds next week. Not that it will matter a great deal. It'll be Sam Bailey that hs the big Christmas single this year and the other two won't. I predict that we will, however, hear a lot from Luke in 2014 and absolutely nothing other than a load of covers for the Grannies from Nicholas.

One thing's for sure. I shall find something else to watch is Luke is eliminated first. The prospect of Sam and Nicholas singing endlessly does little for me. It'll please the Grannies though. God bless 'em.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

It Really Does Have To Be Sam, Doesn't It?

Straight in to performances tonight.

Luke Friend is singing The Best Thing I Ever Had and is a pretty unlikely Beyonce track singer. He is so good that I think you could give him almost any track and he will turn it into something that is his after all. That distinguishes this guy from the others: he has that ability and will always produce honest home-grown performances and he deserves to do well. Great.

Nicholas MacDonald has Halo. This is a massive song. Terrible start. He gets going but it really is just Nicholas singing words to notes and certainly isn't something that people should be rushing out to buy and only grannies are going to vote for this. For the first time in this series, he also missed some key notes. He brought it back to life a little at the end but that was a very forgettable performance.

Sam Bailey is apparently so far out front in the betting that it breaks all records in this competition. She will be in the final next week, whatever she sings. If I Were A Boy is not an easy song either - it seems that whoever wrote Beyonce's songs started very very low and then sent them racing for high notes a few seconds later. Not easy. Sam's fine with high ones and just about managed the others without anyone worrying too much. Nce makeover team work again. I still don't see her as a major chart act but she is very competent and probably will win if the voters are as they usually are.

Rough Copy sing Survivor. They do this pretty well. I don't know if it really suited them but they may not have had much choice. They need the next song to go well. This didn't. Whilst my choice would be for Ncholas to go, that may mean they are more at risk than I'd expected.

Next it's Elton John tracks time and Dermot tells us that it will be Nicholas MacDonald who is first up/ Now that's unusual - a change of order.

His song is Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me and he sounds pretty much like the guy who wrote it. Much better. A bit boring, but accurate and confident. Very 90s.

Luke Friend has Something In The Way You Look Tonight which is more Nicholas or Sam territory. I am not sure this will help him despite it being a quite sweet performance. It's just that Luke shouldn't do sweet. At the end he begins to be himself again and at last. Still, that could well have pleased the grannies.

Rough Copy doing Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word was a stroke of brilliance by Gary. Starting one at a time worked very well and each were spot-on vocally. Yes, they seem more like Smooth Copy than Rough Copy but I guess that's the act they want to be to make the money so that later they can be something more modern. That really ought to see them through to the final but someone else will have to not make it. So whose place will they be taking? Not Sam's obviously. So Luke or Nicholas?

Sam Bailey closes with what Dermot describes as the biggest selling song of all time. I suppose that's true if you include the Diana version but it will be Goodbye Norma Jean that Sam's singing. Candle In The Wind is a lovely song and suits Sam. No-one can really criticise that performance. She has to go through and I can't imagine anyone else winning.

I still think Luke should though.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Grannies Decide The Top Four

Watching the replays, Luke is the one that stands out. The others were comfortable and didn't make any mistakes. I can see Rough Copy and Tamera doing well in our charts and Sam and Nicholas may have some albums too. How that is reflected in results is anyone's guess.

As if to remind us, Rebecca Ferguson is on stage and showing how well someone who doesn't win can do. (She was beaten by Matt Cardle but put 1D in third place!!) If someone could write some really commercial tracks for Rebecca she'd do even better.

So I suppose it doesn't really matter. Across the Pond, X Factor USA have seen two excellent acts fall before reaching the Top 6 - one great girl group that could be very commercial and a super young boy have been voted off. They'll get picked up more cheaply by SYCO perhaps but I still reckon they'll be making good careers before long, regardless of who actually takes the prize.

James Arthur, who did win, is also on tonight's programme and that's his first single since winning. He is not a typical 'winner' but, to be honest, the show would have not survived Jahmene wailing his way to winning so voters may well have been in short supply anyway. Low turnouts give almost anyone a chance. He really didn't have much competition once Ella, Lucy and Union J had gone. A strange year and it may be that we recall this one in similar vein.

The results programme does feel as if it's been dragged out a lot. Apart from the acts brought in for the show, the first three quarters of an hour are taken up with replays and the acts just rambling on in pre-recorded tapes. You almost want to see the sing-off just to have someone perform.

So here we go. Who makes the Top 4? Rough Copy make it. Sam. Of course. So one more gets through for certain. That's Nicholas. Oh dear. So it's Tamera v Luke. Bad choice. The grannies have it. It'll be Tamera whose time is up then. Pity but just wait and see who makes an impact in the 2014 charts and then decide who really won.

What a way to go, though! Tamera sings her heart out with real passion. Very good indeed. Luke was simply fabulous too and there is no way he could have been sent home after that. Possibly the best performance of the series this year. That was brilliant.

The judges take it to deadlock and the lowest vote is Tamera.

And, of course, she's going to be a stand-out star on the X Factor Tour around Britain and well cared for by influential people in the industry.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Top 5 Perform

It ought to be getting tough now but we're still waiting for someone to do something that says 'Yup, that's a future British star we can also see on the American stage and even breaking into Europe'

If Sam wins as expected then she wins and there'll be an album out but I don't think we'll be that bothered. Our only real hopes are that either Rough Copy get some street cred back, that Tamera remembers what she's doing or Luke breaks loose of Louis' chains.

Nicholas starts the programme and we've voted for him to sing Just The Way You Are which is a lovely track but this guy is not going to set the UK music scene or charts alight I'm afraid. He did put his own quite individual spin on this but just look back a couple of years at how brilliantly Matt Cardle did this very same track. Now that was amazing. Seriously, this was very average. Good singing but very average - even a little nervous-sounding for the first time I can recall. That may have been his being unnerved by Gary's very fair comments last week.

Sharon makes the point that he sings beautifully but, well, that's all. there's no performance. Gary wants risk. He says he's middle of the road. Now there was a good group. Nicole seems taken by the cute guy and liked it. Louis, obviously, talks him back up again and puts him in the Final. Louis might be right but i have not the faintest idea why, apart from grannies.

Sam Bailey is a dead cert to move on through to the Final. So it is almost irrelevant what she does between now and then. However, we've given her Whitney's How Will I Know? to sing. This lady is a superb cover singer. You can rely on her to do a great job time after time. But she doesn't look right trying to do the stage thing. She's no dancer and looked quite odd tonight next to all the girls. Yes, she sang all the right notes and it was jolly good but... but it was quite uninspiring. She is very, very good but, you know what.. she doesn't have the X factor. That may sound harsh but she's a bit like Nicholas in that respect - brilliant singer, effortless, nice enough person but not a star.

Judges talk of cruise ships but are mostly following the bookies who have her as the winner by a very clear margin indeed. I am still not sure the votes will, eventually, go her way if Tamera is there up against her and Nicholas. Tamera could extract this from the grannies' hold like James managed last year. But she has to do a lot of work.

Let's see how she starts. She has just one golden opportunity to do so with the track we chose for her. It is a pity that she's not on last with this which would have improved her chances too - as it is the old memory will clash with the opposite style Rihanna number. Perhaps that'll bring two sets of votes in though.

Ah, it looks like she is getting to the Rihanna number first. Good. She looks so much more relaxed and puts on a great performance of an average We Found Love. I expected her to move around a bit more - she seemed rooted to the spot. Attractively so but still a bit stuck there. That was a great show and welcome back, girl!

Luke is the one who has to hang in there this week. Skinny Love is his public choice track. He is just one natural, talented singer and performer. He'll be doing music whatever happens here but it would be so good if he could actually win and stuff the boring old Sams and Nicks into the also-rans. It should be him, Tamera and Rough Copy in the final. It won't be but maybe two out of three. This track was good but I fear it may not get the votes he needs so it is very much down to the second song tonight for him.

He gets good reviews all round. Actually, the best so far.

Rough Copy are looking and sounding good with their double mix of Jukebox numbers. I'm not sure You Got That Vibe worked as well as the first track but they were a star act for sure. Easily beating Nicholas and Sam B this week. But will that be enough to survive? I can't seen them avoiding the bottom two but they deserve to stay.

