Saturday, 13 December 2014

Fleur and Ben v Andrea

For some totally inexplicable reason Dermot appears suspended on cables and gradually descends to do his usual sort of exaggerated half-twirl, introduces the judges and finalists and then gets hoisted up and away again. His departure looked most odd and I could have sworn that he had been detached from the device so may be that was a crafty bit of CGI. Anyway, the first half of the final is under way.

Tulisa seems to have been fortunate in getting back into people's good books and substitutes for Mel B who must be pretty ill to miss this event.

Take That, or what's left of them, start with an interesting but safe set of duets - I don't know the correct word for three singing with three but they paired off and Fleur was first to sing of the finalists - a pleasure to hear her going straight in with perfect tuning. No-one really did all that well but it was just a sing-a-long. I did notice the odds between Fleur and Ben swap, though, with Fleur becoming favourite!

We get shown bits from Ben visiting Croydon and various other cold-looking places where, of course, there are lots and lots of fans all promising to vote for him. Eventually he starts singing. Demons is exactly right for him and he makes a super job of performing this. Nice start, Ben. he also gets a lift device but the problem is that it stops in the air and he ends the song looking a bit odd stranded in mid-air.

Ben started just behind Fleur in the betting odds. He stays there despite that. Feedback from the judges was good but no-one really went out of their way on his behalf. All very nice.

Andrea next. Now he's starting at over 20-1. He can surely only improve on that. The producers had a bit of a problem as they could hardly take the Faustini battle bus to Rome or wherever he lives. So we get a restaurant scene and then a pile of people driving around London, hoping to catch some Italians on the streets here and there. He gets The Royal Albert Hall, though, which is far more impressive than some bandstand in Croydon which was Ben's venue. Interesting. he certainly 'looked' the bigger star in that comparison.

On to his performance. It's his excellent version of I'm Feeling Good. I say 'excellent' as he managed to stay more in control than he usually does and produced quite a classy act. The camera didn't linger on his front teeth as it normally does. That helped a lot. All in all he did really well and looked so much more professional in a smart suit and well presented. Despite all his best efforts, though, his odds didn't move at all. If anything, they widened to 23-1. I've said in a previous post that he isn't the right person to represent UK chart material around the world as people like One Direction, Little Mix, Olly, Leona and lots more X Factor successes have. As a quality performer of a certain type of ballad, however, he deserves respect and good luck to the fellow. Just how many Italians are there watching this show? If they can vote on apps abroad then anything is possible!

None of the buses had far to go. Fleur's turn. Walthamstow! Her fans seemed to fill the streets and looked most impressive. She performed in a sort of cinema. We didn't hear anything and it wouldn't have matched Andrea's venue.

She arrives on stage in a sidecar. I've no idea why but it looked good. The song I don't know. The City Can't Hold Us might have been its title. A big, fast, chunky performance of a dance tune with rapping and lots of good moves. She did look impressive and completely owned the stage and led the whole thing. Not my choice of music but there was real star quality for sure. Marvellous, even for a modestly uninteresting track. Louis says Simon has found an international star. Tulisa lays it down clearly that Fleur has it. Cheryl regards it as 'criminal' if she doesn't make the final. Compared with the reviews of the other two, that was quite remarkable. Simon says that if she isn't there tomorrow 'something will have gone very wrong'.

For all that, her and Ben's odds grew together, hers actually widening slightly and his staying about the same, Andrea's going towards 25.

We get Meghan Trainor doing her classic All About The Bass. It's the first time I've seen this girl. At the end she is joined by the three finalists. Of course, it's Fleur who looks the most comfortable!

Ben is very lucky to get to sing with Ed Sheeran and does a nice job of starting the song off. Ed is fresh from a very successful week on TV already so this can only help Ben. They sound pretty good together. Ben is reliable and this was an inspired choice. Ben's relaxed on the outside but you sense he is a bit overawed still. Another very nice job, though. He was so delighted to have been there.

Andrea is singing with Ella Henderson Ghost. It is much too fast and he is squawking a bit. I don't like this as much. Ella is very strong. She must be amazed to be on that stage just two years after being voted off the same programme in what I think was just 6th place. They get it together as the track ends and that was OK and not as bad as it could have been. Dermot says that she is the first contestant ever to be invited back for a duet in the final. That's interesting. It's also a reminder - as if, with One Direction and Olly Murs on the programme we need it - that the real winners are often the contestants that don't win!

Fleur is also very lucky and Simon tells her that Labrinth actually asked to perform with her. That's quite something and he introduces her. That's a first. It says a lot too. A fabulous performance that has the judges and almost everyone on their feet. They work well together. She is so good.

Oddly, the bookies have her going out to 2-1 and Ben back as clear favourite, very clear at the moment. I don't understand that. Looking at another betting site, though, I see that they went the other way so clearly it is anyone's guess. All that appears certain is that Andrea is not expected to stay.

Ed Sheeran is back and debuts his latest track. Nice. A good programme tonight.

Finally, Dermot brings us the results of the first decision - which two make it through to the Final Part 2 tomorrow? First through is Fleur. Excellent. And second is Ben. That seems right to me. Andrea gets plenty of appreciation. It was his time to go and he'll be looked after, I'm sure.

Apparently one of the Stones will be joining One Direction tomorrow night and we'll have Olly and the delightful Demi Lovato. And we'll have a winner for X Factor 2014.

One of these will represent UK's pop music industry. And there's Ben. Mustn't forget Ben.

This picture from the Daily Star says it all. Seriously, who would be the natural choice for a career in the UK's pop charts? Someone to represent what the UK mainstream is all about at the end of 2014?

Andrea is a nice fellow, from what we've been told, but it's time to bid him farewell and leave Sunday to Fleur and Ben. Some papers, however, are saying that Andrea will win. This seems to be based on the number of people mentioning him in tweets or updates or searching for his name on-line. Sorry, I'm not convinced. I have probably referred to him far more times than either of the other two finalists but usually because of something that has annoyed or amused me and that certainly shouldn't be taken as a guide to who I reckon should or will win.

Crazy but some reporters just don't understand data and if you mention Google too they think no-one will argue. There is also the small matter of a massive difference between the population likely to vote and the population who may have wondered who this chap is or mentioned him in some post somewhere.

At the time of writing with just a few hours to go, Ben is actually favourite. Andrea is at 20-1. Nice odds if someone really does feel confident about the Italian!!

I have heard the Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars version of Uptown Funk that Fleur performed last week and it simply doesn't stand comparison. The guys are good but there was something about Fleur's interpretation that made theirs pretty forgettable. They have now brought forward the release of their track from mid-January to cash in on the publicity but I would have been inclined to suggest they let Fleur and Syco get on with it and happily collect the royalties.

Fleur really ought to be the winner of this year's competition and I can see her putting the win to effective use. She may not be an act that I am going to download or rush to see or hear but she's got it - that X Factor - and is very likely to match some of the best contestants from previous years when we look back and see what ever happened to so-and-so in 2018.

The only reason she won't will be if the audience doesn't get her songs. That is possible. They have, after all, kept Andrea in this far and took a while to get rid of Stevi Ritchie, despite all his best efforts to annoy people.

Then there's Ben. Oh, yes, nearly forgot about Ben. The favourite, no less. I don't see it, other than as a purely 'X Factory' type thing where the little old ladies and odd people vote in their hundreds of thousands (it used to be millions but not so many bother nowadays) vote for the nice boy or the one with the sweet story and, apart from buying the Christmas album, don't really do a great deal afterwards. Ben does look good and sounds pretty good too. He's a nice chap and tries hard. He'll get upset on the stage and Dermot will give him a cuddle. We'll wish him well as he rasps through one track, belts out another and, well, I have no idea what he'll do with the 'winner's track' as it's not something I know. Rumour has it that it suits him far better than Fleur which may be the main reason he's favourite.

I just don't see Ben making much headway after the tinsel has been taken down and the tickertape has been swept off the stage. The charts are full of new male acts, many with fabulously different voices, some writing their own material and lads like Olly Murs have got all the running when it comes to getting on to programmes and promoting more 'average' chart stuff of the sort he's likely to be competing with. Just as the excellent Matt Cardle got swallowed up and is seldom seen now, I fear Ben will just be around for a while and then fade away. Much better off and not exactly despondent but he won't be getting two or three album deals or doing duets with attractive female stars from the States.

