X Factor 2012 Audition Show 1: One Ella-va pimping

This time tomorrow you will be watching an audition so awe-inspiring it could conceivably change your concept of entertainment

This is what X Factor promised us on Friday. With hype like that, it’s no surprise that Saturday’s show left our commenters feeling underwhelmed. Curtis called the show “rubbish”, Boki found it “mediocre”. Like Nuggs, however,  to me it was “the usual” – I thought it was a pretty typical opening episode, with added #hashtags.

There’s always plenty of #filler masquerading as entertainment and here it was again: the angry rejectee with a pushy family, the loveable but inept showman who worked at Nando’s. It also featured two singers given plenty of screentime and now at single-figure odds in the win market.

Let’s start at the end, with Ella Henderson. She was given the full Janet Devlin with nearly nine minutes in the coveted first audition show pimp slot. The lion’s share of her nine minutes was spent on a familiar narrative. We were sold a bonny young lass from the provinces inspired by a now-dead relative (is it too early to wonder if Clive Dunn might be available for her final duet? The whole family could come onstage for the chorus).

Her songwriting credentials were laid on the line, which should be a fillip for a show eager to become more credible. The Adele klaxon sounded when she spoke of opening herself up “like a diary” in her songs, and sure enough she warbled inoffensively through a self-penned sub-‘Someone Like You’ number. It will be more revealing to see how she gets on performing something familiar with a discernible tune.

Significantly, Tulisa – who we know to be managing the girls category this year – went backstage to give her a hug having explained ‘she’s the one that I want to mentor’.

To reiterate the show’s faith in her, she also appeared on Xtra Factor being interviewed by Olly Murs in a recording studio. There she played him another of her songs, in an attempt to cement the impression that she’s a natural pop star.

In the interview, her love of vintage clothing was referenced, and her styling was part Lily Allen, part Little Mix. Details of the dress she wore for her audition were quickly given online. In short, the branding machine was already kicking into gear.

I don’t disagree with the muted response to Ella from our commenters Dr Rich, who argues that “if she had done a popular well known song there wouldn’t have been such a reaction from the judges”, Boki and eurovicious. But I don’t doubt the evidence that at this early stage producers have high hopes for Ella. It’s much too early to be tempted by prices ranging from 5/1 to 7/1, but equally it’s worth remembering that this time last year we all thought Janet Devlin was too short at similar odds – and while those early reservations about her longevity ultimately proved well-founded, she nonetheless went into the lives at an even shorter price, as the extent to which producers had invested in her appeared more impressive with every passing week.

Currently also trading at everyday low prices is Jahmene Douglas, who was accorded nearly seven and a half minutes of our frazzled attention spans.

The context with Jahmene was all about the unassuming young supermarket worker with the nervous laugh who reduces prices before products pass their sell-by date. The subtext was well and truly Forrest Gump: a grey suit with a buttoned-up shirt, the focus on his strange mannerisms, a Sally Field-style protective mother – hell, even the incidental music was the same as the film. But is Jahmene going to run and run?

He over-sang the umpteenth version of ‘At Last’ but had the “shock factor” the programme likes to pull off at this stage. For someone who works at Asda, though, his current odds don’t look like value to me. Despite the praise lavished on him, I’m not yet fully buying the idea that Jahmene’s necessarily in line for a long shelf life on the show.

Part of the reason for this is that he already has competition in the adorable nerd category. Third in bookmakers’ lists from last night, trading at odds between 16/1 and 50/1, is Curtis Golden, who has the ideal name for a pop star but not the ideal manner. Like Jahmene, he comes from the socially awkward school for boys, but he did his best with an awful arrangement of Christina Aguilera’s ‘Candyman’. In the “do you have a girlfriend” (well, no – according to The Sun, he’s gay) skit with the blonde auditionee, he also showed himself willing to be debased for the sake of the show, which should endear him to producers.

However, I was mystified by why Golden and Douglas were included on the same programme. One possible clue is that Louis has the groups this year and he mentioned a desire to mentor Jahmene, just as Tulisa did with Ella. Add Curtis to the mix, throw in one other geek and you have yourself a leftfield boyband that producers could call The Misfits.

Could this be the fate in store for Jahmene? The X Factor’s like a reduced-to-clear box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get.

Otherwise, we had some shorter clips of singers who seemed adequate yet limited in range, such as Fe Cockton Leckie and Tasha Leigh. Their best hope in the show would appear to be as part of a group.

