X Factor 2011: Audition Show 2

There seemed even less pretence than usual that the second audition show of 2011 was part of a singing competition. Many of those who were waved through to bootcamp got their yeses on the back of other stunts.

We had a marriage proposal, a family surprise and a love-in with one of the judges. These seemed to overshadow the actual performances of various contestants. Perhaps this was why I felt none of this week’s featured acts had the X Factor.

Based on screen time, this week’s most hyped contestant was Misha Bryan, with whom producers were happy to rely on the X Factor staple of a sad but defiant backstory. Bookmakers were most impressed too, making her second favourite at 10-1 behind Janet Devlin.

Misha showed that she had no problems projecting her vocal chords or her personality into the large arena during her rendition of ‘Respect’. She showed great attitude and individuality, and as Euan noted, she does mix this strong voice with urban rappy elements, which adds another string to her bow.

As a result, Euan sees her as a top 5 or even top 3 contender. I’m not sure at this early stage that I’d be as hopeful of her ability to reach this far as I am of Janet Devlin, who we saw in the first audition show, and odds of 10-1 on Misha make little appeal for me.

I fear she will lack versatility, something that further footage of her singing on YouTube seems to reiterate. Also, she’s the kind of black girl with big voice we saw dispatched by halfway with Treyc Cohen in 2010 and Dionne Mitchell in 2006. She arguably has more personality and likeability than either of those two, but she’s clearly no Alexandra or Leona.

You can also find plenty of extra YouTube footage of The Keys’ lead singer, Charles Healy. This quintet were the second most hyped act of this second show, and in some places are as short as Misha Bryan in bookmakers’ lists.

Producers went all out to show us this was a group we had been waiting for, making them the punchline to an extended montage about the hopelessness of other auditionees in this category. Setting aside my general dislike of acapella performances, there was no doubt that the five lads were telegenic, the lead singer was highly competent and they had clearly rehearsed extensively (one can question whether the harmonies will remain quite so polished if they progress in the live shows and have less time to prepare).

Euan again rightly points out that there were urban elements involved here too. This might make producers prefer them to last year’s similar act, Princes and Rogues, who were ditched at judges’ houses. It might also persuade producers that they are a more natural fit for Tulisa (strongly rumoured to be mentoring the groups this year) than might immediately seem the case for an acapella outfit.

They were certainly given the kind of buildup you would expect from an act being lined up for the final 12, and they do have some positive elements. On the other hand, I found myself being put off by the rapper’s lisp, and I also find the extra YouTube footage too workmanlike to be encouraging. At this early stage I’m struggling to see them making the shake-up at the business end of the competition.

Derry Mensah received plenty of headlines before and after the show. Time in jail seemed likely to count against him in the negative press he received before Saturday’s show, but his reputation seems to be undergoing rehabilitation based on the stories of heroic acts that have appeared since.

His love of Kelly Rowland started to bore as a storyline, but a winning smile did help lift his passable rendition of an Usher song. I agreed with Louis, who gave us the idea of putting him in a band, because I think he might go further this way than as a solo contestant. Some manoeuvring at boot camp would be no surprise.

It may possibly be significant that Tulisa rated Derry’s solo potential more highly than Louis, given the rumours that she ends up with the groups – it always helps to be allotted to a mentor who has rated you from the start (and anyway it would be rather damning to have everyone on the panel dismiss one’s chances as a solo artist).

More generally, if it does transpire that Tulisa ends up with the groups, it would be a surprise if producers don’t ensure there is at least one act in her category with whom she has some kind of natural rapport – they surely won’t want to embarrass her, as a new judge, by packing the category with the kind of cannon fodder it often contains. Perhaps someone like Derry, with the escape-from-the-mean-streets backstory being portrayed in the tabloids, could fit the bill with the right bandmates.

Craig Colton and Johnny Robinson also managed plenty of screen time for their respective performances, and some respectable prices in bookmakers’ lists. However, there are some auditions that feel like groundwork for the live shows, and some auditions that feel like they are there primarily to provide a few minutes of entertaining television during the audition shows – a classic of the genre being Samantha Hallam, who was put through on a wave of positivity after saying yes to her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, and who now seems likely to be quietly despatched at bootcamp.

While both Craig and Johnny were compelling personalities, I felt both auditions probably fell into the category of having served their purpose already. It was hard to see beyond the schtick that made each audition entertaining – Craig as the cheeky Scouse chappie, and Johnny with his drag act minus the drag. It’s hard to imagine them extending their range significantly enough if they made the live shows, and I can see both falling short as a result. Craig in particular seems mighty short at a best-priced 20-1 given that he is competing in what is usually a very strong category.

