The X Factor is back!

THE X FACTOR USA – HD
Thursday, September 13th at 7:30pm
Friday, September 14th at 7:30pm

Multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning worldwide pop icon Britney Spears and singer, songwriter and actress Demi Lovato join L.A. Reid and Simon Cowell as judges on The X Factor USA, the hit singing competition series returning to our screens for its second season on Thursday, September 13th at 7:30pm on 3.

“I’m absolutely delighted Britney and Demi are joining us,” says Simon Cowell. “Britney remains one of the biggest stars in the world, she’s talented, fascinating – and I believe she knows exactly how to spot the X factor. Demi’s had an amazing career in music, TV and film for someone her age. She’s young, confident, and enthusiastic. I think it’s really important that she speaks to our younger audience. The new panel will be dynamic and will work really well with the changes we are making to the show.”

“I couldn’t be more excited to join The X Factor USA judging panel,” adds Spears. “I’m a huge fan of the show and now I get to be a part of the action. Simon and L.A. better watch out!”

“I’m so thrilled to join this legendary group of judges on The X Factor USA,” says Lovato. “To be able to spend each week with Simon, L.A. and Britney watching the best that America has to offer is truly a dream come true.”

The X Factor USA will see the four judges hit the road across America for a massive audition tour to find contestants who might have the ‘X factor’.
The new categories for The X Factor USA, as well as the judges assigned to mentor the categories:

Solo singers ages 12 to 16 – mentored by Demi Lovato
Solo singers ages 17 to 24 – mentored by Britney Spears
Solo singers ages 25 and over – mentored by L.A. Reid
Groups – mentored by Simon Cowell

This will culminate with a huge weekly LIVE show, where the singers will battle it out in front of the judges and the U.S. public.

But before this happens, make sure not to miss your first introduction to the thousands that tried out when The X Factor USA premieres with those sometimes more than just-a-little embarrassing auditions on Thursday, September 13th and Friday, September 14th at 7:30pm on 3.

It’s all over for X Factor. Bring on next year!

Well X Factor fans, it’s all over and what a fantastic result!!

Firstly, sorry for the late write up of the final. With Christmas hitting us straight after I haven’t been able to get any sort of a breather for the last week!

The final was a bit of a star studded evening. We were treated to performances by the Biebs himself (I use the word “treated” loosely), Leona Lewis (a performance with a hint of desperation to it) and the final 12 again (I hope they enjoyed it, for some of them it’s the last time anyone will see them perform in anything bigger than a bingo hall again).

The final 12’s performance of Edge of Glory was a little bit average quite frankly. A friendly reminder that Stacy Francis couldn’t back up her original audition; Astro just seemed a little out of place amongst a bunch of singers; and ten preteens in a group just leaves 8 of them with not much to do but bob along in time to the music.

The remaining three finalists gave us all one last performance of a dear wee Christmas song to celebrate the season. Melanie Amaro took on All I Want For Christmas by Mariah. It was actually a bit of a shame as it was so very predictable. Great vocal and all but somehow lacking.

Chris Rene gave us his version of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas….we will Chris, as long as you don’t win! Boy can’t sing. Simple as that. He has been a bit of a one trick pony throughout the whole competition. And while Young Homie was a good trick….it aint all that. Let him release it, get a top ten hit and then bugger off please!

Josh Krajcik gives us Please Come Home For Christmas. Best performance of the lot I think. I can’t help but wonder if he’s thinking “screw you Simon for bringing Melanie back in”. He would have had this competition sewn up if Simon had stuck to his original 4 choices (and Simon would possibly have been lynch mobbed as well, still the stupidest decision he’s ever made).

The Biebs takes to the stage and I tune out a little. I won’t even start on what I think of him. It’s all very festive. Stevie Wonder is a nice touch of credibility and there is a massive “awwww” moment when Drew is brought out to sing one line with her idol. How delightfully twee. Now that we’ve all had a warm fuzzy moment and ten million teenage girls have spat tacks in jealousy let’s move on…

It was then I finally got my Christmas wish. Chris Rene was sent home in third place. Thank goodness for that, there IS some justice in the world. Time for everyone to applaud, watch the recap and forget about him please.

