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New Zealand is finally getting their own edition of the XF. The show was originally announced on 2010 but it wasn't until early 2013 that it went into production. Hosted by Dominic Bowden, who was previously seen on  New Zealand Idol, the show premiered on April 21, 2013. Australia's talented has always been impressive, so we've got to wonder, are the Kiwis equally as good?

Recap and videos after the jump ...

Before we take a look at the contestants, an introduction to our judges is needed. First we've got Melanie Blatt, British singer who rose to fame as a member of girlband All Saints. After multiple awards, the group split in 2001. She ultimately began recording her solo album, which never saw the light of day. She has the Groups.

Daniel Bedingfield, recording artist and brother of singers Natasha Bedingfield and Nikola Rachelle, is basically NZ's Ronan Keating. His debut album, "Gotta Get thru This", charted at #2 and he's had 3 #1 singles in the UK. He'll mentor the Girls.

Next is pink-haired Ruby Frost. In 2009, she won a nationwide music competition for MTV 42Unheard, which granted her a recording contract with Universal Music. Her debut album, "Volition", was released on June 25, 2012 with the single "Water to Ice" climbing to #3. She's been given the Boys.

Finally, we've a familiar face, Stan Walker. He was the winner of the 7th and final season of Australian Idol back in 2009 in which he defeated rocker Hayley Warner. With three albums under his belt, his debut went triple platinum in NZ and his second album went to #1. He got the Overs.

I'll add a little background on each of the finalists if possible.


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"Hollaback Girl" - 5/10 - From left to right: Nica, Taiva, Alexandra, Hannah-Jane and Nicole - They created Gap5 four months before auditioning for the show. "We are pretty tight" they said. They all had the same vocal tutor and then he introduced them to one another. Their "American Boy" acapella audition was fantastic, albeit a bit pitchy. Mel announces as the best girl group since her own. "We've got such a different sound, we come from different backgrounds, from different musical influences. All our different musical backgrounds come together and we form this sound. It works and we want people to hear this sound" Nicole says. Mel tells them that she picked them because she wants to be part of the group. All the potential they showed on their audition wasn't really there tonight. Unfortunately, Mel picked an awful song for them. Their harmonies weren't good and while the dancing looked ok, the performance was disappointing, specially after Mel called them the best girl group since All Saints. It had some moments, like that big notes Nica nailed towards the end, but it didn't live up to the expectations. Hopefully they can rebound from this. "I was wondering when a girl group would come out, specially out of this country. I'm so proud of you" (Stan) - VIDEO

Benny Tipene

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"Crazy" - 8/10 - He earns most of his money from playing music. He describes his genre as acoustic pop. He wasn't a solo musician until before he went to England. Before that happened his mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, with everyone being emotional all the time, that inspired him to write his own music. His "Hey Ya" cover during the auditions was fascinating. "The audition was great because there were people there live and it was spontaneous so hopefully the same happens tonight" he tells Ruby. She suggests performing with some strings on stage. "I'm here for the music, I'm not here to be famous, I'm not here to make a bunch of money. I just want to play music" Benny says. Very original, I loved his take on "Crazy". It wasn't the version we've seen over and over again, it was extremely simple, there was barely any music beside his guitar and some strings behind him, yet it was rather powerful. His voice isn't that unique but for such a voice focused performance, it worked surprisingly well. That note he hold towards the end was very impressive as was his cool guitar playing. He's one to watch. "I still remember your first audition and your skinny jeans that I could never wear. You are absolutely the man and when I saw the man you've got everything. You are a singer songwriter, you've got your own look. You took a song that everyone knows and you made it your own and that's what I love" (Stan) - VIDEO

