X Factor Australia: Live Shows Week Two

This week’s “party anthems” theme virtually had us all evacuating the dance floor with snoozer after snoozer of forgettable performances. There’s really only five or six – at best – well bankable contestants in this year’s live shows and sadly, we’re gonna have to endure another month of fillers before the cull narrows it down to a hit line up.

I sounded the alarms last week when a “party anthems” theme was called. In some ways, I’ve had to mince my words like Mel B usually does when she’s proven wrong about a performance, but in other ways, no – my predictions of cheesy and uninspiring adaptations of pop up-tempos proved totally on point.

Where last week had clear revelations in Audio Vixen and Young Men’s Society, this week the two alpha groups struggled to slay as hard as the competition’s two young guns: Reece Mastin and Christina Parie. The spunky teen pair respectively owned their covers of Katy Perry‘s ‘I Kissed A Girl’ [Editor’s note: There’s a Limmy rant on the song choice further down – you don’t wanna fan the flames] and Cyndi Lauper‘s SingStar classic ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’.

Round two of the live shows tournament flaunted some nod-worthy improvements from Johnny Ruffo, who captured us with an appropriate rendition of Jay Sean‘s ‘Down’, while old salty nuts Andrew Wishart took a chance on a Queen classic that paid off handsomely.

Ronan Keating remains infallible with all three of his groups coming correct once again but down at the other end, Mel B appears to have dropped the ball with two of her girls – Jacqui Newland and Tyla Bertolli – stepping off with unpolished and flaccid vocal performances. The pair unsurprisingly wound up in our bottom two this week, which actually led to some rather scary results when Mel B chose to personally abort one of them from the competition.

Check out the hits and misses from this week’s party line, and a read on the dramatic Power Bottom Two situation:

1) Reece Mastin doing ‘I Kissed A Girl’: queer thinking, straight talking.

I never thought I’d stick up for Katy Perry but what is ‘I Kissed A Girl’ if you remove same-sex attraction and/or irony from the mix? “It’s not what I’m used to” – definitely – but you really gotta snortgiggle a little at Guy’s attempt at raising hell within Hillsong-approved perimeters. He wants the shock and clutching of pearls that comes with his male contestant singing a girl’s song about chick-on-chick passions but he didn’t want none of the sinful sexual connotations that comes with it.

Basically, a teenage boy singing about kissing a girl is about as pedestrian as any run of the mill teen pop song. You might as well rock out to a Justin Bieber track. Check out Reece’s electrifying performance here – complete with a guitar solo in front of a wind machine:


 
Criticism regarding song interpretation aside, young Reece Mastin is easily the most capable vocalist in Guy’s category. Heck, he’s absolutely Top 3 material – an assured performer. Unlike his stablemates, Johnny Ruffo and Declan Sykes, young Reeces pieces doesn’t leave you gripping your armrest worrying if he’ll hit his mark or flop on stage.

2) Christina Parie – why weren’t you getting down like it’s ‘Friday’?

Once again, the X Factor is playing it too safe for my liking, deliberately pussy-footing around clever and slighly risque song choices in favour of mainstream appeal. The irony of Christina Parie paying homage to the similarly-styled Rebecca Black would have sent the interwebs quaking with glee. We’re talking about some potent entertainment value that’ll live on beyond the confines of Channel 7’s television ratings.

Having said that, Christina’s show closing performance of ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ was totally A+ even if it was an obvious SingStar option for the teen pop princess. In future weeks, I hope to see La Parie take on something like No Doubt‘s ‘Bathwater’, Ashlee Simpson‘s ‘La La’ or if they don’t wanna travel back in time – Ke$ha‘s ‘Blow’ would also suffice.

Take a look at Christina’s explosive performance last night:


 
I’ve been brainstorming all week for party jams fit for La Parie but here’s actually a list of songs I’m grateful that Christina didn’t do this week:

Avril Lavigne ‘Girlfriend’/ ‘What The Hell’
Britney Spears ‘I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll’
Miley Cyrus ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ – oh, wait.

3) Jacqui Newland – good looking, bad tasting.

Bitch, I’ve still got my jaw to the floor from that defining entrance you made last night but everything after that was a tragic blur. This performance was not one to be played with. You know she was in the bottom two last week so this is what we’re working with after a quick trip back to the drawing board?

