Friday, 28 October 2011

Live Show Week 1 - Josh and Drew shine and five go home

This is where the show really takes off. People singing live and, tonight, five will be going home as LA Reid, Paula and Nicole and Simon choose their top three in each category.

Wooden Steve dons a shiny suit and looks uncomfortable on the stage. He should have brought a truck door to lean out of. Talking at what seemed about one word a minute you wondered whether he 'd get through the introduction before the first ad break. Pepsi wouldn't have been too concerned as he tells us that, as well as the $5 million, the winner will be a 'Pepsi Doll' too.

British audiences may applaud a song at the start when they recognise it as one of their favourites. They also seem to have developed the annoying habit of cheering and clapping when someone reaches a predicted high note or big point in song. What they won't do, but what happened twice tonight, is cheer and scream and clap during the gaps in a quiet, emotional number. SYCO should fine them and offer behaviour training to all those offending in that audience or, preferably kick them out or wrap up their mouths with bandages if they can't shut up otherwise.

We kick off with the boys. Nice change not to start off with Rachel.

Astro or Brian
You can make up your own words with Brian's rap and in this case it was an X factor ad which was fair enough I suppose. He didn't need to sing and was pretty credible and a good opening performance. You do have to wonder what else he can do and roll on Country & Western week as I can't wait to see what he does with Jim Reeves and Old Tige or a duet with Scotty would be fun to watch. He'll get through although, as I've said before, LA Reid should just give him a deal and give someone else a chance in this category.

He sounded and looked really quite weak in comparison. It's pretty clear to me that he's on his way out fairly early in this competition. A totally forgettable track and peformance.

I'm A Believer??! Well, Neil Diamond will appreciate the surprise cheque in the post. This is a handsome junior Brat Pack fellow and that weird song choice took him into a different zone. It didn't work, despite the pretty girls and clever staging. He was looking and sounding good, for sure, and that should see him through.

Certainly No Boy George this guy so doing a Culture Club number stretched the imagination a little. LA's been making some strange song choices. Marcus is a great performer, though, who should be safely through this week. He may have been wobblier than I've seen him before and nothing like as confident or competent as in the auditions. Another one out of his zone.

LA decides...
...and, sure enough, Chris goes... Oh. No he doesn't! He chooses Phillip. Good grief. He must know something about Chris that we don't.

The Groups

Stereo Hoggz
Try A Little What? tenderness? Eh? Didn't sound particularly tender to me, more like attack and shout. Putting the lyrics to one side, however, the group has an excellent lead and tight backing group. Nice, solid production should see them safely through.

The Brewer Boys
I was expecting George Michael to come out of the wings and help them with Faith. He'd like these two. I didn't. Before, they've been amazing through audtions and Judges' Homes but they could have lost it here. I feel they could still be worth a chance but much depends on what Lakoda Rayne do as you can be sure that InTENsity will be through without even seeing them. With 10 mums lurking in the background or, worse, in the audience within striking range of the judges, Paula wouldn't dare risk their fury.

What an inspired choice! The Clapping Song mixed with the great, and still fresh-sounding, Footloose worked excellently for them and whilst one or two sounded pretty wobbly, the girl in the red jacket took control and they finished up doing a fun and young performance which the audience loved. The annoying one also stayed out of camera sight too. Nicole called them her 'little pumpkins' which must have worried some of The Ten Mothers with Hallowe'en imminent. Astro must be relieved he didn't get the same treatment from LA Reid.

Lakoda Rayne
Wooden Steve reads from the autocue to tell us guys that we're gonna want to date them. Well we not might be able to afford to if they don't get through but I can't see us loggin on to Americanbabes dot com just yet as they perform C'mon Eileen as I've never heard it performed before. They were really very good indeed, all four excellent singers and a couple probably deserved places in the solo section anyway. Steve adds what I suspect is going to be a bookful of classic stupid comments by saying 'Thank you guys' as they go off.

Paula's decision...
...Yup, Brewer Boys go. Steve blunders into Paula's kind words to them and you begin to think that soemone needs to tell him to go too.

The Over 30s

I Kissed A Girl?? Oh Lord, what a silly song for him. I think he was supposed to sing She Kissed A Girl but either way it would have been wrong. He's a really likeable fellow and suited his Jimi Hendrix jacket well. Yeah, let's all yell, whatever happens. Bye Bye Dexter. You've got further than you could ever have imagined.

