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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X Factor Australia: Live Shows Week Four

One month into the live shows and this series is already starting to flatline. What the X Factor Australia desperately needs is a shake up because right now, the only thing raising my blood pressure is the shock eliminations and the fact that actually entertaining performers are winding up in the bottom two.

At this point everything that was promising in the first live show has basically turned to dust. The stage spectacle, innovative song choices and styling are fading to a glimmer as all the consistent performers become painfully predictable and safe. The thrill is gone, y’all. When you no longer get wet with excitement to see your faves come out and do their thing, putting up with the other filler acts becomes almost unbearable.

Basically, nine acts hit the stage this week to recapture hits of the nineties and only one managed to slay. Major kudos to Christina Parie, who was the only contestant that bothered to show us something new. After three weeks of seeing her bounce around the stage – just being Miley – the girl turned up this week in a black dress and sat herself behind a piano to deliver her first ballad.

Elsewhere, Guy Sebastian was trying something new in the sonic department, genre-mating and taking admirable risks with song arrangements. However, I think he kinda missed the point with all this musical innovation because, let’s be real, this is a television show. Try as hard as you might to paint your artists with a new sound, but if it doesn’t come complete with a new look and performance art – your vision is only half realised.

Ronan Keating arguably has the most exciting category but at a point in the competition where nobody has any business slacking off, he appears to be taking the easy road with his groups. The visual presentation and song arrangements for Young Men’s Society and Audio Vixen no longer excite like they used to. His mixed pop/R&B group – Three Wishez – continue to change their game, making the most of their unique position [read: actually having three individual performers].

Nat Bassingthwaighte had her boys – Mitchell Callaway and Andrew Wishart – tugging at heartstrings with major power ballads ‘Everybody Hurts’ and ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ respectively. It is understandably safe and overly emosh, but she knows who both acts appeal to and what their demographic expects. I don’t feel compelled for Nat to make any drastic changes because any outlandish staging and experimental song choices would just appear too forced for these two. There really is only so much you can do with her mature-aged warblers.

Check out the hits and misses in this week’s nineties-themed show, and of course, the shock Power Bottom Two:

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X Factor Australia: Live Shows Week Three

You did it again, X Factor Australia. What started off as a mildly amusing live show line up ended in a stinking pile of controversy after a judge called out a contestant for “rude behaviour”, basically polarising any discussion to be had about the performance. It’s only the second time this has happened.

It was Amanda Grafanakis-gate all over again last night when Mitchell Callaway copped a public rebuke by Guy Sebastian for his “behaviour” and ill-treatment of some crew members. The shy tatted-up country warbler was caught off guard when Guy exposed his backstage rudeness to the nation, a “seemingly sizeable issue” that even his mentor Natalie Bassingthwaighte struggled to hose down then and there. It seems like none of the judges – apart from Guy – knew what the hell actually happened.

“You’ve got to have the right attitude to this competition… not at times be rude to crew, you really have to pull that in and rein that in because you won’t last long in this competition or this industry if you do that,” Guy advised Mitchell in what should’ve been a verdict focused on his on-stage performance not off-camera antics. [Editor’s note: y’all can watch the drama go down later in the post].

The repercussions must’ve been too much to bear as Mitchell told Nat after last night’s “rock themed” episode that he won’t be returning to the show – something he has since taken back after she revealed his grim decision on air to Kyle & Jackie O this morning. The atmosphere was tense, y’all. It honestly felt like a trip to the principal’s office and I don’t think this is the right time and place to address “behavioural issues”.

When judges attack a contestant’s character on live television with cameras rolling, I struggle to see how it can be taken as “constructive criticism” rather than a blatant attempt to destroy the person’s public favour. The voting lines were just opened, the man had delivered the best performance he’s ever done in the competition and that was the last thing on everyone’s mind. As a performer himself, I thought Guy could appreciate how public attention on an artist’s off-stage antics can detract from the music.

However, on the flip side, I’ve read discussions supporting Guy’s decision to expose Mitchell and it’s not all wrong. The X Factor is a public-voted show and a contestant’s likability is equally as important as their vocal capabilities. Therefore, voters deserve to know who they’re really voting for – and they can then decide whether Mitchell’s off-camera “rudeness” really matters in the grand scheme of things. You can’t ever really separate someone’s persona from their on air performance in a show like this. You can’t take “feelings” and impressions about the performers out of the equation.

It would seem that Guy was sparing us the details for Mitchell’s greater good because if the real tea had gone out about the 25-year old concreter “picking on” young Declan Sykes, the backlash would’ve been immense and he wouldn’t have polled favourably at all. The Daily Telegraph reports that there was a verbal and physical clash between the tatted-up man and the fair-haired teen ten years his junior after Mitchell “pricked [him] with a pin”. This is school yard stuff, y’guys.

Now that we’ve addressed the headline-grabbing issue of the night, let’s check out the other catfights and spotlight moments of this week’s live show:

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X Factor Australia: Live Shows Week Two

This week’s “party anthems” theme virtually had us all evacuating the dance floor with snoozer after snoozer of forgettable performances. There’s really only five or six – at best – well bankable contestants in this year’s live shows and sadly, we’re gonna have to endure another month of fillers before the cull narrows it down to a hit line up.

I sounded the alarms last week when a “party anthems” theme was called. In some ways, I’ve had to mince my words like Mel B usually does when she’s proven wrong about a performance, but in other ways, no – my predictions of cheesy and uninspiring adaptations of pop up-tempos proved totally on point.

Where last week had clear revelations in Audio Vixen and Young Men’s Society, this week the two alpha groups struggled to slay as hard as the competition’s two young guns: Reece Mastin and Christina Parie. The spunky teen pair respectively owned their covers of Katy Perry‘s ‘I Kissed A Girl’ [Editor’s note: There’s a Limmy rant on the song choice further down – you don’t wanna fan the flames] and Cyndi Lauper‘s SingStar classic ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’.

