Britain’s biggest singing competition-slash-television extravaganza is back and this year, they’re flaunting three new established pop star-cum-judges. Despite all the excitement about the new and shiny, the series really kicked off with a familiar homecoming feeling. It’s back to the madness of awkward deluded auditionees, controversial reactions and the occasional heartstring-tugging performances.
It’s the second year Feed Limmy will be following both UK and Australian X Factor series and I have a feeling we’re gonna be running into a lot of the same feelings and impressions [Editor’s note: when you get to the end of this post, you’ll understand why feelings are such a vital part of our X Factor journey. Now let’s hold hands.] The faces have changed but the story and formula remains the same. And the first audition episode did nothing more than validate this with its selection of wildly entertaining auditions designed to establish the show’s search for this intriguing balance of personality, raw talent and pop star marketability.
But first things first, before we check out the damage on stage. We need to address the three new faces behind the panel this year because if my enjoyment of last year’s series was any indication – this is gonna be a big factor in the X Factor’s success and engageability. I might’ve made up that last word.
Greetings, new judges – have you got the X Factor?
Let’s face the facts: Simon Cowell, Dannii Minogue, Cheryl Cole and Louis Walsh made for a very interesting bunch but together, they’re also decidedly too old to be appealing appropriately to the younger demographic.
One mustn’t forget that every year, the X Factor attracts a hoard of teen performers and while I’m not suggesting that we neglect our parents’ demographic – I’m simply saying that the show’s face-lift should accommodate for TV personas that have the ability to appeal to the young but also be liked by the more mature viewers. And on that note, please welcome our new judges: Gary Barlow, Kelly Rowland and Tulisa Contostavlos.
What’s interesting about these three is that, they’re all talent show judge virgins. Not the usual suspects you’ve seen flocking from one series to another. This truly is a new generation which is exciting for viewers to discover on one hand but also risky for show producers because frankly, they don’t know how these pop performers will fare on screen as mentors/judges.
Gary Barlow – the sexy daddy of Britain’s biggest man band Take That – was called in to take up Simon Cowell‘s coveted place on the judging panel. These are very big shoes to fill. If you think about the weighted responsibility that comes with Simon’s place, you think of things like respectability, experience and a degree of skepticism. Gary already has the respect of the nation and industry with his history in Take That, throw that in with his added relevance of a recent sell-out tour and hit album, and you’ve got a figure revered by pop music listeners young and old. From the first episode, we see that Gary really isn’t one to be played with. He’s quite evidently a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ man. And stern-faced Gary is so incredibly sexy, I just can’t. I mean, it’s like Musing Ronan. What the world needs more is sexy man band members giving good face on prime time TV.
Kelly Rowland is another genius addition to the UK X Factor panel given her growing prominence there and the added value of having been in Destiny’s Child, one of the world’s biggest girl bands. What most viewers might not perceive about Kelly is that, the Destiny’s Child background is so much more than just a couple of Grammy and generation-defining anthems. It’s about the work ethic behind their success. Having been in DC since she was nine and growing up with Beyonce under Mathew Knowles‘ strict guidance, this bitch knows shitloads about hard work, putting your talent to work and growing up in the industry.
The televisual appeal of Kelly Rowland is very straight-forward. She’s absolutely easy on the eyes and will effortlessly carry on the show’s recent tradition of red carpetready fashion extravaganza. Plus, anyone who’s ever watched a Kelly interview can testify that she’s completely charming, likeable and well-spoken. She won’t be the one causing controversy on the panel, she’ll be the sage anchor you look to for constructive criticism and some grown woman sass.
Tulisa Contostavlos [Editor’s note: we’re mononyming her, this surname is too much to handle] is the fresh-faced revelation this year and already, this TV gig is taking her leaps and bounds beyond whatever success she had cemented with her British hip hop group N Dubz. At only age 23, she is also the youngest judge to ever make the X Factor panel, but she thoroughly holds her own and I sense that she’ll be good value. Tulisa brings feistiness, our generation’s realness and it’s already evident from the first episode that her face is the first one your eyes go to when scanning for the judges’ impression. She is engaging, expressive and with her slotted between Kelendria and Louis, she’ll have plenty of energy to feed on.
