Monday 18 December 2017

X Factor week 2 – Gary’s grudge, Rylan’s resurrection and proof song choice is key

Brian O'Reilly

Brian O'Reilly

AFTER last weekend’s dramatics it was back to business for the talent show – however the elimination of Carolynne Poole obviously still weighed on Gary’s mind.

He took every opportunity to have a swipe at Louis Walsh, criticising all of his acts overly harshly, which just made him come across very bitter and unpleasant.

Whatever problems he may have had with Louis’ decision, it’s not fair to take it out on his acts.

The biggest point to note this weekend was how much of a role song choice plays – both of the bottom two acts had a really poor song choice made by their mentors, and in a year when the talent is so high, one song choice error can prove fatal.

Jahmene Douglas – ‘Tears dry on their own/Ain’t no mountain high enough’

No one doubts Jahmene’s vocal ability – he is a fantastic singer. However once again this week his major weakness was exposed, his inability to own the stage.

As a viewer you want to sit back and be entertained, not left worried throughout the song if the contestant is going to start crying and run off stage mid way through the performance – his awkwardness transfers from the screen to the audience.

Vocally he was in fine form, although there were slight pitching issues during the second chorus. The vocal aerobatics were back, which I dislike immensely – however I recognise many will not hold this gripe against him. Despite the lack of stage presence, a solid performance. 6/10

Christopher Maloney - ‘Alone’

Where to start with this – performance wise it was complete mess – unorganised and at times bizarre to watch.

The key to any stage performance is that it fits with the song, it compliments the story of the song and the singer.

The performance behind Christopher almost appeared to be a ‘stock performance’ – an idea they thought of years ago but never used, and on Saturday decided to dust it off for Christopher's performance.

There was some form of random bar scene being played out behind Christopher, which he had no interaction with and it made the performance so disjointed.

It completely distracted from what was a solid vocal performance from Christopher, albeit of an incredibly clichéd song choice by Gary.

The ‘nerves’ were back again and for me it’s really detracting from his fantastic voice, the over the top reactions are really starting to get predictable and tedious. His strong vocals are his saving grace. 6/10

Union J – ‘Bleeding Love/ Broken strings’

And the award for most improved performance of the week clearly goes to the boyband – they were almost unrecognisable this week compared to the messy performance we witnessed in week one.

Louis is starting to work his ‘boyband magic’ with these guys and it’s really paying off – he has identified the stronger singers in the group and is letting the other two boys be pretty backing vocalists.

The mash up worked really well, the boys looked a lot more confident and assured on stage in what was a memorable and well staged performance.

What can they do to up their game next week? Start finding their cameras. The winner is decided by a TV audience and most of the acts are yet to recognise they need to sing into a camera to really connect with voters.

The boybands most off all need to connect with the cameras, to make their 14 year old female voter base feel they’re singing to them.

A vastly improved performance and the boys may be back in the race for the final. 7/10

Ella Henderson – ‘Loving you’

Vocally this was incredibly impressive; however there were still some little slips and flat notes along the way.

However for me I just didn’t feel the same connection as last week, it was little soulless, it seemed to be more about showing Ella could hit a certain note rather than showing us how good she is at telling us a story and making us believe it.

That is Ella’s strength – her ability to sell a song to an audience is right up there with Lucy Spraggan’s, and this song came across a little devoid of that.

It’s a testament to how good she is that showing off her vocals is a criticism - in my book she is still the runaway favourite to win this year. 8/10

James Arthur – ‘No more pain’

To start on a particularly bitchy side note, the stupid granny glasses he wears during his VT have to go.

But oh James, we’re in trouble I fear. This song started out so well, it had that darkness we love about James, the staging was dramatic and atmospheric. However once the cheap karaoke track kicked in by the chorus it all went horribly wrong.

He has a very bad habit of ‘over performing’ – grabbing his shirt and scratching his face as if he is so tortured he can’t bear to remain in his own skin any more – and it comes across completely over the top.

His vocals by the end of the song had moved into shouting, and at times it was painful to listen to.