Jackie Thomas

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"Video Games" - 6/10 - She is currently unemployed. She moved to Auckland a month before the audition. When she was about 13 she started singing just to herself and during her final high school year she auditioned for the musical. Her "Skinny Love" audition was very Bella Ferraro sounding and it showed her raw potential. She says her confidence is growing. "NZ can expect a whole new confident amazing Jackie" she says. This is a nice cover. Her voice is quite original but this song didn't let her show it given that she sounds so similar to the original artist. It was pretty though, I could see her improving a lot in the coming weeks, that's if the "Video Games" curse doesn't end her run short. Ruby was right as well, this song doesn't let her show her range, it would've been better if her voice has sored more. Daniel was overreacting with her, it was annoying. "That was a stunning performance. You seem to have really mastered those nerves. My only thing would be that song only shows off a small part of your range, I'd have loved to hear you sore a little bit more on that" (Ruby) - VIDEO

Taye Williams

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"Breakeven" - 6,5/10 - "All my friends were pushing me to come on the XF. I said, 'why would I do that?' but I knew all along that I was gonna do the XF" Taye says "I'm doing this because I want to prove to myself I've got what it takes to be a top selling artist. I came from a really small town, you don't really get too many opportunities". This is a very nice pick, it fits his voice pretty well and he did a great job with it. I liked his phrasing, it was different from the original and while his voice sounded forced a few times, his soulful tone was really interesting. He needs to work on the bigger notes, there's where he lacked some power. Didn't get the judges hate, it wasn't that bad. "Stan said you are the XF. If the image the people are going to get of XF NZ is what you just gave us I think that we are doing something very wrong. You can sing and that was a very emotionless performance. I know you can, I want a lot more if you make it to the next round" (Daniel) - VIDEO

Tom Batchelor

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"Mercy" - 6/10 - Before his audition he told us he was a travelling kinda gypsy and made his living by busking. If he doesn't make it in the music business he's gonna open a sandwich shop cause he likes making sandwiches. He comes from a small, country-like town. His mom hates everything he wears apparently, she's a quite hilarious person. (So do I, what is he trying to accomplish there?) The stylists definitely polished that train wreck, he looks better at least. For someone who looks so distinctively unique I was expecting something different. I was surprised to see he's got such a normal strong voice. It's quite good actually, not the right song for him, he should be doing cooler things than this. He's got potential, maybe he should go the Danny Ross route to be more interesting. "You do sing in tune. I really love your mom but personally I'm so upset that Ruby chose you instead of Fletcher that I can't really say anything positive about you" (Daniel) "I love you Tom but I don't think it was the right song for you" (Mel) - VIDEO

Eden Roberts

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"Jolene" - 6/10 - She is a popular music student. She loves going on top of her house's roof. When she was 16, she tells us, she overdid on the practice, having too much tension playing the guitar, and got herself  a bad case of RSI. "It was quite hard dealing with that, for over a year, I didn't have this amazing thing called music anymore" she said. During her coaching session, Daniel tells her that they need to make sure that the integrity she has when performing her own material happens in other people's songs as well. Eden's been presented as quirky character so seeing her doing something so uninventive was highly disappointing. There was zero originality in her performance and it's all Daniel's fault. It's pretty obvious he has no idea what he's doing. That happens when you cast clowns as the judges. Overall, only decent, there was nothing going on there, her voice was ok. Mel was so right in everything she said. "First of all, I don't get this we've going on behind you. You should've just said, 'I'm not into this, please remove it'. I missed your guitar, I did feel a bit awkward. Not to keen on the song choice either, I think you are cooler than that" - VIDEO

Whenua Patuwai

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"Rolling in the Deep" - 7/10 - His audition was quite massive, he performed "A Change is Gonna Come" with such soul. It gave me chills by how good it was. He's got three younger brother and three older brothers and two older sisters. "We are not blood family but we call each other brothers and sisters" he says "Our house is always full of laughter and love". An awful song for him, Stan should know better than this, after all, he already did this himself. He should have sang a more soulful song, something more distinctive. Either way, strong vocals, the most consistent of the night so far, it lacked the intensity and emotion the song needed though. "I think it's pretty obvious you've got one of the strongest voices in this competition. I'm not completely sold on that performance and that song choice, I think you've got more soul that what you were able to give in that performance" (Mel) - VIDEO

