X Factor 2014 Auditions Week 2: Her name is Lola, is she our Alpha Girl?

That’s it for the room auditions. Correct me if I’m wrong, but of the rumoured acts who make judges’ houses, I think we’ve seen four of the boys (no sign of Danny Dearden or Jordan Morris), five of the girls (Steph from BGT’s The Luminites is still to be introduced), five of the overs (missing Fleur East) and five of the groups (not a single member of the manufactured girlband has crossed our screens, in stark contrast to five of the mooted eight-piece manufactured boyband having enjoyed some screentime in the first two weekends).

On a tangent, is this not looking like the whitest set of contenders we’ve ever had? Of those we’ve seen so far who reportedly make it past bootcamp, two-fifths of the boyband Concept are the only exceptions. A quick google suggests we can add to that list one-fifth of the manufactured girlband, plus Fleur and of course Steph. If we can assume that Concept are passed over to clear the way for the eight-piece, and that the lack of screentime for the girlband tells its own story, that surely points to at least one of Steph and Fleur making the cut in their respective categories to avoid an embarrassing lack of diversity in the live shows.

Back to this weekend, and Lola Saunders got the alpha girl treatment in the Saturday-night pimp slot.

An extended segment started with Cheryl driving past where she grew up before assessing two local girls – one of whom, Chloe Headley, was the fall guy, there to build up suspense for what came afterwards. The unfortunate Chloe’s rejection being screened to the waiting auditionees allowed Lola to establish endearing humility right at the start, by fearing she’d be in for the same fate.

We saw that producers had sent a camera crew to film Lola gutting fish for her day job. We learned that she’s from South Shields. She has a nan. The klaxons were sounding: a backstory, telegenically lachrymose grandparents, and a local connection with Cheryl – the last time she mentored someone from her neck of the woods, of course, it was 2009 winner Joe McElderry. Having said that, it is also worth bearing in mind another possible precedent: the last time Cheryl mentored a 20-year-old northern brunette, it was Laura White, who was an early favourite in 2008 before exiting disappointingly early.

Lola came across as a likeable, pleasant-looking-yet-unthreatening girl who won’t steal your boyfriend – one wag on Twitter suggested it was Martine McCutcheon playing Kate Middleton. Her singing? It was highly competent, though there were no goosebumps this time. A bit breathy and not quite note-perfect, but nothing a bit of training and clever production can’t fix. She duly became the new favourite in outright lists at 7.0, and Cowell reportedly calls her a “potential winner” at the arena audition.

Emily Middlemas was the other girl introduced this weekend, but the fact that she got only just over a minute of screentime in a montage doesn’t bode well for her chances of being anything more than the gamma girl at best; and if we assume Chloe-Jasmine is destined for the long haul along with Lola, that leaves Emily scrapping with Steph and last week’s also briefly-sighted but vocally-impressive Lauren for the remaining berth on Cheryl’s category.

If Emily is let loose in the lives, it will be only the second time Scotland have had someone to root for here since Jai McDowell beat Ronan Parke in 2011’s BGT. Just by watching BGT and the X Factor live shows these last few years, you’d never guess that Scots comprise one in 12 of the UK population.

Wales is looking in better shape, with last week’s Jay James Picton appearing set fair for the live shows and Helen Fulthorpe joining him at judges’ houses. At Louis’s judges’ houses are Cardiff’s 15-year-old twins The Brooks, who featured in Saturday’s show. Discouragingly for them, so did three more “pieces of eight” – Jake Simms, Casey Johnson and James Graham joined Reece Bibby and Charlie Jones from last week in being introduced to the viewing public ahead of their reported formation into an as-yet-unnamed eight-piece boyband at bootcamp.

Added to those five, we were given plenty of exposure to two others last year – Tom Mann and Barclay Beales. This all speaks of some serious producer investment, and by boyband standards there’s a certain amount of credibility in what we’ve seen so far, initiated by Reece Bibby with his guitar. This week, James showed he has a very powerful voice, Jake Simms has a usefully alternative vibe (as well as a younger sister and a nice line in Cowell-pleasing: “I could learn to like animals”), whilst Casey Johnson has been blessed with Liam Payne-esque good looks.

