So it’s time to face the music for a ninth time with the return of The X-Factor a show which I feel, like a lot of the reality competition shows, has had its day though we are promised a sexier, fresher series with a lot more incident than last year. Judging from this first episode most of the memorable moments will either come from the guest judges or the contestants who are upset that they didn’t make it through to the next round. That being said let’s take a look at the highs and lows of episode one.
Ella Henderson: I watched this episode of X-Factor with my mother and told her right from the off that ‘whoever they put on last will be brilliant’, and thankfully I was right. After a mixed bag of acts at the Manchester auditions we had old-beyond-her-years sixteen year old Ella who employed the risky strategy of performing one of her own songs. Thankfully the song was a hit as both her vocals and her writing abilities were showcased perfectly with Tulisa giving her a standing ovation and all four judges awarding unanimous praise. I also liked Ella because she didn’t crack out a sob story that was until she went backstage and revealed that she wrote the song about her late grandfather who was her inspiration for being the competition but I don’t think that will be a story that particularly defines her throughout the competition. What I do think though is the original song gimmick is almost a way to hit back at The Voice by showing that X-Factor contestants have originality too though as Louise Walsh claimed this week it’s not all about The Voice.
Jahmene Douglas: We got a lot of firsts in Jahmene’s performance he was the first singer to get a yes after a full airing of his turn on stage, he was the first to get a standing ovation from all four judges and most importantly he was the first to give my mother ‘tingles’ when he sung which is a good sign apparently. Jahmene works at Asda and as we saw on his opening VT he diligently monitors the beloved ‘Reduced to Clear’ section but as you would imagine he dreams of a life away from the bright green uniforms. It’s a good thing though that he has such a stunning falsetto as was demonstrated throughout his performance of Etta James’ ‘At Last’ which marked him out as a definite contender as the show progresses.
Curtis Golen: Also a quick word about uber-nerd Curtis who collects action figurines in his spare time and has never had a girlfriend who came out accompanied by a guitar to perform a stripped down version of ‘Candy Man’. I found Curtis quite affable and a little quirky though I’m not sure if he’s what this programme is looking for I’d like to see him go at least to Judge’s Houses.
Zoe Alexander: Pink impersonator Zoe Alexander initially claimed that she wanted to step away from being a tribute act and be her own person she then proved this by performing Pink’s ‘So What’. Gary Barlow raised the hand of doom to allow her to perform a second song which again was a subpar version of Emeli Sande’s ‘Close to Me’. The judges proffered her some constructive criticism but didn’t put her through but she reacted by insulting them all claiming that they wanted her to be Pink before her dad came on stage and the two swore for a bit. Zoe then continued her destruction by knocking down half the set and shoving a cameraman down while Dermot O’Leary cowered in the background trying to keep out of the way. While Zoe’s performance was particularly bad what I didn’t like was this aftermath which I’m still not 100% wasn’t orchestrated by the production team in order to create some headlines in tomorrow’s tabloids.
Guest Judge Mel B: With Nicole Scherzi-thingy only appearing at the latter stages of the auditions we are to be treated by a parade of guest judges whom I’m hoping to a better job than Mel B. Some of you may not know that the former Scary Spice has actually been a regular judge on The X-Factor in Australia but here it was clear that someone had a word with her to be as nasty as possible. This included shattering the hopes of a pretty 18 year old girl and telling a game 82 year old that he’d almost sent her to sleep. Though I’m sure Mel was a lot more constructive in Australia here I found her to be stroppy and annoying until Ella came on and melted her icy heart. I have liked Mel B in the past but once again I feel her comments weren’t genuine but rather something for people to talk about after the show had finished.
Sheyi Omatoayo: Typically the opening X-Factor performance is one delivered by a character who doesn’t have the best voice but does have enough personality to make it through. Nando’s waiter Sheyi Omatoayo certainly possessed a lot of character as he tried to guess people’s favourite dish from his restaurant, including the hilarious assertion that Louis liked his chicken plain, and then I thought he’d bust out an amazing voice when he said he was tackling Louis Armstrong’s ‘What a Wonderful World’. But instead Sheyi tried to impersonate Satchmo himself though the result was more Cookie Monster than anything else and the voice didn’t change for a second song choice in Will Young’s ‘Leave Right Now’. Even though Sheyi didn’t get through I believe he’ll get his fifteen minutes of fame using his unique voice to perform some classic hits though I don’t think he’ll have the same longevity as previous X-Factor novelty actors Jedward and Wagner.
So there you have it an underwhelming return for The X-Factor where fatigue has really set in however I do have hope that the weeks ahead will improve as we head towards another four months of reality TV madness.
Contributed by Matt Donnelly Follow Matt on Twitter