Friday, 2 November 2012

Live Shows Week 1: And Then There Were Twelve

There are some big surprises here so UK viewers may want to wait until ITV2 catches up with what the judges decided across the Pond tonight. I have included most of the videos of the performances but not all are available. This must have been one tough night for both the judges and the contestants, the judges having first to decide which two acts they wanted to sing again and then to choose - again - which one to include in the Top 12 and which to send home.

No public votes to help them choose at either stage. No consensus required between them. Straight choices, two and then one. If you look carefully at the judges' expressions, especially Britney's, then you'll get an idea of what they'll decide but I'll leave the announcement of which four made it until the end of this post so if you don't want to know yet you can find out for yourself later.

First, Demi asks Cece and Willie to perform again.

I had to listen to this a couple of times before I really got it - so much screaming in the background and an intense backing track - but when I did I was so glad that, once past an unconvincing start, she found her emotions and interpreted this unusual track brilliantly, ending superbly with talent bursting out all the way through. She looked reserved, frightened and vulnerable but will have won many hearts over tonight.

Willie's performance has been removed for some reason. I shall try and find another copy. From the wonderfully informative MJSbigblog I read that he was pitchy and seemed now to be in way over his head. Simon said that he wished he were his mentor and might have presented him better. Willie was someone I had down as a certainty for the Top 12 as he has such a great character and is different and I reckon he'd get a huge wave of fans building up votes for his super personality and sheer likeability and votes for his Country style. Paige, despite a very weak vocal last night, avoided what I had expected - yet another confrontation with Cece.

Second, LA puts Vino and Tate straight through. Tate had to be in the Top 12. The one act they can absolutely depend on. He probably won't even need to rehearse and will have a song catalogue he can just stand and deliver without any worry whatsoever. Vino I think is great but I had expected LA to choose him over David. They are quite different in style but that urban worker look that they both have on camera is a visual clash - like two intensely decorated sheets of wallpaper really shouldn't be used in the same room. I really would have thought LA would choose David to stay over Vino with Vino then having to battle against Jason. But no, it's David v Jason instead. Big surprise.

David's performance was excellent. So much talent and he looks and sounds so much more experienced than I imagine he must be, unless he's been doing this locally for some time. I guess he must have been as he seems naturally comfortable even on that amazing and vast set. He must also beat the others by a mile in terms of Twitter support. My stream has been filled with his tag all week. The judges, strangely, seemed unimpressed.

Jason was the one I had down to go tonight. He's a super character, totally credible and actually a good singer too but he really doesn't strike me as someone that LA Reid would be happy mentoring. This would be LA's chance to fix that. Well, it might have been but Jason pulled a brilliant performance - quite straight, no fancy bits or immense set or backing - and showed just how good a voice he has got.

Third, another very, very tough call indeed. Britney, as I'd predicted, keeps Carly Rose and Beatrice after amazingly good performances last night. Nothing else could have made sense. That left Diamond and Arin.

Possibly the best solo of the night, Diamond's version of the Elton John track was spot on from the first note. (Others please note! Get it right at the start, OK.) She looked right and sounded like she could walk in to a recording studio tomorrow and have an album ready by tea time. This girl is a future star without a doubt. I can just see her in three or four years' time, exams and boyfriends out of the way, home life sorted and with professional guidance and confidence and just that little bit of maturity and understanding of the world that's missing today. All the judges loved this. How could she possibly go?

Arin's video is also unavailable at present. Again, borrowing MJSblog review, he sang You Keep Me Hanging On more in Kim Wilde than Supreme's style apparently and with pitch problems but also some good bits that also impress all the judges a lot. It seems like he's one big hit with the audience too. Well, apart from Emblem3 and a couple of guys in Lyric145, he has zero competition! If he stays then that vote will count big time in his favour, even if he does struggle with some notes.

Lastly, Simon selects Emblem3 and Lyric145 as his two definites for the Top 12. So we're going to lose at least three girls as Sister C are up against what was once Lylas and tonight is 1432 and next week, if they survive, something else. That's a first in X Factor history - two name changes! You do get the feeling taht things have already been decided - I mean, who would have a competition prepared for a name change for a group that was going home? You know and I know that Sister C are in trouble. Lovely though they all are, they're lucky to be in the Live Shows and I don't think they'd be around long even if they do survive.

This track was performed really well, and this is an excellent group who you could trust to entertain a crowd almost anywhere. Just maybe not X Factor. They look good and each has a remarkably strong voice and style. It's difficult to criticise them at all.

Last of all it's The Five Girls Who Started As Solo Contestants And Simon Put Them In A Group. Now this was the best performance of the night. Sorry, Diamond. This was emotional and so well sung that even Demi had to remark how well they'd done her song! Each of the five is quite different but they have managed to blend in a way I would not have thought possible in such a short space of time. Cute to see two of them holding hands before the end of the track just before one really hits just the right notes and they all deserve huge praise for that. and whoever coached them over the intervening 24 hours.

OK. It's decision time. I haven't seen exactly how the judges' revealed their choices and imagine there would have been an awful lot of tears. as I said at the start, there are some surprises so I'll leave bags of space below before showing the results.

This is your Top 12

Jannel Garcia
Paige Thomas
CeCe Frey !

Vino Alan
Tate Stevens
Jason Brock !!

Beatrice Miller
Carly Rose
Arin Ray !

Lyric 145
1432 (Soon to be called something else) !