It doesn’t bode well for The Brooks to be up against this behemoth. The 15-year-old twins weren’t really styled effectively either. There’s still no word about who is through Louis’s judges’ houses, but from what we’ve seen so far we’re expecting the eight-piece as alpha group, Only The Young as back-up and Blonde Electric as intended talking point.

Moving onto the boys category, the second biggest dent in the market came this weekend from Paul Akister, a controversial rejectee at judges’ houses last year. Having been the one who wielded the axe on that occasion, Louis now squirmed in his seat as a leaner but not meaner Paul showed off his undeniably powerful voice to the other judges, each pretending not to know of him.

The song was dedicated to an ex-girlfriend, which only gives Paul further sympathy with the viewing public, and he has plenty going for him if getting to the lives. He’s a best price 10.0. One word of warning, though: the heartbreak of a second judges’ houses rejection is good controversy for the show, which has pulled the trick on Jade Richards, Jon Wilding and Melanie McCabe.

What’s the betting the edit at Mel’s judges’ houses pits Paul against 2012 judges’ houses rejectee Jake Quickenden for one remaining place in the lives versus one brutally-final crushing of hopes? Jake got the Sunday-night pimp slot, with the drama of his return and the need for a second take, and the revelation that his younger brother had passed away since Jake last tried for the show.

Producers have clearly become nervous of being seen to flog a sob story egregiously, making sure to include footage of the judges remarking on how they admired Jake for not mentioning his brother until they asked. Unfortunately, this was rather undermined by the clunky way in which they teased this information out of him – Mel’s “have you had heartbreak in your life?” might have seemed a bit less artless if Simon hadn’t just drawn our attention to the briefing note in front of him by observing that Jake had also prepared ‘Say Something’, rather than innocently asking “have you got anything else you could sing?”

Incidentally, Saturday’s show had also featured a moment of Simon openly reading some background information about a contestant from his piece of paper. In the past we remember them being more careful not to undermine the impression that the judges don’t know who’s appearing in front of them next. Is Simon getting blasé about allowing peeks of the wizard behind the curtain?

Going back to Jake, there’s no doubt he has a less powerful voice than Paul and wouldn’t go into the lives with the same momentum if chosen, as reflected in his current best price of 13.0. Since last being on the show he’s carved out a modelling and TV career, and it’s interesting to wonder if producers see enough of a showbiz future for him to invest in making him an X Factor live shows alum.

The boys category is arguably looking the muddiest of all after the room auditions. One act we’re actually expecting to see in the lives is Andrea Faustini, as the eccentric Italian is that rare and precious commodity: a novelty act who doesn’t look like a novelty act because he can actually sing, and who isn’t in the traditional novelty act categories of the groups and overs. Dramatic tension perhaps suggests room for only one of Paul and Jake, while the non-appearance thus far of Danny and Jordan is hardly promising.

That may conceivably point towards a place in the lives for Jack Walton, who received an intriguing introduction on Saturday night. It was quite a surprise to see a decent 17-year-old male auditionee who doesn’t get dragooned into the eight-piece boyband but instead is reportedly at judges’ houses in the boys category. The Leeds lad has a geographical connection with mentor Mel B, and a decent set of pipes on him.

In the comments to the last post (all of which are, as ever, worth your time), Nissl comments of Jack that “His absence from the boyband makes me doubt it’s really their strong plan A this year”. We will see. If Jack does make the lives, and the eight-piece do get the producer backing their screentime so far suggests, then Jack will presumably somehow have to be steered into a niche that minimises the extent to which he fishes in the same pool of votes.

It’s interesting to look back at how the boys category shaped up in One Direction’s year. Aiden Grimshaw, Paije Richardson and Nicolo Festa (another eccentric Italian) all had niches that avoided too much overlap with the favoured boyband. However, the fourth member of the category – Matt Cardle – romped to victory.