Cassie Henderson

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"I Want You Back" - 4,5/10 - She's only 14! Her dad is a rugby coach, resulting in her family moving around the world quite a lot. When she was 3 she lived in Japan, then she moved to England, Portugal, then back to England and then back to NZ. She now lives with her mom and two sisters while her dad works in Japan. He comes home twice a year. You've got to be kidding me? This is the song Daniel picks for her? A toddler song? This is very Janet Devlin-like. That is because it's also a train wreck. Cassie has a lot of potential, she's likable, has a good voice and can be versatile. That performance was a mess unfortunately. She was pitchy quite a lot, the whole performance was just bad. On the plus side, she didn't let the dancers intimidate her. "I think Daniel has failed you massively, this is all wrong. She's not 9! This is not right, the song, the dancers, the outfit" Mel says. "Attack me" Daniel says. "I am, I'm telling her to attack you" she responds "I wish I was your mentor". Stan and Ruby think exactly the same. - VIDEO

Anna Wilson

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"Landslide" - 9/10 -She can't believe she made it this far. She loves getting dirty and riding motorbikes. We see her all badass on her motorbike. She says she's gonna prove to NZ that Stan made the right choice. Not only she's a gorgeous woman, she also has the most stunning voice out of this bunch of finalists. Her delivery was extremely captivating, specially because it was obvious she had connected with the song. A flawless vocal performance, Stan got it absolutely right here. Perfect song as well, it was tailor-made for her. Her clear tone made it a lot more special. "I thought that was kind of perfection. You sang it perfectly. The one thing I'd be worried about is that people won't be able to see beyond your beauty, but you can actually really sing and you sang that song flawlessly" (Mel) - VIDEO


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"Rapture" - 5/10 - They performed an original during their audition, it was quite hip. Mel introduces them as the most sassy act in the competition. "We love performing, we love music, we love everything that comes from music" one of them says. They are the only act that raps in the Top 13. This is a weird song choice, Mel has been bashing everyone tonight but her acts haven't been any better. I liked the start when they were just harmonizing. Their singing didn't sound right, it was off tune. Their rapping was really cool though. They've sass and attitude to spare but I'm not sure they'll connect with the audience after this performance. I know I wouldn't vote for this. "You guys are way cooler than what you just did. We all know that. It was ok, the singing was ok, the rapping was good. Just be a little bit more L.O.V.E the next time", Daniel says. - VIDEO

Māka Fiso

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"Titanium" - 9/10 - He's a Kohanga Reo teacher, whatever that means. He's willing to give anything a go. He got his hair cut and now he thinks he looks like on of the Moorhouse guys. A fantastic vocalist. Gospel choir included an all. He made "Titanium" sound like a big diva ballad and that's nice to see since the song is never given an appropriate treatment. Well, this was a great take on it. It was powerful, emotional and perfectly delivered. I want to see him doing an old classic now or maybe some Joss Stone, I think that may be cool. "I hate to say this cause you are not in my category but it was a golden performance and you absolutely ruled it" (Ruby) - VIDEO

Fletcher Mills

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"Paradise" - 4/10 - He's a classical piano student. He comes from a massive family, 6 kids, and they've all been involved with music in the past, they all learned piano when young and now he's the only one who keeps doing it. He performed an original song during his audition which he wrote about Bon Iver. It was quite unique, one of the stand outs during the auditions, very Bon Iver sounding indeed. He came back to the competition after being cut by Ruby during the JH as the winner of the wildcard. "After getting back home I realized how important this is" he says. Ruby is glad he's back, she feels she's got her dream team now. After seeing his JH performance again, he realized it wasn't the right song because it doesn't appeal to a large audience. He's apparently doing songs everyone knows now, without sacrificing his style. I honestly think he was much better when he did unknown songs. That was when he created the magic. He's just a weird sounding karaoke singer now. The song could've been right for him, Ida (XF Denmark) did a wonderful job with it, but Fletcher was very weak. His voice was all over the place, extremely pitchy. He's much better than this, I know it. He's got this Bon Iver thing going on and he should tap into that. Ron Pope sounds like a good fit to me, Bastille maybe. "I'm gonna be completely honest. I think that, in terms of the strength and vocal and being able to sing, I think tonight your performance is the weakest we've seen so far. That was pitchy and just even for the process I wanted to see something more, why people voted you in. And because you are an artist, you wanna be known for your art, not because you are a pretty boy. You don't wanna be voted in for your looks" (Stan) - VIDEO


