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06 October, 2014 7:15 PM
Published by Kevin Mc Stravock
We're getting ever closer to the live shows now. It's over to Judges' Houses as the top 24 jet off across the globe to fight it out for a place in the live shows. Louis and the Groups are jetting off to Bermuda where they will be joined by former judge Tulisa, Mel B and the Boys are being joined by Emma Bunton in Mexico, Simon and the Groups are heading to Los Angeles where he will be joined by Sinitta (well there's no show without Punch) whilst Cheryl is taking the Girls to Nice where her and Tinie Tempah will decide who to take through.
The first act to perform for Louis and Tulisa are mixed group Only The Young who are singing 'Ghost' by X Factor alumni Ella Henderson. They have good voices and their harmonies are on point. Tulisa likes them but feels that they need a bit of an edge, which I agree with to be honest. They're good but they need to drop all the excessive smiling or they'll become cheesy and corny. They're one of the better groups, they just need to develop more of an edge.
Sister act Blonde Electra (they have changed their name for some unknown reason) are up next singing 'Gold Digger' by Kanye West. I must admit, although they have very loud personalities and we're clearly meant to hate them, I can't help but like these girls. Their voices are miles better than the standard novelty act and they actually have some swag, I wouldn't mind seeing them in the live shows.
Twins The Brooks sing 'Jar Of Hearts' by Christina Perri now. They can sing as well but I'm not getting anything from these guys other than that they're quite good singers. They're fairly generic and forgettable and I don't really see a gap in the market for them as they don't have strong enough personalities to get the tweens going mad for them. They're probably the first obvious Judge's Houses cut for me, they're young and at this stage, I don't think they're ready.
New Girlband are the next group to perform for Louis and Tulisa, they feel the pressure even more than the rest having been put through to Judge's Houses after a last minute sing-off with Overload and The Pow Pow Girls. They have good voices, in terms of girlbands, I think Blonde Electra are more memorable overall but considering that they aren't long together they do a pretty good job.
Boyband Concept perform 'XO' by Beyoncé for their shot at making the live shows. This isn't as strong as their previous performances, there's something off about them tonight, like they're not quite connecting with the song. It took way too long for me to actually get into the performance and I'm not convinced they would pick up many votes from the casual voter.
The last group of the night are New Boyband, the group who were formed at bootcamp and wowed the judges with a rendition of Run by Snow Patrol. They say that being in such a big group feels like one big sleepover and they really want to get through to live shows. Well, at least they harmonize fairly early into this performance. They do a good job of singing 'Mirrors' by Justin Timberlake though there are a few faults for me, I don't think Tom or the dude with the ear piercings whose name escapes me should have got such long solo segments as honestly, they're not the greatest singers. James Graham is the right choice to be a lead although I don't know how well the conventional lead singer type will work in such a large group. They're obviously going to make live shows but it's 50/50 whether they'll go far or be an early exit.
So with all the performances over, it's up to Louis to make his decision. I'm going to predict that his top 3 will be the New Boyband, Blonde Electra and Only The Young, the only potential change I could see is perhaps the new girlband getting through over BE although Louis normally has a novelty act and the girls fit that mould.
Only The Young
I guess I'm a psychic, must say that this top 3 is fairly strong, Only The Young if they drop the cheesiness are potential winners, Blonde Electric will probably get to at least Week 4/5 on the back of the novelty factor and the new boyband will either crash out really early (for having way too many members) or be massively pimped by the producers and make the final stages.
Jack Walton is up first, he previously impressed Mel and the other three with his fantastic rendition of 'Waves' in the room auditions and his take on 'Ain't Nobody' at the six chair challenge. He starts off a nervy rendition of 'Halo' by Beyoncé but has barely gotten into the song before Mel B stops it and tells him that he needs to give it his all, telling him to look at her and Emma if he wants to connect with the audience. Mel B is spot on with her advice for him and although he improves, I still don't think the performance was a patch on his previous performances.
Italian diva Andrea Faustini gets both Mel and Emma all emotional with his performance of 'And I Am Telling You' by Jennifer Hudson. There's no denying that Andrea has a massive voice bit I'm personally bored of hearing this song, nobody can do it justice compared to Jennifer Hudson and I'm still struggling to connect with Andrea, his songs are vocally great but lack passion and connection for me. That said, it's fairly obvious that he'll make the live shows considering how much he has been shown.
Joiner Danny Dearden delivers a nice rendition of Kelly Clarkson's 'Beautiful Disaster' but it's exactly what I described it as, nice. There's no star quality or stage presence there, he just has a fairly nice voice, I also feel that he somewhat lacks a lower range. Considering that he has been literally invisible until the six chair challenge, I will be surprised if he makes it through.