Good, almost note perfect and gravelly performance in a serious, calm Joe Cocker style without the arm waving. Nobody Knows. And that's true - how can he compete with all the kids dotted around the place and you do wonder whether he can really sell many records. He's safe tonight, though.

Here was the most professional performance and she sounded and looked as if she were entirely at home on the stage. The make-up department have done a super job and this girl will be around for many weeks yet.


Wow. Forever Young. This was one cool performance - he took a big risk with virtually no accompaniment but gained everyone's admiration for one of the three stand-out acts of the evening. The audience were just so annoying with some idiots shouting out each time he paused. How on earth can you deliver anything with emotion if each time you go quiet stupid people scream. Ruined the chances of getting a good YouTube video too.

Nicole decides... need to think about this one. Dexter goes. "How do you feel?" he's asked. "Confused." replies the poor bloke, quite honestly. "What's confusing you?" asks wooden Steve. Someone take him away, please. He did, however, restore a little of our respect by asking someone to look after Dexter. That was a nice unscripted touch.


Just look at the way this girl looks at Simon. Come on - how could he have resisted bringing her along? Her legs are so ridiculously long... oh, she's started singing. I'd better pay attention. Just Be Good To Me suited her and she made a valiant attempt to justify her place and was modern and certainly had appeal. She remained a bit average, though, and wouldn't last that long against such amazing competition. She'll have a tough job surviving, though, with two to go this week.

Looking like an upside-down tartan mop you do have to wonder who made her up. Maybe Simon did. Baby Where Did Our Love Go? she sings. Little girl, you're way too young for it to have arrived. And she does seem so much like a little kid. There are younger people in inTENsity and little Brian might have sat behind her in class for all I know but, seriously, they are performing to compete with adult X Factor contestants now but she sounds and acts like someone who should be in a different show altogether. Tonight she was off key and I feel she may struggle to keep up.


What A Feeling. What a great and inspired version. Well done, Simon. This was an amazing and gently very powerful rendition of the Irene Cara number. Yes, we did wonder whether she might suddenly break into the fast version and even maybe dance and surprise everyone but she didn't and that's fine. For me, she and Josh are the ones to beat. Someone needs to control the idiots in the audience though.

A strange, slow, too slow and Hallowe'en themed Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This which I'm not sure Annie Lennox would have recognised. She was behind the beat most of the way but came alive and caught up near the end. Not a brilliant performance. She ought to go.

Simon can hardly send her home again! Luckily he won't need to think long about it as her fabulous control and sound tone presented I Don't Want To Hurt Anymore very well. She's got bags of natural talent and I'd love to see her in future weeks as she could have a lot more to show and will do well.

I'd send Rachel and Tiah home but suspect it'll be Tiah and Simone, with Simon, unusually and somewhat out of character, nodding towards his colleagues' views.

Simon decides...
...precisely that. Tiah isn't very surprised. the camera catches that amazingly powerful look that Simone gives Simon, though, and you really do have to wonder whether there isn't something going on there. Either that or she is one great actress. Intriguingly, and a touch opportunistically, Simone plugs her soon-to-be-released track. Its title? He Likes Little Boys. Hmmm. Why do I think she knew she was going tonight?

And so now we have the Top 12 for next week and, at last, you the American public can have your say from here on.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

X Factor USA: Judges' Homes - Dreams Start And End Here

You and I travel to the beat of a different drum, sang Linda Ronstadt and The Stone Poneys many years ago and that sums up what the last of the contestants will be feeling now as some of them prepare to appear on the grand stage each week and hope to get your votes while others go home and a sofa where they'll just watch them with us.

All 32 acts have now completed the Judges Home stage and the final selections have been made. I'll not say who made it through to the Live Shows in this post as the poor people in the UK won't get to see these shows until the end of the week. Here, for now, is what wonders and weaknesses we watched as the show gave us a great number of full length performances. Now it's time to pack away the pretty sets, the shiny wood tiles on Paula's lawn, take the glass off the top of Simon's pond and pull down the clear plastic sheets strung along the coast to kept the wind out of Nicole's hair on the beach. Oh yes, and to let LA Reid give Rihanna some serious advice about make-up and hair styling.

And this is how the remaining 16 got on ...

Illusion Confusion

Aptly named because here we have some great guys and one very good singer, all able to cruise around and do the right thing with their legs and arms at the same time but somehow, despite looking and sounding like someone we'd be happy listening to in the car on the way to work, would people actually rush to buy tickets to their concerts and buy enough singles to compete with Adele at the top of the charts? I just felt they were neither one thing nor the other. Maybe the lead singer will audition for American Idol or something.