Second round and Nicholas is telling us how he got a birthday cake last week. Yeah, OK, now let's move on. He's got a Gary Barlow song and is worried about getting the high notes. I'm sure he'll manage just fine. Greatest Day is not easy but he does a good job and makes though key notes just as well as Gary does. It's just all a bit meaningless - more a technical task than a performance to entertain. Lukewarm response from Gary. Polite and pretty compliments from Nicole who does look lovely. That'll please whoever had been voting for him so far. By rights he ought to be in the bottom two this week but I will be surprised if he is - and even then he'll probably get saved.

Sam Bailey should be in her element with Clown. That was very professional and reliable - a clearly excellent singer. X Factor winner? Not for me but probably for many many others and I can't see how she can't reach the final.

Louis says that the competition is all about helping someone like her. Not so sure about that although it sort of has been for many.

Luke is next - a slight change of order in this half. This is a wonderful track and he can't go wrong with it. Very well selected by him. You know - if he can keep up this style then he could actually win! This is exactly what people are buying this year and they'd flock to see him at concerts too. Really good and he just has to stay and grab the granny vote away from Nicholas at least, if not even Sam too.

I can only live in hope. Things don't usually go the way I want them to on this programme with power ballad and big singing so often winning over pure talent.

Next, Miss Tamera Foster. She has a beautiful song: The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. She knows this song - having performed it before and so is confident again. She only got to do half of it but that was very nice. She really ought to stay. I see a battle still on the cards.

Gary says he thinks she'll have a massive career over the next 5 years and I agree. Interestingly, what happens in this competition may not be indicative of that, he adds. She should be well pleased at doing justice to both songs this week.

Rough Copy get to close the show with the awful I Believe I Can Fly song. They do a good harmony sing-a-long version of the well-worn number and keep most people happy enough.

This will be a tough show to call. It really could be anyone in the bottom two this week as the two most likely to have been at risk, Tamera and Luke, performed the best. Rough Copy did an entertaining job too. They may be the ones going, though, although it ought to be Nicholas.

Who'll sing what tonight on X Factor UK

Tonight's song choices

Luke Friend:

Own choice – I Will Wait
The people’s choice – Skinny Love

Both great choices and he needs something good to lift his votes above either Rough Copy or Tamera this week if he is to survive.

Nicholas McDonald:

Own choice – Greatest Day
The people’s choice – Just The Way You Are

In either case it'll be time to make some tea, coffee or even a full meal perhaps. These may have been good tracks originally and, yes, Nicholas will get all the notes right and look cute but, seriously, why is he second favourite? Will anyone actually buy anything by him after a year or so? Can you really imagine him taking the USA by storm and representing Britain's latest 'find'?

Rough Copy:

Own choice – Every Little Step / She’s Got That Vibe
The people’s choice – I Believe I Can Fly

Oh God. Not I Can Fly again. This song is awful. I worry that the public have chosen a pile of crap for Rough Copy this week and it might just be enough to send them home.

Sam Bailey:

Own choice – How Will I Know?
The people’s choice – Clown

We'll know. She'll sing really well and fly through to the next round, topping the voting list as well. She's good and a pleasant enough person but I don't see her doing much after Christmas.

Tamera Foster:

Own choice – We Found Love
The people’s choice – The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Well done public! Good choice! That might just make all the difference for her. The Rihanna number will emphasise that she's a teenager with great looks who can sing, dance and perform on a stage and get people interested. The Roberta Flack number should get her the votes she needs to get to the Final 4.

Tamera and Luke are really our only hope of something other than spoonfuls of sugary and occasional chart material for a year or so next year. Either could appeal abroad too. Rough Copy seem to have sold out to the designers and commercial boys.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Vote Now For Next Week's Top 5 Songs

Until 10pm tonight (UK time) you can vote for what each contestant should sing. Here are the options:

Luke Friend

Bridge Over Troubled Water Simon & Garfunkel

Skinny Love, Bon Iver

One Day Like This, Elbow

My preference would be Bridge Over Troubled Water but it would have to be the full version and I doubt they'll give him enough time to do the Sail on bit.

Nicholas McDonald

The Prayer, Celine Dion and Josh Groban

Amazed, Lonestar

Just The Way You Are, Bruno Mars

The Bruno Mars number is one great track. But I don't want Nicholas to win so choose the very tedious Celine Dion one.

Rough Copy

End Of The Road, Boyz II Men

I Believe I Can Fly, R Kelly

If You Ever, East 17 featuring Gabrielle

Oh dear. They're going home with any of these tracks! Luckily they have a second some this weekend. They're all dreadful and is this really where the once cool dudes are going? Soon we'll be calling them Smooth Scan.

Sam Bailey

The Living Years, Mike & The Mechanics

Clown, Emeli Sande

Without You, Mariah Carey
I think Nilsson should also have had a credit for the last. She'll survive easily with any of these.

Tamera Foster

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, Roberta Flack

This Woman’s Work, Maxwell Version

Emotion, The Bee Gees

This will be a very important week for her. Choose well. I love the Roberta Flack number. She needs to avoid This Woman's Work at all costs. Not sure about Emotion. I would have suggested To Love Somebody but never mind. If she gets The First Time and the others get sad old sing-a-longs then she might even get that 'moment' we've been waiting for.

Voting will take place via the Official X Factor app and is completely free.

One Direction Videos of UK and USA Performances This Week

Especially for the 1D fans, here are the X Factor UK and X Factor USA performances - both this week separated by a few days.

Not The Five We Expected

Wow. That was a show! JLS open and remind us that coming 2nd in 2008 didn't do them any harm. Great performance all round but one of their last. Then we get One Direction too, a few days after doing The Story Of My Life on X Factor USA doing the same thing here and sowing that coming 3rd in 2010 didn't do them any harm either.

It was terribly embarrassing to watch Louis and Sharon waving their hands in the air and chair dancing but maybe Simon can have a word with them before he returns next year.

So, Dermot takes charge and does the results bit. With just six acts left on the stage there are only three names to announce before the scary one - you know, that last one who escapes the sing off! It could be someone who got the most votes, you never know, as the announcement is, indeed, in no particular order.

The three are predictably Sam Bailey, Nicholas and Luke, leaving Tamera, Hannah and Rough Copy in limbo. Now, I know what Iwas thinking, and I am pretty sure most other people watching would have been thinking the same thing. The next name Dermot announces will be Rough Copy. Hannah had been excellent the previous day but had been persistently in the Bottom Two so was likely to be in again. It might have been her name that Dermot called safe, though, as Rough Copy really hadn't exactly done that good a job and were a bit vulnerable. The thing is, though, that, either way, Tamera was going home.

I had even put money on it. That's not like me at this stage of the proceedings but, however much I like the girl and do think she has an enormous talent and, yes, I would love to see her steal the show, but no, I didn't think there were that many people in voting land who would be supporting her. So, sad though it would be, whoever she was up against out of the others, Tamera was definitely the one to go tonight.

Tamera announced Dermot. The crowd went silent for a split second. There were then cheers from her surprised fans and boos from those who weren't fans and who had realised what that meant. Tamera herself looked really shocked and almost collapsed. No-one appeared to have expected that. She proved to be more popular, even after getting criticism from everyone, and quite awkward stuff too from Gary, Sharon and Louis who effectively dismissed her completely, even after that, she was more popular than the Rough Copy dudes and the girl who had had almost ridiculously complimentary comments from everyone.

The camera moves from her to Hannah, the producer clearly realising that she's going now, whatever she sings. She looks pretty down. Hannah does a good job and easily beats Rough Copy in terms of performance but it's Rough Copy who get voted through by the judges. I'd thought Sharon might have taken it to the public vote with a 2-2 split but no, even she recognised that if the public don't want someone in the competition then they're equally unlikely to buy their records later.

So that's the five now: Sam Bailey, heavily predicted winner, Luke French, the dark horse who might just surprise everyone but seems a classic 3rd or 4th place to me, Nicholas McDonald, the typical X Factor finalist who sometimes actually wins and then gets forgotten about, Rough Copy, the group who could be Gary's G4 against Sharon's Steve Brookstein and Tamera Foster, the one real star in the show who ought to win but probably won't.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

And Then There Were Five

This is a 10 Year X Factor Celebration show, with lots of nice little clips and memories.

