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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Chart Feed – 17.10.11

LMFAO has the biggest selling single in Australia this week with the charming and timeless jam ‘Sexy and I Know It’. The American dance duo managed to dethrone Kelly Clarkson after her one-week reign on top with ‘Mr Know It All’. This is LMFAO’s second #1 hit here following the massive ‘Party Rock Anthem’. Fun fact: ‘Party Rock Anthem’ is the second longest running #1 single Australia has had in this century – reigning for 10 whole weeks. The longest staying #1 single we’ve had since 2000 is still Eminem‘s ‘Lose Control’, clocking 12 weeks. That’s the one to beat.

Beyoncé‘s ‘Love On Top’ rises to a new peak of #21 in Australia this week. We remain as the only territory to have picked up this track and run with it. Over in the US, ‘Love On Top’ makes its way back up to #82 on the US Billboard R&B/ Hip Hop charts. Other Bey singles to be making waves right now include ‘Party’ (featuring André 3000) – cracking the US Billboard Hot 100 at #93 and seeing this success naturally reflected on the R&B/Hip Hop charts, where it rose to #9 – and ‘Countdown’, her third official single, rising to #66 on the American R&B charts. Over in the UK, ‘Countdown’ leaps from #171 to #77.

Ed Sheeran‘s ‘The A Team’ debuts at #32, becoming the highest charting new entry on our ARIA Top 50 this week. Elsewhere, major pick up from the following three singles who all managed to crack the Top 50 in their second week – Simple Plan ‘Can’t Keep My Hands Off You’ (#45), Katy Perry ‘The One That Got Away’ (#48) and Nicole Scherzinger ‘Wet’ (#49).

Watch Katy Perry performing an acoustic run down of ‘The One That Got Away’ on X Factor:


 

Cody Simpson‘s ‘On My Mind’ enters at #51 in Australia this week. It must really irk his minders to not see this at least crack the Top 50 after all the promo and Skyping he’s had to endure in the last seven days. On the plus side, the blonde teen’s album Coast to Coast rises ten spots to #16. I suppose he is winning after all.

Speaking of winning Aussies, Vanessa Amorosi‘s ‘Amazing’ finally cracks the Top 100 at #83 this week – no doubt thanks to the X Factor performance last week. Meanwhile, other Australian pop new releases like Natalie Bassingthwaighte‘s ‘All We Have’ and Stan Walker‘s ‘Light It Up’ have yet to show up in the ARIA Top 100. Change might be coming Nat Bass’ way, though. ‘All We Have’ suddenly enjoys some radio pick up, becoming the fifth most added new song to our airwaves this week. Shannon Noll‘s ‘Switch Me On’ plummets to #71 this week. People probably stopped buying it because they knew the album was coming [Editor’s note: in fact, A Million Suns as it is called came out on Friday].

Wynter Gordon‘s stunning ‘Buy My Love’ finally cracks the ARIA Top 100 at #77 after what has seemed like an eternity since the single was first issued to radios. I am not sure what’s inspiring the sudden pick up of late, but I’m sure glad it’s happening. It would be great to see this go Top 20 eventually just like its predecessors ‘Til Death’ (certified gold sales) and ‘Dirty Talk’ (last summer’s #1 which went on to be certified four times platinum sales). The album With The Music I Die shamefully remains well outside our Top 100.

Watch Wynter Gordon‘s ‘Buy My Love’ video:


 
360‘s debut album Falling & Flying tumbles to #10 in its second week. Meanwhile, over on the ARIA Top 100 – two of his tracks surface: ‘Boys Like You’ featuring Melbourne singer Gossling (#81) and his current single ‘Killer’ (#88).

Lana Del Rey‘s eagerly anticipated breakthrough single ‘Video Games’ debuts straight in at #98 this week. We all kinda saw this doing well ever since it started appearing on the iTunes charts based on pre-orders alone. ‘Video Games’ comes out in the UK this week, so check back next Monday to see where she lands on the British charts. LDR really is one of the best discoveries 2011 has brought to date. You can peruse reviews and pick up so many great descriptors of her style (eg. “gangster Nancy Sinatra“) but the package is probably best first experienced by watching the ‘Video Games’ video.

