X Factor UK: Live Shows Week One

What a handful this first live show has turned out to be. 16 acts, four eliminations and one night to make a decision.

This is the part where the Mother England series pops a squat and shits all over its lesser international franchises. The X Factor – now quaking television ratings for its eighth consecutive year – continues to raise the roof with its impressive stage production, capable song choices-slash-interpretations and solid stable of performers. Even if it looks like the same kind of contestants year in and out with predictable outcomes, we’re all fixated because frankly – if there was ever a time to watch a new artist come to life, it’ll be on a mega-budget show with cameras and press rolling 24/7.

As it was with last year’s epic 16-contestant live shows, there are some clear standouts and there are others that just fail to make an impression. Early audition fave, Misha Bryan was a knock out rising head and shoulders above her competitors. The three show-formed groups all shimmered in varying degrees of excellence: newly reinvented boyband The Risk debuted on top while their teen female counterpart Rhythmix flaunted some surprising – albeit rough – potential.

Gary‘s boys all gave sensible performances at best, nothing particularly noteworthy or risky in terms of song choice or presentation. But then again, what did you expect from the sombre judge? On the flip side, Louis‘ Over 25’s upped the camp factor with his two shining stars – Johnny Robinson and Sami Brookes – both delivering classic dance numbers.

The shock four-way elimination this first week seem like just another “boot camp” hurdle for the contestants, really. Basically, instead of letting the public vote off one contestant like they’re supposed to in the live show stages, each judge had to axe one of their four contestants based on last night’s performance. This massive exodus really is for the best, y’all. The public can’t cope with getting to know so many contestants anyway. Why drag it out with longer live show episodes and more faces we won’t care for after two months?

So did the judges make the right decision?

Check out the highlights, surprises, and the first four acts to be culled after the jump:

1) Queen Misha B: nobody’s coming for that crown.

For a standout act guaranteed to deliver outside-the-box performances, look no further than Misha Bryan – or as she is now stylistically re-dubbed: Misha B. The 19-year old vocal powerhouse is most definitely the one to watch for week in and out, in the same way Cher Lloyd was in the 2010 series. Just like the ‘Swagger Jagger’ starlet, Misha ignites a rap-and-sung track like no other. However, Misha/Cher comparisons really need to end here. Ms Bryan is a whole different kind of urban act altogether: grittier, more soulful and more distinctly British.

Misha‘s urban reimagination of Adele‘s ‘Rolling In The Deep’ was defining on so many levels. Her ability to seize one of the year’s most oversung hits and reprogram it with her own flavour is something of a marvel. On top of that, there’s still the world-class stage production, throne and couture outfit. What an all round stunner.


 

2) The Risk: the new Blue.

I did roll my eyes hard when Tulisa did a crop and re-shuffle with her groups at the eleventh hour in judges’ houses but after witnessing the new and improved The Risk, I might have to send her some flowers. As delightful as The Keys (Charlie’s original band) were in their audition, she was right to pilfer their frontman and ditch the dated harmony group outfit. The excess tag-alongs in the original Risk line up were also sent packing, leaving only the three finest (which were hand-picked to make the group after each failed to qualify as solo acts early on).

This totally on-point new generation harmony boy band can almost do no wrong in their debut performance. Great team work, decent showcasing of solo talents and of course, a sensible rap thrown in for good measure. Kinda reminiscent of early Blue, if you can hark back to the ‘All Rise’ era.

Watch The Risk nail Plan B‘s ‘She Said’:


 
3) Kelendria be “Puttin’ It Down”.

There really was an “overabundance of puttin’ it down” on this week’s show. Could Kelly Rowland succeed in making this expression stick with the British public or will it just be the new “fetch”? The sexy glamazon’s sass has been out in full force this week as she continues to win us over with her loud expressions and captivating reactions, including that odd moment where she threatened to throw a pen at Craig Colton because he was just so damn good in his performance. Right.

3) Amelia Lily: oh, hey gurl.

First of all, Pixie Lott is looking good in that cotton candy weave. What a remarkable transformation the 16-year old belter has undergone. It was out with the Xtina platinum blonde locks and in with something a little more young popstar-ly.

Young Amelia opened the show with a rocking rendition of ‘Billie Jean’, owning that stage like a seasoned entertainer, but it wasn’t enough to impress Gary who said the performance was “very good… not amazing, but very good”. Y’all know that if this was X Factor Australia, she would’ve already won the title right?

