X Factor 2012 Audition Show 4: Melanie McCabe underwhelms

With two audition shows this weekend, it felt like Saturday’s programme stretched itself rather thinly in terms of what may be of interest in this year’s win market.

We did see the return of Melanie McCabe, one of Kelly’s rejects at judges’ houses last year. Unlike fellow 2011 rejects Joe Cox or Jade Richards, Melanie was at least given a decent amount of screentime on the main show. Far more than she got at the same stage last year, in fact, when she attracted a good deal of debate here on Sofabet after being persuasively but erroneously rumoured to have made the lives at the expense of Sophie Habibis.

This time around, I was left rather underwhelmed by her warbled rendition of ‘Like A Bridge Over Troubled Water.’ I fear she proved herself not interesting enough, either as a singer or character.

On this basis she may be in line for the John Wilding “agonising second rejection at judges’ houses” that we speculated may be in store for someone in our audition shows preview.

Bookmakers seem to agree. 33-1 is the best price on offer, larger even than you will find on ITV2-sidelined Jade Richards.

Last on was nervous Christopher Maloney. He ticked a few backstory boxes. He’s got a dead grandad! And a live nan! Perhaps they can turn this into a fully fledged category this year in which he can join Ella Henderson and Jade Richards.

You would have thought the obvious nerves must be a drawback for any future hopes in the competition. Primarily, producers may not want to take the chance on a live show meltdown.

I felt there was nothing special in his performance beyond getting over the jitters. However, he did get the pimp slot and the Olly Murs Interview on Xtra Factor. Revealingly, though, whilst Ella Henderson was filmed in a recording studio, Maloney was put on a stage singing musical theatre.

There’s quite a bit of credible competition in the Overs category already in Melanie Masson and Kye Sones. The 34-year old from Liverpool will therefore do well to make the lives and if he does, I could envisage a Jonjo Kerr-style result. I’m not tempted by a top price of 16-1.

Bigger at 50-1 is ‘Tulisha’s toy-boy’ Jason with a performance that suggested his main purpose was to provide some interest for the audition show and little more.

Like last week, some rather more promising talent was given less screentime and no backstory. Step forward Tasha Pyne and Megan O’Neill. Whether this portends boot camp dismissal, girl group manufacturing or a shock individual slot in the lives over someone featured more prominently, is open to question. Either way, it’s not worth chancing.

Boy group Times Red offered a reasonable package in a category that had hitherto failed to feature at all this year. They had the looks, offered something a little bit different (a guitar! Beatboxing!) and were vocally competent.

50-1 about them with Ladbrokes seems to me like much the best value price offered about any of tonight’s acts. However, a watching brief is advised given the shenanigans that traditionally occur at bootcamp and beyond in this category (recall how last year The Keys were cannibalised of their lead singer).

Having waited for a credible group all series, we got two in a short space of time tonight. However, Irish boy group On The Edge were featured only on Xtra Factor, which suggests they’re on the edge of oblivion as far as this series is concerned.

What did you think about tonight’s performances and the show in general? Let us know your comments below.

21 comments to X Factor 2012 Audition Show 4: Melanie McCabe underwhelms

  • I definitely wasn’t underwhelmed by Melanie’s performance as I was to an admittedly minor extent with Jade’s and Joe’s. I thought she was superb – precision, control, dynamics, didn’t oversing (at least not in a way that jarred with me), excellent song choice and excellent interpretation of it. She embodies the humility and try-again spirit that voters go for. It was a long, v well edited audition with a lot of emotion and an engaging VT, and it worked for me. I didn’t really remember her from last year but I warmed to her. Although I think she came over well both on stage and off, I worry about how badly she apparently took her rejection last year; the VT made her seem quite flaky. I know she’s young, and maybe it’s easy for me to sit on the sidelines and say this, but getting to judges’ houses last year at her age is a tremendous achievement and she should be incredibly proud of herself, rather then being so devastated. That kind of reaction implies she’d mentally staked everything on getting to the lives and wasn’t prepared for the far-from-unlikely possibility she wouldn’t. Her reaction also says to me that perhaps both last year and this (as spoilers would indicate she once again doesn’t make the lives), judges/producers suspected she was too psychologically fragile for the live shows. There’s the endearing sort of humility/fragility (as embodied by previous female winners and finalists) that makes someone a vote-winner, then there’s the needy/flaky kind that makes someone a risk. I’m being harsh, she is only young, but it’s a question of “is this person emotionally sturdy enough for the live shows?”, and (for instance) if Misha had been rejected at JH last year, I can’t exactly imagine her “crying in the plane all the way home” like Melanie apparently did. She’d have taken it on the chin and gotten on with her music career.

