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09 October, 2013 3:53 PM
Published by Kevin Mc Stravock
Each category is now down to six acts, in the space of one weekend we will have just three acts per category, making up for twelve live show contestants in total, providing there isn't an additional wildcard position of course. So with favourites such as Tamera Foster, Sam Bailey and Melanie McCabe still in the competition, each judge will be whittling their category down, sending the best contestants through to lives. It's Time To Face The Music!
Recap and videos after the JUMP....
We're starting in Los Angeles where the Overs will be performing for Sharon and her guest judge, Robbie Williams. Robbie jokes that he wants to help Sharon stop Gary from winning the series.
Up first is mother and prison warden Sam Bailey who has already been a favourite amongst the judges after her surprisingly soulful renditions of songs such as 'Listen' and 'Who's Loving You'. The one thing holding her back is her lack of confidence and she hopes to be able to overcome her nerves with a performance of Whitney's 'I Have Nothing'. Oh for god sake, are there not other songs? I really wish we had the ability to ban songs from being performed but much as I liked Whitney Houston, her tracks are done to death on these talent shows and aren't often done justice at that. Sam is alright but for me, she verges on shouty at times, her performance doesn't blow me away.
28-year-old university student Lorna Simpson is up next. She's taking on a Beyoncé hit, the massive 'If I Were A Boy'. I must admit that until bootcamp, I didn't really pay much attention to her but she was fantastic at bootcamp and again, she is sounding great. What I appreciate is that unlike most divas, she doesn't overdo it, she holds back and sings parts of the song quite mellow rather than just shouting the whole track. It means that when she does give it a bit of power, you really appreciate her talent. I really like her and think she offers something different to Sam, probably the most similar act to her in the Overs category.
Up next is white van driver Shelley Smith whose likeable and fun personality can sometimes override the fact that she has a good voice. My main issue with Shelley is that whilst she can belt, I don't find her particularly current or relevant to the extent that I do seriously believe that she would act only as fodder if she makes the lives. She's taking on 'Girl On Fire' by Alicia Keys, finally a song that was created after the 90's and I must admit that whilst it's probably her least cabaret vocal in the competition, I'm still not wowed by her. She delivers an alright performance but that's where it begins and ends for me. I think the jazz hands and funny faces seriously need to be curtailed if she is going to stand any chance of going beyond Week 1 or 2 should she get to live shows.
One of my favourites in the competition, music teacher Andrea Magee is next. What I love about her is her creativity, every opportunity she has had in the competition to do something different she has risen to it. From singing an original song in her room audition to playing an instrument in bootcamp, she has been a fantastic contestant so far. She plays a flute solo before she begins to sing 'High And Dry' by Radiohead. I adore her tone, it's gorgeous and her beautiful edgy vocals really suit this song. She tries a very elaborate high note at the end that doesn't work out but to be honest, she was still infinitely more interesting than any of her counterparts have been. Robbie makes some joke about Andrea disturbing Sharon's dogs in private after the music teacher has left. Andrea is upset, to be honest I would still put her through because she's marketable unlike, arguably, at least two, potentially all three of the overs we have heard so far.
Single mum Zoe Devlin is up now, she has a really good jazz voice, reminds me a bit of Paloma Faith but is slightly quirkier. She takes on the Coldplay classic 'Fix You', her wonderful voice really suits the song and she really connects with the meaning of the song, I love Zoe's tone and I really hope she makes the live shows but I worry that Sharon will choose the acts with louder voices because she seems to see loudness of voice as a measure of someone's talent.
Last up is returnee Joseph Whelan who people will remember as the guy with a kid whose whole story revolves around the fact that he has a kid. On top of that, he does have a pretty great rock voice to be fair but yeah, did you know he has a son? Anyway, he's taking on 'I'll Stand By You' by The Pretenders. Not a fan of the song choice, don't like the way he sings it, his rock voice seems a bit too powerful for the song and it becomes a bit messy and all over the place. To be honest, I think he has regressed since auditioning last year and I haven't been fully in love with any of his performances this year. I expect that he will get through as Sharon loves her rockers and he's also the only male Over standing but who knows?
