It’s that time of year again, the time right before the summer fades away and we get one last breath of Redfool to tide us through the winter. Truthfully, I am going to try to come into this with an open opinion of Redfoo he made some very clever and interesting song choices with his acts at Bootcamp, so he could’ve changed his ways for the better. Although hearing the feedback he gave to his overs about having more confidence and literally nothing technically makes me wonder. All that being said, I am very glad Redfoo has the Overs because, ideally, they should be able to have enough experience to make up for his lack of mentoring. As much as I was happy to see Australian Idol Season 2 alumnus, Amali Ward, make it to the final 24, I can’t help but wonder how much of that was motivated by RedFoo’s attraction to her and not taking the vocally superior Mick or a few other Overs that could have had Amali’s spot. Not to say Redfoo is the only one guilty, miss Bassingthwaighte if I am being honest chose the six most attractive guys in her category and not the six most vocally adept ones. We all know Natalie has a thing for bad boys (see: XFAU3’s Mitchell Callaway). That being said Natalie still has a lot of talent in her category and I hope beyond hope Australian Idol Season 7 Third Place Finisher, James Johnston, finds himself in the final 12. Although I think it is a little unfair for him to be here getting as far as he did in Season 7, he still deserves to be there. O.K. enough ranting all over the place and let’s get to the nitty-gritty of the final 24 performances, their prospects for making the final 12, and of course that elusive wildcard spot that the likes of Fletcher Mills (XFNZ) and Christopher Maloney (XFUK9) have snagged before. Other wildcard highlights: Treyc Cohen, Wagner, Diva Fever and Paije Richardson (of XFUK7). But first a moment for how good of season X Factor UK 7 was makes me extra excited that Cheryl is back on the UK panel again, sorry I got lost in a rant again, many apologies.
Jesse Teinaki‘s “Riptide” first off I am going to say that I absolutely love this song. Love this song choice for him. In the bootcamp round I didn’t think Jesse was all that special just another pretty face (AI13 Spencer Lloyd vibes all over the place). But in this round with this song, I felt (possibly in my nether regions) what Natalie saw in this kid. Earnest and a lovely tone that could take him to the dizzying heights of Johnny Ruffo (XFAU3). Fantastic falsetto work, great control, and a definite contender for at least a wildcard spot in my mind. I must curse the hand that wrote this (Bless Me Haley Reinhart for I am about to sin) Jennifer Lopez may be right that Jesse could be a little too generic to make the final 12 of his own accord.
Adrien Nookadu‘s “More Than Words” I like Adrien’s look and his tone, but ultimately I don’t feel like that this song choice was as inspired as Jesse’s. I could see a valid point to put Adrien into the final 12, but for me Adrien’s personality and voice doesn’t sell me. Say what you want about Declan Sykes, but every time he got on stage I was excited about what he was going to off-pitch sing. Honestly, with how stiff the competition is, I don’t want to see Adrien in my top 12, or even as my wildcard contender.
Tee‘s “Don’t Look Back in Anger” well he killed it, left it all on the floor and between this and his version of “Angie” I literally think Tee has to be the top 12, in my mind, there is no bigger lock than this guy in this category. He was giving out #Goosies left and right AND he has a redemption arc already built in. How can you not love the boy who doesn’t like to wear pants? Is Tee Australia’s answer to Adam Lambert? Mayhaps. Tee dug deep into those notes and he deserves to go deep into this competition. (I hope this prediction doesn’t blow up in my face like it did with Angel Tupai two years ago).
Jaymie Deboucherville‘s “My Babe” this song is cheeky, inspired, interesting, quirky, and decently delivered. All things that I would normally say about someone I want in my top 12, but honestly, I just don’t see the cards lining up for this years Matt Cenere. I guess I already gave my generic male spot to Jesse. All that being said Jaymie puts up the best case he can for himself with such a unique song choice. Like Natalie, I don’t think Jaymie is strong enough against the other vocalists to pull this off.
