“X Factor” Week 4 Recap: Double Bill of Auditions and Spice Girls
“X Factor” Week 4 Recap: Double Bill of Auditions and Spice Girls
This week’s “X Factor” was the first week of back-to-back episodes and Spice Girl judging. Unfortunately, Sunday’s show clashed with the Paralympics closing ceremonies and didn’t do any favours for the show’s already low ratings. Nonetheless, “X Factor” had its charm and this week, for the first time since the season started, it came together as a solid show with outstanding talent and characters that were absolutely bonkers. This weekend was emotional, yet cringe worthy, and had all the elements of what makes shows like “X Factor” so highly entertaining.
Saturday night saw auditions head out to Liverpool and the arrival of a brash, shameless, and self-promoting Geri Halliwell as the guest judge. Wearing a cobalt blue lace shift dress, beige ankle boots, and a slash of orange lippy, Halliwell admittedly looked good for her 40 years. What was annoying, however, was her excitability, which was like an animal in heat, especially when it came to panting on younger boys, singing and dancing along to girl groups, and venting out her aggression on Gary Barlow. She referred everything back to herself and one got the feeling they were watching a caricature of Halliwell – a shadow of her former glory, if she ever had one. It was a bit embarrassing to watch her counting out her number one hits, all eleven of them, then trying to antagonize Barlow on his success, which outweighs her by tenfold. Halliwell’s delusional ideas of self-grandeur serves as a cautionary tale of what happens when faded stars surround themselves with too many “yes men”.
The Halliwell-Barlow feud launched off with the first audition of girl groups. The It Girls sang “Stop” to a dancing Halliwell, who, despite a really off-key performance, was the only yes on the panel. The rest of the judges vetoed the girl group, with Barlow having the final “no”, citing poor vocals. This didn’t sit well with Halliwell, who attacked Barlow by barking that not all members of Take That could sing. Louis Walsh stepped up to Take That’s defense by reminding her that not all members of Spice Girls could sing either.
The row continued over the next few auditions. If one said yes, the other was bound to disagree. Halliwell got increasingly petty with her comments to Barlow, whose sarcasm didn’t seem to register with the former Spice Girl.
The most exciting audition in the group category was a three-member boy band, Times Red. The hunky trio, who worked as models, DJs and the sorts, had Halliwell in full panting mode, and even requested they take their shirts off. There was a quick flash of a solid six-pack, which seemed to satisfy her. Their acoustic rendition of Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab”, filtered in with beat-boxing, raw harmonies and a jazzier edge, was really cool and showcased a multitude of talent that had yet to be seen on the show. Their great vocals and pitch-perfect falsettos secured them four yeses, with Barlow telling them they had something really special.
The auditions left Liverpool and thankfully, that meant no more Halliwell. It was back to Manchester with Mel B, whose honesty and straightforwardness was refreshing from her ex-band mate. What a contrast the two women were – if Halliwell, with her slim body and seemingly youthful face represents modernity, which has been manipulated through lifestyle changes, then Mel B exemplifies what it means to age gracefully and naturally.
In Manchester, the youngsters of the auditions really pushed the auditions to a whole new level. Megan O’Neill, aged 16, had a rich voice that was full of texture and depth and prompted Walsh to tell her she’s got something special and whisked her off to boot camp. Tasha Pyne, aged 17, had a voice Mel B called “magical” and Melanie McCabe, who auditioned last year and got as far as Kelly Rowland’s house, came back with an added maturity. Her rendition of “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” floored the judges and Barlow said her performance was “extra ordinary”. Four yeses and McCabe was back in boot camp. Only time will tell whether history will repeat itself with McCabe or if this is her year to make it onto the “X Factor” stage.
There were fillers of bad performances including a horrible rendition of Whitey Houston, a weird fetish duo called Little and Large whose performance was just disturbing, and a man who managed to butcher Queen. And an odd Indian man, Ashwin, who couldn’t take no for an answer.
