Saturday, 30 November 2013

Big Band Week Sees The Old And The Young Go.

Big Band Night. Why? Whilst some performers might suit the genre, I don't see Alex & Sierra or Restless Road exactly matching the concept of suits and brass backing. Some challenges do seem unnecessary in the search for what I presume is to be a future star in their own right, not an all-rounder. Anyway, a nice easy-listening start with Michael Buble who smiles when he sees the three young girl judges doing a sort of stand-up dance.

Rion Paige is first on following a pretty good series for her so far. She has been pretty impressive throughout. Tonight she showed yet more brilliance in a strange and quite 'young' performance of Swingin' which was quite spectacular and suited her down to the ground. I don't know what her mother was wearing but it shone out like a lemon beacon in the audience! Amazing. That was an example of what she could do in the market-place and she'd sell bundles. She is one example of an act that should benefit from this Big Band thing. How many more will there be? She is easily safely through to a Top 6.

Restless Road are almost completely drowned out by the band - and it's pretty odd 'big band' stuff at that. I didn't get this track at all, probably because I could hardly hear it. So they may have been doing great for all I know. Strange combination of ties - bow tie, straight tie and no tie, open neck. Odd but they looked good in the black suits, a great improvement on the tired and drab outfits to date. I'm not sure everyone got Simon's joke about my namesake's open neck look catching on! The judges were all very complimentary so I guess they must have sounded OK there. I wonder what the voters will make of it - there was a Country feel so that ought to keep them safe and I can see them being pretty popular, sound or not.

Jeff Gutt really doesn't seem like someone who would suit a big band unless it was a big heavy metal band. Good song choice. Feelin' Good works with the band and suits his voice too. He still doesn't look right on stage but does do well and with bags of confidence, getting an impressive standing ovation from the judges too. That'll please him. He had another variation of the tie thing - his being a white, undone, bow tie lying against a black shirt. Really good reviews and I am getting proven wrong on how people might meet the challenge tonight. For some reason, I am still not sure how he's going down out there in voting land. He certainly ought to make the Top 6 on that performance. We'll see who, if anyone, he can shift out of the way to get there. I'm not sure he'll have overtaken Rion but if Restless Road sounded as poor on US TV as they did here then that may be one act helping him to stay safe.

There are plenty more to come yet, though. This should suit Lillie and Josh should cope well and also look good in the suit.

As if to prove the point, a well-dressed Josh enters the stage via a back door and does You Are My Treasure and is very confident with the whole scene. I did find it a bit boring and middle of the road, to be honest, but that really shouldn't hurt him. He is excellent and a great find by the programme. Mario makes a comment about Josh 'surviving the sing off' which made me wonder what I'd missed last week but I think he just meant survived the get through to the Top 8.

Carlito may be the one act most naturally at home this week. With a Spanish number that is very much in the Latin Costa Brava mould that Ricky Martin would have been proud of. That was the Nineties, though, and there might lie a problem for this chap. Lovely though he is, and he certainly had fun and appealed to the audience by the sound of their applause, I am not sure he's done enough to escape the bottom two this week. It would be a shame to see him go on such a good night.

Alex & Sierra were always going to be in a spot of trouble this week and Trouble might have been the title of that track too. It was OK, a bit complicated and, whilst they did perform it immaculately, there wasn't the closeness that they usually present on stage. The smart clothes look good but I am not at all sure the dress did Sierra any favours. It was really neither here nor there. A bit clever, maybe a bit too clever. I don't see it getting a huge vote and feel they may well struggle to get through much further in this competition.

Lillie McLoud picks Summertime. Hmmm, now this could be really good, or it could be really not very good. The start is a little annoying and you feel as if she is slightly off key throughout the first part.She puts a superb amount of effort into making this her own and a special performance but I don't know if it really worked. I didn't like it but it might appeal to some. She has a lot of talent and must be a makeover team's dream to work with. I'd put her at risk this week. She promises 'the next song, Simon' will see her let go but I am not so sure there will be one.