Andrew mentioned in his rumours round-up article the producers’ quandary about what to do with last year’s near-failures. Last night’s treatment of Joe Cox suggests one option. He was given lots of screentime – on Xtra Factor. Louis’s comment that he was “one to watch” rang hollow in the circumstances.

As Tim B commented, every soloist in the lives has come through the main show rather than its ITV2 spin-off, though it’s worth bearing in mind that last year the sister show was a platform for Ashford Campbell, who ended up in both Nu Vibe and The Risk. A similar fate would seem to be Joe’s best hope second time around. Poor guy.

For our commenters bemoaning the standards of the main show, Xtra Factor must have been pretty uncomfortable viewing, more than once mocking those for whom English is not their first language. Plus ca change.

Agree or disagree with any of the points above? Your #comments are welcome below.

48 comments to X Factor 2012 Audition Show 1: One Ella-va pimping

  • Tim B

    Hi Daniel, I agree that it was a very usual first episode. I’ve yet to re-watch Ella’s audition but to me I see no reason why she isn’t being set up for a vert strong finish in the live shows. All the ingredients were there; dead relative, evidence of songwriting talent, very strong voice, early encouragement from her future mentor and also she seems HUMBLE in the same way Rebecca Ferguson and Matt Cardle did. There was a lot of love for her on twitter, in particular by world-class vocalist Kitty Brucknell, who tweeted “She’s amazing…That song is awesome! And she’s only 16..wow..future star!” but also “Love her voice…but what’s all the reverb on the mic?? They didn’t do that for other contestants?” suggesting even more favouritism. Full Janet Devlin treatment indeed. I’m not sure why other commentators don’t feel the same way…expectations too high perhaps? She was available briefly at 13.0 last night with Betfred, which would have been worth it for a small stake.

    I’m not sure what to make of Jahmene. Yes, he was very good, but he definitely oversang it which you can’t blame him for when trying to impress the judges really. But the fact that they bothered to film him at his local ASDA was significant. I can see him making the live shows as it would be bizarre for there not to have at least 2 of the final 16 come from the first episode.

  • R

    I wouldn’t mark down Jahmene or Ella as the eventual winner but I do see them both getting to the live shows – or at least Judges’ houses.

    Jahmene came across as the kind of inoffensive personality who will do as he is told and end up the way Marcus would have if the original plan hadn’t gone awry. ie between 6th & 10th.
    Asda boy won’t have as big a fan base as Tesco Mary.

    On the plus side for Ella is the time spent on her, the OTT praise, the Adele comparisons, the sob story.
    But then she’s a singer/songwriter, and the show hates singer/songwriters.
    Are they really going to have someone with a mind of their own, someone who will want to release their own songs not Syco written songs, win the competition? Unless last year made the producers have a big rethink, the answer is a resounding no.

    • Andrew

      R, you could argue that Ella’s treatment is pretty good evidence that producers have had a big rethink. We all couldn’t figure out last year why producers didn’t just shrug and run with awkward Janet once she’d revealed her true colours, instead of panic and press the terminate button – who cares if she’s not what you thought she was, if you can still make money out of her? Maybe, looking back on it, they came to the same conclusion? There’s no reason in principle why you couldn’t launch a singer-songwriter through XF, is there? Maybe they’ve heard Ella’s catalogue and are happy with it?

      Or maybe they’ve subjected Ella to a battery of psychological tests and are confident that she’s more malleable than Janet?

      • R

        Hi Andrew,

        This is true. I can imagine last year’s fiasco leading to changes being made. We already know they have now allowed managed acts to audition & Ella to sing her own song (which Janet was never allowed to do).

        The reason I always expect singer/songwriters to suffer is because Syco have in the past looked to gain greater profit margins by holding the song rights and rely more on mass marketing rather than talent to sell to the public. They also want to keep a tight a grip as possible on the acts they manage.
        If the new contract allows Syco to receive a bigger slice of the profits from someone else’s songs, that could be a game changer.

        Regarding Ella’s catalogue of songs, if she does have an album worth of material ready to release as soon as the show is over, like Bo did on the voice, this could save the show a lot of time and effort.
        Time to do some investigating…

        • That’s a good point, the chart success of Bo’s rather good EP may have raised a few eyebrows. It might actually be easier for them to launch a singer-songwriter than a pop act in what’s quite a crowded marketplace. I’m not sure any of Little Mix, Marcus or Amelia are going to take off.

