Monday, 31 August 2015

X Factor: 4 More Power Entries

With the number of adverts interrupting this show there is a lot to be said for watching it time-shifted and spinning through them. That does make the show pretty damn short, though, and the hour produces just eight acts. Luckily half of them are excellent.

First in the excellent category are The First Kings, a cool and current band doing Uptown Funk very well. Not only did they produce their own intro presentation and had some chicks appearing with them but they also put on a great performance that certainly hit the right spot. They put a lot of cash and effort into their audition and deserve to get a long way, which I am pretty sure they will.

Next is Chloe Paige, a Brighton girl who sounds like an Essex girl - and is a market trader in cosmeticks. A pretty girl with a nice attitude which makes her instantly someone you want to succeed and she makes a nice job of a difficult song, not belting it out from the start like many would have done. She could easily be a pop star if things carry on for her as well as she's started.

After three disasters from elsewhere in the world comes a gay guy from Australia. He's Seann Miley Moore, an interesting name. We're not too sure what to expect as he takes on Freddie Mercury's The Show Must Go On. This is excellent. A bit operatic in some respects but that also meant that he had all the notes spot on. He reminded me of Adam Lambert with his style and superb voice and certainly won over the judges in a big way. Another easily through.

Last of the night is Josh Daniel. He's a bit older than most we've seen but still looks like he's in his twenties and he has a good voice, singing an emotional track extremely well. So well that we see the three judges (Rita is absent from this one) apparently genuinely moved. I do feel that was all a little overplayed, with Simon giving no comment, wandering off on his own as they go off stage and even appearing to borrow a handkerchief from a sound man outside somewhere. That did all appear rather OTT but there you go. This is the new style soft X Factor.

Josh, of course, got lots of appreciation from the panel and is safely through.

Unless some of these excellent first round acts fall flat at Boot Camp it's going to be tough choosing the Live Show contestants as so far we have almost a full house! And one that would have challenged most of the acts in last year's Live Shows. That reminds me; what did happen to Ben?

Sunday, 30 August 2015

X Factor Here There and Everywhere

No, there's no Beatles track this week but the twelfth edition of X Factor UK started this weekend. With Olly Murs and Carlone Flack presenting the main show, promoted from the Xtra Factor of some years back, Rylan Clark back on Channel 5 screens presenting Big Brother's Bit On The Side and last year's joke entry Steve Ritchie paired up with Chloe Jasmine you'll be forgiven for thinking that X Factor is beginning to take over the planet.

As if to emphasise the worldwide interest in the show, one of the best audtions ever, to quote Simon Cowell, was the group 4th Power. Four young Filipino girls looked rdiculously nervous at the start and these people are usually better known for their karaoke skills than actually singing in tune themselves, several trying each year but seldom getting past the first round. This band, though, were very different, instantly changing the atmosphere in the big Wembley arena to one of excitement and you could see the 'wow' expressions everywhere. I had no idea that they'd be that good that soon and, unless that proves to be the only song they can do that well, watch out Little Mix and they may well put a stop to any chance of 5th Harmony making it over here. A really good performance that someone will be signing up pretty quickly. They ought to win based on that appearance but there are signs of some other great acts too this year so we'll have to wait and see.

The newspapers Sunday morning had a story about X Factor producers bringing this already professional group over to England in an attempt to bring some extra talent to the show this year. I have no problem with that. If there's a good act out there that isn't already selling millions and filling halls then why not give them a chance? If it turns out that they already have a deal and are being paid to perform as a job then perhaps I'd be inclined to disqualify them and just sign them up anyway. A decent company would be able to get them up in the charts pretty quickly if that's the case. If they are just a pretty innocent bunch giving this a first real shot outside their home country then good luck to them. the other acts will just have to try a bit harder. It will still be an open competition for a while yet. And once the Live Shows start everything can change anyway.

The very first act of the year was an oldish woman with a weird performance that I would not want to see again or hear again for that matter. However for some inane reason three of the judges put her through and we'll have to put up with her again at some point but only for a short while at boot camp. That start could well have put several people off the whole series. Not a good move by the production team.

Of the rest, there were the usual bunch of no-hopers but a few stood out and should be making it through to the later stages of this year's competition. These include Louisa Johnson, a girl with a headband and a very strong voice, bags of confidence from the start, who really showed star quality and a sort of earthy power that reminded me a bit of Janis Joplin. Look out too for Tom Bleasby, a strange looking lad with an odd contralto voice but who was absolutely spot on with the notes and has already amassed a massive YouTube following for his covers. He's not your typical pop star but could do well and get the votes of the sympathic crowd out there as well as admirers of pitch perfect delivery.

Lauren Murray was probably the first decent act, doing Whitney Houston and looking like a strong contender from the start.

Otherwise it was the Philippines' night and watch their story roll over the coming weeks and, I suspect, months.