Olly Murs starts the show, possibly instead of the annoying sing-a-long. X Factor USA are celebrating the British Invasion (presumably they mean pop music) and had 1D so this is in a similar vein. 1D jet in tomorrow's results show and will probably get asked the same questions and sing the same song, They made a good job across the Pond - see the video on my XFactorUSA blog.

Olly's a great ad for the show. He lost to little Joe McElderry who has never been seen since. The only thing that bothers me about Olly is his grammar is absolutely dreadful and Pur Yer And on My Arse doesn't sound quite how I imagine the writer wrote it.

Olly's backing Rough Copy. They'll like that. He adds Sam Bailey at the last minute, just in case.

It's interesting to compare the two shows this and t'other side of the Pond. Dermot O'Leary is such a good presenter - he seems to have totally taken on board the role and, whatever his real views, seems to like all the acts and, as listeners to his Radio 2 Saturday afternoon show and several other more serious projects he has done recently, the chap is intelligent and very much in the zone. Mario Lopez is improving week by week in USA. He doesn't have the depth of knowledge that Dermot possesses but he does have a pleasant way of dealing with people and, above all, comes across naturally and not as scripted as the dreadful Khloe and wooden Steve Jones had been in previous years.

In fact, Dermot almost leads the show, now that the judges have been changed around a fair bit and do seem to have lost their authority these days. Sharon is so out of place in 2013. She may have just managed to fit in at the show's start but now, no.

First off of the contestants is little Nicholas. Ha ha! I'm writing this live so it's so funny to see little Joe McElderry (who I'd said seemed to have disappeared!!) helping him with, of all tracks The Climb. Or The Ruddy Climb as Olly would have referred to the song as it was that track that Joe excelled at in the final.

That was some coincidence. Nicholas has an over-produced version for this year compared to the very note perfect and gentle Joe version. This was quite boring. When he was singing alone without all the pzzazz, he wasn't as good as he had been in previous weeks. He made a good job of this but I cannot see anyone wanting to buy this stuff except grannies and his mum. Louis wouldn't either - and he's his mentor. He gets a ridiculous birthday cake. All credit to whoever made that, by the way. I expect Nicholas will be in the Top 5 and many have him in the final.

Nicholas is 2nd favourite but still some way behind Sam Bailey.

Hannah is doing Hallelujah. Seeing her meeting Alexandra Burke really cannot have improved her view of her own appearance but she does sing well. This is a classic song that I now feel has been sung too much. I am not at all sure that Hannah knew what it was all about. She was also a bit breathy tonight and this was not my favourite version of the song at all. The makeover team deserve a mention in the New Year Honours List for the work they've done with her appearance. All in all, much as she's not my favourite in this competition, I have to give her credit and that was, as Louis said, her best performance in the competition. She is still favourite to go but after that Luke may struggle.

And here he comes. What Makes You Beautiful is the 1D hit that he's performing. It's pretty good. What the voters will make of it I don't know. To me it seemed like a star performing on a stage and this was a confident and immaculate show that he put on. If it is between him and Hannah, as expected, then it will be sad if he loses. Who knows? Voters may lift him and so everything now depends on what Tamera and Rough Copy do.

Rough Copy do Little Mix? Good grief. That might save Luke after all! I have never been very impressed with Little Mix's song writers - especially when compared to 1D's and Olly's, amongst others. So someone else doing a song can often make it sound even less good. In this case Rough Copy were great and current and I have to admit that the audience liked that a lot but it didn't strike me as something that will get the voting viewers lines particularly hot. Obviously the audience loved it so I may be wrong but I can't see that working well for them generally. Nothing they do seems to fir X Factor anyway. Well, it may fit X Factor but it doesn't fit the group.

Rylan Clarke, Chico and Shayne Ward behind the scenes seem to be having a great time. I bet Leon Jackson isn't around. Or Eoghann Quinn. Maybe Ray though.

Tamera Foster needs something special tonight. Gary was spot on, saying last week that she has to have that moment. She says to Olly how she remembers watching X Factor at her grandma's. And her grandma loved Olly. That says a lot. She's singing Impossible. As if we hadn't already had enough of this from chewing the words James. Se looks beautiful with short and straight hair. I hope for her sake that it was mic problem that broke the words a couple of times near the start. I would rather watch and listen to Tamera than James any day. 

It seems that she did, indeed, lose the words and got caned for it by the judges. Not a good review although I don't think that it was anything like as noticeable as Gary said. I like her and hope that she survives. Against any of the others, though, I would worry about her chances and so as there is a good chance she'll be Bottom Two tomorrow this could be farewell Tamera. And she has only herself to blame, I'm afraid. Pity.

Sam Bailey closes the show with Leona Lewis to match Bleeding Love. Leona looks quite a bit older now! Sam intelligently comments that she doesn't want to be someone who just sings other people's songs. I don't know what she could do to change this one, though. Near the end she did manage to take it somewhere quite different, however, and I was quite impressed. Well done. 

Sharon mentions something about the papers. I suppose that's the news we hear that she has been getting 30% of the votes, topping the poll by a mile every week.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Top 7 Perform

Hannah hasn't been my favourite act this year but I have to give her credit for doing pretty damn well opening the show with Satisfaction. Great choice by Nicole. Now, by all normal predictions, having been in the bottom two two weeks running, Hannah should be at risk. If anything's going to save her then that was. It looks like it'll be someone else this week who gets sent home so which of the other five can it be?

He's got a tough track. Nice to see Seal giving him support and it sounds like Luke actually chose this himself. I wasn't at all sure but this has worked really well for him. Loved it. He brought something out of the Elton number that few can manage. Well done. Nice job.

Sam B
Well, we knew she'd do that justice and she certainly did. That was like watching someone performing on the show as a guest. Nicole talks about butt cheeks for some reason best known to herself. That was good and, as someone who hasn't been that kind in the past about her performances, that is saying something. Up until now she has bee a superb singer but not someone I could see selling records or appearing on TV shows. Whilst her audience is older than most of the chart act purchasers and I don't see her being around for ever, she is very likely to win this show and will have some big numbers in the charts come January. In terms of who I thought the show was designed to find - someone with the 'X Factor' and a new chart act with some life - there are one or two better this year but I am not sure they'll get the votes. Sam, on the other hand, is very likely to get them and, if the papers can be believed, has regularly tied up the top 30% every week so far.

Rough Copy
They've got a crazy choice! Viva La Vida is not something I'd have had them doing. It is easy to hum along to and doesn't test them too much. Obviously very commercial but I wasn't that impressed with their singing. It seemed a bit wobbly and even a bit off key sometimes. Nevertheless, this is a great group and I am sure we'll see lots more of them. They ought to be Top 3 this year.

Sam C
It's odd but everyone seems to want this guy to go - except those who actually vote! He cruises pleasantly enough through Faith. We know the judges will not say much nice. Sharon says he looks defeated but knows how many Twitter followers he has. Gary does his best to support him and actually finally shows some respect for what the guy's trying to do. Nicole says he has the right attitude which is fair. Louis doesn't want him in the bottom two. I can't see how he can't be.

Taking on a Bond song was brave and really not the sort of thing she would be doing in her own right. She did have a close call as the words escaped her for a moment but she avoided disaster. This was not a good week for her in a week that she really really needed to be good. Hannah had performed well and I can see Tamera hitting the bottom two this time. And if she's up against anyone other than Sam C (unlikely as he has a massive following) then she's going home.

A fabulous voice - by far the best performance tonight. Even the Adele track didn't seem tedious this time. Excellent. He deserved a standing ovation but no-one seemed interested. Quite how a 16 year-old schoolboy can understand those lyrics I don't know.

So that's that. There'll be just six left tomorrow.

Top 7 Song list: British Songbook

Well, that will certainly give everyone plenty of choice. I really don't see the point of this theme. It's so broad that the contestants or their mentors could choose virtually any style they wanted. In a way that's probably a good thing now I think about it: I have moaned before about making rock acts do ballads or someone as far removed from Abba as you can imagine being required to do Fernando.

