Friday, 23 December 2011

X Factor Final: The Winner

I wonder why Americans put an E on the end and make Finale a three syllable word? Wooden Steve gives being enthusiastic as good a shot as he can and then the Final 12 arrive. Drew with a new hair colour and style, Marcus with the same difficulty getting the right notes, one from Lakoda Rayne struggling with a note too low for her and another rescuing her with a nicely delivered few lines, Elaine, of course, making herself known and a good cheer from the crowd for Leroy. Astro sounded good and then the three finalists appear but don't seem to do a great deal.

Simon drops another hint that he's seen the voting figures and is feeling nervous but, for all we know, that may have just been a move to try and get as many people to vote for Melanie rather than just assuming she'd win. Until last night I would have said she was a sure-fire certainty but now I really don't know. Final votes are strange affairs, as America Idol, Adam Lambert and Crystal Bowersox fans will be only too well aware.

Melanie follows and matches Mariah Carey note for note on All I Want For Christmas Is You. That was a perfect performance and you have to wonder why she didn't do something so well last night. Not one move or tone out of place. That takes some doing and, even though it's a cheesy song, you couldn't help but feel that she was singing from the heart and totally naturally, totally enjoying it all.

LA Reid introduces Chris Rene with a twinkle in his eye as if knows something that I hope isn't the case. And to make the point perfectly clear, listen again to Chris struggling to hit the right notes on Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. He's got his hat back but that just goes to show that he isn't a natural singer at all. Performer, maybe, rapper of sorts, yes, and composer (although I prefer Astro's efforts for the modern world) but really not a deserving winner. It's a pretty amateur shot and you get the impression that he's desperately trying to get the next note in place as he finishes the last in this slow but pleasant enough ditty. You wouldn't get that from many of the other contestants who must be wondering why they're not there in 3rd place at least. All credit to the guy for giving up the drugs and the booze and getting as far as he has done and if he does have an influence on some kids heading down the wrong track that's great. Some emotional stuff in the back story with oddities like his son's mum shown but not as 'partner' or 'girfriend' and Simon staying in his seat as the other judges stand to clap. Steve asks him what it would be like to win which he didn't ask Melanie. I wonder if he'll ask Josh?

Steve makes some stupid effort to get invited to Nicole's Christmas party. She says "No." Almost too quickly for easy viewing. Cringe.

Josh is on the stage, with a great number he seems completely comfortable with, matching Melanie in his cruise through the tune, albeit with a much narrower range of notes to handle. He looks happy for the first time for a while too. Taking the pressure off is something they should do more often. This guy is good. I'd love to see him win. Simon seemed to be hinting that he hadn't, though, with the comment that he's going to sell a lot of records, with 'even if you don't win' in brackets.

In the back story we get a pic of Josh with his mum and he's wearing a black T shirt with white writing but the writing is blurred out! I do hope someone somewhere publishes what it did say. There'll be someone out there who'll have the original. In fact it's probably already out there. I would look now but, being a day behind the States, I'd find out who did win in the course of the search! I have had to avoid Twitter and Facebook all day. Strangely Google+ has made no mention that I've spotted but that's probably because my main account follows the wrong people.

Josh doesn't get asked about winning either.

Steve returns after the ad break and flies through some announcement about the 3rd place person being announced which no-one pays any attention to as he leaps into the introduction for Justin Bieber. Oh dear, not good. But then we get Stevie Wonder with a disturbing wail. That's probably caused by his being told to duet with the least likely person he should ever duet with for more reasons than I can write now. That was pretty awful to listen to. It was like Stevie was on another planet. Anyway, Stevie and his harmonica get shoved off stage and Justin does a second number. A bit better with some classy dancing. It's all mimed as he makes obvious on occasion but good entertainment for all that. There was a nice surprise at the end of his session when he gets Drew on stage with him and she sings an apparently unrehearsed last line or two and the guy hugs her and takes her dancing around the stage. Nice touch and the guy's gone up in my estimation, if only for his taste in girls.

photo from Ray Mickshaw / FOX

For Drew, you get the feeling that that moment was as good for her as winning the damn competition and there seemed to be plenty of hints of some future joint efforts. Good luck to them. Nice result for the girl and props to the producers for a memorable moment.

