Wednesday, 31 August 2016

A good start for both The X and The Xtra Factors in 2016!

Here we go again. Dermot doesn't exactly twirl - he's probably saving that for the Live Shows - but he is back as are Louis Walsh, Sharon Osbourne and Nicole Scherzinger, joining Simon Cowell on the panel of this year's X Factor.

After a disappointing run last year in terms of ratings it is hoped that bringing back the older panel will give the show a more comfortable, warmer feel that Rita and Nick simply didn't provide. There are usually at least one or two acts that we see or hear quite a lot of in the following seven months between one series ending and the next starting but, apart from the expected hit for Louisa immediately after the Final and a recent collaboration with Clean Bandit, no-one else seems to have made much impact at all.

I had expected 4th Impact to do just that, not because of their name but they were fun and lively and I thought they'd get snapped up by SYCO and launched on the kids pretty quickly. They are around still but haven't exactly made the Big Time yet.

There is a lot of expectation for X Factor this year, a sort of last push for the flagging weekend shows that were once the most popular shows on UK television.

The start has been good, if a bit too warm and friendly, although we do have to remember that these first audition shows are all edited and put together specifically to bring certain emotions and create the right environment to try to hook us before we switch over to Strictly Come Dancing next week. Actually I am pretty sure most families will simply watch one and record the other.

Yes Lad kick off proceedings in a cheerful, boy band sort of way. Five Manchester personalities who can sing really well. Excellent start, especially when you remember that these people are singing without instruments or digital enhancement in a basic room with four people staring at them. Some get a bit of accompaniment but even that won't disguise missed notes or poor tuning. We'll see more of them.

Someone called Zac comes and goes and is a bit odd. Let's move on.

Samantha has a grandad and a nice back story, fortunately kept brief. Let's hope they keep them all that short. She may not have the 'pop' factor and could suit the West End stage better but at 16 that's a good audition. One to watch.

Christian Burroughs has a guitar and does 'Country Roads' in an honest, if nervous, audition. Then he gets a second chance and performs something he's written himself which is excellent. Lots of potential there. Another one to watch.

James Wilson lives in a caravan in Yorkshire. He has a nice tone and you want him to succeed. He forgets his words but you know he'll get through as he has lots of appeal as the older guy.

In Edinburgh we meed Richard in a joke spot. Move on. Caitlyn next. She's good. Very good and packed with emotion when singing about her father.

Ryan Lawrie is the first 'modern' performer we've seen. Nice version of the Vamps 'Cecelia' which I remember from Simon & Garfunkel days. Naturally good, as Christina would say. Another one to watch.

Melissa comes from Gateshead. Quite why she's in the Edinburgh section I don't know. She's been on stage before and knows what she's doing. Accurate singing and good but pretty uninspiring. It's interesting how the room auditions really do mean that if you can't sing you can't sing and it's obvious. This girl can but she has tough competition.

After some non-entities we get to Honey G who is a bit annoying but clearly the producers have decided to make her an early star for the show. She's a harsh urban type. All very modern but not very appealing on TV. She looks a bit scary but not as scary as many who have made the Live Shows in the past now I think of it!

Sunday's show continues the good feeling with a very Scottish Eddie Lee who dresses like Simon. It's all a good laugh but let's get on with the show, please. He sings Andy Williams' 'Can't Help Falling In Love With You' one word at a time. Not good. He's also 51.

For something completely different and maybe my first tip for a Final is Saara from Finland,. She sings a brilliant version of Sia's 'Chandelier'. Very, very good. Perhaps even too seriously good to win but she deserves to do well. A genuine artist.

Following on the good theme we have James Hughes with 'I'd Rather Go Blind'. Nice looking lad that I reckon we'll see a lot moire of.

Another good one - Emily Middlemas who auditioned a couple of years ago at the ripe old age of 15.She made Judges Houses so simply has to go a long way this year. Starts with Stevie Wonder's 'Master Blaster' in a gentle but competent audition.

Next we have a few of the joke acts and they take up a bit more time than I would have liked but I guess they'll make some people laugh. The last good one for the weekend is Rebekah Ryan from Tamworth. She had a single in the lower end of the charts 22 years ago and now wants to try to get back on the scene. The back story is a bit long and emotional but she eventually puts in a lovely performance that will have most of the older audience in tears. I'm not sure how far she should go in terms of how she'll compare as a star with the competition but she certainly makes good TV and so will be around for a while yet.

So, watch out for Saara from Finland, Yes Lad, Christian Burroughs, James Hughes and Emily Middlemas. Possibles are Rebekah Ryan, Samantha Lavery, Caitlyn and Ryan Lawrie.

After each main show you can switch over to ITV2, or whatever channel is used in other places, and there we have Rylan Clark and Matt Edmondson. An inspired choice there. They can both be risky but are really talented as presenters and will definitely have appeal across a wider audience to help the ratings when they start totalling up viewing numbers. The first two Xtra Factor shows have been excellent entertainment and so much better than the last couple of years. As well as lots more from some of the current contestants we also get to see acts from old editions brought back to life in various ways. Some sing, some don't but it is quite fun!

A good start. Let's hope the talent coming on the shows is good enough to produce some exciting Live Shows and some genuine stars for Britain.

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