Were There Any Shining Stars on the Final Week of ‘The X Factor’ Auditions?

Photo courtesy of Fanpop
Photo courtesy of Fanpop

 

Welcome to another recap of The X Factor. This is the last of the judges’ auditions – there were only four this year – so next week we are off to the SSE Arena at Wembley! I am very excited, as you can tell.

It will be bittersweet to say goodbye to the judges’ rooms. It was fantastic to have them back, and I think the contestants are more comfortable auditioning in front of four people than an entire arena. They seem to feel more able to be themselves, which is often ridiculously silly. I am still giggling about Queen Christina.

This episode begins where last night’s left off, in Newcastle. There was a brief shot in the intro of Cheryl teaching Geordie vocabulary to Simon. I’m so happy these two are back. You would never catch Gary Barlow being (intentionally) funny like this. Now onto my “good” and “bad” lists; enjoy.

Fantastic auditions:

Kerrianne Covell

The first shot we get of Kerrianne is her describing the smell of customers’ feet in the shoe shop where she works. I bet none of those people will be voting for her; way to alienate your hometown audience dear.

There was then a shot of Kerrianne’s mum complaining that her daughter was at risk of losing her job, again, because of music. “I’ve got to try for my dream” Kerrianne whined. “That’s all very well but I’m the one financing it,” mum threw back. It turns out that Kerrianne was skiving from work to audition; she has got her priorities right then.

Kerrianne sang a nice rendition of Adele’s “One and Only”. She has a great voice and a huge range, each note was hit perfectly. Her smile was big and bright and singing obviously brings her a lot of joy, which is fantastic to watch.

She gets through with four “yes” votes, and Simon thoughtfully calls her boss and leaves a message asking that she keep her job “in the short term”. Yes, I am sure that will go down well.

Although Kerrianne was a brilliant singer she seemed a little bland; she’s missing that something extra, that “X” factor even. Okay, time to move on.

Geoff Mull

“Newcastle is bringing it!” Cheryl squealed in between contestants, and she was right, Geoff certainly brought it, thankfully. He actually sang to get into boot camp in the 2013 The X Factor and failed.

Geoff is only 22 but looks at least 20 years older, and has something of Grant Mitchell about him. Louis said he looked like Wayne Rooney, but no. Geoff is attractive, useful and not a twit.

He had a nice but average voice, with a lightness about it that fit his original audition piece perfectly. I would like to see Geoff go quite far in the show but he just doesn’t seem the type. I can definitely see him doing an AOR Christmas album though.

Lauren Lovejoy

I was almost too distracted by Lauren’s appearance to make any notes, but that may also be because while good, her voice was a little flat.

Lauren walked in wearing a ‘60s style little black dress, pearls, evening gloves and an elaborate updo. She then proceeded to say that she “sensed the animal” in people: Simon was a lion; Cheryl a Persian cat; Mel a panther and Louis a…seal (cue hundreds of seaLouis memes on tumblr).

Lauren got voted through to the next round, and good for her. What’s the point of following modern fashion when your parents did it so much better? I applaud her for revelling in a time she clearly loves – she sang a Peggy Lee song too. I hope her personality can take her far.

Stevie Tennet

I didn’t know there were so many “Stevies” still around nowadays? Interesting. Young Stevie came in and announced he was 15, to which Cheryl asked “are you still at school?”

No, Cheryl, he’s working down the mines. Move with the times, dear. Cheryl then went on to say that she didn’t understand why the age limit had been lowered, and “couldn’t he wait?”

No, Cheryl, Stevie couldn’t wait, he is “ready now” he said. He was right, too; he sang very well and played his little guitar like a pro. His face lit up when he sang, and he had that boyish quality which is guaranteed to win votes from preteens and grannies alike.

After his performance Cheryl said that she had to “eat cake” as yes, he was indeed ready. That’s okay Cheryl, we know you meant humble pie. Such is the love for Cheryl in the Twitterverse that hardly anyone made fun of her for that. Sweet.

Janet Grogan

I have a soft spot for Dubliners and Janet is no exception. She sang one of my favourite songs, Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” and it was enchanting. Janet was beautiful with excellent eyebrow game (that’s a thing this series and I love it). Her voice was a little shaky but wonderfully mellow.

Louis said to her “it looked like you were singing that song to Simon.” Of course she wasn’t, I said. “Yes I was” said Janet. “Do you like him?” said Louis. Oh my God, I said. Janet blushed and said she did. Simon grinned like a Cheshire cat and said “you have beautiful eyes”.

