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Best Performance: Abi Alton
Worst Performance: Andrea Magee (her performance isn’t on Youtube. Shocker.)
Alright, alright. I own up. I only got half of my predictions for the Final 12 right. But who knew Andrea Magee was going to pull out that bizarre end note? It was like she was trying to sing for Sharon’s dog, rather than anyone else.
First up were Sharon and the No-Hopes (formally known as the Over-25s.) Sharon’s guest judge was Robbie Williams, and the Over-25s deserve a round of applause for very convincingly pretending that they were actually excited about Robbie being there. First up was Sam Bailey, who sang ‘I Have Nothing’ by Whitney Houston. Despite being vastly inferior to other performances of this song from previous series like (this and this and this) of The X Factor, Sharon enjoyed it enough to put Sam through to the lives. Lovely. My TV actually froze during Sam’s VT, leaving me with this lovely screenshot which I tweeted and Sam herself replied with ‘pmsl x’. Super.
Next up was Lorna Simpson singing If I Were A Boy. I don’t have much to say about this one. The vocals were on point. This performance was nothing compared to her amazing one at Boot Camp. She has absolutely no USP, and will probably be knocked out in the first few weeks of the live shows, at which point Sharon will storm out of the studio for not understanding why Lorna’s getting no votes. It’s because Lorna’s dull. She’s boring. Moving on.
Third up was Shelley Smith, authentic Bristolian and pretend natural blonde. Because of the accentual charm, and some pretty fine solo dirty dancing, Shelley was eventually sent through. Sharon thought she had too many clichéd habits, which I agree with. So if Shelley gets these sorted out, she may hang around until week five or so of the live shows. You know, if she’s lucky.
Next were the failures, Joseph Whelan, Zoe Devlin and Andrea Magee, the only recognisable Over-25s. They were also the three that looked youngest, so would probably have done better in the live shows. I disagree with all of Sharon’s choices. I think Zoe and Andrea probably had the best voices, and Joseph was so memorable from last year that he’d definitely do relatively well in the lives. Andrea’s final note, I admit, was entirely bizarre. She played the flute (and very well too) to introduce one of the best versions of ‘High and Dry’ I’ve ever heard (excluding the end note…) But this was enough for Sharon to chuck her out. Joseph was told by Robbie to ‘bang it out’. He didn’t bang ‘it’ out. I was very disappointed. Even his sob story (his son) didn’t help him through. Oh well. Here’s to next year.
A producer of the show thought it was a good idea for Louis Walsh to take six boys under the age of 25 into his house in Saint Tropez. After letting the boys frolic topless on the beach, Louis whacked out some truly awful guest judges – Shane Filan from Westlife, Nicole Appleton of All Saints and Sinitta of leafy lingerie fame. First up was unsanitary student Luke Friend. He managed to sing without a guitar for once, which was a shock. He sang roughly in tune, which was more than enough to beat off the other boys (no innuendo intended) and he was sent through to the live shows.
Second up was chiselled demi-God Sam Callahan. His performance was abysmal. He was flat, his voice was weak and croaky, and he can’t hold a note to save his life. But when his body looks like this, who really cares? Louis saw his potential (to get topless during the live shows, presumably) and sent him through.
Oldest of the boys Paul Akister was next. Paul undoubtedly had the best voice of all the boys, but was overweight and shy, which means he got sent home despite singing ‘Last Request’ really fucking well. Paul well summarised The X Factor and said “You need to look like the real deal. I look at myself and I don’t think that.” Let’s all take a moment to despair over the shoddy state of the music industry and ‘talent shows’ today.
Infuriating teen arsewipe Giles Potter performed James Blunt’s big number one hit ‘You’re Beautiful’, and made it sound like an enormous pile of number two. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again – the boy can’t sing. He didn’t hold any notes, he missed half of them because his lower end range couldn’t reach it, and well, he was wearing really short shorts. (Alright, so I’m just jealous that my legs can’t pull those off. BUT STILL.) He was sent home. Good.
Ryan Mathie quit his job to perform at Judges’ Houses, which sucks for him, because he sang a really, really bland version of ‘Just Give Me A Reason’ and was sent home. At least he wasn’t playing a guitar this time.
