X Factor 2018 Auditions Week 1: Mark Anthony

Call us jaded old cynics, but somehow we doubt that this time last year Louis Tomlinson decided entirely on his own initiative to appoint himself as unpaid social worker to Anthony Russell. You have to admire the long-range planning evident in the Scouse scally’s Sunday pimp slot. It suggests not only that – as commenter Stoney argued – Ant is in this for the long haul unless he manages to Frankie Cocozza himself out of contention, but also that producers are still on the ball. This is reassuring, as we’d spent much of Saturday’s show wondering if for some reason they were trying to goad ITV into pulling the plug one season early.

The first audition, which introduced the winner last year, was this time notable primarly for Louis informing us that One Direction is a corny name – this was presumably intended to suggest that Louis is an independent thinker, rather than that the show cocked up even with their biggest success story. The coveted first audition show pimp slot (we may have to retire that phrase) went to Robbie doing a karaoke duet of ‘Angels’, having been shown as bored out of his mind by his judging duties as early as audition #2. And we’re still not sure why they brought Ayda in if they’re not going to give her better material to work with than “you sang ‘It’s A Man’s World’, well it’s officially a woman’s world” or “you’re not just the X Factor, you’re the every letter of the alphabet factor”.

Anyway, on to the acts. As usual, we’ll be focusing on those reported by the Digital Spy forum to make it through the six-chair challenge, so don’t read on if you’re averse to spoilers.

Our first reported JHs contender is the cure for Robbie’s boredom, Benidorm club singer Danny Tetley, who was prasied for his personality and portrayed as a sympathetic character who has struggled against prejudice in the music industry due to his looks. The show often likes to cast a character in the overs category, and it’s easy enough to see Danny in the role.

Two-piece Misunderstood, reportedly through in the groups category, came across as reassuringly competent and Simon told them they’d got the X Factor. The big doubt about how hard the show might push them has to be their similarity to Rak-Su – it’s historically been rare for the winner not to be more of a departure from the previous year.

Kezia Povey apparently ends up at judges’ houses as part of manufactured girl group Sweet Sense (she’ll be on the judges’ panel in 2026 saying what a corny name that is). In the comments, Stoney mused about whether they might want to push a replacement for Little Mix this year (and it’s also well worth reading 360’s comment on the last thread analysing possible gaps in the Syco roster). A prominent slot in the upcoming audition shows for any of Kezia’s reported bandmates – Gia Cauchi, Ellie Grant, or twins Billie and Charlie, who audition as Dejavu – would be suggestive.

Kezia and the next act were shown being told to get into a girl group as they weren’t ready yet, which served to tee up Molly Scott, who was told she is. The Easington 16-year-old is a very recognisable X Factor archetype – the big-voiced northern lass with a supportive grandparent. History suggests she’ll need to showcase some additional dimension to establish herself as a contender – last season’s representative of the archetype, Holly Tandy, bowed out in 7th.

We got Jennifer Philips vibes from Janice Robinson, who reprised her 23-year-old club hit ‘Dreamer’, though Fudd in the comments speculated that she could be “a different kind of winner, being an Over comfortable with uptempo numbers rather than ballads”. She was credited as a songwriter and she can sing, so she would certainly offer credibility in the lives. If the show had big plans for her, we suspect they might have told her to take off the headband that hindered eye contact.

Moving on to Sunday’s show, Olatunji Yearwood is an intriguing prospect for the Overs. The charismatic Trinidadian is already an accomplished performer – the music video for the song he performed, released late last year, has over half a millon views on YouTube – and arguably offers some commercial potential, plus the opportunity for the show to burnish its socially inclusive credentials by introducing us to more of Ola’s Afro Soca genre.

Ireland’s 2017 Eurovision entrant Brendan Murray may, at 21, be the youngest contestant yet to explain that he once had a recording deal but it didn’t work out and now he’s looking for a second chance. In the comments, Chatterbox5200 pointed out how his audition seemed set up to make sure Cowell got some attention amid all the focus on the new judges – we saw him telling Brendan to go away and learn ‘This Woman’s Work’, and taking credit for how well it went. To be fair, it must be hard for producers to come up with a new trope on this show and we can’t remember previously seeing the routine of an act forgetting the lyrics, being told they can consult their sheet of paper, and triumphantly crumpling the sheet of paper at the end.

