Monday, 27 November 2017

Live Shows Week 5: the three finalists are revealed

Six acts will become just three this weekend as X Factor rushes in a most ungainly way towards its end. It is almost as if the producers really don't want to be here any longer. Anything to cut down the number of days' performance fees for the panel and various acts and musicians. Next years maybe they'll negotiate fixed fees with everyone and then it doesn't matter how long the series lasts and we can a somewhat less desperate ending.

What makes this crazy truncation so annoying is the sheer quality this year of the contestants we have at this stage. Any one of the six could make it. I can imagine any one of them, even Matt, standing there with the storm of silver snow swirling around as he struggles with the final few lines of the winner's single.

Matt is, though, by quite a long way the least likely to survive of the six but in another year he would have made the final. There is such talent, and a big spread as to the people that talent might appeal to, that it is difficult to know who will win. It is all down to who is watching the programme and who amongst them can be bothered to vote. All of the acts can be regarded as winners in the sense that they'll get a contract, I'm pretty sure, from SYCO and a lot of promotion next year to get them on their way. Those that don't actually take the prize are still going to get lots of good opportunities to make records and get known amongst an audience that doesn't watch X Factor.

The Cutkelvins

Another new song. They seem to be coming alive now. Always seeming to take second place to Rak-Su but nevertheless coming out with great performances. This one does seem a little messier than some they have done before but it is still very good work. With a standing ovation from all four judges they must be satisfied at a good job done.

One of my favourite tracks as well as his, Gimme Shelter, is an unusual song to hear on X Factor. It could be a good move as he must know that he is one of the most vulnerable to leaving now. Unfortunately, it all starts far too weakly and doesn't have the urgency that the song needs. Then he rushes far too quickly into the familiar chorus, probably constrained by some 2 minute rule for the whole thing. Much depends on the backing on this track and here it is good but unexceptional and the drums are just plain annoying. Good in parts but I suspect that's the end of Matt's run.

Not an original tonight but David Bowie's Life On Mars. I have a vision of this girl writing for other artists and being extremely successful in that field. She is brilliant as a writer and can also sing very well and express her lyrics but I am not sure how well she'll go down in public after the initial gloss has worn off. It's a nice version of the Bowie song and certainly gets attention and she deserved the Standing ovation that she also gets.

I thought this was another original but it seems that it wasn't. Sweet Female Attitude is not a track I'm familiar with but it suits them and they present their usual extremely professional performance. The track lacks something, though, and i don't think it's up to their previous standards but seems pretty popular still with the audience who love them. I am sure they remain favourites to win the whole thing and they'll take some beating.

It is strange to see him as the #1 boy this year. He does seem out of place too. There is some odd booing as Louis announces that Lloyd has been unwell and had serious voice troubles. But he will still perform. I don't know what the audience reaction was all about at all. Perhaps I missed something else. Anyway, Lloyd's first line shows how much he is suffering but you have to admire how he strives to complete the performance and really ends up doing pretty damn well. He is good at George Michael numbers and that helps him have appeal to potential voters. There is much appreciation for what he does and that could make a difference to whether he or Matt stay.

Kevin does Come Together, the Beatles' classic. He has the look and sound of a real rock star. A super performance - all spot-on and in tune, of course. I do wonder quite what the public will make of this, though. Quite a change from his previous performances but really, really good. I think this chap is the real star of the series. I would like to see him win. Really hope he makes it through.

Sure enough, in the first vote it is Matt who makes 6th place.

Dermot tells us that two will go on Sunday. That seems to be the first that most people know about that.

Part 2

In the second part of the weekend's show on Sunday it is now a serious matter of five acts being cut to three after just a single track. I think this is mad but that's the way it seems to have to be.

He does a cover of Coldplay's Fix You. Beautifully sung but is this 2017-8 material or an oldies collection for mums at Christmas? I admire this chap's abilities but I do believe that this is as far as he goes.

They reprise I'm Feeling You', their own number which looks like it will turn into a big hit for them. They are certainly current and a complete contrast to Lloyd. On past votes I imagine that they'll get through with no problem.

The Cutkelvins

Show Me Love is not that well-known but they put on a super performance. Very professional and they deserve to do well. Relaxed, confident but I just feel they won't get enough votes with only three going through. If they were to make it then it would be in place of Grace or Kevin, however, which just isn't going to happen.


He is playing the Jimi Hendrix track Voodoo Chile. Wow. A marvellous performance. Really, really impressive and just... wow! But... despite that being one of the best ever performances on X Factor in all time will the people who watch and vote like it as much as I do? It actually put both groups in the shade, strangely, as one guy totally took over the show for a couple of minutes.


