Brian O'Reilly: X Factor final brings curtain down on worst series to date
AND so the worst ever series of the X Factor has come to an end.
Having watched all nine series of the show, I have to say I found this the least enjoyable and least engaging to date.
However I’ll come to that later, first a quick look back at the finalists’ performances over the weekend.
Jahmene Douglas – ‘Move on up’
Honestly, I was expecting and hoping that Jahmene would win this weekend, based on the assumption it would be himself and Christopher in the final two.
In front of 10,000 people I wondered how Jahmene would hold it together, however I think this performance was by some distance his best of the entire series.
Vocally it was flawless, and for once we actually got a bit of a performance and some animation from the normally static Jahmene.
It came across so natural and effortless, and suddenly I could imagine what his album would sound like and what direction he would take in his career.
Being completely honest Jahmene has been more of a miss than a hit for me this series, however I really hope he gets a career from the show, he deserves it. 10/10
Christopher Maloney – ‘What a feeling’
Last week on this blog, I suggested Maloney bring his ghetto blaster on stage with him to show how down with the kids he is.
This week, he walked out of a giant ghetto blaster. Glad you liked my suggestion Christopher.
This was just as wooden, unadventurous and banal as we have become used to from the Liverpool man.
Vocally to be fair it was actually a very solid performance – but his biggest problem all series is his inability to sell a song.
Whether it was a heartfelt ballad or an up-tempo 80s classic we just got the same default position from him, standing in the centre of the stage awkwardly swaying from side to side, taping his hip.
I can’t lie. I’m over the moon he didn’t win, and his reported behaviour at rehearsals for the final yesterday morning just show why – never have producers had to ban someone from appearing on the final, let alone a finalist themselves.
Glad he’s gone, and hope his career lasts just as long as his fake tan. 0/10
James Arthur – ‘Feeling good’
Last week he completely nailed it, and this week was no different.
As regular readers will know, my support for James dipped midway through the series when I began to worry that he wasn’t improving at the rate he should have been during the live shows.
However since his appearance in the bottom two he has improved more than any act I can remember.
He delivered this performance with such ease – it was slick and sexy and just brilliantly staged.
I actually voted for the first time this year and for the first time in many years on Saturday, and my vote went to James, he is an absolute star.
My biggest worry is how the X Factor machine will handle his career, but he could be a world famous act. 10/10
I love the concept of the acts mentoring with their mentors, as in previous years the duet with another established act has sometimes been a tad awkward.
For me the best of the three had to be Jahmene and Nicole, which despite Nicole’s mike failing was vocally stunning, with both singers voices blending beautifully.
Jahmene held it together really well considering the technical issues, and it actually added a lovely touch for both of them to sing into the same mike, despite Nicole towering over him. 10/10
Next had to be James and Nicole, which vocally was amazing but I just think it didn’t have the same emotion in it.
It just seemed to be lacking a little bit of direction - were they meant to be singing it to each other? Were they meant to gaze lovingly into each other’s eyes? Or was it purely a vocal display?
However simply taking as a vocal display, it was a master class. 9/10
Then we come to himself. This was one of those performances that even though Gary was clearly meant to be in the background tinkering away on the piano he completely dominated the stage.
Christopher, as per usual, looked like he could have been singing anything – could have been about his undying love for his nan, could have been about the wallpaper in his sitting room . Who knows?
There was absolutely no connection between him and Gary, it was as if they both had filmed their part separately and it was thrown together later.
Gary attempted to interact with him, but Christopher was too interested in cheesily smiling at the camera and tapping his hips. 10/10 for Gary, 0/10 for Maloney.
I have to say, the final was by a mile be most entertaining and exciting show of the entire series – but that isn’t good enough.
A show that has been going for as long as X Factor needs to be able to deliver that level of entertainment every week, and this year it just didn’t.
The fantastic opening of the show with Dermot’s entrance just set a great pace which the rest of the show lived up to. However something just hasn’t worked with the series this year.
For a series which on paper had the most talented acts ever to grace the live shows, something is seriously wrong when it becomes the dullest.
There are reports today that producers are considering going back to the original audition format of a room with no audience.
Let’s all be honest, we watch the show in the early stages for the bad auditionees, the deluded hopefuls, the sadistic side to all of us love to see their dreams ripped apart.
However the live arena auditions have smothered this element to the show – as soon as the audiences start booing the game is up and what could have been TV gold ends prematurely.
Bring it back to the room, get rid of the audience and give us back what we love – dream crushing.
I think the category thing has become incredibly stale at this point, plus the winner usually comes from either the girls or the boys category.
Next year I think the final 3 for each category should be selected – however then have a random draw to assign the judges’ three acts.
This could in theory mean Louis ends up with one group and two girls, or Tulisa with an over, a boy and a group.