Here it is, in case you haven’t already been clued in on the Lana Del Rey movement:


 
Gotye‘s Making Mirrors remain as the biggest selling Australian album out there right now – sitting at #4 this week with a shiny new double platinum accreditation. The ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ warbler has earned seven 2011 ARIA Awards nominations including Single of The Year, Best Male Artist and Highest Selling Single for the aforementioned track with Kimbra. Gotye has also been confirmed to perform at the award ceremony on 27 November. Looking on the UK release schedule, I was surprised to find ‘Easy Way Out’ etched in for a 28 November release. Dude, this song is like less than two minutes long.

Sneaky Sound System‘s From Here to Anywhere debuts at #11 in Australia this week – becoming the third biggest new entry here. Other debuts ahead of the Aussie duo include Chris Isaak‘s new one Beyond The Sun coming in at #3 and Evanescence‘s much-touted self-titled comeback at #5. Meanwhile, the Sneaky’s current smash single ‘Big’ moves to a new peak of #58. It’s actually the second week in the row that the song has jumped ten places up the chart. At this rate, they should be well in the ARIA Top 50 by this time next week – right?

Bjork‘s Biophilia enters at a humble #48 this week in Australia and #21 in the UK – making this the lowest charting positions ever for her in both territories (I am, of course, only comparing this with her other studio albums – not greatest hits package, remix albums etc). Biophilia wound up with only 9,872 first week sales in the UK. I’ve come to expect a bit more from Bjork given all the publicity and attention she has garnered for this project’s multimedia elements. The experimental artiste definitely has more of a cult following, which usually means heavy first week sales, then you fall off the charts. If this is as good as it gets for the first week then we might be in trouble.

Watch the video for Bjork‘s newest single ‘Moon’:


 
Steps scores a comeback #1 album with their Ultimate Steps collection scorching up the UK charts this week, meaning the band can now proudly say they’ve had a #1 album in every one of the last three decades. But before we start toasting, Ultimate Steps pulled a humble 34,200 first week sales to go #1 – making it the second lowest selling #1 in the UK this year. Back in their hey day, Steps managed three million-selling albums – Step One (1.39 million, even though it never actually made #1), Steptacular (1.28 million) and Gold: The Greatest Hits (1.11 million). Could the Ultimate Steps collection gather enough momentum to reach those heights come their April reunion shows?

Evanescence‘s self-titled third album looked so certain to go #1 in the UK when the midweeks came in but by the week’s end, it finished the race at #4 with a total of 26,221 copies sold.

Adele is still canceling every other ho in the game here. The British soul siren is on course to become the first artist to score both biggest selling album and single in both the US and UK since The Beatles did it in 1964. Over in the US, ‘Rolling In The Deep’ is still unmatched as the biggest selling single of the year so far. ‘Someone Like You’ is hands down the biggest selling single of the year so far in the UK – clocking over 1.2 million copies. Y’know, at this rate, I don’t even think this year’s British X Factor winner has a chance of outdoing that come the finals in December. If you wanna compare, last year’s series winner Matt Cardle managed 810,000 copies to go #1.

Looking on the album charts, Adele has not only got the biggest selling album in UK this year with 21 (hitting 3.1 million sales), she’s also got the second biggest in its predecessor: 19. The third biggest selling album in the UK so far in 2011 is Bruno MarsDoo-Wops & Hooligans. Rihanna‘s mega hit album Loud and Lady Gaga‘s Born This Way rank at fourth and fifth place respectively.

Watch Gaga getting caught up in a little ‘Bill Romance’ just for Bill Clinton’s Decade of Difference Concert:


 
Rihanna‘s ‘We Found Love’ surprisingly holds on to the #1 spot for its second consecutive week. This is basically the first time since July that we’ve had a single stay longer than a week at #1. The Brits are going hard for RiRi. ‘We Found Love’ registered at 20% sales increase in its second week, taking home over 106,553 sales. Meanwhile, Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera‘s ‘Moves Like Jagger’ clocks its seventh week at #2. Apparently this is only the second single in history to have spent seven weeks at #2 (and never go #1). The last one was All-4-One‘s ‘I Swear’ back in 1994.

