Saturday 21 December 2013

And The Winner Is... Yes, You Guessed...

After auditions, Boot Camp, the 4-Chair Selection and the Live Shows this is Final. Americans like to put an e on the end and call it Finale but, whatever it is called, this is when we finally do learn who gets the $1 million contract. (It was $5 million last year but that didn't seem to do a great deal more for Tate).

The show starts with everyone looking a bit silly in white. Only Josh and Sierra actually looked comfortable in the supplied outfits. It was sing-a-long time and you had to feel sorry for Jeff who is definitely not a sing-a-long fellow.

The usual this would change everything for me responses to Mario's scripted but still annoying questions.

Carlito sings again. It's a Christmas song. He seems to be doing a lot of thinking while he's performing - including deciding when to open some doors and let out a delightful girl dressed in not a great deal. Later a whole load more girls appear around him but I'm not that sure that matched the lyrics which I could have sworn were about a guy missing his girlfriend at Christmas time. His mother was caught by the camera with a slightly disapproving look on her face but I am sure that was unintentional! His family look pretty cool and don't seem to match the image that he has been 'on the streets' for some time but I suppose they must have benefitted somehow and had some support from the show too. That was a pretty average performance but I don't think it matters now.

Mary J Blige has been appearing quite a bit recently. I'm pretty sure she appeared with Tamera on the UK show and someone on an earlier USA show too.

Jeff next. Does he have a Christmas song too? Yup. Oh Night Devine. Done his way. I'm not sure that worked much better than Carlito's effort. Eventually some drums kick in and he seems to feel more at home. Quite nice change from the usual carols and crap.

Lastly, Alex & Sierra do the Mariah Carey number. Risky as it's not an easy one. They put their own spin on it and do an almost a capella version. That worked quite well. A bit forgettable, unless you have become a big fan already. They do look like winners - very smart and very professional and immensely marketable too. They will be the winners, whatever the votes and may even finish up with a deal worth more than $1 million anyway!

All very emotional stuff with the family set pieces. Gosh.

Now we get to know who is in 3rd place.

Lea Michele sings really well, bring a touch of Glee to the night. She is superb and her new release is Breakdown, probably not something we'll hear much here though.

Mario announces that it's Carlito in 3rd place after all. He'll do fine and will probably get a contract as Simon had said that he had been the one act he would sign earlier in the season, presumably when they were just reviewing the guys or something. Carlito had made a lot of noise about wanting to get his family a stable life and provide for them and all that. To be honest, even if he had won, that wouldn't in itself do more than help them have a year during which they could share his income - probably a bit more than what the Tour Group will get. So maybe they could have a grand or two a month for a while but that is by no means guaranteed to continue and even big acts don't make much from their record deals in the early years. And few survive much longer. So, yes, he'll have a bit to share but they'll still need something else.

So it's down to Jeff Gutt v Alex & Sierra. More silly questions from Mario. Is he being told to fill? It does get a bit tedious. And if I hear once more How will winning change your life? I may have to fast forward my recording. For some reason I have no idea why we then get a pile of the rubbish performances.

Leona Lewis gets to perform One More Sleep and does so fabulously well. love that song and it could become her defining track for some years ahead as I can see it becoming a Christmas Classic. She genuinely looked as if she was really enjoying herself and totally confident, apart from descending steep steps in heels but that was something she got out of the way fairly quickly. Brilliant act.

The Final really does get drawn out as there are still two big acts to come. Pitbull next. A lot of attractive girls with very short denim shorts. Timber, It's Going Down. Yeah, right. Odd bloke but that was more commercial than I'd expected. I half expected Miley Cyrus to appear and I am sure there was a wrecking ball at one point. Some pretty provocative dancing that might have Sierra's grandparents (who we's seen earlier) wondering quite what their granddaughter has let herself in for. The three girls are up and moving around. Simon isn't. Thank goodness.