Best part of the show was the recap of the series top 5 memorable/shocking moments though there was a glaring omission at the top spot. I agree, Rachel’s exit was shocking (what’s that sound? It’s the sound of Nicole’s judging career on the show dissolving away into nothingness…), but how is it that Geo Godley’s pants dropping, stud not dud…the audition that caused Paula to throw up (and a large chunk of the audience I imagine) not make the list. It was an epic moment in audition history! Very disappointed at it’s absence in the list.

Leona Lewis does a weird arm waving rendition of Run, her three year old single from her first album…further cementing the fact that Simon still has no idea where to go next with her career (a comforting thought to Melanie i’m sure). Further celebrity performances ensue…to be honest, i’m that bored of them stretching out the results so much I just don’t care anymore….get on with it, tell us Melanie has won already!!!! I didn’t sign up for this to watch 50 Cent looking out of place on this show!!

I did however like seeing Rachel pop up briefly prior to Leona Lewis to tell Steve she wants his job…let’s face it honey, it’s wide open as soon as the curtain falls. He’s out on his ass with Nicole in about an hours time.

Josh and Melanie come on one last time to give us a duet of Heroes by David Bowie…I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like if Chris was still in the competition…woulda been a tad awkward hearing him try to sing with one of these two now wouldn’t it…

And then finally, the moment of truth. The two finalists are brought out on stage. We are treated to a lot of dramatic pausing and tense music in the background before it’s announced that Melanie Amaro has won The X Factor. Much screaming, hugging, congratulating the loser and confetti ensues. Steve tries most unsuccessfully to get a word out of her and looks like a bit more of a chump with each attempt. Melanie takes to the stage to choke her way through Listen…spending most of it crying and looking like a deer in the headlights before she is given a reprise and all the other contestants come out and hug her and detract from the mild awkwardness.

So there we have it folks. I’m already looking forward to next year. Nicole and Steve are already browsing the classifieds looking for work. Simon is already moving on from his winning contestant i’m sure. That’s the X Factor way of course. Hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did!

X Factor Blog: That time has come!

Last night was the final set of performances for the X Factor USA, and it looks to be a tough decision for America.

Before we got down to business however, we were treated to a preview of Simon’s new upcoming show, The Exaggeration Factor. Contestants compete with each other to see just can come out with the most stupidly outlandish statement about their journey. Chris and Josh both went with a “my whole entire life has boiled down to this moment” theme, whereas Melanie came a clear winner with her left-field “i’m going to rip my heart out right there on stage for you” comment…well done Melanie, you took it and made it a wee bit awkward!

Last night we were once again treated to two performances from each contestant. First a celebrity duet, and secondly their original audition song.

The celebrity duets were a mixed bag. For me the only one who truly shone through theirs was Melanie. Josh lucked out with the best celeb with Alanis Morissette taking the stage with him to sing Uninvited. It was a good choice for him but I didn’t find they blended that well on stage. It started off a little shaky but ended up good.

Chris Rene undid any shred of credibility he has built up over the competition and duetted with Avril Lavigne on her hit Complicated. It didn’t play to his audience and it didn’t sound that good either. Whether he has the star quality or not, there is no doubt that vocally the other two are in a whole different league compared to him.

Melanie got to tackle I Believe I Can Fly with R Kelly and while the judges were right in that it was the wrong key for her, she held her own and I think it sounded great when R Kelly joined her on stage. It seemed like a legitimate duet rather than just a talent show performance.

The odd group performance of the Cirque Du Solei Michael Jackson show with the contestants coming out and swaying awkwardly during the final chanted chorus was not particularly welcome. Yes, we know, Michael Jackson was the king of pop, yes, we all miss him, but please, enough with the Michael already! I still don’t wanna go see the Cirque show.

The best part of the night were the crazy people they talked to back in each contestants home towns. All competing to see who could be the loudest and the zaniest American (oh those Americans!). First prize goes to Chris’s mad next door neighbor who looked like she was about to wet herself in excitement, or possibly start frothing at the mouth and attacking the camera. Well done crazy lady, props to you! Special mention also goes to the exceptionally loud man at Melanie’s church who screamed at us and possibly went into some sort of religious mania as the camera cut away back to Steve who looked more than a little perturbed (just go back to Wales Steve, we’ll understand).

The second performances were all fantastic (even Chris’s, i’m not just hating on him for the sake of hating). Josh did a slightly more original version of At Last than his first audition, and it was more him, and quite fantastic. That man has an amazing voice.