So Ben can win. Fleur should win and will probably get the better contracts in the end whatever the case. Andrea really shouldn't win but I may put a fiver on him just in case.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

The Top 4 Perform

Cheryl's dress is what gets all the attention at the start. Once we remember this is a singing competition and have got over Dermot''s well-rehearsed dance at the start and the fact that Peter Dickson introduced him as Santa's Little Helper, Fleur opens the show.

Fleur East

All I Want For Christmas by Mariah CareyThis is a classic, of course, and she gets every note right and performs well too. She is pretty accomplished and the only thing about that was that it was just a bit ordinary. Mel was expecting it to be 'cooler' which is a fair point but she decided to play it very straight and did look good in the tight red leather outfit. I do believe she deserves to be in the final and hope the public votes to see that happen. In many ways she is the most accomplished performer by a long way and someone you feel could be completely relied upon to deliver on a show or in the studio. Whilst she does have a 'modern' repertoire I am yet to be convinced that she would be a chart success for long. So much would depend on who write for her and whether she gets to be a little wild.

Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars & Mark Ronson
Even Simon hadn't heard this song before so that makes me feel better. Obviously it is one that someone reckons suits her and will achieve this crucial vote for her. She had a change, apparently, from All About The Bass, at the last moment. This, Simon says, is what she would be all about in the real world. Wow. That was impressive. She could have been an established guest act with a new release. Not something I would rush out and buy but I can well see that making the charts easily. That surely has to see her through to the final. She can dance and act and is totally reliable. Well done. Simon puts that in his Top 3 best ever X Factor performances. That single performance really ought to put someone out tomorrow. The thing is, though; you never can tell. Some weeks the public do weird things or the maths just don't work for a particular act. Are there enough people who both support Fleur's material and vote on X Factor? 

Lauren Platt

Stay Another Day by East 17/Girls Aloud
Lauren could easily have been a Girls Aloud girl so she should do well with this. It is one of those awkward start songs and those few seconds are wasted. The low register does not suit her voice at all. The main chorus section works well and she tries hard to make the most of the sections that match her voice. I wasn't impressed, though, with that song choice for her. It didn't work after all. That may not have helped her so, at the moment, she is going to have to hope someone else is less popular and that her second song is something special. That was a bit disappointing.

Story Of My Life by One Direction
Nice song. She needs this to be very very good. It was quite good but not stunning. She was accurate but the low register doesn't give us the kick that we get from the middle bits. She had a go at making 'a moment' but I do feel, unfortunately, that she will be lucky to get through. Will she get the public votes? She needs more than Fleur or Ben or Andrea. It is still possible.

Ben Haenow

Please Come Home For Christmas by The Eagles
Slightly cheating, with two Christmas linked singles. Alexandra Burke made Christmas No.1 with it. Anyway, it's a game and Simon knows how to win! This is a simple affair. Ben does his raspy thing, looks pretty good and even has a choir in a sleigh on stage. Quite a nice job done. Sugary and not what I would expect to see him do but that'll be popular I am sure. Lightweight but probably all that he needed to do.

He gets a really nice compliment from Cheryl. A warm and cuddly programme tonight.

Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen
You just know that Ben will make a super job of this. For a moment at the start I did wonder and it may not be my favourite version of it but that was pretty good. It was a bit of a risk. His story about his mum and general 'niceness' should carry him through. It won't be his performances that get him through this week when compared with the others. He is still the bookies' favourite to win at the time of writing - just ahead of Fleur. 

Andrea Faustini

O Holy Night by Mariah Carey
Oh holy sh*t. This was quite painfully tinny to listen too and not easy to watch. Very wobbly and he might have been better singing in his own language too. The judges were very good to him. I didn't get it at all but I suppose I will have to accept that all those people in the audience and, indeed, many of you readers here, love this guy and will be voting for him.

Will it be enough? I guess he and Lauren are very firmly in the bottom two after round 1.

Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus
I am sort of dreading this. It is a superb song. What on Earth is he wearing? This was actually one of his best performances in my book. The song suited him, strangely enough. That was pretty good and that may have sealed Lauren's fate. There is a chance that there won't be enough Italian votes and that Ben gets the girls' votes and the grannies just don't like anything to do with Miley Cyrus. Mel is begging people to vote but I think it was Fleur who deserved the real plaudits tonight.

It is pretty open. Fleur would win on songs and Lauren might do well on that too. Both girls match what we expect from X Factor. Fleur may have frightened off some voters with that dancing so it's not that easy to choose between them as I feel there are more natural Lauren voters there. Of the boys, Andrea didn't do badly but didn't do that well either. he just wasn't quite as annoying this week. Ben was a little weak but was very appealing. So they sort of end fairly evenly too. It could be anyone that goes. Fleur or Ben would be a shock. Rule them out and it's between Lauren and Andrea. Another passionate and effective performance by Lauren would be needed to make it 2-2 and I couldn't predict which gets the lowest. I fear it would be Lauren. I can't imagine her being 1st or 2nd and so, by definition, she is up against someone and likely to go.

Anything else will be a surprise. Or a shock.

I so hope Andrea does just the song, not the video...

Tonight's song list:

Andrea Faustini

O Holy Night by Mariah Carey
Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus

Oh boy! Or I should say Oh Girl. Whilst the Christmas Song could go down well, I can already see the enormous gnashers biting the other side of the telly screen for the Miley Cyrus hit. Please, please, don't put him nude on some big ball, though, guys.

I am not at all sure these will keep him in. But the granny vote might.

Lauren Platt

Stay Another Day by East 17/Girls Aloud
Story Of My Life by One Direction

After Sunday's remarkable performance, when we finally saw just how capable Lauren can be, and there was genuine emotion that we all felt, I wonder whether she will now get back into the race. She is the bookies' favourite to go by a long way but I still have my doubts and hope she puts on as good a performance as Sunday's. Both songs suit her well and should encourage people to see her as a potential little star.

Ben Haenow

Please Come Home For Christmas by The Eagles
Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen

I really have doubts about the Christmas song and how many more versions of the otherwise wonderful Hallelujah do we have to hear? He is favourite to win but I am wondering whether his luck might run out tonight? He ought to stay and would win a sing-off against Andrea but against the girls? I am not at all sure.

Fleur East

All I Want For Christmas by Mariah Carey
Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars & Mark Ronson

Well, everything depends on yet another lesser known track but the writers are very cool and maybe I will recognise it when she starts. You have to admire this lady. Every week she has taken a risk and so far it has worked well for her. In fact, she has also been favourite to win, changing places almost by the hour with Ben. If she drops in the votes and has to sing off against anyone, she should win and stay. I would not want to see Fleur v Lauren, though.

Sunday is a long way off. let's see how they do tonight before any more by way of prediction!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Lauren makes the Final Four finally finding her voice

The sing-off was between Lauren and Stereo Kicks. After several less than brilliant performances recently, probably due to quite a serious throat infection, Lauren might have been the likely one to go but she absolutely brought out something special on Sunday evening. After a bit of a wobbly start she found not just her way and the right notes but showed real passion and that was one great song for her.

It was enough to win over Simon, necessary after Mel had voted to keep Stereo Kicks, which I hadn't expected her to do. They'd been good on the Saturday show but didn't shine in this sing-off at all. So it was down to Simon to save her and he did, thank goodness. We need her to beat Andrea next week and then she has a serious chance if someone can pick good songs and Fleur makes a mistake.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

The Not Yet Famous Five

With two songs each tonight each of the remaining five contestants has a chance really to show what they can do. The public, in the shape of visitors to the X Factor web site that is, have chosen one and a current recording artist has chosen the other. Having said that, I should imagine that the production team and judges will have a bit to say too.

Ben gets a song chosen by One Direction. Nice for him to have support of the current No. 1 band and he also, of course, has Simon Cowell. Come Together is the first track for him. A very weird and slightly dodgy set but a good performance and plenty of raspy stuff from Ben. A likeable chap and he didn't do anything wrong but I am not so sure he did that much that was exceptional either. The judges are really complimentary! I was pleased with the way he looked and performed but just feel there was something missing. The song itself actually doesn't go anywhere so it would be unreasonable to expect him to improve on a Beatles number but eh didn't let them down either.

Little Mix, another big X Factor success (they won in 2011), chose Clarity, not a track that I immediately recognise for Lauren. It looks and sounds like an Ariana Grande type number. I understand that it was a track by Zepp featuring Foxes. Nice and current but it was far from perfect. I still see her making it through to the last four. She is also the more likely to succeed in a Ben v Lauren final which is what, at the moment, I am predicting. That is definitely not what the bookies are predicting, though, with Fleur as a very, very clear favourite. So, logically, they also have Lauren as a similarly short odds favourite to go tomorrow.