Gym Class Heroes and Adam Levine have the highest selling new single in the UK this week with ‘Stereo Hearts’ debuting at #3 with 68,287 first week sales. This is Gym Class Heroes‘ highest charting position there since their breakout single ‘Cupid’s Chokehold’ in 2006. That one also made #3.

X Factor winner Matt Cardle didn’t go stomping into #1 after all. His new single ‘Run For Your Life’ – which was written by Gary Barlow – debuted at #6, selling 39,633 copies to become the second biggest new release on the charts. Consider this, the previous year’s winner Joe McElderry also clocked #6 with his first original single ‘Ambitions’.

Watch Matt Cardle performing his next single ‘Starlight’ at an album showcase gig:


 
One Direction sees their hit single ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ drop to #10 in its fifth week. The X Factor formed boy band is primed to launch their second single ‘Got To Be You’ on 14 November in the UK, a week before their debut album Up All Night arrives. The album features a track titled ‘Tell Me A Lie’ which was reportedly co-written by Kelly Clarkson. There’s also a RedOne produced track called ‘Save You Tonight’.

This year’s UK X Factor finalists will release their charity single – a cover of ‘Wishing On A Star’ – on 21 November. These charity records have all gone #1 and traditionally sold quite generously as well. The very first one, a cover of Mariah Carey‘s ‘Hero’ recorded by the 2008 finalists, went double platinum in the UK.

Scotty McCreery – the latest American Idol winner – has made history in his own way, y’all. The 18-year old’s debut album Clear As Day enters at #1 on the US Billboard 200, making him the youngest man to have a debut album enter at #1. The last record holder was R&B singer Omarion who saw his first album O debut at #1 in 2005 when he was aged 20.

Amazingly enough, Scotty is also the first American Idol winner since 2003 to have a debut album enter at #1. Clear As Day sold a meek 197,000 copies to top the charts. The last Idol winner to have an album debut at #1 – Ruben Stannard – pulled off 417,000 first-week sales. Just saying.

Gloria Estefan‘s comeback album Miss Little Havana made something of a death drop, y’all. After debuting at #28 – selling something like 17,000 first week copies – the Latin dance/pop album sank to #129 in its second week. I mean, damn. It’s almost enough to make a girl vow to never dance again. I love how the forums are crying murder now, blaming the album’s “Target exclusive” deal for the commercial floppage. Basically, if she had done a Walmart exclusive – which a lot of stars manage – instead of a Target one, things wouldn’t have looked this dismal. There are reportedly over 4,700 Walmart stores around the US and only 1,800 Target branches. There you go. Less Mami Gloria CDs to go around. Meanwhile, looking on the US dance/club charts, Gloria’s current single ‘Wepa’ tumbles from #1 to #7.

Watch Gloria going on The View to promote the new record and perform ‘Wepa’:


 
Taio Cruz‘s new single ‘Hangover’ (featuring Flo Rida) debuts at #62 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Meanwhile, further down, J.Lo‘s ‘Papi’ returns at #96 – possibly pushed by stronger club plays? The ‘Papi’ remixes move up to #3 on the US Billboard Dance/Club charts. Speaking of dance hits, Nervo‘s debut recording artist single ‘We’re All No One’ moves up to #31 on the US Billboard Dance/Club charts.

Monica‘s new single ‘Until It’s Gone’ makes a surprising leap in its second week to #55 on the US R&B/ Hip Hop charts. Its superb predecessor ‘Anything (To Find You)’ has done pretty well for a buzz single to reach #25 there. Old Mo’s seventh studio album New Life will drop on 29 November in the US.

Kelly Rowland‘s ‘Lay It On Me’ drops a few place back to #47 on the US Billboard R&B/Hip Hop. Wait a minute, shouldn’t it be moving up and not the other way? Here I Am [International Version] is slated for a UK release on 7 November, a week after the dance/pop single ‘Down For Whatever’ drops. Make what you will of this “international version”. She told That Grape Juice that it’ll be a revised tracklisting with more dance-oriented material but who knows, there hasn’t been any more information teased.