Steve then announces the third place and all is well with the world as Chris Rene gets 3rd place. That's still a lot higher than he should be but I'll settle for that. Yesss. The right two in the top two places, and I don't mind who wins. Melanie would be the bigger long-term star but Josh, if someone writes some decent material for him, could be impressive and it would be great to see the burrito slinger with a great big smile. You just know that he doesn't think he has a hope in hell against Melanie so it would be a fun moment.

A strange combination of Leona Lewis singing her soulful and gentle Run to a backing screen featuring what appear to be contestants through the show so far. Idiots in the crowd scream and cheer at their favourites, completely destroying any atmosphere Leona attempts to generate at the start. However, as the song builds then they shut up and you can only admire her ability and recognise that she has been one of the leading winners of this type of competition. It was three years ago that she won on X Factor UK, with Simon leading that panel too and his company taking her on.

Next we get 50 Cent, a lot of attractive girls and probably some other rap stars I don't recognise. It's quite funny watching them try to match their lips to the backing track but the mike style adopted is quite effective at disguising how poor they are. Astro actually shines in comparison and I can see him doing really well in that genre if he stays off the drugs and booze and doesn't completely lose it. I guess he won't be duetting with Justin Bieber, though.

This has been some programme and puts the UK final to shame in a big way. We even had Rachel showing Steve how to read an autocue with some style. He may be a decent chap but I do hope, for his sake if not ours, that rumours of his demise are true. He'll never survive what writers will throw at him next time.

Pitbull Ft Neyo. Good club stuff and more pretty girls. More Nicole and Paula doing the point one arm to the sky thing. Marcus joins in. Remember Marcus? He can lip sync better than most. Good job done.

Putting all the previous joint efforts to complete shame, however, were Josh and Melanie singing Heroes. Brilliant and inspiring. It's pretty clear who's taking the lead, though and, sure enough, a few minutes later it is, indeed Melanie who takes the title. A good result.

Bundles of people rush onto stage and Steve is left wandering around and eventually interviews Josh who is more than happy to be the runner-up. Simon comes to Steve's rescue not once but twice as he spends more time telling the audience that he will try once again to get Melanie to speak and failing and, basically, looking very silly. She makes a brave effort at the final song but, next time guys, end with the glitter and party on the stage, OK?!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

X factor USA Final Pt 1

This is the final. We're spared the pointless sing-a-long at the start and almost straight in to the first contender's spot.

What is he singing? In fact, is he singing anything at all? For a moment I was worried but then Alanis Morrisette joins him and all's well with the world, the song she wrote takes off. This had a slow build and, however much I might have liked it, I'm not so sure the voters will be madly pressing the Josh numbers on their phones afterwards. Josh and Alanis suit each other really well but Simon was absolutely right in his observation that Josh appeared somewhat intimidated at the outset.

Josh also proceeds to wander off aimlessly with Steve having to bring him back from whatever world he'd gone into!

Wooster, Oh comes on screen. Ah, his home town in Ohio. Not Bertie Oh. Got it. Anyway, all credit to the crew on the mikes and camera who did a good job of what have in the past been annoying home town spots. Especially compared to the disasters we had to suffer on X Factor UK.


One thing Chris can't do is hold many different notes in tune. He burbled along and then introduced Avril Lavigne who disguised all of that and even made him look quite good. All he had to do was contribute the occasional Ah, Uh, Uh. This was a more commercial number than Josh's and his fans will have liked that. To be honest, Chris really didn't do much at all but he managed to stay in the race all the same.

His 'home town' slot was hilarious with some fat woman who used to live next door to him screaming at the mike and a bunch of mates from a rehab unit saying something I didn't catch. One old bloke was about to get excited when Steve obviously got the nod to move on.


The best start of the three by a long way but still not very inspiring. This was the big song that everyone knows but she seemed just to sing the words not the feeling, probably her mind, like the others, occupied with remembering to announce her partner, in this case, R Kelly. Again, as for the other two contestants, the song then took off and the pair did a pretty good job too. Not as strong as I'd expected, though. I guess they're all a bit nervous.

For this very famous song, it was the first time the writer had sung it as a duet with anyone. That was quite a compliment for Melanie.

Sunrise, Fl, did the honours. Some 'church'. (Well, that's what Steve had called it. Looked more like a ruddy stadium to me). Nice work by the guy supporting her. Made Chris's look really stupid.