Tulisa is someone ITV are allowed to mention again by the seems of it and she has chosen their track. Bruno Mars Just The Way You Are is a nice track that should please everyone watching. A fabulous song, really well-written. It works well for them and they put on the sort of show that makes you think that they might just steal this thing after all. If they were to do that consistently then they ought to make the final themselves. Mel disagreed and thought they'd not done well. Cheryl too criticised the way they stood and sang. Simon didn't think it worked well and reckoned a last-minute switch in routine didn't help. So much for what I thought then.

So Fleur is the new predicted winner. Emile Sande chooses a song. Fall In Love by Tina Turner is not a song she knew. Or me. I hope Emile knew what she was doing. I didn't like it much, nor the white trousers, and I didn't find it a natural performance either. However, it was accurate and more or less faultless, just a bit unexceptional. Louis loved it. Neither Mel nor Cheryl were that enthusiastic but they did recognise that she was very competent. Simon says it can't be her that goes home tomorrow.

Andrea gets Alexandra Burke's vote. That was quite surprising. Sam Smith chooses a song for him. He didn't have much to do to survive against Stevi last week but would have a tougher job against any of the others. The song is a Sia number Chandelier that even Sam says is hard to sing. I guess that that means if he does it well then that will keep him in. I found too many painful sounding and looking efforts to reach notes that were not familiar or natural for this fellow. If he'd written the song then maybe he'd have got it but I didn't think a great deal of that. I am also not at all sure that the production matched the sense of the track either. Someone missed the point. Simon says Round One to Ben.

Viewers' choices now. Lauren has a really nice modern track. At last, one that those likely to vote for her will enjoy and they need to vote too to ensure she doesn't go home as predicted. She's slowed it right down and I am hoping for the rhythm to kick in. Will it? Or will she just carry on with the nice ballad approach? That works but it isn't as satisfying as it might have been. A good job but will that keep her in? If she stays then who goes? Simon thinks that may have saved her.

Ben gets Ed Sheeran's very cool number, one of the best songs of the year. Quite easy to sing but he also needs to get the message across. Just rasping away won't work. He needs to be gentle and starts well. He continues well too with a really nice and controlled performance that must, surely, send him flying through. Nice job, Ben.

Stereo Kicks get Run. It's quite a classic and can sound fabulous. It was a good effort but I just felt there were too many and it slowed it and muffled it a bit. The main lead, Diva Kicks, was excellent and maybe should have been left to carry them all through, which I do believe he could have done. This requirement to try and feature each of their voices doesn't work for me but that pleased Mel. Cheryl was politely impressed but was secretly thinking that she'd want them up against Andrea in the bottom two. I must have missed Louis' and Simon's comments.

Luckily, Fleur knows her song. She also ditched the white trousers. A very good performance. I don't feel the song was one we'll want to dive onto YouTube to play again although she did do it justice. She certainly deserves to get through and the bookies reckon she has to be there. I would have thought she could be at risk this week but I guess I am in the minority on that one. I want to see her make it through, for sure, and Simon has it right in that she genuinely wants to be there and to sing. Nice, I still think she's at risk but hope she makes it.

Andrea closes the show. I'm actually not looking forward to watching him chew and wail his way through the huge classic and would much prefer Mariah Carey to watch. He's a nice enough chap. He decides, or someone decided, to do some of this in Italian which could well help him. Almost anyone can make this song sound impressive has it has an anthemic quality and there can be a big choir and lots of sweeping instruments in the background to make sure it sounds good. So it wasn't surprising that he gets a good reaction but if you listen carefully it wasn't that great and he certainly doesn't sound like someone I would rush out to buy. I think he could go if he's up against anyone except Lauren or Stereo Kicks. If it's one of them and the judges go to deadlock then he could well get through. Of course, he may well not be in the bottom two this week. In that case it really is anyone's guess.

All I can say is that it won't be Ben.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The viewers' choices for contestants on Saturday.

Now we have the tracks chosen by the public for each of the five finalists to sing on Saturday. They'll also have second numbers which haven't been declared yet.

So Ben gets the Ed Sheeran track. Modern, in the zone for many and it seems almost perfect for him. Expect a heavier version which could make quite an impression and should secure a Top 4 place.

Andrea gets the classic Big Ballad. It has some dreadfully difficult first notes and almost everyone I've heard attempt it wobbles around them and tries to get away with belting the later bits out when it really needs some sensitivity. The Italian hasn't shown much control so far, just big belting noises and horrid facial expressions. He got fewer votes last week than anyone, possibly including Stevi, so I'm not sure this is the track to win many people back with.

Fleur has done well so far, with a crazily wide range of tracks and delivered all of them almost faultlessly. This one is neither easy nor, I fear, likely to be as popular. She'll need a damn good second track, although we may just see her move us with this one after all.

I have no idea how Lauren will put this together on the stage but I do wish her the best of luck. It could be great and all credit to her for attempting something different. This track doesn't have to have the insistent and oh so catchy stadium synthesiser beat but if she can somehow build that in at the end it would be nice.

Tailor made for eight guys to sing their hearst out to. Great choice for them by Miss and Master Public. This did more or less won the competition for Leona in 2008 and I reckon, unless they totally cock up the notes, this will get them safely into the Top 4, possibly even avoiding a sing-off.

This is the act that came third on X Factor USA in 2012

While we're waiting for the X Factor finalists to find some tracks to cover, here is a group once called 1432 that came 3rd in X Factor USA Season 2 in 2012. Fifth Harmony have proved to be the real winners from that season.

And how they were...

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Someone had to go. Just not that act.

This week the last seven choose either a Whitney or Elton number in order to try and get through to the Top 5. Two go this weekend, one immediately at the end, another in the sing-off of the next two with the fewest votes. So out of the seven, only four acts can relax and be sure of another week. 


She did a good job of this and brought a modern look to the song, aided by her young brother. I hope this isn't setting a precedent and Stevi asks to bring on his gran or something. Nice, fairly simple but good, performance that will keep her in.

She has youth on her side and I can see her being a popular artist, singing Demi Lovato numbers. Whether she'll be around for long is so much down to who writes her songs and how effective they are at making her look appealing. She has shown strong character in the shows so far and hardly missed a note. She could win this but will need to do something a little more memorable.


He took a risk with this. Dolly Parton, who wrote it, and Whitney Houston, who made pop history with this, both had the abilty to find notes and hit them perfectly. It isn't as easy a song as everybody probably thinks and Ben did appear a bit weak and missed some important notes. He should get away with that and didn't do a karaoke version so that is to his credit. This may put him in the danger zone but there's no way he's going anywhere. He started this week as second favourite to win (behind Andrea) but I can't see where he'd sit in the charts, genre-wise. He's a nice lad and, despite being an 'Over' seems younger than Andrea anyway.

Only The Young

I would love to see them not only survive this week but win the show as they have such talent and professionalism. They are the one pop act that I can see in the charts and being popular with kids out of all of them. For some reason they don't seem to have got the judges on side in a big way yet. They put a totally new slant on The Way You Look Tonight and it was very, very good. Simon says that they are coming alive and hopes the public keep them in. So important that they do stay.


OK, to his credit, he held back on the wailing and, of course, was note perfect. I just thought it was a bit tedious and fine for cruise ships, even expensive ones. He may well get some albums out at Christmas but that really has to be all that we'll be seeing of him if he does win. He'll survive another week and I guess he's in the final whatever I say or you think.


I was joking about bringing the family on stage but Fleur has hers too. For no particular reason I can think of. She knows this song well and it shows. That was absolutely brilliant. A pleasure to hear all those notes in the right place. Well done. Not my favourite song but I admire this woman - she may have been one who could have been at risk but that must surely see her through.


What a mess. I'm Still Standing could have been all right. The guy's voice wasn't that bad but the show was weird. Cheryl, very politely, says it's time he went. Simon disclaims any responsibility for the staging with the chap in some Egyptian outfit and a lot of girls and honey, fluff and whatever. As well he might. It didn't work. he has to go but you can never know with this guy.

Stereo Kicks

I still think that name is wrong but never mind. The song just rolls along and they get through without any problems. I just thought it was a bit boring but that's the song's fault as much as theirs. That was enough to get them off the bottom tonight - well, it ought to be but we never know what'll happen.

Soon enough we will know as the act with the lowest votes will go tonight. It shouldn't be close but it might be. I just hope it is Stevi. Or maybe someone else can go and then we can be certain that Stevi will go tomorrow as he has to lose the next sing-off. Surely?