We were treated for the third time to Young Homie by Chris Rene, and thank goodness as it redeemed him from his Avril failure before. It’s a good song, and I can see it becoming a hit post competition for sure.

Melanie did exactly what she did the first time round with Listen…which was wow us all. If there were any doubts over her winning I think she dispelled them right then and there. I truly hope she is crowned victorious tonight.

Season 1 of The X Factor is nearly at an end. Tonight we find out who takes the title out, get treated to whatever cover Simon has trotted out as their winners single and then we can sit back and wait patiently for it all to begin again next year!!

X Factor Blog: Nicole has a lot to answer for

Well, if ever my dislike of Nicole Sherzinger could peak it happened on Friday’s elimination. To jump the gun straight to the results all I can say is, Nicole…you screwed it up!

Last week’s theme was meant to be dance songs, and the Pepsi challenger performances (chosen by the viewers) but due to a “technical hitch” which was never explained the contestants had 24 hours to polish up their save me songs for their second song of the night. What this left us with is a first half of well rehearsed, full blown stage productions, and a second half of…averageness.

Melanie opened the show with a brilliant version of Adele’s Someone Like You. It only served to push her further into the lead and distance herself from the other contestants in terms of her talent. Her second song was the Whitney/Maria power ballad When You Believe was predictably great, but seemed like a let down after the energy of her first song.

Marcus Canty did a good job with Aint Nobody but at this stage in the game, good is not good enough. We want to see amazing and he isn’t delivering it in my opinions. His limitations are definitely apparent on the slow songs.

Rachel surprised me a little by doing Nothin On You, but she carried it well. She has grown so much as a performer since the start of the show. I thought it was slightly mean of LA to put her on the spot by questioning who it was being sung to, but I loved how she didn’t miss a beat and casually said it was for Nicole and Paula. Beautiful! Her second song, while still a downer after the first highlighted once again how impressive her vocals are for such a young girl.

Josh was, I hate to say it, disappointing. Dance music is not his forte and Nicole tried to get votes by giving him one of the biggest hits out there right now, Rihanna’s We Found Love. Unfortunately it came off a little drab and lacking in energy. As such, his second performance trumped his first.

Chris Rene….still don’t like him, not gonna lie. Live Your Life was really quite bad for me. Though, I’ll concede, his original composition for his second performance was not bad, and quite possibly his best one yet. I don’t doubt he will manage to land a record deal following the competition but I don’t for a second think he deserves to win.

The results last week is where it all went horribly wrong. Following the usual recaps of the previous night, the bit you just saw before the break, and of the recap you saw just before the bit just before the break, it finally got announced that Melanie, Josh and Chris were through leaving Marcus predictably in the bottom 2 again, along with Rachel (unfairly, as much as I think Josh is an amazing vocalist I think her performances were better than his the night before). For their save me songs they had to break out previous performances considering their save me songs had already been sung. Marcus redid I’m Going Down, which I thought was disappointing the first time and didn’t change my opinion this time. Rachel brought out I’d Rather Go Blind once again, which was stunning the first time, and was similarly stunning this time.

Simon and LA backed their own acts naturally. Paula rightly chose Rachel to stay and so the decision fell on Nicole. Nicole who has since admitted publicly that she thought Rachel would not have polled at the bottom. She expected Marcus would have got the lowest number of votes. So she copped out, and sent it to deadlock and Rachel was revealed to be the lowest polling contestant. What the hell Nicole? You couldn’t just man up (figuratively) and send Marcus home? If Simon brings back Nicole as a judge on next years series then he deserves to be slapped. It was one of the worst X Factor decisions I’ve ever seen. The boos she got following the decision was a testament to that.

From this week on, the decision no longer lies in the judges hands. The only thing Nicole can further screw up is Josh’s song choices (and she hasn’t proved herself very adept at that throughout this season)…thank goodness for that!

X Factor Blog: Down to the final 5 (and Chris Rene is still there)

Oh my god we’re down to the final five! Wow things seemed to have progressed quickly following two double eliminations (and still Chris Rene is with us…doesn’t make sense).

This week was Michael Jackson week. The acts had to perform a song by the man himself (Melanie’s already done that once, there wasn’t such a big deal made about it then) and in front of a contingent of his family, including his mother (with the most awfully scripted “I never miss an episode” plug from her about the show), his brothers, and his three children (did everyone else crack up like I did when Steve introduced Blanket?). Blanket spent the entire show looking rather morose, but with a name like that it’s probably to be expected.