Separating the first and second songs we had a tribute to Michael Jackson with Circle Soleil dressed as a bunch of angry looking robots thumping quite effectively around the stage. They were doing a good job but, of course, we get Chris, Melanie and Josh in the middle, looking quite embarrassed and trying to move in time with each other and the dancers. That didn't work at all. Josh seemed to be watching Melanie's feet and Chris was waving his hands around when he probably wasn't supposed to. Good performance by the robots, presumably not the other contestants in costumes.

At Last
Yes, at last, this was the Josh we wanted to see and hear. He could do with letting someone else have the guitar but this was soulful and a well-judged performance. I do feel that he hasn't pushed himself in this final to wow people in the way that he did at the very start of this competition. He seems to just be there and to regard himself as the last person likely to win as if he was there to sing and nothing much else. In a way, I was very impressed but he will be enormously surprised to win, I'm sure. I can't see that he can now but he should be proud of whatever he's done.

Oh dear. The Wooster Oh guys are beginning to lose it now, too, after all. Oh well.

It'll be a close call now between Josh and Chris. Much depends on what Chris pulls out of the bag. With LA Reid, a smart market man, behind him, it could now be enough to push Josh to third place.

Homie, what you trippin' on?
I think that was the title of a track he's written himself and it was very well presented, with a nice bunch of guys and gals on the stage and Chris owning the stage and clearly enjoying the limelight. Throwing his hat out to the crowd he certainly gained a lot of approval and must have made himself a real contender, not just for second place but it now depends very much, for the first time in the whole competition, on what Melanie does or doesn't do.

I still don't rate him as a deserving winner or long-time artist in future and we're all getting too much of the back story of drugs and stuff for my liking but you can't blame LA Reid for those tactics.

Steve did one of his classic mistakes with a casual "Whatever" after LA Reid had said his bit on the panel, which sounded completely wrong!! Prior to the LA endorsement we had to watch Paula going bananas. I suppose with Marcus absent, Chris was the next choice for her to do the swooning thing over. She really does need to keep things a bit more real and so far we've only had Simon doing anything resembling a judge's commentary. Even Simon, though, seemed to take note of the ease with which Chris moved around and delivered the track, saying that that was his '$5 million song'. One has to wonder whether he knows something about the voting figures that we don't as that looked to me a very clear admission that Melanie's wouldn't be. From him, that was odd.

More idiotic stuff from his club friends. And a mayor who seemed fresh out of rehab as well.


Well, this is what we've really all been waiting for. She has to have been the front runner for a while now and has been consistently totally confident, inspiring, note-perfect and displaying star quality - the X Factor as I understand it - week after week.

Odd choice of song again. Something she could belt out, sure, but, something we really take on board and feel is the one to give her the winner's crown? Not really. But then neither was Chris's in that respect. She'll have achieved what her fans wanted but will she have won over any new ones?

This was an anthem-like track and a good final song for the series. Slightly disappointed, though.

In fact, overall, Josh would get my vote, for what it's worth.

Friday, 16 December 2011

It's The Josh and Melanie Show (Pt 2).

Even in the very first sing-a-long-a contestants number, Melanie simply stands out so clearly as the talent there. Even in a hip hoppy type of interpretation of Shout, Shout, Let It All Out that gave Marcus and Chris the chance to do their thing, she effectively trumped them as if she'd decided to take every opportunity to make sure we realise how good she is. This would have had a pre-recorded backing track to which they could mime and mumble but my guess is that she was live and sang over it - and to great effect.

Josh looked a bit uncomfortable. He managed his bits fine enough but this is one of those things that this sort of show needs to sort out - some people just aren't dancers and nor should they be or feel obliged to be.

Steve tells us that there have been 30 million votes which will please the production company. But we still get an ad immediately after the intro.

Accompanying the recaps we get some very strange clips of supporters (hopefully not families or relatives) of Marcus and Chris sounding not exactly pleasant compared to those behind Melanie and Josh.

More ads. This is annoying. As was Steve's attempts to chat to LA with Paula wandering around in front of him and, at most times, the camera man must have had his eye on someone completely different as he was out of shot. Talent's regained when Florence & The Machine perform Spectrum. Brilliant and she shows us just how way off stardom Chris and Marcus really are. One, surely has to go tonight. At least there can be none of Nicole's messing around this time with a straight decision from the numbers passed to Steve.

