Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Week 4 and it is all very disappointing. Where are the stars?

We're told this is the penultimate round of auditions which means Sunday will be the last. That's good and bad news; good because these have generally not been a great series of auditions and I have not been looking forward to seeing the show anything like as much as I used to and bad because I cannot imagine we could possibly have seen enough star quality people to populate twelve or more spaces on Live Shows.

Seriously, has anyone really stood out and made you think Now there's a potential winner? Not for me.

We get the fuzzy recaps again and I wonder whether there'll be more groups, noticeably absent so far. It's a theme park, again. X Factor must have done a deal with Alton Towers or whoever the other one is.

Spencer Sutherland has come from Ohio. Maybe they need to resurrect X Factor USA. It's Nicole's old school town and this is the first of at least three lads she genuinely fancies during the weekend. He's OK. The collar adjustment at the start is a bit dated, though, but I guess there's some hope he could improve and be entertaining.

Alex & Leon are ITG. Great Yarmouth. Bingo. Oh dear. Grannies will love them. I don't. They do an Ed Sheeran number and may have some potential but are a bit tedious. Simon agrees and says no. The others put them through, though.

Matt Linnen is the second chap for Nicole. He sings Trouble in a lazy way. It's OK and worth putting him through as he could do a great Bruce Springstein number.

Scarlet Lee is extremely tanned, embarrassingly so. Awful. She hails from Surrey and its seems Essex has spread west. She claims to be a make-up artist but I feel sorry for anyone getting made up by her. She way too much hair and that colour face! This is one of those extended auditions, supposedly for our entertainment as she gets to do another song. She has drawings of the judges that she did ten years ago. T shirts, banners get waved by her relatives outside. Jeez. This is painful. She could sing but needs an awful lot of advice to get out of bad habits and I still don't fancy seeing her on my screen. She just makes it through.

Rayelle is next. 16 and from Croydon. She's pretty good and the first modern act of the evening. Good performer too but hardly a future star at this point of the game.

Brad Howard is a model and knows he's good looking. Nicole's attracted for the third time. He does look good but he has no chance. nevertheless he makes Boot Camp. How?

Now we get the crazies. Peter Warwick is an actor. Louis likes him. Afro Swagg. Oh dear. Awful. Another Louis group. Salvco Kalezic was Montenegro's Eurovision entry this year. He has a ridiculously long pony tail that I vaguely remember being part of his act in Eurovision. He is weird. A good performer but really not someone anyone will want to vote for. Montenegro didn't even make the Final either.

Alisah has come from the Philippines and gets a lot of build up. You expect something very special but she is disappointing. No bad but it's a nervous start and many notes are not great either. In places it is painful. All very emotional, though, and as she's a sweet girl she gets through. Of course.

Having ended Saturday's show with someone reasonable you kinda hope they'll continue on Sunday as there really is a need for some good acts. Have they been saving them all up for us?

No, Oh dear #2. Two blokes in white suits. Bros but far worse than Bros. Awful. And they wonder why viewing figures are so low?!

Next we get two halves of a professional duo auditioning separately.

Johnny Wright is not very good at all.

Jenny Ball is much better. She tries to sing Titanium. That was not that great either. Maybe better than many who have been put through but i don't see her gong very far. The judges like her but she was hardly 'amazing' as they all claim.

I'm still waiting to see someone that I look forward to seeing again. This is not a great start.

Suzi Shepherd wastes most of the programme. Pathetic - very poor and obvious set-up for tv, getting her to do another number that requires some sort of change of clothing. What on earth was the point of that?!

Rueul Elijah sings This is how to do it and finally we get a reasonably good audition. His range isn't great but he has bags of personality.

Danny Lambo has three Lamborghinis, apparently. Oh dear #3. He's followed by an equally idiotic Simon who is dressed in gold and is also rubbish. Then we get Just Us. Oh dear #4. Even worse - Louis and Nicole seem to feel they need to get on stage to join them and Simon is booking the act for UK's next Eurovision entry. I am about to give up on this show. It isn't even funny. Dreadful televsion.

Berget Lewis is a big lady from Holland. She used sing in church so you get the idea of where she's coming from and where she's likely to go. She does Purple Rain and is quite professional, having been a backing singer for many years. She isn't 'fantastic' though, as the judges say. I guess after all they've had to put up with she might have seemed fantastic in comparison. She's just old style belt it out.

Well, that's all folks.

God help us.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Week 3 All Along The Watchtower gets the Price Brothers a contract

I am beginning to think that some of the Just Eat people are as good as many of the people auditioning this year. We get a fuzzy intro for the Saturday show and it all has a distinctly 2004 feel about it. Fortunately, although there are the ageing Simon, Louis and Sharon, there is no Steve Brookstein.