The four acts happily through must be Andrea, Ben, Fleur and Lauren. I would be surprised if it were any different. Tough choice tomorrow if Stevi goes tonight.

Oh dear, Only The Young didn't get the public vote. Such a shame. I'm not sure many people agreed with that and there'll be a riot backstage. And they're in the tour so will be well paid.

Saturday Night's All Right.

Here's the track list for tonight at the remaining 7 acts fight it out to find the Top 5. Yes, 5, as two acts go this week.

I got the Bottom Two correct last week but really did think Jay would have performed better and dismissed Stevi on Judges' votes. My calculations had Mel voting Stevi off as she'd been pretty down on him. Louis has always been a Jay supporter and, of course, Cheryl had dumped Stevi on Simon in the first place so would probably have to save him. Simon would vote for Jay to stay so that would see Stevi go home at last. However, mel changed her mind and that took it to the public vote which Stevi won. So he's still standing,..

Surely not for another week though?

Andrea Faustini - I Have Nothing

It's a powerful ballad, not often performed on the show. I can imagine it going down well with the grannies. He was weak last week and didn't sing well or in a way that I would imagine record producers would be rubbing their hands with glee at - the prospect of sales of that type of thing being comparatively insignificant. I can see him redeeming himself somewhat although I still fear he'll be wailing. Not as much as Jahwene did but enough to be annoying.

Lauren Platt - How Will I Know?

Not the best of choices. It could work if she slows it down and puts on her best voice but an average job won't work. I reckon she'll be saved come what may, though. She has 'finalist' stamped all over her contract papers now.

Only The Young - Something About The Way You Look Tonight

Nice song but it sounds like the boys will get the lead again. The girls are better. I love this group and really would like them to stay in this competition. This could be the first 'normal' track they've got to do so it is very much a make or break performance for them.

Stereo Kicks - Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me

Not sure about this one. Pretty iconic song. They've not been getting massive votes so far but do have some appeal as we're slowly getting to know some of the characters. More so than Only The Young, actually, whose names I would struggle to recall and there are only half as many. I don't know what to predict for these guys. I feel the end is coming.

Ben Haenow - I Will Always Love You

Well, talking of iconic numbers, this is the one. Quite a brave choice and he is not someone I would have identified with the Dolly Parton original or the Whitney hit. His voice is pretty gravelly and he's got a rock edge so goodness only knows what Simon has planned for him with this. Whatever it is, though, as second favourite to win with the bookies you'll get 66-1 if you want to bet on him going tonight!

Fleur East - I'm Every Woman

So far she hasn't had one simple track to perform. They've all been tricky or very modern and a bit difficult. Once more she attempts something that you would really only expect Chaka Khan to do. In fact, I can't think of anyone else doing this at all. So she is either mad or very determined to be confident and make us sit up and take notice. I have always thought that she's a contestant who could just go any week, however well or not so well she performs. Maybe now she is beginning to show that there is a route for her through to a final. If she gets this right she'll be there.

Stevi Ritchie - I'm Still Standing

He sure is and, once again, Simon has picked probably the best possible track for him to do. He'll put his heart and soul into this and make a crap job of singing and look dreadful on the stage and we'll all wonder how his eyes have that strange shape that is a bit alien and whether he ever closes his mouth and he really should be the one to depart on Saturday night with the lowest votes. It was fairly encouraging to see that he got fewer votes last week than all the others he's up against this week and that he hasn't been pulling in vast numbers like Baloney did. It's time he went. He has to be one of the two so if he makes it off the bottom of the pile due to a poor job by one of the groups, whoever he's up against on Sunday must surely find more favour with Mel this time.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Big Band Night


Andrea starts with Summertime, a wonderful song but it needs careful handling and kept simple. His facial expressions and style didn't natch the words and I didn't like his interpretation that much. It wasn't at all bad, though, for all that, and in tune as most of what this guy does always is. He deserves to be in an X Factor but I am still not sure it should be the UK one. the ending was awful but no doubt it will impress the grannies. He'll be around for another week.

Simon also makes a comment about his expression and has some criticism too which is good to hear as Andrea has been very much shown as the winner so far.


I like Lauren and her attitude. She has been well-mentored by Cheryl and is mostly presented in a nice, pretty natural way. Smile just trundles along and, whilst she sang well and it was in tune and nice to watch, it was just 'nice' and not exactly stunning or something I want to rush out and share with everyone. Once again, Simon says it absolutely right - it was good but not fantastic. I would hope that she stays and she really ought to. She's taken a risk but I am pretty sure that there will be several with many fewer votes tomorrow evening.


Jay was pretty disappointed with his 8th placing last week and was fortunate that Paul simply didn't have the looks to match the voice. He really should outlast Stevi, at least. He starts with New York Frame Of Mind but after just two lines at most switches to New York New York in good old fashioned belt-it-out style. You sort of wait for it to return but it doesn't. That was pretty good but Louis calls it karaoke. Mel B is miserable but Cheryl is much more positive and quite complimentary. Jay was certainly a lot more 'in' with the band and interacted with them but I wasn't convinced that was memorable enough to keep him in the competition.

He should, as I said, outlast Stevi but from an entertainment point of view, and attracting people to vote for the act, I have a suspicion that Stevi will do much better and may even escape the bottom two again with 7th and 8th places being shared by Jay with someone. That makes him vulnerable. there are also two other good male acts for people to vote for so that splits things in a way that can't help Jay.

Stereo Kicks

Stereo Kicks changed their song at a very late stage indeed and presented Mack The Knife. That was great. Not my choice of a song for many different people but this was actually quite good. Everyone performed well and I was impressed. I'd like to see them stay due to that. Mel B pretends that she didn't know they had changed the day before. Nonsense. It was in all the papers. Playing with Louis about the group members' names was a bit unfair.


Ben should be the winning guy this year although that may not mean he wins overall. His song is the classic Cry Me A River which has had extra legs given it with Michael Buble's release. Comparisons, of course, are bound to be made. Ben does a good job but there is something missing. He has the voice, adds more rasp than most, but I am not sure the meaning of the words gets across as it should. For all that, nit at all bad and he vertainly beats both Jay and Andrea this week in my view. Definitely safe this week.

Only the Young

Yet another risky week as obviously Big Band Night doesn't suit them at all. They've chosen a popular little tune from Jungle Book - I Want To be Like You oo oo. They were really very professional and that was a pretty faultless performance. They danced and entertained. The first to dance so far tonight. I like them a lot and would so much like to see them survive and win this thing. However, they haven't been getting the votes so far. I can't see them getting any extra votes for this but so much hope they do get enough to get through to next week. That was a difficult routine too. Well done. Fingers crossed for them.


I don't know what to make of this. I do think it is time to go now. Simon even says of his own act that this was the worst act on X Factor! There are many worse than that was but I get the point. So, maybe this could be the week that Stevi does leave? That would be great news for the others. Louis makes the point that good acts are now falling because he is there and that's why Stevi needs to go, as Jay or even Only The Young could suffer.


Closing the show tonight is this different and impressive girl. She looks glamorous and seems to get better each week. She is trying to do a really modern track to an old style band backing. Maybe it could have worked but it needed a much stronger lead than she was able to provide. The rap was good and she gradually started to pull the performance back. Her voice just wasn't up to it. She put an awful lot into that and deserves credit for the effort. How that will gain her votes enough to survive I don't know because I feel that was well out of the typical audience zone.

People were very complimentary. It's all about the votes.

My feeling is that Jay is in trouble but that he could be up against Stevi after all and will, therefore, survive.

"Oh big Band... I thought you said big bang...." said Simon.

Here's what you can see tonight, as the songs for Big Band Night are published. Well, they are for all but Stereo Kicks who changed their mind at the last minute and I don't know what their final choice is.


Andrea Faustini - Summertime (by Ella Fitzgerald)
Fabulous song. One of the classics of all time whih is good and bad and if he still just belts out stuff without the crucial sensitivity that this song needs then he could spoil it. But he seems on a continuing roll of popularity so will probably get by whatever he does.


Lauren Platt - Smile (by Nat King Cole)
She was a little weak last week so I am hoping she comes back well with this seemingly simply but potentially powerful track. Approaching the favourite spot now with the bookies I would expect her to survive whatever happens as she'd win any sing-off vote.