Some of the variations were fun, though, as Abi tried to show us. Unfortunately, not enough of the voters got her, and, despite a good effort in the sing-off against Hannah, she was going sooner or later and we bade farewell to the nice girl last week.

Hannah has now escaped twice. She is more interesting and better than the dreadful Misha B but I still get the feeling that what we see on camera is different to what gets said and done behind the scenes with that girl. Whatever the case, she's not a future star and won't survive much longer. She has a great song this week, however, so may well make the Top 6.

Hannah Barrett – Satisfaction

Presumably she'll belt this out and, as that's how this track does need to be treated, that won't do her any harm. It won't be a favourite with the grannies, though, so she'll finish up bottom three, maybe just escaping bottom two this time.

Luke Friend – Your Song

A risky number. Not quite sure what louis has in mind here with the ancient Elton ballad. I can't see how Luke can do this one and still get enough votes.

Nicholas McDonald – Someone Like You

Nicholas is quite boring. Nice enough fellow with a good voice but really not a star or someone that most of us will be rushing out to buy next year. Plenty of grannies will, though, so he makes the Top 6.

Rough Copy – Viva La Vida

They're showing some brilliance in selecting tracks and are still shining strong here. I have no idea how they'll perform this but I reckon they're on track for the Top 6 all right, almost whatever they do, just as along as they keep clean in the press.

Sam Bailey – Something

From what we read in some papers, Sam B has been topping the voting polls since the start and no-one has come close. I can believe that as she does have a great appeal to what seems to be the mid-series voting profile and she definitely can sing well. Not someone I would expect to see launching a massive career but she could do a mini Susan Boyle and then fade away after a year. So she's our most likely winner by the seems of it. She'll do this lovely track well and with feeling.

Sam Callahan – Faith

George Michael would like Sam C, I'm sure and, actually, that's probably where Sam C's career should head - a new Wham for the 2010s. He is very popular out there in voting land but, again, I can't see this track coming across very well and I'd put him in the bottom two this week.

Tamera Foster – Diamonds Are Forever

Here is the great mystery of this year on X Factor. Tamera should be stealing the show but isn't. She looks fabulous, seems to say the right things in interviews, on Xtra Factor and so on and has a marginally better history than Rough Copy. The papers have been giving her a bad time, though, and she's getting the sort of comments old Balonie was getting last year. So it seems that she has to work twice as hard to succeed on this show as the others. This is a pretty tedious song and, yes, she'll look great and sparkle and everything, but I am not sure how much she'll appeal to the voters. But, whoever she goes up against - Sam C or Hannah, she should get selected and survive to Top 6. She deserves to. In fact, she deserves to win, being the only act with real star quality that will sell records and, possibly, get exported too.

Luke is a dark horse and I wouldn't mind him winning but can't see that happening. Rough Copy look like a definite for runners-up this time. I do hope they're there as the thought of a Sam B - Nicholas Final is quite depressing.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

The Top 8 do something with big bands

While X Factor USA has Simon Cowell and acts doing this year's No.1s, indeed one doing Lorde's Royals, the UK recent No.1, we have Big Band week. Hmmm.

We do have Dermot O'Leary, though. Nicole Scherzinger appears in an extremely yellow dress. 'No more backing tracks' says Sharon. Not so sure that'll improve anything. Some rather needed that.

Abi gets to start off the show. Quite how she'll cope on this very unusual night no-one knows. That's Life doesn't sound like her scene but we learn that her dad's in a big band and she is familiar with the genre after all. The make-over team have done really well, she certainly looks great. She sings well and with confidence - a lot better than I'd expected. A nice job. She did seem a little 'stuck' on her podium and some of the movements were a bit forced and not that natural. I'm not so sure she was that comfortable but still she made a good effort. Much depends on how the voters see her. She's not that popular so I reckon she'll still be vulnerable this week.

Sam Bailey is the current bookies' favourite, not that they're been right much in the past. she seems to have been visited by Michael Bolton. Not quite sure why, and will the others get called upon by their heroes? I don't know. But anyway, back to her performance. Well, she can sure sing! I can't see anyone beating that in terms of good old style bashing the notes out. For those who like that sort of thing, she was excellent. That's not what people are going to buy in 2014, more 1974 if not before. However, that's what will get her through easily to next week and let's hope that she gets to bring something more today to the show. She has the ability and the make-over team have stripped years away from her so she has every chance of appealing across the board - just needs the right material and not merely to sing like someone else does.

Nicholas will sing well. We know that. But will it all hang together? I'm not quite sure what Louis had in mind in terms of 'Big Band' with the Dream A Little Dream track. I suppose there was a band in the background but this was more a clever Louis move to get the youngster through safely. He seems to be the most popular boy at the bookies and also on some on-line polls. This was a simple, sing-a-long performance. Really nothing spectacular or anything that anyone other than grannies and his mum would buy. Big band week was always going to be this way so I shall not draw any more conclusions. The guy will get through, end of story.

Luke is a very likeable character. He just gets up and does what he feels like. This is a good song for him but not an easy one at all. He struggles. Despite a lot of effort to bring it back you just feel that he is singing one track and the band are playing another. This was not so good. He could be in a spot of bother after that.

Hannah has another voice problem apparently. I can't see that stopping her belting it out on the night, though. She has a great song to perform. Dressed in a dark suit she looks pretty good and sings well. After a while I get a bit tired of her tone but no-one can deny that she has power and talent. I find her style revolting, though. Those low notes and what she does with her mouth are not something that I can listen or watch easily. However, she was confident and did a good job of the number. That ought to see her through, depending on how her popularity holds up amongst voters.

Rough Copy
They enjoyed this. It was a very cool performance and a great track choice for them. Great! Best of the night so far. Really good job and so unlike what we'd expect from these guys on a CD in 2014. Now that is how to put on a show - even if the theme is not of your choosing. Nicole and Louis both say they should make the final.

This is a wonderful performance by the girl who should win this whole competition. Not an easy track at all, especially with the live band but she makes it seem simple. Looking fabulous with near perfect make-up and dress and hair. A really good act. I have to make her best of the night. Now, will the voters vote for her or will the reports of her attitude in the background cause trouble again. There were rumours again of Simon Cowell getting involved and insisting that every effort was made to put her across as well as possible. Well, they certainly have done that, whatever and whoever's behind it all. Amazing. She has to get through.

Sam Callahan
Sam is closing the show which is quite a responsibility for the fellow who has probably suffered more than anyone from bad comments and reviews so far. Not a week has gone by without someone criticising him. It seems that he loves the Big Band genre so that's a good start. He certainly seems at home with the band and girls on the stage. All very old style stuff, pleasing enough on the eye and actually quite decent on the ear too. The notes were right and he came across well. OK, so the voice wasn't as strong as it could be but I don't think that mattered. He showed himself as a great performer, and someone who could be relied upon to do a good job out there on the stage. The judges made a very special effort not to say anything negative this time. Dermot tried to push Gary but Gary hung on in there and just did the 'A for effort' thing like the others had done. 

It would be a shame if Sam Callahan were to go in the very week that he performed his best but I feel it has to be either him or Abi. Again, Nicholas could be the shock entry in the Bottom Two with a pretty tiresome performance two weeks running. He'd be safe, though, and whoever he's up against would go.

Abi Alton's version of I Will Survive

Friday, 8 November 2013

X Factor UK Big Band Songlist

Here's what the Top 8 will be singing on Saturday.

Abi Alton – That’s Life

Quite a chilled number normally. I can't see what she could do with this but no doubt she has something in mind. I am really not sure this genre will suit her and feel she is likely to struggle.

Hannah Barrett – This Is A Man’s World

Another big anthem-like number from the girl with the big round everything. She will belt this out with no regard for the well-being of those nearby and I'm not sure she will really get the words but if she gets the notes then she may well do OK this week.

Luke Friend – Moondance

Groovy tune but Luke is about as distant from Van Morrison as you can get - in mood and demeanour too. This is a tricky week for almost everyone and Luke is going to have to put all his personality and style into this to survive.

Nicholas McDonald – Dream A Little Dream

Oh dear this is a rubbish track. Still, Nick can sing and will warble through this just fine with all the notes in their proper places. It just isn't likely to be something I'd leap down to town to buy. Or vote for. He should be safe though. He has 4th written all over him.