Unbelievably, this girl comes out with another original song. Surely that has to be a big, big risk at this stage, especially with Rak-Su retreating to known territory of a tried and tested own song. Wolves is quite different from her previous stuff and is excellent and, as always, well-written. Much faster and quite commercial too, showing Grace as more of a performer than just the writer who sings her own songs. It may not have the endearing quality that her previous sadder songs have had but it is very good, none the less. The question is: is that enough? She needs to edge out Lloyd or the Cutkelvins to reach the final.

I think she will and predict the final three as:

Rak-Su | Grace | Kevin

I got that right. So next week it will all be over.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Live Shows: Week 4

The whole concept of reducing 10 down to 6 at this stage seems crazy. Just as acts are beginning to settle and those new to the game are beginning to compete on more even terms with those who are quite at home on the stage, their time is called.

The producers call this a Quarter Final Weekend, for waht that's worth.

The winner this weekend will get a decent prize: sessions with Ali Tamposi who, Simon tells us, wrote the current chart #1 and #2. Must be a SYCO bird and someone Simon Cowell can persuade to do this. Whoever wins should get a nice trip to the States with time with the writing team and is guaranteed a single which may well be as good if not better than whatevr the winner of the series may get.

Saturday night and it's the Boys v the Groups.


A likeable chap for sure. Touch of the Olly Murs. A nice, simple performance but he must be vulnerable if two are to go tonight, nor did he get the best of reviews.

Sean & Conor Price

Another likeable act but also, in my view, likely to be vulnerable. They're more modern than Sam and this was an interesting and well thought-out performance which ought to have quite a good impact this week. That may save them, depending on what the others come up with. They probably have done about as much as they could.

The Cutkelvins

They're trying very hard this time but I am not at all sure about the track which no one will know or necessarily warm to quickly. It's their own original and that's pretty risky at this stage. It was brave and, in places, impressive and the girl excelled as usual but will the public recognise all that?


Pretty boring. Solid enough but very forgettable. Nothing much to say about that but he's topped the bill before and so I shall assume he will be safe.


A super original number. Really good performance too and that has to see them safely through for another week, no problem,

So, cutting two of these is crazy but that's what has been decided in this super short series.

I would rank them: Boys: Lloyd | Sam, Groups: Rak-Su | Sean & Conor Price | The Cutkelvins with, possibly both guys going.

I worry for the Cutkelvins in this match but they do make it with Rak-Su and Lloyd. Farewell Sam and Sean & Conor Price.

Now, Sunday and the Girls and Overs. Another five to become three. Harsh.


Her personality shines through and she is developing fast. Impressed last week and again this week. Despite looking like Mickey mouse, she had a smart set and showed a good, relevant, youthful image. Unfortunately she never starts well, wobbling on lower notes in particular and was seriously off key often during the track. That spoilt an otherwise good try. I can see her getting votes, though, for the overall show.


In complete contrast, we get Whitney's classic I Will Always Love You in slowed and earthy style. Fabulous, just fabulous. Another chart entry right there. This guy must be one of the potential winners.


A really earthy performance by this chap too who is clearly trying to match Kevin somehow, anyhow. I thought he would be vulnerable tonight but that was very professional and the notes were spot-on. Other than being a bit old-fashioned I can't see a good reason for him going tonight.


After two excellent Overs she must be wondering that she could easily be one of the two girls to go tonight. Love Me Harder was the song. A bad choice. Superb singing as always with this girl but the song was just not one she should have attempted. Maybe it was an attempt to make her 'current'. She simply does not connect enough with people and, despite being one of the best actual voices tonight, I think she is going home after that. Pity.


Another good, damn good original track. Commercial too and you have to admire this girl's talent. Good singing too and she ought to be the girl who survives, providing recent events outwith the show do not have an adverse effect with voters.

We'll see soon enough.

That's it.

My ranking:
Pretty obvious really:
Overs: 1 Kevin | 2 Matt
Girls 1 Grace | 2 Rae-Elle | 3 Holly

Yes and Grace and Rak-Su are the winners, battling for the writing prize. Rak-Su win that, after three goes that seems pretty fair and was probably made that way.

Holly and Rae-Elle leave, as I had rather suspected. I think Matt was lucky.

Next week all acts will be competing with each other - a much better idea, I think. I worry that another two may go, however.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Live Shows: Week 3 Wham Sam survives

George Michael week. That should suit some more than others.


A very professional performance once more but I found it a bit 'thin'. Good but not brilliant or particularly memorable. Although they're tipped as favourites to win, this is not their week to excel but they'll be hoping one of the other groups fails.


