#ThrowbackThursday: Emma Bunton “Free Me”

This year marks the 10 year anniversary of the best and most consistent solo Spice Girl album to date: Emma Bunton‘s Free Me.

Emma Bunton Free Me

 

While it’s safe to say none of Ginger, Sporty, Scary, Baby or Posh’s albums will ever alter the course of music history like that of their collective endeavours, there is still something special about Emma’s second album that keeps me coming back.

Free Me arrived just a few sleeps before Valentine’s Day in 2004 but love wasn’t particularly in the air for solo Spice Girls records anymore.

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X Factor Australia 2012 – Live Shows Week Four

I am like that flop godfather who forgets your child’s birthday then tries to make up for it a month later with expensive gifts and all the Pillow Pets he can carry out the store.

X FACTOR AUSTRALIA 2012 LIVE SHOW WEEK 4

I know for the past two years, it’s been my thing to blog about the X Factor, and so many of y’all enjoy reading it – but this year, I’ve kinda been overwhelmed with work and life. It’s not to say I haven’t been watching and observing our contestants from a far, though.

So in touch I am with the show, that I can effortlessly catch up with you guys in week four of the live shows, and act like I never left the judging panel.

Now that we’re a month into the live show shenanigans, I think it’s pretty safe to say that this is X Factor Australia‘s most impressive year yet. Never have we had so many acts that sound so damn ready before.

This week the Top 9 acts take on a legends theme, canvassing everything from Madonna to Michael Jackson, Whitney to The Beatles and The Police.

Even though it could’ve been a really cheesy and predictable stretch for song choices, I’m really pleased that the show producers and judges chose some less-frequently-referenced hits.

Soul sister Angel Tupai gave Michael Jackson‘s ‘Dirty Diana’ more grunts than the Williams sisters in a grand slam, flaw-free pop princess Samantha Jade gave moments with Whitney‘s ‘Run to You’, and Fourtunate surprised us with an obscure Phil Collins single that didn’t even chart in Australia.

Check out my thoughts on this week’s best and worst:

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X Factor Australia: Live Shows Week Nine

Australia, the last page is almost at our finger tips and discussions at the metaphorical water cooler have become increasingly divisive. Basically, the winner of X Factor Australia will be declared in a matter of days and I don’t think anyone can comfortably call it. Put it this way. You have your preferred winning man but after such an unpredictable year of public voting, you can’t be too sure of yourself.

This week’s final live show decider was left completely to the public’s vote and there it was again – that familiar sense of disappointment with another eviction. I remember feeling the same ennui wash over me this time last year when girl band du jour Mahogany got the boot as jazz boy Andrew Lawson sashayed into the grand finals.

Monday’s mega episode saw 1.4 million viewers tune in to experience some serious flaunting of Channel 7 coins with Andrew, Johnny, Reece and Three Wishez all taking turns warbling two songs in elaborate stage set-ups.

The “pleasure and pain” theme was kept loose enough for each performer to really mine their respective artistic angles. There’s no excuse to hold back at the home run. Every performer came correct with a no-restrictions take on their personal idols: Andrew went for John Farnham, Three Wishez charged up with the Black Eyed Peas, Reece tackled Guns N’ Roses, and Johnny got him some Ne-Yo.

The big-budgeted stage spectacle helped intensify the overall excitement for the grand finals, yes, but as with every graduation – there comes ponderings of future success. Has the series done enough to the get us adequately hyped for each contestant’s next step into the music industry?

Check out my one last examination of the final three acts – Andrew, Johnny and Reece – before the grand final decider on Tuesday, 22 November:

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X Factor Australia: Live Shows Week Eight

Do you like the below amazing compilation of serious game faces, y’guys? I am now accepting congratulatory pats on the back. It’s been two whole months of hit and miss live shows in Australia and I think we’ve seen enough to know whose careers we’ll be following from here on out.

This was not the final five I picked back in September but I am glad the ones I had initially overlooked got to stay and prove themselves a little. Don’t get it twisted, I’m no Andrew Wishart and Declan Sykes apologiser. But the least I can do is give snaps where snaps are due for the times they’ve unexpectedly come through with the goods.

None of the final five that remain have enjoyed a flawless track record. We’ve got the predominantly consistent performers – Reece Mastin and Papa Andrew Wishart – and then the dubious ones like Johnny Ruffo and Declan Sykes who have both given us some of the best and worst performances in the series.

I think what people don’t get about the X Factor is that, although it’s a singing competition, it is still just a bloody TV show. Y’all need to remember that it’s just family entertainment and these contestants are like reality TV characters. The beauty with reality TV characters is that often the ones that succeed don’t necessarily have to be the most beautiful, talented or creative. They just have to be addictive and/or endearing. Now take a step back and review the current final five and tell me what you see.