Tiah Tolliver

This girl could make ads for lipstick. That odd fringe was annoying and, so far, the makeover people haven't done as good a job as they might, although more recent pics I've seen do make her look a bit more special. She's someone that the audience will either love or hate and Simon has a habit of chucking people like this in on a whim, often at the expense of someone who ought to be in the Live Shows and we wish had been when his selction gets kicked out first or second week. Her track was a pretty tuneless number with a lot of hey-oh in it. Something impressed Simon who even claps. I don't remember him doing that with the others. Must have been the lipstick.

Chris Rene

It was difficult to tell whether Everyday people was being sung by him or we were listening to the backing track. Whoever it was, though, did a good job. LA Reid thinks he's, er, special, so that must mean something. I thought he was a bit weak in places but, yeah, we'll back him for a while and see what happens.

Christa Collins

We haven't seen much of this girl, although we gather that the public has heard a lot of her without knowing it from her work with Disney for more years than Rachel Crowe has been on this planet. She's talented but sounds as if she's been doing what girls do with helium balloons at parties. Her acting abilities are, indeed, as you'd expect from her CV, brilliant and that goes down well with young Enrique who seems quite taken with the lass. Whether Nicole's taken as much remains to be seen but my guess is that she wasn't. No Surprises there then.


At last we get to see this bunch of little boys and girls who make up this massive group. Now, you may have thought, like me, that the judges simply couldn't make their mind up about who to send home. Or that the helicopter mums, who were presumably holed up nearby at motels down the road from the judges' homes and preparing themselves for the wailing that some of the rejected offspring would kick up, were just too much for any judge, especially for judges at Boot Camp, to cope with, and stay off the anti-depressants and avoid large laywers' fees. So they'd put the whole damn bunch through. And here they were. It looked like a  class of 10 year olds had been let out to play but I have to say that they produced a brilliant adaptation of the Ting Tings' That's Not My Name. Another appropriate title as I haven't the faintest idea who is who yet. They were together, even the previously annoying one, and that's a credit to Paula and team. I can see that track as it stands being a hit. They had a good time and, in just a few days only, made it work against all odds. Any parent of a 10 year old must be amazed. This was the first act of the session that had real star quality and we'll be seeing a lot more of these kids.

Marcus Canty

This guy has a great voice and presence. Spot-on notes and cool control of them all, not showing off like a couple his female competitors with tediously long, high stuff, just doing what the song needed. I can see him being a popular act and is a definite in my book for the Live Shows. A superb audition.

Tiger Budbill

Don't Give Up On Me he sang and you had to admit that he really meant that. Tiger's chock full of emotion and sings out his heart and soul into this. He thinks it's his last chance and that's a shame because it shouldn't be. He's not that old, although I suppose that huge neck and strange chin don't give him that much confidence when he looks in the mirrors. You just get the impression that he's given up on himself which is massive shame because he's damn good. Fantastic range, controlled and I should imagine writers would love to get him to perform their stuff. But there probably isn't going to be that 'market' that Nicole wants and seeing him go will be really heartbreak viewing. I was so impressed but he won't get through to the Live Shows.

Melanie Amaro

One of the early top choices to get through. She's strong, accurate but slightly uninspiring this time. I reckon she can do a lot better and is someone who you could trust on the Live Shows to bring a wow factor to X Factor as she'll break new ground with whatever she's given and surprise people with the way she interprets tracks. Simon appeared initially to have written her off but I wonder?

Rachel Crow

This is where it all began. the cheeky one. She looks and sounds like 12. This wasn't her best of performances and she knew it, to her credit. Nervous and quite wobbly on my tv but what Simon heard must've been quite different there by the pool as he described her as 'unbelievable' (in a complimentary way!). So you know she'll be there on our screens for a while. even though I felt she might have reached the end of the line for this year. But I Wanted It That Way she sang, oddly, and that's probably what she'll get 'for entertainment and ratings' value.

2 Squar'd

Now, doing Bohemian Rhapsody is not an easy task for any group but these girls did an excellent version. Another group I had hardly seen before now with a really good lead singer, especially. The others supported well and they ought to do well. Another that we should be seeing more of, if there's room in what's looking like a crowded group category. I fear tears and Paula's tears and more tears on top of them.