Only The Young - I Wanna Be Like You (From The Jungle Book)
Generally thought to be vulnerable this week, and I am not sure another happy sing-a-long song will be enough to increase their votes enough to kick someone else out before them. If they're competent and cheerful, though, then they could survive and show that they can be original and modern next week. I still believe they are one of the most professional of all the acts this year.

Stereo Kicks - to be confirmed...
OK, we'll have to wait and see but I would say they're going to be singing off with someone again.


Ben Haenow - Cry Me A River (by Michael Buble)
Sounds like a good choice, if a little safe. Of all the guys left, he seems to be the best so far.

Fleur East - Bang Bang (byJessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj)
I like the way Fleur is staying totally up to date, with another very recent No. 1. Quite how Simon will justify sneaking this in under a Big Band them remains to be seen. "Oh big Band... I thought you said big bang...."
It's another risk - she will either win big time or lose and go home with this.

Jay James - Empire State of Mind/New York New York medley (by Alicia Keys/Frank Sinatra)
He needs a good week and this could well be exactly the right song for him. It's a super tune and gives him plenty of ooprtunity to add some character which he has shown himself to be good at. I don't see him as a winner and, if he has to go sometime, this is as likely a week as any, just because of who's singing what.

Stevi Ritchie - Mambo Number 5/ She Bangs medley (by Lou Bega/Ricky Martin)
Oh dear. Simon does have a knack of picking really good tracks for his people and I have a horrible feeling that this will be just right for him again. He could well survive. A bottom two is possible and, if that happens, he's gone but I have a feeling he'll escape again.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

The Top 9 Perform. Andrea wails.

An odd selection, this. It has all the signs of being a tedious programme but hopefully something will cheer it up. The idea of sitting watching very familiar songs being redone, and not always very well if not actually ruined, makes me a bit nervous even for the best acts.

First on is Paul. He has a great voice but I feel his days are numbered. That was not much fun to watch and reminded me of how good Adam Lambert was on American Idol at a similar stage. Adam, of course, is now touring with the real Queen band and doing incredibly well. I don't somehow see Paul getting that or any similar gig. He gets great feedback from the judges but I am not quite sure why.

Jay James tells us about his voice having gone. Seems to happen quite a lot. The Show Must Go On is an appropriate track, therefore. This is a risky song. He tries to do his own thing with it but I'm not sure it's that great. He is someone I would like to see move through and a nice falsetto element near the end might save him. That was not bad but it's not going to get him a contract. Talented guy.

Lauren is my prediction to win and has shown amazing maturity in dealing with everything on the show, especially Mel's comments. Now with Cheryl's undivided attention she has every chance of doing well. The MJ song is a bit boring. Too long in the lower range at the start, it was such a relief when she moved up but not as much of a relief as I had hoped. She could have done a lot better. the ending sounded as if she had forgotten the words and made it up as she went along. Pity. I am pretty sure she'll get through, though, so hopefully it won't matter a great deal.

Apparently she was also ill and that might explain a lot. Simon said that the track was 'good' but the last 20 seconds 'amazing'. Spot on.

Now my favourite act, Only The Young. They did know what they were doing last week and Blame It On The Boogie ought to be right up their street. This is pretty good. A better performance than any of the others by a long way. They seem confident and, once they get going, it turns into something really quite enjoyable. All credit to the black-haired girl who managed and led that really well. Excellent at the end.

Ben takes Simon's advice and starts with just his voice and no backing at all. It works for me and makes the words make more sense. Quite atmospheric. Usually people just dive into this track. He does eventually get into the staccato mode that everyone needs for this  but it suits him well and he certainly came across as very confident. Great job, Ben. He had better be there next week.

Stevi really is now just the 'joke act' but we must remember that he has had experience on stage in West End type shows. Oh boy. He actually makes quite a reasonable stab at Bohemian Rhapsody and you can't help but smile at this. I can definitely see him getting contracts to do this sort of thing but, please, it's not today's chart stuff and he has to go sometime. It may well not be tonight after that. You have to wish him well but I hope he is chucked out before we get too much further down the line and he takes someone deserving's place.

Stereo Kicks sing the slow MJ number. You Are Not Alone could amplify any dodgy notes but by doing a gentle harmony they get away with it. Just the one with the interesting face and hair does the solo stuff and the others are like a big backing band. That works pretty well and the crowd seem impressed. I could have fallen sleep but they might sneak through. I didn't see it but someone ran on to stage in the middle of the performance and they handled it really well. I'll have to watch the re-run of that. All credit to them, anyway. My guess is that Simon would like to see them on the X Factor Tour and tonight decides the places. So my feeling is that they'll get through. The question is: at whose expense?

Fleur has a nice MJ song. It's all about her voice this time with no performance or modern stuff involved. It's an unusual number that sounds familiar but isn't, if that makes any sense. She does it well, very well. A confident and stylish job. I hope that the voting public know the track and help her to stay and join the Tour.

Closing the show is the slightly annoying now Andrea. Somebody To love is a sort of anthem and he goes through it well enough. He'll get plenty of votes for that. I didn't like it that much but then I find it hard to deal with any Queen covers that stay close to the original. Put your own interpretation and it may work better but how anyone can compete with Freddie Mercury is beyond me and whereas some others did their own thing Andrea was doing the copy version. He did it very well but he's no album selling guy for me. Just a nice guy who sings opera style well.

Looks like Paul is in trouble tonight, maybe with Jay for company in the bottom two this week. It should be Stevi, of course.

Tonight's song list. Queen V Michael Jackson

So these are tonight's tracks in what is oddly called Queen v Michael Jackson Night. I can think of better themes but I guess it'll give a bit more room for manoevre than Abba Night or, Lord help us, Dance Band Night.

Andrea Faustini – Somebody To Love (Queen)
I am getting tired of him now and this track won't help. He'll be around next week though, whatever he sings.

Paul Akister – Don’t Stop Me Now (Queen)
Popular track that ought to go down well but he is vulnerable now and next most likely to go.

Lauren Platt – I’ll Be There (Jackson 5)
One false move and it'll tumble down around her. But she's good so she ought to be there.

Stereo Kicks – You Are Not Alone (Michael Jackson)
Powerful stuff. Could be boring though.

Only The Young – Blame It On The Boogie (Michael Jackson)
Great! No room for errors though.

Ben Haenow – Man In The Mirror (Michael Jackson)
That could work for him.

Fleur East – Will You Be There (Michael Jackson)
Good choice if it's the one I think it is. Ben might have been better.

Jay James – The Show Must Go On (Queen)
He could have chosen better, especially as he tends to change the song anyway. Risky.

Stevi Ritchie – Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)
Oh good grief.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

'Fright Night' - especially for one act.

Tonight is a little riskier for everyone with the one with the lowest vote going straight home tonight. So, in some ways, going first is good as that gives longer for people to decide to vote for you.

Ben kicks off with Highway To Hell which certainly sounded quite like AC/DC. Whether that's a good thing I'm not sure but it shouldn't do him any harm. It was well performed, good notes and with confidence but just a bit bland. Once you've heard Ben yell the first few lines you've heard them all really. I'm sure he'll survive with that.

Lola has a nice song in Crazy. She has been one of the weaker performers to date. After a good start she returns a bit to a wedding singer style and belts out lines. This was a good job overall, one of her best so far, but I still feel she could be vulnerable, if not tonight then maybe tomorrow. Much depends who she's up against. Lauren will be stealing many of her votes if she does well. But some guys may save her.

Fleur was always going to have a tough job with Thriller and may have taken on a bit too much here. She started a bit too gently and, whilst she did improve a lot as it progressed, and Louis called her the 'best performer' of the competition but I do feel the vocals suffered a bit. It was not bad, though, and, whilst she may be at risk if everyone else does well, my guess is that someone will be less impressive tonight.

Jack is the first of Mel's boys and possibly the next to go if he doesn't get the message across. He has an unusual track to do that with - Leona Lewis's Bleeding Love. Again, not bad but I am not sure that was good enough for the voters. He's a nice lad and there was an odd moment when some woman comes and pretends to be a vampire while he was singing. Anyway, this is a good singer and one that Mel may have taken out of a comfort zone. I reckon his own choice would be strumming in a corner. He could be good but not doing that sort of thing. So far, I would put him in the 9th to 11th danger zone.

Jay James next. He had a good week last week, and before that too. Tonight he has a track that ought to suit him. He starts a bit too nervously. Mad World slowed even further at the start was odd but not as odd as the speeded up version that followed. Hmmm. Another risky performance but qith quite a bit of quality. Like Ben, he gets the notes right but unlike Ben, puts a totally different angle on the song. Quite weird. Will people like it? Yes, I think they'll show respect and he'll be well out of the 9-11 zone. Well, maybe not well out of it.

