THE X FACTOR UK “Live Show, Week 1” Review

THE X FACTOR UK “Live Show, Week 1” Series 8 – The theme for the first live show is Britain versus America. The judges are announced: Louis Walsh, Kelly Rowland, Tulisa Co-Con….em…Tulisa, and Gary Barlow. Kelly comes dressed as an traditional Irish dancer. The BIG TWIST (lights come down) there is no public vote…each judge has to get rid of one of their own acts. And with 16 acts (and three freakin’ hours of showtime) let’s all thank the producers for that completely redundant week filler.

The girls open the show and the producer’s least favorite contestant (I say least favorite because she’s up first-thankfully tonight’s not up for a vote) Amelia cracks out Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean. She’s sixteen. The judges remind us of this at least nine hundred times. With her new hairdo she’s exceptionally boring, which is a pity since she was quite awesome in the auditions. The judges all love her. I find it quite disturbing that no one makes a comment about her weird lack of pupils.

Next up is granny impersonator Johnny Robinson. He’s taking on Cher’s Believe, wearing a trench coat space suit. Gary does not look amused but the audience loves them. Tulisa officially labels him the guilty pleasure. Gary tells Johnny he loved him, then “along came Louis Walsh and he turned you into a circus act.” Gary tells him that he looks cheap, Johnny retorts “It costs a lot to look this cheap.”

Rhythmix, a girlband Tulisa, in her own words, “banged together”. They’re actually pretty good (and Tulisa is up on her feet for her own act, though her enthusiasm for her own team is endearing, and avoids the annoying hogging quality that marred much of season 7’s ), rapping and harmonizing. They’re a girlband so they don’t have a chance, though Gary Barlow is already declaring them the best girlband ever on the X Factor (their competition is Kandy Rain, so expectations were never high).

Frankie Cocozza sings Ed Sheeran’s addictively depressing song The A Team. He reminds me of the creepy old man who used to wolf whistle at all the girls outside the teenage disco. It’s a shockingly terrible performance, he basically talks his way through. The judges praise him to the heavens and pretty much anoint him there onstage.

Sophie Habibis takes on Katy Perry’s Teenage Dreams, the biggest UK artist. The song’s arrangement is seriously mellowed in an attempt to enchant the audience. Instead, it seems she sedated them, though of course the judges disagree and praise her vocals.

Jonjo is singing The Kinks’ You Really Got Me with the Union Jack and it’s flat and uninteresting, strippers be damned. Gary says that his performance has “made Louis’ decision really easy for him.”

2 Shoes are up next. They’re my favorite act because their goal in life is to buy a mini-pig. The blonde one is “pregs” and the other one is so “emosh” but with Tulisa, who’s like “a third shoe” these girls mean business. They should win the whole competition based on their video packages. They’re taking on Something Kinda Ooh from Girls Aloud. The girls are all about the fun, and so of course Gary doesn’t get it. Tulisa suggests that Gary has a night out with the shoes.

James Michael is up next and I know I have no heart because when that tissue comes out my eyes start rolling. To emphasize the fact that he has financial issues and his family owns no house, Gary has him literally busking in a hobo suit. It’s terribly dull. For once, Louis makes comment which is sort of astute. Kelly was disappointed in the vocals.

Mischa B is tackling Adele’s Rollin’ In The Deep from a Union Jack throne dressed something like Queen Elizabeth meets psychedelic Alice in Wonderland. It’s pretty awesome and visually, it’s one of my favorite staging the X Factor has ever done. From high notes to rap breaks, she knows it out of the part without moving an inch. The judges are all gobsmacked but I think Kelly sums it up best: “all my baby girls are ready but God dog mamma you put it DOWN!”

Nu Vibe is the unfortunate act up after Mischa and despite a pretty cool Matrix-esque stage, they’re lacking a bit of energy to make it through. They can’t sing, they can’t dance, they’ve about as much sex appeal as yogurt, the music is overpowering their voices (a fact only Gary picks up on). The judges’ deliberations are about a million times more exciting than the performance.

Next up is Marcus Collins, singing Moves Like Jaggar. I can genuinely say that this is the first time I’ve ever heard of this fellow, but apparently he’s quite upset by the tabloids. He sings a dance song in a tux. And this isn’t dance in the Fred Astaire way, but in a totally bland way. Louis loves him because he’s always smiling.

Sami Brookes, looking rather fine, is pretty much promised a place next week, especially after Gary threatened to leave the show next week. Poor Jonjo. Well, at least he has his beloved army.

Tulisa’s final act is up. Unfortunately it’s not a reprisal of 2 Shoes, but The Risk. They start off pretty shaky, but it gets better. I’m pretty much a sucker for any act which injects a rap verse into their song. They’re a great deal better than Nu Vibe, who might as well kiss the tabloid scandals farewell.

The last boy is Craig Colton, who’s on a diet and exercise routine. Gary’s good enough to give him the credit for the song and vocal arrangement. He takes on Jar of Hearts and he delivers a stellar performance. The judges praise him but of course after they handed props to Nu Vibes you can’t trust anything they say.

Last of the overs, Kitty, the designated “villain” of the series (you can pick ’em by their eyebrows) is taking on Queen’s Who Wants To Live Forever. She looks like a demented drag queen, but you can’t deny that she can sing so if you close your eyes it’s quite good. Actually, if you keep them open, it’s even better. The stage levitates because she’s a witch. She gets the least enthusiastic response from the crowd. But suddenly I want her to go far. Which she will, since producers love controversial contestants.

Last up (oh my god, three hours later) is Janet Devlin with Fix You from Coldplay. She is now a ginger, because apparently she has to represent Ireland. She’ll be wearing a leprechaun outfit next week. Predictably, it’s entrancing. Will she win? Who knows. Generally the frontrunners this early in the competition are due a backlash within a few weeks. Well, except Leona. So we have a bunch of tabloids bullying a 16 year old on the front pages to look forward to.

The judges were a mixed bag. Tulisa was pretty disappointing, dishing out saccharine criticisms and promising feistiness and failing to deliver. Gary was miserable as ever. Louis’ mouth moved but I honestly couldn’t tell you a single thing he said all night. Only Kelly impressed, delivering sage advice and getting into her full black woman “ooh girl, you put it down, sweet mamma!” groove.

Since I’m way too lazy to rank all of the contestants (and I’ve forgotten at least ten of them) I’ll rank my top 5 and the four I think will be heading home tomorrow.

My top five are:

1. Mischa B
2. Craig Colton
3. 2 Shoes
4. Janet Devlin
5. Kitty

And the four heading for the door are probably: Nu Vibes, Jonjo, Sophie, James.

Who impressed you the most tonight? And who do you think are headed for the door? Sound off in the comments below.

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