Rough Copy – Hit The Road Jack

Now that's more like it! Yes, This should be good and they'll fly through to next week. Should be a popular number with everyone and may even actually suit them.

Sam Bailey – New York New York

Big voice, big number. Bit karaoke-sounding but so far Sam has managed to pull something extra out of the bag and make us look up from our pizza and take notice. This will not do her any harm and she'll ne safely through what ought to be her good week anyway.

Sam Callahan – Ain’t That A Kick In The Head

This young fellow has had almost as rotten a time, review-wise, as Abi so far in this competition. I think he'd do a lot better if he could sing and dance to the stuff that he actually wants to do as an artist long-term. So far he's been given numbers by Louis and none have really suited him. Unlike some acts in the past, though, he has just got on with things and has a reputation for working very hard in the background. He also has a massive fan base so anything is possible. The track sounds dreadful and it could be Sam's last week but you just never know.

Tamera Foster – Cry Me A River

What on Earth she was doing in the bottom two last week I do not know. Seems that some papers have got it in for her and some comments from the crew haven't been helpful either. As a singer, though, and a potential feature in our charts and someone who might keep up the tradition of cracking into the US charts too, she is streets ahead of the other eight in this year's competition. She has the best looks, the best voice, the best style and the best song. Hopefully, the press and having the worst back history will not bring her down.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

First hint of an odd voting audience

This was a week when it seems that newspaper headlines and comments from backstage crew did more to influence voters than the tracks sung the night before. In a bottom two that should have seen Sam Callhan struggling and probably losing to Nicholas or Kingsland Road, we had Tamera left standing while Abi and Hannah were announced safe.

Kingsland Road looked totally dejected and must have realised that this was the end of their particular road after all the compliments the deciding judges had given Tamera the night before. It didn't really matter what they sang. Gary would vote for them, Nicole would vote for her. Sharon had already indicated that she wasn't a Kingsland Road fan so, unless Louis was going to leave it to the actual public vote, it would be Kingsland Road that went home.

They'll survive in the pop world, though, and, unlike manufactured bands that require a lot off continued support from managers, these guys are already established as an act and should be able to pick up plenty of gigs on the back of what has been great TV promotion for them.

Tamera lives to sing another day. Clearly, votes were cast by a massive number of people who care more about what they read in The Sun or The Mirror than who has real talent. The fact that so many voters were actually reading newspapers says a lot too. The bad vibes about Tamera were almost all exclusively in the printed press - sites with news about it tended to be places I wouldn't expect X Factor voters to go anyway. That's not the same audience that would be inclined to buy Tamera tracks. They're the Baloney backers back again. Their votes will presumably be going to Sam Bailey this year.

Tamera Foster at Judges' Houses. Photo from ITV

Saturday, 2 November 2013

X Factor Live Shows Week 4: Disco Night

Only Nicole Scherzinger looked at ease on the stage with 70s disco music rambling in the background. Someone called The Legendary Niall Rogers got quite a lot of call-outs. Maybe I should know who he was but I didn't. Chic I did remember.

We then get something like the Stars on 45 performance with a bundle of hit re-runs from the period. Pretty good actually and sounding just like they used to 40 years ago.

Some of the acts this week have chosen well. Some haven't.

Luke starts the night of with Play That Funky Music White Boy, an annoying song but one that he gets all the notes right for and all credit is due to this guy for the huge effort he must have put in. Great stuff. I still woudn't want to see that again but I do recognise that he's a cool guy and a great performer. Well done.

Kingsland Road do the I Can't Control My Feet number and this was always going to be either really good or really not so good. Well, that's what I'd thought but they seemed to manage something in between. A less than enthusiastic start and Nicole was right in noting that they were concentrating on their moves and there was a spark missing. Once they'd got going they put on a good show and, like Luke, were excellent vocally and even managed to dance in time too.

Tamera with a huge set of curls put in her hair sings Wishing On A Star. Brilliant start and she is a very very good singer, in control and looking excellent. She is a potential winner but this was not a great song choice. She did well with this but I don't know how much the voters will appreciate the class of this performance. It wasn't that commercial. However, she ought to be safe.

Sam Callahan is surrounded by boxers and almost lost in the crowd for Take That's Relight My Fire. Without Lulu coming in and bringing it all to life this went on a bit. Again, this was a hard working effort and he did a good job of an average track. Nice lad and deserves a lot of credit. It was a boring performance in many ways. He is No.1 in Twitter followers so maybe he will get rescued by his fans. Louis thought the judges had been a bit hard and I think I agree. Part of the blame, though, is on Louis for choosing such a crap song and, presumably arranging the silly boxing theme. That might put Sam at risk this week.

Rough Copy should do well with September. They sure did. Clearly at home with that sort of thing and cruising around the stage confidently, the crowd hardly stopped cheering. Nice job. They deserve to stay. The younger singer took the lead mid-way and he really brought the song to life.

Abi has an extraordinary song to sing this week. How on Earth can she do  I Will Survive? At the piano. This is the original Abi that we all loved at the start. A marvellously emotional interpretation with lots of shade and none of her recent weeks' nerves showing either. Excellent. A genuine surprise. I didn't expect anything that good with that song. She arranged the whole thing herself. So nice to see the judges giving her great reviews. She could have been in trouble. Perhaps, with grannies liking Gloria Gaynor so much, she could still be. If anything might save her, though, that will.

Nicholas probably can't do anything wrong this week. Odd start to this track, though. I think he was thinking too much about what he was supposed to be doing. In fact, he never got comfortable at all. This was in tune and well sung but really nothing exceptional and nothing like as good as I'd predicted. I think he'll survive but that was one of the poorer performances this week. Odd pronunciation of rock.

Hannah looked extraordinary in a tightly fitting mermaid outfit. Well made-over this week, the raucous Somebody Else's Guy suited her down the ground and she performed it extremely well. I hated it but that's quite irrelevant unless a lot of others who might have voted for her did too. She gets last year's winner, James Arthur's support and that won't do her any harm.

Sam Bailey is another beneficiary of the make-over team's talents. She should also fly through this week with a classic number that I can imagine her doing in her sleep. Will it be just a bit too karaoke? That's all. No, quite the reverse - that sounded better than the original and I actually got the meaning of those lyrics. What a performance! As Gary said, flawless vocals. Well done. She'll definitely appeal to the grannies but may also grab a few extra fans with that.

No Flash Vote tonight (or, I presume, in future at all). So It'll simply be the two receiving the lowest public vote who sing off tomorrow. I wonder whether the Flash Vote has been dumped. It did give quite a substantial advantage to the one who came last in one sense but also damned them too. Not knowing, unless, presumably, there's a draw, will balance that a little.

I predict Sam Callahan and either Kingsland Road or, shock horror, Nicholas, for the bottom two. This could be farewell Sam.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Disco Night Song List

Thanks to Tellymix for this:

This week's theme is Disco Night. That ought to suit almost everyone. here are what they will be performing.

Abi Alton – I Will Survive

I did say 'almost everyone'. Heavens! Abi could be on seriously dodgy ground with this. Nicole isn't stupid, though and Abi can perform stunningly well if she gets her nerves sorted and concentrates on not wobbling around. Her voice could be brilliant but I am beginning to wonder if she doesn't need more training to cope with the big stage etc.
This ridiculous song will either kill her off on Sunday or put her back up with the front runners. There can be no half-measures.

Hannah Barrett – Somebody Else’s Guy

I don't know this. It sounds like a Drifters or Shirelles type number but is actually a Jocelyn Brown belter from 1984. Just looked it up. Sounds just like Hannah. So Hannah should be able to reproduce that and sound just like a 1984 belter. Great. Just what we don't need in the charts in 2014. It's a big number with lots of wide open mouth stuff. That will not be a pretty sight but she'll get votes.

Kingsland Road – Blame It On The Boogie

My God, another track that you simply can't mess up and comparisons with so many others will make getting through much harder work than it may have needed to be. If they get this right and have fun and everyone is enjoying the show then they'll be OK. But one slip or dodgy move and they'll be reminded how unpredictable grannies' votes are.

Luke Friend – Play That Funky Music

That's a horrid track. Hate it. God help him.