Chris is first through. Now if it were to be between him and Marcus I would have expected the producers to leave him and Marcus standing. Melanie next. So it's between Josh and Marcus and that has to give Marcus some hope which previously probably wasn't there. Have the girls pushed up the Marcus vote? Josh doesn't strike me as someone who will get an audience that keeps Chris in this long sufficiently excited to vote for him but I also would have expected the same voters to be split between Chris and Marcus so letting Josh through unless he really didn't appeal much at all. My guess is that Marcus really has been finally sussed and, combined with the split referred to, he has easily the least votes and, indeed, Josh may well have secured 2nd place and will, deservedly, be there next week. And in a final, Josh can perform and challenge Melanie or, at least, give her a good run for the $5 million if, as I suspect, Chris has merely scraped through tonight and goes pretty smartly in 3rd place.

The guys have a painful wait, though, while Nicole performs. and what a performance! I think it must have been called Pretty. Excellent. Whoever wrote that deserves a medal and worth watching again. It's bound to be on YouTube now.

And so, finally, we get to know the last place in the final...

It's Josh! Good. We can look forward to the final now. As expected, apart from Drew.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

It's The Josh and Melanie Show (Pt 1).

Here we go. Semi final for XFactor USA. Or sem-eye final as the strange announcer calls it. Steve comes on and corrects him. Nicole doesn't get the best of welcomes and you have to hope that that doesn't have an impact on Josh's votes.

Marcus gets going pretty quickly with an average and very uninspiring, and occasionally desperately out of tune, attempt at Boyz II Men's I'll Make Love To You. Very poor and not worth $5 million. That song's been done a hundred times by others just as well and mostly better. LA Reid and Paula seem way out on their rating him as highly as they do.

LA Reid's second act next - Chris, who is amazingly still here. Fly with his own lyrics here and there. I suppose it was more 'today' than Marcus' pathetic effort but the vocal was poor. Again, he just doesn't meet anything like what either an American Idol or someone with the X Factor should be providing at this stage of the competition. No wow factor. No nothing really, but that's more than Marcus still.

Melanie next. My goodness, they're racing through. Hero has also been done to death a million times. No-one can doubt her ability to hit the notes and be totally reliable but that didn't inspire either. Far better than the two guys so far but still not good enough for a major semi-final like this event is supposed to be. Actually quite boring. The anthem-like quality may help her with some votes, though.

Josh does Come Together. Again. I'm sure it was just a few weeks ago he did this. Don't remember the others doing their songs as repeats but maybe I've missed something. Hardly surprising as none of them were particularly memorable whereas Josh's was. I remember it being fairly good, not stunning so let's see what he does this time round. maybe he hasn't done it before - getting confused with the other one! This was good. the best of the round by far, a natural and sufficiently original performance to get him noticed. I'm not sure what he'll be recording - they'll need a superb writer if he does win - as this was a bit dated too but he takes the lead with this.

Marcus comes on again with Careless Whisper. In places, very good but only in places. He did something weird with the track about two-thirds of the way through and turned it into a dance song. Wrong, didn't suit the words and that was a mistake. Pity, as he might have rescued himself with that up until he started wailing. Simon was very critical. As always, Paula just drools. That's getting a bit tiresome now.

Chris's track is No-one by Alicia Keys. With plenty of Uh-uhs and ohs after a brief nervous-looking go at a piano I've just realised that he never has had to sing anything at all difficult. That means he gets the right notes, such as they are, and kinda gets away with it all. Although I don't know what he's doing here, he was better than Marcus and, at the way things are going, he'll be even more amazed to find himself in the ruddy Final next week! With the girlie vote then totally his for the asking, who knows what will happen then?

Melanie almost sealed the $5 million with her next track: I'm Feeling Good. A classic, not what you might have expected her to choose but a great example of Simon at his best as she made this very much her own and it was a genuinely memorable performance that will have a lot of people downloading this evening on YouTube or wherever they can get a copy. Although Josh is yet to go, that will be the performance of the night and, possibly the last few weeks. Well done.

