Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Simon Decides The Last Two Acts For The Live Shows

At last, we have the full 16 acts who'll be on the Live Shows confirmed! And, as Simon selects 9 girls and 5 guys for the last two acts to go through there's a surprise.

Dope Crisis, as expected from the lack of screen time, are cut and Emblem3 will be this year's boy band hopes. The five guys comprising Playback that were put together and seemed quite fun didn't make it but expect to see them all audition again next year as solos.

The surprise success is that of Sister C, three beautiful girls - they could be sisters, or at least two of them but I have yet to discover that - who we've seen very little of and that, coupled with what appeared to be a lack of excitement from Marc and Simon earlier and no mention in most spoilers either, made me think they were gone. From what little I have heard they sing remarkably well and blend fabulously, real talent. Not that that means they'll necessarily get far but I'm glad they've got the chance.

The other group through, Lylas, comprises five girls who auditioned as solo acts and have been pretty impressive since as a group.

It looks like being quite a series. I don't see any obvious duds. The weakest would probably, on present showing, David and Jason in the Overs but everyone else stands a chance of winning this from the start. Even those two are good.

Arin stands out just because he's the oldest in the Teens but you can't knock Carly Rose's experience and immaculate vocals which may just win over Beatrice's great personality and Diamond's vivaciousness. I really couldn't call it in that group and it will all depend on how they settle in to the huge stage, publicity, pressures of learning new songs and performing every week.

I love Cece and Jennel in the Young Adult category and expect the likeability factor to give Jennel the edge between them. Paige seems determined and has real passion but I don't see her winning as I can Jennel. The interesting one there is Willie who has a great, unique voice and style combination. But will he get the Texas vote? I'll tip Jennel but really it's close.

The Overs have Tate and Vino who are very strong contenders. I would say both should last a long time, especially Vino who may prove more flexible in some rounds. Tate is Tate and I don't see how he'll handle some rounds. Scotty got away with it, though, as did Philip, so who knows what the experienced and charming country singer with a great, natural voice will achieve?

So who amongst the Groups is going to make it? That's difficult too, mainly because we haven't really seen much of them all. We've got quite a good idea of where Emblem3 fit in and I'm not sure, from what I've heard, that they'll get votes for their performances as such. What the will get will be the young female vote, who haven't got a great many to choose from this year. Basically, it's Arin, Willie or Emblem3. So they'll last longer than their talents may justify, at least at this stage.

Lyric145 have this fairly unknown and previously hard rap-looking semi-professional singer at their front. She's toned down the appearance considerably but expect her to turn up the style switch when she's on stage next. I'm not sure America will love this group, not how they'll cope with this format either. They're not a weak act, just vulnerable in my opinion because of the voting trends.

Having not seen Sister C for more than a few seconds I would only worry that America won't 'love' them, as Simon says. If they're too slick, too cool then the personality thing will kick in. It's very much down to how they project themselves in the first week.

I am fairly sure Lylas will survive for a while, though, so it's likely to be the two girl bands who stand the best chance from the start in the Group category.

Overall, this is a great line-up. No way am I going to attempt anything more by way of prediction!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Fox Give US 14/16ths of the Live Show Acts

Quite a lot of chaos across The Pond as X Factor USA Judges' Houses Part 3 - the important bit where they choose who will be going through to the Live Shows - was pulled because of a baseball game being delayed by rain. Some viewers managed to see who gets through to Britney's Young Teens category, LA Reid's Over 25s and Demi's Young Adults but no-one saw who Simon chose for the last two of his Groups and, in particular, whether the solo entrants that he's manufactured into a couple of interesting groups make it. It's probably safe to assume that they do but we need to see it to be sure.

It sounds like a complete fiasco but it might give us here in the UK a chance to catch up! Fox will be airing a cut-back version of the show next week which I'm sure won't be needed here. It also looks as though there are several 'catch-up' audition shows scheduled before we get the first Live Show. That, too may be skipped here so that we actually get the Live Shows broadcast just a day or so later in the UK instead of the 15 or 16 days that would apply if the previous schedules were followed.