Careless Whisper as you probably haven't heard it before and may not want to hear it again. Bad start. This was really not very good. As things move along he does get more of a grip on the track and it ends in the 'OK' range but that's about it. Very average and certainly not inspiring. Sharon raves about it but I have no idea why.

Jack & Joel

They should do well as they have a definite Wham! look and sound. A great copy of Edge of Heaven. One of the pair has a great voice and sounds just like a young George Michael too. However, I suspect that voters will want something more original. For all that it was far more entertaining than the previous two acts.

The Cutkelvins

I am always impressed by this group. The girl is fabulous and possibly one of the best performers of the series this year. They do Killer / Papa Was a Rolling Stone and it's excellent. Best of the night so far by a long way.

Sean & Conor Price

They do Freedom. They were vulnerable last week but survived and made a better effort of things this week. Much more professional and confident. It's a good choice and they showed off their harmony skills well but made some mistakes in the break part and the performance, as so often has happened, fell apart. They need either more practice or less nerves or both. The crowd, however, seem great fans and they do have a lot of screen appeal so may survive.


Fast Love. Sitting at a piano this week, Kevin gives us a very cool version of this track. Really very nice and, as the song progresses, you realise that this is the performance of the night by a mile and here is a serious contender for the whole thing. Amazingly good.

My ratings:

Overs: 1 Kevin | 2 Matt
Groups: 1 Cutkelvins | 2 Jack & Joel | 3 Rak-Su | 4 Sean & Conor Price

Winner: Kevin
Going home: Matt

Matt survives and it's Jack & Joel who go. Fair enough. They were doing well but were not going much further.

Now it's the Girls v Boys


Praying For Time. You can always rely on this girl to sing well from the very start. Someone said that she needed to get the meaning of the songs across and this week she did try. But I would still put her on the West End stage and not on Chart albums. She would do extremely well and be very popular too in productions but, as a record artist, I don't think much would happen for her at all.
She tries hard and it is all very 'big' but there isn't a great deal to remember. She's vulnerable, I feel.


I'm Your Man Great song. Hoping to see this guy do well. We know that Lloyd will croon away and get all the grannies' votes so this is an important week for Sam to get his style across and show how he can be relevant and sell stuff too.
He doesn't do that well, though. It was another 'OK' performance but it lacked something. Just a bit bland. Good in some ways and they guy stays in tune and clearly enjoys himself. No problems performance wise but just, well a bit grey. He could be in trouble this week after all.


There have been several rumours that she has been difficult to manage and whether having an affair in the house with Matt has helped or hindered her I don't know. Her shining star from the first two weeks does seem to have fallen rather so she needs to rescue what was a leading position.

This was a powerful performance combined with a lot of genuine vulnerability and emotion. Very good. That should see her through despite whatever has been going on. She has 'star quality' which is, indeed, the 'X Factor'. Interesting comments. 'No compromise' says Louis. 'You've had a hard week' from Sharon and 'Tough week' from Dermot. To viewers not connected to social media of the red top newspapers that will have meant little.


Yet another wobbly start from this girl. She really should pick tracks, or change them so she can start with confidence. The song is a lot older than she is in many ways but once she gets under way this is quite impressive. Her voice is remarkable this week and the song just seems to suit her completely. I didn't recognise the track at all and it was not easy by the sound of it. She made a brave move there and finished with a most stunning performance that may have taken everyone by surprise. This was not expected to be a good week for the little girl. Instead it has become a possible milestone on her way.


A Different Corner
Nice choice of track and I have to say that this was a superb performance, a very, very classy performance of this song. It had Sharon genuinely in tears. Whilst Lloyd is still not X Factor material in my view but someone who could fill a stage production or do serious stuff somewhere, I was impressed by this and he will certainly fly through to next week.


Here is another superb singer who hasn't yet really identified with the show or the public. She does Goodbye, another very difficult song but she produces sheer quality from the first note. I don't know how many of the voters will recognise this quality or the song, though. I hope enough do to give her a chance to find herself. I feel she may only get one more chance but, get it right and she could triumph.

My ratings:
Boys: 1 Lloyd | 2 Sam
Girls: 1 Rai-Elle | 2 Holly | 3 Grace | 4 Alisah

Winner: Lloyd
Going home : Alisah

I get those right.

The set for the 'Prize Fight' is fabulous for Kevin. Another great performance. But so too is Lloyd once more, possibly even better than a short while ago.

Lloyd wins the 'fight'. I would have given it to Kevin but, to be fair, he has already won a 'prize' so this is OK, apart from it being opening for Little Mix!! Not so sure how that will work but I'm sure he'll put on a flawless performance. Odd but there you go.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Live Shows: Week 2

We start with the Groups and the Boys categories.