This performance was so disappointing; he has so much potential which just isn’t being used properly. He isn’t going to last much longer unless he gets a better song and some more stage training to tone the dramatics down a bit. 3/10

Lucy Spraggan – ‘Gold digger’

Firstly she has to get serious credit for not milking the death of her grandmother for a sympathy vote. Certain other contestants in the same situation would sing some emotional song about loss before collapsing to the ground overwhelmed by shake laden grief.

I really like Lucy, I think she is probably in the top three this year in terms of pure musical talent. However the worry is still longevity, and how versatile she can be with a limited vocal range.

This was a good performance by Lucy – good but not great. She was far more comfortable on stage than last week, and connected really well with her cameras.

The tactic I’d use going forward for Lucy is getting her to sing as many original songs as possible, throwing in covers suitable for her vocal range when necessary.

For a girl who had a tough week, she put in a strong, confident performance. 6/10

District 3 – ‘I swear’

They ended up in the bottom two, and it can’t be too much of a surprise to anyone. I said last week I think Union J are the stronger of the two boybands, and District 3 didn’t challenge that view this week.

The lead singer in the band, who tends to be in the centre during their performances, is incredibly annoying.

He has a smug grin on his face as he sings which comes across as arrogant, and the way he pronounces words is very grating – somehow they managed to get him to sing the word ‘haaaaart’ again this week.

Louis made a blunder here with song choice as well – it came across really out of date and tired. To stay out of the bottom two next week they need to do something more up tempo and edgy, and reduce the screen time of the annoying lead singer. 4/10

Jade Ellis – ‘Love is a losing game’

Jade was such a revelation last week and once again this week she didn’t disappoint. This girl is a serious breath of fresh air to the competition. In the middle of the over the top performances and drama on the judging panel, she brings an air of tranquillity to proceedings.

Vocally she was bang on, she was styled beautifully and the performance was simple and understated.

Again, as with Ella, because she’s so talented it’s really nit picking to find a negative. However if there’s one thing to work on, it’s really being aware of where her cameras are - once again this week she could be seen looking between two different cameras and it does make her look a tiny bit lost.

Other than that she was flawless. 8/10

MK1 – ‘I want you back’

Oh God Louis. What was with this song choice? This group could be Louis’ secret weapon in the competition but this was such a disaster.

The idea of having Charlie sing half the verse and Sim rap the other half was so ill thought out – it went horribly.

Louis Walsh is one of the most successful pop managers of all time, he knows what works in that area - however he really needs to trust in this act to guide him with song choices.

I’m really hoping for something a lot less poppy and a lot more edgy next week. 4/10

Kye Sones – ‘Love the way you lie/Thank you’

Kye is in the same boat as James Arthur in that he is hugely talented yet for some reason just not working quite yet.

There was a sense of arrogance with this performance – it came across like ‘this is the best mash up ever and you’ll all be amazed’, however I certainly wasn’t.

Ignoring the over the top fire effect, the whole thing lacked flare. Once again I found myself watching the clock, with a two minute performance feeling a lot longer.

Louis said he was ‘bored’ but couldn’t elaborate on why – but he really didn’t need to. To have the X Factor you need to be able to grab an audience and hold them while you’re on stage. Kye just isn’t doing that at the moment - It was boring. 5/10

Rylan Clarke – ‘Rylan Style’

This worked fantastically against the dullness which came before it, it was just such over the top, camp entertainment – starting with a Take That song as a jibe to Gary was a brilliant touch.

Vocally it was one of the weakest performances of the night, I’d place it with James Arthur in terms of shouting rather than singing for much of it.

However Rylan brings what Jedward brought before him, a fantastic camp entertainment factor to the show, and until much of the dead weight contestants are gone and the competition gets serious I hope to see him continue. 6/10

Melanie Masson – ‘Never Tear us apart’

If there was ever an example of song choice is key this was it, there is no room for error when there is so much competition.

This was just so dull, if ever there was a chance to pick a big power ballad for Melanie this was it and it was such a squandered opportunity.

Vocally she was very pitchy towards the latter half of the song, however I really think she is such a loss to the competition, as we had only seen so little of her – that being said however, she was never a contender to win.

Gary's poor song choice is largely responsible for ending Melanie's time on the competition. 5/10

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