I’m sorry, y’all. There is no X Factor Australia recap this week because I struggled to stay awake through the hour-long beigefest of predictable performances. I’mma go snuggle up to Mama Brown.
The remaining seven contestants took us through some very dutiful and safe covers of popular home-grown hits this week. However, it pains me to think that this is what Australians have come expect in an “Aussie hits” showcase. Is wall-to-wall rock and a touch of folk all there is to know?
There were homages to John Farnham, Cold Chisel, Hunters and Collectors, Crowded House and Killing Heidi but no nods to our thriving new indie artists or acknowledgement of our Aussie dance/pop purveyors (apart from the subtle use of Kylie‘s ‘Shock’ and ‘Wow’ in two teen contestants’ pre-performance footage). You’re basically in for a massive “bitch, please” hand if you said there weren’t any Aussie hits in the aforementioned genres that would suit a few contestants.
Rock and live band kinda music is what typically thrives best in the Australian music scene. But y’know what? I’m not here to lecture y’all on how little regard the general public has for home grown popstars. It was just a suggestion that they could’ve interspersed the line up with something more young and current pop.
For instance, I think Christina Parie would’ve ripped through the competition if she did Sneaky Sound System‘s ‘UFO’. It would give us a break from her incessant bubblegum rock schtick yet still allow her to channel all that energy into a spunky dance/pop masterpiece. Also, try to imagine Declan Sykes turning out a cheeky, strummy la la cover of Gabriella Cilmi‘s ‘Sweet About Me’. I see you nodding. Yes, I could go on all day with my brilliant song choices but I might have to charge.
Check out this week’s “Aussie hits” highlights and why this week’s Power Bottom Two delivered a much-needed shake up for our judges:
1) Reece Mastin: Mr Consistent.
This kid is bad to the bone, y’all. Six weeks in and I’ve yet to see Reece Mastin pull out a busted vocal performance or do something wildly out of character. In fact, it seems like Guy Sebastian is experimenting more musically with Declan Sykes and Johnny Ruffo than he is with their stablemate Reece. This has afforded Reece the consistent run he’s had from the beginning and predictable as it might be, it’s probably for the best.
With this kid rocker, there is no range or capacity for a variety of performance antics. He will come out every time and point blank fire raging vocals at you. There is no room to show off dance skills like you would expect from Johnny or perhaps, try a softer singing style like you would with Declan. What you see is definitely what you will always get with Reece – which can be a good or bad thing, depending on your preference.
Where some performers take risks and struggle every week with the judges’ shifting expectations, Reece stands firm in the game as a pre-determined artist who has never undermined his own style to be a show pony.
Watch Reece Mastin‘s show stopping cover of Wolfmother‘s ‘The Joker and The Thief’:
2) Three Wishez: Put down your pitchforks – it wasn’t that bad.
Naturally, knickers were knotted and wigs shifted on heads when word got out that Three Wishez was doing John Farnham‘s iconic ‘You’re The Voice’. Better yet, they where threatening a self-styled rap interlude.
It’s a classic case of “it shouldn’t work but it just does”. Much like the time Johnny Ruffo did a modern R&B remake of Meatloaf. All three members of Three Wishez dazzled this week with equal vocal contributions – particularly Joseph, who was entrusted with his first lead vocal placement. No, it’s no longer a case of Sophia and The Wishez any more.
This is also arguably the first straight-up vocal performance the band has ever served us in the live shows and it don’t come any bigger than ‘You’re The Voice’. I really appreciate the harmonies, arrangements and cohesive rap input. This is just the kind of update you’d expect for an established R&B/hip hop group to pull off.
Watch Three Wishez create lift-off, literally, with ‘You’re The Voice’:
3) Declan Sykes: now you’ve got it.
It would seem that I can finally loosen my grip on that arm rest now every time Declan sings. After last week’s standout performance of ‘Forever Young’, Guy has learned that the only way he can send this kid further in the competition is to keep the craycray in check and hand him more strummy la la material.
The Melbourne teen come on stage this week to deliver a pleasant cover of Crowded House‘s ‘Fall At Your Feet’ that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Brunswick Street gig. Unlike Reece who appears completely ready to take on his Top 40 contemporaries, I do feel like Declan needs more underground experience before he’s ready to blow out. There is something still unrealised in Declan Sykes the performer and recording artist but the fact that we, the audience, are still drawn to him is proof enough that he’s got the X-factor.
Watch Declan Sykes charm it with ‘Fall At Your Feet’:
This week’s Power Bottom Two: Mitchell Callaway and Johnny Ruffo.
Prepare to clutch your pearls in disbelief. The two weakest performers from last night – Mitchell Callaway and Johnny Ruffo – actually came out and detonated the competition with the best sing for survival duel we’ve ever seen. It really helped that our expectations were already wallowing at an all time low. But regardless of how you felt about these two – Mitchell and Johnny have undeniably given their best showcase yet. The tatted-up, over 25s singer finally serving heartfelt, country realness and the Ruffo, returning to his dance-intensive roots.
Remember how I said last week that even though Mitchell had auditioned with intentions to be the next country superstar, he has never actually sung a country song in the five whole live shows he’s done? With the blinkers of mentor-selected songs removed in this all crucial sing-off, Mitchell Callaway finally steps out with his own choice of material, doing it the way he’s always wanted to. And it was magic.
Look, Mitchell Callaway didn’t just sing for his place in the competition this week. He sang for his entire muhfuggin’ existence.
I actually feel extremely sad for this budding warbler because it’s obvious that his mentor Natalie Bassingthwaighte had shaped him into something he’s not. And being so green as a performer, I can see how sometimes he might feel like everyone around him knows better and would therefore, compromise to do whatever he’s told.
Johnny Ruffo, on the other hand, knows what kind of artist he wants to be and was lucky enough to have lived it on stage every week. However, the same thing that flaws Johnny as a performer is also the same thing that really endears him to me. Most weeks, he’d step on stage and bite off more than he could chew with a vocal performance. But I cringe as I must when I see the hot mess go down on live TV, I always quickly recover when I think of all the effort and ambition he’s invested into the two and a half minutes he’s got on stage.
We are a sucker for the underdog and I feel like Johnny Ruffo is the one you wanna see grow and succeed through the competition. The beauty of it all is, he’s not whimpering about it either. For someone who requires a lot of improvement – and is consistently clocked for it by the judges – he’s still getting out on stage and putting on a spectacle to the best of his abilities. That, my friends, is the kind of hard work and growth potential you want to tune in to see every week. So I guess it’s no surprise that when it came down to deadlock, the public’s votes agreed with me.
Watch the Johnny Ruffo‘s slayfest tonight with ‘Billie Jean’: