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Sharon: “I think visually it’s messy. You doing your Michael Jackson thrusts doesn’t go with Lily Allen over here.” *Points to male contestant in a hat*
Nicole: “Mr. Pelvis over there – it’s like your pelvis is singing, and it’s a lot of thrustations.”
Louis: “You are the two most deluded people I’ve heard all day”. (Note that, as of 2009, Louis has managed Jedward)
Emeli Sandé Alarms: 0 (HALLELUJAH)
Best Auditionee: Souli Roots.
Worst Auditionee: Ryan and Liddia.
Saturday – The Room
X Factor kicked off in London this week, hoping to showcase the best our capital has to offer. First up were Kingsland, a plague of quiffs with a bit of a hipster One Direction vibe about them. Their fan base is already pretty established, and they were even trending before the show started. I have absolutely no doubt they’ll make the live shows, given A) the quality of their harmonies on first audition and B) the quality of each guy’s face. I can confirm that each member of the band was at least a 7/10. Not bad going. They sang ‘Don’t You Worry Child’, which seems to be the song of the series so far. Despite some seriously dodgy hip thrusting towards Nicole, and some criticism from Sharon about their style (which was apparently a mixture of Michael Jackson and Lily Allen-chic), Kingsland got through safely. Louis said he enjoyed that they weren’t old and clichéd. I wish I could say the same about Louis.
A pretty amazing group were next. Brick City so didn’t get the airtime they deserved. There hasn’t been a decent mixed-sex group on the show since Same Difference (sort of), and they sang a bloody brilliant a cappella version of Locked Out Of Heaven, which was pretty fresh. The only criticism was from Sharon, saying they were ‘too slick’, but I reckon she was just grasping at straws for that one. A vocal harmony R&B style group would be so good to have in the live shows, among all the acoustic guitary teenagers and belting women. And they’re nowhere NEAR as annoying as JLS were.
Failed 2012 contestants Rough Copy came back dressed like Will Smith in various seasons of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and sang an alright cover of Do It Like A Dude. Noted music connoisseur Rio Ferdinand also tweeted about these fellows, backing them for the live shows. My big issue is that one of them ended the audition by singing ‘X Factor two-thousand-and-thirteeeEEeeEEEeeewoooahhh’. Don’t you hate it when acts feel the need to belt out the title of the programme? Do they think we’ve forgotten what we’re watching? Don’t they think the massive fuckoff red ‘X’ plastered everywhere gives us some sort of hint? Anyway. They went through.
Tangoed ‘The Only Way Is Essex’ extras Ryan and Liddia (sic) sang their way into The Room (a classic mistake for any serious contestant), dedicating individual lines in their own song to each of the judges, ending with Ryan giving Louis his number. My bets are that they’ll be engaged within a month. They droned out an appalling version of Shooting Star by Ashanti. I personally took to shoving an electric drill through my eardrums. It sounded more pleasant that way. Pre-audition, Ryan said “I just want to be somebody”. Which is a rather ironic and very correct statement. Nicole even coined the word ‘shamazeless’ to describe their performance, also stating: “I could go and party or something with y’all. …I don’t know if I’d do that, actually…” – Liddia and Ryan did not get through.
Infuriating tween Giles Potter sang a hideously pitchy version of Price Tag. He’s just one of those contestants with a bit of an average voice who looks like he was stripped naked, covered in glue and puked on by a rather dingy branch of Topman. You know, like One Direction all the way through the live shows. He’s very viewer-friendly. Very non-offensive. There is a rather entertaining moment in his audition where there’s a break in the backing track and he tries to join in with a clap, and gets the timing completely wrong. Giles, sadly, got through. I reckon he’ll make it to Judges’ Houses at the furthest.
Terracotta teenager Lydia Lucy sang ‘Mamma Knows Best’ by Jessie J, which is such an annoying audition song. So many girls have auditioned with that over the past couple of years. Her voice, however, was quite good. It was a bit Cher Lloyd-y, when Cher Lloyd had her good moments. (They do exist, I promise.) She was soon followed by incomprehensible Scot Nicholas McDonald who auditioned “because he was rubbish at school”. Ah, the education system succeeds once again. He did a frustratingly tuneful version of You Raise Me Up, and got through.