So here comes the moment of truth, Sharon chooses her final three overs. Sam Bailey is through to the live shows, Andrea Magee and Zoe Devlin are both rejected whilst Lorna Simpson also makes it. It's between Joseph and Shelley, both of whom auditioned last year, making it through to the lives is Shelley Smith! Really Sharon? In a category of three belters, two quirky girls and a rock guy you choose the three acts who represent THE SAME STYLE? Congratulations to you on being the first mentor to lose all their acts this year. Lorna could surprise us, Sam might be alright because she has been shown so much but Shelley is going to be gone within the first few weeks. Sharon is gonna regret that decision.
Up next to choose his acts is Louis who is mentoring the Boys. He takes his six acts to St. Tropez where they face not one, not two but three guest judges in the form of Shane Filan from Westlife, Nicole Appleton from All Saints and er Sinitta!
Up first is Luke Friend who is taking on Damien Rice's 'Cannonball'. Luke has a really good voice, I love his tone, he's very likeable and I think he stands a good chance of going far in the competition if he gets the right songs. He sings it really well and aside from that, his version of the song is made unique by his quirky tone. I really hope Luke is put through to live shows as he's one of the few gems in a very weak category.
Sam Callahan takes on Fun. hit 'We Are Young'. He sounds alright, he's not a bad singer but there's nothing different about his version of the song, it's a pretty standard karaoke cover of the song and I'd like to think that Louis will be looking for something more than a good karaoke singer when he is selecting his acts for live shows. Nicole comments that she can see him in a boyband but isn't sure that he's right as a solo singer for the live shows. Exactly Nicole. He has a good voice but he's not good enough, Sinitta doesn't seem bowled over either.
Paul Akister is in a different league to the rest of the Boys vocally. He has developed his voice so it sounds really pure and his tone is fantastic, just a great old style soul voice with a bit of grit behind it. He's a really talented guy and I love his take on Paolo Nutini's 'Last Request'. Okay, he's probably not the most versatile performer, he has mainly performed ballad type songs so far but he has such a good voice that I can look beyond that. If Louis doesn't pick him, I'll be pretty pissed, he is so good that he needs to make the live shows.
Giles Potter's tuneless rendition of 'You're Beautiful' by James Blunt proves that he's not ready for the lives yet. He's just not vocally strong enough, his tone isn't particularly nice to listen to, I don't think he particularly grasps the emotions of the song and it just feels a bit like he's a fish out of water, he's a nice kid but he's not going to win the competition and unfortunately, I think Louis would be making a huge mistake to put him through.
Ryan Mathie reveals that he has quit his job back at home to come on X Factor and sadly, after listening to his rendition of 'Just Give Me A Reason' by Pink, I'm not sure that the risk will pay off. He sings it quite oddly, he seems really angry for some reason which doesn't really fit with the song and he lets his nerves take over with a few pitchy moments in the song. I don't see him making lives and I don't think he's distinctive or memorable enough to make the live shows. The guest judges pick up on the angry thing, if Ryan reauditions he ought to work on his delivery of songs as the anger seemed very out of place.
And last up is emotional Nicholas Mc Donald. He breaks down after his rendition of 'If You're Not The One' by Daniel Bedingfield. The cynic inside me wonders what motivated the tears but perhaps it was just pressure getting to him. He sings it well but again, I feel that Nicholas is a fairly standard singer, he sings ballads well but if he is cracking at this stage, imagine what he'll be like in lives. Only because the Boys category is so weak, I would put him through and expect that Louis will follow suit but he needs to build up his confidence because if he lets the pressure get to him in the live shows, he'll fall apart.
Louis decides to put Luke Friend through to the live shows, good choice Louis. Also through is Sam Callahan but the same can't be said for Ryan Mathie and Giles Potter who are both sent home. Finally, it's between the two strongest singers, Nicholas and Paul. I want Paul to go through but predictably it's Nicholas McDonald who goes through whilst the act with the most distinctive tone in his category Paul Akister is sent home. Well played Louis, put a fairly generic teen singer through at the expense of a really good soul singer.