So, as expected, here are the acts that we know for sure we'll be seeing. If you'd peeked at the Spoiler then you'll not learn anything new and there are no videos worth including. If you're really into the sobbing scenes as acts get cut then you'll find them on YouTube somewhere.

12-16s mentored by Britney Spears

Carly Rose Sonenclar
Diamond White
Beatrice Miller
Arin Ray

Overs mentored by LA Reid

Tate Stevens
David Correy
Vino Allan
Jason Brock

17-24s mentored by Demi Lovato

Paige Thomas
Cece Frey
Willie Jones
Jennel Garcia

Groups mentored by Simon Cowell

Lyric 145
(and that's as far as they showed!!)

Friday, 12 October 2012

Judges' Houses Pt2 The Overs and The Kids

In this edition we see LA Reid reluctantly considering which of his six Overs acts to put through to the Live Shows and, at the opposite extreme, Britney Spears with six acts aged between 13 and 17. Their decisions shouldn't be too tough.

First up is Jason Brock. Everyone seemed to love him at the auditions. This was pretty average, to be honest but he's a lovely fellow and would get lots of support on the Live Shows albeit not necessarily for the right reasons. Justin Bieber's there and really seems way out of his depth, offering pretty banal comments which LA seems virtually to ignore. LA refers to the '$5 million', pause, 'Hold that thought.' Another long pause. Agreed but I'd still put him through. No risk of him getting it anyway.

David Correy slows Domino right down and comes across well. Shakes everyone by the hand. Bieber's manager sees 'pure passion'. LA doesn't see viability. He would be difficult to sell, for sure, but might just scrape in. He's a better performer than Jason but lacks personality.

Who's Daryl Black? Oh, yes, we had a glimpse of him some weeks ago. Short shot of this guy again - seems pretty obvious that LA's not impressed and the guy's on his way home. He was OK but really not in any way someone about to win this thing.

In contrast, Tate Stevens is LA's best card by a mile. This particular audition didn't work for me at all but from what I've seen before he'll be totally reliable and will do a good job on the Live Shows. In fact, only having to share the massive country vote with young Willie (who won't appeal straightaway to Texas anyway) will give him something like the Skylar factor. Not a Scotty factor so he'll come 4th or 5th but he will be there. You can bet on it.

Vino Alan stands out in this category. Great voice. Different and powerful and he can put across emotions really well. I suspect he's the only one LA actually wants to put through. He'll get all the Daughtry votes. 'The package?' asks LA, twice. Well, LA, none of this lot has 'the package'. Overs never do. I see this guy doing really well, though. Depending on how the votes split, he could be in the final three.

No one likes Tara, least of all the producers who give us clips of this girl saying things that will further put off anyone watching. It's a pity really and I almost feel sorry for the girl who is so self-confident she has become self-deluded. She has made a really good effort to look nice, lost the hat Simon hated, sorted out her hair and dress and makes no statement visually now so we can concentrate on the singing and personality. The singing is fair enough, even excellent in places when she gets into the run of things, but the personality thing creeps in and she must be as annoying as hell to live with there. I'd put her on a cruise ship or at a holiday camp where I know she'd entertain well and with competence in short bursts. But no-one wants to hear her talking about herself or thanking Jesus. LA would surely be the last judge to put her through so she must have realised that and I hope, for her sake, that she is prepared for the rejection.

Moving on from the somewhat depressing Overs to the cheerful and bright Britney who I suspect is delighted with her category. With there, you can guess that he'll have some influence which no-one appeared to have on LA!

Diamond White is a chatty little girl. So young and bubbly. Really good and passionate audition, holding back when she needed to. Nice to see Beatrice compliment her, even if it was a bit resignedly. Diamond will be on the Live Shows.

