X Factor Auditions Week 3: Weathers Forecast

As last week, we’ll review this week’s shows based on the assumption that spoilers from the filming of the six chair challenges are accurate. If you want to remain in suspense about who’s evidently being set up for a fall at bootcamp, read no further.

That means we can fast-forward through the first half of Saturday’s show, including Jade McGuire, who had Rita gushing “I love it when a strong, independent woman takes control of her own destiny”. No matter how strong and independent you are, it’s somewhat difficult to take control of your own destiny on this show. But more of that, apropos the girls category, anon.

x-factor-week-3-bekln

Our first sighting this weekend of acts reputed to be through to judges’ houses came in an unusual set-up featuring two groups drawn from the London gospel scene, all-male Bekln and all-female Silver Tone, with friendships and a brother-sister relationship connecting the two fivesomes.

In a turn of events that in no way seemed like it might conceivably have been pre-cooked, Silver Tone were told they couldn’t cut it as a pop outfit and advised to prepare something else that went back to their roots. Beklyn reassured them they were amazing singers, before going on to their own audition. Coming across as sweet and unthreatening, they had Simon telling them “there’s never been a better chance for a British R&B group to do something different, you are five very good singers who work well together”.

Meanwhile, off stage, we saw Silver Tone furiously racking their brains for what traditional black gospel song could showcase their roots. Following a pep talk from a triumphant Bekln, they returned to stage to have Simon remind us “we said go back to your roots, you haven’t had long to prepare that”. Long enough to source a grand piano and a pianist, evidently. With cutaways to Bekln cheering them on backstage, Silver Tone performed Bridge Over Troubled Water, by well-known black gospel duo Simon and Garfunkel. Cowell told them that having seen the “real you”, he was “really impressed”.

x-factor-week-3-silver-tone

What to make of all this? There is surely room for no more than two girl groups, and Silver Tone look to be seriously up against it in competition with 4th Power and the much-pimped Alien.

As for Bekln, rival boyband The First Kings were both more polished and more pimped a fortnight ago; it may perhaps come down to how seriously Cowell believes his line that there’s a gap in the market for a group like Bekln. It is possible to see the whole Silver Tone storyline as a device to establish Bekln’s credentials as supportive nice guys. Conversely, it’s worth noting that if Jennifer Phillips makes it in the overs, the show has no particular need to tick a black gospel box among the groups.

It was hard to watch Monica Michael’s segment without being reminded of another girl with the same initials, Melanie McCabe, whom the show seemed to delight in bringing back to dangle hope in front of her eyes before cruelly snatching it away again. Nick and Rita made a point of saying they remembered her from last year as viewers, and she received a highly sympathetic VT, showing her in action as a youth worker. We’ve seen a lot of VTs of acts making their way towards the auditions, but is Monica the first time this year that we’ve been shown an auditionee in their daily life?

x-factor-week-3-monica-michael

Monica came across as highly relatable; Simon told her she was “real” and they’d made a “big mistake” last year. There was, however, no standing ovation from the judges. Is this a narrative that ends in McCabe-ean agonising rejection at judges’ houses, or Akister-esque chance at redemption? Your guess is as good as ours.

In a highly competitive girls category, Havva Rebke currently appears to have the most ground to make up among the six rumoured to make it to judges’ houses. She opened Sunday’s show in a relatively perfunctory segment that didn’t give the impression producers were especially interested in investing in her – we didn’t get much of a backstory beyond that she’d auditioned in 2012, she works in her family’s shop and she doesn’t have many friends outside her family; and comments were positive without being overly effusive.

x-factor-week-3-havva-rebke

If Ben Clark is indeed the sixth boy reputed in the spoilers to make it through the six-chair challenge, his introduction didn’t do much to suggest that he’ll be making it much further – not only was he montaged, he was montaged as part of a segment that was focused less on the auditionees themselves than on the theme of Rita flirting with them.

We’ve now seen all six boys, and while it’s still early doors – the edits at bootcamp and six chair challenges could obviously change the picture considerably – our reading at this stage is that producers would be mad not to run with Seann Miley Moore; and casting logic would then suggest there’s likely to be space for one of the lookers, Josh Daniel or Simon Lynch, plus one of the more vocally interesting if less visually prepossessing candidates, Che Chesterman or Tom Bleasby.