Once again, I have a feeling many viewers may have switched over as the start featured some chap called Amrick, a male Asian Honey G who is dreadful to watch as well as listen to. Yet, somehow, three of the four judges ruddy well vote him through. How can that possibly make sense?

Beverley follows and is awful. Young Benji is just 17 and it's one of those set-up auditions where he gets stopped after a short time in the first song and gets asked to do another. He does and makes Boot Camp.

Tracy Leanne Jefford has a classic Essex accent, although, as a 'traveller', she may come from many places. She's interesting, at least, but not spectacular. Simon gives the game away a bit by remarking afterwards that she's the kind of act that people will like to see on TV.

Two more come and go dreadfully badly and I am beginning to think about giving up on this audition stage and just waiting for the Judges Houses round. This is turning into some sort of Oldies Entertainment Show.

Russel Jones arrives and he sings in Old People's Homes, which kinda continues the theme! He is, however, the first good act we see tonight with a performance of I Wanna Be Like You which sounds like it should have been rubbish but wasn't. I can see him doing well as the jazz thing could work well. Remember Ray from around 2008?

We are now in Edinburgh and Alysha Dixon has replaced Sharon. Gregor Coleman gets the stop treatment and we know that he will come back with something much better and get through to Boot Camp.

Nicole Simpson is a genuine professional and sings almost perfectly. Quite where she fits in for the 2018 charts, though, I'm not sure but, at least, we get some decent notes and a nice performance. She almost takes it for granted that she'll make Boot Camp. She's probably seen the others.

Gregor comes back and reminds me of Paulo Nutini. Very good and very current. We'll see him again, for sure.

Sean & Conor Price are a very young Irish pair. They do All Along The Watchtower. Wow. That makes the programme worth watching. Marvellous. I wouldn't be surprised to find that this is already a YouTube hit. SYCO will have them signed whatever happens and Simon says that they shouldn't let anyone change the way they dress, perform etc.

Sunday now and the Production Team have clearly got a thing about the intros as this time we get some high voltage effort for no apparent reason.

We're in Liverpool and you expect good things. Megan Byrne is quite good. Quirky, strange singing style but she could be interesting with some work.

Now we get the sad cases. A very annoying old bloke, a sad funny blonde lady and some idiot called Jamesy. Oh dear, why show these people?

Finally we get someone decent. Chloe Rose Moyle is 16 and has an Ellie Goulding sound. She's excellent.

A couple of just OK people, Harry Holmes and Imogen Harrison who get through to Boot Camp easily but may not be obvious candidates to go too much further.

Descendance are a mother and daughter pair. The daughter's great, very modern and good to watch. The mother is a waste of space. If the daughter can appear on her own she'll be around for a while.

Some woman called Ashley who prefers to be named Queen A is just sad and has an annoying personality and very wide cheeks.

The Clique call themselves The Click and are very camp. Louis likes them a lot. One is extremely tall, even taller, perhaps than Rylan Clark.

Talia from Essex is good, natural with a strong voice. I like her.

The show ends with Gary Barker and he also gets the 'Have you got another song?' treatment. Of course he has another song. It's on the list in front of you as they all submit a few that they'll perform if asked. His second song is the classic Change Is Gonna Come and he has a great earthy, bluesy sound but I still don't see him getting that far, despite the last spot for the weekend.

Monday, 11 September 2017

If Deanna wins, Syco should donate profits to Anguilla recovery

Week 2 Part 2 starts with us being told that it's the hottest day of the year which doesn't exactly bring a sense of how up-to-date we are in what's been happening in X Factor Land. For all we know the final 24 are already at Judges' Houses.

The producers still seem the same bunch despite my recommendations that some get sacked after the first few efforts at entertaining us and we get to watch some big girl in a yellow dress sing surprisingly badly. People are already looking at the TV guide to see what else they can watch.

Fortunately a girl from the once pretty successful Neon Jungle leads a new group called Cutkelvins in a great audition and I would expect them to have made the Judges' Houses as they're ready to go in many respects, modern and could appeal widely.

We get glimpses of someone called SJ Hill and Harrison Styles who seem pretty good but we can't really tell and you wonder what the point is in even showing the clips. Then someone called Daniel Quick gets a very long intro and occupies a complete chunk of programme between adverts. I don't see this guy being a great advert for the X Factor at all as the only people who would buy his stuff if he did make the final would be grannies at Christmas. He may be talented but more in terms of ballad singing in 1973 or thereabouts.

