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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Chart Feed – 26.09.11

Gotye and Kimbra‘s ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ is once again on the edge of chart-defining glory. As y’all know, I don’t usually care to report on serial #1 space invaders but when they clock a major milestone, it’s only polite to acknowledge and golf clap. ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ is now the longest staying #1 ARIA single by an Aussie artist since Savage Garden‘s ‘Truly Madly Deeply’ in 1997. If it remains at #1 this time next week, it’d be an equal tie with ‘Truly Madly Deeply’ which reigned for eight consecutive weeks at #1. ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ has also gone #1 in Netherlands and New Zealand. Gotye‘s Making Mirrors is perched at #3 on the ARIA albums chart this week while Kimbra‘s own Vows slides to #8. The Kiwi songbird’s third single ‘Good Intent’ becomes the eighth most added new song to Aussie radios this week.

Adele has now clocked over 10 million sales worldwide for her defining 21 album. That’s 10 million copies in the nine months it has been out – three million of those coming from the US alone where she has experienced unprecedented chart success this year. It is quite easily the best selling album in the UK,US and Australia this year with Lady Gaga‘s Born This Way being the next best contender. 21 hangs on to #1 in Australia this week, beating off five new entries in the Top 20 who all fell in line accordingly: The Jezabels Prisoners (#2), Lady Antebellum Own The Night (#5), The Funkoars The Quickening (#11), Opeth Heritage (#12) and Pearl Jam‘s Twenty soundtrack (#14). Over on the Aussie singles chart, Adelegend is turning tables on her three Top 20 hits. The newest one ‘Set Fire To The Rain’ leaps to #11 while past glories ‘Someone Like You’ and ‘Rolling In The Deep’ slide off to #12 and #14 respectively.

I know I normally embed performances or music videos in my Chart Feed but today I’m feeling like a little Adele cacklefest. Y’all don’t mind, right? It’s Monday. Treat yourself to this side-splitting compilation of her funnies:


 

Coldplay‘s ‘Paradise’ rises to #37 on our ARIA charts this week but y’all can expect for shit to pick up because it was the third most added new track to Aussie radios this week. Over in the US, ‘Paradise’ is the biggest new entry debuting at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100. The band’s much-hyped new album Mylo Xyloto arrives on 21 October in Australia – the same day as Darren HayesSecret Codes and Battleships, Kelly Clarkson‘s Stronger and Washington‘s I Believe You Liar/Insomnia repackage. It’ll be a hectic week for new releases, won’t it? Well, it depends on who you ask.

Darren Hayes‘ second Aussie single from this era – ‘Bloodstained Heart’ – is still a no show in the ARIA Top 100. I don’t see it slapped on the front of our iTunes store beside new releases from the aforementioned artists. Do people actually know it is out? ‘Bloodstained Heart’ is understandably not in our Aussie iTunes Top 200 and I am a little startled to see it overtaken by other new tracks like Demi Levato‘s ‘Fix A Heart’ and Emeli Sandé‘s ‘Heaven’. Well, if it’s any consolation, at least he’s still got a cracking loyal fan base.

Bryan Adams‘ new album Bare Bones enters at #38 this week after shocking the nation with his X Factor appearance last week. The general Twitter consensus was basically, a) “he hasn’t aged well” and b) “how good is ‘When You’re Gone’ – like, still?”

Jessie J‘s Who You Are album cops a surprise sales surge this week, possibly thanks to renewed interest via her current Top 10 single ‘Domino’ – which mind you, isn’t actually included on the album. We can also weigh in on the X Factor bump – remember Young Men’s Society performed her smash ‘Price Tag’ last Monday night? Meanwhile, if one is to forecast – ‘Who You Are’, her major tear jerker ballad, is set to impact UK markets on 7 November. It’ll serve as the album’s fifth overall single.

The Wanted‘s ‘Glad You Came’ breaks the Aussie Top 20, as I predicted last week. This is some well deserved success for the lads who came out on a promo trip two weeks ago, pretty much building mainstream awareness from scratch after a year of online buzz from the UK.

Check out the video for The Wanted‘s next single ‘Lightning’, which will arrive on British store fronts on 30 October:


 
David Guetta and Sia‘s ‘Titanium’ returns to our ARIA Top 5 this week after reigning as the most played song on Sydney radios last week. It’s funny how different Guetta tracks take precedence at different parts of the world. It seems like the US and UK crowds are losing their minds to the Usher collabo ‘Without You’ (which, mind you, is also a ARIA Top 10 smash here) but no one else seems to get ‘Titanium’ like we do. Sia is very much still an Aussie thing. Is she that much of an acquired taste? Nothing But The Beat clings to #4 position in Australia and #7 in the UK, but drops from #18 to #39 on the US Billboard Hot 200.