If you’re as jaded and cynical as we are you might wonder whether someone with Brendan’s performing pedigree would really find it that hard to memorise the first line of ‘This Woman’s Work’ in just a few hours. If we can speculate that this was a role he was happy to play, that will presumably have put him in producers’ good books. In the comments, The Juan reckons he might be our winner, pointing out that he has existing fans and material. He also has a Cardle-esque falsetto and normal job (plumber). That said, they’ve yet to show us much of his personality and it’s hard to see why the show would expect him to fare any better than previous male solo winners (though that didn’t stop them pushing Matt Terry).

Brendan trades at around 12/1 along with Molly Scott, while Ant Russell is currently 6/1 favourite following a pimp slot which established his emotional relationship with mentor Louis as well as seeing him bond with Robbie over their shared history of rehab. With sympathetic cutaways to audience members, this couldn’t have been any more positive for Ant. The big question is whether TPTB are thinking of him as a potential winner or as an engaging storyline and supporting actor in establishing Louis’s personality.

As ever, do please weigh in with your thinking below.

Photos via ©ITV / @ThePixelFactor

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14 comments to X Factor 2018 Auditions Week 1: Mark Anthony

  • Alan

    There’s no way Ant is Plan A. The intention must still be to find someone would can sell a lot of records. He’s never going to do that. He might be someone producers would be happy to settle for as a feel good winner if the real Plan A fails to fly though.

    • Stoney

      I think we had established that the show is not necessarily that bothered about finding an act that could sell a lot of records long term. Seeing as Raksu were highly unlikely to have any long term success. Winning is often a poisoned chalice and finishing 2nd/3rd often better for springboarding a pop career The ratings have to be their prime concern at this stage in the x factors life span.

      • Alan

        How much money has Cowell made from acts that haven’t come.from these type of shows? I’d say he’s entirely reliant on finding someone to keep the cash rolling in.

        You’re right though – they don’t necessarily need to win.

  • Peter

    Is Brendan still on Louis Walsh’s roster? Could he be there as part of the deal struck to get him out of his judging contract early? Either way, the Louis connection makes me think it’s more about exposure than setting him up as a genuine contender.

  • The Juan

    Ive given the opening shows a watch again.

    Here are a few points to reinforce my pick, brendan murphy, at this early stage (which may hugely backfire at judges houses!)

    – learning a new song in a few hours – although he did not memorise it all, he was edited as giving it a “good go”. The song was put to showcase his voice.

    – the song – womans work – I think this is either setting up a future derail as they can use his voice to liken him to a woman. The other side is that the song is themed around early problems and overcoming them in childbirth…. in this case the ‘birth of a star’ and overcoming the issues of song choice/learning lyrics.

    – the paper drop – likened to a mic drop by the judges, throwing down the gauntlet after a victorious performance. Interestingly, when the shot zoomed in on the paper the words “show me” were visible and circled. A message maybe? Showing us the winner, circled like a winning horse in the paper?

    – the glass of water – refreshing, simon providing us with refreshment in terms of acts which weve seen

    – his job as a plumber – links well to that of previous winners

    – the irish vote – have we had a contestant (since eoan quigg) to test this?

    – the link with louis – apparently still managed by louis walsh, could louis leaving be ahem coincidence of a push for brendan?

    – the wanted band member – simon said that he was the absolute oppososite of everything he was looking for (male to female – a womans work)

    – the 6cc leak on digitalspy – he gets the golden buzzer compared to antony needing 3 seperate songs. Simon calling brendan “the best he has heard in years” robbie saying “best voice in 10 years. I think one of the 2 will be a headline exit at judges houses….

  • The Juan

    The glass of water – brendan is a refreshing alternative to wgat we have already seen

    The wanted band member – simon said he was the complete opposite of what he is looking for. Brendan is the opposite to him in terma of appearance, vocal and general manner… the only thing lacking in opposites is his sex, so made up for this with the “womans work”

    *murray* not murphy

  • Phil

    He’s about as much a plumber as Sinitta is.

  • Nick

    Took the early 20/1 e/w on Misunderstood, Decent bet for top 3.
    You tube shows they’ve got talent,can sing/dance and do the slow stuff very well too.
    Experienced performers and very likable.
    Obviously it needs tptb to buy into them, so we shall see.

    • Phil smith

      I think Rak su winning last year might work against misunderstood winning the show but I can definitely see a group being in final 4 so could be a decent each way bet like nick says !

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