Tim Cifers

Here's the true Country guy, singing Dance With My Father Again. What a voice! So smooth and perfect for his genre. But is there room for him in X Factor Live Shows? He hasn't got the Scotty Factor and I have my doubts whether he'll make it, however good he is. And why is he the only one? There must have been hundreds of Country singers auditioning so it's strange that just one gets this far and we see virtually nothing of any of the others. My guess is that SYCO have said 'move on to the pop and quirkier side'. So, no joy here, Tim, however good you are.

Josh Kracjek

I was really looking forward to this guy's latest audition. That's saying something after all the acts I do watch and especially as we're still very much in the early stages. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face was a superb choice for him and a favourite of mine since the Roberta Flack original blew me away in the 60s. So here's the scene: an idyllic beach, Nicole immaculate with shiny black hair, expensive clothes and stylish shoes, relaxing on pixel perfectly arranged furniture, listening to a bloke named Josh, unkempt in clothes he looked as if he'd slept in for a week. No makeover girl had got even close to him. Then out comes this fantastic and truly exceptional audition - and, thanks guys, we get to hear it in full. Now there is a potential winner for you.

Stereo Hoggz

I Heard It Through The Grapevine was an ideal track for these talented guys. I do have to keep telling myself that it's not an old Super 8 of The Isley Brothers with some of the set steps and tamla sound but that's probably getting cool again and Paula's reaction made it pretty obvious she wanted them through. Tight, well-matched band with one excellent lead and everyone well-rehearsed and professional. Perhaps just a little too much so but they may just have tipped 4Shore out of the competition with this.

Brennin Hunt

Nice guy, good-looking but really out of his depth now at this stage. His intro speech was over the top too, claiming that he wanted to be remembered and to be bigger than Lady Gaga. He sang OK but isn't a contender now, I'm afraid.

Jazzlyn Little

Really pretty 16 year old who was another stand out audition at the start and one of my early tips for the Live Shows. Since then, though, we've seen her descend into a world inhabited by her nerves and that may have contributed to her hardly being shown at all during the Boot Camp stage. Now, in front of Simon, after a rare glimpse of how much rehearsal help they all got there, she just manages to hold it together and delivers what I presume she didn't realise has been the karaoke number one forever and therefore the most overdone and oversung song in history. I Will Survive doesn't strike me as at all appropriate. Despite a total reworking of the song it was a crazy choice and whilst Simon was clearly looking for some reason to keep her, and if she did get rid of the nerves and got the right songs he'd be right to do so, I think he'll leave her to sort herself out a bit.

So that's that. They've all done their bit, some have done their best, others have shown us that there could be even better than their best to come. As I write this the results will be out in America and you'll know the score for the Live Shows. I just hope that the spoilers I saw are wrong. I want Drew and Josh in there, with Leroy and Marcus. The Brewer Boys and InTENsity have earned their place in the groups and probably Stereo Hoggz have beaten 4Shore. Stacy has to be there. I think we know that. I'd also like to see Caitlin and Phillip. Little Brian Bradley may be there for entertainment value along with one or two of Simon's girls but I fear he'll choose Tiah and Simone for all the wrong reasons when it should be Tora and Caitlin and Melanie joining Drew.

From here on we'll get to see what they can really do with a week to rehearse and I reckon we're in for some surprises and disappointments yet. One thing's for sure - it'll be a better first few weeks than the dismal performances by the UK contestants in the first two weeks so far (one or two obvious people excepted). And I still think drew and UK's Janet Devlin should release Bridge Over Troubled Water. Someone tell Simon I said so, please. Good TV and good for relations across the pond too.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

X Factor USA Judges' Homes Pt 1 Recap

This is the show in which two pretty girls ask Simon Cowell "Be mine tomorrow, touch me now" while the other two say "Help, can't get no satisfaction." As he says at the end, "It's going to get hard.."

Enrique Iglesias, Rihanna and some guy called Pharrell join the other judges to help them decide which of the 32 remaining acts make the 16 to appear in the Live Shows. Mariah Carey should also have joined Simon but rain stopped her play or plane for this first part of the next round.

I lost count of the number of times we get told who was going where and with whom. If you don't know you'll find out soon enough. Suffice it to say we're talking about grand, really impressive sets in glorious sunshine except for Paula's Place where it looked like it was a typical English rainy afternoon in October and as drab as anything compared to the picture perfect scenes that Simon and Nicole had created.

The girls rushed to clutch Simon as he entered and, with some teenagers made up to the extent that they were looking like they could have been in the Over 30s group, the scene was slightly uncomfortable viewing, especially the bit where Caitlin Koch, who didn't do the run and scream and grab bit, realises she does need to compete and attempts to give as many as she can a group hug from behind. Maybe she thought she was in a rugby scrum.