We wondered if producers might have learned a lesson from that when Ben Haenow appeared with a strong audition on Saturday night. The camera followed Ben in his work as a van driver, giving him a cheeky-chappy persona, right down to the theme tune to ‘Minder’ playing in the background.

He played it with aplomb in front of the judges, and is a best price 10.0 in the outright market. Showcasing a slightly rockier vibe, he struck me as a useful alternative to Jay James in the overs category should Simon choose to take him to the lives. And if he does so, the slightly more mature male niche will be looking quite crowded. Jay James, Ben and Jake/Paul would all be vying for the Matt Cardle-esque post-teen everybloke vote in the live shows. One Direction never got close to Cardle in the phone vote; this year’s manufactured boyband may have more chance if the older guy vote is split three ways.

Rounding out the overs category, we saw a brief glimpse of Lizzy “Robert’s sister” Pattinson in Sunday’s show. She was montaged, implying a ceiling of being the potential gamma in her category, but she had an appealing line in sass which may just have endeared her to producers.

That’s our view of the lie of the land – we’re looking forward to seeing if the arena auditions, which start this coming weekend, overturn some of our assumptions. How are you reading the runes after the rooms? As ever, please let us know in the comments section below. It’s great to see the reappearance of old friends in the comments to the last post, and we’re always delighted to hear from lurkers.

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44 comments to X Factor 2014 Auditions Week 2: Her name is Lola, is she our Alpha Girl?

  • JackB

    Interesting point – or perhaps not, but hey ho – anyone remember when Lucy Spraggen had to remove Last Night from iTunes till after she’s been on the show?
    Jake Quickenden’s singles are still on iTunes. Might not mean anything though, I just thought I’d mention it.

  • Since you made a reference to the final six, I was wondering if the rumors regarding the mentors are true. I’d think that they will give Louis a stinker of a category this year (especially with Simon and Cheryl back and Lou-Lou getting a good category last year) but his category looks VERY PROMISING to me.

  • One of the manufactured girlband (the Cheryl impersonator) was on Xtra Factor last night.

  • Ben Cook

    Yes, Abby Eades. It had already been pretty much confirmed that they weren’t going through anyway.

  • Ben Cook

    I felt like applauding Lola and shouting “House!” after she burst into tears and struggled to speak after her audition. She is playing the perfect game! She is walking this so far.

    Interesting that they have missed out so many of the final 24 so far – but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are being set up to be gammas or get cut altogether. I think because they’ve changed the format again this year they were worried about us seeing everyone worth seeing in the first 9 days of the series. They can throw in a few more contenders over the next couple of weeks to surprise us, with brief flashbacks to their room auditions.

    Also following on from what you were saying about Simon knowing more about the contestants than he let on, I thought it was really interesting that he was trying to get Lizzy to own up to being Robert’s brother, but she was not playing ball. Unless he genuinely did just recognise her from having a couple of minor hits with Aurora back in 2002…

  • Nissl

    Pretty much agree on the lay of the land, and feel like I’m mostly stating the obvious, but:

    Girls is still muddy given the leaks suggesting Steph got the most hype at the end of bootcamp. (Not to mention the diversity issue). Lola supposedly takes a huge step up in arenas and/or bootcamp. Looking forward to that. I see real long-term potential with both Lauren and Emily, which is why I hope they both get the couple more years of dev time they need. If either gets through to lives over Steph, I expect them to be a pretty tough gamma out and last for around as long as Abi. No additional comment on Katie, I mean, Chloe-Jasmine.

    Boys is still muddy because we’ve only seen 4. A Jake/Paul showdown at JH seems likely to me too. I don’t read too much into Jake getting the pimp slot over Paul, as it was just a more interesting audition. As for Jack, it’s hard for me to see how they get him on an Aiden-esque track, he’s very MOR cute “passionate” boy with guitar to me. Given those uncertainties Andrea is actually the one I’d give the highest shot of making lives. I think he’ll stick around a while, but he’d be more dangerous in other years with less likable fields. I’m having a hard time nailing down how far the others are likely to go. There’s always a boy in the top 3, and surely they’d like that for Mel B.’s inaugural season, but which one?

