X Factor UK: Live Shows Week Two

This is the first week the British public gets to decide who they wanna boot and as you’ll find, there’s no forgiving a flatlining stage presence.

With the competition now calibrated to a bearable line up of 12 contestants, this year’s UK X Factor series is finally ready to put their viewers to work. There are glimmers of promising future pop stars in the mix – some with more pronounced readiness than others. However, there’s still one too many snoozers just clocking time, leaving us with a general feeling of ennui as these live show hopefuls bash through songs of “Love and Heartache” this week.

Gary Barlow – resident serious face and all round irresistible DILF – is probably the biggest beige enabler in the series. The man once again puts his boys through a serious and predictable display of vocal showmanship, picking sizable down-tempos for Craig Colton (‘Best Thing I Never Had’), Frankie Cocozza (‘The Scientist’) and Marcus Collins (‘Russian Roulette’). All failing to stand out with any originality or adequately entertain us, to say the least.

Kelly Rowland‘s two alpha females – Misha B and Janet Devlin – once again delivers stand out performances of the night, aided by some stellar classic song choices from their mentor. As the weeks go by I’m sure we’ll start to see these girls go from strength to strength, effortlessly owning whatever is assigned to them. The difference between Misha/Janet and Kelendria‘s oft-forgotten other contestant – Sophie Habibis – is that the former two have the ability to transform any song into their own. I am sure there is a certain charm to Sophie that renders her as a capable entertainer but not when she’s standing amongst the other two.

There is no question that Tulisa is already one of the most dynamic and forward-thinking mentors the X Factor has ever had but this week, her groups have wound up a little hit and miss. Rhythmix shines the brightest with yet another infectious display of youthful girl power and on-point harmonies, while their male equivalent Nu Vibe struggled to convince us of both their readiness as a unit and as performers. It didn’t help Nu Vibe‘s case that their direct competitor The Risk came out charming the panties off every woman in the country with some saccharine Bruno Mars cover.

I often dismiss Louis Walsh as the redundant judge and mentor but I can’t help but feel like he’s outdone himself a little this week. If there’s anyone on that panel that flaunted three spot-on song choices this week – it was him with his tailored assignment of ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ to dramatic performer Kitty Brucknell, ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’ to queen Johnny Robinson, and ‘I Will Always Love You’ to vocal powerhouse Sami Brookes.

Check out this week’s “Love and Heartache” show highlights, bitch please moments and of course, who the public and judges sent packing:

1) Janet Devlin: can’t help falling in love with her.

The waify-voiced country girl stuns us into silence this week with a still and assured cover of Elvis Presley‘s swoonfest ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’. It’s one of those performances where you know you’re gonna love it already even before you hear it. You can just picture this being something signature and different from any rendition you’ve perused before (including a rather famous one done by Celine Dion).

Janet demonstrates great vocal control here by taking us through tides of strong notes and airy moments where she sings in that beautiful head voice. The overall effect is very much something fit for a modern rom-com.

Watch Janet Devlin cover ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’:


 

2) Johnny Robinson: you gotta rub him the right way.

Look, y’guys. Say what you will about Johnny Robinson but I really enjoyed this performance. I know he’s played out to be the campy novelty act of the series but you can’t deny the sheer entertainment value of seeing Queen Johnny make love to the camera while fanning himself in an oriental-themed set doing Kylie fucking Minogue.

What really completes the package for me is these consistent displays of Johnny’s quick wit, as demonstrated by the above exchange that took place after Gary cricised his outfit for looking too “Aladdin” – obviously way off mark. It’s clearly more Mulan.

The startling thing about this performance is that Johnny can actually hit the high notes in this song. In fact, not just hit it but freaking ride it out. I hear the judges commenting that they want to hear Johnny sing more but did y’all hear the effort that just went into ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’? He wasn’t just swanning about with a fan, [Editor’s note: you know Goldie Cheung is pissed]. He completely put this motha to work.

Watch Johnny Robinson take on Kylie‘s classic ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’:


 
3) Misha B: the bossbitch reinvents a classic.

So many reasons why Ms Misha B is the one to watch for every week. She delivers completely on-point and refreshing covers with a visual presentation and swag that is distinctly her own. For her second live show slayfest, the 19-year old once again demonstrates that she’s looking more and more like a seasoned performer than a contestant. That purple metallic jumpsuit with pronounced shoulder pads is at least five different kinds of fabulous.