Little Brian B was first up at LA Reid's place. You have to be impressed with this kid. He's got piles of words and awkward rhythms to remember and just gets everything right in his way and in his style. He is a complete, marketable package and is bound to get some deal from someone soon. He'll be good TV for a while too so is pretty much a certainty for the Live Shows now. Not a winner but he'll be there for a few weeks. Until the round where they have to sing, that is. And can you really imagine him doing the synchronised dance number in matching tops that they're bound to introduce the Live Shows with? No. Still, the clips of him getting stroppy during rehearsals should be amusing.

Simone appears with even longer legs than I remembered and moves gracefully down the immaculate decking next to a mirror-like pool. Any shot of that scene would make nice desktop wallpaper and, whatever happens she'll surely have a calendar full of really nice photos to take home and send to her friends at Christmas. Performance-wise, Simone's been unimpressive so far. She's here because Simon likes her and, with just young lads around for advice, you get the feeling she'll get through somehow. She does have more than a passing resemblance to Sinita too, which will help. "You look fantastic," says Simon, something I just don't reckon he'd have started with had Mariah been there. She does a nice version of the Beatles' Help, restrained and thoughtfully presented. A safe audition and if she's on the Live Shows you have to wonder at whose expense? Now that's the question.

First of the groups is The Anser. Nice harmonies, great singers but not sure where they'd fit in commercially these days. They have talent but how memorable are they going to be? Hmmm. I can't remember what they did and it was only a few minutes ago.

Dexter seems to have got through largely on personality and being occasionally different enough to stand out. He's made good TV so far with a lot of after performance emotion and Jagger moves and James Brownesque bursts of delivery. He's a natural entertainer, fun and lovable. Who would have expected him to attempt a classic Beyonce track? Plenty of props to the guy for that - and he wowed Nicole on the beach in a scene he couldn't have imagined in his wildest dreams a few months back. There's always an odd act or two that gets into the Live Shows in the UK and he could be one if Simon's going to follow the same plan. Paula will be batting for him too so I reckon Nicole will be getting a few calls to help her with the decision.

Skyelor is one of the weaker acts to make it this far. A nice guy and, yes, nice voice and he even threw in a nod towards the country vote but I see him in a group rather than a solo success. Ah, too late for the groups - unless they change InTENsity to InELEVENsity. Having said that, I can't imagine ten kids staying together for long so he might still get a chance. He's probably due for the tearful "Sorry I have to let you go" shots in part 2 or 3.

Tora, on the other hand, is a strong contender. Once we get past the annoyingly obviously set-up shots of her with a spanner under a car, leaning into the engine bay with a low cut top and tight shorts, Sir Mick features once again as she hits Simon with Satisfaction. An awkward start but then she gets going and she'd be an exciting addition to the Live Shows. Rock Chick needed. She'd fit that bill nicely. Pity about the tattoos though. Her dancing seemed out of sync with her singing - or at least with the track we heard which did make me wonder how much re-editing there'd been. The sound quality at all the scenes seemed amazingly good for open air performances. In the UK X Factor Judges' Houses shows it was really poor. Here we're getting decent lengths of tracks too and much better viewing all round. I'll not criticise the editing although I'm sure some will, especially after the autotune problems of the past!

Lakoda Rayne perform for the first time for us. Four girls who didn't make the solo categories but each with talent and, of course, looking great too. We even get a caption to say "Cari's House" where they rehearsed initially and, by the looks of it, the prize money might not make that much of a difference to her family finances. I accidentally ran their performance twice which was just as well for this review as I just didn't get it first time round. They seemed more like four girls doing their own thing, doing it competently but not exactly inspiring anyone. Second time round it clicked. They're actually very good. there's tension in there and I can't imagine them all getting on that well off camera and they'll never win but they do have appeal and clever management and song choice might get them through.

Stacy gets a much improved appearance with the makeover, although the mouth still troubles me. What comes out of it does too when she starts screeching the long high notes. If she could stop doing that then people will love her because otherwise she is one brilliant performer, confidently and expertly presenting Purple Rain with a version Prince would have been proud of. The notes were all spot on and she's got that presence already that says she's going to get somewhere. Stacy's a sure-fire Live Show act and we'll be seeing her on screen for a good many weeks yet. Enrique Iglesias made the quote of the evening with "I think the neighbours heard that!" (Cue horizon shot and not another property in sight!)