  • sam

    Hi all another year another x-factor,but i guess its not just me in thinking this or does anyone anyone else have deja vu here,i mean the last act to perform,its like watching janet devlin all over again from last year,last pimp slot over playing vt and the like,well hope shes does not get the same treatment as janet did last year or its going to be carnage even a this stage.
    She seems to be getting good odds already even after 1 show,well time will tell if the producers go down the same route again but lokks like they are starting off on the same road.

  • Boki

    Regarding Ella’s treatment, I don’t like the deja vu with Janet, repetable things from last year usually scare me although this is no esc so it might be different. I wasn’t impressed maybe because of high expectations but “new Adele” is little too much, my first impression was more Jade R. than Janet D. Anyway the treatment was there so 13.0 was reasonable to take (in case mr. Fred is still kind to you) but agree with Daniel that it’s too early to take these 1 figure odds now.

  • Curtis

    Ella was indeed, reminscent of Janet with regards to the producer’s treatment of her. However, I don’t believe she has the legs in her to win that Janet obviously did have (if the producers helped her out). She just doesn’t have that something about her, I don’t think anyway. I think the producer’s could pimp her all day (they practically did last night) and she’ll at best end up about 6th.

    I honestly don’t see anyone else there as a contender at all. I barely remember them. I recall the performance of ‘At Last’, but I can’t separate it from the 100 other performances I’ve seen of that song on that show. Without the prompting of this blog, I’m not sure I’d even have remembered the gender of the singer!

    So yeah, I was underwhelmed by that show, but then I usually am. I only start getting a feel for things when the live shows begin to be honest, which is a long way away. I also am certainly not tempted into betting before then – the producers love to throw curve-balls at this stage of the game like Jade Richards last year. Best just to stay away I think, certainly before we hear word from Judge.

  • Dan

    Way too early to put money down on a winner and I certainly don’t think we’ve seen that person so far. It’s tempting to put a small amount on the girls (Tulisa’s team) to win as that’s the category that I reckon the powers that be want a winner from this year. Best odds are at 5/2 at the moment.
    I’m curious to see what they are going to do with the groups (bands?) this year. There was obviously a problem with the entrants in this category in 2011 as none of those in the final twelve actually entered as groups. Indeed, all of Little Mix had been rejected twice (as soloists and as duets) before being cobbled together at the last minute.

  • Tim B

    Speaking of Jade Richards, she has indeed auditioned again. Check out her radical new image http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/entertainment/tv-radio/x-factors-jades-new-hair-1268505. Perhaps she’ll be given a chance in the live shows this year, she looks more the part now.

    • If she’s happy like that, good for her. Obviously has a lot of dedication and motivation. She looks like Janet now though.

    • R

      I’ve been on Jade’s Twitter account to see if I can work out any info. She seems to be alternating between the gym and hangovers so it’s difficult to say if she’s still in the competition. The only thing I can work out is that she’s currently in Scotland. Btw the picture in the newspaper is a very flattering shot. She still has a more rounded figure and likes to show off her tattoos.

      • Donald

        Hi all X-Factor time again, didn’t see show on Saturday but will catch up, interesting question re Jade, now info. last year this early on proved to be reliable but on the Melanie scenario was wide of the mark. Few surprises in store one of which is rumoured to be Jade not getting through bootcamp. Info. harder to find out this year for some reason and lots of changes were made week to week during auditions and the judges did not play ball with producers wishes on more than one occasion which has already caused friction behind the scenes. Take note of that one.

        • Andrew

          Hi Donald, looking forward to your thoughts on the show. What’s this you’ve heard about the judges not always playing ball? Do tell us more…

          • Donald

            Hi Andrew, will watch the show back later. Judges not playing ball, take a look at category leak to see who being punished maybe. I think particular attention should be paid to the groups as there certainly have been some strange going ons based on knowledge from earlier this year. Allot of guest judges were used also which would seem to maybe enhance story. Early days but keep an eye on Sharon O also.

          • Donald

            Had a watch of Saturday nights show, It was typical opening show, obviously similarities to Janet pimping of Ella but to be totally honest although I may be wrong but Ella is very young to handle live shows etc. and there is only one Adele who has a team behind her who are more successful in a career than Simon or X- Factor in a way.

            As we know from last year these producers can get it well wrong, female solo arena very crowded at the minute so there’s two reasons straight away to let them at it for the minute. As for the rest of it going through the motions. After last year I am playing a waiting game for a few weeks at least and see the general feeling on Sofabet as this place is the place to really get some reasonable idea what they at.
            We are really no wiser after show one except maybe they have given us something to ponder that they going to get it wrong again. Early days.

  • Tim B

    I think she looks like Cher Lloyd!