If Simon had been managing josh then you'd have predicted that he'd get him doing Hallelujah so Nicole has chosen well again here. It's almost perfect for his range and soulful delivery too, as long as he doesn't go overboard as, occasionally, he has recently when holding back would have been better. There was a moment when I thought this was going to go badly wrong but only a moment. He got it right and that was good. Enough to get him through safely with Melanie to the final, deservedly so. Well done, again.

Marcus and Chris both have to go. It doesn't really matter which goes first.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Now they'll have to start making Josh Dolls

Lenny Kravitz appears totally out of place to kick off the show. Brilliant but just odd when you let your imagination wander to Rachel coming on stage afterwards. In fact, only Josh might have coped without a hugely strange juxtaposition in tv land. For all that, it was a great opening and a good reminder that there's more to music than contestants singing other people's tunes and interesting to note that he was amongst the oldest people there.

A recap only served to remind us how good Melanie was, how desperate Marcus looked, how bad Rachel was, how embarrassing Josh was and how weak Chris was with their first songs. And how only Josh improved on their ratings with the second effort.

Josh and Chris get the first allocated safe places. We know that Melanie gets the third place so it's Marcus or Rachel to go. Either can go and not bother me as they're not winners - but it's going to be Rachel as Marcus gets the two girls' votes for just standing there.

Another star that's getting on a bit comes on to keep Melanie waiting. Mary J Blige is a classy act but that was a bit boring and clashed with all the pzazz of wondering who's going, Lenny and anyone would clash with Steve anyway.

Long drawn out, totally unnecessary to tell us that Melanie (who probably got the most votes) is through. As I can't see Marcus ever bringing anything new to the music scene, then, in a sense, I might prefer to see Rachel survive as when she does manage to hit the right notes and has a track that lets her personality shine through she is different and fun and I can see her appealing to kids and the 'Rachel Doll' joke that someone made a while ago may not be so silly at all in terms of merchandising if you're looking for a business venture rather than a really good singer. I don't see much of a market for a Marcus Doll. Even less for a Josh Doll, come to think of it.

Marcus sings I'm Going Down which might be appropriate and, yes, you know we'll get the heart on the stage comments from Paula, and tears in a while, as she saves him. Or, at least, you might have thought were it not for what Simon pulls out of his bag of tricks for Rachel.

Rachel sings I'd Rather Go Blind, a great, great track from Christine McVie and Chicken Shack. The words are way out of her league but I have to say she performed it damn well and far better than Marcus. There was a real effort here. You just couldn't believe it, for all that. Which was a shame.

That performance will have made it more difficult for one of the girls to vote against her and they may just agree during the ad break, probably with a whisper from producers of who actually got the lowest vote, to go for stalemate and relieve themselves of making any decision or accusations of Marcus infatuation from Rachel fans tomorrow.

So as the last minutes of the show tick away I am genuinely not sure which way this is going to go. I'm thinking now that Marcus is going... No, wrong, as Nicole makes a complete cock-up even of not deciding, it's Rachel whose pretty error-strewn previous performances had lost a lot of supporters that is to go. Clearly shocked she wails and that's when you realise that maybe it wasn't such a bright idea to have such young entrants. Steve has people everywhere on the stage, mum comforting Rachel and I have to say that he handled the emotional chaos pretty well. Nicole gets booed by the audience and Steve, interestingly, asks if she wants to comment as if he knew that would bring even more boos. She turns her back and walks away.

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All this rather diminishes the respect for the success that three, at least, deserved for getting through to next week's semi final but now we should see a real competition and my money's on Melanie and Josh, in that order. Let's just hope they don't try anything stupid like dancing.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Josh or Marcus In Dire Straits and Rachel's Making Movies?

Down to five acts now and each get two songs to perform. The second we discover is a last minute switch which I can't figure out whether that's a deliberate twist by the producers to see who can still produce the goods at short notice or a genuine error as the guy giving them the news says. Maybe they hadn't agreed the performance rights payments or something.

Steve's hair is getting blacker each week but at least he's getting a little less wooden but you do still tend to wish that Ryan Seacrest or Dermot O'Leary would walk on instead and be a little more expert in handling the task.

Someone Like You
The Adele number has been pretty well done and is getting boring but she seems to bring it back to life again. That's quite a compliment, too.; It was over far too soon and I would have so much preferred to hear her develop the song but I guess they need time for the ads. It was excellent and the falling tickertape made her look like a winner - the winner that she deserves to be in this competition.