Round two of the live shows tournament flaunted some nod-worthy improvements from Johnny Ruffo, who captured us with an appropriate rendition of Jay Sean‘s ‘Down’, while old salty nuts Andrew Wishart took a chance on a Queen classic that paid off handsomely.

Ronan Keating remains infallible with all three of his groups coming correct once again but down at the other end, Mel B appears to have dropped the ball with two of her girls – Jacqui Newland and Tyla Bertolli – stepping off with unpolished and flaccid vocal performances. The pair unsurprisingly wound up in our bottom two this week, which actually led to some rather scary results when Mel B chose to personally abort one of them from the competition.

Check out the hits and misses from this week’s party line, and a read on the dramatic Power Bottom Two situation:

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X Factor Australia: Live Shows Week One

What do you expect when a bunch of mostly green performers with palm-sweating nerves of flopping on live television get thrown on a stage surrounded by cameras? Simple. You either hit your mark or miss your cue. Both of which actually happened, y’all. Welcome to X Factor Australia‘s first 2011 live show.

By means of introduction, this week it’s all about “Judges Choice” – where our four mentors pick songs they feel would best showcase their individual contestants’ strengths and artistic persuasion. Here’s the bone of contention that sees the judging panel flare up with debates over song choice and the “right fit”. Needless to say, this week’s power bottom two acts were a direct result of ill-fitting song choices.

Ronan Keating quickly asserted his confidence and prowess with all three of his groups excelling in their performances. Audio Vixen, Three Wishez and Young Men’s Society easily ran the competition last night with A-grade renditions of Coldplay‘s ‘Viva La Vida’, Lady Gaga/Beyoncé‘s ‘Telephone’ and Bruno Mars‘ ‘Lazy Song’ vs Jessie J‘s ‘Price Tag’ respectively. The Irish heart throb was spot on, demonstrating an intrinsic ability to match songs to his group’s strengths and image. He not only upgraded all three of his acts but he did so without making it seem contrived or blatantly gimmicky.

On the other hand, Nat Bassingthwaighte copped the most criticism for her choices after all three of her over 25 acts flopped with lukewarm performances. Faux Farnham warbler Andrew Wishart was all shades of beige, the shy tatted-up teddy Mitchell Callaway did a risky country re-write of Rihanna‘s ‘Only Girl In The World’, while my personal fave Cleo Howman failed to connect with ‘Jars of Heart’ after awkwardly missing her cue at the start. You could take out a mortgage to fund a stage spectacle for her but nothing could disguise the hollow sense of distance between Cleo and the material she was serving last night.

It was evident everyone got the memo to not hold back with the staging this year as we see aerialists tumble from above, troupes of dancers take over the stage, and even a piano ablaze in flames. This is just the kind of spectacle that makes for exciting viewing but as we soon discover, it all turns to ashes if the song and vocal performance itself doesn’t deliver moments.

Last night’s first live show attracted over 1.45 million viewers, a successful increase from last year’s equivalent episode which pulled 1.1 million. The impact on Twitter was immediate as ever. Audio Vixen led the pack as the show’s top Twitter trending topic after last night’s performance, ahead of other faves Three Wishez, Johnny Ruffo and Christina Parie.

While there are definite standouts and polished acts in the competition, I’m hesitant to rule out anyone after only one live show. Y’all should learn a lesson from revelations like Rebecca Ferguson from last year’s UK series. She was adequate but y’know, she didn’t exactly steal the show until two or three weeks in. Some of the performers you saw here last night might not be faves until a couple more rounds but who will Australia allow to blossom? And who will be dismissed?

Let’s check on the standout performances from our first live show, the deliciously shady comments, and finally – our first elimination:

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X Factor Australia: Judges House Episodes – The Final Three

I can’t say it was too hard but I managed to call out 10 out of the 12 acts that were cherry picked to hit the live shows.

The competition is fiercer this year on X Factor Australia but judging by the folks put through, I think we’re gonna be well entertained by bankable contestants who have the potential to deliver a mix of quirky and mainstream-appealing performances. It’s all down to the song choices now and how original the arrangements can be because Lord Beysus knows that it was the prosaic karaoke snooze fest of last year’s series that bored me to tears.

Despite my general cosy satisfaction with the choice of final 12 acts, there were a few major upsets with this cull that even I struggled to justify. Once again, the lovable Guy Sebastian threw himself under the bus – this time for controversially putting Johnny Ruffo through over the more polished heart throb Trent Bell, who had to endure his second X Factor premature rejection. You and I will have a word about this later down the post. Deep breaths, ladies.

Elsewhere, competition favourite Up Front tragically missed out on representing Ronan‘s category in the live shows. It’s a good thing RoRo came to his senses after Rupaul offered this comforting word of wisdom because the tran ma is never wrong. But to be real, the tone-deaf Melbourne twins have given this series some of the most unforgettable quotes yet and I hope somebody signs them up to a Steph McIntosh-style reality series that follows the making of their pop debut. They just look so fucking Myspace – it’s cringe but almost the right kind of cringe.

In the midst of all the nerve, tears and guest star judges golf clapping we endured for the last three nights – there was one highlight that shone brighter than the entire competition and history of talent show appearances put together: Beyoncé. Her grace, genuine enthusiasm and astute observation of each under 25 boy’s performance just cancelled everything else that was happening in the world at that minute. I am still rewatching that bit where Guy brought her out and without fail, every single time her face shows up I start howling, crying and shaking like it’s the biggest muhfuggin’ shock in the world. How is she having this effect on me?

Check out other highlights of the judges house eps and, of course, some much valued thoughts on the final three acts in each category.

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