  • R

    Ella will be a guest on X Factor’s sister show This Morning.
    So more pimping to come.

  • I do know what Janet Devlin looks like (the framed floating head surrounded by smoke and brimstone burnt it into my cortex if nothing else), thank you for the visual aid…

  • maccafan10

    Hi all.
    Last year, SIMON COWELL got his ‘well hinted at’ wish, a Girlband winner (at all costs and with supreme pimping and grooming). As some of you may remember I spotted this ‘massive hint’ early on and ran with it from the off at Judges house and I earned myself a couple of nice 66/1 Christmas bonuses, including the straight forecast with Marcus.

    This year, now that Simon has achieved that (and most other things to boot), he will be wanting a ‘horse of a different colour’ result (in a few ways too).

    I firmly believe that he will be wanting X-Factor to become more ‘credible’ in the face of worsening bad media and the public’s increased pannings of the show on Yahoo news threads etc; and also he has something to prove in the wake of the more serious approach of ‘THE VOICE’ (with their ‘don’t judge by looks’ format). On the way to that though we will still get the usual car crash tv stuff to entertain us all (as is its winning morbid interest appeal).

    SIMON realises that he has a show to save from extinction and one with seriously dropped ratings to recover from.
    Before I even read it I, like most here, spotted the ADELE comparison with ELLA along with DANIEL above and I believe that the public are being conditioned for this right from the get go.

    The huge success model is already there with plain and chunky ADELE and her acceptance by the public regardless, and ELLA HENDERSON is now her clone (as are Little Mix to the Spice Girls model). I still say that the latter will have a smash hit album, complete with dolls and the whole kit and caboodle and the XF shows will be the well timed launching pad for it too.

    So unless something far better comes up in the same vein as ELLA, she is the one for me so far and I will be having an early-ish bet when her odds go out slightly as new ‘flavours of the week’ stuff is shown to water the choice down a bit.

    I am hoping too that the bookies will be taking bets on her singing UMBRELLA ELLA ELLA ELLA too (just so that all the teenies will jump on it to chant support for her throughout the series). You could almost even sing that line to her Judges comments accompaniment piano music. She also has the JESSE MIX appeal for them too.

    It looks like we also have a cute and loveable shy (Peter Andre-esque appeal) vocal Olympics falsetto boy in JAHMENE DOUGLAS as MARCUS Mk2 as well now (and in a fetching Norman Wisdom gimp suit). I just couldn’t help imagining him in a flat cap too. A very good place/forecast bet though especially if his odds fluctuate and go out a bit more. XF got a lot of ‘old dear and middle of the road vote’ mileage out of Marcus last year and here is his clone too.

    Even BISCUIT BOY CRAIG has a clone in CURTIS (spooky or what?). Lets face it, JAHMENE has to have a chum to lean on and hold hands with throughout the lives and he will be another indestructible (Peter Kay’s) HOBNOB biscuit to bolster up and pad out the lives (until XF drop him like a hot stone to reveal the final 3).

    Just one thing before I finish. It is very very wrong to hit a woman, but I wonder how many folks out there (for a fleeting moment) ‘just felt’ like making an exception for a well aimed slap across the ‘tomb stone ridden’ gob of that horrible spoilt nightmare ‘PINK’ wannabe ZOE. I have also hated the sound of that word too ever since last years screaming ‘PINK’ karaoke Queen re-showed her smug face to steal more of our Oxygen. lol.

    • You may be right, but the question this sort of scenario poses is whether or not the public will play along, something that should never be taken for granted. I agree with Donald and others: she’s no Adele and I can’t see her surviving the live shows. (I also see Little Mix going down the tube pretty fast. They’re no Girls Aloud and it could be argued they won last year’s series almost by default; I see them more as the dying throes of the format than any kind of breakthrough standout act.)

      Jahmene can sang (gurl) but has nowhere near the confidence, flexibility or professionalism of Marcus, so I don’t see the comparison other than campness. Also can’t see him surviving the lives. I don’t expect either of them to get past judges’ houses.

      Apropos “biscuit boy” Craig (hate that epithet), the fact that someone that talented and witty was working (temporarily) in a biscuit factory is more to do with the tragedy of our “precariat” no-prospects low-pay economy (especially in the northwest) than his true calling in life.

      • Hi Euro. (This is more for ‘Newbies’ reading this as you are already ‘converted’). As we all know, it’s still very early days and we have seen past acts improve dramatically throughout a series (and some not much) as their confidence grows with ‘match play’ and with concentrated hard work and mentor-ing by expert vocal tutors etc. Remembering here that there will now be the addition of ‘managed professionals’ to emerge yet with the new relaxed rules.