    Groups is still muddy, of course, because we haven’t seen the 8-piece. I’m very curious to see how much they invest in OtY. They got their own big slot but the producers also showed Simon saying a few vocals were off. I suppose it will come down to how the 8-piece fares. Blonde Electric don’t seem to be lighting up the forums and the producers could let go of them early to make space for OtY as there should be enough entertainment between the more talented Andrea and CJ. I’d be very surprised if the either of the two other young cute boy groups or the girl group we haven’t seen at all get through.

    Overs sure looks like a duel between Jay and Ben. With Simon running the category I’ll be curious to see how far the alpha is pushed. Obviously the gamma, whoever it is, is likely to go down very early here.

    As for the field in general, while there’s still teen girl bait, it’s mostly stacked with interesting, likable twentysomethings instead of the glut of teens last year who hadn’t had enough life experience to be good TV. Yay.

    Pretty open year in the betting while we wait to see where the chips fall with Steph and 8, and deservedly so.

  • jay

    anyone know the final 24 , has Charlie Brown made it 🙂

  • maccafan

    Oh boy, am I well and truly torn already this year.
    On one hand, I actually know Paul Akister personally and thought he nailed it (again), but totally enough this time round to actually push him passed Judges house. Simon will see to this judging by the emotionally attentive reaction he showed to Paul and then his annoyed reaction to Louis, as what Simon wants, Simon usually gets in XF. My impression is that he was visibly moved by Paul’s performance (even though he does hide his emotions well).

    Paul lives not far from me and after seeing him do a knockout solo gig at my good lady’s father’s birthday party 3 years ago we became friends and I have since asked him to front an 11 piece Motown band I am putting together. Unfortunately, since last year’s show he is now inundated with well paid solo work and can’t commit (darn it!!), though he loved the idea and would have guested now and again on lead vocals. He does also know about Sofabet through me and may even look in.

    IMO, he looked leaner and more fashionably sharper and was a lot more confident and it goes without saying that his voice is even more amazing this year. His angst over his ex girlfriend too has also given him a deeper emotion to tap into to to sell a song well. I have to bat on his side and prices are well in his favour as a sign for good things to happen in the show. My only reserve is his Paul Potts(esque) protruding lip mouthing of some words/phrases. I hope he notices and corrects it enough before some sites notice it and get a hold of it and run with it in an attempt to compare him to PP in an effort to rib him for it (always a price of fame). My good lady noted it too without my prompting her.

    On the other hand (as I noticed the year that Little Mix won and earned me a 66/1 win with Simon’s ‘earlier in the series’ vocal whim for a girlband to win), I could not help but notice yet again the first week that just as the bands section was aired, the camera then switched to a waiting room shot and a girl saying (something like), “I wouldn’t mind betting that a group wins it this year”, THEN shortly afterwards as the groups were on Simon said (something like), “I think that I would like to have the bands this year”.

    Simon doesn’t like to be seen to lose and he would just love his smug ego being massaged with a series win. So was this the start of a string of subliminal suggestions and hints for a band to get to the final?
    Bands earn him more money than any solo artist does and there is now a massive gap in the market for a different type of girlband especially (a well groomed Pow Pow maybe in the fun style of The Spice Girls?). There are also 2 gilrlband specialists on the panel too.
    Food for thought…..Hmmmm?

  • Daniel

    Thanks for the info on Paul. I notice they tagged him with the occupation ‘pub singer’ in the audition subtitle, when ‘singer’ would probably be more apt based on what you’ve said.

    Even more strangely, both Jake Quickenden and Jack Walton also got tagged as ‘pub singers’. Jake has been doing plenty of TV presenting and modelling gigs.