With the Sunday pimp slot for Kiera Weathers, we’ve now seen all six of the girls, too (Monica and Havva, plus Louisa Johnson, Lauren Murray and Chloe Paige from week one). The only one of this weekend’s auditionees to make a serious dent in the markets, slotting in behind Louisa as second favourite, 18 year old Labour club bartender Kiera looks like she would be a very strong candidate for the win if producers run with her – but will they?

Kiera has a lot going for her. She’s likeable. Her accent is cute, and her singing voice is distinctive. The song she chose, ‘We don’t have to take our clothes off’, won Calum Scott the semi-final of Britain’s Got Talent earlier this year – and she sang it better than he did. She has strikingly Fleur-esque hair. She deftly deflected what could have become a mawkish sob-story about the untimely death of her mum by observing that she’s not doing it for her mum, because her mum would have wanted her to do it for herself. She has a nan. She has potentially one of the show’s strongest regional votes, if the show choose to emphasise Merseyside over St Helens.

x-factor-week-3-featured-420px

She also has one thing against her. She didn’t get the first audition show pimp slot, which is historically a statement of producer intent. Louisa Johnson did.

On which point, we were intrigued by Simon and Cheryl both remarking in their comments that they would like to mentor her. That’s a line we heard a few times in the opening weekend, when the Twitter vote for who mentors which category was open, but don’t remember hearing since. Is it overthinking things to wonder if Kiera was originally intended to feature prominently in that first weekend but producers decided against it, perhaps because of Rita’s absence?

The show must be aware that it has a terrible recent record of selecting alpha girls: in the last four years Lola Saunders, Tamera Foster, Ella Henderson and Janet Devlin all proved, in their different ways, to have feet of clay. Now, in the shape of Louisa, producers have possibly chosen to try to flog someone arguably less relatable than her most likely beta rival, on the basis of what we’ve seen so far. With only seven live shows this year, there’s less margin of error than usual for changing the pecking order mid-series if the intended alpha fails to strike a chord with the public. Maybe they’ll run with both?

However, we also have the innovation of live judges’ houses this year – and it would be surprising if producers don’t view that as an opportunity to test the social media reaction to the acts before making their final decisions not only on who to put through, but on who to seriously get behind and who to throw to the wolves in the early weeks.

Anyway, isn’t it nice to see strong, independent women taking control of their own destiny? As always, do let us know your thoughts below.

X Factor images ©SYCO/THAMES TV/PA

39 comments to X Factor Auditions Week 3: Weathers Forecast

  • Stu

    I think the show would be mad not to run with Kiera instead of Louisa. The former has the look, the style, the likeability and the voice. There was something a bit unattractively desperate about Louisa’s audition (“I’ve been wanting this my whole life”) which made her come across as a nervous/excitable teenager who lacked maturity whereas Kiera – who is more or less the same age – appeared cooler and more star-like.

  • Martin

    Excellent article, as always. A couple of things I’m considering – Louisa seemed to have more of a reaction on social media than Kiera got. I’d argue that they’re both good, and both are on an even keel at the moment. While Kiera got a lovely back story, Louisa has nothing of the sort, apart from a few tears about having no confidence. That gives them both a bit of sympathy, but we know more of Kiera at present. They were both pimp-slotted, but if they wanted Kiera to be in the much-coveted first show slot surely it wouldn’t have been too much trouble to ask Kiera to turn up on a day when all four judges were present? Or maybe it doesn’t really matter that much, she still got a decent slot. I’m going to hold out and see what happens over bootcamp/JH before deciding who is alpha female – Monica’s treatment was also promising and I have a feeling that the full hand hasn’t been shown as yet.

    Another thing to consider is that a few weeks back, we had Olly telling us that the girls were really upping their game this year, asking “is it the Fleur East effect?” – suggesting the girls category is the strongest, and Fleur is what we should be comparing them to. It would have been easy to follow that with Kiera, but that would have drawn remarkable comparison (re: hair). I don’t think we’ve had any similar comments regarding other categories, so are one of the girls our overall plan A?