        Still, I feel that XF will like to see their own super mentored amateurs give them a whooping to show how great their training/modelling is. They also won’t want a complicated ‘split’ (or to take cuts) of existing contracts and there will be increased major pimping of ‘their own protojes’ (and Janet treatments of the pro’s) to come. This new addition is just to spice things up to hit back at ‘The Voice’ and other impending talent shows. To me, it’s no ‘twist’, it’s just a desperate red herring to seek new viewers and up the ratings. So the amateur format/result will likely remain the same.

        Indeed, ‘it should never be taken for granted’ but we on here are lucky enough to be a lot more streetwise to this tv show than the general public who love to watch it (and who now also love to hate it lately….but who also ‘still’ watch it for that very reason) and we have therefore seen how the gullible public can be manipulated to high heaven too (and into frenzied reactions, as is the want of XF for tv viewer ratings with their planned ‘cliff hangers’ and ‘dirt digging’).

        Having said that, even we on here have even been hit with ‘left field’ surprises ourselves to get our danders up when we have bet money on what we reckoned were our ‘well worked out’ personal/obvious favourite (dead certs). A prime example being JANET last year with a lot of disappointed hopes placed on her to ‘walk it’ and huge amounts of bets laid off at Betfair.Thus, it’s not all about ‘the best’, but it is really what Simon and his obedient ‘yes Simon’ XF producers want.

        This huge suppression of JANET to influence the public was the best example I have ever witnessed on there. Personally, she just didn’t float my boat and I was glad about it, but nevertheless it was sickening to watch this obvious abject cruelty, with a death by a 1,000 cuts.

        This website is an excellent training ground to learn to not get too emotionally involved in the show and to not just bet on who we ‘want’ to win. It is a constant battle with ever changing strategic manoeuvres by XF for us to work out (or guess) and bet on, but there is still just ‘one goal’ for Mr Cowell (what HE wants…… as he usually gets his way).

        Simon is the epitome of the old saying “plan your work and then work your plan”. The last two years I was lucky and managed to work out his plan early and I hope that I can do the same this year. Hence I hang on his every ‘subtle’ word for hints, as he can’t resist poking his neb in just to hear his own voice/opinion and to put his stamp on proceedings from afar.

        On the GRAIG subject, I am actually a proud ‘Northerner’ and go to Liverpool a awful lot (eg. next weekend the huge Beatles Convention for 4 days). I have also worked with all the 70’s tv Comedians from there (and singers). Believe me, there are a lot funnier guys (and gals) there than Craig who I just meet in pubs and who never take it up as a stage act. Nearly every Scouser is a quick witted great joker (which is why I also love the place and it’s people…it’s free entertainment whilst I drink my pint……and then splutter it back when they crack a well timed funny).

        For me the ‘Biscuit Boy epithet’ was more that (just like a Hobnob biscuit), he just wouldn’t disintegrate in my tv cuppa like a ‘one dunk’ Rich Tea bikky. He was right there in my face in the lives every flippin’ week in (and week out) like a bad penny. Although a very nice boy, he was a very average and an almost monotonous pub/club singer (for which I wish him every success in because I know how hard it is). I couldn’t sit and watch him for a full set though without itching to seize any chance to go outside for a ciggy. Sorry, but I have seen much better in the Northern Clubs who never even make the tv screen (when they should have). “Them’s the breaks” so they say.

        Whether LITTLE MIX be short lived or not remains to be seen, but Simon will also want to get his money back with them (and with bonus). They haven’t lit the touch paper yet on this act as a replacement ‘gap filler’ in the still popular teenie ‘girl power’ market as they have been busy cutting an album and preparing for an official launch. I think the Olympic SPICE GIRL reunion proved that the market is still there. Even I enjoyed them just as much as I enjoyed every other act on there (although my hero Sir Macca did let me down a bit after his amazing shows in Liverpool the last two Christmas’).

  • Boki

    Hi maccafan, some nice reasoning there rg. new Adele, I only don’t really get Jahmene vs Marcus comparison, they are quite opposite to me…

  • Morning all, I was a lurker here last year but have promised to post my views this year more regularly. Agree with most of what was said in the post. The comparison between Ella and Janet is startling. I have a screenshot of the market on Oddschecker the night before the first live shows and she varies from 5/2 to 4/1 best price. I do think that last years hunch about the producers favouritism for Janet was true and apparently, only for her being continually awkward with the production team, we could of had a winner. I loved the way it was summed up here: “the girl that died of a thousand cuts”. I think it’s far too early to punt Ella at 6/1 right now. We saw last year that the market really didn’t react to the leaking of who was through to the judges houses so in my opinion, that’s the time to grab value.