Andrea sings Lulu. OK. Figures. This is not very good. mel B has not done him any favours at all with some very odd gold make-up and a song that is pretty useless. He puts quite a bit into it after a while and does some uncomfortable dancing too. I think he was thinking so much about his required moves that he forgot about the song. No I didn't enjoy that but the crowd seemed to. I guess he'll be safe tonight, though. And tomorrow,

Lauren is someone who ought to make the final. She may be young but she is determined. Dark Horse is difficult. She starts very dodgily but once the song gets into its main chorus she is good. It doesn't really work well, though, and I think Cheryl should have changed the track. Tough. She could be in for some criticism but I feel confident that she is in the Top 8 which is all she needs to get through to next week. Simon is very complimentary. I had not expected that.

Paul is doing Meatloaf. There could even be some resemblance in several years' time. We're led to believe that he didn't want to do the song. It suits him well, though, so I don't see the problem. He should pick up lots of needed support from that too. It's a bit underdone. The song is not easy to do justice to, though, to be honest, and Paul just does what it says on the tin for this track. They make a lot of his not wanting to do it. Not sure why - it was the production team who showed all the problems in the background in the first place.

Only The Young perform Monster Mash. I see that they've done this before and made a good job of it on YouTube too. I like this group and they'd be my choice to win from what I've seen so far. I thought that was brilliant. A totally professional performance. Surely that must save them. Best performance of the night so far.
I do hope they get the votes they deserve for that.

Stereo Kicks do a Backstreet Boys number. They do it pretty well too. Nothing spectacular but that ought to see them safely through.

Stevi closes the show. He knows that song well and made a very good job of that too. Quite surprisingly well. I have no idea what to make of this. Maybe the audience will actually vote for him this week sufficiently to stay out of the 11 zone. He may still be in the 9-10 zone, though, but should survive the night with The Music Of The Night.

Who goes? I think the order is 1 Only The Young 2 Ben 3 Stereo Kicks 4 Paul 5 Andrea 6 Lauren 7 Lola 8 Jay 9 Fleur 10 Stevi 11 Jack

Dermot announces Lauren, Only The Young and Ben. Then Stevi! Fleur makes it and so does Paul. Two more safe: Stereo Kicks and Jay. So it's Lola, Jack and Andrea. They're not the bottom three. But one is 11th and going home. Jack. Poor guy. Didn't stand much chance. Dermot says 'See you next week' to Andrea but just 'See you tomorrow' to Lola. I have a feeling she's in the 9-10 zone.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Scary Stuff for X Factor: The Song List and who goes home *Saturday*

So, with the act getting lowest public vote leaving on Saturday (according to Cheryl after only a few minutes voting!) it will be all the more important that the contestants put on a good show. here are the proposed tracks they'll be performing.

Andrea Faustini – Relight My Fire (Lulu & Take That)

He is still running as firm favourite so I guess whatever he does will not see him foot the table. The only scary bit about the song is the word Fire but watching him perform will be enough to get me well behind the sofa.

Jack Walton – Bleeding Love (Leona Lewis)

He's vulnerable. It's another track that has nothing to do with scary other than having the word Bleeding in the title but it could be a bleedin' mistake as the Leona Lewis classic is not an easy one to redo.

Paul Akister – Bat Out Of Hell (Meatloaf)

I would have had Paul as a possible leaver this week but this is such a classically lovable track that I believe he can do justice to that he ought to be just about safe on Saturday at least. He may need to brush off a sing-off tune for Sunday, though.

Lauren Platt – Dark Horse (Katy Perry)

I am impressed by this young girl's choices so far which have been modern and in the vein that I can see her doing for real, rather than going for the granny vote with old classics. Many of the voters, though, may not have heard this and it will require a pretty good performance to get it across first time for them. Having said that, Lauren is the one I am currently predicting to win so I reckon she'll be just fine.

Lola Saunders – Crazy (Gnarls Barkley)

Cheryl's other girl is only here by virtue of Louis' rescuing her with a wild card. She has shown some wobbliness in the Live Shows so far and, whilst having had a superb job done by the make-over people and gaining some confidence, she isn't in the Top 6. That doesn't mean she's going home, though, as you need to be 9th, 10th or 11th and this god choice of track should save her. I can imagine her doing a very good job with this and it may be one of the show highlights for her.

Only The Young – The Monster Mash (Bobby 'Boris' Pickett & The Crypt Kickers)

Here's a video of what they have done already!

Last week they will have realised that they're simply not getting across to the voting public, nearly going home. It was a poor song choice, though, that wasn't going to win them many new fans in telephone voting land (although app voting land is a more forgiving place for them, luckily). This week they have a cool, fun, song and, by the seems of things, are well practised in performing it too. That all bodes well. They are the act I would like to see win but I don't yet feel confident enough to say they will. I hope they keep out of the bottom three.

Stereo Kicks – Everybody (Backstreet Boys)

Happy to see these guys go home. Eight is simply too many for me. They all seem likeable and talented people and I hadn't realised till last week just how young a couple of them are. That might explain some pretty nervous stuff that most of their tracks start with. I have no idea how they'll fare with this.

Ben Haenow – Highway to Hell (AC/DC)

This is a risky choice by one of the second favourites. His has lots of support so he should be OK like Andrea but I am not expecting anything particularly memorable.

Fleur East – Thriller (Michael Jackson)

Talking of risk - this is the most risky of all tonight. She's a brave lass and last week seemed to impress with the current #1 All About The Bass which isn't as easy as it may have looked. It is, of course, the track for the night in many viewers' eyes (although I prefer the Crypt Kickers) and she will either be up there with all the smiles and success or looking a bit dejected as her name is left till near the end. I say 'near' the end as I think she'll survive Saturday. Not sure about Sunday yet.

Jay James – Mad World (Tears For Fears)

Nice choice and, for pure scary sounds, this is the best choice by far. I think this will be a stand-out of the night and see him safely through.

Stevi Ritchie – Music of The Night (from Phantom of The Opera)

If you've been counting you'll have reckoned that there is a possible 9th and 10th already and this would, for me, be No. 11 and bye bye Stevi. It ought to be so but it may be that we have to wait until Sunday as he has quite a lot of appeal and my guess is that he isn't coming at the bottom of the voting. He does, in fact, have bags of experience on stage and this is probably a track that he has performed to an audience many times before. Not in the West End production but very possibly in a lesser venue. So he'll know what he's doing. As I said, he ought to be the one to go.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Week 3 Saturday Night At The Movies

Cheryl lost two acts last week. Stephanie certainly deserved to go as she really has had tuning issues but I did think she'd be saved for a little longer for all sorts of reasons, not necessarily related to talent. But with the lowest public vote that was it for her and then we had quite a surprise with the 8 boy band with the annoying name Stereo Kicks seemed not to have impressed as many voters as others and Chloe taking 12th equal position.

In the sing-off there was no doubt that Chloe had to go. I really had expected better from her but her performances were not great. The boys were quite a bit better but i still don't see them going very far,

Tonight it's Saturday Night At The Movies which really means they can sing anything other than a very recent track as it's probably not too difficult to choose a track you like and then look it up on the movie database!

Jake's on first. Nice choice of She's Like The Wind from Dirty Dancing. It sounds like his sort of song but something was missing and when he tried to do the falsetto it was completely off key. With some nude Cosmopolitan magazine features going on in the background I don't know what the public will make of him. There are lots of cool and good-looking boys around in this competition so he needs to perform better than them if he's going to survive. Not a good start. I would imagine that he'll be in trouble unless there are more disasters coming from the other eleven tonight.

I couldn't make sense of Louis' introduction to Only The Young. It seems they're doing something called Boom Clap. OK. Never heard that before. As before they put on a professional performance and, although I didn't like that much at all, they are still my favourite for this competition. Not the act that I would bet to win but my own favourite so far. That was a performance that sounded as if they had learned it yesterday. Apparently, that's about right but that shows what they can do. These are good guys. Louis had to look up the film it had come from.

In complete contrast we have the Skyfall track from Jay James. he stole the show last week with an extraordinary version of 500 Miles and so what will happen to this one? I was not particularly fond of Adele's track and Jay stays pretty straight with this one so you can't help but make some comparisons. But they're good comparisons. I hate the rhyme of skyfall with crumble anyway so this was never going to get me voting but well done for a cool job on that one.