The performances this week were very mixed I thought. Josh Krajcik gave his first performance that I wasn’t impressed with. Simon was the only judge who criticized it and I fully agreed with everything he said. It did not do Josh justice at all. I do feel sorry for him having Nicole as a mentor. It’s got to the point where everytime she opens her mouth I have to stop myself screaming at the TV and throwing things. Please Simon, please, i’m begging you, find someone else next year…bring back Cheryl!

Astro had the hardest time this week. It’s one thing to try and rework a style of song into his limited hip-hop repertoire but a little bit more difficult to have to sing a particular artists song when he has to rewrite the whole thing. So what we got was not Michael Jackson’s Black and White, but effectively Astro’s original composition that sampled Michael Jackson’s Black and White. I still liked it but it really highlighted why this competition is made for singers, not rappers.

Drew was better than I thought she was given credit for. Admittedly she could have FINALLY been given something upbeat, but she did the best with what she had. It was her best vocal to date as well. Rachel Crow was also given a raw deal by the judges. I thought she nailed it actually. She’s getting better at working the stage.

Marcus Canty was a good solid not bad. I was actually expecting him to be a lot better this week and I thought he would have shined, but was let down a little. You already know what i’m going to say about Chris Rene. Pretty bloody awful I thought. What the hell was he trying to do pushing out those big notes. He doesn’t have the voice for that!!

Melanie Amaro owned it tonight. For once Nicole said something I actually agreed with, it was the best of the night, and possibly of the season so far. She has star written all over her!

The results show is really starting to push it with an hour I think. They stretch the tension far too much. The group performance this week was Man In The Mirror which was disappointing considering we’ve already seen Melanie do that. So much for originality. Steve continues to display an inherent awkwardness that does not bode well for a return to the hosting role next year

The elimination, as I expected a little, did not bode well for Astro. He was sent home automatically with the lowest number of votes. Maybe that’s for the best, if anyone could use this as a vehicle for exposure and turn it into a massive career without winning it’s him. Marcus Canty was once again in the bottom two, this time joined by Drew. Personally, I’d rather see Drew stay out of the two of them, as I love her voice. Neither of their save me performances rated that well for me though. I’ve seen some amazing ones over the years of X Factor, and those did not rank among them. Unsurprisingly Simon was outvoted 3 to 1 and Drew is outta there. Having been in the bottom two twice in a row now kinda suggests that Marcus isn’t winning the public over that much though. The rest of the final five have so far never been in that position, so I wouldn’t go betting on a Marcus win.

I’m going to be bold and make a prediction on the order of elimination from here. I think Marcus will go next week, followed by Chris Rene. I think Rachel is going to come third leaving us with a Josh and Melanie final two. I love Josh, and I think he’s given some killer performances, but I think Melanie is flawless as a singer, and her undeniably exceptional voice is going to carry her to victory.

X Factor Blog: Astro doesn’t want to sing?

What a shock of an elimination this week on X Factor. While the final result was predicted and deserved the bottom two was certainly not expected.

Before I get into the insanity that was the results tonight I feel it’s time to address something about one of the contestants…Leroy Bell, what is it that you are doing during those group performances? How hard is it to NOT miss your cues? Every other contestant is doing it fine, but twice now you have bollocksed it up! Disappointing Leroy, disappointing!

This weeks results finally had a decent celebrity performer on it. For all the Simon Cowell is touting this show to be the ultimate competition etc etc the celebrity performers so far have been a little lacklustre. Rihanna though is fitting of such a show (and considering she A)assisted during judges houses and B)has a new album coming out soon (though that is an occurrence that happens ever couple of months with her) it was a forgone conclusion we were going to see her perform) and I enjoyed her performance of her latest single…though I am still torn over the idea of an artist just singing over their track, it seems like she’s cheating a little…

The other irksome thing this week was the order that things were presented in. What on earth was up with the awkward and rushed announcement of the first two acts to make it through. The judges weren’t on stage and everyone had a “what the hell is going on?” look on their faces. Paula had to run onto the stage to hug Lakoda Rayne who made it through (thank goodness America, finally!), then we cut to an ad break, then to Rihanna’s performance, and then to the results proper with the introduction of the categories and the judges coming out on stage with them…it seemed a little lackluster after the advanced announcement of the first two acts going through.