Alex & Sierra and Jeff Gutt sing again. Weird mix. Jeff Gutt sounding like someone else whose name escapes me. Lou Read maybe. Not a song I would have any of them singing really. Competently performed, however, showing that both acts have developed a smart degree of professionalism. That has all been quite a lot to learn in less than a week.

Sony get an ad as the boss tells us how one will get a 'life changing' contract.

One Direction are on again. They've had a good run on this programme this Season. As always, a great job done. The three girl judges are up and dancing again. Simon stays put. Just as well.

I think that means that, at long last, we get to see who has won. Surely, it's Alex & Sierra? The Country vote has surely gone their way and should have sealed it. This could be a Fifth Harmony moment, though. If Jeff wins we'll still hear more of Alex & Sierra!

It is Alex & Sierra. Well deserved. Well done.

An Excellent Final: Pt 1 Carlito Olivero makes it a real competition after all.

This is it, The Final. Jeff Gutt v Carlito Olivero v Alex & Sierra.

They start with Queen's We Will Rock You which rather favoured Jeff, Alex & Sierra looking slightly out of place. They did have the look of someone who had already won, though. Whatever the votes, judging from the download figures for their recent performances, Alex & Sierra have established themselves as a future act that we'll be hearing a lot more of. Indeed, they're already being played on UK radio and that is something, apart from Phillips Phillips' Home official release and Carrie Underwood's official releases of course, that hasn't happened before. Adam Lambert has been doing good things here with the remaining Queen members but not record success here yet.

Carlito winds up the emotions in his recorded set piece. His first song is Impossible and I so much prefer his version to the one James Arthur won in the UK with. Funny how there is almost a closed circle of tracks that we go round. At the time of writing, this year's UK winner is about to take No.1 spot with Demi Lovato's Skyscraper. That was a good solid first performance which will keep him in the running. For several weeks he could have been the one that was going home and now I can seriously imagine him winning if the Latin vote is strong, although we do have to remember that it is really how the Country states vote that decides the winner. They'll be on Alex & Sierra's side I should think, though, which ought to mean the duo have this thing in the bag.

And now it's their turn. Give A Little Time To Me suits them, if being a little bland compared to some that they've done. It became a bit more passionate near the end but throughout the beautiful Sierra shone through. She sounds great and they are both confident. As Kelly said, any label would take them now. Demi almost said how she really hoped that they would win but I felt that she might think Carlito's appeal could do it for him after all and she turned the phrase to hoping that they'd continue to do this. Interesting choice of words.

Sierra having an Irish Dance named after her won't do any harm either. Not sure how many mafiosi vote but they might just have a word with the phone company bosses!

If it were just a singing competition then Jeff Gutt should win. With lasers and an elevating stage almost as impressive as his voice this was quite a performance of what I presume must have been called Dream On. That was some show. Well done, Jeff and his stage managers. The audience went wild. Maybe he does stand a chance? This certainly keeps the competition open when I had a feeling that he might succumb at this point. Simon says that this is the first time that he believed that Jeff believed he could win. Good point.

Now I honestly do not know how this will work out.

Paulina finally gets a chance to show us what she does. Boys Will Be Boys. Hmmm. More performance and tight leather than live singing but she looked pretty good and the recording was good. She looked about ten years younger standing next to Mario on stage.

Carlito is singing with Prince Royce, whoever he is. Nice song, Stand By Me, Latin style. Opposite to the UK show, the star introduces the contestant. They go well together and I do see Carlito in that mould and doing quite well in it. He's not Enrique Iglesias but could invade some of that territory too. Apparently Price Royce, according to Mario, has a No.1 album - out now. Must have sold before it came out. Surprised we haven't heard of him if he's No.1.

Next come the duets.

Simon plays a trump card by pairing Alex & Sierra with Leona Lewis. The song is Bleeding Love and Leona has to be careful not to overshadow Sierra. Alex doesn't get much of a look-in, to be honest. That's the first time I've seen the pair looking a bit uncomfortable. I just think Sierra was over-excited at being with Leona. Her album gets a plug too. Her Christmas single is one of the best Christmas singles for a long time.

