It has no doubt come to the attention of many millions of British television viewers that The X Factor has commenced once again for another fall-winter regime of sifting through a bunch of hopeful singers, many of whom lack any actual talent, to find one potential artist who captures the essence of the music industry of today. This inevitably never happens, and in fact, at this point it seems as though you’re far better off not winning The X Factor as JLS have had far more success despite only achieving runner up status. The jury is still out on Matt Cardle, but One Direction have been trust in to our faces with such a intense marking strategy that it’s hard to suggest that they haven’t been the most talked about artists of the last season, edging slightly past Cher Lloyd’s snarl and Katie Waissel’s constant claims that she had found her true self yet again.
Way, way back in May, in my third blog ever, I suggested that after Cheryl Cole failed to make an impact in America, she should return to the British version. It’s now public knowledge that not only did Cheryl Cole not return but neither did Dannii Minogue, or Simon Cowell, with all three being replaced in the current series by Kelly Rowland, Tulisa Costostavlos and Gary Barlow. That’s quite the replacement line-up, and while Dannii might be missed because she was coming into her own within the last season and actually making some understandable criticisms, Cheryl Cole has found herself bettered. Even if she were to come back, would someone who has seemingly failed to adapt to an overseas market be accepted by the contestants? As far as the girls go, Kelly Rowland is much more internationally successful, and adds some flavour to the panel due to her experience not only in pop but within other genres such as Dilemma with Nelly. Cheryl Cole’s cameo in a Will.I.Am video no longer seems as relevant, and against Tulisa? Well, she’s younger by five years but the N-Dubz singer has a lot of experience and success. I think she will actually be invaluable to the contestants because she’s a young talented artist who can perform in solos or along with the boys, and knows how to mix her ballad singing with Dappy’s rap. At least with the younger contestants, she will be an excellent coach because she too has had a lot of success at a young age.
And what about Gary Barlow? Well, he’s Gary Bloody Barlow. He’s probably the biggest UK artist that they realistically could have gotten to replace Simon Cowell. There’s no doubt about his experience and his success, which outshines Louis Walsh, so it’s not really surprising that he got the top chair and inherited the Cowell lean. He’s also hilariously determined to find a high quality singer-songwriter. That’s not to say that the others don’t share a similar aim, but Louis has always favoured fun acts even if they lack a little talent, and both Tulisa and Kelly Rowland seem up for the laugh even if they know the act will probably be eliminated at the boot camp stage. Gary Barlow is a lot less soft, and said no to a lot of acts last night. He only said say yes to the only the most talented or those who showed potential. He can make jokes, but he seems deadly serious about the winner of this eight competition being the best so far.
It’s hard to really say if they’ve found a winner yet after only one set of auditions, but Janet Devlin from Northern Ireland clearly has the talent. Although, she certainly needs to pick her songs carefully. Last night’s audition was fantastic, but she’s also quite the little youtube sensation. You can listen to an Adele rendition here, and honestly, it’s not quite up to par. Then again, Adele has a fantastic voice. I’m not even a fan of her music but I can recognise that Adele has such a powerful voice that it’s really unfair to realistically expect Janet Devlin to match up so early in her career. She may have the potential to be as good, but she’ll probably just take some work. At least Miss Devlin came without a sob story, which is refreshing.
Speaking of the sob story, we have Kitty, a blonde diva who took to the stage, talking about highs and lows in her life, though never being specific and then proceeded to sit on the stage because it was something she’d always wanted to do in the Wembley Arena. I’d like to be a published author, but if you get me in a book store I’m not going to start signing books and pretending I’ve reached a position that I haven’t. It was awkward, and seemed to grate on the nerves of the judges as much as the audience. At least one cut away showed a young girl rolling her eyes at the antics, and rightfully so. I can certainly see her disappearing in boot camp because she’ll feel that she’s made it already, which just won’t slide with the judges. Perhaps with Louis but it’s unlikely he’ll get the girls category.
