It’s time to face the music! This year, The X Factor UK is running two series. An all star version is coming in December with a Simon Cowell-Paula Abdul reunion on the judges panel, but for now we get to
suffer through watch The X Factor Celebrity.
Why is Simon messing with the show I love so much? Good question! The X Factor UK has been struggling in the ratings and struggling to produce stars in recent years, despite having some phenomenal singers enter.
So this year, it’s all change. Simon did what he loves to do and fired some judges, bringing back Louis Walsh again and Nicole Scherzinger with him. The regular auditions were cancelled and 15 celebrities who aren’t known for singing are competing to win a record deal with Simon Cowell’s label, which apparently is a prize. I mean, if Syco couldn’t make Louisa Johnson happen, I have my doubts, and I’m still waiting on albums from Grace Davies and Dalton Harris.
The X Factor UK ran a celebrity version in 2005, and Simon hated it so much that he said he’d never do it again. He changed his mind for two reasons: 1) Bradley Walsh, a game show host, had the number one album in the UK last year. 2) All the focus on singing shows has been on the judges lately and he wants the focus on contestants again, and apparently he can’t just focus on contestants who are regular people.
Will any of the celebrities have what it takes to sell records? Probably not, but let’s find out together, shall we? My method of watching live broke between last year and this year, so I’ll be going off YouTube the day of the show, and I’ll find a way to watch the full episode the next day.
The show introduction shows clips of various contestants from past seasons of The X Factor UK, including James Arthur, Little Mix as solo artists, One Direction as solo artists, Cher Lloyd and (shocker) Matt Cardle! Yay – my favorite is represented against all odds! Louis Walsh says he’s back for good now – I highly doubt it. “If you want to make it in this business, you need a record contract to do that,” says Nicole. I think that’s less true than before. After the brand new theme song plays (which contains elements of the old one, thankfully), Dermot introduces the show.
The celebrities all meet each other at Simon’s house in Malibu. Honestly, I skipped this part, because, you know, filler. Then, they rehearse. And we meet the guest judges, including Howie Mandel (bleh), Randy Jackson (slightly less bleh), and Sinnita (because of course). Dermot says “it’s time for the celebrities to do what they do not do best and sing for a place in the live shows.” Yep, that’s the standard we’re going with here.
The Love Islanders: These four met on a reality show called Love Island. I know, shocking. They never hooked up with each other though. They sing There’s Nothing Holding Me Back by Shawn Mendes. The first guy is pretty bad. Second guy is a decent singer and a much better rapper. The girls are slightly annoying together, but the black girl has a decent moment. If they give her more solos maybe this could work out ok. This performance did a great job in lowering the standard. Louis loved it, good chemistry. Simon thinks it was a good performance bearing in mind where they came from, but says they need to find a distinct sound, and they can all sing. Simon thinks people would be interested in seeing them develop. Nicole says there’s potential.
Kevin McHale: This Glee alumni says he doesn’t feel like he has a leg up from being on a musical TV show, that the X Factor terrifies him. He’s funny at least. He sings Never Be The Same by Camilla Cabello and he sort of flips it. I thought being on Glee meant you could sing really well. I mean, this wasn’t awful, per se, but something about his tone kind of bugs me. Louis loved it. Nicole would love to watch him grow. Simon loved it, and says huge respect for doing this.
Max & Harvey: According to commenters, they had a record deal after being discovered on TikTok and YouTube. They are our plants. Max can play guitar. They’re 16 years old. They first sing I Don’t Care by Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran. It’s way better than anything that preceded it. Nicole asks for another song, and they sing Sucker by the Jonas Brothers. This was better. I think this group has a pretty good shot of going quite far and maybe winning the show – they have charisma and they’re not terrible singers. They get a standing ovation from the judges. Louis loved it. Everything was perfect, we found something special. Nicole was in it with them, thought they were free ballin. (Ew?) Simon says every great group has sense of humor and they have it, that the second song was in a different league to the first song, tries to find a negative but can’t.
Cole & Edwards: One is an actor and one has done 15 seasons of Strictly Come Dancing (the British version of Dancing With the Stars). They enjoy singing, and say people might be pleasantly surprised. After they perform, I realize that if they make the live shows, they’re our joke act. By the way, during this performance I first noticed that Allison Iraheta was singing backup. I wish she was competing, she could sing circles around these people. Howie says it looked like a miscast musical. Louis says it doesn’t matter because Simon’s first group couldn’t sing and sold millions of records, so I guess I can say Louis loved it? Maybe? Randy says it didn’t quite come off. Simon says the most important thing is who does the public want to see through, 16 million people have watched Edwards each week. Nicole thought Cole had a lovely voice.
Martin Bashir: He’s a professional journalist, and honestly he’s one of the biggest names on the show. He’s pretty funny. He sings LOVE by Nat King Cole, and honestly, it’s weak karaoke. He might make live shows anyway because of how big of a name he is, and because of the standing ovation. Louis loved it. Nicole says it’s nice to meet him, got to see a whole other side of him, thanks him for being brave. The main reason he’s here is he’s one of 5 children. His brother Tommy was born with Muscular Dystrophy, and showed him he had no excuse for turning down opportunities, wanted him to sing. Simon says it’s not about the best singer, it’s the person and the story. Howie says it was his favorite moment of the evening.
Hayley Hasselhoff: David Hasselhoff’s daughter counts as a celebrity now I guess. She knows Simon through AGT and Randy knows her too. She says she’s an actress and curve model. She sings Someone You Loved by Lewis Capaldi. The production seemed to be working hard to give her a moment. She didn’t really live up to it in my book. All I could think of during the performance was a roast joke that Jeff Ross told David Hasselhoff back in 2010 – “they say talent skips a generation so your daughter is probably awesome.” I wish he was right. I love this song, this wasn’t good enough. Nicole says she wishes Hayley would stop moving around so much in the middle. Louis loved it. Nicole loved her unapologetic presence. Simon thought it was halfway between sounding like a record and something different. Hayley thinks she blew it.
Jenny Ryan: She’s a professional trivia player on The Chase. She says that she’s a “professional crusher of dreams” so Simon and her have a lot in common. She sings Somebody To Love by Queen which is obviously a huge son that almost nobody can sing and did her best with it. I mean, it wasn’t perfect at all, heck, my mom thought it was terrible. But I think – pray – that she could be worked with. She’s the only one who isn’t a normal singer who might have made it to Judges Houses in a normal season. I mean, probably not, but I’ll take what I can get. I hope we see someone better than her next week, but if we don’t, she’s getting my vote. She gets a standing ovation. Louis loved it, says she’s just got a great voice. Randy said the range was crazy. Nicole said it was like she said “welcome to my backyard,” loved when she opened her face hole and that came out. Simon simply says “good for you.”
Try Star: Tom, Levi and Ben are three rugby players who give the producers plenty of opportunities for shirtless footage. Nicole loves his open shirt, he says he stole the look from Simon. They perform No Diggity. Levi can kind of sing, but the other two suck. This isn’t even good karaoke. If these rugby players win, I give up. Standing ovation from the judges. Bleh. Dermot didn’t see it coming at all, by which he assume I means the positive reception. Randy is done and dusted, says it was like Magic Mike meets X Factor. Nicole says it was hot and awkward. Louis loved it, says Levi’s got The Voice – isn’t that a different show?
Next week we see the remaining acts and the judges announce who makes it to Live Shows.