Demi notices too that it wasn't their best performance. Whether that'll affect things I don't know. Simon picks his word carefully and probably agrees.

Jeff gets to sing with John Rzeznik, from Goo Goo Dolls, doing their biggest number Iris, perfect for Jeff. I did feel that he didn't take it as far as he could and it didn't get the emotions flowing quite as much as I'd expected. Good, definitely good, but that could have made more impact. Jeff looks better with more beard now. I reckon Demi was too influenced by the star to think of anything to say.

So no real movement in one direction or another in my view for any of the acts.

Lastly, they each get to sing whiechever of their previous songs they (or more probably the producers) feel will represent them best.

Carlito reprises Maria Maria - at least I think that's the title. Great track for him and plenty of attractive girls in floaty red dresses to help us remember later. Nice job, Carlito.

Alex & Sierra reprise the near-perfect track Say Something. Without candles this time. But the crossover of voices is superb. That song alone may be the reason they do, in the end, win.

The links to home towns don't seem to be working terribly well! Carlito had to wait a while while some strange-looking couple started talking. A one-eyed Chinese lady won't have done him many favours. At almost the opposite extreme, Alex & Sierra got a gigantically fat bloke making odd signs and grinning stupidly while an announcer tried to be serious, proclaiming it to be Alex & Sierra week in Florida! Weird, to say the least. Jeff's Detroit followers can surely only appear dreadfully normal after those VTs.

Jeff chooses Creep and does it superbly too. If anything, that was the best performance of the night. The set, lighting and staging were very, very impressive. He could not have done better tonight. All three acts deserve to win and I simply can't call it tonight. He gets better audio with his Betroit town connection and, actually, quite a bit longer too. He gets the odd person too - this time an attractive woman who insists on dancing into the shot despite the best efforts of some bouncer trying to pull her off!

That's it for Part 1. I shall announce the winner later today.

Saturday 14 December 2013

Wow. 4 Acts. 12 Near Perfect Performances.

Five boys and one girl in the last four acts this year. Carlito, Jeff, Restless Road and Alex & Sierra are those left standing and this week one goes as the three who will compete in the Final are decided.

Unlike the UK, there will be no judge decision at this stage, with who goes through being determined purely by the public vote. Everyone says how hard their acts have been working.

I'm glad Carlito made it this far. I think most observers reckon he's got as far as he's going now, though, and this is the time to bow out. It's not like he's going to win this thing and he's safely on the X Factor Tour and will get a good income from that. He's opening the show and you do feel confident that he'll put on a good show. It's a Timberlake number If I Was Your Boyfriend and nicely staged with a genuinely surprised-looking girl being taken up on stage and sung to. Nice touch. He also pulls up Kelly Rowland and that works too. We've seen several acts try that trick in the past but without much success. He played the heartthrob role really well, as Demi says. Simon admits to feeling a bit nervous now. I imagine that his Restless Road are his weaker act of the two and the next most likely to go. That performance by Carlito might just have got him a bundle of extra votes.

Restless Road follow. That's My Kind Of Night is the song the public chose for them. Not a title I know but Simon tells them it's a hugely popular Country song. So you can see where Simon sees his main chance of getting through lies. And, of course, where so many winners get their votes from. It was a cheerful and upbeat number. A bit average in places. No-one shone, really. Demi was actually so right in saying that this was not particularly exciting and Paulina isn't that enthralled either. It was OK and I thought Andrew was relaxed and in the groove, Colton was just reliable but not as outstanding as he needs to be and Zachary, as ever, just seems a little off the beat and nervous. They could be good and I wouldn't write them off yet but, having started assuming that, whatever happened really, Carlito was the one going, I now have to reconsider that.