Reed is too damn serious for a 13 year old. There's something unnerving about a kid singing songs about What You Do To Me who can clearly have no idea whatsoever about what it is. You get the feeling that his parents have totally set him on this path and that's all he knows and seems to care about. He does sing well and phrases well but it's like out of a book and not from anywhere near the heart. In a few years' time he could well be one amazing performer but, please, not now. He needs to go and play with friends, get into trouble, relax and come back later. For that reason, and probably that reason alone as I can't fault his technical skills, he shouldn't go through to the Live Shows.

James Tanner is a little older at 15. He does rap stuff. We don't get to see a lot. He doesn't do anything we'll remember or that someone else couldn't have done. Quite boring even if you like that style, I suspect. So that's one definitely out.

At 17 now, Arin seems so much more mature than the others in this category. He is natural and experienced and people will love him on the Live Shows where he will be pretty much unique. I don't see him as a winner but he'll perform well and must be a dead cert to get through.

Beatrice looks young. Nice song and she managed to get emotions across which I really hadn't expected. Nice audition and impressive. Pretty, naturally too, no make-up or special hair style or clothes - just like she'd stopped her homework and popped down to sing. I loved her smile when she turned back at the very end. Nice.

Carly Rose is the one who the others must feel they have to beat. She is just so self-assured. almost professional already. I feel she's missed out on any youth but she does really have an amazing talent. She is very, very good. You simply have to feel sorry watching Beatrice watching her through the window. Carly Rose is a potential winner but if they do put Beatrice through as well it may surprise us all to find that it's Beatrice who captures voters' hearts most. There has to be four from this category! Neither Diamond nor Arin can possibly be left out!

It's quite obvious from's and Britney's remarks that Carly Rose is their first choice and I am sure that the producers had to get Britney to say something about whether she could handle the Live Shows just for balance. The fact is Carly Rose has done more live shows than most already in her various other theatre roles before!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Judges' Houses Pt1: the Girls and The Groups

Jennel Garcia sings I Kissed A Girl and comes across well, maybe a little less sparkly than she had been before but, as she says, this is the one that counts. She needs the big stage and all the extras that the Live Show teams will provide for her and to smile, smile, smile as she sets the place alight when she does.

And a another smile from Willie Jones who gets another shot at Nobody Knows. Boy, does he do a good job of that, too. He comes across as such a nice guy and this was a very impressive performance, relaxed and yet passionate too. I like this fellow. Nick says he's a star but needs to sort out whether he's R&B or Country. I'm not so sure - he can sit astride both and that'll do no harm at all. This is one talented category!

Jillian Jensen is looking so much better after the few weeks between Boot Camp and now. The tears and screwed up face have gone and Nick Jonas thinks she's sexy (which makes you wonder what on earth he'll say about Cece!) For the second time out of just three, Demi is worrying about having made them switch off their emotions a bit too much. It struck me as odd advice at the time. Jillian sings beautifully with both harsh and soft tones in Gravity. Listening to Demi afterwards, though, you sense that she's already getting ready to give her the news she's not going through. In this category, though, coming 4th equal is not all bad.

Nick Youngerman hasn't had much screen time and I didn't even recognise his name.He's a cheerful chap and raps well with the Tik Tok track, clearly enjoying himself and thinking he's done well. I don't know - his range was pretty narrow and I can't see him making it any further.

Paige Thomas never smiles or seems to look happy about anything. She's done really well to get this far and should be proud but it seems the reverse sometimes, with shots of her looking worried or even a bit bothered, especially by almost anything Cece says or does. She does a nice version of Turn Up The Music and doesn't oversing or try too hard and that works well. She seems to put an awful lot into the image and I can't imagine what the Live Show teams will be able to do - there's not much left to tweak!