Check out Amelia’s ace first live show performance here:


 
4) Gary roasting Johnny Robinson’s outfit:

Not really on the level of some Take That tour costumes, is it?

But really, whether y’all appreciate the shiny and camp display or not – there’s no denying that Johnny is living every queen’s dream right there. The man’s unusually “Karen Walker” singing voice is bound to grate at some point but out of all the novelty acts Louis had at his disposal – the highly entertaining memaw Goldie Cheung included – this was probably the least tone deaf one. Let him have his moment.

5) Sami Brookes: a future house diva is born.

Y’know what? Fuck trying to be the next Michelle McManus. Gurl, you can be our big house diva. Come sit yo’ ass next to Inaya Day. I know it’s not terribly in fashion these days but remember a few years back when super vocal house tracks ruled the mainstream charts? Think: Shapeshifter‘s ‘Lola Theme’ and Basement Jaxx‘s ‘Good Luck’ et al.

Sami Brookes‘ capable cover of ‘Free’ showed us all that she’s more than capable of stepping into those disco heels and tear G-A-Y a new a-hole. Tell Agnes, September and Zoe Badwi to watch their backs. With the right song choices, this girl could be interesting. With boring prosaic karaoke selections, she could – well – be a boring and prosaic karaoke singer. Michelle Sami doesn’t possess a whole lot of individuality [Editor’s note: how many of her competitors do?] so she’s gonna need all the help she can get to be “realised” as an artist.

Watch her serve a motha-load of dance diva realness:


 
6) Craig Colton: oh, he’s our male Adele, alright.

If there’s anyone on the show who knows a thing or two about shedding the kilos and transforming into the nation’s heartthrob, it’ll be Gary BarlowCraig Colton unwittingly found himself in some sort of singing competition-cum-Biggest Loser double dip when old Gazza Bear called in his nutritionist to get the 22-year old warbler in shape. As y’all can see, week one and Craig’s gaunt enough already. Stop putting us off our meals, boo.

There’s pretty much a contestant like Craig every year on the X Factor. A bankable belter who’s capable of delivering “moments” with torch songs etc. They’re not always the most entertaining or necessarily successful ones after the show so it’ll be interesting to see how Gazza goes in preserving Craig‘s shelf life.

Watch the young man getting all “emosh” with his rendition of ‘Jars of Hearts’:


 
First week eliminations: Jonjo Kerr, 2 Shoes, James Michael and Amelia Lily.

Kelly wasn’t kidding when she said that there’s an “overabundance of puttin’ it down” this week. I know I’ve already made that reference earlier in the post but it was just too good to pass up re: putting down of contestants.

Louis dismissed singing soldier Jonjo Kerr after last night’s cringeworthy performance. No surprise there, really. The old wind bag quickly washed his hands off the case when Gary criticised Jonjo‘s efforts, leaving the contestant to defend his own shoddy song choice.

Gary unsurprisingly pulled James Michael out of the race after that largely forgettable strummy la la performance. It’s a crying shame because the guy was cute and he seemed very sweet too, but at the end of the day, when compared to his three stable mates, James really didn’t have the stage presence or personality to garner as much public affection.

Tulisa painfully kicked off her 2 Shoes. Look, I really want 2 Shoes to work, y’guys, but these super fag hags kinda dropped the ball this week. 2 Shoes covering Girls Aloud‘s stomping classic ‘Something Kinda Ooooh’ looked so fucking good on paper, it actually hurt my soul a little to see them turn out such a lo-fi rendition that was all high on stage personality but lacking in vocal energy. Put it this way, it really made me appreciate the spunk and pace Nuhdeen puts in on the original version. Nevertheless, they would’ve been such good fun to watch every week.

Kelendria delivered one of the biggest shockers of the night when she chose to axe young gun Amelia Lily. The bitch almost gave herself a break down delivering the bad news. Everyone watching last night knew that the Destiny’s Child glamazon had the hardest decision to make but I just don’t get why she’d keep the beige Sophie Habibis over Amelia. Sophie may have turned out a charming down-lit rendition of ‘Teenage Dream’ last night but she can’t steal the show or put it down like Amelia week in and out when faced with different themes and genres. Isn’t she also categorically too similar to the waify Janet Devlin? SMH.

The final 12 contestants will face a public-voted elimination for the first time next week.

So, let’s hear it. Who are your faves so far?

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