    I reacted emotionally to Chris Maloney’s performance and instinctively thought “OMG he’s gonna win”, which wasn’t rational (he’s an over, he’s gay, we don’t know how versatile he is) but maybe that’s the point. I really liked his vocal (again, it wasn’t 100% perfect but I was fine with it), and moreover, the last note of that Dreamcoat song on Xtra Factor (where he wasn’t nervous and was in control and at ease) really showed what he can do – power, precision, vibrato. I expect he’ll be less nervous now he’s got past that first major hurdle of auditioning and a) believes in himself more and b) knows that the judges and public believe in him. So I personally wouldn’t consider him a risk for the lives – he definitely falls into the “endearing” category rather than the “risk” one. He’s just happy to be there and going into it without expectation. As a character and narrative, I found him far more involving than Melanie Masson (yawn) or Kye (who?) – he leapt off the screen, they didn’t. They don’t have the underdog/humility factor and are both happy, confident, former music professionals, whereas Christopher has far more of a narrative and far more of a SuBo factor – he comes over as an incredibly sympathetic, downtrodden ordinary person, which combined with real talent (which he has) can get you far on shows like these. I’d actually say he’s my personal favourite so far.

    Apropos Subo, I loved Jason’s Asian Susan Boyle (or AsBo) moment. He’d definitely be another candidate for the provisional fey boyband (Curtis, Jahmene etc.)

    I really liked Megan and want to hear more from her. I felt Tasha oversang a teensy bit. Found Times Red irritating and they didn’t engage me musically in the way that The Keys (for instance) did last year. The Irish boyband on Xtra Factor were better. Apropos The Keys, X Factor really shot itself in the foot last year by not putting them through. The Risk and Nu Vibe were stupid and doomed from the start, whereas The Keys were an organic group, highly musical, telegenic, etc. etc… they could have done as well as the not-dissimilar G4.

    Over and out.

  • Justin

    Like last year Melanie McCabe struck me as being a West End stage singer rather than a recording artist. Her dress-sense, choice of song, clear but undistinctive singing style from this year’s audition all back this up. There is nothing about here voice, her look or her presence that suggest recording artist.

    Of course this type of singer is well suited to doing very well in the X-Factor process of a different style each live show BUT its not the sort of act the producers will want to be lumbered with as the winner with a recording contract. For me she is something like the female version of Joe McElderry.

    It would be dangerous for the producers to put her through to the lives as she clearly now has a following and would be suited to the format of the show. At this stage I suspect she will get to judges houses again but no further.

  • PG

    Surely if big things were going to happen to Ms McCabe in this series there would have been a pimp slot, and a dead relative to help us take her to our hearts. Or am i too cynical? Chris Maloney nice story and most years would surely make it into the normally weak overs category but as already stated this year it is looking a bit stronger under Mr Barlow stewardship, even if he did make it through surely would only get no further than halfway through the lives , as he is in no way commercially viable. Still waiting for the winner(s) to appear me thinks ( unless the talent pool is seriously depleted ).

  • R

    Again underwhelmed by the show. I found it difficult to watch Melanie’s audition knowing she won’t be making JHs.
    She had a better tone to her voice this year but hit too many bum notes.
    I’m too cynical too even care about Christopher so I didn’t follow his sob story – his voice was ok. I have heard rumours that he will make the lives.

    It’s interesting to see the acts Caroline Flack is following on Twitter after the filming of JHs:

    Rylan Ross Clark
    Starboy Nathan
    Jahmene Douglas

    James Arthur
    Adam Burridge
    Jake Quickenden


    Kye Sones

    Lucy Spraggan
    Ella Henderson
    Jade Ellis
    Leanne Robinson
    Jade Collins

    Starboy Nathan (remember starboy Marcus?) is on tonight’s show and is a big favourite to win for me:
    He’s toured with JLS & NDubz (Syco links aplenty), and worked with Flo Rida.
    He’s a polished performer who fits the bill of a yes man who will do whatever the show asks of him.
    His sob story could be living with his gran in Jamacia while his mother moved to America to pursue her own career.
    The plethora of acoustic acts could split their vote allowing his pop RnB style to be win.
    I could even see him doing a duet with Beyonce in the final.
    The only issue I have with him is that I don’t know how he will come across to the audience. The name Starboy and the title of his debut album “Masterpiece” doesn’t say shy and retiring so he could become the new Danyl Johnson.