Cece Frey has sung brilliantly but hasn't connected with viewers from what I can gather so far. There's something about her attitude and determination that makes her seem untouchable and certainly I wouldn't want to try to argue with her as she comes across as really intelligent, smart and self-confident. Demi has a word before and seems to break through a barrier which also does a lot of good and when she performs I'm Sexy And I Know It it's not a statement but fun. In a very short audition I think she simply blows the others off the stage, or the carpet in this case, with marvellous tone and movement. Faultless and I have started to warm to this girl more. I have always been an admirer and if she does manage to pull off the 'likeability' thing then she will do very well. If not, no matter how well she sings and performs and looks, she'll simply not get the votes which will be a shame.

Now for the groups. We really haven't seen much of these at all so far - and with three manufactured ones here that's not exactly surprising! So let's see what Simon's been constructing. He would simply love to get another group out there and there is a feeling that, following 1 Direction's success in the States (and Little Mix winning X Factor UK), there is some renewed interest in the category which was usually seen as an unlikely winning one.

First is Playback. I'll add the names that Simon rescued later but owen takes the lead to start and you'll recognise the others even if you don't recall who they are. They clearly enjoyed themselves, possibly more than anyone I've watched at Judges' Houses in two years, and were pretty competent with a fun version of Rich Girl. Marc Anthony didn't think much to their performance, which, I suppose, wasn't anything fabulous but Simon definitely likes them and that'll be good news for these five lads, I'm sure.

Next one of the original, actual 'groups' who were seen being a bit heavy on the confidence side in the auditions but weren't at all bad for all that. It had good and bad. Good harmonies but I got the feeling that the first lead was trying a bit too hard to sing 'properly' and that didn't work for me. The rap-type guy was good and they all managed to pull it together to put on a reasonable performance that Marc actually preferred to the previous group. These guys would work hard and could be reliable but I'm not convinced they'd get teh votes they'd need to last long. Difficult decisions ahead, for sure.

Three lovely girls make up Sister C. If each had applied individually then there's a good chance each would have got through but as a group I don't know that they come across as anything special. They can certainly sing but guys don't punch out numbers on a phone in the Live Shows as much, indeed, anywhere near as much as the girls and they tend to vote for the one girl at that. So they'd be really unlikely to win and, whilst gracing the stage and our ears wonderfully, that might only be for a week or two at most. It's sad but that could be the last we see of these.

Lyric145 is the One4Five duo with the considerable added benefit of Lyric da Queen. Now this is not the prettiest group in the room and, whilst one of the guys had ditched the wicked reverse colour lens in his eyes, Lyric still wears a bling eyepatch. An eyepatch would be OK but a bling one? But, appearance? Who cares when they can sound as professional and confident as these three do together. I'm no fan of the rap or hip-hop or whatever this genre is called now but it sounded like something that would sell and could appeal to kids today. Will those be the kids who'll vote? No, possibly even less so that for Sister C with the audience profile of X Factor USA. Simon and Marc, though, both seemed very impressed and I can see them going through.

Lylas is a group comprising five girls who had shone at Boot Camp. Some good singers and performers in there. they sound smart too. Dinah doesn't look anything like she did in the auditions. There's one that seems a bit weak, Normani, I think, who starts off but three are outstanding vocally and the way the one in the middle looks at Simon when she's singing is powerful. They come together remarkably well after what only have been a few days. They'll definitely be chosen above Sister C, that's for sure.

As Simon and Marc say at the end, though, this is going to be one tough decision. I guess Lylas, Lyric145 and Playback. there's no intelligence on this either - the Spoiler I got hold of being very vague on the Groups so I'm going out on a limb here. We'll know soon enough. In fact, Stateside readers probably know already and can see how wrong (or right) I've been.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Boot Camp Pt2

In a different take on the 'put them in groups and see what happens' which has been a disaster for years on American Idol (remember watching Scotty wandering around for ages trying to find someone to sing with a couple of years ago? Never again, we hoped!) the producers have gone for a one-on-one approach which certainly seems fairer and a bit better organised.