Now onto the first week auditions. Let’s check out the highlights:
1) Kelly and Gary shipping.
OK let me just say, it’s never too early to start shipping two characters on a TV show. I know Gary is a married man and all but when you put a flirtatious glamazon like Kelendria next to him – sparks are bound to fly. Look at those two, I could screen cap these all day. Y’all clock the cute touching of his hand and the looks she’s throwing him? I’m not saying Kelly’s making moves, I’m just saying her naturally charming personality makes for a very entertaining watch, especially when she’s interacting with her fellow judges. Come on, y’guys. We need a snappy name for this relationship! It could be the new Channii [fandom of Cheryl/Dannii moments].
2) Janet – this year’s Diana Vickers crossed with Ellie Goulding.
Janet Devlin looks the part of shy waify-vocaled chanteuse with a Tumblr fashion blog. It’s safe to say that the public had already made up their minds about liking her before she even opened her mouth but thankfully, she validated our premature affections with a beautiful vocal tone that wavered unexpectedly between breathing ethereal whispers to holding bold determined notes. With some nurturing in the performance department, she could blossom to be a fave in the live shows.
3) Trust Tulisa and Kelly to have the bullshit meter in check.
I knew I could trust my ladies to make that call about phony auditionee Kitty Brucknell. This 26-year old blonde made a bold ass move to do ‘The Edge of Glory’ acapella which nicely showcased her ability to connect with the lyrics, but above all, this was a highly-trained acting performance. The whole vulnerable face and speech she was giving before the song mentally positioned us to feel a certain way even before she started singing the lyrics. Kitty knew how to play the game but her downfall was not playing the game right through to the end of the audition.
Take a look at the questionable act here:
Kelendria was right on when she rang the alarm on Kitty’s dubious personality. “What was scary is that I saw two different sides to her,” she said. Tulisa had also hinted at it in her judges’ verdict: “people are either gonna love you or hate you”. Still, the deluded ho’s going through to boot camp. I look forward to Monday’s tabloid reports where she whinges about being “misrepresented on the show” or “unfairly edited”.
4) From fishy contestants to the usual bad attitude.
There are bad auditions that bring good wholesome entertainment – and the X Factor welcomes and nourishes that – and then there are bad auditions that just leaves you feeling ill and prompts Kelendria to get all sassy on your ass. Last year, we saw the two foul girls who had the nerve to mouth off at Natalie Imbruglia (“Who are you?”) and this year, the first episode delivered similar drama in the form of George Gerasimou – a flop auditionee from 2009 returning to rear his ugly head again. *Looks over to exit* Um, security?
Watch his woeful performance if you must but really, y’all should just forward to the judges’ verdict when he challenges Tulisa‘s credibility. Total arse, no class:
5) Goldie – the new Wagner. Except with a better shimmy.
Goldie Cheung reminds me of the many glam memaws I came across when I visited Hong Kong – fearless, fashionably tacky yet so endearing. Nobody had any idea what song she was performing and nobody had any idea if she’s truly bonkers or just a different kind of remarkable [Editor’s note: I’m inclined to say the latter]. All I know is that by the end of the performance, I was cheering for Aunty Goldie and damn! She could work a man. I mean, like, really. The 48-year old could work a man. We need to be taking notes.
Check out Goldie’s jaw-dropping audition here:
We’re off to a good start this year with the X Factor coming through on its promise of family-fun entertainment and likable judges. More “live show-worthy” talents are expected to be revealed in the coming weeks’ audition and boot camp episodes but for now, all we can truly grasp for is a feeling. And that’s what the X Factor has always been based on. A warm feeling, a gut feeling or an intuition about a contestant or pop act – whether it’s blatant as hell crocodile tears or genuine raw talent standing before you, it’s up you to suss out the X factor in these hopefuls.
Welcome back to the Feed Limmy X Factor ride.