Saturday 17 March 2018

X Factor first live show: Messy, poorly produced but some sparks of real talent

Brian O'Reilly

Brian O'Reilly

SATURDAY saw the first of this year’s X Factor live show – a show which at times seemed chaotic, messy and under rehearsed.

The backing tracks sounded like poor karaoke versions, there was a random, misplaced interlude from One Direction and it took the judges some time to get heated up – however there were some glimmers of real talent on display.

District 3 ‘Simply the best’ – The first act to perform on the first live show always has an unenviable task, however that task is made easier when the act has a good song choice to support them. The toned down version of the song never really got off the ground, and while the boys vocals were solid the whole thing appeared to lack a spark.

Tulisa said they had some bad boyband habits – I’d agree, one member in particular has a terrible tendency to sing ‘heart’ as ‘haaaart’ – which will only become more grating as the weeks go by. 3/10

James Arthur ‘Stronger’ – This was one of the most disappointing performances of the night – James arguably has the best male vocals in the competition this year, and this song really didn’t show them off, forcing him to stay low in his register and not challenging him vocally.

Once again the backing track of this song sounded cheap and poorly produced – he is on paper one of the contenders to win this year, but may not go too much further with more performances like this. 4/10

Melanie Masson ‘A little help from my friends’ – Melanie is one of the most likable contestants in this year’s competition, she is clearly a devoted mother, speaking honestly about the trials of being away from her family without trying to milk it for attention.

Her performance on Saturday was the best of the overs – vocally perfect, staged well and delivered with the stage presence of a pro. Whether she has a recording career ahead of her is up for discussion, however she will most certainly be a West End star with her powerful vocals. 7/10

Lucy Spraggan ‘Mountains’ - Lucy is arguably one of the most talented acts the show has ever had – her song writing and ability to connect with the audience is second to none. Yet again this weekend she sang another original song - she was clearly the most nervous we’d seen her, but she still delivered a strong performance.

The worry with Lucy is her longevity; the classic question is ‘What would she do on Abba week?’ (although the show hasn’t actually had one in years). She is vocally the weakest female in the competition, but writes songs which suit her range. Britain’s Got Talent would have seemed the most suitable avenue for her, allowing her to sing a few original songs and get a career out of it. Time will tell if she can adapt quickly enough to stay in contention. 7/10

MK1 ‘Champions’ – This group have to be considered another dark horse. The chemistry between the two performers is great – they clearly get on well, which comes across on screen, and they have a great look.

Their performance on Saturday was really well put together and one of the most confidently delivered of the night. Charlie, the female singer in the group, is clearly not one of the strongest vocalists in this year’s competition, so song choice will be key to their progression to not expose this weakness. However a very solid start. 6/10

Christopher Maloney ‘Hero’ - I don’t like him. I don’t buy his whole ‘nervous’ act, he shakes to the point of doing himself an injury when talking, yet he can stroll on stage with confidence. He has already been caught out when it was revealed he has sang on a cruise ship for years, despite saying he has no confidence to sing.

The worst thing about Christopher is that he doesn’t need the sob story – his voice is actually very good. The performance on Saturday was probably one of his weakest, but his vocal ability is undeniable. He does have bad stage habits as Nicole pointed out - he definitely needs to bring 'a bit more burger with that cheese' - however that can be worked on.

I don’t think he’ll win, but he very well could be one of the last standing overs, but I really hope he drops the ‘nervous’ act. 6/10

Union J ‘Don’t Stop me now’ – This was probably the worst performance of the night, which says a lot considering Rylan performed – it was a complete mess. The song choice was abysmal, the boys looked awkward and there was too much going on up on stage, with the result being the cameras didn’t know what to focus on.

For me, Union J are the stronger of this year’s boybands, however their good looks will only take them so far with the One Directioners – they seriously need to up their game to be in with a chance. 2/10

Jade Ellis ‘Hero’ – This had to be the biggest surprise of the entire night. Like many people, I was quite surprised at her inclusion to the live shows, having been underwhelmed by her in the competition thus far.

However her stripped back performance on Saturday was a revelation. Her voice is fantastic, with soulful and raspy tones adding to her charm. The only drawback was her failure to find her cameras, with the result being her looking a little lost at times. Once again there was the cheap sounding backing track – but there was nothing she could do about that. Definitely one of the performances of the night. 8/10.

Rylan Clark ‘Gold’ – Tradionally the place of the ‘gimmick’ act has been filled by the overs category, when usually poor Louis Walsh has been left with no option but to put through an act purely for the novelty value (Wagner and Johny spring to mind).

However this year Rylan has taken the place of clearly more talented acts. Vocally Rylan actually held it together, and delivered a confident performance. For what it was – a cheesy, camp, flamboyant performance, it delivered. 5/10

Kye Sones ‘Man in the Mirror’ - Kye is up there with James Arthur as the strongest male vocalist in the competition, however once again he was quite underwhelming on Saturday. The song choice didn’t allow him to display his vocal range, and the stage performance was actually quite dull. Once again a poorly produced backing track played its part.

When you find yourself looking at your watch during a two minute performance you know something isn’t working. Kye should work, he has a fantastic voice, however on Saturday something didn’t just click. 5/10

Ella Henderson ‘Rule the world’ – This girl is the overwhelming bookies’ favourite to win this year, and with a performance like she delivered on Saturday it’s obvious why. She was simply stunning – the beautiful vulnerable tones in her voice were displayed perfectly. She was delivered a standing ovation from the judges, almost unheard of on the first live show.

Of course the obvious flaw was the pitching issues at the beginning of the final chorus, which did detract from the overall performance. She could be the saviour of this year’s series. 8/10

Carolynne Poole ‘Starships’ – We all know now this was the night’s least popular performance. Carolynne suggested there isn’t much of a market in the UK for country. There is. However not for a country version of a rap song.

Gary’s mistake in song choice really cost his singer – country is a new genre to X Factor, singing a Dolly Parton song wouldn’t have been a cliché performance to the show, it would have been new. Vocally she was fine, and quite confident in her delivery, however the conversion clearly just didn’t work with viewers. 5/10

Jahmene Douglas ‘Imagine’ – Again I’ll be honest – I don’t get Jahmene. I find his voice grating, he is devoid of stage presence and he has a terrible habit of Christina Aguilera style ‘vocal aerobatics’ - to the point where the original melody of the song is lost.

All that being said Saturday’s performance was solid; he was vocally good and didn’t show the nerves we had seen previously. However stage presence could be his downfall. Leona Lewis was shy and withdrawn off stage, but onstage she transformed into a charismatic performer. Jahmene doesn’t, and if he has any hopes to win he should try and work on this. 6/10

And so we come to last night’s ‘Louis’ controversy. Ignoring the fact that it would appear a producer spoke to Louis during the sing off, ignoring the fact that Carolynne is clearly the better singer, and ignoring the fact it was slightly enjoyable to see a smug Gary knocked off his perch – Carolynne lost the public vote.

Yes, the polo neck wearing/TV physic looking Louis could have saved the country singer, but for what? She would only have faced elimination again next week – the public voted her in last place.

Rylan, love him or hate him, is good for the show. X Factor has always been just as much about the circus and drama backstage as on stage, and Rylan provides a healthy dose of that.

Louis hasn’t been kept on the panel for nine years without playing a hugely important role – he knows what’s in the show’s best interests, and he knows how to stir up controversy.

Despite the protests of many who claim they won’t watch again next week - they will. From now until Christmas it will be TV’s most additive soap, and viewers will tune in again for their weekly fix.

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