    I wonder why three of the four boys we’ve seen so far have been described in this way? Given its negative connotations, it’s entirely unnecessary.

    Matt Cardle spent the first minute of his audition clip talking about being a painter decorator when he was also doing plenty of pub gigs. James Arthur was described as ‘unemployed’, rather than ‘pub singer’.

    • Just had a quick check at what Jay James occupation was listed as too, “Ex-navy” which is true but since then he has done music similar to above.

    • Hi Daniel. As usual, you are very astute in noticing the ‘pub singer’ tag on those you mentioned and I don’t know what they intend to mean by it either. It could be a subliminal degrading ‘from the off’ before they ‘finish them off’, or it could be a ‘look what we can create’ rise to stardom from that (as they indicate here) raw and humble street corner pub level.

      Of late (since his XF exposure), Paul’s better quality and paid work is more of bigger clubs, weddings (still) and corporate functions, as he and his agents now have an ‘appeared on tv’s XF’ tag to play on (and for him to live upto and improve on). When I first saw him and befriended him exactly 3 years ago, it was a small Rugby club where he was using backing tracks and had travelled 50 miles to perform there at my good lady’s Dad’s birthday. He was stuck in a rut of this type of gig.

      Yes he was a little quiet and shy/humble back then and just got on with it from a corner of the clubroom. His ‘between songs’ chat was average to good and though we were all gobsmacked by his superb soul voice (between other renditions of Boyzone and Neil Diamond party songs), he did lack the ‘big sell’ and the ‘breath fire on the audience’ element. This can easily be learned though with ‘match play’ and confidence boosting XF mentoring. His soul singing was clearly his forte though and he suddenly perked up in power and conviction when he sang them and he looked most at home then.

      The second time I saw him (before last year’s XF), he was doing a bigger Sunday night local working men’s club gig where he was quite literally just ‘the turn’ to entertain the old dears between the Bingo sessions. I went specially to watch him and even at 57 I felt that I was the youngest there. I thought then too that it was ‘pearls before swine’ (no insult to the old dears here, as his quality singing just went right over their heads) as they mostly left early to catch the last bus home. I can tell you first hand that this in itself is very demoralising as a singer and quite often, gigs like this are just ‘take the money and run’ and they are the danger zone for developing bad habits and lacklustre performances when one only gets polite ripples of applause (despite how good you are…or not).

      Since XF though, he sounded a lot more confident when I spoke to him on the phone a few months back, and I saw a shaper looking, much trimmer Paul with more attitude this year on XF and I hope the his mentors run with it and mold him into a ‘lean mean fighting machine’ (as they always like to show that they can do this). I wish the best of luck to Paul, as he is a thoroughly nice, quiet and deserving lad (but hopefully not too soft and quiet this time that he misses the boat again). He needs to really ‘kick ass’ now to make it to the big time, otherwise it’s back to the weekly grind of his (though improved quality) usual gigs.

      • Nissl

        With all the pub singer tags, are they trying to soften up all the boys to make way for Jay James and the 8-piece? Because I’m skeptical that’s gonna work. Surely they would like Mel B to have a finalist as well.

        Interesting comments Macca. It’s nice to remember that even the people who don’t “make it” as far as becoming celebs when they audition can get a good career boost out of XF if they perform well on the show. I agree that Paul could still use some work on his presentation, he’s got a really good voice already. Someone commented in the last thread that there’s a perception that XF isn’t for talented musicians, but I think the show would argue that it’s for the young and the talented who can’t break through, largely because they haven’t figured themselves out, are missing a key skill, or just lack self-confidence.

  • TommySauce

    I guess “currently stalled signing on our label we’re trying to push start via X-Factor” doesn’t fit on the screen, nor fit with the X-Factor mythology that anyone can make it.

