X-amined

After two sets of auditions, boot camp and a bunch of contestants fighting over chairs, the final twelve have been selected for The X Factor’s tenth season. Admittedly, I have found this season of the reality contest rather dull. There have been a few interesting singers and the gimmick changes have certainly sparked conversation but the judges were really uninspired. Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne seem like they are phoning it in and even Nichole Scherzinger lacks her fiery passion from last season. Worst of all is Gary Barlow, who constantly presents an air of being better than the process.

While there should be a serious search for talent, The X Factor just isn’t as fun as it once was. Whether it has simply out stayed its welcome or needs to revisit its roots, I’m not sure. The show did attempt to rediscover its roots in this season by bringing back the single room auditions but, having seen it in action alongside the audience auditions, I’m actually in two minds about the effectiveness of the two tiered system. On the one hand it promoted diversity and consistency but on the other it made it very difficult to care about anyone. I found myself engaging with a singer on one show, only to find them booted off in the next. It is like a television programme where all your favourite characters keep dying; what happens when you run out of likeable characters?

For The X Factor the live shows have always been the meat of dish. This is where viewers get truly invested with the singers and tune in week in and week out with edge of the seat anticipation to find out if their chosen one has made it through. There are twelve singers, three from each of the four categories, battling for your support. So, let’s take a look at each. And as they say ‘age before beauty’, I’ll start with the Over 25’s.

 

The 2013 X Factor Judging panel of Louis Walsh, Sharon Osbourne, Gary Barlow and Nicole Sherzinger.

With Gary confirmed to leave, the panel will change for the fourth year running.

Over 25’s

Lorna Simpson

Interesting singer. From the looks of it, she appeared more confident in the opening moments of So Emotional by Whitney Houston than she was during the up tempo part later. It was a solid performance though and not the typical over 25’s performance either. I suspect the oiled topless men will help put her through for another week.

Sam Bailey

One of he biggest, most dramatic voices in the competition this year. Her performance of wasn’t the best but there is room to develop through the competition since this is only week one. What will hold her back is that these big ballad singers generally do better on Britain’s Got Talent than The X Factor. Maybe she should have held out for the other Cowell’s other reality show.

Shelley Smith

It’s not difficult to see why she’s in the bottom after the flash vote. Her performance was over dramatised and simply didn’t do anything original or innovative with the song. She wasn’t the only singer that didn’t really take their song anywhere though and in any other year she would probably survive the first week but for this year, I think she is in real danger.

 

Kingsland Road perform Wham's I'm Your Man on week one of The X Factor.

The new Take That? So cheesy ballads until one goes solo, develops a drug habit and the other four reform a decade later?

Groups

Kingsland Road

Gary’s pet project, so hopefully he doesn’t neglect his other acts in his attempt to mould these five guys as the next Take That. There hasn’t been a male group in The X-Factor to rival One Direction yet, though every year they keep trying and Kingsland Road feel like this year’s attempt to catch that fire again. I wasn’t terribly impressed by their singing last night and their movement on the stage came across as very old fashioned.

Miss Dynamix

Something just didn’t work here. I wanted to like the trio but this song just felt wrong when they sang it. Maybe it was the way they nervously mumbled the intro which made it hard to understand or maybe it was that one girl whose voice is disguisable above the others. Whatever it was something just didn’t click here, though I would still be surprised to see them go.

Rough Copy

These guys style remind me a lot of a group from last year’s American X Factor, LYRIC 145, which means they are incredibly talented but probably won’t appeal to the majority of The X Factor’s voting audience unfortunately. Their rendition of Phil Colin’s In the Air was probably the most accomplished and smooth performance from week one.

 

Wild Haired Luke Friend on The X Factor 2013

It may be thumbs down for Luke Friend tonight.

Boys

Luke Friend

Everyone wants him to be Harry Styles but everyone appears to be forgetting that the original Harry Styles wasn’t strong enough to be single’s singer but had to be teamed up with the rest of One Direction. It was especially apparent on the long notes of Every Breath You Take last night where he was border line shouting. Once people get past the hair, don’t expect Luke to be long for this competition.

Nicholas McDonald

I hate to use clichés and catchphrases but my main problem with Nicholas McDonald’s performance of Duran Duran’s True is that he didn’t make it his own. During the song I kept comparing it to the original or getting distracted by the dancers trying to act out some kind of awkward high school formal. If he can’t show his own personality in his songs he will find himself out of the competition pretty quick.

Sam Callahan

Arguably the best voice of the boy’s category but given the complete lack of talent this year that isn’t really much of a compliment. If anything Sam Callahan needs to dial it back a bit. It felt like he over sang the opening verse of Summer of 69 which lessened the effect of the big chorus moment when he was meant to singing big powerful notes. He should have played it more cool and built up to the big moment.

 

Abi Alton performs her own version of Bon Jovi's Livin' On A Prayer on week one of The X Factor.

Can Abi Alton’s piano playing, alternative style sail her straight to the finals?

Girls

Abi Alton

Despite being somewhat alternative, I think Abi Alton is probably a favourite to win the entire competition. She’s been compared to James Arthur but actually she is far more comparable to The Voice UK season two winner, Andrea Begley. Leah McFall had a better voice and was more marketable but viewers voted for Andrea and I can see the same stars aligning for Abi. Case in point, her performance of Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer felt like it never really got out of first gear for me.

Hannah Barrett

Hannah probably falls somewhere between Abi Alton and Tamera Foster for me. Her voice was decent but she needs to pronounce more. At times her words felt like they were melting into each other and if I didn’t know the song I might not have known what she was saying. Her stage movement was rather generic too, a rather simple stand on stage, walk out to centre, walk around judges arrangement. She’ll need to really show what she can do in the weeks to come.

Tamera Foster

Tamera Foster is easily the readiest to be pop star out of the twelve. That doesn’t mean that she has the best voice. Her singing could still use some work but what she does have is the confidence and the stage presence of someone who has already been in this industry for years. It will be interesting to see if she can continue to develop or if she has reached her peak in her first week.

With Gary Barlow leaving at the end of this year’s competition, I’m sure he is desperate to go out on a win. Fortunately for him, I can’t see any of the groups leaving just yet. I think there are two acts that could possibly join Shelley Smith in the bottom; Luke Friend and Nicholas McDonald. Out of the two, Luke Friend seems most likely and it’ll come down to their song choices. Unless Luke picks something completely wrong for him though, I imagine the judges will be more ready to give him a second chance than Shelley Smith.

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