Last week’s filming of the six-chair challenge with a live audience makes reviewing this weekend’s audition shows much more efficient. This weekend’s programmes provided airplay for plenty who reportedly don’t make judges’ houses, and we can feel reasonably secure that’s the end of their chances. As the pre-Match of the Day newsreader says, if you don’t want to know the scores, look away now.
Those left on the sidelines in the next round from Saturday’s show include Jamie Benkert, Zen Blythe, Danny Charles, Steven Johnson and Stephanie McCourt. Ironically, the last-named was told by Cowell, “I don’t know who these idiots are who’ve knocked you back.” Turns out Simon would soon be including himself in that category.
From Sunday’s show, those who don’t make it include Sharon Rose, Joselito Peralta, Laura Johnson, Tonatha Raihan, Jordan Luke Gage, Karen Mav, Jasmine Leigh Morris and Hannah Marie Kilminster. The latter in particular might have been an interesting prospect for the lives, and High Street bookmakers must have been delighted as unsuspecting punters backed her in to as short as 16/1.
You’ll find these acts trading at longer prices in the generally more savvy Betfair outright market. In that market, the shortest of Saturday’s auditionees (through to judges’ houses according to the spoilers) is 23-year-old Simon Lynch from the Isle of Man. These origins were the basis of his smalltown-boy-looking-to-make-good backstory.
Physically and age-wise he occupies a middle ground in between Joe McElderry and Ben Haenow. His rendition of Beyonce’s ‘If I Were A Boy’ was competent enough, with a nice falsetto – if not a Cardle-esque gamechanger. Cowell said afterwards: “you just reminded me what singing’s all about, taking risks… it wasn’t perfect but I see potential in you… great audition.”
These were promising words and the live shows usually find room for someone like Lynch. His unthreatening looks and humble demeanour are ideal for the Middle-England voting demographic. It will be interesting to see how much producers pimp him given the presumption they ideally don’t want another solo male winner. No judge got to their feet when applauding his performance on this occasion.
Six-piece girlband Alien did get a standing ovation from the whole panel, and are also reportedly through to judges’ houses. The group felt like one of the more commercially relevant acts we’ve seen so far, which was reflected in judges’ comments. Cheryl noted the band were “ready-made” and that “I could go to a concert of yours now.” The girls were name-checked and given individual personalities in their opening VT, and are colour coded like JLS, only with hair.
This was the third pimped group we had seen after 4th Power and The First Kings, and all three feel much more “ready-made” than many of the groups we see on the live shows – obviously so in the case of those manufactured at bootcamp, but also compared to those already formed before auditions. If producers do want to run with Alien, they may like to address the possible lack of a standout singer (Simon said, “the vocals were ok, I don’t think we’ve heard the best of you yet”), and a sense that they come across as too much the product of a London stage school.
The last of Saturday’s auditionees reportedly through to judges’ houses is “nice-to-nasty” Bupsi, who has presumably been considered a more credible putative novelty over than week 1’s Techno Susan, an absentee from Simon’s reported final six. The pimp slot set-up felt horribly contrived, and it’s hard to know at this stage which direction they may take her in should she get to the lives.
Sunday saw some mind games in the overs category, with two who reportedly make judges’ houses – Max Stone and Ebru Gursoy – getting much less screentime than some others who don’t. The lack of backstory afforded to either, and their inclusion in a segment of three quickfire auditions, suggests producers aren’t investing in their longevity. They can at least draw some hope from Fleur East, who also appeared to be an afterthought at this stage of proceedings last year.
As a 27-year-old WGWG with a half-decent voice, Max would likely be the harder of the two for producers to shift immediately if they let him into the lives with a view to making up the numbers. Ebru had a nice tone to her voice, but looks like a more typical candidate for early weeks cannon fodder.
The gamma over role would currently appear to be the best either can hope for – barring a Fleur-esque change of trajectory at judges’ houses – given the longer screentime already afforded to their rivals Jennifer Phillips in week one, Bupsi on Saturday and then Anton Stephans, who closed Sunday’s show.
Arguably, Anton is the most relatable contestant seen so far, making his audition the most intriguing of the weekend. As Simon said: “you have the likeability factor, people will like you”. He can sing, too. Humble, genuine and endearingly awkward, the 45-year-old had a journeyman story, a cute dog and an appealingly soulful voice. You couldn’t help but root for him.
With his vulnerability and nervous energy he’s like a cross between Chris Maloney and Andrea Faustini – both acts who hoovered up votes in the early shows before being kneecapped. As with Simon Lynch, Anton didn’t receive a judge standing ovation and presumably isn’t the kind of act producers will want winning; he may ultimately be in line for the kind of “whatever happens now, you’ve already changed your life” treatment that did for the likes of Mary Byrne and Johnny Robinson.
The only other act from Sunday’s show reportedly to make judges’ houses is Che Chesterman, in the boys category, who struck us as a Craig Colton type: a physically unassuming young lad with a strong voice. Che looked more like a Crimestoppers photofit than a pop star, although we suspect that producers may occasionally deliberately dress down some contestants at the audition stages with a view to a later style makeover becoming part of their potential journey. Simon told him he was “one of those rare little finds we are lucky to get on X Factor”, with a “stunning” voice.
It’s interesting that three of the boys reputed to make the final six – Simon, Che and Tom – have all made a thing of going into head voice. There is presumably room for a maximum of two of them in the lives.
According to the aforementioned spoilers, then, with four audition shows down and three to go we’ve now seen five of the six boys who make judges’ houses (Simon, Che, Tom, Seann and Josh), with the numbers being made up by someone messy-haired and tattooed whose name evidently isn’t yet known for sure. We’ve seen five of the overs (Jennifer, Bupsi, Max, Ebru and Anton), with a Kerianne apparently still to come. The three girls who headlined week 1 (Louisa, Lauren and Chloe) reportedly make it, and we’re still to see Monica Michael, Kiera Weathers and Havva Sonmez. Among the groups, we’ve seen three (Alien, The First Kings and in-need-of-a-new-name 4th Power), with Silver Tone, Men On Point and Becklyn still to come.
Let us know your thoughts on this weekend’s shows, and anything else below.
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