The X Factor Blog Episode One

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When X Factor USA was first announced, the squeals of happiness from X Factor fan Andrew Grear could be heard across the country.

I invited him to share his thoughts with readers of Dan News.

Here it is, The X Factor Blog Episode One:

So it has started. What we were quick to be told is “the biggest television event of the year” and the main order of business it seems was to show that it is indeed rather big, and quite specifically a lot bigger than another quite similar show that used to involve Simon, Paula and another judge with some passing similarities to L.A Reid.

Idol never really appealed to me. I’ve caught bits of it over the years and bought the albums of some of the winners, but as a show it just lacked something. X Factor in the UK though has been a guilty pleasure for several years now. I guess I love the increased variety in the acts and the competition within a competition of rooting for your favourite judge to win with their category. It’s just, to put it bluntly…better. So I have been more than a little excited about the start of X Factor USA, especially when I found out that my favourite UK judge Cheryl Cole was coming over to the America with Simon. Heart!

As judging panels go, I think this one worked ok. I love watching Simon always. He makes these shows and when he isn’t there, it lacks something. LA Reid wasn’t bad, and is all the better for not referring to everyone as “dawg”. Paula didn’t rate for me. I tend to find her boring and she didn’t change my perception on last nights show that’s for sure. Cheryl I adore. Which of course brings me to a bit of a sore point….WHY WHY WHY DID THEY GET RID OF HER!?! Nicole is ok and I don’t dislike her (though the whole Birthday schtick got old quickly), but I thought Cheryl was charming and had she been given a decent shot would have really won over America. Alas it is now not to be.

The auditions themselves were a mixed bag tonight. There was a definite push early on to focus on the positive and we were introduced very quickly to the staple tradition on the UK version, The X Factor sob story. Rachel Crow was good, not perfect, but good. I’m still not sure about having 12 and 13 year olds audition. It seemed like she would be a whole lot better in 2 or 3 years time but I liked her and her relentless optimism. She sold it well. Following her was a string of good auditions, and it almost got boring until Siameze Floyd took to the stage with his distinctly Prince apeing audition. Personally I thought he was a joke. If they are looking for the next worldwide superstar I cannot see it being him. Thankfully LA Reid seems to be genuinely thinking about this in terms of talent and turned him down, but the other three said yes…sigh. Dan and Venita with their $5 million motor home dreams were a little sad to watch, but it wouldn’t be a tv talent show without someone butchering Unchained Melody. Teen duo You Only Live Once were just bizarre with their audition/live rendition of the Exorcist.

Simone Battle’s overly confident (and sketchy rendition of When I Grow Up…poor poor song choice there) audition helped first highlight the judge rivalry that this show pushes as LA and Simon disagree over her and we are treated to an oh so dramatic and tension building montage (ie. lots of shots of them saying “I would have said yes”) of disagreements ending in a slurp off with their Pepsi cups…just in case you forgot who was sponsoring the show.

The one audition that I really didn’t agree with the judges on was the single mum, Stacy Francis and her rendition of Natural Woman. Maybe it sounded better live, because it didn’t sound all that great on TV. It’s been done better many times before, but the judges raved about her.

It’s following this that Cheryl is quickly and quietly replaced with no explanation as to her departure. Nicole fills her chair and we are treated to possibly my new all time favourite “cringe worthy bad audition”, Geo Godley. As Simon summed it up, what the bloody hell was that?!? If the original song wasn’t bad enough as it was (“I’m a stud not a dud” isn’t gonna be winning any grammy awards anytime soon), what possessed someone to think that X Factor translates to exposing yourself on stage in front of 4000 people?! Truly truly awfully bad, but at the same time, it’s auditions like these that make the show worth watching. It was even better than AbLisa (look it up, it’s gold).

Best audition of the night, Marcus Canty…wow. That’s all that needs to be said. Wow. Please oh please let him make it to the live shows, he was awesome!

What I found surprising is one of the main points of difference with Idol, the fact that groups can audition, was hardly mentioned. We hardly saw any. The Anser (what’s with the spelling? Am I missing something here?) did a pretty good audition doing Adele’s Rolling In The Deep with a little bit of Britney thrown in the middle, possibly not as great as they thought it might be, but not bad. I was hoping to see some more groups get some decent screen time though. Fingers crossed for tomorrow on that front.

So there we have it. X Factor USA has been unleashed upon us in a suitably grandiose fashion. I’m very much looking forward to the eventual live shows and seeing what kind of performances are going to come out of this beast. But in the meantime there are a whole lot more auditions to enjoy. If anyone can do worse than Geo Godley, I will be impressed!

You can follow New Zealand’s biggest X Factor fan, Andrew on Twitter here.

X Factor screens again tonight at 7.30pm on TV3