THE X FACTOR UK “Auditions 2” Review

THE X FACTOR “Auditions 2” Series 8 Episode 2 – The X Factor makes their stop in London where they’re hoping to find the next good singer. Though from watching this round of auditions, it seems like the producers are more intent on breaking the Guinness World Record for Most Pointless Montages We Can Squash Into An Entire Television Show. And they seem to be winning. There were about four serious contenders. And about thirty commercial breaks. Well, they’re definitely earning a mint from their add revenue.

The judges were in tip top form, with Kelly providing most of the humour. Gary was far less annoying than he was last week and Tulisa did not try to cut a bitch, though I’m still crossing my fingers in the hopes that that’s still on the cards.

The first contestant is Johnny Robinson, a delightfully quacky forty five year old with sterling manners, a potential career as either a meet and greet guy or a grandmother impersonator, and a penchant for Kylie Minogue concerts, SuBo and dreadful karaoke favourites. He takes on Etta James’ At Last, which, to say the least, did not exactly have me jumping out of my seat and rushing to Youtube. And after his rendition…I’m still not rushing to Youtube. The notes he hits are not notes I want to hear ever again. Louis calls him “very unique” and the judges proceed to praise him a sort of one shoulder raise: “that wasn’t bad, that was kinda good, let’s pass him through.”

And so even if the London air is short on talent, there is plenty of love around in the X Factor studios. One guy realizes his girlfriend is committing dignity suicide right there, on stage, in front of thousands of people live, and decides to redeem her by bravely running on stage and forcing her to put an end to her performance. He needs an excuse to be there, so he gets down on one knee and pops the question. Gary astutely observes that she looked happier to get a yes from the judges than give a yes to her fiancé. It doesn’t really matter. We’ll probably never see her again.

Derry Mensah is up next and his infatuation gives the editors a chance to provide a few ultra creepy clips of Kelly blowing kisses to queasy romantic music. And, unlike some of the other contestants, his voice matches his physical assets (I’m looking at you Perry). Derry also manages to make his infatuation look cute and not cringe-worthy, which is a rare yet useful talent as it’s never a good idea to come off as a perv in your first audition. Best to keep that for the live shows. Derry is ushered through with four yeses (pun fully intended) thanks to a falsetto heavy rendition of Usher and to seal the deal he gets a kiss on the cheek from Kelly Rowland.

So what we can conclude from the first montage-heavy segment of the show, London has little to offer in the way of wow auditions á la Danyl and Cher and Olly.

In Liverpool, a joke contestant turns out to be the real deal: Craig Colton, a chubby guy with Anton Chigur’s haircut has decided to surprise his parents, who are sitting in the audience and have no idea he’s a auditioning. Wouldn’t he die if they decided to take a toilet break during his audition? After a genuinely funny and charming Q&A with the judges, he goes on to give my favourite audition so far. His choice of song is killer and his voice has that sort of whiny singer-song writer in pain component which I’m a sucker for. He’s sent straight through by the judges, who all acknowledge that they thought he’d be terrible given how he looks, more or less.

Up next is Goodson and Charity, a married couple called the Duos who want to be as big as Jay Z and Beyoncé. Poor Charity. She looks like she’s just gotten appendicitis, right there on stage. Much too late to save the ears of the nation, Louis and Kelly call for a stop. Then we’re treated to a montage of Bromance with their ape routine and two crack addicts covering Adele amongst other flailing group numbers. It does not look like Liverpool are about to offer up their 2011 version of The Beatles to The X Factor.

In fact, all this crap is to get us ready for the mediocrity of The Keys, a manband who want to emulate Take That. Gary calls them “magnificent” and “awesome”. I’d say they’re a shoe in for the Live Shows since they do have a lot of potential and can, as Tulisa said, harmonize. It’s weird just how surprised the judges are when the singers on this singing show can actually sing.

To finish off the night, we’re introduced to Misha Bryan, a 19 year old who takes on Aretha Franklin’s Respect. You know she’s going to be good. She comes armed with a sob story which she admirably does not milk – it’s always better to get the troubled past out of the way and keep it there. The contestants who keep bringing it up tend to get overshadowed by it. Sigh. Oh producers, why milk the melodrama? Misha needs no help from you guys. Oh look, there she is taking public transport just to emphasize she’s underprivileged. Because only poor people use buses. But, lo and behold, an aunt pops up randomly. How did she get there if Misha took the bus? And a hundred relatives are backstage with her. I smell an inauthentic set up. Gah! Terrible story package aside, once she’s on stage this Manchester teenager rips it up. Kelly’s on her feet in seconds and brings the audience up with her, and you know Kelly’s going to fight tooth and nail to get the girls this year, if only to get a chance to coach Misha. She puts a freakin’ rap bit in there! She walks up to the judges! Gary compliments her for her confidence, and unlike last week’s Kitty, she’s full of energetic confidence, not arrogance.

Annoyingly, there seem to be some actual decent singers shown for like a second during the many overstuffed montages. This is quite annoying: because of the untelevised auditions which are not held in front of the judges, the producers know exactly which contestants are jokes and which ones are serious contenders and which ones are somewhere in between. To not show any of the ones with potential, and just shove them in a two second clip, is a bit frustrating. Mainly because the montages are so bad. And after the nine hours or however long this show lasted, we got to watch about five acts which were not complete jokes (and I say five hesitantly).

So is Misha Bryan your new number 1, or do you have a sweet spot for Craig? Are you already clearing room on your walls for a shirtless poster of The Keys, or do you prefer the vocal wailings of Johnny Robinson or Derry’s falsetto thunder?

My rankings for the second round of auditions would go:

1. Misha
2. Craig
3. Derry (though it wasn’t until I reread the recap that I realized I’d written a paragraph about him, and that he existed, so…that’s probably not a great sign)
4. The Keys
5. Johnny

That being said, I don’t find myself on Youtube hitting repeat on any of their performances. I haven’t done that with any of the contestants so far, and I’m worried that Simon’s absence may have scared off some of the more serious hopefuls. Like I said last week, if the contestants are bland, the show is bland, no matter how good the judges are.

Hopefully next week will provide some better talent. How about you? Any favorites? Peeves? Pleasures? Sound off in the comments below!

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