The Brewer Boys - another act that had virtually no screen time before. I guess they were too busy playing computer games. Once you stopped wondering what kids Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan might have had together and could concentrate on their performance you got the impression that here's an act that you could just say "Hey, kids, go and entertain people," and they'd do it. Really accomplished. Geeky dancing that wouldn't have been out of place in a Footloose movie but, strangely, it didn't seem to matter. They were doing this as if it was in their own back yard. They have to be in the Live Shows. Pharrell didn't get it but I think Paula did.

Phillip Lomax has stayed under the wire so far and neither got the big write-ups or the embarrassing put-downs either. You had to have some respect for the guy doing a Rihanna number whilst she-with-the-big-forehead sat there a few feet away. Some challenge but he took it and brought yet another quite unique style to the show with his Brat Pack 50s style and good looks. A good job done here and I'd love to see him make it but he'll need five of the other boys to be less impressive. A difficult time ahead as I couldn't call it as to whether he gets through or not.

Elaine G does an Oasis track, and does it confidently and almost immaculately. Maybe too perfectly, I wonder? She is very professional but she has Stacy to compete with and I don't see both of them getting through. I wonder what she'd have done with Purple Rain? That would have been interesting. As she finished on the predictably annoying big high note the scene panned back as if the camera guy had been blown away, literally rather than being that impressed! Or both, I suppose, as she was pretty damn good.

Back to Simon's pad - and it's interesting that the places are called Judges' Homes in X Factor USA as opposed to Judges' Houses in X Factor UK. I suppose you folks get to see the actual places they live whereas UK contestants are flown off to what look more like hotels in foreign lands (or a small holding in Ireland for Louis Walsh's unfortunate guys in the past). Caitlin graces our screens and we're reminded that she's a 'Cook' not a 'Cock' once more. She's obviously realised that Sinita, I mean Simone, has made all the moves so far and asked for "Help" from the boss so she tops that completely by looking him straight in the eye and gently singing "Tonight you're mine..." Completely. Once you got over wondering what on earth must have flashed across Simon's mind at that point you'd hear a beautiful version of this 60s number. Every note and intonation spot on. Why hasn't this girl already been taken on by someone? In a way, it may be too late for her as she lacks that modern edge that would make her stand out. Or she could have lied about her age and not been out of place in the Over 30s where she would have stood a better chance of getting through. She's another excellent act who will be on the margins of coming or going in the next shows and, strong though she looks, tears could well fall. Steve, brace yourself.

Nick Voss next. I keep hearing Elvis which I suppose could be regarded as cool nowadays rather than just an impression act but I just don't see how he'll fit in to the Live Shows where he'll be told to do something else. Sometimes he looks and sounds very good and then sometimes he looks and sounds plain wrong. Had he stayed in character all the way through his track then it might have been better but switching from the 50s to 70s style actions served only to confuse us all, not least Rihanna.

Quite how Steve Jones managed to get from one part of the world to another in such a short time I do not know and perhaps the editing team could at least make sure he wears the same things for the sake of continuity if nothing else. Sun up, sun down, rain - and they say the English have crazy weather. Thereagain he is Welsh, and that might explain a lot.

4Shore are the band with the silly name but they can sing and sing well, naturally together and they've flown through the rounds so far. They may have come to a halt here though, without LA Reid on their side. They get a poor song and just didn't make any lasting impression other than memories of something like The Four Tops in red. They know what they're doing and deserve another chance to get through but are probably up against the StereoHogzz for the one place to fill with their style.

James Kenney is another act that has escaped a lot of the cameras to date. he reminds me of David Cook and might have stood a good chance in that year's American Idol. Here, today, 2011? I don't know. He's a solid, reliable performer but will he sell records? I say that we've hardly seen this guy so far but maybe we have and just haven't remembered him as much as the others. And that could be his problem. If he does scrape through then good luck to him and it would be good to see more of an earthy rock element too from someone not bordering on 50. Nice guy, though.

The first part of the Judges' Homes edition ends with Drew. This is a fabulous way to leave us wanting more. In a stunning scene this 14 year old going on 24 year old absolutely shows how it should be done. A standout audition so far and watch the download figures for this clip on YouTube. Amazing. But... "It's going to get hard," says Simon afterwards, ominously.

Now what he could do instead is put Drew with Janet Devlin from X Factor UK and there he would have a guaranteed Christmas No 1 Album across both continents. Neither need win their respective competitions to make their money and leave the show clear for someone else to have a chance.