    The whole Bekln/Silver Tone thing was very odd. It did appear that the overall vibe was to make Bekln appear supportive and charming, rather than make Silver Tone look fantastic and as you say – the girl group market is already saturated this year with groups who have had a lot more support. The only other possible thought I’ve had (and bear with me on this) is that there is a distinct lack of mixed groups this year (as there always is, I suppose) – and also a lack of judge interference. They put through 4th Power and First Kings, and the final two groups left are these two, amazingly talented gospel acts. Cheryl doesn’t want to lose either of them, so she puts them both together to create a gospel super group. After they couldn’t get that golden buzzer group to happen on BGT, Simon seems to think there’s room for one at the minute, why not try again on X Factor? Unlikely, especially with Six chairs already being filmed, and that leaves the treatment of Alien with a question mark too. The more likely scenario is that neither group makes the lives, leaving Jennifer Phillips to fly the gospel flag alone.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Are Twitter / Facebook etc useful guides to voting outcomes? I don’t use them. I occasionally spend a day posting vaguely illuminati themed messages in the comments on the Daily Mail site (sadly noone takes them seriously anymore and the thrill has pretty much gone). The reason I say it is that what happens on facebook / twitter may not mean anything more than my DM trolling. You can buy followers to make yourself look popular.

      • Martin

        Not for votes no – some acts will get a larger social media response than others and ultimately you’re right, that doesn’t always translate into votes but at this stage, whilst we aren’t relying on public votes it’s a (not altogether reliable) way of gauging public response to acts. also, I’d guess that tptb may be looking to Twitter etc. whilst they decide who to get behind and who to bin off. My monitoring of this is somewhat limited, but my sense was that there was a buzz about Louisa, not so much about Kiera but there is still a lot of footage to come.

      • R

        Twitter can be very difficult. I used to take the number of followers before the lives and analyse the increase in followers each week. This has been useful in identifying the first act out, but some acts such as Chris Maloney, can muddy the waters.
        Chris never had many followers, and when he trended on twitter it was usually nasty comments; yet tptb still had to take him down.
        Boybands such as Union J & District 3 had over 100k supporters before the lives and trended daily on twitter but still ended up near the bottom of the vote most weeks.

        Someone did some FB analysis on DS last year and predicted the bottom 2 for the first few weeks based on the number of likes on TXF facebook page. However, Stereo Kicks then became a fly in the ointment, finishing top of the FB likes & B2 on the show.

        TXF FB page then also started manipulating the statistics by posting one contestant’s performance hours after the others, or posting a performance twice, which would skew the numbers.

  • Jessica Hamby

    “She has a nan.”

    Brilliant.

  • Nissl

    Kiera seems a worthy second favorite to me. Good all rounder and very likable. Perhaps slightly plain but that is to be expected at 18. Havva’s a bit short in the star power department I’m afraid. Monica has a strong voice but not too much else going for her on the pop star front. Could be a gamma inclusion in lives.

    As for the groups, I wasn’t blown away by Bekln’s vocal but thought they were good. A few of the younger members stood out a bit I’m curious how interested the show will be given the wide range of ages. I’d have pretty similar comments for Silver Tone, actually, but as mentioned they are in a crowded niche.

    While there’s one or two acts in each category I’d be shocked to miss lives, and one or two I’d be surprised to see make it, the rest is tough to call. Which, I suppose, is what the show wants.

  • Jay

    Anyone else found the auditions this year a tad long and boring? I’m yet to experience the sense of fun and excitement they’ve promised this year…..

    • Martin

      In terms of the acts, yes, I think they’re all a bit uninspiring. The only act I like so far is that Simon Lynch and that’s because I want to marry him rather than finding him an exciting musical act.

      The judges have been my highlight – Grimmy is coming across well, Rita fits in better here than on the voice, Cheryl seems easier to watch this year and Simon is his usual self. I think I prefer when I don’t have any feelings towards the acts, it makes it easier for me have a neutral view. I never really love the audition process anyway, I prefer live shows when the fun and games truly begins.

