There was a shadow in my mind where X Factor Australia laid before last night’s series debut. Last year, when Feed Limmy simultaneously followed both local and mother England series week in and out, it became painfully obvious halfway through the live shows phase that something was drying up Down Under.
Fast forward to 2011. With two new judges behind the panel and an opening episode desperate to prove a point – it seems like our local X Factor franchise might be back with a fighting chance. The cards were well played on the first audition episode. You can tell the strategy was to straight up flaunt the characters that were most likely to connect with a broad audience – the survivor with a heart-touching life story, the jolly man who looks like a friend you visit every Boxing Day for a family barbecue, and the boy who cuts you off on the footpath with his BMX.
The human interest factor and appeal of every day folk doing something extraordinary – y’know, just having a go – is truly the cornerstone of Australian talent shows. It’s the kind of wholesome family entertainment we live for – from Young Talent Time through to Australia’s Got Talent and even last year’s X Factor winner Altiyan Childs – the ones who got it right know the secret lies in putting on contestants that the public will love. Vocal talent is secondary. X Factor is about a feeling [Editor’s note: Said feeling is further defined in this Feed Limmy UK X Factor post.]
So let’s check on the highlights of the night:
1) The name you’ll hear around the work water cooler today: Emmanuel Kelly.
Last night’s X Factor Australia series debut came to an emotional stand still when cynics and addicts alike heard Emmanuel Kelly‘s story. There wasn’t a dry eye for miles when the young man shared his story of being found in a box as a baby in war-torn Iraq and eventually getting adopted by a caring Australian woman to start a new life in this country. Emmanuel and his birth brother, who was also adopted from the orphanage, now live an active and seemingly content life with their mother. You know, you just can’t make up stuff like this. It’s real life and it’s tears of joy and tears of pain that people have lived through.
Better yet, the young man can actually hold a note. Watch Emmanuel covering John Lennon‘s classic ‘Imagine’:
The beauty about X Factor is that it has given Emmanuel a platform to share his incredible story and a stage to express himself through song. Does he possess qualities that’ll help him win this competition? It’s hard to say. But regardless of what happens from this point on, the man is extremely likable and he’s got the nation hooked on his story. I can already imagine a book publisher bidding war to launch his autobiography and heck, he can do an album of covers and it’ll easily sell over 350,000 copies in the first week.
2) Reece’s pieces.
This 16-year old lad came and turned this motha out. Young Reece Mastin came correct with some brat rocker swag reminiscent of Busted and an era where teen pop stars had a little grit in their bubblegum rock, and didn’t all have to make Justin Bieber music.
He thoroughly owned the stage and served it vocally on a little known track called ‘Come Get Some’, which was released by British rock band Rooster back in 2005. I remember loving it when I heard it on Top of The Pops [Editor’s note: you’re showing your age now, Limmy. The kids are unaware.] And that’s the kind of original and unexpected song choice I live for on these talent shows. Don’t nobody wanna hear that same tired ass rendition of Katy Perry‘s ‘Firework’. In fact, I’mma be extra critical of the song choices in this year’s live shows because last year was bleak. Judges, you’re here to showcase a potential recording artist – not host a karaoke night. Show us something worth watching.
Watch Reece perform ‘Come Get Some’:
3) Sugar and Spice.
I wish I could say it’s the hormones that’s getting the best of her but Mel B really is this horny all the time – with child or not. The cheeky teasing for hunky male contestants to show off their six pecs was good value and overall, it turned out to be one of the few glimmers of sugar we’ve seen on tonight’s episode from old feisty Spice.
I’ve been stanning forever for Mel B to do more TV work because her infectious laughter and ballsy attitude always made for a very entertaining watch but somehow when she was crowned X Factor judge, this bitchy streak’s emerged and I hope the public don’t take it all too seriously. One thing y’all need to know is that – it’s always been her way or the highway, and it’s always been all eyes on Mel B. You either love it or you hate it. Deal with it or get kicked to the curb.
4) Hand me some of dat rough trade ass.
Mitchell Callaway, this bad boy just made country music a whole lot sexier to me. I hear you ladies. There’s something so endearing about seeing a grown man with tatts all over blush and get nervous on stage before killing it with a Keith Urban ballad. I get wet for this shit. With a bit of coaching and some confidence, Mitchell could well be Top 3 material in this competition. I mean, damn. I know somewhere in Tennessee, Blake Shelton‘s hitting a buzzer at home and swiveling around on his chair.
Watch Mitchell’s sweet audition here:
More about them, less about you lot.
The auditions episode one fulfilled its mission of being solely all about the auditions. There were no profile on the judges – new or returning. In fact, apart from the apt verdicts serviced after each performance – the public didn’t really get a chance to connect with the judges up front. Unlike the UK and US, our Australian press isn’t lapping up the judges and furiously commentating on their outfits and behaviour – with the obvious except of Mel B, of course. If you compare the amount of tabloid attention generated by Cheryl Cole, Dannii Minogue, Gary Barlow, Louis Walsh, Kelly Rowland, Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and even Tulisa every week in their respective countries – you’ll see what I mean.
Off the brief glimpses we’ve had, the chemistry behind the panel’s definitely working a lot better this year particularly with the presence of Natalie Bassingthwaighte. I gotta be real with you guys, I did not care for the bitch coming on board. Just like many of you, I thought Nat was the network’s easy way out. Y’know, secure a bankable and experienced television personality rather than risking it with another rookie like they did last year. No shade to Natalie Imbruglia.
To be honest, you cannot deny Nat Bass‘s likability factor. This is a woman most Australians are familiar with and have already bonded with over many various TV shows. Regardless of her musical credibility and whether or not she’s got “constructive industry advice” to serve at every turn, she is a breath of fresh air between Ronan and Guy‘s concentrating faces and Mel B‘s boisterous personality.
X Factor Australia is hitting us hard four nights in a row this week with audition reels. Expect things to get a little hectic up in here.