Things are looking pretty bleak – as Mariah would say – over at the British X Factor camp. Show producers are doing everything they can to funnel back the ratings and that means more stunts with the format. We’re talking about the threat of a double elimination this week, the employment of two former X Factor stars on this year’s charity single and rumours of making the judges switch categories.
Our final nine tried in vain to step it up this week with a Floor Fillers theme [Editor’s note: That loosely translates to dance hits, right?]. Despite thinking that we got all the consistent performers on lock, I am starting to see cracks in how some of our faves are being managed.
Pulling off a cohesive week-to-week progression in the X Factor requires strategic thinking and an advanced level understanding of consumer patterns to get right. Something the three new judges might not acquire in their maiden voyage on this series. Leave your contestants to show up and do the same thing they’re understandably good at every week and they get branded “boring” or “too safe”. Change it up too much and you risk breaking their brand and alienating the fan base. You can’t win, no.
Kelendria Rowland returns to the roost after last week’s “throat infection” saga, which I’m quite happy for conspiracy theorists to shout out as some high-level publicity stunt. The Floor Fillers theme saw Janet and Misha pull off hit and miss reinventions. Janet seized control and executed an upbeat performance with great flair, while her sassy stablemate Misha lost her identity altogether. We all know Janet and Misha are the two most distinct performers left – why anyone would try to switch them out of their zone, I’ll never know.
Tulisa‘s two remaining acts may not have fronted drastic reinventions this week but they still came out with two different results. Little Mix might’ve just sashayed away with the crown performance of the night but over in the other corner, The Risk misses their mark. I am not even sure who this boyband’s meant to appeal to any more. They’re all capable vocalists but every dated R&B song choice they serve only renders them more irrelevant than the last time. The fellas seem to lack the charisma and youthful appeal that saw X Factor alumni like JLS and One Direction score big.
Louis Walsh is clearly indulging in Madonna‘s back catalogue this week – commissioning for Johnny Robinson to cover ‘Hung Up’ and Kitty Brucknell to do ‘Like A Prayer’. Where the veteran judge’s category came out ablaze last week, this week both Over 25s turned out comparatively dull performances that set them back to week one standards.
Gary Barlow could be doing us all a favour by sabotaging Frankie Cocozza with a Black Eyed Peas song. If the British public’s struggling to see why this lazy rawker is still in the race, Old Gazza Bear sure wasn’t about to win them over with an ill-fitting and overdone song choice like ‘I Got A Feeling’. Meanwhile, Marcus Collins goes to snare the most popular performance of the night and Craig Colton redefines comedy.
Check out this week’s legitimate Floor Fillers and ill-fitters before I dish some realness all up on the Power Bottom Three:
1) Little Mix: do you know what you’ve started?
Check under your seats for any stray wigs that Little Mix might’ve left in the wake of this slayfest. These girls are quickly becoming the centre piece of this series as they continue to consistently deliver on-point performances.
The colourful and energetic cover of Rihanna‘s ‘Don’t Stop The Music’ feels like a return to the core of Little Mix. We are once again treated to A-grade harmonies and strong solo vocals administered by the right girls. There is every reason to be excited about their future. I honestly don’t see many of this year’s cast turning out hits in 12 months’ time, but I know these four could potentially rake in the chips and sustain public interest after the show.
Watch Little Mix own ‘Don’t Stop The Music’:
2) The desecration of Misha B.
Last time I checked, this edgy British soul femmecee was not one to pull out a textbook performance looking like Glozell. So it begs the question, who the fuck is this?
All the cornerstones of Misha B Excellence were thrown out the window this week. Her distinctly British flavour was swapped for Americanised soul, her trademark rap discarded, and her couture stylings tamed to a basic black and white ensemble. ‘Proud Mary’ isn’t even a song you’d expect for Misha B to turn out. It completely reeks of decade-old early Idolperformances.
This has been a criminal bastardisation of Misha‘s creative credibility. As someone show producers have tireless shown to be very involved in styling her own looks and navigating in her own artistic direction – this performance almost completely discredits all the work this girl has put into building her brand. Kelendria better get her head back in the game and bring back the Misha we all love and stan for.
Watch Misha B peddle us some ‘Proud Mary’:
3) I guess some of us did enjoy a little Club Colton.
At first, I was confused with my Kelendria reading but I quickly put it down to being rusty because she had a week off. I am normally very spot on with comprehending and serving the art of What Kelly Is Really Saying In One Screen Cap.