      • Jessica Hamby

        Simon has mellowed considerably. He used to be much more forceful when he rejected the mediocre. Whether that’s a good thing or not is up to the individual but there’s no doubt that the judges have toned down a lot. Now it’s wide eyes and fake shock expressions. He’s certainly not Mr Nasty anymore.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Usually the auditions are shown city by city and there’s a sense of continuity and progression. This year they appear to be all mixed up. I don’t think that helps. It all seems very haphazard and random. I don’t like it.

      • EM

        It’s been mixed up for years. Only at the very outset did they do it city by city.

        • Martin

          I think this is the first year I’ve not seen “today, we’re in Manchester” at least once. It has become more sporadic over the years, but I think they have used it from time to time in recent series (apart from this one). I think it may be more because the judges were only at a few different locations this year, weren’t they? The importance of specifying what city they’re in would be diluted by the fact they only went to Manchester and London.

  • Joe Lemer

    Something just doesn’t feel right about this series. Have watched it ever since it started and enjoyed it. The last few years I’ve loved it all thanks to this site, which means I see it in a totally different way watching out for all the manipulation.

    Auditions I feel have dragged mainly because they have focused virtually entirely on good acts. Best year for talent without a doubt, but without the terrible acts it all seems the same every show. You don’t even get the surprise good acts as I’m expecting them all to be good.

    Roll on the live shows when we can really get excited about all the producer tactics at work. Without this site I think I would have struggled to remain interested in the auditions as it really is slow going this year.

    • Jessica Hamby

      I think there was more scope for absolute awfulness in the room auditions somehow. I can’t see them letting an Onkar Judge or one of those families that gets down on their knees and starts begging or somesuch on the stage to humiliate themselves in front of a live audience of thousands.

      I know I’ve complained at how cruel the show can be and I still think it can but I miss this sort of thing.

      http://youtu.be/jhSvzirw7y0

      And they put him on stage in the final and he went on the tour so his dreams came true.

      Maybe the well of the deluded is as dry as the well of talent.

  • Stu

    With only one more audition show to come, and having seen the majority of the top 24, I think I can predict the majority of the live show finalists – going by what I assume to be producer preferences (diversity, entertainment, essential archetypes etc).

    GIRLS
    Louisa – pimp slot on first audition show, need I say more?
    Kiera – as I’ve said previously, she’ll likely be seen by producers as a second chance after the Tamera screw up in 2013.
    Monica – she’s getting some great press, would the show really pull a youth worker who inspires children along just to humiliatingly drop her a second year in a row?

    BOYS
    Seann – Nick’s raved about him at 6CC, has the entertainment factor
    Josh – pretty boy with soul, very marketable
    Che – I think he’ll be gamma boy at best though

    OVERS
    Jennifer – I just can’t see her not being one of the top three Overs
    Bupsi – this year’s novelty act who can sing a la Kitty?
    Ebru – most marketable Over, may be looking at a Fleur-type trajectory (to a lesser extent though). Simon likes to recreate past magic.
    (I know I’ve missed out Anton, but I really don’t think Simon would want him in sniffing distance of the live finals – too much of a Brookstein-type risk.

    GROUPS
    4th Power – Too much pimping, a too good social media reaction to get turned away at JH. Cheryl won’t want a Gamu-type situation happening again.
    The First Kings – with their personalised VT and rave reviews from the judges, it’d be a shock if they didn’t make the lives.
    I’d say the final spot would come down to either Alien or BEKLN but it all depends on who the alpha group is in my opinion. If it’s 4th Power (which I’m inclined to assume at the moment), then another girl-group could split the vote. I think there are a lot of viewers who like to get behind a girl-group due to (a) them being underdogs and (b) them being the type of act that gains a loyal following (Spice Girls, Girls Aloud, The Saturdays, Little Mix) – so having one girl-group in the lives will ensure there’s no split vote. It may be a poor example due to the quality of the three groups, but in 2008 there were two girl-groups and one boyband (JLS) – the two girl-groups were in the bottom two in week 1.

  • R

    For anyone who hasn’t seen the Judges’ Houses update:

    “But in a U-turn now Cowell and ITV have decided to pre-record the judges houses stages abroad, as they have done in previous years.

    However, in a new twist they will not decide which singers go through to the live final stages and which go home until the night the auditions air on October 24 and 25.