James Johnston’s “Something I Need” in full disclosure, I am already coming into this show as a fan of James, I thought he deserved a spot in final 2 over Hayley Warner. James shows such control and professionalism so young. I would make him a lock as big as Tee except his mentoring session with Natalie went a little rocky, and Natalie has already proven to make some bad decisions in the past (see: Adira-Belle). All that being said James delivered confidently and even J.Lo could see his X Factor potential.
Dean Ray‘s “Dancing Queen” a different song choice, not necessarily a good one, but a different one. I see why he was drawn to a unique song choice, but couldn’t he have just as easily dug deep into the catalogs of Billy Joel to achieve a similar effect without necessarily drawing attention to the fact that I-AM-TAKING-A-RISK. All that being said I can see Natalie picking this boy because she is drawn to the mystique that shrouds Dean.
In recap, I think the decision Natalie is going to make is clear Tee, James, and Dean are her final 3 boys. With Jesse and Adrien dueling it out for the wildcard vote. My preference being Jesse over Adrien. Sorry Jaymie, I don’t even know that you deserved a spot in the top 24, but truth be told you did the best you could with it and you have nothing to be ashamed of.
Amali Ward‘s “Diamonds” as far as I am concerned, Amali did everything she could with Rihanna’s new-age-lite-love-song. Solid controlled vocal, I felt her spirit pushing through the song, but still Amali didn’t get quite prove why she had to be in the final 12 or else you will lose without her. As good as she could. Nicole (one of the greatest Judges this show has ever seen and XFUS1 did her no justice but thank goodness for her redemption in XFUK9) correctly identifies that Amali lacks confidence, but she has the looks, the vocals, all the ingredients of a pop star, just not the X Factor, if you will. Perhaps if they do a Season 3 of the Pussycat Dolls Presents: Shewolves Nicole could give Amali a call to join the cast, but right now I am not feeling to good about her getting a top 12 spot.
Jason Heerah‘s “Bennie and the Jets” the Haley Reinhart classic anthem. Honestly, nothing too special about this performance, very competent, I would still rate him higher than Amali simply because Jason’s “Happy” was almost Majesty Rose level awesomeness. Jason is reeking with potential and soul and experience. Redfoo would be the Redfool to not take him to the final 12. Nicole mentions his energy and that is more how I feel about Jason, nothing particularly special about what is happening in the performance, but more a very fun energy I feel when watching.
Ryan Imlach‘s “Wicked Game” first off can I just say this song is a bit of a low blow, it is up there with Halleluiah it is just meant to be gushing with emotion and the lyrical seems. This song selection concerns me intrinsically to the types of songs Ryan would be drawn to after the competition if he were to do well. Where is the edge? Where is the personality? Vanilla rarely sells records. It does sell ice cream though. Perhaps he is in the wrong line of work. Ryan does a good job, nothing spectacular except a spectacular song to make up for his deficits. Ryan is very likable, but likability doesn’t win these shows, usually. Even Redfoo is sensing what I am feeling about his vanilla-ness that is how concerning this issue for Ryan really is.
Stephanie Totino‘s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” this song choice seems dated, which therefore makes Stephanie seem dated, which means Stephanie realistically has no chance at even a wildcard vote out of this category. I understand Stephanie’s mindset a power ballad that means something her that she could vocally sink her teeth into. Now in my head I am debating if Nikki McKibbin or Stephanie did a better job with this song and honestly that isn’t a debate that I should be even having if you really deserved a spot in the final 12. Sorry, Stephanie. Nicole called it safe, and this song will get her safely back home and into the classroom.
Rochelle Pitt‘s “Natural Woman” pales in comparison to Kelly Clarkson’s, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I thought Rochelle’s bootcamp performance of “Addicted to You” was stellar. Rochelle delivered the song very well and combined with her overall likability and story arc, I can easily see her sliding into the top 3 for mister Redfoo. Redfoo nailed it when he said Rochelle’s challenge is relevance, but I think with the right song choices, she could be the Sam Bailey or Dami Im of this season.