If you're coming to the same conclusions as I am about certain contenders then you'll see that this format can bring out the worst in those we don't like much and the best in some others. It's a chance for the judges to get an idea of whether they'll cope on live shows and stand some chance of getting on with whoever they're really up against in front of x million viewers in a few weeks' time.

I'll add a few comments later but here are the important people you'll want to know more about. No decisions this week, though. Expect tears before bedtime in a few days' time!

Tara Simon vs Jennel Garcia – “Landslide”

Beatrice Miller and Carly Rose Sonenclar – These two 13 year olds are singing “Pumped up Kicks”.

Vino Allan vs David Correy – “What’s Going On”

Diamond White vs Dinah Jane Hansen – They sing a stripped down version of “Stronger”

Sister C vs Lauren Jauregui

Brandon Hassan vs Reed Deming

Julia Bullock vs Ally Brooke

Tate Stevens vs Willie Jones

Arin Ray Vs Normani Hamilton – “What Makes You Beautiful”

Jillian Jansen Vs Latasha Robinson – “Why Don’t You Stay”

Freddie Combs vs Jessie Bryant – “Up On The Roof”

Paige Thomas vs CeCe Frey – “Secrets”

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Boot Camp Pt1

Jennel is so photogenic.

Performing in front of their competitors should be interesting. At least they get to choose their own songs and, hopefully the crazy 'group' thing has been dropped at last.

Diamond White is suitably sparkly and very confident for her age. One she gets into the song she's pretty good but gets quite a few notes wrong and needs to work on that. None the less, she'll look good on TV.

Austin has a nice tone and looks like a pop star but is boring. David Corin is good. Dinah-Jane. Good voice. We finally get a glimpse of the mysterious Lyric Da Queen. Jason does well as does Carly Rose Sonenclar. Do you think she's too old for her age? asks Simon. That girl is so accomplished.

A bit of back story from Jessica, again. Not the best of tracks. Pained looks on others waiting to perform are genuine. She doesn't look or sound very comfortable.

I really like this girl. Britney remarks that she has Crazy sex appeal which is quite a compliment, coming from Britney. Just as well Jennel's over 18 now, I guess. The makeover team will love getting her to work on in a few weeks' time! Watch the expressions of the boys (who don't see her as competition) and the girls (who do!)

Vino's a great name. Ugly tattoos and stupid trousers. Great voice! Really good voice.

Short. Seems like he messed up the words but didn't make much difference to me.

Oh dear. Oh dear. Trevor tries. Another oh dear. And another who shouldn't even have been there. I want my mom. That says it all for that batch.

Three groups go by. One wasn't too bad. Emblem3 shine in comparison. Good track to choose too.

Tara was the annoying 'vocal coach'. Looking a bit better. Not sounding that much better, though. She can certainly reach notes but in between hits the wrong ones. Still a bit annoying, especially that shade of lipstick.

Willie Jones should have a section of the competition to himself. There's no-one like him, although, he did seem quite off key this time around. He's a cool performer for all that. Great character.

We've seen shots of both Cece and Paige looking pained or all I'm not bothered at the others' performances. Paige sets off, beginning to look a bit better but it's not until she gets to the main refrain and higher register that it works. That part she did really well indeed. Now let's see what Cece's like. The cruel camera shots will have already given the audience high expectations and that would be difficult to beat.

So attractive. Nice attitude towards Simon who hadn't seen her before. Love this girl. Whilst all the notes were perfect and she did seem to mean the words too, Paige had the higher end right. What a great category. Not sure how they'll get on, though. Luckily, Tara's over 25. Simon says One of you actually nailed it and smiled. Cece looked a lot happier than Paige but I'm not so sure he meant her. Having said that I really want to more of Cece.

Choices made for the following day. Three groups. This is the first really big nervy time. First group is obviously Yes, despite Simon playing with them. The 2nd group has the annoying little Jordyn in so they might have guessed. One or two I still didn't expect to see go in there, though. The 3rd Group has some stars in so must be Yes.