    All the judges and singers will then be filmed live at a London studio that weekend, where the 12 finalists will then be chosen live.”

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/x-factor-live-judges-houses-6449028#ICID=sharebar_twitter

    • Martin

      Is anybody surprised by this? Standard X Factor publicity machine, the only change to judges houses this year is that the contestants will be finding out if they’re through to lives in a studio in Wembley rather than a fancy building in Marrakesh. Oh, and it wil be going out live. Like that makes any difference.

      • Jessica Hamby

        My understanding is that broadcasting live from the four different locations presented logistical challenges that they didn’t want to deal with. It certainly would have made for a big, complex and expensive one off as well as putting pressure on the judges (which could lead them to bad decisions).

        It won’t be as spectacular but probably won’t change viewing figures and the human drama over who gets picked and how they react will still be there.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Andrea Faustini sings I Didn’t Know My Own Strength

    http://youtu.be/qcrAMZmCAG4

  • Fudd

    Tonight’s show felt like an afterthought – ‘oh we don’t want to give time to anyone else but we’re contracted to air another auditions episode…’

    • Jessica Hamby

      I thought Men On Point (sp) were interesting. If they get through to the live shows and have producer backing I can see them lasting a few weeks (not winning obv). If there are wildcards then I’d expect to see them in the final. As it is I expect Fourth Power and two from Alien, The Real Kings and Men On Point.

  • DannyCraig

    Montage of who’s gone through didn’t really show Kiera but highlighted Louisa twice. Surprised if she’s not the alpha girl. The 5/1 available still looks tempting for a top-up.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Alien’s vocal were much better and they look like a finished product. Not sure how the “all about you” comment will go down with an x factor audience but if I was looking for a new pop act I’d have them above any of the Boyz II Men tribute acts or The Real Kings.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Did the ex backing singer over look a bit like a black Freddie Mercury to anyone else?

  • Martin

    Was I just not paying attention or did we not see First Kings or Menn on Point tonight?

    I’d also plump for Louisa as plan a this year after that show, I’d also put Simon Lynch as a priority boy alongside Seann Miley Moore now.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Didn’t see either of them. Got a bit of Beckln (sp?) though.

    • Fudd

      Things can obviously change with next week’s edit when they’re focusing on the solo performances. I think for now we can say they’re definitely pushing Louisa, Seann, Jennifer and 4th Power for the lives.

      The Girls is quite a confusing category for me at the moment, though maybe I don’t read the show as closely as I should. They seemed to really push Chloe tonight, whilst questioning Lauren’s desire and allowing Keira and Monica to be involved in a bickering edit. I can’t even remember Havva’s ‘group’ performance.

      Josh, Tom, Ben and Simon all had a decent edit for the boys though Rita made a point of praising Ben’s voice plus drew attention to Josh by saying she had missed his audition (in turn reminding viewers of the audition itself). Simon got given a healthy amount of time too. Tom was probably the ‘quietest’ but he did at least turn up.

      Unlike The First Kings and Menn on Point who, at best, popped up in a ‘blink and you miss it’ montage. I can’t remember seeing them at all. Alien were given plenty of exposure, with Simon issuing specific praise, while Beckln/Silver Tone were at least name-checked when shown.

      Was Max Stone of the Overs there? Another one who wasn’t really present. Can’t remember what happened with Ebru or Kerr-Anne either. Bupsi and Anton were both given air time so, on paper, this is the clearest category in terms of intentions.

      We’ll have to see what happens next week, though. They could do an about face and start pushing other acts in the solo performances. But I’m pretty sure the Alpha Four – Louisa, Seann, Jennifer and 4th Power – will be given some time. Seann definitely is going by the trailer at the end of tonight’s show!

      • Martin

        I’d say the “bickering” edits were quite favourable for Monica and Keira. Both made the other parties look poor and Monica ended up looking supportive and gracious when Princess Diamond eventually didn’t get through. Keira was very “teamwork” focussed and completely stole the show during her performance anyway. It makes them more memorable, wheras Chloe didn’t get much screentime did she? There was no “story” prior to her performance as there was with a lot of the other chosen ones, although she did get a good comment that she stole the show, so it wasn’t all bad.