Stephanie Woods returned from 2007, where she made it to Judge’s Houses at fourteen. If she made it that far that young, my bets would be on her making the live shows *if* she steps up her game. Her vocal was good, fairly controlled, but a little bland. A bit like Sophie Habibis. Remember her? No, exactly. Aspiring Jay-Z and Kanye West collaborator ‘J-Koda’ was up next. His audition consisted of a seizure-like flail along to some dubstep music, which he preceded with a shout of ‘HERE WE GO! DUBSTEP!’ While this is arguably showcasing more talent than Jedward ever did, J-Koda was sadly sent home.
The breakout star of the series so far Souli Roots came next, singing her own composition about the recession. She claimed to be a professional singer-songwriter who wrote three or four songs per day. This roughly translates as “the recession has made me redundant”. The song itself was a work of art, comparing only to that of Shakespeare. “Three pounds for a slice of cheesecake, I just can’t afford it, afford it, afford it”. Due to her infectious enthusiasm, flawless vocals and ineffable spirit, Souli was obviously put through to round two.
Finally were bus driver James McDonald and near-extinct ‘90s boyband Next of Kin. James had a fairly good voice, and sang ‘Lately’ by Stevie Wonder which was quite nice. But James doesn’t look like your average popstar, nor is his preferred style very appealing in the current UK music scene, so James will soon be a goner. Next of Kin had a fantastic set of harmonies, I thought, especially as the song was their own composition. But they seemed to be instantly disliked on Twitter. I have no doubt they’ll make Judges’ Houses at least.
Sunday – The Arena
Ready-made superstar Souli Roots was up first, this time singing (and I use the term ‘singing’ loosely) a cover of Bob Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds’. Clad in laddered tights and a sequin waistcoat, Souli was ready to kick arse. She said to the audience “I just want you to receive me”, which is also the anthem among my dickhead ex-boyfriends. The audition was effortless, on point, and downright beautiful. Souli got through to boot camp.
Lydia “I’ll have you know this is olive skin” Lucy returned singing a strangely good version of The Way You Make Me Feel. The Judges on first audition said she’d be better off in a girlband. She was determined to prove them wrong, and that she did. She completely worked the stage, did a complete rework of a classic song, and pretty much nailed it. Rough Copy stormed their way through the back of the auditorium to Eye of the Tiger. With this tension-increasing anthem played, one would think they were about to belt out an intense R&B power-ballad, and so they continued to sing… Little Things by One Direction. Their harmonies were terribly good, which was a shame, given all the terrible choices in their audition. The judges felt they totally walked it, and sent them through to boot camp.
Stephanie Woods gave us the first “let’s hear a second song” of the series, after singing an appalling rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘I Drove All Night’. She followed this up with ‘Songbird’ by Fleetwood Mac; an absolutely amazing and failsafe song. She did this relatively well. Or at least I think she did. Let’s face it – anything would have sounded good after that Celine Dion disaster. First Gary said she was too dated, when she sang a song from 1989, but decided she was perfectly modern when she sang a 1977 ballad. She got through.
Kingsland returned next, revealing that 3/5ths of the band were now unemployed due to intense X Factor practise. This decision seemed to pay off, because they did quite a good harmonised version of Treasure by Bruno Mars, with some choreography which I can’t decide if it was cringeworthy or genius. For me, they really stepped it up, so fair play to them. Family band Next Of Kin followed, being branded ‘absolutely seamless’ by Gary after singing a Lonestar ballad. Louis said “there’s a market for a group like that” which I disagree with. Next Of Kin failed as a boyband in the nineties – who’s to say they won’t fail in the twenteenies? Their country vibe makes them an unattractive candidate for the modern pop charts, so I can’t imagine they’d ever be successful in the UK. America, perhaps. But not here.
Finally came Nicolas McDonald singing ‘A Thousand Years’ by Christina Perri, which I thought was a brilliant song choice. It’s not clichéd, it’s not overplayed, and at its basis, it’s a brilliant fucking song. He seemed a bit simple when he lolloped onstage, but his voice was pretty good, especially for a sixteen year old kid. My main criticism was his boring performance. There was nothing particularly exciting – time will tell whether he can work the live stage or not.