Next the cut down to about 8 for each of the four new categories for X Factor: 12-16s, 17-24s, Over 25s and Groups. Thank goodness they didn't do Girls, Boys or there would have been real problems! There just haven't been many really good 'Boys' to make a category, never mind 8 for Judges' Houses.

The Ones to Watch At Boot Camp

That's all I'm saying. I shall add the names later. Don't want to give too much away just yet!

Auditions Over. You've Now Seen the Winner. (Just Not On This Week's Show)

You may remember this little chap collapsed on the floor at the end of the last show. The drama gets stretched out a bit but we've seen worse and Trevor gets on stage and you just have to smile.

I don't know what gatorade is but whatever the paramedics gave him didn't do any harm as he was pretty much in tune and danced in time for the ridiculously camp I'm Sexy And I Know It. Hang on, this lad's 13? here's something not quite right about the mixture of the old and experienced, the genuinely and deliberately sexy with these baby-face kids. Sure they know what it's all about but I can't see X Factor USA following UK producers who are about to show Nicole Scherzinger wearing just soap bubbles in the bath when she's supposedly calling the Boys group she mentors.

Moving on to a 16 year old. Still not old enough according to States legislation to have any experience about really knowing much about whether he's sexy but he gets plenty of admiring glances from the audience. This is all a bit tedious. They must be desperate for something to fill the time. This is the last of the audition shows so maybe they're running out of acts.

He was OK. He didn't 'wow' Britney. I like her honesty. He gets through anyway and perhaps we can get less of the girlfriend stuff if he gets any further.

The next audition is one big fellow, coming on in a wheelchair. Freddie Combs is pretty massive. You kind expect him to be good.

Well, there was something in his voice that actually worked for me and for all the cheesiness of this great big chap looking very odd in a wheelchair he certainly deserves the chance that this show's publicity can give him to try and get some of that fat turned into enough muscle to get him up on his own two feet. He wasn't perfect, though, it has to be said and I don't see him as a future star on the pop scene by any stretch of the imagination but - and this is the important bit - I loved the 'deal' that Simon offered. He'd help him Freddie helped himself, backed up by LA Reid too. I don't reckon that Freddie's just one of those fat blokes that got that way by too many burgers or watching TV for hours - it looks like more of a genuine medical thing. So fixing it ain't gonna be a simple job of going home and doing some exercises.

I can see the marketing potential, though, away from X Factor and, for some show to come, we'll be getting out the hankies as he does, indeed, stand up and sing and God help us all if it's Stand By Me and he gets the notes right and LA is up there by him on the stage too. Cue tremendous applause, lots of weeping and the 'difficult' decision at Judges' Houses. Well, that's my guess. The spoilers are out now as to who does actually make the Live Shows - 17 apparently - and I wonder if he gets that 17th slot?

Next, Lauren is an attractive 16 year old with bright eyes and a super smile. I like her already. let's see what she sounds like.

Not the best of tracks to show off her talent but that was enough to get her through easily. The screen likes her and, with the nerves relaxed and some better song choices, she could do well in this competition. Unless the producers have hidden a pile of talent from us so far, she could make the Live Shows.

Back in San Francisco and now it's a 12 year old! Oh dear. This is getting silly. You're not going to sing Annie ? asks Simon. Oops.

That was painful. I remember sitting on tiny uncomfortable chairs set out for parents but with spacing more suitable for 8 year olds at Middle School end of year concerts and that's the sort of memory that I think Simon shares. She still gets through as no-one else wants to upset her. They'll fix that at Boot camp. Hopefully.

So that's it. Theoretically, you've seen the winning act! My guess is you'll spot her or, possibly, them, in this recap video.

Now I'm going to take a look at the supposed Top 17. Beware Spoilers on here, OK?!