Andrea is the favourite by quite a way with the bookies. No idea what he's singing and I am beginning to get a bit tired of the yelling and wobbly stuff, however passionate it sounds, it doesn't work for me. He is a good singer but I feel this isn't the right competition for him. Having said that, the audience went mad and were as noisy as I have ever heard them. Seems like he'll be here next week.

Lola is one of just two young girls left and she was lucky to get a wild card too. Add Fleur and there are just three females and the two in Only The Young.

She sings When You Believe and you get the feeling that she really does believe. That was pretty powerful and not at all bad. She looks good after the make-over team had been at work. I don't see her winning but she ought to survive a few more weeks.

The third of Mel's boys on tonight is Paul. Try A Little Tenderness is a good song for him with his ability to hit all the notes and he has the right sort of voice too. But it isn't the right song to have dancing girls all around! He was also smiling in a song that isn't really about smiling and throughout all the action he was rather static. A very good voice and soul but not a performance I'd want to watch again. Excellent vocally, though.

Cheryl's last girl and someone who I think can win this thing is Lauren. Demi Lovato's Let It Go is pretty well known and even Demi called her and chatted which is nice. She comes across as confident and that is remarkable as she is so young. Actually, this is quite a tough song to sing and she struggles a bit on her own. Once the backing singers join in she recovers well but that wasn't as good as she has been. Andrea will be even further ahead in the polls now. She'll be safe, though, despite a bit of a dip this week.

For all that, Lauren puts Mel B very cleverly in her place when responding to some criticism! When Mel says she could have taken some risks and done something different with the Demi song, Lauren said that she'd taken risks in previous weeks and wanted to show she could do some songs as they were. 'There's a reason why they're like that,' she said. So true. Well said. That'll get repeated back stage for sure.

With five acts still to go it's the last of Mel's boys. Eye Of The Tiger is a great track but what will he make of it? Weak start. It isn't really the sort of track that lends itself to just a vocal with guitar. Later it gets the heavier backing, dancers, lights and goodness knows what. In fact his guitar looks a bit odd and I think he'd have been better going for one or the other styles not try to combine them. He was spot-on vocally and that is a good thing that ought to keep him in.

Simon has two left and introduces Fleur. Some nonsense from Mel about a backing track helping Fleur was annoying last week. Bearing in mind how poor Mel was in the Spice Girls that was not the right thing to say! So expect some obvious talent tonight. Fleur performs the sexy Lady Marmalade with the Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir? line that I guess they won't be translating for the kiddies. Not a bad job of that, at all. As good as the Pointer Sisters. She is good and I'd expect to see her around for another week or two. So far I feel she is doing what she has some experience in doing. That's not a problem - it has meant that she appears professional and confident which is what we expect at this stage of the competition.

Third one from Simon is Stevi. Oh boy. This is the joke act but you can't help but laugh at him. This time he wrecks Footloose. To be fair, that was quite entertaining! The Daisy Duke girls helped. It may keep him in. I do actually believe he will survive another week or two. I know and he knows he won't win so it's more bearable than Baloney (who thought he could) was.

Stereo Kicks sing Let It Be. So a Beatles song ought to keep them safe this week. It gives plenty of opportunities for each of the guys to get themselves across. I always find their performances to be similar to mini Live Aid efforts - you, the sort of track that stars perform one line at a time. Oh, it turns into Hey Jude and they do the long chorus. Except it isn't a long chorus just a couple of lines. It was pretty reasonable to be fair. They'll be out of the bottom two ths week.

Ben Haenow gets to close the show. he didn't do well last week but survived OK. So he has something to prove this week as Jay has taken a bit of a lead and he needs to try and consign Jake and Jack to the also-rans too. Jake and Jack have definitely underperformed this time so he has every chance. With a great choice of Aerosmith's I Don't Want To Miss A Thing he closes the show in really strong style. Another potential winner and I much prefer his strength of song to Andrea's and if they were in a final I would see Ben winning in a straight battle. Could be interesting later as Andrea is set fair for the final.

So farewell Jake I think, or maybe Jack. Only The Young might be vulnerable but I do hope they survive. It'll be one of those three though. The oddball Stevi will stay.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Week 2

Last week poor old Louis lost two groups: Overload Generation (who Mel B brought back and actually completely skipped Judges' Houses!) and Blonde Electra who I had been calling Blonde Electric. Not that that made any difference. The two girls performance was not the worst but they did get the lowest votes so didn't even make the sing-off.

The bottom three had included Stephanie Nala who really had been off and deserved to be there. I kinda reckoned that they'd find a way to keep her and, sure enough, the group was sent home leaving Stephanie looking very relieved and Louis two down in one week.

Another two go this week. It's I Love The 80s week which few of them actually ever experienced but never mind - the tracks are pretty simple.

Jack kicks off with Straight Up from an old colleague of Simon's on the American idol judging panel, Paula Abdul. He makes a predictable but good job of this. he's a good performer and comes across with a lot of confidence and a bit of style. Obviously it all depends on what the others come up with but thatw as a good start and I'd expect him to stay with that standard. Something was missing but it'll still take some good work from others to put him in the bottom three.

Stephanie looks fabulous and is interesting - she just need to get the notes right, or sing in the right key and she'll win lots of support back. Call Me she does pretty well - and gets the notes right and adds a strange and slightluy hypnotic dance move to the performance. Not brilliant but not bad either. She's a likeable girl and could be a little pop star. I just don't see her being let go by the producers just yet. So she may be in the bottom three but will survive.

Cheryl's dress is weird. Probably expensive but with some pointless parts.

Mel brings on Andrea next. he is by a long long way the favourite to be this year's winner. The bookies could well be right although it is very early and he may get boring. He has a massive Whitney Houston song to sing and, of course, he'll do a fabulous job of the notes and stuff. The words? Well. One Moment In Time has been overdone on this programme over the years. I was not impressed with his mangling of some of the lyrics and watching him was not that pleasant and this week I felt the notes weren't that great either. I see a chink in his armour and maybe that will allow someone else to pip him to the winning post in several weeks' time. for now, I guess he'll be pretty safe, regardless.

Two potential competitors for the prize are coming next: Lauren and Ben. Lauren seems to be the best of the girls while Stephanie struggles to find a comfort zone and Chloe excludes quite a chunk of people for all the wrong reasons but that's life. Ben is the best of the Oldies and doesn't actually seem very old at all either. he should be in his element in the 80s.

What A Feeling was Irene Cara's. Now it's Lauren Platt's. That was excellent. Far far and away the best so far and that will take a lot of beating. Very very good and all that was missing was the dancing which I was so much waiting for her to do but it stayed slow. That's all I would change but well done Cheryl for choosing that.

Ben isn't on top form - some sort of throat problem. His track is John Lennon's Jealous Guy and I would have expected that to be fabulous but it was just average. It seemed as though he was holding back and hoping to drift through to next week. He should do but that wasn't so good this week. OK. Just OK. What you do when you're not in good shape I suppose.

Another of Simon's Over 25s that I like and I would hope to see do well is Fleur. She shows more flesh than all of the others put together but that's not unattractive and she has the ability to put on a professional-looking performance and it stays pretty classy despite the clothing or lack of it. It's A Shame was pretty boring. The rapping in the middle sort of helped a bit and reminded me of a later version but it wasn't that interesting and just seemed to go on. She got great reviews but I wonder whether the public get her. She doesn't deserve it but I wonder if she might not drop into a public bottom three? Hope not.

Stereo Kicks are eight guys who may each be good singers but they're completely lost individually. I don't see them doing as well as the bookies say. The Boys Of Summer is a classic and the public will like that. It was damn good and worked really well for all of them. Good choice, Louis. They looked as if they were enjoying themselves too and that always counts for a lot. Cheryl doesn't sense hysteria and has a fair point about that, no matter how good they are. They should stay.

So choices are getting difficult. At present I can't call it in terms of who's going. We may be in for two shocks and it's only Week 2.

Lola has Imagine, the second John Lennon song of the evening. A very good make-over has her looking excellent but the singing hasn't improved, with annoying gestures and phrasing and sometimes she seemed to be shouting a little and the whole thing just lacked the class to match her clothes and make-up. Pity but she was not on Cheryl's Top 3 choice list and could be vulnerable tonight. First one I've thought that about, assuming that Steph gets 'saved'.