Vanessa Amorosi‘s ‘Amazing’ drops to #20 on the ARIA Australian singles chart. Well, we can expect for things to pick up after her AFL Grand Final warble this week, right? Meanwhile, ‘Amazing’ is nowhere to be found in the ARIA Top 100 and neither is another new smash ‘Big’ by Sneaky Sound System, which appeared at #15 on our ARIA Australian singles chart this week. At least the ‘Big’ remixes are tearing up the club charts. They just moved to a new peak of #4 there.

Altiyan Childs‘ new single ‘Ordinary Man’ – which was penned by Ryan Tedder – shows up at #159 on our Aussie iTunes chart. Was anyone actually notified of its release? This promo campaign really could be a whole lot better. Can I just say, I know the song’s sounding more contemporary than the old school rocker vibe he normally gives but I really dig it. ‘Ordinary Man’ was despatched to Aussie radios last week alongside current Aussie X Factor judge Natalie Bassingthwaighte‘s new single ‘All We Have’ and Sophie Ellis-Bextor‘s ‘Starlight’ [Editor’s note: !!! at the latter].

Take a look at Altiyan‘s video for ‘Ordinary Man’, which was directed by Peter Ireland who has admittedly done far more exquisite clips for Aussie artists like Brendan Maclean (‘Cold and Happy’) and Scott Spark (‘Fail Like You Mean It’):


 
Kelly Clarkson‘s ‘Mr Know It All’ isn’t exactly moving in the right direction. The lovely new piece slips to #28 here this week while over in the US, it registers a worrying drop from its #18 debut last week to #35. You’ve all seen the nice-ish screen grabs from the forthcoming music video, right? Let’s hope the whole thing surfaces soon enough.

Dev‘s ‘In The Dark’ ascends to #46 in Australia this week, making this her first solo appearance here. The single also rose to #16 over in the US, which is probably sufficient to help the girl shed her feature creature persona. You wanna have hits of your own, don’t you? Meanwhile, a similarly styled track – ‘Mr Saxobeat’ by Alexandra Stan – makes a belated leap to #19 in Australia this week, carving itself a new peak while over in the States, success is mirrored in a new position of #29 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Side bar: call it premonition but I sense something wicked this way comes. If some Dev and Havana Brown collabo is to eventuate over the next 12 months, please remember you heard it here first. Dev‘s next appearance will be on Demi Levato‘s single ‘Who’s That Boy’.

Check out Dev‘s stylish video for ‘In The Dark’ here:


 
Havana Brown‘s bilious new single ‘Get It’ sinks to #47 in its second week. The unimaginative club stomper is once again produced by More Mega and co-written by Cassie Davis, the team who delivered excellence in her breakthrough single ‘We Run The Night’. The video for ‘Get It’ is set to drop this week and with any luck, the DJ-ing memaw might win me over with her stunning video vixenry once again. If these glowing words of review have inspired you to find out more about Ms Havana, please don’t hesitate to check out this interview she did with my friends at auspOp.

Alexis Jordan returns to our Top 50 via Sean Paul‘s ‘Got 2 Luv U’ this week at #48, almost a month ahead of its UK release. The single also managed to debut at #99 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Look, I’m really not wild about this song in any way shape or form. I still don’t get how the world slept on her stunning last single ‘Hush Hush’ but as far as I’m concerned, we’re done with Ms Jordan’s album. Well, apparently it’s not up to me because the project’s yielding its fourth single ‘How You Like Me Now’ in the next month or so. There you go.

Wynter Gordon‘s flawless ‘Buy My Love’ is set to hit the UK on 24 October while the long-awaited With The Music I Die album arrives 7 November. Both single and album are nowhere to be found in our Aussie Top 100 at the moment which is extremely tragic. Just like Alexis, Ms Diana Gordon found solo success in Australia with her first two singles, went to notch a Top 50 charting collabo, but failed to see their ace third singles do better. I refuse to believe it’s the end of an era for With The Music I Die here but I feel like I might be only one left stanning.

Florence + The Machine‘s roof-raising new single ‘Shake It Out’ becomes the fourth most added new song to Aussie radios this week. By the looks of things, this should have no problem bettering the success of its predecessor ‘What The Water Gave Me’. The flame-haired warbler will launch her sophomore Ceremonials next month.