Jordan Morris' rendition of 'Apologize' by Timbaland is fairly generic and, to be honest, pretty emotionless. Again, I'm not feeling much of a connection and considering that the song is fairly sad and a little angry, I'm not getting any real emotions from his rendition of the song. I do sort of get the impression that he's making up the numbers somewhat as the other Boys have more substance.
The second of the big three (the three Boys who have actually had significant airtime) now as Jake Quickenden takes to the stage. We're shown brief glimpses of his previous performances and reminded about how he was in Judge's Houses two years ago and about his brother passing away. I like Jake although I think he sometimes fades into the background somewhat. His performance of 'Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic' is actually probably vocally the best he has sounded in the competition. The performance is good too, although I'm still not feeling much star quality from him. Jake, like Andrea seems like a dead cert for the live shows.
The final Boy to perform is returnee number two Paul Akister, again we're reminded of how he was sent home by Louis last year and Emma Bunton actually says she remembers him quite vividly, adding that she couldn't believe it when Louis sent him home. So, as you can see, the edit really isn't giving anything away about his chances of making the lives. Paul performs 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' by Simon and Garfunkel, I love his smooth, bluesy voice and he's easily the most talented of the Boys category. Performance wise, Mel B is right about him not really showing his personality, and I did feel that it was a little subdued tonight but there's no denying that he's talented.
So this one isn't even hard to predict, I think Jack was the only act capable of causing an upset and he was also the only act who messed up, even slightly, tonight. So with that in mind, Jake Quickenden, Paul Akister and Andrea Faustini are your top three boys.
Talent wise this is probably the best Boys category in quite a while but as we know, the public don't always vote for talent and considering that this is also the oldest group of Boys we've had in a while, add to that how young the Overs category is on the whole this year, I don't know that they'll all make it as far as previous Boys categories have. I think Paul Akister is a potential winner, provided he brings more personality in the lives but I'm not sure where Jake and Andrea will go, they could be potential shock boots.
The closest thing we have to a novelty act this year, Stevi Ritchie is up first. He may be a nice guy but sadly, nice guys finish last and his rendition of 'I'm A Believer' is pretty abysmal. Vocally, he's probably the weakest of the Top 24 and his dancing, complete with bizarre twerking doesn't distract long from the fact that he's just simply, not a very good singer. Simon and Sinitta both seem a bit bemused with Sinitta asking 'How did that happen at Judge's Houses?'. Because Simon kept him in over more talented singers like Janet and Raign, Sinitta, that's why.
A bit of country now courtesy of Lizzie Pattinson. She sings 'Don't Make Me' by Blake Shelton, an unusual choice considering that I don't believe Blake has had a hit in the UK. I like Lizzie's voice and she performs the song well but, she's a little dull and I'm not convinced she would resonate with the public, especially as she hasn't exactly had an extensive edit. Sinitta says that she would probably pop to the toilet during her performances as she isn't engaging enough, harsh but probably true.
Single mother of two Helen Fulthorpe is up next. We're reminded of her two kids and she tells us that her 13-year-old son took ill last year forcing her to give up her job to look after him. With so much at stake, she performs 'I'd Rather Go Blind' by Etta James as her final attempt to make the lives. It starts off reasonably well but as she gets into it, she loses her timing and nerves cause her to shout a little. Vocally, it's not a disaster but it definitely wasn't consistent. She herself knows that she hasn't given her best and leaves quite upset, fearing she has blown it.
Former navyman Jay James is up next, again we get a quite extensive look into his past with Simon filling Sinitta in on his story. Funny he leaves the bit out where he was signed and released an album though. I've nothing against people trying again, I just wish the show would actually tell us about Jay being signed to Decca, owned by Universal Records rather than make out that he's a complete newcomer to the music industry. His rendition of 'Everybody Hurts' is a massive letdown, much like Helen before him. Whether it's nerves, his oversinging which I have noticed in previous performances is even worse in this performance, he also changes the song a little and it just turns into a bit of a mess. Simon tells him that he sings through his nose, and voices his concerns to Sinitta, adding that it was pretty awful.
With the standard of the Overs being pretty low, the pressure is on former Addictiv Ladies member Fleur East who has faced criticism from Simon in the past for playing it safe. Before she performs, he tells Sinitta that he can't remember a single one of her performances, so not a great start. However, finally someone rises to the occasion, Fleur's performance of 'Bang Bang' by Jessie J is without a doubt the best of the Overs tonight, and probably the best Judge's Houses performances to date. I'm quite into her style which helps but generally, I think she has so much swag and natural stage presence. Her rap is brilliant, some people don't like rap but you can't deny that you need to have natural rhythm to rap well and she does a fantastic job. Sinitta and Simon are blown away, with Sinitta describing her as the best by far. She made the best use of the backing singers, actually singing with them rather than over them like some of the others did. The biggest surprise of the night probably, Fleur is a breath of fresh air, finally a female over who isn't a belter. If she doesn't make the live shows after that, I don't know what would do it.