Nicholas McDonald – Rock With You

This suits the little boy's voice. He and Abi look the least 'disco' of the Top 9 and so might be expected to struggle a bit but this will stand out as different and I expect he'll be pretty spot-on vocally so will drift through easily.

Rough Copy – September

Another track I hate. Tomorrow is going to be a fraught listening evening. The Earth Wind & Fire number certainly suits Rough Copy and I can see them doing very well with this. Should be as safe as houses - unless they let it get boring, which is possible with this decidedly tedious track.

Sam Bailey – No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)

Sam will belt this out well enough to stay another week. It's another classic and, well-arranged could be a stand-out for her again.

Sam Callahan – Relight My Fire

Oh dear. We'll be waiting for Lulu to appear and rescue him. He is scraping through each week and I feel his days are numbered. I know he is trying hard and certainly working hard, rehearsing and making the most of the opportunity he's got (unlike some others in the past!) but he needs to pull something remarkable out of the bag to compete with some of the others. I don't see this being it. Could be trouble for Sam C.

Tamera Foster – Wishing On A Star

This doesn't immediately come across as a Disco number but I suppose it could be. So far Tamera has been the one, the only one really to have what I regard as the X factor. This surely has to be her week and almost whatever she does should see her through. I am not sure what is or isn't going on in the press though regarding her private life and past and to what extent that could jeopardise her chances. The Granny factor again.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

X Factor UK: Third act sent home

Listening to the cheers as Dermot calls out the acts and numbers, there was really little to choose between any of them. The sing-a-long number this week was Bruno's Locked Out Of Heaven and they did a reasonable job, significantly better than previous years' efforts.

Listening to the replays, Abi wasn't quite as bad as I'd remembered and Kingsland Road were rather poorer. The fact that they did come bottom last week must mean something so they could still be vulnerable but I would expect Miss Dynamix to be the first group out. They could be tonight as I can't see them surviving against whoever they're placed to sing off against. Only Sam might be the one to lose. Abi, the other contender, would, I believe, get an extra chance or, if left with a split vote, would win by default.

The Wanted put on a professional show. They've had lots of marketing and support recently and are a good example of how an average British band can still do pretty well.

Lady Gaga comes next. A much anticipated return. She starts in blonde with Venus and then goes natural brunette for another track from her new album about her body. Neither had that special appeal of her earlier numbers but they may grow on us perhaps. She looked good and was as provocative as ever but the marketing men will need to work hard to keep her at the top.

Finally it's time to hear who is to battle with Miss Dynamix. Hannah. Well, that's fine with me - I would say she should go but I hadn't expected that this week as all the judges seemed to give her such rave reviews. Someone was even talking about her being a favourite but that I do find hard to believe. That's much more interesting than I'd thought. It's down to Sharon and Louis. I can see them being split which would send Miss Dynamix home. One thing that I don't see coming is Sharon voting to keep Miss Dynamix so I reckon their days are numbered unless they really pull something out of the bag and Hannah goes wrong.

We'll see. Hannah does a reasonable job of Read All About It, emotionally finishing that number. Miss Dynamix start a strange track I can't identify. Heaven's Got A Place For You. Nervous start but they do actually get going and sounded quite good and better than Hannah. Did they do enough?

Sharon's vote determines it. Miss Dynamix go. Not so sure Hannah is as good as everyone says.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Live Shows Week 3 Movie Week

It's time [pause] to face [pause] the movies. Hmmm. Not sure how well that worked despite Peter Dickson's best efforts! Dermot seems particularly animated tonight. Maybe they've all been told to do something to compete better with BBC's Strictly Come Dancing.

Rough Copy start. Gary seems to go a bit over the top in his support for these three. Like his attempt to balance the publicity as they haven't done so well in some newspapers. Ha ha! They're doing the Brian Adams big one Everything I Do I For You. Good choice as this is a pure vocal group and they are three of the best singers in this competition. This'll go down really well and get them back next week no trouble. Like a trump card, but maybe Gary has played it a bit too soon in the game?

My only thought is whether we need another croony tune band. They did have an edge but that has been well rubbed away. Gary tells us that the group actually chose the track so all credit to them for that move.

Sam Callahan is getting plenty of modelling work so when he gets kicked out he'll still have plenty of work.
The U2 number All I Want Is You is quite good. A great song that isn't played that much. His delivery is much improved on last week and you get the feeling he has worked very hard. I had expected him to be at risk this week.

Hannah tries Skyfall. There's a ot of fire and stuff on the stage but this shows just how good Adele is. Hannah's was a brave effort but not as good as she has been before. I don't know how she is going down with the public. I tend to feel that the judges are all trying to boost her with the comments they make. Hannah still doesn't look very happy but she may well survive.

Nicholas does In The Arms Of An Angel very well. A little without feeling but note perfect. He ought to be safe as grannies will love him and some girls too maybe. He does remind me of little Joe McElderry still. Bringing his godfather into the programme may not have been such a good idea though.

Poor Abi Alton. This may be her last week after an extraordinarily wobbly and painful Moon River. So sad to listen to. You just felt so sorry for her and wonder what on earth the judges will say to avoid being too upsetting. Everyone said she was good but I am really not so sure. She is clearly disappointed. I can only guess that she was very very nervous.

Nice to see Miss Dynamix back. They do need to perform and justify their place in the Top 11. Dreams is OK but nothing special. I think it's enough to keep them in but they'll be the first group out sooner or later. Lots of nonsense from one of them, like an early audition appeal. Bit late for that now. It's all down to performing well. Simple.

Sam Bailey is not going to be the third Over in a row to go. She's singing the Go On song from Titanic, not as well as Celine Dion but a good effort. A bit slow and boring but a nice change to hear all the notes in the right places. Pretty sure that'll go down well with voters.

Kingsland Road do Pretty Woman. That's a nice safe one too, like Sam preceding them. This a good band, very together and how they failed to get backing last week I do not know. Excellent stuff. A bit commercial but I can live with that from them. I am not sure they'll win but they do deserve to be around for a while.

Luke Friend is one of the few truly individual performers (Abi could be but hasn't been). He's singing Kiss From A Rose which is something I don't recall anyone doing on a reality show. It suits his voice well and he looks good with the guitar and that went down pretty well. He should be OK.

Tamera Foster is my favourite this year. She puts a lot into her performances and once again was spot on. The song wasn't great. A Beyonce number. I can't recall the title. It sort of passed by. Neither one thing or the other but she is great to look at and listen to.

So, who's going? Not Tamera for a start!

I'd say Abi, Sam and Miss Dynamix are those at risk this week. The voters choose a group again. This time it's Miss Dynamix. That'll be sad for them and they may have a bit of a struggle. Much depends whoever they're up against and if that's Abi, they may be going home.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

X Factor Live Shows Week 2 Pt2. The One Where Tamera Gets A Compliment.

The Sunday night programme starts with a pretty dire sing-a-long of the big Avicii number and then more time gets wasted as the judges and acts are run through once more. Dermot does his best to move things along but we're really waiting for Katie Perry to sing Roar which she does extremely well and if she was miming it was unnoticeable. I'd say she wasn't - which is quite unusual for this show.

Robin Thicke did his Blurred Lines too so we're talking about some pretty hot numbers, even if his was a bit old now and with slightly adjusted lyrics to keep the grannies happy.

Kingsland Road had come a very surprising bottom in the Flash Vote yesterday. Tonight Shelley joined them in the sing-off. There was a nervous moment for Sam Callahan who hadn't excelled himself either but it was Shelley who had received the least votes since.

In the sing-off Kingsland Road did Pink's Try. That was an amazingly good performance - as if they had been rehearsing all night and all day too. Not a note out of place and the main singers were on top form. Whatever Shelley was going to do was simply never likely to be enough. Even she congratulated them as she went on to sing something that I can't now recall.

The judges duly voted her off. They really did not have any choice, unlike the Baloney days that I feared might me upon us.

The Xtra Factor is getting better and better and Sunday night was particularly memorable for Matt Johnson's compliment about Tamera's bottom, only then to be told that she was just 16... Lucky this is UK and not USA. He was dead right though.

So all's well that ends well and Sam B remains to fight the Overs' Corner.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Live Shows Week 2 Love & Heartbreak

Dermot manages to introduce his trousers without actually using the words. Sharon tells him to present and, looking down, that seems to be exactly what he does! I am sure there is some behind the scenes thing going on that we're not yet party to!