        • Jessica Hamby

          Agreed. It made them look serious and professional while the ones who didn’t rehearse looked like arseholes who got their just deserts. Princess Diamond in particular looked like a nightmare.

        • Fudd

          Yes, that’s possible. I just wonder if a bickering edit might act as a distraction from the performance itself; like judges bickering through a live show takes attention away from the acts?

          I had to smile at Mason Noize getting some air time considering spoilers have told us exactly what’s going to happen at the Six Chair Challenge with him…

  • Jessica Hamby

    FAO Daniel / Andrew – the link in your tweet to a new article links to the article from week 3 and the article is not available from the front page.

  • Stu

    What a bootcamp episode that was! Very good idea on the producers’ part to reinstate this type of bootcamp. This format has also made it a lot easier to understand producers’ intentions (not that we didn’t have a good idea anyway).

    One thing that confused me though was Monica’s treatment. She either came across as a no-nonsense professional or just very brash. Then at the moment where a “front line” and a “back line” is formed, it looked as though Monica was about to be sent home. Now, don’t get me wrong, it could have always been the plan that she was going through to the 6CC challenge but it doesn’t look good to the viewers who will assume she made it through by the skin of her teeth.

    Kiera, in comparison, had a more favourable “bickering” edit. I still don’t know whether she’s Plan A for the Girls or Louisa is… It’s easy to assume its Louisa due to her getting the group pimp slot last night but was that just down to the fact that their were other hyped acts in her group? While Kiera felt like the stand-out in her group performance, 4th Power completely outshone Louisa.

    The bootcamp episode has made me rethink my Group predictions. While I’m still confident that 4th Power is the Alpha Group (and even this year’s Plan A), the lack of TFK doesn’t bode well for them being in the top 3 groups. I’m starting to really think BEKLN will comfortably bag a live show slot, as well as Alien. Originally I wasn’t sure if the producers would want two girl-groups in the live shows but last night’s edit makes it difficult to think otherwise. Both groups killed their parts and the judges’ feedback emphasised this. They also apparently kill it at the 6CC too.

    • Martin

      yeah, the “step back” thing seemed odd re: Monica. It seemed like an accident on Simon’s part, with Cheryl questioning him and if it was genuine and he made a mistake it would have been easy to edit out – they obviously wanted to give the impression that Monica was lucky to make it through, for some reason. I do feel that she’s due for a Melanie McCabe style axeing at JH, and that adds to my feelings but I think whichever girl ends up going through behind Keira and Louisa aren’t in a great position for the lives anyway.

      How manipulated are those group choices? It came across that they chose those groups at their own will, but how likely is it that the two producer favourites (Louisa and Fourth Power) ended up grouped together, auditioning right at the end of the day?! I actually think that they both came across quite well in the performance, doing well without overshadowing anybody. Louisa is quite captivating, in that she doesn’t really do much but makes me want to watch her anyway. I didn’t rate her first audition but she stood out to me yesterday.

      • Stu

        I still think Monica will be the gamma girl – TPTB giving her the opportunity to perform on the lives (so technically succeeding where she failed last year) but already applying the nails for her coffin which should be completed week 4 of the lives tops.

        The producers may not have explicitly put some of them in a group with others but it was probably “encouraged”. Louisa does have a very cool image but I don’t know what kind of artist they are going to try and market her as if they plan on signing her. What type of songs will she do? Will she just be a Stacey Solomon/Lucie Jones-type who had no identity as artists during the live shows. Kiesha on the other hand already carries herself like a star.

      • Jessica Hamby

        I thought the step forward / back thing was just a way to increase the drama and maybe make someone cry. You know how they love tears. They weren’t consistent with stepping forward / back. Sometimes they asked contestants to move but put the whole lot through anyway.

    • Jessica Hamby

      I don’t think two girl groups will be a problem. I think Fourth Power are alpha group and Alien will become a bit irritating. Also, in terms of delighting the demo Fourth Power are, in my opinion, stronger. I think Simon’s “made it all about you” comment made Alien seem selfish. I’d be surprised if they make top 6. For a mad moment I considered backing them for the final but I watched their bootcamp audition again and something about them annoyed me.

 Leave a reply...