The final Over of the night is van driver Ben Haenow. To this stage, I have preferred Jay but just as Jay drops the baton, Ben actually steps up, he definitely has some bad habits but he doesn't oversing like he did in his arena audition and I think his raspy voice works really well for his rendition of 'With A Little Help From My Friends'. The standard wasn't high at all tonight for the Overs but Ben has put himself up there with Fleur. He'll surely make it through after that.
This is probably less clear cut than the first two categories as the two frontrunners (Helen and Jay) both messed up pretty badly but the two obvious ones making the live shows after that have to be Ben Haenow and Fleur East, who was bloody brilliant. The last place is between those two I mentioned earlier although based on his sob story and standout first audition, I'm going to back Jay James, especially as Helen appears to be taking a panic attack in the dramatic cliffhanger.
Yep, as expected. Until this point, I would have said Fleur could struggle but after a brilliant Judge's Houses performance, I'm cautiously optimistic that Simon might put his backing behind her and she could become a dark horse. Ben will probably do well although I think we'll need to see him do more current material for him to become a potential winner. Jay, I think peaked too early, unless he can work on not oversinging and recreates his early magic, he strikes me as a Danyl Johnson/Rachel Hylton style early favourite who lands in the bottom two quite early.
16-year-old Lauren Platt is the first of the girls to sing for Cheryl and guest judge Tinie Tempah. She delivers a soulful rendition of 'Beneath Your Beautiful' by Labrinth and Emeli Sandé. Cheryl describes her as an old soul in a young person's body. I must say I absolutely adore her soulful, bluesy tone and she strikes me as the girl most likely to go far in the competition, as long as they don't overhype her then I think she's a potential winner.
One of the firm favourites, Kerrianne Covell is up next. She has been one of the standouts so far in her category but she doesn't have quite as much star quality in her rendition of 'Hurt' by Christina Aguilera. It's kind of dull and not the best I have heard her sing by a country mile. Cheryl tells Tinie that she has heard her do much much better than that.
Chloe Jasmine delivers a bluesy rendition of 'Over The Rainbow' by Judy Garland. It's much better than her dreadful Backstreet Boys cover in bootcamp but I'm finding her voice a little more grating recently. There's no denying that she's distinctive but I kind of found this quite nasally and almost as if she was trying to mimic Zooey Deschanel and similar bluesy singers.
Former Luminites member Stephanie Nala is hoping to show Cheryl that she deserves a chance as a soloist. She says that people expect her to be confident having the experience from Britain's Got Talent but finds it very different singing on her own to being in a group.She does a fresh arrangement of 'Careless Whisper' by George Michael, vocally it's not perfect, there are some minor pitch issues but I find her tone and her unique take on the song so refreshing. She's a very distinctive vocalist, much like Chloe.
Emily Middlemass sings 'Story Of My Life' by One Direction, it's cutesy but as Cheryl says, I'm not sure how far having a cute vibe is going to take you. Her voice will get grating eventually and I think she lacks that something special that previous quirky girls like Diana and Janet had.
Lola Saunders is the final girl to perform. Did you know she's a fishmonger? Anyway, Lola didn't do a great six chair challenge performance so the pressure is on for her to pull the standard up with this song. She sings 'All Of Me' by John Legend and it's so much better vocally than her previous performance. That said, there are still some clear signs that her nerves affected the performance slightly and I still don't know who she is as an artist to be quite honest. Lola seems really nervous and Cheryl comments that she doesn't know if she has learnt how to combat the nerves yet as this is the third time her nerves have been noticeable.
This is probably the hardest category to predict, the obvious two going through are Chloe Jasmine because she's this year's Katie Waissel figure obviously and Lauren Platt because she probably has the best voice of the Girls category. The final one is a tough one to predict, I think it's between Steph Nala and Lola Saunders as Cheryl has expressed too much doubt about Kerrianne to put her through and I don't think Emily is ready. I'm going to predict Lola Saunders gets it based on the edit.
I wasn't far off, Lola gets snubbed in favour of former BGT finalist Stephanie. An interesting and diverse line-up, Chloe is obviously the controversial figure so expect to see her being saved over a favourite in the bottom two at some point. Lauren will probably be the golden girl but whether they hype her to the point that she misses out on the final a la Ella Henderson remains to be seen. It's Steph I'm most intrigued by, she'll either do a Sophie/Jade Ellis and go out very early or the fact that her edit has been quite subtle could make her a dark horse.
Anyway, that's the top twelve decided, join me next week for the start of the live shows when the twelve acts chosen will be joined by four wildcards!