Ain't Nobody
Lively and he dealt with this far better than some of the recent numbers. Still wobbling when he shouldn't but he is coming across a lot better. I'm not sure he's the star, though, that Paula and Nicole keep pushing us to believe with their 'God has a plan for you, honey!' protestations. Only on X Factor USA do you get that from the judges. "Vo, vo, vo!" says LA. Someone tell him it has a T on the end, just before the E.

Nothin' On You
She wailed a bit and missed so many notes in some pretty lazy singing that shows her failings, despite her super, bubbly personality. maybe she's just too young. and the baby voice 'Thank You' at the end is not X Factor winner style. Not a lot more to say about her, really.

We Found Love
No, that was karaoke, sing-along-a-Rihanna. No excitement, no passion and that doesn't do him any good at all. he is far too good for that sort of false effort and we should be hearing him pour his heart out, doing what he wants. That was not endearing and is unlikely to get him any extra votes which he'll need.

Live Your Life
This was his sort of music and he worked well with the DJ tables behind. But, whilst having more impact than Josh, for instance, it doesn't fit in with what I see as a big future star's type of performance. I don't see him being that big star. He is, though, you have to admit, getting better each week and managing to compete with some of the others. Whereas once I would have written him off completely, I feel now that he stands a chance of being in the final.

When You Believe
We could do without the little speeches at the end! I don't think they do her any good at all. Before that, though, we had a first class performance, genuinely professional, of the Whitney number. She has a special ability to get across what the words mean. Like Josh but, frankly, far better these last few weeks. Remarkable and my tip for the winner if she keeps the right song choices and such excellent and powerful, accurate renditions.

A Song For You
Now this suited him down to the ground and is exactly what he should be doing all along. He still looks odd and I don't see him winning but there was none of the usual wobbling around or bum notes and this was just him, doing it well and honestly. Nice job.

The Abbey Road track that we all know well and an impressive performance here - more like the Josh we have come to admire. His interpretation was genuine enough albeit a little strange and even wild in places. I feel he's worried about not making it through and trying too hard. he still deserves that place in the Top Three but will need all his supporters to vote a few extra times to get him there in this much tighter than expected semi-final.

Music & Me
Oh dear. She's getting annoyingly off key again. Surely this will annoy enough of her erstwhile fans that they don't bother to vote in the numbers they must have been doing so far to beat Marcus and the far superior Drew. This was not good, not good at all. painful, in fact, and an embarrassing act for Simon at this stage in the competition. there was a hint of a movie role. Now that makes a lot more sense.

Where Do we Go From Here
An original number that sounded like something we ought to know. I guess that's a compliment to his writing skills. Looking like an army recruit, sitting and playing a guitar, he acme across pretty well and does have a remarkable way of appealing to the girls. That might just see him through. Not a bad performance but really not a winning one.

So, who's going? It ought to be Rachel but I wonder whether she hasn't got this huge following now of teeny-voters who won't be bothered about what she sounds like. Rachel's becoming a product, a fashion item. So, if she does survive, it will cost someone like Josh, who didn't impress this week as he usually has, a lot of support. If it's between Marcus and Chris, though, which my guess is it will be then I have a suspicion that Chris might sneak through for another week.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

The Way They Were

This is how fans will prefer to remember Drew on her last X Factor USA night before being voted out by the judges.

Astro, voted out by the public, may need to work to restore his tough kid on the black image with this behind the scenes shot of a well-behaved lad called Brian in a gown getting a nice haircut doing the rounds!

Photo acknowledgments to THE X FACTOR ™ & © 2011 FremantleMedia North America, Inc. and Simco Limited. All Rights Reserved. ® and © FOX and its related entities.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Astro's Turfed Out. Paula and Nicole Finally Lose It Completely.

This is quite a big night with two acts going home. I would imagine that everyone except Melanie were feeling nervous and that showed as the did Man In The Mirror to kick off proceedings. Marcus sounded off at the start but got into the right set of notes eventually. I didn't notice Chris at all but have to say that Rachel was much better than last night. I have a feeling that several of them were thinking that perhaps they should have chosen that track themselves as their performance.