Alex & Sierra have had a superb run so far and last week took iTunes downloads by storm. That is, of course, a pretty good guide to how they'd do in the wild and now they have to do the same with Little Talks. They really do need to get the words right. Demi says she thinks she's looking at the winners. That was quite a surprise. I wasn't sure about the performance this time. It was competent, notes in the right place but on a similar level to Restless Road and I didn't get the same sensation of watching a record being made as last week. Having said that, I get the impression that the song was far better know across the Pond than here and will have gone down well.

Jeff Gutt gets Hallelujah, which is becoming almost an X Factor staple song these days. If anyone can do it justice, though, it's Jeff who needn't stray too far from the Jeff Buckley original. He does, though, adding the metal touch and that's no bad thing but he does mangle the word a bit in places. That was an impressive response from the audience. I had forgotten that he did this tune in his first audition in the previous series. If the judges' and audience's reactions are anything to go by then he would be a dead cert for the final with Alex & Sierra.

At the start Mario mentioned some strange duels. It looks as though there is now some The Voice-like affair where one act competes with another in the same song. I didn't like that set-up in The Voice so don't know what to make of this, another variation from the traditional show format. I do hope this isn't just to attract viewers for the ratings. There is some advantage in being able to compare directly two acts but only if they're competing for the same market - not the same prize.

Oh well, Carlito sets off. And, you know what, Carlito finds a wonderful new tone to his voice that we have hardly heard before. He does, indeed, hold whatever ground he was supposed to and, if anything, I feel he did better with that particular track. Both were excellent.

Next Jeff is up against Restless Road. I think it's Every Step You Take and I should think Jeff will be very comfortable ahead on this. He even sounds like Sting at the start. Restless Road have a decent harmony going and they do pretty well. Definitely it is Jeff who stands out. Could this be a pointer towards what we're going to see? Carlito is growing and showing some superb talent whereas Restless Road have yet to make an advance on last week. It is not a totally fair comparison, though, and maybe people have already made up their minds. And will it matter with that King Size Country vote anyway?

That was over quickly so no harm done and I guess it was quite interesting.

Now Carlito is on again with a Mark Anthony song that seems to be ideal for him - another excellent choice by Paulina. I Need To Know in English and then some Spanish. That'll pull in a few more votes. Another very good performance from this guy. I do have to say that he deserves to get through with that. It's not sure, though, with that huge Country vote going to Restless Road.

The three boys have a big Country number, one of those gooey, rolling guitar numbers that just roll on. I Want To Make You Feel Wanted gives each of them a nice chance to frame what they do. It's what I'd imagine they'd record and even Zachary sounds good, just not as good as Colton and Andrew. He still gets the screams from the crowd, though. That was a nice, sugary number. I didn't think it will have made such a difference. Comfortable and confident but I don't agree with Demi that they saved themselves with this. Not in terms of that being a better performance than Carlito. But they may have attracted those votes so she may be proven right.

Alex & Sierra. Gravity. Beautiful. It could have been written for them. Very very emotional moment. So impressed with these two. Simon wants to bottle the last 10 seconds of that performance. I know what he means.

Following that was never going to easy and Jeff is at another end of the market with a rowdy number. Where My Demons Hide didn't start that well at all and sounded quite a tough number to sing, even for this guy. Not my choice of song for him. I didn't like it much at all and if he gets through then it'll be on the back of his previous performances.

This has been one impressive show and one that all those who dislike reality TV shows or competitions like this might view. It could change some minds - the four acts were that good and I cannot recall when I've written that about any of the X Factor or American Idol shows at this stage.

Part two. The results! I have been keeping away from Twitter and X Factor sites as we only get the show on Saturday.

I started just assuming Carlito was in 4th place. Now I feel that he deserves at least 3rd place.

The sing-a-long version of Stronger did tend to emphasise the 1st Alex & Sierra 2nd Carlito 3rd Jeff 4th Restless Road view that I am coming round to but you really can't tell much from some track they're all told to sing, like it or not. Jeff didn't look very well this evening and Zachary was wobbly again. That will not have had an impact on votes, though. That's already been decided.