Last up was Nicholas MacDonald. I really, really guiltily fancy Nicholas. It might be the Scottish accent, it might be the fact that he can sing… I really don’t know. I just pray to god that he’s over 18. Anyway. He sang ‘If You’re Not The One’ by Daniel Bedingfield, which is a dodgy song at the best of times. He, however, really did it justice. Even those bizarre high notes. At the end Nicholas said “I’ve put so much on the line for this”. Given that he’s a student, I think it was a bit of an exaggeration. But he’s still sweet. He was sent through.
(Update: He’s 16. Shit.)
And now, the good categories – the groups and the girls. At the moment, I’m thinking one of these will win. Gary took the groups to NYC and brought out one of the rare X Factor successes Olly Murs as his guest judge. First up were the artists formerly known as Kingsland. They’re now ‘Kingsland Road’, due to some legal issue, or something. They did a good harmonised version of ‘Dance With Me Tonight’, which obviously appealed to Olly. They’re all fit and a bit One Direction/Union J-like, so they got through.
Brick City came next, who were previously my favourite group. Their performance was a little weak this time. It’s nice to have a mix of female and male vocals, but the performance was just a bit beige, despite how technically good their voices are. They were sent home.
Rough Copy came back as a duo. Band member ‘Kaz’ had ongoing Visa issues and so couldn’t go to Judges’ Houses. ‘#PrayForKaz’. Rough Copy, however, were so good even as a duo, that Gary decided to put them through to the live shows. They sang ‘Boyfriend’ by Justin Bieber, and threw in the words ‘swag swag’. I don’t know how I still enjoyed it after that. The harmonies were good. That must have been it.
Next up were Xyra, the token girlband. They did what I thought was a brilliant version of ‘In The Air Tonight’ by Phil Collins. It was like The Saturdays with talent. Good harmonies, good style, and they didn’t prostitute themselves during the performance. They were soon followed by Code 4 (who should probably be called Code 3, seeing as they lost a member at Boot Camp.) This time their breakdancing didn’t help them. They sang a good version of ‘Superstition’ by Stevie Wonder, but were still sent home.
Finally were the token X Factor bred group (see One Direction and Little Mix for other examples) who named themselves ‘Miss Dynamix’. Terrible group name, but good vocals. A bit like the original Sugababes in sound. They were sent through to the live shows.
Finally came the girls in Antigua, and first up was X Factor leech Melanie McCabe. I stupidly predicted that Melanie would get through to the live shows (as I didn’t think anyone would be so cruel to invite her to the Judges’ Houses four times just to send her home again.) Looking on the bright side, she’s pilfered a fair few free holidays off Simon Cowell. She sang a technically very good version of ‘Run’ to Nicole and her guest mentor Mary J Blige (!!!) but she’s just a bit plain and was sent home. She’ll probably be a Wildcard, if they do Wildcards this year.
Secondly came bakery worker Hannah Barrett. She started crying even before she performed, which seemed to be a good tactic because she made it through after a good ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’. A change did indeed come. A judge sent through a decent act to the live shows.
Next was Tamera Foster. For me, this girl has the technically best vocal in the competition. She’s not particularly noticeable (yet), but she’s sixteen, gorgeous, talented, and has a serious chance of winning the show. Unless she breaks one of the ‘Golden Rules’ and does crack or something, in which case she’ll be shunned by the Daily Mail and forced into reclusion forever. Anyway. She got through.
Jade Richards came next. She’s the Adele-ish one. Adele-ish in the way that she’s overweight and sings like she’s in dire need of some Prozac. She performed quite well, but after her second experience at Judges’ Houses, was sent home again.
Next to perform was 18 year old Abi Alton. Abi is one of my favourites. She’s sort of like Birdy. I love her because she plays her own instruments, writes her own music and has a really recognisable style (both physically and vocally.) I just hope she retains that during the live shows, and in the last few weeks, cracks out a BANGING pop performance like Diana Vickers did when she performed ‘Girlfriend’ by Avril Lavigne. She needs to prove she’s more versatile, and spunky.
Finally came Relley Clarke. She ditched the Cruella De Vil ‘do (thank GOD) for a nice dip-dye. Her performance was in tune, but again, she wears a crown of beige. She’s got a powerful voice but no personality in her performance whatsoever. She was sent home.
Bring on the live shows.