Misha left her signature self-composed rap at home this week and opted for a sensible dance mark-up of Charles & Eddie‘s classic 90’s jam ‘Would I Lie To You?’. Take a look:


 
4) Kitty Brucknell, pictured, reading from the gospel of Gaga.

SMH at this attention-seeking bitch. Kitty Brucknell continues to keep the presses talking with her eye roll-inducing fuckery and A-grade drivel. This week’s show reel saw her lash out at people who booed her after Louis Walsh saved her from last week’s four-way elimination.

“How dare they [boo me]? It’s not right. It’s disrespectful. The people that did that, I think they should be ashamed of themselves.” Oh, tsk tsk, you guys. Tsk tsk!

Then there’s her enlightened new responsibility as role model to other oppressed attention seekers. Yes, Kitty Brucknell truly believes that she is repping for all the bullied underdogs in the world:

“If I don’t believe in myself, how can they believe in themselves?” Such a heavy burden placed upon you, gurl. Pray for strength to make it through the rain etc.

Talk that talk all we can but there’s virtually no faulting Kitty’s performance of Bjork‘s ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’. Watch her bring out some Gwen-inspired Alice In Wonderland lunacy to the stage here:


 
5) Rhythmix giving girl power realness or so we’re told.

The performance speaks for itself. This series spawned quartet absolutely clicks and sells their own brand of feisty new generation girl pop. I can imagine this bunch getting handed all the good songs that Perfume and Belle Amie can only dream of. I envision Rhythmix making a feel good pop R&B record with the production input of Jukebox (hit maker for Willow Smith) and Savan Kotecha (writer for Britney, Cher Lloyd and One Direction). It’s only early days for these children but with two flawless performances under their belt, they’re quickly becoming a serious contender for the crown.

You gotta appreciate their mentor Tulisa piping up a quick concise PR spiel about how Rhythmix are the girls everyone can get behind – yes, even their fellow young females who are notorious for only voting for the cute boys.

“They’re not standing up there saying ‘we’re gonna steal your boyfriend’. They’re standing up there saying, we are women let’s unite and stand strong’…” she said, cleverly pitching some good old fashioned girl power mantra.

Watch Rhythmix own this modern urban flavoured interpretation of Nelly Furtado‘s ‘I’m Like A Bird’:


 
6) Kelendria the Swagger Police.

This is borderline bullying, y’guys. Look at that pen wagging. So who appointed Kelendria as the resident “Swagger” police up in here? That’s right. Being a genuine article American urban act kinda gives you concession and only she can decide if and when Louis Walsh is worthy of using that term. Meanwhile, Gary Barlow kinda looks like he just peed his pants.

This week’s Power Bottom Two: Nu Vibe and Frankie Cocozza.

 

Let’s face it. There were a few sorely forgettable turn-outs this week but the two acts the public went cold for – Nu Vibe and Frankie Cocozza – not only dealt forgettable performances but did it with such flatlining conviction that they really come off looking like a waste of space. The public has actually been fair and true this time. The votes appear to be squarely based on the live show performances rather than some shady popularity ranking.

Nu Vibe was rightfully panned by Louis Walsh and Gary Barlow for having “no vibe” last night after a limp rendition of 3 Doors Down‘s ‘Here Without You’. First of all, I would rather gargle in cat piss than cover that song. Also, in no way was that song choice and arrangement anything remotely of service to Nu Vibe‘s energy, strengths and image. The problem with this group – as opposed to their more united competitor The Risk – is that half of them don’t look terribly likable. The impression you get from Nu Vibe is one that reeks of amateur, unpolished and unfocused individuals who are all discontent with performing as a unit.

Frankie Cocozza needs to start proving himself. The lazy performance that gave the energy and appearance of one who just rolled out of bed isn’t cutting it for me. At times, I struggle to see this style as professional and unique. However, I do appreciate his vocal tones – in small doses – and I see potential in some interesting showcases but the worry here is that, it’ll more or less be the same every week – just this vacantness in his eyes and nonchalant emotional connection to the lyrics.

The sing for survival between these two acts was another unnecessary snoozefest we had to sit through with Nu Vibe doing some down-lit cover of Cheryl Cole‘s ‘Promise This’ and Frankie Cocozza pouring himself carelessly into Daniel Merriweather‘s ‘Red’. To me, neither of them really fought for it and neither did any better in convincing me of their place in the competition. However, all three judges – Tulisa excluded – saw more potential in Frankie and voted to terminate Nu Vibe.

So the lad lives to fight another day. But could Gary actually help bring out the best in Frankie or is this really as good as it gets?

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