It would shake things up, plus make great TV during the first live show when the judges are assigned their acts.
I do think the way to go forward with results is as in the US version, when the leader board is revealed every week.
This would stop the absolute joke of decent acts being eliminated at the expense of a Maloney wannabe crooner.
The biggest failure of these shows is voters ‘assume’ acts are safe and don’t vote – well don’t allow them to assume any more, let them know.
For me the biggest loss of the entire competition was Jade - I really feel she could have blossomed into an absolute star.
However the most frustrating element of the all the results of the series was finding out Union J were just 0.6% away from knocking Christopher Maloney out in the semi finals and going to the final instead.
I have to say, after all the headlines he’s created and attention he grabbed for the show, he cast a huge dark cloud over my enjoyment of the series.
He clearly misrepresented his singing experience at his first audition and from then on everything he did seemed disingenuous.
He is now complaining he was bullied on the show – well he must take responsibility for the negative attention as he firmly painted the target on his own back.
We even got glimpses of him through his VTs, telling Ella’s fans to ‘get over it’ and claiming he worked harder than anyone else on the show.
He was banned by producers from performing in the final of the show last night after he was abusive to fellow contestants at rehearsals – never can I remember an act like this in the show.
It also is being reported that he may have been axed from the live tour as well due to the atmosphere he brings with him.
This is not the typical villain X Factor creates; the Cher Lloyd or the Misha B, there genuinely does seem to be a case of no smoke without fire when it comes to him.
I hope this show is the last we hear from him, and I hope going forward in future the show isn’t afraid to disqualify constants should they have problems with them backstage.
The judges – Who should stay and who should go
I don’t care what anyone says about it being a talent show to find new musical stars and should focus less on the judges – first and foremost it is an entertainment show, and the judges play a crucial role in providing that entertainment.
For me, the number one priority to re-sign should be Nicole. Throughout the run of the live shows she has been the single most entertaining aspect to the show.
She is witty, a little bit wacky but can delivery accurate and constructive criticisms when it’s needed. She is the show’s biggest asset at the minute and to let her go would be insane.
Next on the return list should be the old reliable – Louis Walsh.
I do think this was his weakest series, however in the last few weeks he really stepped up his game.
Louis knows this show like the back of his hand – he doesn’t mind being the source of mockery and takes with such good grace.
He creates some great moments and isn’t afraid to lob a verbal grenade into proceedings to set fire to the panel.
I do think he misses having Simon to wind up – but Simon is clearly missing a Louis on the US version who he can bounce off.
After much thought I do think ITV should also renew Tulisa’s contract on the show for another year.
Let’s call it as it is – she was far, far stronger last year – however I do think she isn’t afraid to speak her mind, and has a little explosive element where we’re not quite sure what she might say.
I love the fact she becomes so invested in her acts, but she needs to be able to take criticism less personally, it at times this year made her come across bitter.
I also like the fact it appears her and Nicole get on – it’s the first time the two female judges on the panel actually seem to be speaking and laughing together.
So then we come to the sacrificial lamb – unfortunately I think Gary has to go.
The panel needs an anchor – ‘the mean one’, the one all the contestants are waiting with baited breath hoping for some rare praise.
Much as producers have tried to cast Gary in this role, he just hasn’t filled it, and I think it leaves the panel a bit adrift.
His biggest problem, horrible as it is to say, is that he is too nice – he just can’t pull off the mean judge role.
So a series score sheet for the judges
The next issue on the panel is much rumoured return of Cheryl Cole – I think it would be a terrible idea.
We’re meant to watch this show under the pretence, however thin, that the judges are their because they really want to find and nurture new talent.
Cheryl has had a very public falling out with the show, so why would she return? The money.
I just don’t think that audiences would buy into her and invest in her the same way as during her original run knowing she is simply there for the cash.
Too many bridges have been burnt between Cole and the show. Plus I think the ‘deep caring mentor’ role which Cheryl played has actually been filled better by both Tulisa and Nicole – there is no role for her.
I do think the obvious return is the most needed – Simon Cowell.
He brings that anchor like quality to the panel Barlow can’t and not only that I do feel there would be some fantastic television between himself and Tulisa.
X Factor USA has been a complete failure, and in his absence the UK version is going the same way - he now risks losing them both.
As a final thought – does the show have life left in it? It most certainly does, but no longer will minor tweaks do the trick, major reconstructive surgery is what’s called for.
Let’s be honest, for many of us X Factor gets us through the long dark Irish winter nights.
Louis said last night about James Arthur having “soul” – and this is precisely what the X Factor lost this year.
The show needs to be dramatic, it needs to be entertaining, but above all it needs to be fun. It needs to be more Coronation Street and less Eastenders.
Ultimately, next year when it celebrates a decade on the air, it once again needs to regain the thing it strives to search for - the X Factor.
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