  • Natasha

    Only The Young are my personal favourite this year and who i’ll be investing in. I can see them doing very well, probably better than an 8 piece boy group. An 8 piece boy group? 5 is about just right IMO. I can’t think of any other large male groups apart from Blazin’ Squad? They didn’t stick around too long. The only thing that worries me is that Louis has the groups and I think Simon will want to win this year or, he’ll give Cheryl the winner for obvious reasons

  • Chatterbox5200

    Only The Young definitely have the potential to do well – 51k Twitter followers and the experience of performing at this year’s Capital Summertime Ball (which also included Cheryl, Little Mix, Union J and Ella Henderson), but my fear also relates to Louis Walsh being their mentor and how they will be positioned/styled.

    With the exception of duos (MK1, Same Difference, etc), the last time there was a mixed gender group in the live shows was “The Unconventionals” in Series 3, and they were the first act eliminated that year. It seems that the show hasn’t seen a market for this type of group. More worryingly is the klaxon that went off in my head when Simon said, after OTY had auditioned, that “I’d like to find another Steps – only with better people”. With Louis as their mentor, they could positioned as just that through song choices/styling/staging, and could be seen to be too cheesy.

    If Simon was their mentor I would have much more confidence in their chances.

    • Nissl

      Sidenote, but I was surprised to find that non-qualifiers Overload have 160k followers already and Concept have 97k. Interesting that the producers would pass on that. From searching around a few weeks ago, it seems young pop acts need in the area of ~500k to be even marginally commercially viable though. XF alums like Union J and Fifth Harmony have around 1.5m and are still struggling.

      • R

        Groups such as Overload and Concept have built up their fan bases through their music, so their fans are more active in supporting them.
        Union J & Fifth Harmony gained fair weather followers by appearing on tv, the majority of these followers are not active in supporting their music.

        It’s likely that Overload & Concept won’t make the live shows as it would be too risky to have them challenging the favoured act.

        • Weren’t we saying the same thing about GMD3’s (as they then were) impressive Twitter following before the lives? It didn’t stop them only narrowly escaping a week 2 assassination attempt.

      • That is A LOT! Some acts who made it to the lives last year have less and the most followers pre-lives last year had about 70k+

    • As far as post-show success goes, Simon’s the best bet: 1D, Leona, Olly, etc.

  • Donald

    A very rushed affair to finish room auditions I thought, you have done well to mull through it and make some form of sense of it Daniel. Alpha female and male floating around in muddy waters.

    Wonder will the pow wow girl group get dropped but their ‘Glee’ esque vibe switched to eight member boy group or another group.

    See that The Bitch Factor have given up the ghost on X-Factor!

    3 shows from boot camp coming up in one weekend, a bridge too far?

    Noting really inspiring yet, in fact think it weak and mostly filler featured so far that would struggle to be commercially viable propositions.

    Maybe they are keeping the coast well clear this time round for the ‘pieces of eight’?

    A top up on a group to win and Louis top judge might not be a bad move at this stage while still a bit of value. Easy enough cover if needed.

    One Direction no.1 on iTunes 67 countries this week, new album on pre-order, that is serious success by any A&R standards.

    Looking forward to the live shows, they must have the buses well ready, very early days though, especially with the rate they ploughed thought last weekend shows.

  • David Cook

    I’m trying to catch up with the room auditions before the start of the arena shows. After the slightly flat start to the series with the first show things do seem to have picked up a bit since with quite a good mix of acts beginning to emerge which should make things interesting.
    I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think anyone who has been featured at the audition stages and been rejected has ever come back to win. To me this could lead into a potential narrative for Paul Akister – rejected by Louis last year. Simon questioned that he thought Louis had made a mistake, so has Simon spotted the real talent that can be turned into the winner at the second attempt. At judges houses stage this could be set up as a head to head between Paul and Jake, both returning acts, with one being rejected for a second time and the other going through to the live shows and possibly on to win – probably being show as the pair battling for the last place to increase the tension with the viewers. The downside to this possibility is that despite Paul’s strong vocals, and his improved appearance since last year, at this stage he still doesn’t seem to have ‘the complete package’ – so I’m not convinced that they could get him to win. However that could fit in with the narrative of the show being able to take someone previously rejected for falling just short, and being able to realise their full potential as the series progresses.
    It’s just a thought.