    One other thing… jahmane is creepy…. Like, Michael Jackson creepy. I don’t think the audience are going to like him long term.

    • Andrew

      Hi Kieran, I had exactly the same gut reaction to Jahmene – don’t know if it was the hint of the pencil moustache or the “a-ha-ha-ha” mannerism, or what. I found Curtis far more likeable and interesting, but there is surely room for a maximum of only one socially awkward boy soloist in the lives.

      On what we’ve seen so far I’d be running with Curtis over Jahmene if I were running the show, but can’t ignore the evidence that it was Jahmene who was treated as the second coming.

      • I liked Curtis and his interpretation of Candyman a lot but can’t see either him or Jahmene making the lives. Lambs to the slaughter. They’re too wet behind the ears, like that wee Luke lad last year who burst into tears when he was (very wisely) rejected at judges’ houses.

  • maccafan10

    Hi Boki.Thanks! It’s just the way I perceive him really as a cute MARCUS typecast to take up a similar seat in the show’s variety spectrum as his power was in the falsetto range too (weak lower range though). He is also a shy pliable nice boy ‘yes-man’ type who they can mould, mentor up to standard and use how they want (as they like showing off that ‘look how clever we are Duckling to Swan’ side).

    He does have great vocal range ability and they will be especially playing on his falsetto range. It has always been a wow factor winner since the 50’s. Examples being Sam Cooke, Frankie Valli, Righteous Bros (Unchained melody) Bee Gees and it is now very prevalent in modern Indie Music too.

    There was a great program on tv about it recently and evidently those big mid belts and song endings of falsetto are quite sexy and send women crazy, lol.
    Being an ex-club singer myself, I got my best applause and compliments when I engineered my first set with a song with a soaring falsetto note to end on (and I wasn’t even that good).

    I think we are going to witness great things form this lad JAHMENE DOUGLAS and he will be here as an ‘also ran’ stooge to stay the course behind the real winners that XF have already earmarked.

  • I think a Jahmene/Curtis boyband of misfits and gayers (Fey Vibe? The Ratings Risk?) would be suicide. Can’t see it happening.

    Love the Clive Dunn reference – if Jade Richards’s inspirational gran pops her clogs, we could be in for There’s No-One Quite Like Grandma as her winner’s single (in my dreams…)

  • Shade

    Hi, team!
    I’m also joining to comment occasionally this year, after following your general comments on the show last year (that were both illuminating and more interesting than the show itself with the all-too-frequent ad breaks)!
    Personally I see Jahmene as a lot more Johnny Robinson than Marcus Collins. That’s not to discount him (Johnny played a close second fiddle to Janet in one of the lives last year, right?) but still, not quite as marketable
    UNLESS they play a Rebecca-Leona gaining confidence narrative with him…but I don’t see him as a potential winner. Too…creepy!
    In terms of Ella (Ella, Ella, ay, ay) …yeah, she was alright, but no better than Jade Richards from last year who didnt even make the lives. So I’d hold my horses before betting on her.
    She’s also a bit young and chunky to have either “grown from her struggles” or to be “young and pretty and loving life”, isnt she? Or is that just the cynic in me?

    • Andrew

      Welcome, Shade! Interesting comparison with Johnny R. Although, to the extent that they were playing Jahmene for laughs, I’m doubtful he was in on it. It’d be interesting to know if he just happened to turn up in a suit and buttoned-up shirt, which inspired them to use the Forrest Gump music. Or if they suggested the outfit, did they say “Jahmene, you and your mum come across as a bit strange so we thought it would be fun to sprinkle the audition with allusions to Forrest Gump”? Or just “Jahmene, our stylist thinks you’ll look great in this”?

      Whereas with Johnny R (and indeed with Curtis from this audition show), you always got the feeling they were happily complicit in their portrayal. Maybe I’m wrong, but Jahmene doesn’t seem that self-aware. Will be very interesting to see where they go with him (opening a shrimping business around live show 5?). They could definitely try to pull off the classic journey to self-confidence, but the journey away from that slight sense of creepiness might be a tougher one.