Y’all can listen to ‘Shake It Out’ here:


 
N Dubz‘s Dappy enters the UK charts at #1 this week with his debut solo single ‘No Regrets’. He’s been fast working on his solo album while the group’s on hiatus [Editor’s note: his cousin and band mate Tulisa is a judge on X Factor, in case you’ve been living under a boulder the size of Ghana]. The spanking new entry is yet another week of scorn for Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera‘s ‘Moves Like Jagger’, who’s still fighting hard at #2 just like they are here in Australia. Will they ever ascend to the top?

Jason DeRulo‘s cringeworthy ‘It Girl’ enters at #4 in the UK, ahead of his sophomore album’s arrival. Future History will come out in stages around the globe – first arriving in Australia last Friday, then it’ll hit US stores tomorrow, before finally coming to UK audiences on 10 October.

The Saturdays‘All Fired Up’ tumbles to #15 in the UK this week. Look, I didn’t actually expect for it to stick around the Top 20 for this long, given the band’s reputation as front-heavy sellers. The girls’ next move is said to be a track titled ‘Heart Takes Over’. Meanwhile, Sugababes 4.0 seem to have given up on their ‘Freedom’ campaign, offering the single up for a free download. The tale of two British girl bands – watch this space.

Nicola Roberts‘ utterly irresistable new single ‘Lucky Day’ debuts at #40 on the UK charts, easily becoming the lowest charting solo Girls Aloud release since Nadine‘s ‘Sweetest High’ which by the way didn’t enter any Top 100 whatsoever. This embarrassing floppage really shouldn’t be happening. I see Team Ginge going hard on promo with various TV appearances but with virtually no radio support for ‘Lucky Day’, it’s no surprise that it charted where it did. Nicola’s Cinderella’s Eyes comes out in the UK today and despite being one of the best pop album’s I’ve heard all year, I’m really not holding my breath for a Top 20 entry. I don’t think my heart can handle charting this era any more. I’m just gonna excuse myself now and rock back ‘n’ forth in a corner listening to ‘Yo Yo’ on repeat.

Check out Nicola‘s G-A-Y performance of ‘Beat of My Drum’ last Saturday. It kicks in at the 1:30 mark or so.


 
UK X Factor has once again rejuvenated interest in some forgotten gems with their hit auditions. Damien Rice‘s ‘Cannonball’ bullets to #9 this week, Jennifer Hudson‘s Dreamgirls classic ‘Love You I Do’ charts for the first time at #80, while K-Ci and JoJo‘s 90’s anthem ‘All My Life’ returns at #89.

Kasabian‘s Velociraptor enters the UK charts at #1 this week, leading a string of notable new album entries – ie: Tony Bennett‘s Duets II (#5 – his much-hyped Amy Winehouse collabo ‘Body & Soul’ sits at #67 there and debuts at #97 in Australia this week), Christina Perri‘s completely forgettable Lovestrong (#9) and Tori Amos‘ rather orchestral Night of Hunters (#27).

Will Young‘s Echoes is still holding tight to the UK Top 10 as radio support for the album’s first smash ‘Jealousy’ still stays strong. Meanwhile, for those looking ahead, the project’s next single ‘Come On’ will arrive on 21 November. That gives us something to look forward to, right? I secretly want for Will to release ‘I Just Want A Lover’ as a sly club promo. Y’know, just as a little treat on the side while he satiates the adult contemporary crowd with stuff like ‘Come On’? Side bar: ‘Come On’ is a cover of a 2009 Kish Mauve single. The British electro pop duo’s last mainstream crossover was when Kylie covered their track ‘2 Hearts’ some four years ago.

Melanie C appears to have picked the next single to set sail from The Sea [Editor’s note: this album title is the pun-gift that keeps giving, innit?] ‘Weak’ has appeared on the UK release schedule with a drop date of 7 November. This whole era is floundering so bad and frankly, I feel that ‘Burn’ would’ve been the stronger choice of ballad. Why the ominous ‘Weak’?

Check out Old Sporty performing her current single ‘Think About It’ on Alan Tirchmarsh. So very plain.