A group from the Philippines called JBK bring their Pino Pop to the UK. They can take it back again. You just get the feeling they are a sort of karaoke machine themselves. Odd. Another glimpse of a Spanish girl, Elyza, I think, who was OK and then some classic unfortunate phrases as a young lady from Anguilla appears. All week we have been hearing how Hurricane Irma has devastated the island and the extraordinary, massive destruction that has occurred there and in other parts of the area. So It's beautiful there and  I want to put Anguilla on the map have a distinctly hollow ring today. Quite sad, too, was her song title  I have nothing. Let us hope that the island communities can be rebuilt quickly and life restored to what certainly was a beautiful place and perhaps the adversity may tilt to Deanna's advantage. She is, genuinely, good and has the look of a potential winner already. Her voice is a bit tinny at the top of her range and I've heard that song performed better but she is good and could be a serious contender with the right material.

In complete contrast is Andy Holloway from Scunthorpe who appears at first with some very strange looking bloke called Scott who is quite scarily lanky and morose. Andy sings an original which is still well out of tune. Why show these people, especially spooky Scott?

Aidan Martin is the last of the night. A nice enough chap, back again after 10 years. He has written a very good song, packed with emotion and seems to reach to Sharon in particular with his emotional lyrics and expression. His voice is a bit nasal and his breathing needs some work but it'll be worth seeing him again.

The show then just closes as the competition is advertised. It was like there were no more auditions that could even vaguely be entertaining. That doesn't fill us with confidence. So far we have just about got enough for a reasonable final and that's all. Twelve live shows could be difficult without a few more.

I am really hoping they do something about the sad trestle tables next week and just make a bit more of an effort to make things look better on screen. They may have chosen to return to 'old style' room auditions but they could, at least, bring a bit more professionalism to the framing, furnishing and backgrounds in the room.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Drop the pilot. You feel sorry for the few good acts to have to go through this.

Week 2. Saturday's show is now up against Strictly Come Dancing and viewing figures fall off quite dramatically. Even those who did turn over at 8pm may not have stayed in one of the poorest shows I can remember.

There are some very badly presented tweets about last week's show displayed erratically on screen at the start. This is an extremely amateur job and looks like some last minute attempt to drum up some enthusiasm and counter the low figures. Just looks terrible. Anyway, once that cut and paste job is off the screen we find ourselves at Thorpe Park. I guess the owners of the amusement park may have offered to help make up for a predicted the loss of advertising revenue.

At least we get into the auditions fairly quickly again. The room and set generally look dire and half-finished and any attempt at branding has failed. This is not a good scene although I guess eventually the show will be in big glitzy centres and they're just saving as much cash as they can in the meantime.

First up is a pair from Greece called Pretty Boy Karma who seem more interested in selling their clothing line than singing. They do neither very well. All I can remember now is the massive 36 on one T shirt. Louis Walsh comes out with a classic line: You make JEdward sound like Simon & Garfunkel. Brilliant!

Talia Deane is better. She works at an airport in a VIP service area and she has worked with both Sharon and Nicole, neither of whom seem to remember her at all. She's all enthusiastic about how nice they were and how one or the other had encouraged her to do this and one or the other had a selfie taken with her and you feel a bit sad that no-one is that bothered. She does, though, do a great job with I Put A Spell On You and she is one I'd like to see get further.

Then we get Leah. She waves her hands a lot. Drew Wedlake who busks in his spare time and sounds a bit like yet another average James Arthur. Then New Dynamix, who probably will have to change their name as they may want us to emphasise the second syllable but most will choose the first and that sounds like some sort of breakfast cereal. They are a vaguely fun group of five that I don't see going that far.

Kevin Day White, on the other hand, is one of the reasons for watching the show. A musician from Paris who came over to London a year or so back to try and find some success may just have done so. A great voice, reminds me a bit of Gregory Porter but not as annoying. He sings It's A Man's World which is all familiar stuff but classy nonetheless. Plays a cool guitar too. I love this guy but do wonder whether he is 2017 or just someone we might have bought in 2007?

You'll see a lot more of him, for sure.

We see far, far too much, though of Nathan Sailsman. The producers must have been really short of entertaining auditions as he gets a whole load of time and really does not do well. For some reason, possibly urged by the producers, the judges seem to have great difficulty making up their minds. We've seem them put complete rubbish through in an instant and now they're 'umm'-ing and 'ah'-ing about this chap who, whilst pleasant enough, is not going to go far even if they push him.

Topher Balne, Sami Shepherd, Izzy Price, Nathan again come and go. Not worth writing about. Nor are some attempt to make something of a scary train ride the judges had when we get bizarre acts Ginny lemon, Doctor Woof and Holy Penfield. All not at all memorable and just bad tv.

We end with Rebecca Grace who is not easy to watch with some of the expressions she makes but at least she can sing and has an early Adele feel about her. At least the show ends well but, seriously, after an hour we have just three people who may be worth watching again.

Not a good start. Perhaps Sunday will be better. Ideally with someone else at the helm producing this thing.

Monday, 4 September 2017

X Factor Series 14 begins. Simon looks rough but we do get full length songs.