I hope Janet can cool her ardour for Cowell in the next round or things may get a little embarrassing.

Emily Middlemass

Emily had a wonderful, light voice; reminiscent of Kate Nash but with the sweetness of Lily Allen thrown in.

Like some other contestants, her guitar – which was white like her outfit – seemed to be a bit of a crutch, but it was cute and completed the whole indie-chick vibe. At only 15 I don’t know how she will handle the pressure of the live shows, but I am looking forward to seeing her sing different genres. Not sure if she has the voice for ballads though. Also, does she have a different coloured guitar to match every ensemble?

Lizzy Pattinson

I was a lot more interested in Lizzy when I discovered, via Twitter, that she was the sister of the Sparkly One. I am not a huge fan of Twilight (not a fan at all actually) but I sat through all the films, at least twice, for Robert Pattinson. Anyone who is related to him cannot be all bad.

Lizzy sang another Raitt song, “Feels Like Home”, and yes she wasn’t bad. She wasn’t great, either; her voice was good but nothing special and her overall look was a bit plain.

In fact, I wrote “club singer” in my notes for Lizzy, and then discovered that she has performed at Ronnie Scott’s. Who would have thought it? I am not sure that she was the right fit for Ronnie’s, one of the preeminent jazz clubs in the UK, but then her brother is Rob Pattinson. Need I say more.

I wish Lizzy the best in the live rounds but think she will have a hard time getting very far, as there are so many charismatic performers already through. I wonder if the Twihards will come out and support her. Heaven help us all if they do.

Michael Rice

Yesterday we had a fishmonger – the wonderful Lola – and now we have a humble chippy employee, Michael. A sweet lad who looks a lot older than his 16 years, he has a fantastic, mellow, smoky voice.

Michael sang Whitney Houston’s “I Look To You” and surprised everyone with his incredible tone. He reminded me a little bit of last year’s runner up, Nicholas McDonald; that same unexpected talent. The look of utter shock on the judges’ faces was priceless.

I would have preferred a jazz number from Michael; I am not a great fan of Whitney’s ballads as they’re so melodramatic. Michael’s voice is unique and I hope his mentor helps him out of his bashfulness; I think he can really go far. Let’s see what he sings in the next round.

Kayleigh Manners

I loved Kayleigh, she was adorable. Sweet and pretty with a delightful voice, I cannot wait to see her perform in front of the Wembley crowd. Kayleigh sang an amazing version of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me”, accompanied by herself on guitar. She was incredibly shy and visibly upset with what she thought was her poor performance. How wrong she was.

The judges adored her and sent her through to the next round with four “yes” votes. The only slight niggle I have is her ability to handle the different genres during the live finals. Here’s hoping she proves me wrong.

Jake Quickenden

There was a lot of Twitter chatter about Jake prior to tonight’s show. I had no idea who he was. Apparently, Nicole Scherzinger “chucked” him from judges’ houses last year as she thought he wasn’t ready. I must have missed that, obviously.

Jake quickly launched into John Legend’s “All Of Me”. I was immediately biased against him because no-one, not even Legend himself, will ever sing this song as well as Darren Criss’ Blaine did in season five of Glee. Ah, the flying lunch-bag. Memories.

Going back to Jake; the song was okay until he sped it up and started thumping his guitar. Oops. The judges were horrified, and Mel told him, in no uncertain terms, that he was being a twit.

Simon suggested he sing “Say Something” and try to channel his emotions into it. Jake did, and pulled off a good (if a bit shouty) performance.

I don’t really see the appeal of Jake; although he’s good looking, can sing quite well, and is quite charming. Well, that is quite a lot of appeal actually. I just don’t see him going very far in this competition. I think he will forever have his Twitter fangirls though, so that’s something.

I don’t even know how I watched these auditions. Awful:

Starlight

Here I was thinking Queen Christina would be the prize git at this year’s auditions. How wrong I was. Starlight has broken the mould for offensive, tone-deaf, arrogant contestants; and that’s being generous.

Starlight stomped in, clad in black pleather and orange sun visor, and presented Cheryl and Mel with presents, “just for the girls, these are just for the girls”. “Nothing for us?” asked Simon, obviously disappointed. “No just for the girls, I am a female person” replied Starlight.

Okay. Does this mean I am off the hook for presents to my nephews? Because I have no idea what Guardians of the Galaxy stuff they want. It all looks the same to me.

Simon asked Starlight if she liked men, “not usually” came the reply. She also took umbrage to him calling her “darling” and “sweetheart”. I rubbed my hands with glee; this was going to be good. Or not.