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"Boyfriend" - 6/10 - From left to right: Rory, Jason, Marley and Brock - They don't mind being called a boyband cause OneDirection is cool. They used to jam in Moorhouse Ave's corner, which resulted in their name. Their describe their sound as RnB pop. Originally a quintet, now they are a quartet, since one of the members left to purse rugby. Their "As Long as You Love Me" audition was a hit both with the judges and the audience. "From the start music has been a ticket out of reality. When I was 12, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. She only had three months to live. For the funeral I had just this passion to write a song about my mom" Brock says. Marley says coming into Moorhouse is sort of a ticket out from his domestic violence background. This is the second time they are singing Justin Bieber, is Mel really that unimaginative? Despite that, they actually sounded great on this. Brock is the best singer to me, I really like his tone, it's very smooth. It was very generic, something every boyband could do. Their audition was so much cooler, they were unique, now they are not anymore. It was pitchy as well. They need to re find their sound. "Mel, don't dress them. Let them dress themselves. What you think is hot is maybe 90s, 80s, but we are in a new era. You've got to be tighter on your harmonies, it was pitchy here and there" (Stan) "You guys are way better than what I just saw. You have more swag than what I just saw" (Daniel) - VIDEO

  1. Anna Wilson
  2. Māka Fiso
  3. Benny Tipene
  4. Whenua Patuwai 
  5. Taye Williams
  6. Jackie Thomas
  7. Eden Roberts
  8. Moorhouse
  9. Tom Batchelor
  10. Gap5
  11. L.O.V.E
  12. Cassie Henderson
  13. Fletcher Mills

Bottom 2: 

Eden Roberts

Eden Roberts - Original Song - A gorgeous song. She really is something special. Had she done something like this last night, she would've been safe. Unfortunately, the theme didn't favour her and Daniel's awful mentoring skills couldn't find her the proper song. She has some crazy writing chops, beautiful lyrics. The girl deserves a second chance, that was absolutely mesmerizing. - VIDEO

L.O.V.E - Original Song - This is actually great. It's a cool performance, they're attitude is what sells it all. They aren't as ready as Eden is but they sound pretty hip. Their singing needs a lot of work but their rap is really, really good. I'm not sure they can improve by staying in the competition though. - VIDEO

"L.O.V.E, you've done so well, rappers in the XF, getting into the final 13. You're really lovely people. Eden, you are an artist, a real one, and that song was incredible. Anybody that hears that and doesn't think it's amazing is crazy. Ladies I've to send you home" (Daniel)
"Eden, I've loved what you've done up until yesterday's performance, I understand why you're standing here right now. Obviously you are an amazing artist and have lots to give. Not sure this competition is the right place for you though. My girls, you are just awesome. Of course, I'm gonna send Eden home" (Mel)
"This is incredible hard. It's hard to compare each of you because you are doing such different things. Eden, from the start I've loved that you are such an artist. I love your voice, the intensity of what you do. The only thing with you is that I sometimes feel like you're uncomfortable with some of the aspects of this competition and I'm just not sure if you are really enjoying being here. L.O.V.E, you have so much swagger and confidence and you are a joy to watch. Your vocals definitely need a lot of work. For the sake of the competition, I think we need someone that's gonna keep entertaining us, I'm gonna be sending you home Eden" (Ruby)
"With you L.O.V.E, it's very entertaining, you are beautiful women, I love what you bring but like Ruby said there's a lot we need to do with the vocal. Eden, I actually love you. I love your art. For this competition, I think that you've had the exposure to continue to be an artist so today I'm gonna have to send you home Eden" (Stan)


Eden Roberts

Unbelievable Stan! The least you could've done was send it to deadlock. Eden could've been NZ's own Gabrielle Aplin. She is a terrific artist and while she had a major miss-step with "Jolene", her original song was superb. I don't think she's had enough exposure to actually make it. Hope she does though. It'd be really great to see more from her.

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