I bet he reads out Alex & Sierra first. They are a definite. Oh that' silly - Mario must have been told to do the We'll find out after the break... No. It's Carlito who makes it through first!! Well done, lad. I was prepared for him to leave, despite the excellent three performances he put in. So who's place has he stolen? My guess is Restless Road's.

Now if you'd just tuned in and seen Carlito performing on the stage you'd think that he was doing his farewell number but this week it looks like all those getting through will get to do a number. OK. Cheaper than pulling in some international act I suppose. He is actually very good - in Spanish entirely this time. Well done indeed. He's pleased.

This vote business is getting dragged well out.

Oh, they did pay for an international star after all - and an expensive one: Enrique Iglesias. Now that's someone Carlito can copy in the Final and do well. Nice performance. Very over-produced with almost every imaginable lighting effect thrown in for good measure. Heart Attack. That'll do well.

Back to the votes. So, this time it'll be Alex & Sierra through for sure? Everyone knows they're through so to leave them v another act at the end would be unfair to the other act. Yes. OK. So will they be joined by Jeff Gutt or Restless Road?

They perform Let It Go, another beautiful track. This is the Ellie Goulding number - she writes some wonderful numbers and this so suits them. Sierra even seems to have Ellie's accent! They must be on their way to win this thing.

Now the sad part as Mario has to announce who doesn't make it. I am expecting Jeff Gutt to be the one through but Country votes may have been enough for Restless Road after all. It is Jeff Gutt who makes it through and we bid farewell to Restless Road.

I expect Simon will organise something for them. He did pretty well for Fifth Harmony last year!

Jeff Gutt does the big ballad - like something from an American Heartbeat CD. Yes, it's competent but maybe just a little bit boring. Nice touch at the end as the three acts stand on stage and Sierra turns away from the camera and just sinks into her boyfriend's arms.

Monday 9 December 2013

Alex & Sierra at #1

This is Alex & Sierra's performance on X Factor USA last week. It reached#1 on the US Download chart. If downloaders = voters then they may well be this year's surprise winners.

Saturday 7 December 2013

Top 6 Perform. Difficult Choices For Voters This Week.

It's down to 6 acts now and I am hoping that it's just one that gets sent home and not two as we've had in the last two weeks. Each will have two songs to perform. I have always said that I would like to see all acts get more chance to show what they can or can't do - often one unsuitable or misjudged choice can send someone home.

Just as I wrote that Mario tells us that there will be two going tomorrow so that's it. Down to 4 and that's as good as a final really.

Restless Road get to start the show. Odd mix. One says how people in his town gave his dad cheques to help cover the cost of attending the shows. Then there's another whose parents could probably buy the airline! This is Diva week I suppose so goodness only knows what they'll do. They select a good sing-a-long track Red from Taylor Swift's recent album. Great song and although that wasn't particularly exciting it worked well. The Scotty voice chap always goes down well and got a bit more than usual this rime.

Rion Paige has a Carrie Underwood number which ought to be excellent. It was quite a shock to see her in the Bottom Two last week. This Is Not Where It Ends could have been the title. The make-over team had been hard at work and achieved a quite impressive portrait shot on TV. She is still so young and I struggle to understand how she can get the lyrics across. If she didn't get across last week after really good performances then, unless the voting profile changes, I can't see how she'll survive. My own feeling is that she's more commercial than Jeff and a better singer than Ellona but it would be Ellona who had the concerts and publicity machine grinding away more successfully. So, not necessarily for the right reasons, she could go this week.

Jeff Gutt gets a Mariah Carey song. Sounds a bit odd but it's actually a Nilsson song, folks! And that means it was written bu someone quite like this chap and he has every chance of pulling that off. He is pretty damn impressive, I must say. Very good, every note spot on and powerful too. Quite a remarkable job he's done and just at the time to complicate anyone's predictions! Another performance like that and he could upset things and avoid the Bottom Two again. But if he's not there, who is?