Sam Bailey is first off. It was always going to be a solid performance of Make You Feel My Love. Well, it should have been but she was thinking about the song too much and there were a couple of awkward notes that I wouldn't have expected to hear from her. I guess nerves can get to even the most confident. So that was OK but not fantastic and, as I have said before, I don't see where she will sell records but she will be around for a while yet. Louis invents the name Screwball for her! Sharon isn't impressed with that but squawks away in defence of her act. Nicole isn't impressed with the song and wouldn't want to hear it again. So I am not completely alone in that view.

Kingsland Road are doing Marry You. The five guys are very together - good harmonies and they are in almost perfect time. A great, very well-rehearsed and presented, performance. If I were feeling cruel I would say that they were singing to a strong backing track and miming quite a lot of the time. However, that worked fine. Definitely worth keeping them on board. I wasn't sure about the song choice to begin with but as it developed that was excellent. You can tell they worked hard at that.

Nicholas McDonald doesn't really fit the frame of someone singing about love. Too young and lacking any real idea about it all. Robbie Williams' She's The One is a simple enough track to do well with a good voice and in that respect Nicholas is spot-on. A really really strong performance there. I liked the touch of the girl who walks on at the end. This guy could do well if he keeps up that standard. A sort of Joe MacElderry from Scotland. But then Joe hasn't exactly set the UK pop scene alight!

Abi Alton confirms how nervous she was last week and it really did have a significant impact. Nicole has put on a very smart set behind Abi for the La la la la la la la la song. A mass of pink umbrellas and floating curves of lights. I don't quite know why though. She was competent but that didn't suit her as well as I had expected it to and, with support from backing singers or track for part of the chorus, she sounded good. For me it was too over-produced and I would have liked to see her pare the whole thing back rather than have it all decorated and sparkly. She is still streets ahead of some in terms of relevance in the UK music market, though, and should be around for next week no trouble.

It was probably quite a good idea to get Shelley doing the Single Ladies thing so she could have some fun. Actually all the notes were there but she is not someone I can imagine people queueing for tickets for a concert, or selling much to anyone except people like her and that's not really today's pop music scene. This was a brash and pretty 90s style performance with a touch of 70s. Louis is right in that she could get jobs on stage in some shows but that's not what The X Factor is all about. Oh, it's her birthday so someone gives her a cup cake. Hmmm. Great TV.

With Cece unwell, Miss Dynamix get a free pass through to next week. Their song was Dreams and needed three performers. I had expected them to do well so hopefully no other act is adversely affected by the decision to put them through. Of the groups, I feel they will be the first to go, however and they may, however well they sang, have not been far off the Bottom Two this but, and this is the important bit, they wouldn't have been in the Bottom Two so would have survived anyway.

Sam Callahan has a lot of promotion going on. He needs to come across stronger and compete with Nicholas on quality. I Won't Give Up On You only worked when he let go and started feeling the song and actually singing instead of the dodgy start which only showed a weak voice. Contrasting so much was what he can do in the middle register. Odd weak bits in high notes, one bad one at the end. That wasn't very good. Will his fan club be sufficient to get him through? Gary Barlow was very accurate in his summary but generally the judges were more complimentary than I expected.

Tamera Foster is pretty, with a nice natural air about her. A very glamorous set and makeover. Unusual song for this competition. Emile Sande is almost perfect so this is tough. My goodness, so was this girl. There goes the one who ought to win this year. Brilliant. Streets ahead of the others we've seen so far tonight,

Luke Friend does a decent job of Passenger's Let Her Go. It isn't much more than a copy at the start but he brings it to life later on. This guy has a great voice and knocks Sam Callahan into a cocked hat vocally. he should be kept in. I just don't know how strong his fan club is. Another good summary by Gary.

Rough Copy were expected to blow us away with this but somehow it was just a bit gooey. Nothing actually went wrong but it was all pretty forgettable. They'll be safe but will need to be a bit less sugary next week.

Hannah Barrett ends the show so it must be a big number to do so. It was and Hannah sings with feeling. I dislike the low notes she does but have to admit that she does hit the notes which many wouldn't. A lot of effort by Nicole to help her feel more confident in the way she looks. The song lyrics were quite appropriate as she doesn't like the way she looks and I think suffers a lot in the background. She's a decent sort of girl and you feel for her but I think she will be singing for survival fairly soon. That song may just have saved her this week.

The 'Flash' vote takes under 8 minutes and it's interesting to see what the Saturday night crowd make of the acts as a sort of instant feedback. Shelley, Sam Callahan, Abi and Hannah could be vulnerable this week.

Unbelievably, the act with the fewest votes was Kingsland Road. 90s Grannies still rule.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Love and Heartbreak Song Choices for X Factor Saturday Night

Saturday night's song list (order unknown) for this week's theme: Love and Heartbreak.

Abi Alton – Can’t Get You Out Of My Head

She wasn't as commercially appealing as I'd expected with her Jon Bon Jovi number last week. It may not have executed as well as she could. Some thought it was amazing, others put it at the opposite end of the scale but there were several worse for voters to dish so no major concerns there. This is the huge Kylie Minogue number with lots of la la las in it. It would seem to suit her perfectly. Get it right and this will be a stand out performance.

Hannah Barrett – Beautiful

Boring, if it's the Mariah, Christina whoever cover which I expect it will be. I am not a big fan of Hannah and would like to think this could see her exit but Shelley has to go first.

Kingsland Road – Marry You

Bruno Mars is very much 'today' and this group of pleasant fairly-youngsters will be appealing big time with this to their fan base.

Luke Friend – Let Her Go

The Passenger one. That should suit him, and his fan base.

Miss Dynamix – Dreams

Fleetwood Mac are popular again and this is a track  could have imagined almost everyone else doing except this group. However, it will be a great chance for these three girls to demonstrate that they can sing really well which didn't happen last week.

Nicholas McDonald – She’s The One

Is Nicholas trying to make an early bid for Robbie William's quite influential support? The little guy can sing but this isn't likely to catch anyone's attention and I can't see it being anything more than average. That will be more than enough to get him through though.

Rough Copy – I Want It That Way

Ha ha! That'll be totally different from anything else on the night. They'll keep themselves safe by capturing this sector of the votes pretty well I'm sure. Some will smile, some will grimace at their performance no doubt but most will simple nod them through for another week.

Sam Bailey – Make You Feel My Love

She, or whoever is advising her, are certainly picking good songs for her. This should go down a storm amongst the ballad-lovers. I think she has picked up a good following too and the remarkable makeovers will help her stay for a while yet. As an artist selling albums to youngsters she's not the winner but these days I am beginning to wonder just what audience the programme appeals to anyway.

Sam Callahan – I Won’t Give Up

Not so sure what he'll make of the Jason Mraz number. It's not easy to get through to people with this one so he may struggle a bit. Yes, he does have a massive fan base and yes, they are the sort that vote but I am still not convinced he'll reach the final as many predict.

Shelley Smith – Single Ladies

OK. Let's belt that out and have some fun. This is the Louis Walsh spot except she's not on Louis' team. She has to go but may knock this out so effectively that in a sing off she gets the judges' support again.

Tamera Foster – Beneath Your Beautiful

It will be exactly a year since this was No.1 and this girl is capable of turning it into a major moment to keep her firmly on track to win this competition or, at least, make Top 3.

Spoliers courtesy of Tellymix

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Live Shows Week 1 Pt 2: First elimination

The sing-a-long was Get Lucky and it was going all right until the Overs joined in - noticeably not as in touch with the lyrics as the younger ones! Skightly embarrassing in places as

Ellie Goulding performed Burn and must have had the production team panicking a little until they realised she was wearing a skin-colour body stocking. A good start, though. she likes Kingsland Road which won't do their chances any harm.

Cher performed her great song next and was looking good bearing in mind she was in the charts back in 1965. What you're looking for is a good song and she gets it across well although I am pretty sure she was well-assisted by a backing track and may not have had to work that hard.

The camera seems to be keeping on Dermot's upper half, presumably steering clear of trouser issues, it being a Sunday and all that.