It all looks good on paper – Jacqui Newland returning to her sassy rock roots and stepping on stage in stripper wear – but the pitchy vocal execution really left a whole lot more to be desired. Check out the hawt mess right here:


 
4) Johnny Ruffo: gold star sticker for most improved.

Old Scary was right when she called out Guy last week for not giving Johnny a dance breakdown. This week, the new and improved performer hit us with a capable cover of Jay Sean‘s ‘Down’ – flexing decent vocal control and a dance breakdown that dutifully reflects his passion for singing and slick choreography. Where he had asked Beyoncé about how she juggled simultaneously singing and dancing, it seems like Johnny has negotiated his own balance of the two by not actually dancing as much during the vocal bits. This is a good start.

Watch the Perth construction worker charm the stage like a professional Chris Brown opening act:


 
5) “WHATEVER”.

Mel B mouthing “whatever” when Guy was talking [Watch]. You should all be living for Ms Brown’s facial expressions and bitchy commentary. It really makes the show, especially when the karaoke fest gets dry and cheesy. Some other gold nuggets of Scary-isms last night include:

“Can you imagine what THEIR party’s gonna be like? A few sausage rolls, a few curled up sandwiches – not exactly BANGIN’!” – Mel shading Audio Vixen‘s ability to carry “party anthems”. [Watch]

“NO. It was NOT a mistake. It was MY creative idea and I thought it was well done!” – Mel vs Guy again – this time defending her jazzy arrangement of ‘The Edge of Glory’ for Tyla Bertolli. [Watch]

“OH, BE QUIET NOW RONAN! Time’s up!” – Time Keeper Spice. See below after Three Wishez‘s splendid performance of Rihanna‘s ‘Don’t Stop The Music’:


 
This week’s power bottom two: Tyla Bertolli and Jacqui Newland.

In what would have to be an X Factor first, tonight we saw a judge send home one of her own acts rather than throwing the case to deadlock and washing her hands clean so the contestant with the fewest public votes go. Mel B knew the night was not gonna end well the minute she was left standing there on stage with two of her contestants. However, it was her unorthodox and brutal decision to personally send Tyla home that left us all in shock.

The tragic part with Tyla‘s song assignments is that for two weeks in a row she has been given two utterly huge and untouchable artists – Adele and Gaga – rendering her with virtually zero chance of making any of those overflogged material her own. Because I’m all about “fair go”, earlier today I tweet-suggested for Tyla to do The Noisettes‘ ‘Don’t Upset The Rhythm’. If A&R Limoncé had his way, it’ll be a mash up featuring the spoken word breakdown of Girls Aloud‘s ‘Close to Love’. But there goes that dream.

The flame-haired warbler choked in her Sing for Survival performance where she demonstrated the aforementioned lack of understanding in suitable song choice by wailing Christina Aguilera‘s ‘Fighter’ – of all things! The girl really needs to go away and study her voice, develop an artistic identity, and stop trying to fit a mold that was never fashioned for her.

Jacqui‘s own battle cry piece wasn’t all that crash hot either. Let me tell you, every ho in the building thinks she can sing ‘Respect’ but so few can actually blow it out of the water. The Princess of Geewrong got it wrong again and this time, it was painfully karaoke. However, what was endearing is hearing her plead in the breakdown, “It’s the second time I’m here y’guys, give me some love!”

And that Mel B did. Even though Jacqui isn’t exactly the public’s fave right now, it was obvious that Old Scary could do more with this girl than she ever could with Tyla. I think it was this critical realisation that led to Mel taking matters into her own hands. She knew that if she pussyfooted around this decision, the public would’ve left her to sink with Tyla.

With a rock theme coming up next week, this is might actually be Jacqui Newland‘s chance to power up right and redeem herself. Third time lucky, perhaps?

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7 Comments

  1. Hmm, I must hear things differently because I thought Jacqui did a really good job with both of her performances. I must have trouble hearing pitch because I couldn’t hear anything out of pitch here. Tyla didn’t sound the best though, so I think she deserved to go.

    • I mean, I’m not the most in tune folk myself but even I could hear her throwing her voice a little too hard for the notes that she needed to achieve. Any faves thus far, Lijam?

    • I mean, I’m not the most in tune folk myself but even I could hear her throwing her voice a little too hard for the notes that she needed to achieve. Any faves this week, Lijam?

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