Results already... the first one through is Chris. Good Grief!! Second through is Melanie. Number three is Rachel. At this point I begin to lose all faith in the American voting public. Two of Josh, Drew, Marcus and Astro will be gone soon. If it's Marcus and Astro then I can live with that. But to dump either of Drew or Josh at this point would be painful.

My guess is that Josh really has let himself down badly with his Dirty Diana number and perhaps the voters may not have appreciated Drew's cut back Billie Jean as much as I did.

One of the remaining four could, of course, be the one who received the top number of votes so the next act saved is the all important name. We're kept waiting, though, as someone called Tiny Tempah does something after the ads.

It's Josh. Wow. That leaves us with Marcus, Astro and Drew. And Astro's the one to go. That's fine and not too worried about that at all. He'll be OK. Now, how are they going to choose between Drew and Marcus? regardless of what they sing, LA Reid will give his vote to Marcus and I'm pretty sure Paula will too. Nicole is the key to Drew's survival and I have a feeling she'll go with Marcus.. unless he cocks up his save song, that is. Of the two, Drew is the more likely to let her nerves get to her performance, Marcus is the least likely to hit the right notes.

Drew produced her most powerful and meaningful performance to date with a really heartfelt version of Listen To Your Heart. That ought to be difficult to beat and, despite a not-really-on intro designed to pull at Paula and Nicole's heartstrings, whatever Marcus does sing, possibly Either One Of Us is not something I can imagine many people rushing out to buy. Notes, as always, all over the place which some of the judges will regard as running or something but in reality just poor control. Drew's only possible hope is for a split vote and for Marcus to be the one with the lowest number of votes from the public. Will she get that, I wonder? So, Nicole? Can you forget that Marcus is a bit like your ex (or is he current again - one never can tell these days) and genuinely vote for the best singer and most likely to entertain in the future and appeal to music buyers?

Nicole goes for Marcus and both she and Paula go on about how Marcus moved them. Sure, they should both be moved off the show. So much for respecting the public vote or even the clear, very clear difference in the quality of the performances to night. Rubbish decision.

Simon is clearly, and very understandably irritated by the silly women's 'women's' reasons for not risking losing Marcus in what would have been a fairer resort to see who got the lowest votes. My guess is that they knew their favourite would be gone. As a result, the road is now almost completely clear for Melanie, her only credible, realistic artistic and talent-wise competition being Josh and I can only hope and trust that rather more than 16 million vote in future and ensure that they see off the disappointing three they're lumped with in what is unlikely to be an inspiring set of performances next week from 60% of the acts.

Even Astro would have been more entertaining than Chris and Marcus. And let us hope Rachel just sings.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

If there'd been glitter, this could have been the final


Everybody seems to be talking a lot louder tonight. It's Michael Jackson night and, first, the intro announcement man has had his volume turned up and then Steve, too, seems to have his knob twiddled. We get to meet a few members of the Jackson family as well, including a strange attempt by Steve to have a conversation with Mrs Jackson. He has a mike, she hasn't so, unless you can lip read, that didn't exactly go down as the best tv ever.

The members that we might actually know, Janet and Germaine, were conspicuous by their absence and instead the lesser known Marlon, Tito and Jackie stood around on the stage for a while until the ads came.

First on and, oh dear, Josh had said that this might not be his week and, with Dirty Diana, we get a different view of the guy with a guitar. He survived the two or three minutes and tried. In a way it started to work but this was the type of performance you need to watch several times to really get. We could probably have done without his guitar playing, which wasn't brilliant, and just had him concentrating on doing something incredible, as he is capable of doing, instead.

The word 'uncomfortable' was used a lot in the reviews but, as Simon said so accurately, he had been over-produced and just did not come across as well. Definitely his least inspiring performance throughout the whole competition. He will need his fans to get on the phone. It's a bit late for this sort of risk.
♫8½ ☼7

He is so lucky to be here this week, as this is one of the few that could suit him. Black Or White, well the recognisable guitar riff from that track, was what we got with one of his own raps on top. The 'It's black, it's white' bit actually worked and there was quite a bit of excitement going on there too but it didn't work for me. I had expected him to stay a little closer to the Jackson groove; he was, after all wearing a jacket designed to hint at a Jackson link but that was as near as we really got. It won't have done him any harm, though, as it confirms that he is who he wants to be. He didn't try to sing and his progress on the show will now be entirely down to who watches the programme and votes for him. He'll either surge on or crash out - no middle course now. Demographics and all that.
♫7 ☼7½

How will Drew approach this? There's the gentle Ben type of approach or the tearful number, which I would be tempted to go for, or Simon could get her stripping bare one of the big pop hits like Billie Jean. Before she starts (or maybe while she was deciding which way to play it) it appears that Mrs Jackson had finally been provided with a mike and Steve finishes an earlier chat.