Mel B has returned to her annoying style of talking and can be tedious to listen to. A lot of what she says is fair comment but the accent gets on my nerves. She introduces Jake who sings A Total Eclipse Of The Heart. Nice choice and he does a pretty good job of it too. Not easy but it shows him in a good light. That was a lot better than Ben, with whom many will compare him and so represents his main competition for votes. Nice job. I was prepared to say he'd be at risk but now I've changed my mind and say he's safe.

Chloe is one who is excellent but I don't know where she fits in to this competition and I do worry about how she will go down with the public. Fame isn't something I would have dreamt of her doing but let's see. Stunning set and big links to Marilyn Monroe visually. This was a slow boil version of the song with a dark feel to it. I liked it but I am not sure how many others will. There are times when her voice isn't quite right and she does miss notes. That may put her in the danger zone.

Paul is the last of the 'boys' (although I swear he looks over 25!). He is the least 'screen friendly' but is as talented as most. He needs to come out with something a bit special to keep surviving. The makeover people have actually done a huge amount for him and he was looking very smart and with a very cool performance of If You Don't Know Me By Now he really does well. He'll be safe. It got a bit boring and didn't take off as a performance but that was pretty good none the less. One of the best of the night.

Chloe, Lola, Ben are, in my view only, the ones oscillating around that bottom three at present. There are three acts to come: Only The Young (who I really want to do well and not change that list) Jay James (who ought to stay) and Stevi (who really needs to go home, whatever he does tonight).

80s Night is worryingly Stevi Ritchie-like. This is worse than Stars On 45. He does a Rick Astley. Badly. I can only grimace at that performance. Please send him home folks. I fear that the public see him as a comedy act and are voting for him.

Only The Young get Come On Eileen from Louis. I'm not sure that was a great idea. They make a damn good go at it and deserve huge respect for taking this on. It was cheerful and bright and they're very talented and together. I so hope they stay in. My favourite act but that was not my favourite performance. I so much wish they don't suffer at Louis' hands.

Jay finishes the programme with a surprising version of 500 Miles. Remarkable. The Proclaimers in English. This will either work or it won't! Wow. that worked all right. Yes, it really did. Well done and all credit to the team putting that on stage. he is definitely safe and that could be a further problem for the other guys.

I really have no idea who'll go this week. It ought to be Steph or Stevi but it won't be either. I worry about the three I've mentioned already. All will be revealed soon enough.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Week 1

Dermot O'Leary gets the show on the road, just making himself heard above Peter Dickson's upper case introductions. There's an in joke between Cheryl and Simon as he almost mispronounces Cheryl's double-barrell surname.

We hear about the wild cards and who they picked at the start. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Cheryl picks idiot-dad-dancing Stevi who is not going to survive as long as old Baloney cos he simply cannot sing but it's still a major drag. The others are, as I had blogged before, Overload, Jack Walton and Lola. Good choices there.

Free votes using an 'app'. I wonder if it's just Apple? Must check. No, Android too, thank goodness. For the first time in 10 years I'll actually vote!

Two to go tomorrow night. Starting the show is Paul. That's quite a task but he is someone who seems reliable and he has a good track too. Interesting that it was written by the person who should have won last year! The excellent Ella Henderson, showing that coming 4th or 5th isn't such a bad deal!

Very confident and mostly accurate - bit off when he went for a note in the middle that just wasn't there - and a cool start which he should be proud of. He can now relax for a couple of hours and watch the show.

Talking of Ella, we have a similar talent in Lola who is on next. She's looking good but Brian has put her in a very strange and unattractive dress which makes her bottom half look massive. Maybe it is. Nice, well-paced performance, with no risks and none of the OTT stuff she did in some auditions and which left her unselected. Simon agrees with the dress. Good job for the first girl and she ought to be around too.

Overload Generation and I Kissed A Girl. OK, I can see why Louis chose that. They're good, together and you get the feeling they're used to each other and they do, of course, have a One Direction look and feel about them! They should get plenty of teenage free votes and deservedly so too. No reason for them to go either. Big audience response. The judges are a bit tough on them.

Simon's first act is Jay James. He wasn't that great at Judges' Houses and I nearly had him out of the top 3 although he would have made any top 4. A very good performance this time. A little weak and tinny at the top end of his range and most of the song stayed there. However it was a good production. I didn't recognise the song at all. It was a No. 1 apparently so I should have done. He didn't look so good in the shadows but at the end he looks nice in the limelight. Good song choice, even if I didn't know it. Likeable guy. Ought to do OK. Grannies will love him but not as much as Andreas when he comes along.

Stephanie is possibly the prettiest of the 16 and has had experience in the finals of BGT. However, she's off key and it's not until the backing track comes in that she's sounding good. That's a shame because she's got bags of appeal but, if she even survives, she has a huge amount of work to do to stay in this competition based on that. Very average. She is in danger this week.

Jack is back. He was OK at Judges' Houses. Not exceptional but he had potential. With guitar at a microphone he is refreshing and the track Only Girl In The World suits his style. Nicely presented. Good job. He will survive for a while and is quite interesting too. Possibly the best so far.

Next up is Chloe. She is one of the odd ones. Amazingly talented but I have yet to be convinced she fits X Factor. I like the girl and hope she does, at least, having got this far, proceed a long way as she will be entertaining and reliable without being boring as I think some of them will be. Not my choice of track for her at all and I would worry whether the voting audience will want to press their buttons for her. I don't think she'll have much support.

Louis tells us the Boy Band is to be called Stereokicks. Oh. OK. That doesn't work. Roar has too many places where they could come apart. I honestly think eight guys is just too many. First guy up is nervous and wobbles a lot. Together there is something solid but it's all a bit dull. The audience like the lads, though. So I suppose they'll be here next week.

Stevi Ritchie next. God help us. Sinitta was dead right and I even think Simon feels he has been tricked by Cheryl with this act. Having said that, his eye for fun TV will have caught the possibilities of this likeable fool. So bad. Mel B has to ask and she does. Is this a joke? It will be. Reminds me of one of Simon's previous winners, Steve Brookstein but worse.

Lauren brings us back to reality and gives us a very unusual version of Happy. It almost misses the point of the song but she is spot-on with notes and looks good. There is something missing but it's more a production issue than anything else. The crowd like her. Smart, as Simon says. She'll be here next week and for a while yet. Second best so far.

Blond Electra have been bottom of the bookies lists so they've got a lot of minds to change. They have a chance to do that and, who knows, maybe Louis can find the ideal track fro them to do just that. I am hoping they'll have fun and hit the right notes too. Good start. Kids In America is a good choice. Well done Louis. They look old, though. Well, one does and that's not right as they're so young and rebellious-sounding. I like them, despite the German-sounding vocals. Mel B was right as she said how they did turn it into a performance. As good as Louis' last famous act - JEdward!!

The way Dermot pronounces their name - sounds like One Direction!!

Ben Haenow is singing Simon & Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water. That's tough. He was one of the best at Judges' Houses so I'm hopeful tonight that he'll excel. Someone has to. Yup. Nice job. He has the voice and the confidence sorted, if the pace was just a bit slow. For Week 1, that's safe and sensible. Good reception and the four judges will be right with him. Finalist, I suspect.

Jake Quickenden and Fleur East next.

Jake is good. Nice performance and, whilst safe, that was all he needed to do to proceed. He is a popular act and Simon reckons he'll be around for a few weeks. He could get to a final on present comparisons. That would be interesting. Ben would win if the choices were right.

Fleur I had high hopes for. She was actually very accurate and did a good job but it sort of fell flat. All About The Base is the current #1 and a huge risk. The judges gave her great reviews, though, with the audience liking her too. Nice job. She's done better and could be a bit more adventurous in my opinion but she'll be well pleased with that.

Only The Young and the current favourite, Andreas from Italy coming up.

Jaihouse Rock. Great start. These guys are good. Switching to The Beatles Twist And Shout and that went all the way through so you do have to wonder why the started with Jailhouse Rock. I loved that and it went down a storm with the audience and it was like - at last, someone who is really good and enjoys being here. It lifted the show. Mel B was harsh. probably because they were far better than anything she'd done. They like old style stuff and that's great to hear as they put a different spin on things. Best so far. Just

Andreas Faustini. I think people will love this fellow. He's not an X Factor winner for me and, even though his accent is hardly noticeable in this track and his English is generally far better than many foreign acts we've had on these shows in the past, he sounds a bit laboured and it's just a little predictable. What a good voice he has, though. He is still a bit lost in the production but there are signs that he is going to do very well. Like Chloe, I feel he shouldn't be in this competition but there you go. The crowd really do go mad and we can't hear Cheryl's review at all.

So two to go.