 
The Wombats are set to release one of my favourite Modern Glitch tracks ‘1996’ on 7 November in the UK, making it the sixth single launched from this era. What’s their motivation with multiple singles, really? The lead ‘Tokyo (Vampires & Wolves)’ managed to go #23 in the UK last year but all its successors haven’t done any better. ‘Jump Into The Fog’ made #35, ‘Anti D’ peaked at #42, ‘Techno Fan’ went #60 and the last one ‘Our Perfect Disease’ was launched last month to no effect.

Leona Lewis scores her very first US Billboard Dance/Club play #1 with ‘Collide’. Meanwhile over in the UK, she drops to #18 on the singles chart and nope, she’s nowhere to be found in our Aussie ARIA Top 100. Thanks for asking, though. I know if it had been adult contemporary slash Ryan Tedder-aided Leona track then Aussie radios would have no problem spinning it but LeLew doing Ibiza-fashioned dance? It’s a tough pitch. Even though our Top 40 is arguably more dance inclined than ever before, it’s a certain sleazy and frenetic kind of dance music that thrives – not the wholesome, euphoric vocal pop variety that ‘Collide’ or even Kylie‘s ‘Put Your Hands Up’ (another US #1 dance smash) is. Side bar: Avicii is set to drop his “version” of ‘Collide’ titled ‘Fade Into Darkness’ next week in the UK – perhaps that will conquer the dance charts over there?

Jennifer Lopez‘s brilliant ‘Papi’ ascends to #19 on the US Billboard Dance/Club play charts. With all hopes dashed for a full scale tour after she signed on for another season of American Idol, I really don’t know what the future holds for ‘Papi’. Let’s hope her delightful set at the iHeartRadio festival yesterday inspired some kind of sales action.

Take a look at her first ever live performance of ‘Papi’. The jury’s still out on whether she’s just getting better with singing live or if it’s merely a pre-recorded live vocals we’re hearing here:


 
Rihanna‘s ‘California King Bed’ drops to #9 on the US dance charts, expect for it to quickly phase out of the scene now that she’s flogging a new dance pop piece in ‘We Found Love’ (featuring Calvin Harris). Love it or loathe it – that Rihanna reign won’t let up, ho! Elsewhere on the dance charts: Luciana‘s ‘I’m Still Hot’ rises to #3 thanks to buzz from that new Betty White remix, Gloria Estefan‘s ‘Wepa’ moves up to #4, and former Pussycat Doll glamazon Jessica Sutta‘s ‘Show Me’ ascends to #14.

Lady Antebellum‘s Own The Night debuts straight in at #1 in the US this week, dislodging the almighty Adele with 347,000 first week sales. This is the biggest first week sales for a country record America has seen since Taylor Swift‘s Speak Now dropped last year.

Beyoncé‘s gonna have to do something fast – her shit’s sinking like dead weight. The platinum-selling new album 4 took a major drop from #9 to #20 on the US Billboard 200 while the dazzling track ‘Love On Top’ is anything but, plummeting to #96 on the US Billboard Hot 100 after just three weeks. Looking on the US Hip Hop/ R&B charts – things aren’t nearly as dramatic: ‘Best Thing I Never Had’ clings to #4, ‘Party’ moves up to #33, ‘Countdown’ pretty much remains at #80 while ‘Love On Top’ charts at #86. Meanwhile across the Atlantic, ‘Countdown’ and ‘Love On Top’ are both slated for UK release on 30 October.

First we saw a US Top 10 singles chart without Katy Perry for the first time in over a year, now the album’s Top 20 is clear of the pyro-titty popstar too with Teenage Dream plunging from #12 to #38. Her California Dreams tour just wrapped its first North American leg last week and now she’s almost through with her first ever concert dates in South America. The second leg of her US tour will kick off in November with a new opening act – Ellie Goulding – after Jessie J recently pulled out due to prolonged foot injury.

Kelly Rowland needs to motivate record buyers a little harder while she’s on tour with Chris Brown. Her current album Here I Am continues to tumble two months after it was released in the States, landing at #85 this week. She’s not opening for the F.A.M.E. tour at every single North American show due to X Factor commitments but damn, you’d think things would pick up now with ‘Lay It On Me’ on the up and coming, right? The new urban single moves up to #47 on the US Hip Hop/R&B charts.

On the flipside, Kelendria shan’t be denied of British chart action for too long. Her first international Here I Am single, ‘Down For Whatever’, will hit UK stores on 30 October. Let’s pray to Her Holiness Michelle Williams for some Aussie radio success. Speaking of Kelendria and Tenitra, y’all need to check this shot of them former children of Destiny backstage at Kelly‘s show with Ms Jennifer Hudson.

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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