It's Gary Barlow's turn now as he takes his Groups to Los Angeles. Before they perform, we're told that Code 4's numbers have dropped to three members after one of the members was unable to obtain a visa in time. To be fair, I doubt it'll make much of a difference, they strike me as Judge's Houses filler anyway. Anyway, Gary introduces the acts to their guest judge, former X Factor runner-up and Xtra Factor presenter Olly Murs!
Up first to face their mentor are Kingsland Road who have changed their name since bootcamp. For what reason, I do not know, perhaps something to do with copyright issues. Anyway, they're taking on Olly's song 'Dance With Me Tonight'. They have pretty tight harmonies and their individual vocals are stronger than they were in bootcamp. There's still something a little twee about their delivery of songs which makes me think that they're not going to appeal that much to the public but you never know. They're far better singers than most boybands who have been on the show and I wouldn't be annoyed if they made live shows as they performed well.
Up next are the soul group Brick City who are taking on Lisa Stansfield's 'All Around The World', they have really strong harmonies, possibly the tightest that the show has had from any group over the years. I also really like the dynamic between them as a group, the female Yasmin has a nice voice but doesn't overpower the boys and Duane, who famously made Judge's Houses in Series 7 is also really strong. Overall, I really like them and this was a good performance. However, Gary isn't impressed and tells Olly that he feels that they lacked the spark of previous performances. I don't really agree but perhaps he sees something I don't.
Rough Copy became a duo in bootcamp after their third member also had visa issues and I must admit, gave their best performance when they became two. They're taking on Justin Bieber's 'Boyfriend'. Saying that it beats the original doesn't really do it much justice, their performance is very strong. I wasn't a fan of them as a trio, I felt that they came across far too cocky but they seem to be a little bit better when there are only two members, perhaps they're less dominant on stage, anyway, they do a great job and impress both Gary and Olly, they're definitely in with a shot of making the live shows.
Xyra do a good job with a fresh take on the Phil Collins song 'In The Air Tonight', sadly no gorillas on drums feature in their performance. They're another group with brilliant harmonies and in addition, their solo vocals are great, in particular the main singer in the middle has an incredible voice. I expect that people will say they don't stand out simply because we have only seen short clips of them so far but they're honestly really strong singers. Is it just me or has the standard of the groups been ridiculously high? Not one group has put in a bad performance so far.
Guess I spoke too soon! Code 4 are better than they have been so far as they take on 'Superstition' by Stevie Wonder but it's still way behind the standard of the other groups. Perhaps if they concentrated a little less on their dancing and a little more on their singing, they would stand a chance. They're not great singers, individually or together as a group and unfortunately their harmonies need a lot of work. This was a lot better than I expected from them but then, that isn't saying an awful lot and I think Gary would be foolish to put them through when he already has four very strong groups.
The last group of the night are the manufactured girlband, now named Miss Dynamix who Gary put together after the initial round of bootcamp and who impressed all four judges when they took on Rihana's 'We Found Love' in the solo performance round of bootcamp. They have taken the gap between bootcamp and Judge's Houses in order to get to know one another better and they have also worked on tightening their harmonies. The work has most certainly paid off. They're absolutely brilliant, really great harmonies and their voices blend together beautifully as they sing 'Pure Shores' by All Saints. They still remind me of a young version of Destiny's Child, the UK hasn't seen a properly R & B grilaband since Misteeq, sure we have Stooshe but they're more down the urban/hip-hop side of things. I'll be surprised if Miss Dynamix don't make lives.
So with all six groups having performed, it's down to Olly and Gary to decide who to send through to live shows and who to send packing. Delighted to hear that they're going through are Kingsland Road but that comes at the expense of Brick City and Xyra who are sent home. To the surprise of approximately no-one, the superb Miss Dynamix are also through to the live shows. So who out of Rough Copy and Code 4 made it? Need you ask? The far superior Rough Copy complete the groups line-up whilst Code 4 are sent home. Finally a judge picks three reasonable acts, good job Gary.