There were more hopefuls, but those two stood out the most. So far the two with the most potential are girls; one if she works on improving and the other if she can get her head out of the clouds for a minute and realise she still has some work to do. It’s interesting however to note that this year all the judges have group experience. Louis Walsh’s management of bands over the years is no secret, and you’d have to have lived under a rock to have missed Take That and Destiny’s Child. Rounding out the collective experience of the judges is Tulisa’s involvement in the edgier N-Dubz. Are they intentionally attempting to form a panel of judges geared towards finding a group that can actually win? Perhaps. However, if anyone should be the leader of the groups it should be Gary Barlow. He’d fit well with the men too, but there’s no denying that his major success has been as a part of Take That, and the groups would certainly benefit from his years of wisdom, especially on how to continue your group when one member attempts to go it alone, such as Robbie Williams once did.
For the category of girls it’s rather difficult. I’ve already said that Tulisa has the young success which will enable her to guide the girls to not only become strong recording artists but also handle the fame efficiently. However, it’s hard to deny that Kelly Rowland may actually be a better fit as far as being an international audience goes. Cheryl Cole has proven that she isn’t ready to be taken seriously as an American artist, but Kelly Rowland’s success is already proven both in America and Britain. She can teach them how to adapt, how to deal with competition from other women and how to collaborate with other artists. Rowland has a wealth of experience for the girls, and besides I think Tulisa would be better suited to a different category.
Boys. Sure, Gary Barlow and Louis Walsh both have the benefit of actually being men, but the boys have won for two years in a row and both times with female mentors, so obviously it’s of little benefit really. It might well be then that they’ll mix it up and give the boys to Louis Walsh for a change, but it’d probably be a mistake since Louis’s speciality lies firmly in the over-the-top, melodramatic pop music with a lot of razzle-dazzle and dance moves. The guys need Tulisa, and there’s no doubt she knows how to handle the boys, since N-dubz is made up entirely of her and two boys. She’ll know how they think, how they want to be perceived and what they’ll want to sing if they want to have an edge to drive the girls wild. Walsh’s routine would only be driving the girls away.
So that leaves Louis grounded with the over 28s again, which is unfortunate since most of them can’t dance the moves that Walsh thinks will put them over with the audience. Well, Goldie Cheung, the 50 year old Chinese Tai Chi Instructor could pull off the moves but she can’t really sing. Last year’s Wagner at least was skilled at European classical music, but Goldie’s abilities aren’t quite up to scratch. It is still early days, so perhaps Louis will find an over 28 year old to groom into the perfect show dog in some of the later auditions.
Effectively, that’s how I’d cut the groups and how the judges have come across after the first show. As I said, it’s difficult to pick any winners after just one night of auditions, especially when a lot of those auditioning were rather average. Of course, some have talent and potential, such as Janet and Kitty mentioned above. However, I can’t realistically say they’re certain winners yet, especially the latter who I doubt will even make it to the live shows (and of whom there has already been reports of a break down). There’s still a long way to go until we’ve got all the eggs in the basket and we can finally start counting, but I thoroughly enjoyed the dynamic of the new judges. I think the show needed the new panel to shake things up a bit and keep the UK version interesting. If something like this hadn’t been done, it might have seemed as though the US version was getting all the attention while the UK was left to flounder. That’s clearly not the case. We’ve got four talented judges with a range of experience and I’m honestly expecting this year’s winner to be really successful.
On one last note, if anyone is wondering about my thoughts about last Sunday’s Summerslam, I have to admit I didn’t see most of the undercard, but Christian verses Randy Orton was a lot better than expected and it’s a pity the feud isn’t continuing. John Cena verses CM Punk was good, and the mistake by Triple H was nice because it wasn’t as blatant or as intentional as everyone expected Triple H’s presence to be. Actually, grabbing both men at one point to roll them back in the ring was a nice touch. I’m not sure I agree with Kevin Nash as the interference, although Alberto Del Rio’s taking the opportunity to become Champion was expected. I’d have liked a cleaner finish and perhaps a longer title reign for CM Punk, but it’ll be interesting to pay attention to the WWE for the time being and see where things go from here.