So I wasn’t feeling the X Factor last Saturday. Am I being too cynical given that the general standard isn’t high anyway? As always, please feel free to let us know in the comments box below.

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14 comments to X Factor 2011: Audition Show 2

  • Jack

    Hi! I’ve been following these article since midway through The X Factor 2010, but have only decided to comment now. I’m not a betting man myself, but find the way the producers manipulate the voters to be fascinating. I agree with you for the most part about Saturday, with the exception of Misha Bryan. I think the sympathy-generating tears, long screen time, lack of parents and impressive voice indicates that the producers want her around for a while. Comparisons to Treyc, I think are unfair, because, as you point out, she has a more interesting personality and has a better voice. I knew nothing about Treyc last year, but we already know a bit about Misha. I do feel that, looking at your previous posts, there is no obvious journey for Misha to go on, like there was for Katie, Rebecca, 1 Direction etc.

    Anyway, just my two cents. I could be completely wrong for all I know!

  • EM

    Nope, bang right I wasn’t feeling the X Factor but nothing appears on the show by chance. Misha has legs but most of the others are in the Storm, Paige, Diva Fever category of fodder with a storyline to be ditched in the first weeks if not judges houses.

  • Andrew

    Welcome aboard, Jack! 🙂 I think that’s a very pertinent point about the lack of an obvious journey for Misha. Also, the girls who’ve done best (Leona, Alexandra, Rebecca) have all had the classic self-confidence journey, whereas Misha doesn’t appear to be starting at an obvious deficiency in that department. Nor does she seem likely to divide opinion like Cher or Diana Vickers, thereby inspiring defensive loyalty among her fanbase – I just wonder if her problem might be that everyone will like her, but not enough people will like her enough.

    If you put a gun to my head I would guess 6th-8th ish for Misha at this point, but obviously that could all change depending on how she comes across at bootcamp and judges houses and what remains to be shown of the remaining auditions.

  • annie

    wow, i just realised this year that they film the judge’s houses after (at least some of) the auditions are shown. That makes it so much more obvious that they already choose finalists much earlier, judge’s house is just a charade and how shamelesly everything is directed towards a plan:)) otherwise they would need to show similar amount of audition footage of all potential finalist who reached judge’s houses and they don’t really, it’s mostly those who eventually get through, even though at that stage they theoretically shouldn’t know who those will be.
    I guess then Gamu wasn’t ut throutgh last year because of her visa issues, cause they must have seen the hipe she caused by the time judge’s house was filmed.

  • James

    Hi, great article as always! Have you seen the news about Misha (allegedly) breaking down at bootcamp?

    http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/tv/s103/the-x-factor/news/a338179/x-factor-hopeful-misha-bryan-breaks-down-at-boot-camp.html

    Obviously this may be completely made up, but if it is true I doubt it’ll help her cause. I think there will almost definitely be cries of foul play (as with Katie and Cher at Judges’ Houses last year) when she is inevitably put through anyway. What’s you take on this?

    On another note, the judges’ categories seem to have been revealed.

    http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/tv/s103/the-x-factor/news/a337959/x-factor-judges-categories-revealed.html

    Probably as predictable as it’s ever going to get.

  • Andrew

    Cheers for that James. Probably not great for Misha’s chances if true, though they could try to spin it into an “overcoming stage fright” journey for her. And better for it to happen at bootcamp, that at least gives her a chance to bounce back at judges houses before the decision for the lives.

    Judges categories tally with the previous rumours, then. And the same article seems to have confirmation that we’re going for a final 16 rather than a final 12, which will complicate the elimination betting yet again.

  • Allan

    I usually don’t bet on the overall winner until after the auditions or until the final line up is announced, but was monitoring oddschecker last saturday and had to back Craig Colton at 40-1 with Coral (think he even opened at 80-1 but I missed that boat). Agree that 20-1 is a short enough now and it’s normally a competitive category, but think he has a chance of making the live shows…

  • EM

    Show 3 thoughts…

    Last week you said the second audition show just didn’t have the X Factor. Tonight’s programme felt like it had all the elements.

    First of all David Wilder. There’s some potential panto villain about him. He’s certaintly got all it takes to be the joke that isn’t funny anymore. He’s a rocker so will struggle with Take That week or Bee Gees week or Big Band week. He can hold a tune but it’s not great. At this stage I’d say Goldie is plan A for this but he’s a good plan B.