Ellona Santiago has a Lady Gaga number. That's either very good or very bad news. She excelled last week. Well, if I was going to choose a Lady Gaga track then Applause is not it. She looked and sounded great, with a fabulously impressive set and some nice microphone stand action too. Extremely well made up and I have to agree with Simon who wasn't crazy about the original version but liked hers! She really does look the star and I believe that she would be a dream for the professionals to work with. The only worrying factor is whether the voters will appreciate Lady Gaga.

Alex & Sierra sailed through last week and rumour has it that they are getting some impressive voting figures. I think they hit the Glee market which can't be bad. Simon has them doing a Destiny's Child track. Of course, that'll be interesting as Kelly will know the words. Say My Name is odd. But it kinda works, I think. Sierra was superb and is rapidly becoming the one to watch. Tight black leather pants helped. Paulina makes me laugh by saying that they have love and would be the first pair since... Sonny & Cher. Eh?

Carlito Olivero talks again about where he's come from. He's on the Ricki Martin train again. I didn't recognise this. Let's Get Loud must be the title. It's pretty forgettable, to be honest. This was also the second performance where I felt that there was a backing track - just in case. The other had been for Jeff. I just felt that the track and his initial few words were out of sync. He escaped the Bottom Two last week but I do feel that he could be there this week. He hasn't struck me as a likely winner since the start. Nice guy but this could be his time to go.

Right, second chances here we come. These will be just with microphones, their vocals, no backing.

Restless Road sing Wake Me Up the huge AVICII No.1 here in the UK. It had been slowed down quite a bit and taken on a Country feel too. The latter will get the big Texas voters on side but the pace might not attract any new ones. Some quite emotional support for them from Demi and Paulina. I don't know what to predict for them.

Rion Paige sings a track I don't know at all. We Are Glass I think. Quite a special song and she knows it well and gets across the message well too. Note perfect and appealing but so far I still see her going tonight.

Jeff Gutt would have been my expected one to go tonight, almost regardless of how well he sings. His first track was so good, though, and here is his chance to get to the top 4. The brother in uniform may help him quite a bit. Daniel is a nice song. It isn't a fantastic song, though, and sounded a bit tinny here. It's one of those neither here nor there numbers that could go on an album but I would not have chosen that at this stage of the competition. Mario unintentionally but ominously asks Jeff for any last words!

Ellona Santiago sings If I Were A Boy and starts totally a capella and not a great deal more comes in later. Almost the opposite of the first performance, she is in jeans and a simple top and very appealing. That was not easy but she pulled it off very well. She has developed hugely in this competition and I am beginning to see her as winner. Compared to all the others she is quite a star, indeed. I just wonder whether she is in a market of many. We never really saw much more of Melanie Amaro. Would she also get lost amongst so many established women?

Alex & Sierra have a lot of candles on the set. Sierra plays the piano and Alex has a guitar. This is a gentle number. The makeover team need medals all round for how they present Sierra tonight. Amazing. And they perform this track beautifully. Say Something I'm Giving Up On You or something like that. It didn't necessarily go anywhere but they were spot-on and is something that I wouldn't mind seeing again, it was that good. They're developing into an act quite different to what I'd thought they'd be. Nice. Simon has it as his favourite performance of the whole series!

Carlito Olivero closes the show. He has done well to make #6 and may even make #5. His track is an Anglo-Spanish Stand By Me. This is a super track but a little tinny again in Carlito's hands. The mix of language and upbeat treatment are interesting and help him along. It certainly is not bad, just not that good. A bit sing-a-long and, sad to say, probably his exit song.

We get a bit of X Factor UK v X Factor USA with Little Mix and Emblem 3 performing tonight.