  • Chatterbox5200

    Taking a quick look at the Twitter page of Mark Sidaway (Exec Producer of X Factor), he is currently following 24 people that feature/have featured in this year’s series, with all but 4 of them on the list of acts that are rumoured to have made Judge’s Houses. The interesting thing to me are those acts from the list that he is NOT following:

    BOYS – Andrea Farella, Jack Walton, Danny Dearden and Jordan Pass
    GIRLS – Lola Belle Saunders
    OVERS – Lizzy Pattinson, Fleur East, and Ben Haenow
    GROUPS – James Graham, Chris Leonard, Charlie Jones (3 of the 8 piece manufactured boy band), ALL the members of the manufactured girlband, and Concept.

    There is also a rumour circulating in the Digital Spy Forums that a local DJ let it slip that Lola Belle Saunders made it to Judge’s Houses, but did not get through to the live shows. If there is any truth to this rumour, it could possibly explain the absence of the current bookie’s favourite from those acts being followed by the Executive Producer.

  • Lola has drifted markedly in the betting with SkyBet in the last few hours – now out to 9/1

  • Also – is it normal for live finalists to be working in their 9-5 job a few weeks before the live shows start? local paper reports of Lola ….. “Yet this week the former Whitburn C of E Academy pupil was back behind the counter at Latimer’s where she has worked since she was 16 “

  • Liam

    So this 8 piece manufactured boy band can’t make it to the main show right? I can see Simon trimming some of the less talented members of the group in order to ad that little bit more drama to the houses stage, I just can’t see an 8 piece boy band working on the X Factor Stage. Mark Sidaway only following 5 of them could be telling. . .

  • R

    Interesting to see Paul Akister sang “Let’s Get it on” which is one of the songs James Arthur sang in the final.

    Will they be following the same trajectory to make him out to be some sort of sex symbol? I’m sure Nicole did the same awkward lapdance during a James Arthur performance that we saw Cheryl & Mel give Simon last night.

  • If it’s really true that Lola isn’t through, perhaps it’s to deliberately cause controversy and then give the public the power to vote her in as the wildcard. I can’t think of any other explanation after the massive pimping she has had so far.

  • Penguin-Llama Hybrid

    And I make my return after 9 months of hibernation. Great articles on Eurovision by the way.

    This year has had some ok talent but not one audition which stands out and I can’t see the Alpha-Beta-Gammas for any category.

    A few observations:

    -The Eight-Piece boyband won’t work. Firstly, being marketed as ‘a replacement for One Direction – but bigger!’ isn’t exactly a great way to endear them to the young teenage girls you’d expect to vote for them. More than that, 8 is just too big for a traditional boyband – unless they each have their own gimmick and act more like an ensemble then it would consist of about 3-4 people with 4-5 backup singers. Also, the two members in the first auditions show seemed too young to get far.

    -More than that, why was Jack Walton (?) not included I. This boyband? He seems more talented then all the members I’ve seen so far, and they would be risking splitting the demographic. Maybe they realised that they had to leave something in the Boys category? I feel like the reason it’s so weak is that they’ve sucked all the talent out of it, maybe this is their way of trying to give it a shock.

    -I still think the Groups have an exceptional chance of winning, maybe not with the 8 Piece but with OTY. They’re the act that I’ve seen people buzzing about, I could see them having a wider appeal than the boyband… as long as they aren’t turned into ‘the next Steps’ (he cannot be serious) then they shouldn’t be counted out.

    -The Overs are dreadful. That’s all I have to say really.

  • Great performance and VT on Paul Akister at the Arena and XF seem to be investing a lot of airtime in him in last night’s show. I do love the way that this sudden exposure also isn’t going to his head and that he sounds in full calm control of it. Methinks he is possibly going all the way now judging by the other good threatening stuff that didn’t quite make the grade at the daunting and very testing Arena show.
    Here are a couple of recent updates from Paul’s facebook today……..