    Luke Lucas made me feel like he’s going to be one of those early favourites who falls by the wayside. At first glance he carries himself well and has a great voice but it was basically a Michael Jackson impression and he might well turn out to be one dimensional. He could come across as too confident and he felt stage school to me, never something that flies well. No back story either. If I had to cast him in a show role it would be cute kid who stays 5 or 6 weeks but then goes “unfairly” to allow one of the controversial acts go through. I’d caveat that with if he’s more adaptable than I’ve given him credit for he could go much further.

    And then Jade. She’s a potential winner, top 3 at least. She can sing, she’s got a backstory (family member who did the working mens clubs and desire to get out of small town), strong regional support, sympathetically emotional in her singing and talking and without classic good looks should get a strong female vote. Very reminiscent of Michelle McManus who won Pop Idol.

    As I write she’s 6/1 to win outright and she might not get higher than that ever.

    Couple of other things. Two of the most explosive bad contestants this series have been on previous series. There must be questions about how far the format has to run if they can’t get the entertainment in the audition phase.

    Secondly the first live show is 8th October which gives 10 or 11 shows between then and the final which means certain double eliminations if they have 16 acts again. That would suggest judges houses 1st Oct and bootcamp 24th Sept.

    Finally there hasn’t been much group action so far which suggests they’ll manufacture some again under the guise of it worked well last year. These controllable units will obviously be strong favourites to do best of the groups. Thinking about this, if Tulisa is mentoring groups then watch if they create an urban male/female group similar to N-Dubz. Could go far!

  • justin

    Jade looks like an outstanding contender and she clearly had an enormous effect on the studio audience including the judges suggesting she has a stage presence which wasn’t particularly obvious from watching on TV. She is very Scottish which will be a great help plus she is from Fife which apparently is a ‘dive’ (how pre-prepared was that question from Tulisa?). The bond with Kelly is also nicely set up with Kelly’s ‘dream’ about that song.

    Definately agree with EM that this show had it all and suddenly my interest is reignited.

    Daniel was this the audition show you saw live?

    • Daniel

      Hi Justin, producers have shown acts from the one live audition show I saw across different episodes so far. The strongest contender I witnessed has not been aired yet and nor have the one or two others I saw who are in with a chance of a final 16 place. So there’s more in the editing room for producers to play with for the final few audition shows.

  • Boki

    First of all a big cigar for everyone because in the meantime I became a father for a second time :). So yesterday I evening I was watching the show with newborn son in my lap.

    That also means I will have less time for research since I’m new to x-fac but I’ll do my best, you’ll get some free money from me on betfair 😉

    I’ve just looked at this Wagner guy from last year, can’t really imagine how someone can think he can win but it’s just me newbie thinking. This David Wilder guy rocks so if such a figure is required on the show it can be him. But one question comes to my mind: isn’t it now obvious that such a character will never win and people will not fall into same trap again ? Will the lay market be liquid at all ?

    • Andrew

      Congratulations, Boki! 🙂 What excellent news.

      Re Wagner: you would think so, wouldn’t you? But then, with Wagner it should have been obvious from the same thing happening with Jedward the year before. And of course, the same thing happened again with Jedward at this year’s ESC – out of nowhere they are backed into single-figure odds and then you get a self-perpetuating circle of hype, with stories about people now taking them seriously as contenders apparently persuading some punters to back them further. Meanwhile you’re scratching your head thinking “this must be a free money lay… mustn’t it? Or have I missed something?”

      It was liquid enough last year for Dan to get 28k on in the week Wagner went out, for about a 10% return.

  • Boki

    Thanks Andrew !
    Well, Jedward are funny positive cute young modern twins (did I miss something?) so I can get the hype reasoning to some extent. But this Wagner was horrible imho. Anyway, I guess there are more punters, encouraged by Dan’s success last year, prepared to lay the hyped favorite big time. Or maybe I overestimate sofabet readers population 🙂

    • Andrew

      It would be nice to think we had such influence! 🙂

      Jedward were seen as the joke act of their year (if you haven’t seen their amazing take on Britney’s Oops, do google it) and their progress as better singers departed was seen as threatening the show’s credibility, similar to Wagner (also like Wagner, Cowell had a panto hate relationship with them). Plus they got consistently good slots in the running order, suggesting (correctly as it turned out when the vote stats were released) that they were needing help to evade the bottom two and were in no danger of winning despite the hype.

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