First a recap and I do fear for Carlito as the first to go. Second I feel is between Rion and Restless Road. I simply don't see Alex & Sierra going anywhere, nor Ellona after two brilliant tracks and Jeff may have made it with some stunning vocals. The Country vote, however, cannot be ignored and that might bring a switch between Restless Road and Jeff.

Mario does the announcement. It's Ellona in 6th place!! Another shock. Wow. No-one expected that.

Now I am confused.

Emblem 3 were a great act last year and did well. Here they bring the sun and the beach and some surf boards to the X Factor stage and they're a cool group who look like they're enjoying themselves. They are a nice sign of the sort of success that can come from the show. Not as huge as 1D, but doing well.

Now. The acts safe: Restless Road. Thanks to the Country folk out there! Alex & Sierra. Only one more gets through automatically and that is Jeff.

So Carlito and Rion are the Bottom Two again. It does seem that Rion is now reaching the end of her public support but I would expect her to do much better than Carlito.

Little Mix are on stage. They do a fun number and fill the gap while the Bottom Two are getting sorted. Little Mix are currently with Fifth Harmony and Demi Lovato in a show and starting to break into the States which is quite something. Interestingly, Fifth Harmony have yet to do so here.

Rion is faultless in her 'save me' song. A simple Country number The House That Built Me or something. If I were Carlito, I would give up now.

He is far more 21st Century than Rion and makes full use of the stage and his fans out there with even a run around the audience. He couldn't have done much better than that and all credit to him. Maybe the huge gap between the two acts will help him? Rion wants to share God again.

OK. It's up to Kelly and Simon. It may go to a public vote if Simon plays it right and that might just save Carlito. Kelly must be a Rion supporter? No. That's a surprise. Simon I would think likes both and probably would naturally save Rion but no, he sends her home too. Perhaps he can see that public support has been falling off.

So, another surprise, Rion is out.

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.

Saturday 23 November 2013

Never mind the results. One Direction still lead the British invasion.

First to go is Khaya Cohen. It was a slight surprise as, whilst hers had been a terrible performance, I thought she'd still catch more votes than Lillie or Tim and had Lillie down as the first.

One Direction perform The Story Of My Life really well and remind everyone that coming 3rd is OK!

Mario announces the seven acts safely through: Rion, Josh, Alex & Sierra, Lillie (1st surprise), Jeff, Ellona (2nd surprise) and Restless Road. That leaves Carlito and Tim to fight for the judges' votes.

So who'll go? I'm writing this live so I have no idea. With two of Paulina's acts in the frame, it'll be down to the other three. Simon will send Tim home. Demi too, I think. Kelly may take Tim's side and Paulina is, I feel, inclined to choose Carlito to stay but may not feel comfortable deciding. It is normal in this circumstances for the judge to abstain and that would send Tim home. If, by chance, Demin sends Carlito home then Paulina may vote to make it 2-2 and thus down to who came 9th in the voting.

My clear preference for the programme would be Carlito to stay as I think he could pull something extra out and make himself modern and appealing. Not to these voters, maybe, but he does stand a chance and duets with Ellona would look cool later on. Tim is just a bit tedious and needs to go now.

Tim sings the Westlife number, still staying with the Brit theme, interestingly. Quite good and suits him but not really a song for a 2014 new talent show. He is probably annoyed that he got in the Boys section and not as part of Simon's Restless Road where, actually, he cpuld have fitted quite nicely. In fact, it's never too late and, if I were Simon, that's exactly what I'd do. It would be a bit controversial but what the hell. More publicity for the flagging show's mid-series ratings.

Carlito does a super version of a Bruno Mars number and actually this is by far and away the best he has sung throughout the competition. Excellent. He has to stay after that, surely. I would expect Kelly to swirch to him too.

Kelly sends Tim home. Demi too. I am surprised Paulina is asked but she does abstain after all. Mario pushes her and should realise that he doesn't need a name if Simon saves Carlito. I guess it makes good TV. I thought Simon would have said something and saved her having to do that. Anyway, right choice this time.