The bottom three this week was the most tense moment so far. Rachel, Astro and Stacy were left on stage and it was a nail biting wait for Steve to announce the last person to go through. I did panic that Rachel was going to be in the bottom two, but Astro ended up there with Stacy. While Stacy was expected, and proved her place there with her truly truly awful rendition of Amazing Grace, Astro was a real surprise and I was sorry to see him there. He is a talented performer and did not deserve to be in that position. Unfortunately his age got the better of him. I worry he has cost himself a lot of votes in the future with his immature behavior and that whole “should I even perform?” schtick. It was childish and it nearly caused Simon to vote him out over Stacy. I truly hope we never see a carry on like that again from him.

In the end though it was three against one and Stacy Francis was sent packing. She never quite found her niche on the show alas as she was talented. I appreciated her parting words. I think she went out like a lady and I thought they were well thought out (she knew she was going from the judges comments the night before so had clearly practiced).

Next week we are treated to an X Factor staple, the double elimination. So whoever polls the lowest next week is outta there, no save me song, no chance of redemption. It will be interesting to see who goes bottom 3 as it’s been hard to pick crowd favourites this season. Bring on the excitement!

X Factor Blog: Rock? I don’t think so

I’m just gonna come right out and say it, last night’s episode of X Factor was woefully disappointing. Rock week it may have been, but rock it did not.

Steve Jones tried his wooden best to make things sound exciting throughout the show, but considering he has the on stage charisma of one of those dolls you pull the string on and they spout forth a pre-recorded saying…nuff said…

What saddened me a little is the fact that Paula, after losing 2 of her acts 2 weeks in has gone a tad wooden herself. All of her backstage interviews looked liked she was reading from an autocue. That is a woman who has lost all belief in her category winning, luckily for her, her last remaining act brought one of the best performances of the night.

Opening the show was the unnaturally youthful Leroy Bell with We’ve Got Tonight. LA is right on the money, he’s a boring performer. He has a good voice, but his performances are lacking, and rock week should have been an opportunity for him to let loose a little, and he didn’t…poor mentoring from Nicole in my opinion.

Rachel Crow, despite being universally praised for her take on (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, didn’t rate so highly for me last night. It was good, but fell short of last week’s performance. Her age did work against her with this one. Still, one can’t deny she has stage presence.

Chris Rene and Stacy Francis followed and this is where the rock theme started to get a little dicey. LA can blag on all he likes about Bob Marley being in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but No Woman No Cry is a reggae song through and through. Chris gave it his all and poured all his talent into it…so naturally it was average. Bored now, please America, send him home. Stacy Francis was a train wreck. Flat out worst performance of the night. Of all the Meatloaf songs, that was not the one to pick for her. It was almost pantomimey the way she went at it. If she went home tonight I would not be surprised.

Melanie Amaro gave a stripped back version of Everybody Hurts. She tried to inject some power into it at the end but I would have preferred something where she could really have let loose. Still, with a vocal like that it’s difficult to fault her. She didn’t take out top performance of the night though, that goes to Josh Krajcik who fully embraced theme and owned the stage last night. Finally Nicole, you got something right (but don’t let it go to your head, and please just stop speaking altogether on the show). Taking on The Foo Fighters Josh nailed it. Absolutely amazing and his best moment yet.

Astro was never going to be that suited to rock week, what do you do with a hip-hop/rap artist in rock week? Apparently you give him Puff Daddy’s I’ll Be Missing You. Not rock…but as close as one could expect I guess. Boy is talented so makes no difference, he still gave an incredible performance.

Lakoda Rayne gave the second best performance of the night I thought. Simon was unfair on them. It wasn’t a mess, it was the first time they have really gelled as a group. Once again Paula is proved to be a very very capable mentor. Simon however dropped the ball with Drew. It could have been amazing as she has the voice for With or Without You, but it was desperately crying out for some epic drums or an electric guitar to come in half way through and was sorely lacking due to the absence of either.

I agreed with Simon over Marcus Canty’s song choice though. Good performance (weird staging though…not so sure about all the leather clad dancers), but odd song that didn’t work so well for him. Piece Of My Heart doesn’t sound right sung by a man, it just doesn’t.

All in all, a disappointing rock week on X Factor. Bottom two should rightly be Stacy and Chris (I’m not gonna be happy until he’s gone). Though despite my dislike of Chris…I think Stacy deserves to go home off her performance. We shall see tonight!