Johnny Ruffo plays the classic underdog – as a young labourer who’s never had any singing or dance lessons, he’s actually not doing too shit a job entertaining millions on live TV. Over the weeks, we’ve seen the pungent cockiness of his first audition wear off to reveal an incredibly resilient young man who keeps fighting back week after week to elevate himself. Now, that’s a good story.

Most suburban, middle-aged viewers can relate to Andrew Wishart. Apart from being an undeniably powerhouse vocalist, the man’s also witty, likeable and just all around endearing to watch. I don’t see papa as a “hit singles” artist chasing paper with the rest of them, but that’s not to say that he can’t sustain a future in the music industry. Andrew – being a talent show darling – could potentially develop a hard core stan base like Guy Sebastian and Altiyan Childs. That in itself should be enough to keep him gigging for a few years to bring home bacon.

Reece Mastin is another kick arse vocalist in the top five but unlike Andrew, the kid is dead pan as a TV personality. He’s got no heartwarming life story and no real spark to his character other than the spirit you see come alive when he’s on stage. The Reece factor is simple: youth, cracking vocals, and them cute dimples.

Three Wishez would actually fare better outside the X Factor. I feel like Ronan’s starting to fuck with their vibe and muddle them with daggy song choices. You hear them constantly name checking “Three Wishez” in their live performances but the question is, after two months of fronting does anyone actually know who Three Wishez are as artists? I can’t wait for them to be free to construct their own material with fitting vocal parts, rather than flap about week after week covering songs that weren’t made for their unique mixed group rap/sung flavour.

Here is the real tea on the best and worst moments of this week’s X Factor Australia:

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X Factor Australia: Live Shows Week Seven

Only three more shows until X Factor Australia has a winner. Can you pick one from the pack already?

This week our final six got the command to dance and while there were mostly moves in the right direction, one or two managed to really upset the rhythm. [Editor’s note: you gotta be proud of yourself if you can spot the three songs Limoncé has referenced in that sentence.]

It’s rather startling that at this stage of the game, Guy Sebastian still hasn’t lost one of this contestants and as a collective, they now make up half of the competition. At this rate, I won’t be surprised if he ends up with two acts in the final three. A feat only two X Factor judges have ever achieved – see: Dannii Minogue circa 2007 on the UK series and Jan Fredrik Carlsen of the 2009 Norwegian franchise.

When our Aussie series reached its final six this time last year, we already had our handful of polished contestants. All the performers had found their place by then and were capable of turning out vocally consistent results. I’m not sure if I can say the same about this year’s final six. This show actually feels like a big budget end-of-year concert thrown by a local singing school. There are some A+ vocalists getting unearthed but there are also some developing singers mingled in the line up. Is this really what the X Factor is all about?

At what point should our mentors stop pushing some contestants into risky song choices when they’re not vocally equipped to do it, and start actually tailoring songs to enhance whatever talent is already there?

Find out the hits and misses of this week’s live show, and which Power Bottom Two act just had their last dance:

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X Factor Australia: Live Shows Week Six

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.

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X Factor Australia: Live Shows Week Five

What’s happening to the X Factor Australia ? Not only did everybody get the memo to up their game but a few of them even went on to successfully own their first live show performance. But y’know what? I must’ve been watching something different altogether because two of the strongest performers this week wound up with the least amount of public votes.

This week, our final eight took on #1 hits from a variety of genres and eras – covering smashes by Stereophonics, Beyoncé and The Rolling Stones et al. However, the real challenge here wasn’t to see which one of these hopefuls would hit the ground running and entertain us. The whole point of doing a #1 hits show is to sniff out the potential artists from the garden variety karaoke hustlers, right? You want to see somebody putting their stamp on an overplayed and well-familiar hit, and breathe some new life into it. Basically now would be the time to demonstrate some artistic flair – if you’ve got one.

At this stage of the competition, you should already be showing the public what kind of records we can expect from you. If you’re a country singer, start actually serving some kind of country realness and stop fooling around with dusty RSL rock. This was basically what Guy Sebastian had to say to Mitchell Callaway, the shy tatted-up teddy who has – as Nat Bass said – been merely “playing the game” every week with whatever MOR/adult contemporary track assigned.

The man auditioned with a country song and it was evident what kind of music he prefers to be making, but apart from the first week where he did a country re-write of Rihanna‘s ‘Only Girl In The World’, Mitchell hasn’t stayed true to his artistic inclinations. The guy is not making the best of his time on the X Factor. I don’t think he realises that there folks who spend years gigging in obscurity just so more people can recognise who they are as artists, and he’s got the opportunity to do it in weeks.

Watch Mitchell getting by this week with ‘I Can’t Get No Satisfaction’:


 
This week all the key performers I’ve given a nod to deserve props because for the two-or-so minutes they were on stage, they managed to help me realise who they are as future recording artists and not just put up with whatever that’ll get them through week by week in a talent competition.

Check out the #1 hits highlights, controversial judging and shock Power Bottom Two acts:

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