  • I didn’t find Jahmene creepy or strange, maybe I’m in the minority…

  • Dug

    Hello all,

    I found Saturdays show to be typically underwhelming. Let’s call a spade a spade and just admit that the golden era of entertaining audition shows is well and truly in the past. In some ways, that’s quite useful for punters because there’s no risk of great telly to distract us from the task of picking out the favourites.

    There seem to be four character and four characters only that are worthy of mention at this stage (Jahmene, Curtis, Joe Cox and Ella) unless either of the less memorable female auditionees makes it into a group.

    I have to say, Jahmene did give me a slight case of the shivers. The suit, the nervous laugh, the jizzface and melodywank all combined to make something very odd and unmarketable. Of course, Jahmene fits the XF bill perfectly – supportive mum, supermarket job, unusual vocal accomplishment – but the show must know there’s little for him in the outside world.

    The ASDA thing was very odd indeed. Surely only someone representing the store in an official capacity would refer to the chain as ‘ASDA Walmart’, no? And there was something about the intensity of the green colour on Jahmene’s uniform that seemed enhanced. In fact, this may sound odd, but the light and camera quality of the ASDA scene looked identical to that in ASDA’s own adverts and different to that filmed by the show. Does anyone know of any official agreement between the two brands? And if not, where is the line drawn between official tie-ins and brand placement?

    I’d say that Curtis was the least objectionable of the night’s auditionees but having slipped to long odds in the 50s I get the feeling that the insiders know better. I wasn’t a fan of his affected rendition of Candyman and to be honest I’d rather see him whip out a song at a local open mic than on the XF stage. He feels like a medium-sized fish in a big, big pond. I don’t see him as the kind of popstar who can promise a post-show career.

    Ella Henderson was a bit of a damp squib too. Her vocals were stylistically nondescript and technically weak at points (a deadly combination) although the true test will be in hearing Ella sing a recognisable pop tune. The package – combining style, personality, songwriting, backstory and singing – was good enough but none of its component parts were particularly special. Remember that last year’s launch stars were Janet and Frankie and the show 180’d on them pretty callously.

    Joe Cox was an interesting addition to Xtra factor and has managed to shift SOME (not nearly enough) of his godawful vocal affectations to reveal a little more of the wonderful voice he clearly has buried in there somewhere. One of the absolute worst tendencies of XF is to laud as ‘unique’ those who have copied a quirk or vocal tick from some Radio 6 darling and forced it over their own natural singing voice. However he sang, Joe wasn’t deemed exciting enough to warrant a fourth slot on the main show and so his short odds look a little ridiculous at present. Is he simply destined to be this year’s John Wilding? Or is there a grander plan?

    I’m still waiting for my Misha B moment and hopefully it will happen in the coming weeks. As for what the show wants from a winner this year, here are my thoughts:

    If Louis has the groups and Gary has the overs (and apparently the age divide has moved up to 28 this year) then it seems highly possible that a win is intended either for Nicole as the new girl or for Tulisa as the sophomore and returning champ (see: Chezza). Having said that, it seems odd that King Twatface Funsponge Barlow wouldn’t be afforded one of the strongest categories, although perhaps the Olympics have inflated his ego so stupendously that he’s actually reached his glory zenith and doesn’t care about winning.

    The show has been playing around with attempts to become more ‘credible’ (read: serious’n’authentic) for a long time now. In my opinion, such efforts from within a mainstream entertainment programme always end in disaster. Points in case: Matt Cardle, The Voice, Janet Devlin. Conversely, efforts to create credible, quality pop tend to pay off (see: JLS, 1D, Leona, Alexandra, Cher Lloyd). An aided win last year for Little Mix seemed to demonstrate that producers were starting to understand the power of pop – if a genre doesn’t see itself as being too cool for school or ‘above’ anything then it doesn’t risk alienating a certain demographic when it transfers from screen to radio. Those who voted for Matt Cardle to win had better ‘serious’n’authentic’ indie artists to support in the real world as it were. In the XF he was a rebel, an alternative. In the real world, he was an XF contestant.

    Of the launch night’s auditionees, Ella was certainly the closest thing to a solid pop brand and feels like a far more viable real-world artist than any of the other contestants. Whether she’s special enough to make a real splash in the lives is another matter.

    – Also, re: Little Mix not taking off, I think it’s early days but I agree that there are definite risks. I think a lot of the problem has to do with pitching them too young. I stand by my year’s worth of assertions that the girls make up one of the more exciting and talented acts to have appeared on the show, as was showcased in their Xtra factor slots and their renditions of Don’t Let Go and E.T. Vocally and harmonically, they are undoubtedly strongest group to have come out of XF and remind me of a young, original line up Sugababes. I guess that record companies know their demographics but the over-inflation of the BFF idea and the tweenpop appeal could do more damage than good in the long term. As a four piece bad, irrespective of their current branding, I still think they have legs in the industry and the potential to be a great group.