    • R

      It seems Starboy isn’t on this week. The “good” acts to watch are Amy Mottram and GMD3.

      • PG

        R, What do you know about Leanne Robinson, would she fit the bill for the “urban” female singer the show seems to have been looking for in the last couple of series? Thanks in advance.

        • R

          Hi PG, The bio on her website says:

          “Bursting onto the Pop Music scene comes Leanne Robinson, in possession of a voice that unites the religious fervour of her church roots with a passion for Pop. A voice that travels through legendary influence, from the Jazz styling of Ella Fitzgerald to the Soul sensibilities of Aretha Franklin and contemporary class of Beyonce, Leanne’s music settles in distinctly Pop/R&B territory in her endeavours to break royal ground in the vein of the aforementioned divas. ”

          The Youtube video on the site shows her to have a much softer tone than Misha B. Not so much “urban” as a pop/R&B crossover which will appeal to a wider audience, although I do think she has the vocal capability to pull off an urban track.


    • Andrew

      R, you say “knowing”, but do you think we really know anything for sure this year? It seems they care more than in the last couple of years about stopping leaks, and if so it would be entirely logical also to put some false rumours about to keep the waters muddy.

      By the way, looking up Starboy Nathan, I suddenly realised why they might have changed from over-24s to over-28s this year, a decision which doesn’t otherwise make any obvious sense – Nathan is 25! He could hardly go in the overs with a name like Starboy, could he?!

      • R

        Andrew, You’re right, I shouldn’t say “knowing” but the rumours on DS seemed very convincing. Melanie tweeted she was back in school at the same time others in the girls category tweeted “will be offline for a bit” or “off to the airport – very excited”.
        But as you say, there could be red herrings, false rumours etc and as most of this info is second hand, it’s best to be cautious at this stage.

        • Andrew

          Cheers, R. Top marks to Mel, then, if she was in fact sitting in the departure lounge with a sly smile while sending those tweets 🙂

          I occasionally check in on that spoiler thread on DS but it feels like a lot of noise and not much signal.

  • Simon "Le Chat"

    Melanie was not good enough. Ok, she sang up hill and down dale all over the melody and had plenty of expression but as I was listening to it I thought “Would I -or anyone else for that matter- go out and pay to listen to this?”. Er, no.
    Something else about MElanie, she sings out of tune on the big notes. Oh it is hardly noticeable and when I heard the first bum note last night I thought I must be mistaken but there were a couple of others- where she strayed about a quarter of a ssemi from what she was supposed to sing. And it was noticeable and I expect the powers that be noticed it too.
    Best act over the weekend was ‘Tulisha’s toy-boy’ Jason. He wont win either though, he sings with an eastern accent that wont endear him to the masses. At least he can sing a bit- maybe they’ll put him in another show made boy band.

  • Only one act stood out for me as a credible potential winner from last night’s show, and that was Times Red. Of the several acts to extend the ‘urban mash-up/acoustic’ trend this year, they were the first to boast more recognisable X-Factor tropes alongside that. They’re good-looking, well-styled, have a close-knit identity and bags of confidence, and are more squarely ‘pop’ than, say comparable mash-up artist James Arthur.

    Going off-piste for a moment, I have to say Mr Arthur exerts a peculiar fascination over me. The innumerable wrongs of his audition and general schtick are so clearly at odds with the producers’ desire to run with him that we may be in for some delightful car crash TV come the lives.

    Another issue which has been occupying my mind for a few days is the perennial one of ‘controversy’, and specifically where it’s going to come from. The trailer for tonight’s show suggested we may be about to witness the birth of a new Cocozza – a truly mouthwatering prospect – but I’ve already identified at least two additional candidates in (as has already been suggested) the awful Lucy Spraggan (fond of a drink) and (more contentiously) Joseph Whelan.