Starlight’s voice was much like her personality; shrill, harsh and painful. Also, tuneless. After her original “song” was completed, Simon told her she had no future in music.

“You are wrong Simon, you are wrong very often” retorted Starlight, then promptly turned around, smacked her rear end, and strode out of the room. I don’t know if the judges were confused or just relieved that she was gone.

Oh, but she wasn’t. Starlight, who may have been Dutch (not that it matters, but all the Dutch people I’ve met have been delightful) came back almost immediately and shouted the words to “I Will Survive”. When turned down again by Simon, she left, after a quick “up yours”. Thankfully, she did not return a third time. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if she shows up in the audience of the live show, giving pens to all the women. What a life she must lead.

Dr (Adam) King

Adam (I refuse to call him “Dr”) glided into the judges’ room like he owned it. “Smug, arrogant, brash” I scribbled down quickly. The judges rolled their eyes as Adam tried, and failed, to win them over. Craig David he is definitely not.

Of course, he had to argue. When Simon said the song was terrible, Adam replied that he had more right to comment on lyrics than Simon did. Adam, dear, it wasn’t the lyrics that Simon was offended by, but the way that you sung them.

Raign

As soon as she opened her mouth I knew Raign would take up the most column inches tonight, and boy, am I right. In her intro, Raign says she is “blessed with a gift”. She writes a new song every day (phew!). She went to Los Angeles with only a duvet in her suitcase, but never gave up.

Okay, I am taking the bait. Why, if you are travelling to one of the hottest cities in the western hemisphere, would you take a duvet? Why would you take nothing but a duvet? Wouldn’t a change of clothes be better? Some sheet music perhaps? Or flip-flops? Perhaps I am taking her too literally but really, the thought of her opening her case in 100+ degree weather in LA, and taking out a 13-tog best micro-fibre is just ridiculous. As is she.

Many of the contestants on The X Factor ramble on about their hopes and dreams. They wail about their granny, their poodle, and their hangnails; but when the shot faded out and Raign was still talking, I knew it was going to be a long night.

“Why haven’t you made it?” Cheryl asked after finding out Raign was 31. “I have made it!” was the reply, “I am number 17 in Russia!” The silence from the judges was deafening. Also, Raign knows Katy Perry’s hairdresser, and her friend works for Marc Jacobs. So there, Cheryl.

Raign’s voice on “Clarity” was hideous, embarrassing, and desperately trying to be something it wasn’t. She couldn’t reach most of the notes she went for and a strange vibrato appeared at inopportune times. The entire audition was a mess.

After an unwarranted “yes” from Mel and a “no” from Louis, Raign latched onto Simon. Cheryl was not amused when Raign declared that Simon was the person to impress. She snapped out a “no” in a flash. Raign, never make Cheryl think you don’t value her as much as the other judges, even Simon, she really doesn’t like it.

Raign left, then went back in. Oh dear. Simon said she would “be a nightmare to work with” and Cheryl that she was “not likeable at all”. Right on all counts.

However, something about Raign’s painfully off-key rendition of her original song clicked with Simon and, much to Cheryl’s disgust, he sent her through to Wembley. If the loathing in Cheryl’s eyes is anything to go by, Simon will pay for that, dearly. As will Raign. I wouldn’t be in your shoes for the next round, dear, not for all the tea in China.

I don’t know if I’m going soft, or if the calibre of contestants was exceptionally high tonight, but there are only three people on my “bad” list! Unfortunately no-one was added to my “ones to watch” list either so maybe I’m not so nice after all.

At one point in the show, as the judges walked backstage, Simon said “let’s make this about the contestants, not ourselves”. The only problem with this series so far has been that the judges are so amusing, and larger-than-life, that they distract from the auditions. By judges I mean Cheryl and Simon of course, to be honest a lot of the time I don’t even notice if Mel and Louis are there.

I noticed that this year a lot of the comedy acts have been confined to the ITV2 follow-on show The Xtra Factor. Is this to make the main show look more legitimate? More a showpiece for potential superstars and less like the bloopers of Britain’s Got Talent? If so, then it is definitely working, at least I think so.

Next week is the start of the second round of auditions, live from the SSE Arena at Wembley. The atmosphere there is always charged and I cannot wait to see how the judges, and the acts, will react to each other and the audience. So, until then dear friends, keep replaying Queen Christina’s audition. She’s nothing if not entertaining.

Ones to watch…

Arise

Ben Hey Now!

Monica Michael

Lauren Platt

Lola Saunders

Sara Hunter Smith
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