“Five weeks ago, four superstars set out to build their teams of 12”
And five weeks later, numbed by the analgesic of poor scripting, lame gimmickry and underwhelming singers; there we were, the remaining 378 viewers, hoping for some kind of revelatory superstar to topple the pile. Or at least a streaker.
Poor opener Adenike was thrown under the bus that rammed a point home. As Jessie J so demurely put it, “It gets so hard when you’re nearly filled.”
The first success of the evening was for fashion stylist John Pritchard who rendition of Chris Isaak’s early 90s beach romp, Wicked Game, earned him a spot on Will’s team.
Next up to bust the windows out your car was the soulful and just angry enough Letitia Grant-Brown, currently trading at around 50. With obvious comparisons to last year’s surprise loser, Ruth Brown, I’m surprised not to see her running a little further up the pack. It’s a good reminder that odds and public perception are so often influenced by editing and judge selection. I wouldn’t be at all shocked to see Letitia make more of a wave later on.
“First TV talent show ever” might be a slight exaggeration by Hearsay’s Danny Foster but, for my generation at least , Popstarz was the first of its kind. The winning band might not have lasted long but it was bloody good telly and we have it to thank for this magnificent raunchfest of popular nonsense. If the BBC’s strategy was to imply that TV talent has moved on, leaving no room for crap, manufactured bands like Hearsay, all it really did was to remind us of when reality TV was actually fun to watch.
One of the shorter bets out of this weekend’s auditionees was 32 year old Moni Tivony, who may be my new least favourite singer ever. There’s a very big difference between a white singer with a naturally soulful, robust voice (say, John Newman) and one who absorbs the trills and styling of soul music in general (say, Plan B). There’s a much bigger gap still until you reach a cheeky chappy from Essex doing a Bob Marley parody worthy of a controversial Little Britain sketch. Feel free to disagree, the odds on offer certainly do and of course all opinions are my own, but I found Moni’s audition to be more than slightly cringeworthy.
Next up was 27 year old Abi Sampa whose East-meets-West take on Stop Crying Your Heart Out was one of the more original and exciting performances of the series so far, if slightly dampened by Danny’s patronising colonialist critique of the Asian vocal interlude (“haunting…”). I also worry that being Asian, middle class and female doesn’t look like a vote-pulling combination. Apologies if it’s beginning to look like I’m writing a thesis on the evils of the white default.
Completing Team Tom was 21 year old belter Joseph Apostol whose booming take on Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow certainly proved that he had the voice. Odds averaging 25 look about fair – neither low enough to suggest a front-runner nor high enough to look tempting as an outside flutter.
Mathematics puzzler of the evening: Brett Davison has spent a “really, really long time” in hospital. If Brett was performing in the o2 arena, but had to leave his band due to illness and ended up plastering a wall “one week later,” what number equals a “really, really long time?” Please show your working. You may use a calculator. Bonus points if you can murder Tracy Chapman with your own sharp inhalations in under 90 seconds.
Next up was Adam Barron, betrothed to the most histrionic finacee in televised history and last man on Team Jessie. He’s currently trading at around the 50 mark and seems too mixed a bag to call at the moment. Too much of the same and he could drift to obscurity, but much like Team Danny’s Mitchel Emms, some poignant acoustic power ballad could catapult his chances.
After a barrage of failures interspersed with will.i.isms, it was time for our wild card. The last slot of the season was last year given to initial favourite Jaz Ellington. As with last year, Will was the kingmaker, much to Danny’s authentic dismay.
Last up, with a definite spot, was CJ Edwards. I’m basing the inevitability of his selection on Holly’s voiceover, as scripted by some people who didn’t think very hard about the concept. Speaking of which, if CJ was guaranteed a place then the chair engineers might as well have turned off the swivel to conserve energy. Climate change is real, as is our viewing time.
I don’t think CJ’s audition quite had the impact programme makers were hoping for. In fact, I’m not sure exactly where programme makers were going with Will’s early swivel and Danny and Jessie’s writhing on the floor but the closing slot of the show has to imply some kind of favour, if not an X Factor style pimping.
And what a sorry lot we have been left with. The clear market leader is still professional West End star Liam Tamne, whose sopping wet falsetto rendition of This Woman’s Work sees him as short as 7 with Ladbrokes. Attempting to snap at his heels are opera duo Barbara and Carla and quite a few thirty-something males with soulful voices and professional experience.
It’s odd not to see one of Conor Scott or Danny County a little higher up the pack, what with their respective Sheeran/hipster vibes going on. There’s a couple of potentially strong females like Cherelle and Letitia that don’t really deserve to be at the bottom of the pack but as last year taught us, everything can flip reverse after the blind auditions.
Who are you watching for the win? As ever, do let us know.