However, her initial stunned-slash-I’m-embarrassed-for-you face [pictured below] proved to be a false alarm and I didn’t expect for her to compliment Craig Colton on this cheesy song and dance spectacle. Kelendria didn’t just pay him a nod of approval, she went completely over the top with: “Honey boo boo… who knew you were doin’ uptempo – owww!”
Y’all know serial balladeer Craig has always been comedy off-stage but little did we know he could translate that same sense of humour in his performance too. The opening of ‘Heaven’ really started off quite appropriate but the minute the fluoro-clad dancers jumped on stage and Craig started snapping – gurl, it was all over like a pauper’s version of Glee.
Watch Craig Colton ham it up in his cover of club classic ‘Heaven’:
4) Janet Devlin version 2.0.
The waify singer really opened my eyes this week when she seized creative control of her look, song choice and staging. It’s just the kind of ballsiness and understanding of your own craft that every pop star needs – and she’s already demonstrating it at this level.
It didn’t sit well with the judges to see the girl move and try something more upbeat but I thought this was the most organic and convincing reinvention yet in this series. Ms Janet stepped on that stage looking refreshed and sensibly tweaked for a new era like she was here to promote her second album or something.
Watch Janet Devlin deliver the goods with Jackson 5‘s ‘I Want You Back’:
5) Marcus Collins is now on the right track.
I’ve seen glimmers of quality in Marcus Collins – even though it’s hard for me to be objective whenever he flashes that million dollar smile. I really enjoyed the 50s flavour he brought to the mix this week. After reviewing all the different stylesMarcus has served us on the X Factor, this one feels the most authentic and very much like something he can effortlessly pull off in the real pop world. Let’s hope he brings that element of funk and soul into all future performances.
Watch Marcus‘ fun cover of Jackie Wilson‘s ‘Reet Petite’ – complete with a look that Little Richard would approve of:
6) Sometimes I really feel for Tulisa.
Gurl looked like she needed a hug this week when she was, once again, caught up in a toxic screaming match betweenLouis and Kelendria. It can’t possibly be the best seat in the house when you’ve got these two breathing down each other’s necks.
The X Factor‘s got a history of dramatic and opinionated judges but everything has a limit, and while I recognise that there’s entertaining drama, the overall vibe from the panel is becoming increasingly negative lately. Don’t people wanna just tune in for some good wholesome family fun without all this tension and cattiness?
The real tension and the spark happened this week when Louis inadvertently called out Kelendria for being fake. “At least, I’m here every week and not playing to the cameras!” She issued a “bitch please” hand before taking the high road by turning away from him, letting Gary bark after Louis with “get back in your cage!” SMH.
This week’s Power Bottom Three: The Risk, Johnny Robinson and Kitty Brucknell.
The dramatic double cull this week probably did more to boost ratings than to actually improve the quality of the show. The Risk scooped the least amount of votes after last night’s forgettable R&B performance and was instantly sent home. Meanwhile, not to sound bitter or anything, Frankie Cocozza walks free again.
It would seem that Ashford (formerly of axed X Factor boyband Nu Vibe) brought a bit of bad luck on The Risk. This is what we in the pop blogosphere like to call The Jade Ewen Syndrome. In all honesty, the quartet deserved to go as far as the Top 5 but thanks to some muddled representation, they’ve confused their fan base and failed to sustain the votes.
Last week’s two stand out performers – Johnny Robinson and Kitty Brucknell – were left clawing for the final seat in the competition. I’ve said from the beginning that these old timers could never really snatch the crown but given the meagre entertainment value of this series, y’all need Johnny and Kitty up on that stage every week.
Naturally, it was a no-brainer for the three judges – Louis, Tulisa and Kelendria – to keep Kitty over Johnny because she had more recording artist potential. Even though Johnny’s quite easily the most overwhelmingly loved man in the competition, love and them warm fuzzies wasn’t enough to inspire people to vote. Now, despite the turn of events, I won’t actually go as far as saying that Kitty Brucknell has fallen out with the public again.
I think, if anything, Kitty winding up in the bottom three this week is a sign that the public won’t accept cat piss performances like that from her – especially now that we know what she’s truly capable of. That rendition of ‘Like A Prayer’ was a passing grade performance for half the contestants in the series but it wasn’t acceptable by Kitty‘s standards. Gurl needs to continue to take over control of her artistry and Louis simply needs to OK the weekly budget.
I trust the Botoxed blonde knows what she’s doing. She just needs to take this as a motivator to go harder and rule out ever playing safe.