Ellona Santiago really was fortunate to get through after a less than impressive performance last week but she didn't even hit bottom two so must have a decent following out there. She gets the valuable closing spot this week and I would imagine that this should be a good week for her - she sort of suits the big band idea and can look a little older than she is too, which is sort of needed unless you're going to do something very imaginative like Rion did. I am hoping cool, long dress, star quality make-up and a romantic, upbeat but not too fast number for her to get herself across with and without too many low notes. In fact, no low notes at all would be best. Emotional tear-jerker stuff as her poor sister surprises her during rehearsals.

Well she certainly looked good in the white jacket and then, when that goes, in the gold bikini with tassles. She suits the casino atmosphere and that was quite a nice-looking performance. At one point the amazing male dancers might have captured more attention than he singing. The song I did not recognise at all but it was definitely something for the big band theme all right. She sang strongly and this week got all the notes right and genuinely looked and sounded excellent. Although Simon was talking about her possibly winning the whole thing, she does need to get through this round to do so. How the voters will identify her with that I am not sure at all. Based on last week's results, though, she should be even safer and get through easily.

Interestingly, many acts seem vulnerable this time.

The whole lot are doing Cry Me A River. Ellona shone and, surprisingly, Sierra of Alex & Sierra. An odd mix with everyone maybe trying a bit too hard to impress but you do have to smile at the Restless Road guy's low note at the end. I don't think it was wise to judge them on one or two lines so the judging bit seemed a little wasted. Odd. Ellona does get a lot of compliments again so that should keep her safe again.

My feeling is that Lillie, Restless Road and Carlito are the ones at risk.

The results show starts with all the contestants' families surprising them - lots of tears again - and then they do the sing-a-long Somewhere Only We Know.

Lillie is, indeed, the first to go. That figures - the others really were all better than her. Coming 7th is no bad thing and I can see her doing pretty well after all this publicity for her career.

Demi Lovato then gets to do her new single Neon Lights. Gosh it's not very good. She is live - all credit to her for that - but she is either shouting or not really hitting the notes and you can almost see in her eyes at the end when Mario is congratulating her that she realises she doesn't really deserve much by way of praise for that. It was also a bit like a tatty version of Skyscraper. I almost felt sorry for her. She was outclassed by her own acts.

Carlito is first through so that will please him. Ellona fires through too - well deserved this time. Alex & Sierra are third through and Restless Road also make it. That was a surprise. The last act through is Jeff. Wow. That leaves it between Josh and Rion. Quite a shock. I'd put both in the final three so I am well out of touch with the voters over there by the seem of things. Really, neither should be heading home this week. If I had to choose it would be Rion I'd send home - not because she's no best but because I think she would benefit most from having time out with advisors and a team to work with her and also to give her a chance to grow emotionally. She will be fabulous but I want her a year or two older and to have credible experience of more than the obvious problems in life.

Having said that, my prediction is that it will be Josh who goes. He also is still young so can come back again or, I suspect, will get picked up soon enough by SYCO who, if they had any sense will have bagged Sweet Suspense and can now get a second future Billboard #1 act at a very cheap price.

Rion pleads with Perfect and I have to say that she is pretty damn good at getting emotion across and credibility in this number. I can't believe that she is actually in the bottom two. That was a stunningly good performance and she could easily sell that sort of thing to the teen market. I can't see Josh matching that.

Paulina introduces 'Carlito'!!! Josh appears, though, singing Bruno Mars I Should Have Brought You Flowers. God, that was good too. He is a little less obviously competitive than the bubbly and pushy Rion but you can see that he so wants to be there. Rion mentions God which might help her.

Demi naturally sends Josh home. Paulina sends Rion home. That was predictable. It is for Kelly and Simon to decide. I can see it going to deadlock and that may well mean Josh goes. Kelly sends Rion home. Simon will probably send it to deadlock rather than decide. That's what he does. So who got the lowest number of votes? It must have been Josh. Yup. Poor fellow.