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.