    Not an obvious choice, you might think, judging from his aggressively family-friendly audition and pimping (I love the use of that verb in the context of the X-Factor; it’s just so accurate). But a fact which has thus far generated almost no mention is Whelan’s part-time employment as a cage fighter. Practioners of this sport are not, generally, placid individuals. Whelan looks to me to be not averse to anabolic steroids, and his ex-partner and mother of his child was noticeably absent from his audition or subsequent media. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if his styling as the perfect father was conceived to paper over a few unsanitary aspects of his biography which may just emerge in future weeks.

    Other thoughts… Christopher Maloney, please stop now. Hated it, I’m afraid. Melanie McCabe, a girl for whom the word ‘meh’ may have been invented. And, finally and strangely, ‘Tulisha’ is really winning me over.

    • Andrew

      I know what you mean about James Arthur. And could he be an answer to your controversy question? We were given a troubled youth backstory, after all. Although, to be fair to him, according to the tabloids his off-the-rails teenager period came after he’d been living in luxury in Bahrain but when his mum and stepdad split up he ended up back in Middlesbrough. That would be enough to send anyone into a pit of despond.

  • PG

    You can see the Starboy Nathan Syco insider / x factor fix headlines already! Good source of controversy / publicity me thinks.

  • Ron

    In Melanie’s defence, bland and unoriginal has done very well on the live shows in recent years. There was nothing original about Alexandra Burke and Marcus Collins, and both were expected to be the first ones ejected in their category in the live finals. Melanie would probably have done well on the live shows as she looks great on camera, has a strong voice and seems likeable.

    I could see her pop up in Irish Eurosong in February, it would appear an obvious outlet for her.

  • In another year I think Arthur’s backstory might have generated controversy, for the reason that much of it – including the extent of his alleged homeless – is pure cack. But these kind of disclosures barely even get reported now, because the public has become so jaded by the deception routinely hoisted upon us by the X-Factor producers. The same goes for the Syco/Sony ‘Starboy’ links (a man so pimped he’s already been priced up towards the head of the win market before we’ve even seen his first audition) – it’s all old news.

    I guess what I meant was which act would be able to generate the kind of feverish forum buzz generated by, say, Wagner or Frankie: the wrong ‘uns who (either by accident or design) slip through the cracks in the control grid and wreak a few weeks of chaos. Or controversy of the lesser kind: like the ‘bullygate’ scandal which nobbled Misha B last year.

    It’s plausible that the beige quality of much of the talent means we won’t witness anything like that this season. Which, for those of us who care about the show as ‘event TV’ – or who love the fleeting victories for the underdogs represented by the aforemention Cocozza, etc – would be something of a shame.

    Eddy String? Christ on a bike, NO.

    • I was absolutely appalled at Misha’s treatment by Louis and Tulisa last year and pleased that Gary and Kelly stuck up for her and spoke out on her behalf. Accusing a 19-year-old girl of bullying live on national television (and completely ignoring her stellar performance, which is what they’re actually there to judge) is the very definition of bullying. I’m not surprised Kelly didn’t return this year after having her best act treated like that by two of her colleagues. Any problems between the acts should have been dealt with behind the scenes. Gary was so right to publicly say “you’ve been wrongfully accused of being something you’re not”.

      Even if the whole thing had never happened though, she probably still wouldn’t have won or made the final, more’s the pity. So I don’t think it nobbled her, though that was certainly the intention.

  • You may well be right about that… and I fully agree with your opinion re: Misha. She was indeed stellar – an exceptional and soulful performer – who ought to have won last year’s series at a canter. And – for the record – I am a big fan of GB, and find the level of hate aimed at him (not least by the fuckwits at The Bitch Factor) dismaying, to say the least.

    To return to my point, though, let me just say that – at this point – the strongest candidate for ‘Wagnerian infamy’ is probably Lucy Spraggan. And this because I think she’ll prove one of the weakest, yet (crucially) most likeable, of the major players whose show trajectories the producers have already mapped. She can write (a bit), can play (a very little bit) but Pam Ayres with an acoustic is not the stuff of megastardom. And I think this is going to become more and more evident as the lives progress.

  • Boki

    Got to see weekend episodes today, Melanie was perhaps the best of the Saturday night but nothing special, it was a really poor night to me. Agree with Daniel on Maloney – Jonjo comparison. Actually Times Red were the only ones I found above average.

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