I like the way this girl fights with the increasingly annoying LA Reid. At that age she responds remarkably and with a flow of logic and the right words at the right time. That takes some doing.

It looks as though my guess of the stripped version of something was right: and it was, indeed, Billie Jean!! I really must get another job. She was brilliant, really good and sat throughout a heartfelt performance which worked and she sure made it her own. Finally, finally, LA likes it!!
♫9 ☼9

This ought to be her week. How can she fail? Can You Feel It? Camera flicks to catch Michael's daughter not exactly leaping up and down with enthusiasm. In fact she was sort of smiling sympathetically and moving her head a little. Basically, Rachel was out of tune a lot of the time and this was a karaoke job at best. This could be her last week after that. It wasn't good and she didn't actually look good either. This, for the first time, demonstrates just how her youth and inexperience has let her down and, whilst in a few years' time she could come back and be great, for now she is simply not ready by any means for big success in the pop industry other than birthday and Christmas CDs for the little ones perhaps.
♫5 ☼6

Well, if he doesn't nail it this week then he never will. Another act that really ought to fly through, especially driven by the disaster we had last week which nearly saw him off home early. So what does he bring us? Pretty Young Thing. That was unexpected. A very big production. Wrong. Didn't work. Didn't flow like every Jackson number does. You never want Jackson tracks to end. You couldn't wait for Marcus's wailing to end. At one point I even wondered whether he was really bothered about continuing and then we get to the 'nah na na nah' bit and it kinda recovers. But too late as he ends.

Hmm, another one who disappoints this week. My feeling is that he'll get respect for trying and, thank heavens, not repeating the disaster of last week. The vocals, though, were poor. Simon says this and gets both Nicole and Paula shouting at him. Bit like Marcus had been doing to us.
♫6 ☼7

Steve introduces us to Chris as the 'trash man' just before the ad break. Not the best idea, Steve, however well meant it might have been. At this rate, with Marcus, Rachel and Astro, even Josh perhaps, not exactly inspiring us tonight, he has a chance to sneak through despite all the odds and all my previous comments implying that he probably shouldn't have ever made the Top 17. So what's he going to make of this opportunity?

Uh, uh, ah, c'mon, uh. uh we hear. OK so he's doing a strange version of I'll Be There. Dressed in what I think must be baseball, nice American guy, clothes, you could imagine him in an 80s movie or in the background of High Street Musical. There's no doubt that he'll get some good pile of girl votes and that could make the difference between him and the other guys. It was a tedious track but better sung than he's managed before. The 'oh, ah, uh uh' bits and a bit of rap in there somewhere vaguely rescued this from being totally forgettable but it would be so disappointing if he were to get much further in this competition without ever having made that special impact on stage and instead surviving by being simply a decent looking bloke with a soft voice. He could beat Rachel, though and so has a chance of another week but, against any of the others for the judges' vote, can be really hope to survive? Put like that and I rather suspect he could be going after all.
♫7½ ☼7

This is her big chance to take the lead in this competition. Her voice is damn near perfect and there are hundreds of tracks I could imagine her doing which would bring the house down and put some emotion into Michael's daughter's expression. World Song is too long, I suppose. OMG!! I got it right again!! Amazing. Pause to drop Simon a line asking for a job.. That was wonderful. A very big number and, at last, someone has really done justice to the guy. It was like watching the winner at a final. Immaculate tone and delivery with just one tiny exception - the end note. But even that was not the ghastly screech that we'd have had from Stacy. I would have ended it differently but, hey, who cares after the rest. Way, way ahead of everyone but Drew, and still beating her her too, Melanie has to be back next week and in the final four as we head for the semi final.
♫9½ ☼9½

So, Melanie, Drew, Josh and Marcus maybe through. That leaves Chris (the other maybe) and Rachel. I guess everyone in the States knows whether I'm right but tomorrow we here in The UK will find out.

Now, back to that e-mail to Simon...