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.