Reigan Derry‘s “Locked Out of Heaven” this song choice has swag and Reigan is a virtual lock in my mind for this category. Not only is she gorgeous, not only does she have stage presence, not only can she sing, but she is seemingly so relevant in her mix-and-match of animal/floral print loose fitting dresses. Reigan is this years Samantha Jade and she has her eye on the title. Nicole says she is a threat to win it all and she is without question.
In recap, the top 3 for me is number one with a bullet Reigan, number two Jason, and rounding out Foo’s top 3 Rochelle. With Amali getting the wildcard vote. I could see maybe Foo doing something foolish like going Reigan, Jason, Ryan, but how can you give up that likability factor of Rochelle. And if we are going to battle singing voices of the likability factors of Rochelle versus Ryan, Rochelle wins every single time in my book.
Chloe Papandrea‘s “What A Girl Wants” Chloe was in the pocket the entire for this song and with a song like this that can easily eat you up whole and leave little behind as scraps, Chloe navigated much better than I expected. That being said I am wondering what this song choice says about Chloe beyond the fact that she probably doesn’t have a very large musical lexicon to pull from. I wonder, as does Ronan, what makes Chloe special in a sea of girls that probably aren’t that different from her.
Shanell Dargan‘s “Not Ready to Make Nice” Shanell is gorgeous, but her vocal on this country-tinged track is shaky at best. She definitely is pushing for some attitude, but I find ironically with this song selection is that she has desire to show attitude with her performance, but an inability to execute it. It is like she knew inherently that was her problem (Thia Megia syndrome) and she felt the need to act on it with an overcompensating attitude song, but failed in the delivery. Even though Ronan seemed positive in his conversation with John, I have a hard time believing Shanell makes the cut for the final 12.
Sydnee Carter‘s “We Found Love” Sydnee is my Bella Ferraro of the season, not the most experienced, but such a lovely tone that is all makes up for all the other flaws. Sydnee has a modern girl next door look and can play guitar. I want to see this girl in the final 12 and I suspect Sydnee could be the first under 24 girl to win the X Factor. Like Jackie Thomas on XFNZ that messed up all through boot-camp and squeaked into the final 13 by the grace of Daniel Bedingfield, so to will Sydnee and then she will go on to take this competition by storm. I could be wrong, but that is my boldfaced prediction!
Alice Bottomley‘s “Listen to Your Heart” Alice has a big, big voice. Taking on “Miss Independent” at boot camp and not dying is an applause-worthy feat all on its own. With this song Alice hoped to expose her sensitive side which her pushing-t0-the-brink vocals wasn’t allowing her to do before. Much like Chloe, Alice was chasing after an aspect of her performance that she knew she wasn’t great at, but then came up short. I wanted, desperately, to feel Alice’s hurt in the song, but instead her power vocals kicked in and blew me away and left me emotionally vacant. Alice I would have put before this with a decent chance at making the top 12 and now she still might have a chance, but it isn’t definitely is not a lock by any stretch.
Caitlyn Shadbolt‘s “Skyscraper” before this performance I felt like Caitlyn was pretty average, nothing particularly special and then after this performance I am not particular moved in my opinion, not by the song choice or the performance particularly. She is certainly competent, but I don’t see any X-Factor here once you take away the cowgirl boots and corresponding hat. All these girls pushing themselves out of their wheelhouse at the exact wrong time to show it. You need to be showing that you are great at something, not mediocre at something else. She did well, she could make it, but she could not, this whole category is so in-flux for me right now.
Marlisa Punzalan‘s “I’ll Stand By You” despite her minor hiccup, I still want Marlisa in the final 12. She has a lovely tone, fantastic control, and for fourteen years of age (say it with me in Ronan’s voice) she is very good at connecting with a song. Ultimately what was great in this performance was so great, that I can look past this mistake and honestly the other girls didn’t bring it the way I wanted them too either so. So Marlisa may just end up being a victim of luck and make the top 12 by default.