Perhaps the most heartwarming performance of the night belonged to a Vietnamese boy, Jason, whose love for Tulisa was so innocent and so pure. The 18-year old came on stage and professed his love for “Tulisha”. He couldn’t pronounce her name, no matter the amount of coaching. Jason gave Tulisa a rose and in return, he got a kiss on the cheek. When asked what he hoped to gain at this audition, he said he wanted Tulisa to give him a standing ovation. He got down to business and sang Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing”. Jason had all the arm movements down, a la Houston, and while his vocals weren’t perfect, his performance was endearing and garnered four yeses and had Tulisa standing. She said she just found her new toy boy and told Jason, “You wanted my love, you got it.”
The last performance of Saturday night was Christopher Maloney from Liverpool. Bogged down by nerves and many years of discouragement, he was noticeably nervous when he stepped on stage but sang Bette Midler’s “The Rose”, which was played at his father’s funeral. He wowed the audience and judges with his brassy, powerful voice. It was passionate and emotional, and ended up in a flood of tears. The judges, clearly taken with his performance, gave him four yeses and Barlow saying, “You stole the show today.” The 34-year old brought his Nan, who’s his biggest fan, on stage to share his triumph.
Sunday night saw auditions return to London, where an “X Factor” alumnus Leona Lewis was the guest judge. Unfortunately, Lewis didn’t look great. She had a weird wack of hair over the front part of her head, looking a bit like a misplaced turtle shell and her make up was garish. On the upside, her dip dyed hair was a nice touch.
Bring on Eddy String, a cheeky 18-year old who rocked women’s waxed jeans and sang “Last Night” by the Strokes. He has undeniable rock star talent and could be this year’s Frankie Cocozza. He had a huge personality, bantered with Barlow and the audience, and of course, the women loved him. His energy was infectious and although his vocals weren’t the strongest, he had a certain something that had all four judges giving him a nod. But Barlow warned, “The personality thing is on the edge of being annoying. Tone it back one bit.”
Next up was Amy from Essex. The 16-year old had her lashes, fake nails and vejazzled trainers. Poor Walsh had no idea what vejazzling was and when Amy tried to explain, it was so awkward. But it’s these moments that make the show so genuine. Her rendition of Adele’s “One and Only” was so soulful, with a maturity beyond her 16 years. “Absolutely gorgeous,” cooed Barlow and with four yeses, the Romford lass will be off to boot camp.
Georgia Garnett told judges she was inspired by Lewis and the 17-year old launched off into “It’s a Man’s World”. She looks like a skinny teenager with a tiny voice, but when she sang, her rich, soulful tone was so well rounded and completely different to her sunny teenage disposition. “It blew me away,” said Walsh.
Sharon Rose also managed a great audition, despite her nerves. Although only 22 years old, her performance of “At Last” was controlled and commanding, and its old soulfulness had Barlow calling her “flawless”. Lewis complimented her by saying, “Your voice was stunning. Every note was perfect. Amazing audition.” Needless to say, she was given four yeses to go on to boot camp.
During the group auditions in London, Lewis was replaced by Nicole Scherzinger, who is now permanently on the judging panel. She was looking svelte in a black halter neck dress and a sleek ponytail.
The first group up was GMD3, who sang “I’ll Make Love To You.” While their voices were really sweet, they were slightly underdeveloped. Their harmonies were strong and had Walsh comparing them to a young JLS. The highest compliment came from Barlow who said, “Individually you’re excellent, but when you blend it together, it’s like listening to one sound.”
The groups were really strong this year, with yeses to Mitsoty, a three-member a capella group, District Line, a two-girl group that had fantastic harmonies and guitar skills to boot, and Duke, three large and burley men who could harmonize and beat box. MKI started off as a trio, but when the judges told them in order to go on, they must let go of their weakest link it caused much distress. When told, Charlie, clearly the star of the group, said that they were a group and that they wouldn’t leave one man behind. But after a quick conference, Will, the odd man out, said he’d leave if he received 33 per cent of the group’s total earnings. You have to give him props for his entrepreneural flare and getting the most out of the other two, who agreed, and moved onto the next level.
The last performance was a rather disturbing one with a 33-year old Britney Spears impersonator coming on stage in a white body stocking and neon undergarments and gyrating all over the judges. It was like watching really bad exotic dancing in the depths of suburban America. Lorna Bliss slithered around and sexually harassed the judges, including pushing Walsh’s head into her crotch. The whole thing was tasteless and had Barlow running off in fear. It was hideous and as Barlow sums up, “It was all just shock value”. Well said.