    • Dug

      To finish that final point off, I mean that with better management and better songs, Little Mix could have been the group to bring a bit of credibility back to the show. Alas, ‘Wings’ was hardly ‘Overload’ now was it?

  • R

    A heads up for the 3 main acts tonight Kye Stones, Lucy Spraggen and James Arthur.

    I couldn’t find any videos for Kye who is a 30 year-old chimney sweep and sees this as his “last chance”. He covers a Rita Ora song.

    Lucy Spraggen sings one of her own songs (with guitar) called Last Night which is a comedy song about trying to remember the night before after a heavy drinking session. The song is very much in the style of the Lovable Rogues from BGT, so cue lots of feel-good banter and humour as she sails through.

    James Arthur does an acoustic mash up of his own song and Tulisa’s single Young (with guitar, without Tulisa’s autotune).
    Very much in the James Michaels mold. His sob story is that his parents split up when he was very young (which was so hard for him) and have come together for the first time in 22 years to see him sing. Awww bless him. If only he’d come from a rural background or had sheep, he’d have been fast tracked to the live shows.
    However, from the info on Tellymix, the judges’ comment leave plenty of room for manoeuvre eg. “99%” not 100% comment from Barlow.

    Both Lucy & James’s songs can be found on Youtube.

    It does seem that the show is leaning heavily toward the “credible” acts this year and this will lead to a major cull, at Bootcamp/ Judge’s Houses to ensure a variety of styles – with plenty of shocks to come.

  • Re- last years winners LITTLE MIX. I haven’t even seen this weeks XF show yet but I did just catch RED or BLACK with Little Mix as special guests. Fantastic tight vocal performance (and not mimed) with a catchy great new song which will shoot to No1. Love ’em or hate ’em, they got a standing applause from the studio audience and presented a polished and professional performance to rival the best in the biz (and defunct ‘leaving a gap in the market’ Girls Aloud). The Steamroller cometh yet again, just as I predicted !!

  • Boki

    I’m positive about tonight episode, Kye was looking and sounding great and he could be a very credible over for Gary. James was overdoing it for my taste, he has a sob story they exploited but don’t really get such favorism from the producers. Lucy was the highlight of the evening for me, she’s soooooo amazingly lovable and vocally great in het thing, sold it completely 100%. Still not sure about her chances but think she could get tones of votes. I was really pissed to see her odds coming down from twenty something at the bookies I can’t bet (while I’m stuck to BFred and WHill).
    Btw I also enjoyed the Sophie car crash while we all led to expect someone to smash it 🙂

    • Andrew

      Boki, they did disguise Sophie well! But I feel a bit of sympathy for her and also her mum getting all the blame for leading her on, when even her local paper has been bigging her up
      To be fair, it says only that she “entered” and “featured in” the Hartlepool’s Got Talent contest… but even without winning the thing, how did she come out of there without a reality check? And did the local paper listen to her before writing that? They seem to be no better at spotting talent than Napoleonic spies.

  • Dr Rich

    Agree with most of what Boki had said, while perhaps being a bit less positive about Kye. I thought he lacked a bit of vocal consistency at times but that’s probably just me. While one had to admire James, his style is a bit of an acquired taste and if he was to make the live shows i don’t see him gaining universal public favour. Lucy was the highlight for me also. Having watched the videos of her on youtube yesterday i had hoped that she would have been portrayed more as a comedy act tonight and hence her price would have been bigger. For me her style is a cross between Ed Sheeran and Jessie J (apologies if i am way off the mark… just my interpretation). This style is really popular at the moment and i can see her coming across very well to the public if making the live shows. Looking at some of her stuff on youtube i’d imagine she will have no trouble dealing with the time constraints put on each performance in the live shows. While I see no value at the moment i do see her becoming value in the coming weeks. By the way those Newcastle auditions were painful, my mute button hasn’t felt such pain since Rambo Amadeus graced the Baku stage for Montenegro.

  • Steven

    Some are thinking that Lucy didn’t even make the lives since her song is charting on iTunes right now.

    I’m not convinced, especially since judges’ houses haven’t been filmed yet, but it’s something to consider.

  • I thought Jehmene was absolutely stunning- the best ever live vocal I have ever seen on a show like this. It remains to be seen if he can sing any other way but what a performace! Absolutely amazing.

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