To recap, my top three girls have to be Marlisa, Sydnee and, dare I say it, Chloe. With Alice getting the wildcard vote. I wouldn’t be upset if Chloe and Alice got flipped flopped, but for my money those are the four girls (in some combination) that we will still be talking about next week.
Paris Inc.‘s “Your Love is My Drug” Paris Inc. are like the urban alternative that isn’t quite Little Mix, but definitely isn’t Fifth Harmony either, some odd pseudo combination of the two groups. This song, like Dannii correctly pointed out, shows off their fun and flirty side to the max. Their vocals were tight and this definitely put their best foot forward. I am not sure it will be enough, but they definitely are putting themselves as contenders for consideration which is all you can ask at this point. James Blunt questions their song choice, I don’t blame him, perhaps “Die Young” would’ve been a stronger outing for them as they dig through the Ke$ha song book.
Brothers 3‘s “Eternal Flame” has a sense of authenticity that you simply can not buy. This song is interesting, I appreciate their understanding that this song was chosen to show off their stellar harmonies, but perhaps they could’ve integrated their harmonies into a slightly more relevant song (especially because me and Dannii are both concerned about their relevance on the charts to begin with). They did good with the song, but are they heart-throby enough to be the next 5SOS or The Vamps or R5. I feel like probably not, as much as I like them and as much as I liked Audio Vixen, I just cannot see these family groups winning.
Trill‘s “Price Tag” these girls feel like a more fun, genuine version of Paris Inc. and Paris Inc. should be scared. I will argue up and down that Paris had more solid vocals and Trill were a bit messy, but who’s party do I want to go to the answer is Trill they are, for the sake of convenience, a thrill. Trill brings youth, it brings spunk, it brings a rapper, Paris brings less messy vocals. James and Dannii commented on the swag that Trill brings and I literally could not agree more with them. At this moment I can see them in the top 12.
Boy Band‘s “What I Like About You” What I like about them is that their hair is almost as good as Kingsland Road (XFUK10), almost. This was a smart song choice for them. They brought it for the most part with good vocals. But truth be told, I wanted them to bowl me over and prove why I believed they deserved a spot in the final 12 and after that I feel as though I could take or leave them. Let’s hope for their sake that their chances aren’t equivalent to the amount of sleeves that Harry was wearing.
MajikHoney‘s “Blame it on the Boogie” first off, I love these girls to Reece’s pieces, but I find it hard to believe they belong in the final 12. Their vocals have proven so far to be sub-par and this performance didn’t change my mind. They are fun, they are fresh, they are interesting, but if we are going to be comparing girl groups you have both Paris Inc. and Trill delivering stronger than them. They perhaps needed to push their potential urban edge to the forefront like they did in the bridge with the beat-boxing. Got to put your best foot forward, especially at this stage.
Girl Group‘s “What A Man” these girls I have high hopes for them, I loved their “Boom Boom Pow” and I love a good rapper in a group (see Three Wishez, TH3RD DEGREE) and I pray they pull this off. They bring clean, tight vocals with an urban swag that is perfectly composed. As far as I am concerned, the best performance from a group at this stage. Period. Dannii is excited and so am I. Girl Group pack your bags and figure out a decent name.
In recap, for the groups the number one is obvious as daylight Girl Group, after that it all gets a little hazy, but if I had to decide based on these performances my number two would be Trill and my number three would be Brothers 3, with Boy Band getting the wildcard opportunity.
Final 12 predictions and locking in my answers: (let’s see how wrong I am this time)
2. James Johnston
3. Dean Ray
WC. Jesse Teinaki
1. Reigan Derry
2. Jason Heerah
3. Rochelle Pitt
WC. Amali Ward
1. Marlisa Punzalan
2. Sydnee Carter
3. Chloe Papandrea
WC. Alice Bottomley
1. Girl Group
3. Brothers 3
WC. Boy Band
Wildcard vote winner and 13th finalist:
Yeah, I am probably wrong, but this is how I could see it going down. Thanks so much for reading my over 3k+ words!