The X Factor returns for Series 14. Fourteen years! That's quite an impressive run, with precious little change in the basic format, yet still seeming quite fresh this time.

One of the first sights is Dermot's trousers. He's putting on weight but seems to think he can manage with the same pairs as last year. Wrong.

I think I recognise one of the first people shown in the intro. Probably someone returning from a previous rejection. This intro, though, is mercifully short and within a matter of seconds rather than minutes we're into the audition area and the first audition is under way.

Rack Su (or something like that!) are a cool group of 21st Century style that'll go down well with the kids. I didn't like the rather staged switch of song at the very start of the show. But they get a decent length audition for the second track and that gets them very good reviews. Simon says "We haven't had a good group since Little Mix" which wouldn't be something Reggie & Bollie, 4th Impact or Five After Midnight would be too happy to hear but it's probably fair enough when you think about what's happened to them.

On the panel Simon is joined again by Louis, Nicole and Sharon - just like last year. Sharon and Louis do seem quite ancient now for this sort of thing and there isn't the edge to this show that it once had. You tend to feel that it may find a decent ballad singer, a possible temporary pop star or perhaps a significant future West End theatre star but that's about it. However, I have a feeling that the producers will be looking for a group this year, unless someone exceptional has come along.

Nicole is a great member of the panel and is the one that every chap, and even many girls, seem to be blown away by.

Sam Black does a great copy of Del Shannon's Runaround Sue. A nice guy but I wonder whether he can sing the range of commercial material needed.

Joanne Mason is the first obvious candidate put on screen for our amusement more than anything else. Luckily, that's the only one. Someone has taken notice of the comments about crap auditions being annoying.

Kayleigh has a great personality and she can sing. Nice voice - quite different. We may see more of her.

Jack Smith comes and goes. Another not so good one. Then we get 2 seconds of Ruanda or whatever her name might have been before Tony Russell comes along. He was there in 2007. An interesting performer. We've Got Issues certainly seemed to suit him although I'm not sure he's what people will be voting for in the Live Shows several weeks ahead.

A weird dancer called Elisangela shows us some extremely long legs. She can sort of sing but I doubt she'll be around for long. Jack & Joel do a brilliant mix of Ed Sheeran numbers. They're a talented pair. Odd but certainly talented.

Holly Tandy is 15 going on 35 in terms of how she performs and maturity when singing. She has a very difficult song and starts very nervously buts gets better as she goes and there's one of the first I'd say we could see again more than once.

Grace Davis is another who'll make it through Boot Camp. She seemed plain at first but sang a most impressive song she'd written herself. 1st Class talent in a good length audition of the whole song. That is so much better for us too.

Sunday continues along the same theme and pace. Now in Manchester, Alesha Dixon replaces Nicole on the panel.

Lloyd Macey has one of those traditional Welsh choir voices. His song is a big ballad and shows off his talents well. He's a bit boring, though, but it was good to get the whole song.

Jordan Rabjohn has a jolly number about Mexico that he wrote himself and it is seriously catchy! It sounds familiar and will probably turn out to be a combination of a few other tracks we already know. He's got an Olly Murs sort of feel. Great personality and good for TV.

Georgina Parton is GG and another good singer. She seems experienced too with strong control and good presence. She performs Rihanna's Love On The Brian which is not easy at all. She owned that. Sharon calls her 'fearless'. Impressed. Hope to see her again.

Now the scene moves to Edinburgh and we get ruddy bagpipes. I could have done without them. There are other things that Scotland is famous for. Alesha is still on the panel, replacing Sharon this time. The two younger girls get on well and make the panel feel slightly more exciting and more in tune with today.

Nicole Caldwell has sung in pubs and clubs but still seems very nervous. For Purple Rain she shows a rough edge to her voice and turns into a sort of rock chick. Very attractive and totally natural. That worked well on that song but I am not sure how well it would for some others she may have to tackle. I liked her and really hope to see more of her. Simon says that She is one of the special ones so I guess we shall.

Gaga Lord is a Filipino singer and you expect her to be disastrous but, actually, she's in tune and not so bad at all. She has a much deeper voice than we expect. A bit of a ballad singer and I don't think she'll go far unless Louis gets her category.

Shanaya Atkinson-Ford has a massive mop of black hair that you can't help noticing and it distracts one from her singing. After a weird start, though, she improves and you become more accustomed to her style. She's certainly different and deserves a place at Boot Camp.

That's the end of the first weekend and it has been a great relief to have had quite a few full length songs in the auditions and, apart fro the very first, no more of the Do you have another song? switches or lengthy stuff about their background, weeping mothers or babies. Precious few bad auditions too. Overall, not the most exciting show in the world - and I am not sure we saw more than one or two potential Live Show acts - so a modest, friendly and quite warm start to the series. It will not have brought them record-breaking audience figures but hopefully enough to last through to December!