It’s time to face the music once again, because today is the premiere of X Factor UK! My name is Eric, and I will be live blogging this season here at Mjsbigblog. I want to thank MJ for asking me to do this for my all time favorite show. I also want to thank Mateja, who did such a wonderful job since 2011 covering the show.
I’ve been a longtime commenter here and I love this community. I’ve posted on the blog in the past as well. I live-blogged part of America’s Got Talent season 9, including Nick Fradiani’s audition with Beach Avenue (which I loved for the record). In 2015, I got to see a taping of some of the arena auditions, and I wrote up thoughts about the experience here. I recapped X Factor Australia for its final season (don’t blame me for the cancellation). I wrote up spoilers and thoughts on the top 24 for last year’s season of X Factor UK, and this year’s season as well.
Now that my credentials are out of the way, let’s talk more about this season of X Factor. It’s time for big changes once again on the panel. Simon Cowell is back. Sharon Osbourne will be back for live shows (of which I hope there are more than six this year) but she’s skipping the audition rounds. We have three new faces, two of whom aren’t that new. Louis Tomlinson, former member of One Direction and guy who makes my ears bleed when he sings, is going to be a judge. Based on his guest judging stints on AGT and X Factor, I like him a lot better as a judge than as a singer. Robbie Williams, former member of Take That, is joining the panel. He has been a frequent guest on the show, and he sells out stadiums in the UK, so he’s a pretty big get. He’s big enough that in the contract negotiations, he was able to get his wife a gig as a judge next to him! That might not be totally true, but Ayda Williams is in fact joining the panel with her husband. She is not a singer but she claims to know what she’s talking about. I hope she surprises me. The best host in the business, Dermot O’Leary, rounds out the cast.
You can watch The X Factor UK live online. ITV streams the show through the ITV Hub. However, ITV blocks viewers from outside of the UK. To get around that, you need to use a VPN connection. If Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox is your preferred browser, install Hola extension and set them to UK server. Then open the ITV Player, make a free account and pick the right channel. The player will ask you for a ZIP code. Find an active UK ZIP code HERE. Make sure you have the cookies enabled. You can also try to find a working ITV stream on MyiPlayer.com, TVPC.com or FilmON.com.
And here we go! I’ve been waiting since December to see this show on TV again. New title card and it looks great. The gold is everywhere now. We meet our judges. Robbie and Ayda are first, and then Louis Tomlinson.
First up are Boyband No Labels. They chose the name because they say they are all different and don’t fit into a category. They attempt Suit and Tie by Justin Timberlake, and certainly don’t sing well. Rapping was off, singing was terrible, falsettos were painful. If Louis only wants a little better, his standards are too low. They get four nos, and Simon says the good news is that they won’t ever have to do this again. LOL.
Danny Tetley is up next. He’s got a big personality. He’s been waiting for 17 years to sing in front of Simon again after being on Pop Idol. The other judges make fun of Simon for being old. He picks a huge song – And I Am Telling You by Jennifer Holiday. He’s got a great tone and a big voice. But I don’t think he’s marketable. He might make top 12, but won’t make it much further. Robbie and Ayda stand up and start dancing halfway through. Danny breaks down in tears at the end upon seeing all four judges stand for him. Three of them join him on stage (all except Simon). Robbie loves his personality, and doesn’t even wait to say yes. Ayda has a soft spot for men from the north, and says she loves him. Louis loves the passion and says he should be really proud. Simon jokes that he told Danny to come back 17 years later. He says that the music industry is less image driven now. Simon apologizes for saying no 17 years ago. Four yeses.
The auditionees love Robbie and Louis and Robbie wants the audience to be clear about who they’re screaming for – very funny.
Misunderstood are up next. They’re from London. They are singing an original song called Juicy Fruit about the “juicy parts” of someone’s body. Stupid concept for a song, but who cares? They have awesome chemistry. They have great voices. The dancing is very high energy. They do backflips off the stage. That was a stellar audition. All four judges stand. Louis doesn’t usually like dance but says they executed it well. Robbie says they are born to do this, says the song is great. Simon talks about the X Factor, and says they have it. Four yeses. How was this not the highlighted audition? I’m rooting for them.
Kezia Povey sings You Are The Reason by Calum Scott. She’s not that great, and Robbie suggests she’d be better hiding in public in a girl group. She’s through with four yeses.
Charlotte Lee sings What About Us by Pink. She has a bit of a nasally thing going on that’s getting on my nerves a bit. Robbie says Simon can tell her the good-ish news. Simon says they want to put her in a group, not as a solo artist.
Molly Scott is up next. She has a bit of a “posh” accent, whatever that means. She’s been singing since she was six. She says she’s going to sing Man’s World by James Brown. The judges all think it’s a big song. Her nana told her she loved her before she went on stage. She has a similar voice to Louisa, but she’s not as good. Having said that, she’s still pretty damn great. Simon looks like he’s in awe. Robbie comments that she doesn’t belong in a girl band, she’s ready for this. Ayda says that it’s officially a woman’s world, that she has a phenomenal voice. Louis says it was like watching a little Xtina, fantastic. Simon says she’s got amazing humility for someone with so much talent, says it was a great first audition but thinks there are even bigger places for her to go. Four yeses. The judges say they want the girls after seeing her.
Ross Alexander gets his own intro on the screen, which is at least unique. He needed the gimmicks because he can’t sing very well. He sings Doctor Doctor for 30 seconds before being cut off by the judges. Ayda said that the least interesting thing was the singing. Ross talks back, and then is sent off the stage with 4 nos.
Livia brings backup dancers with her. And she can’t sing either. Simon calls it the most unenthusiastic performance he’s ever seen, and Robbie says it was like Cirque-de-No-Way for him.
Janice Robinson is next. She’s an American like Ayda! She wrote a song 23 years ago called Dreamer. Fun story – according to Apple Music, she wrote Ada Vox’s first single that was released yesterday. She doesn’t look it. She’s got a great voice. The song is obviously dated, because it came out 23 years ago. Robbie and Ayda get up to dance. Parts are a little breathy, but overall I enjoyed her. The judges all stand for her, and Janice gets emotional. Ayda says she’s the every single letter in the alphabet factor, says she’s unbelievable. Louis was four years old when the song came out, he called it a banger. Robbie knew the song, says he had an incredibly special moment on stage with her. Simon says that this is a golden buzzer, despite no confetti and that it’s a different show. She’s through with 4 yeses.
Acts backstage are talking about Robbie. Last up tonight is Andy Hofton. He brought Robbie a hat he owned, Ayda flowers, and Louis is cracking up. He first sings a song he sent to Gary Barlow 20 years ago, and Simon stops him to hear his second song. Which happens to be Angels by Robbie Williams – what a surprise. Robbie joins him onstage to duet. Robbie isn’t a great singer, but he’s better than Andy. Not a good sign for Andy. But hey, at least he got to sing with his favorite. For some reason, the judges all say yes. Simon’s face says he knows this deserved a no.
Overall thoughts: Misunderstood and Janice were the clear standouts tonight. I like the panel so far, but Ayda hasn’t really blown me away quite yet. There’s still time though. The show is back on again tomorrow night, but I won’t be here to liveblog it – I’m seeing David Cook in Kinky Boots!I’ll be sure to comment with my thoughts on tomorrow’s show at some point, and I’ll be back for more of the X Factor next weekend!