The final category to perform is Nicole's Girls category as they jet off to join her in Antigua where she has the help of R & B Queen Mary J. Blige. I'm sure the Boys won't feel at all shortchanged that the girls had someone as iconic as Mary J. Blige judging them whilst they had Sinitta and one of Westlife.
Up first to perform for Nicole and Mary is Tamera Foster who has famously crumbled at previous stages of the competition, forgetting her lyrics in her arena audition and going out of key at bootcamp which was mysteriously edited out of the televisual edit. Anyway, thankfully she manages to hold it together finally at Judge's Houses as she takes on Alicia Keys' 'Falling'. It's a big song but Tamera has a massive range, even if she does have trouble controlling her voice at times. This is by far her best performance in the competition and has come at exactly the right time. Tamera has the stage presence, confidence and look to be a big popstar, she just needs to work on her singing habits as they are often quite poor.
Up next is one of the returning acts in the Girls category, Scottish hopeful Jade Richards. Jade has a great tone, I love the raspiness to her voice, my only issue is that her anunciation is often poor and I've found that her recent performances have lacked fight. She takes on Christina Aguilera's 'Hurt' and whilst it's vocally a very good performance, again there's something missing. I can't quite pinpoint it but the performance just doesn't have the fight that I feel it needed. Jade is a great singer but I don't know if she is going to stand a serious chance of winning, I feel like she has struggled this year.
Abi Alton does a nice performance of Alison Moyet's 'Only You'. It's nice to see someone choosing less obvious song choices and she does the song justice but again, I'm struggling to think of words other than nice that describe Abi's performances. She's not edgy enough to be a real quirky girl but her voice isn't strong enough for her to be a standard pop singer. I still feel that her tone is a little bit lacking in depth, I do like her but she's probably the girl whose performances leave the least impression on me. She doesn't really stand out.
Relley Clarke does a superb rendition of the Jimmy Cliff/Oleta Adams classic 'Many Rivers To Cross'. Again it's nice to see acts embracing less obvious, mainstream song choices and she does a really good job of it. Relley has really improved from the first audition, even though I loved her first audition. I like that she's not just a soul singer, she lets her Brummie accent come through in her vocals and she has something very likeable about her also. I really enjoyed that performance and I have a good feeling about her. She would connect with the public if she made the live shows in my opinion.
I hate being so critical of her because she seems a lovely girl but I'm still not feeling it about Melanie McCabe unfortunately. Her performance of 'Run' by Snow Patrol is okay but it doesn't sound any different to the other millions of renditions of that song that I have heard and I struggle to see where she would fit if she made the live shows. She has auditioned so many times but I don't feel that she has improved greatly from the last time she was on the show and I think she would be better suited to musical theatre than the music industry as there's still no emotion to her performances, it does kind of feel that she is singing the notes rather than the lyrics as the emotion just isn't there.
Finally, one of the show's frontrunners Hannah Barrett who touched the judges' emotions when she told them of her life in the room auditions takes on Sam Cooke's 'A Change Is Gonna Come'. I love Hannah's voice and this is a good performance, she has a great tone to her voice and really connects with the emotions of the song. I'm not sure that it was the most memorable performance but it was certainly technically impressive. The only thing I would say is that Rebecca Ferguson will for me never be beaten on that song though Hannah also did a great job.
Alright, so who gets through to the live shows? Well to no surprises Tamera Foster sails through to the live shows. Nicole sends Relley Clarke and Jade Richards home. It's a shame to see two really talented singers go home but I sort of expected it. Hannah Barrett also gets a spot in the live shows, leaving it to Melanie and Abi, my two least favourite girls for the last spot. Sadly, it isn't fourth time lucky for Melanie McCabe as Abi Alton makes lives. I would have chosen Jade or Relley over Abi but overall, I can't complain about the line-up for the girls.
So that's our Top 12, no wildcards this year so join me this weekend to see which act will become the first casualty as they take on 80's Hits!