    “Ok thank you everyone again…..i actually can’t keep up with all the inboxes so am just gonna say one massive thank you to everyone means alot all this support xxxxxxxx”

    and later…..

    “hi …BIG announcement i am gonna be on THIS MORNING TOMORROW 11:15 for an interview WOW!!”

    Needless to say that I will be eagerly watching ‘This Morning’ tomorrow (Monday). I have faith in Paul and regardless of knowing him, he is still a stand-out performer in this years XF (looking closely at the judges reaction too).

  • Dan

    Hmmm, we’re at the arena auditions already and there’s still not an obvious winner. We’ve seen definite live show material but no act that will go all the way. That makes me believe that a group is the plan this year. The extended bootcamp and judge’s houses stages give an opportunity to show the formation of any new group, introduce the members, and chop and change as required.

    I’m still don’t think that an eight member group can work and as other commenters have said, it is ripe for a split or cull of members.

    Also, still no clues from Xtra Factor which is just comedy acts and cannon fodder this year.

    • Dan. I agree, I’m not so sure that an 8 piece would work either, but to split 8 into 2 x 4 piece and then set them up against each other would make great car-crash tv though.
      Blazin’ Squad (2001 to 09) were a semi-successful 10 piece boyband but I don’t think it is enough of a successful blueprint to make it work again with 8.

  • I know the sister of the jordi (the blonde one) from overload. Surprised to see they don’t make the lives. Obviously the show don’t want them threatening the agenda. Because they were miles better than 1D were at bootcamp during the start of there journey

  • Chatterbox5200

    I might be in the minority, but I don’t quite get all the fuss
    about (and the producer’s investment in) Jay James. To me, he seems like a poor man’s James Blunt, complete with a backstory of previously serving in the forces.

    • I think the italian guy had the best audition tonight. But obviously isnt getting as much producer help and would be very difficult to get over the finishing line in 1st place. He must make the lives though

    • Natasha

      Totally agree. He seems to only fit coldplay type songs so won’t last long with all the different themes week after week

  • Nissl

    Busy with a wedding this weekend, so just catching up now. Only watched clips on Youtube for the second show to save time.

    Lauren Platt – Very very solid core voice, but she has everything to learn about performing right now. I like her, but at this point in development she’s just kind of bland by comparison with current popstars. She’s naturally somewhat present in her voice, but wasn’t connecting more strongly than that, didn’t even seem aware it was missing/possible. It doesn’t help that her resting face looks sleepy.

    Paul Akister – He’s got a very good voice, but not amazing, not quite top tier male popstar level. Really good technical control. Looks like the show would love to keep him around into lives if for no other reason than for Louis and Simon to fight more. I’m going to find the scripted arguments really irritating given that nobody will get anywhere close to the actual reasons he was rejected last time, because he was a simultaneously a threat and – lets be honest – not even marginally commercially viable with his old look.

    I’ve seen rumors based on gig availability that of the 4 boys we’ve seen, Jack is the one who gets sent home at JH. Clearing the category for 8-piece certainly makes sense, while one of Jake or Paul would surely get deep in the competition for Mel B.

    Jay James – That was better than his room audition by far. Still a bit whiny in parts, too much eyes shut. I remain a bit of a skeptic how he will hold up, particularly once he gets heavy stage support, but I at least get what the show, or a label, sees in him now.

    Stevi Richie – I get his probable JH qualification way more after seeing him perform here. Obviously a weak singer and would only go through to lives if there’s some kind of a pact that every category contain an entertainment act this year. Perhaps they are also looking to stack the overs with demographically similar acts, like last year, so they can get JJ far as the last survivor.

    Of the rejectees, I’ll mention I thought the Welsh girl had a very pretty, vulnerable tone to her voice, but wasn’t comfortable on stage at all. Overload looked really good – better than the 8-piece members we’ve seen – had good chemistry, were decent at working the crowd, but were really lacking solo voices even by cute boyband standards.

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