Lorna is the next least popular and will sing against Shelley. That should mean Shelley goes home which is OK as she didn't stand a chance anyway. You wonder whether Sharon shouldn't have included Joe after all.

Shelley does a good job with One Night Only and certainly is not giving up without a fight. That might even keep her in after all. Lorna actually almost matched that, though, and I would expect the judges to keep her. It'll be close, I expect. I can't see three voting to keep Shelley. Sharon decides not to vote so it is literally down to the three judges.  Well, two did support Shelley so she does, indeed, live to see another week.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Live Show: Week 1. The One About Dermot's Trousers

Nice to see Dermot back in charge. Something funny happened with his trousers - I will have to check that but I was trying to set up the X Factor app, thinking that we were going to be told that we would be able to use that genuinely to make a difference. I needn't have bothered. It's still phones as before and one will be chosen as vulnerable at the end of the show.

Hannah Barrett

I have to say that the second makeover has worked marvels and all credit for singing the opening Live Show and doing so in tune. That was about it really. Boring otherwise and highly unmemorable.

Nicholas McDonald

True. Good song for this guy. This is the sound of my soul. Pity he'd never heard of them and he can't really get across the emotion. An odd high note in the middle that wasn't so good. He did a reasonable job but, again, nothing we'll remember.

Miss Dynamix

Dodgy start. They would have been better just doing the fast stuff. That first minute was awful but, in all fairness, they did recover, unless that was someone turning up the backing track. They'll certainly need to be better than that to survive for longer. There is a chance they might even be vulnerable, being at the bottom of the Twitter follower list earlier today.

Sam Bailey

Very good, much as we'd expected. She is a good singer and deserves all the acolades as that was on par with the Jennifer Rush version. Excellent make-over. One of the best so far. Obviously Sam will be around for some time yet. I do just question how she fits in the market for most music buyers as her appeal at the moment looks like recycling oldies. Nothing wrong with that but is that really X factor? I don't know.

Sam Callahan

He has a BIG task with this song. So many people, myself included, have this in their Top 10 singles of all time so he cannot risk screwing it up. He made a good effort. I was waiting for it to explode more than it did but well done, Sam. This is a good start to the UK shows.

Kingsland Road

I'm Your Man is a strange choice that will either work or it won't. They looked all right before and I don't see much difference after makeover. That was great. Good job, lads! I would like to have had a stronger lead vocal driving it forward but that still worked and got the crowd well on their side and there sure was plenty of energy and, well, that's them through OK.

Shelley Smith

That was considerably better than I had expected but still just big singing and this is not someone I feel comfortable watching on a big screen too close. She hit the notes well and certainly came out with a true 80s sound. This is one of the best sets of first rounders I can remember, with this being one that I had thought would be pretty dire.

Abi Alton

This could go wrong but I am hoping and hoping that it won't. Her voice is clear and she sure does put her own spin on this one but not qute as effectively as I'd thought. Too many missed notes through nervousness. Not very good, Abi. She was favourite but that may have knocked her chances a bit. However, she'll get through and I think she will have more success later.

Lorna Simpson

Not the best of starts here either. But she does recover quickly and does the belting out business well enough, Another excellent makeover has transformed this lady quite effectively. It's not my kind of performance and I don't see her selling records but for those who do like it then she was fine. Like both of Sharon's other acts, I see no place for them in the mainstream market as none appear to bring anything that hasn't been done before. Still, it's early days and such a change to have so many that can sing.

Tamera Foster

This girl looks fabulous. That's a good start. Starts, like so many, a bit wobbly but then she was away and those amazing legs strode confidently and in time across the stage. This was very much in what I see as the X Factor zone. Great, one of the most impressive so far. Good judge reviews too. Nice job.

Luke Friend

So pleased that this guy got through and well done to Louis for taking a chance. He has a good voice and this is one of the few that are spot-on from the start. This track can be terribly boring but Luke brings out the best of what the track is all about and brings it as much to life as it can be. Definitely deserves his place. That was probably the best of the night. I also disagree with Sharon that his voice isn't so good. His was far less wobbly and nervous than many. Nice confident performance. The guy's enjoying himself and that means a lot.

Rough Copy

The group close the show, performance-wise. They have a great opportunity to appeal to lots of voters with this track. It's not that great a track in itself but there's quite a bit they can do with it. Soft start and each has a go but it is when they are all together that the good harmonies and natural blend works best. Nice set, with a touch of Westlife and Take That boy band going on. All good. Not sure they quite topped the bill tonight but they must have come a close 2nd or 3rd. This has been a good night. I am usually highly critical of the UK programme in its early stages but I have to say that that was the best start I can recall.

Simon, you have competition this time.

Voting starts and there is what they call a Flash Vote where I believe one act is put at risk straightaway.

I can't call tonight. Miss Dynamix and Shelley may be at risk. I am also not sure how Sam Callahan will do and Hannah's been a bit unpopular. So, one of those four is as close as I can go. If pushed I'd say Shelley goes. Miss Dynamix also close.

Dermot gives us the results for the first sing-off. I got that right. Shelley is the one with the lowest in the first vote. Voting continues, with existing numbers still counting but no-one can vote for Shelley. Tomorrow we find out who is also vulnerable. Whoever it is, though, I feel it will be Shelley going.

Tonight's 80s Night Song Choices

Here are the song choices for this week. Something to do with 80s Night. They are not in performance order.

Abi Alton – Livin’ On A Prayer

Presumably one of her delightful slow versions with just a guitar backing. That should work well and, looking at the others, could stand out.

Sam Bailey – Power of Love

There are some 'oh not again!' tracks in this lot and this is one of them. You can hear it already and know exactly how she'll present it. She'll survive anyway.

Hannah Barrett – What’s Love Got To Do With It

I think Hannah's on 'voice rest' so maybe she gets a free pass which would be one very lucky break for her as I don't think she's going to be very popular and this would just be some belted out angry shout. probably in tune but not something you want to watch while you're having dinner.

Sam Callahan – Summer of ‘69

A great choice but a huge risk as this is almost one of the Defining Pop Songs of all time. He ought to be able to pull this off with the right arrangement and he's too popular to go anyway.

Tamera Foster – Ain’t Nobody

Tough song to get across effectively and in a way that'll get people voting. She should be OK and perhaps will put her own slant on this and do better than the old belters out there.

Luke Friend – Every Breath You Take

Nice choice should give him the chance to do both styles - appealing and a bit gentle and the heavy stuff thrown in too. Talented guy. I don't think he'll be around for many weeks but unless he cocks this up big time he'll be safe to fight again next week.

Kingsland Road – I’m Your Man

Well this will either go down a storm or leave them flailing around with Shelley in the Bottom Two. I have no idea which.

Nicholas McDonald – True

One odd-looking kid doing Spandau Ballet. That's a brave move and at least it's not 'Gold'! I can see him performing really well, all the notes in the right place and sounding pretty good but not exactly causing a stir. he should get through, though, for another week.

Miss Dynamix – Jump

The groups are great this year and these three should rock the house with this number. Lively and not too tricky to get right, they could have a good time, smile and look attractive and not quite as frightening as some of their publicity shots show. Quite looking forward to that one.

Rough Copy – In The Air Tonight

Phil Collins gets an 80s recognition with this track which has a tendency to go on and on and on. Luckily, they'll have just two minutes max so that's all right then. I can actually see them doing a superb job with this, tweaking it around a bit and possibly improving on the dreary Collins number. If the newspapers haven't affected the people who would be their voters in normal circumstances they'll be ones to watch.

Lorna Simpson – So Emotional

Nice lady with a big voice and quite a good stage presence, the best of Sharon's odd bunch in my view. This is a difficult number to excel with. She might. She should survive anyway and, possibly, could be the second best performance if she gets everything right. Second worse if she gets everything wrong.

Shelley Smith – Alone

Oh dear. Oh dear. You can just see her now, doing all the cliché moves, if you can have cliché  moves, the crouching, the hip sway, the large thighs thudding up and down, the huge oval of a mouth doing the 'lone' bit as several syllables. Most words will have an extra 'wa' on the end. She may be a nice lady but I'd rather she were back in the van. This year's Maloney but marginally better. God, I hope that doesn't mean she'll be 3rd.