Audition show 5 was the one to be on last year. It introduced us to Marcus Collins’s preternatural cheeriness and Amelia Lily’s supportive dad, as well as including a montage that featured Perrie Edwards, who would later lead Little Mix to their unlikely victory. Will this year’s equivalent show prove to have launched any, let alone all, of the eventual top three?
Producers seemed keen to plant the idea of an equivalence between X Factor high water mark Leona Lewis and auditionee Amy Mottram. The latter talked about Leona being her idol before – surprise! – learning that she would be the guest judge, and VTed backstage that Leona knew what it was like to start out as an auditionee. Then Leona’s song belted out in the background as the judges dished out their four yeses. This apparent attempt to link the two in our minds may perhaps be a hint that producers have big things in mind for young Amy.
She certainly came across as an endearingly bubbly personality and easy to warm to, and having an Essex regional base to draw on should do her no harm (although she may end up splitting it with Rylan Clark). If she makes it to the lives along with Ella Henderson, that will give Louis twice the opportunities to say “I can’t believe you’re only 16”.
Amy’s vocals seemed a little way short of justifying the Leona comparison just yet – indeed, a case could be made that she was outshone by one or two of the three girls whose attempts to impress Leona were subsequently montaged, suggesting less producer interest in them – deep-voiced Georgia Garrett, Charlotte Reavey and Sharon Rose.
But at least Amy’s soulful tone means she brings something distinctive to the party. Bookies were split, with opening quotes ranging from 6/1 to 20/1. If there proves to be any significance to Unreality TV’s remark that Amy has been tweeting Tulisa’s personal assistant post-judges’ houses, that bigger price could look more than fair.
“This competition’s changed since I was on it”, observed Leona after witnessing tonight’s first auditionee, Eddy String, strut around the stage. Yes, Leona. Yes, it has. Although it evidently hasn’t changed too much from 2011, as Eddy’s audition felt like we were rewatching Frankie Cocozza in a parallel world eerily similar to our own.
Big-haired, tight-trousered, slappably cocky and even from the town neighbouring Frankie’s on the south coast, Eddy did the rock star thing with a precociousness that can be forgiven in an 18-year-old. It seems unlikely that producers will want to serve up a character in the lives who keeps reminding us of the dodgy goods they kept trying to push on us 12 months ago – but if they do, it’s hard to envisage him getting a great deal further. 80/1 makes little appeal.
You wait weeks for a passable three-piece boyband to come along, then two arrive in a weekend. Following on from Saturday’s mildly original guitar-wielding, beatboxing outfit Times Red we had an altogether more cookie-cutter boyband in the shape of GMD3.
Despite having a name unimaginatively made up of their initials, GMD3 reportedly already have a management deal and an impressive following on social media. Vocally they were nothing special, but that’s never stopped cute teen boybands in the past. Louis Walsh, rumoured to have the groups this year, bestowed upon them a JLS comparison.
Despite obvious questions about how they might fit into the Syco stable alongside One Direction, all of this suggests that there may be some producer heft behind these boys. If so, it will be interesting to see if being a three-piece rather than a five-piece, and pre-show friends instead of bootcamp-manufactured, will help them gel with the voting public. With the usual caveats about the particular unpredictability of this category, a top price of 20/1 seems reasonable enough.
We then saw a montage of other groups getting waved through to bootcamp – Mitsotu, District Line and Duke – but their relative lack of screentime makes it seem unlikely that any will be in it for the long haul.
I wonder how scripted was the audition by MK1 (who surely now have to become MK2). Having the “writer and producer… I sing as well” fall on his sword was, on the face of it, a memorable way to introduce the group to the public, and an interesting twist on the BGT Charlotte and Jonathan tactic. But if Will was expecting to have his hopelessness pointed out, he did a fine job of appearing genuinely shocked and humiliated – and then proceeded to make himself look dickish by anxiously discussing percentages in their on-stage conflab, as if he’d accidentally stepped on the remote control and found himself on Dragons’ Den.
MK1 were another to split the bookies, opening at prices ranging from 8/1 to 40/1, and while the former price looks ludicrously short I find myself sharing their general ambivalence. It’s conceivable that this was a set-up for a storyline that will run and run as the other two members go from strength to strength and look for ways to dump their bespectacled “accountant”, hovering enviously in the wings. But equally, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if their purpose in the show has been served already with this entertaining audition and they’re now quietly dumped.
There was no Olly Murs Interview to analyse Amy Mottram got the Olly Murs Interview on Xtra Factor tonight, showing off her clothes collection, flirting in a cinema and singing in a pub. If you missed it, you’re unlikely to have missed anything else that might portend much for the lives.
What did you make of tonight’s crop? As ever, do let us know below.