The prize for this weekend is announced as time with a writing team who have been responsible for a huge number of successes for, amongst others, Madonna, Aria Grande and 1 Direction. This is quite impressive and relevant too.

The producers still seem to think it is a good idea to have a theme each week, regardless of the fact that it will simply not suit some people at all, but I guess they'll cope. This time it's Latino music which has certainly begun to take the charts by storm of late.

Jack & Joel

SYCO's Camilla Cabello, once of Fifth Harmony, who I raved about when they were on X Factor USA some time ago, is at Number 1 at the time of writing and so choosing that track is a stroke of genius by the clever lads Jack & Joel who are first up.

I have to say that I was not expecting this duo to be good but one of them is a really good singer and they can actually pit on a really entertaining performance. I think having brains also helps. A Spanish rap gets included too, ticking all the boxes. They remind me for a moment of Wham.

Simon suggests that the acts should try to 'make a record' each week which is pretty good advice. We learn that Grace Davies was at #2 in downloads.

This weekend we get extremely long intros before each track. I do hope they don't get ever longer as the number of contestants reduces.


He chooses Get Lucky. The backing track does most of the work in his performance. No show of his range but he does seem reasonably professional. Not bad, but not great.

Sean & Conor Price

they like to put their own spin on a well-known song. But this time they try to do something with Cheap Thrills which didn't work for me. A bit awkward, I felt but, oddly, they seem to get a huge crowd response.

They did say themselves that they had wanted to strip the song back and that they felt it was over-produced. Fair enough.


a good week for this fellow. He does Hero and it's quite formal rather than sexy. All very good, solid stuff but simply not current or particularly imaginative.

The Cutkelvins

They choose a Little Mix track and it's nice and very current. Quite a contrast to Lloyd and really streets better than anyone else so far. Really well-performed. Maybe not their best but it works well. They fill the stage and deserve to get through.


Yet another of their own songs! Amazing. This is also a genuine Latino number too. The crowd go mad for these boys. They're looking like winners at the moment.


Difficult to follow that but Sam does well, choosing La Bamba which suits him down to the ground. Coupling it with Twist & Shout he produces a really fun performance and looks confident on the stage.

My rating:

Boys: 1 Sam | 2 Lloyd | 3 Leon

Groups: 1 Rak-Su | 2 Jack & Joel | 3 The Cutkelvins | 4 Sean & Conor price

I reckon Leon will be going home and Rak-Su will 'win' the night. Got that right!

Now it's the Girls and the Overs.


That was a reasonable performance of a cover. Good singing but she was not the stand-out of quality as before. Not at all bad and I hope she does get through. Judging by her popularity from last week, I imagine she should be safe.

Trace Leanne

Although she is very confident on stage this didn't work. A poor song choice that is not well-known and, whilst suiting her style, may not appeal much to voters other than her core supporters. The audience response seems pretty good, though, so maybe that sounded better in the arena than on the TV.


A little live wire and she seems much more at home with this theme than the two before. Good Spanish too. She does seem off-key for quite a while which is annoying and a pity because if she chose a different key or simply stayed in the same one it would have been pretty brilliant. She is an excellent performer.


The recent No. 1 that she chooses does suit her well although she seems to be thinking more about the words and she certainly doesn't come across as sexy as the song intends. At times she seemed a bit desperate too and she may suffer this week as a result. She looks nice and has a super voice but this was not a good theme for her.


Totally natural, this guy, with a lovely Santana style guitar spot too. He's good, very good. It's a superb rendition of the track. A bit dated, I suppose, but quality and a half. He gets a standing ovation from all four judges. That was well-deserved and says a lot.


Lots of energy and you have to admire the work that this girl puts into her songs and rehearsal. She lets herself go on this and the track is even quite sexy in places but it does seem like she is putting on an act, trying a bit too hard and just not natural. It's OK but I am not sure about where she's going in this competition.


the final act is Matt with his own version of La Vida Loca. He even adds a rap to it and it is all on a very strange set - just a box that opens with dancers everywhere and then he's back in a box again. That was weird but a fairly good performance anyway.

My rating:

Girls: 1 Rae-Elle | 2 Grace | 3 Holly | 4 Alisah
Overs: 1 Kevin | 2 Tracy | 3 Matt

I can see Matt going home and Kevin being the winner.

I'm right about Kevin, who also goes on to win the prize, with poor old Rack-Su missing out twice now.

I'm wrong about Matt, though, as it is Tracy who goes home.