Saturday, October 12, 2013

X Factor UK: Live Show 1

Hi chickadees,

Well, I don't know how good I'll be to you today. I sat through Stuart Heritage's liveblog of the show for The Guardian for 2 hours and then I followed that up by watching Glee's tribute to Cory Monteith. But I promised to at least try to cover the live shows so here it goes.

Rankings (in my opinion)
1. Sam Bailey
2. Tamera Foster
3. Rough Copy
4. Lorna Simpson
5. Hannah Barrett
6. Kingsland Road
7. Nicholas McDonald
8. Miss Dynamix
9. Abi Alton
10. Shelley Smith
11. Luke Friend
12. Sam Callahan

Hannah Barrett: Why did they give my beloved Hannah the spot of death? Apparently voters have a hard time remembering the first acts of the night or tuning in on time so the act that starts the show is automatically at a disadvantage. It was a capable performance but it wasn't a powerhouse performance. She didn't push harder than she had to and I did hear her kind of dropping off during the ends of phrases. This felt like the kind of performance an older diva like Tina Turner would give on a tour later in her career. It would be a perfect middle of the show number to pander to the fans who came to hear her biggest hits where she didn't have to try very hard. That said, I still really liked Hannah and I enjoyed the performance even if I wasn't wowed by it. If nothing else, it showed that she's comfortable on stage. I'm not sure how I feel about the staging and the outfit and makeup. It felt 80s in the way Lady Gaga's Edge of Glory video felt kind of 80s but I don't think they fully achieved what they were trying to do.
Nicholas McDonald: Seriously, all that footage of him in the suit and he's just in a casual outfit?Fine. It was a pretty song which suits him but I thought he sounded rather nasal and his vowels were not nice and open. I did hear him going a bit flat on a few notes as well. The falsetto on "all night long" was weak. The whole prom thing was awful. Don't make your performer look like the random performer that gets hired for the dance in the teen movie. Sure I like Letters to Cleo and Save Ferris, but how many people remember the names of the bands who played the prom in 10 Things I Hate About You? I do think Nicholas is pretty adorable and when he's singing out... in his range... it works.
Miss Dynamix: Their blend is still very rough. It was a very fun, colorful performance and I do love The Pointer Sisters (even though I'm a bigger fan of Fire and Slow Hand). As I said in my recap of my performers after judges' houses, I think their success is going to depend on whether they get the votes to stay in the competition long enough to begin to work together as a group. They need to learn how to sing together and hopefully start harmonizing. They are decent solo singers and I love girl groups so I'm on their side. They just need work. There were parts of the performance I really enjoyed but the rough patches were undeniable.
Sam Bailey: Sam looks fantastic. Bad move with the flowers though. It made it seem like those videos that play with the karaoke tracks. She took a while to get into the song. I would have liked to see her start belting sooner. But once she was there I felt so comfortable watching her. A strong performer doesn't make you hold your breath for the high notes but they might make you gasp afterwards. When you watch a strong performer, you know they're going to hit the notes and you know you're going to enjoy the performance. You don't have to be nervous for them. I don't know if she was mimicking Celine or if that is just the way she pronounces certain words but I liked that it gave the song character. Sam's performance just made me smile.
Sam Callahan: I hate that vocal affectation he has. It just sounds whiny to me. And I know I grew up in the 90s and I should be used to it. But that doesn't mean I have to like it. The affectation makes his vocals so shaky and pitchy that it makes it very difficult to tell if he's singing badly or singing like that intentionally. It sounds like he's straining to hit the notes, cracking a few times, and kind of weak on landing the notes. But the song and his vocal affectation hid it most of the time, so kudos to him for that? I was waiting for him to throw that red baseball cap into the audience. That tells you how exciting I found his performance.
Kingsland Road: They started out OK. I thought the lead singer's voice sounded pretty good. Then he got to "I make you happy with the" and the sound almost completely dropped out because his voice just isn't that strong. They sounded a lot clearer and sharper tonight. I almost wonder if they were pre-recorded or if they turned the microphones up. The one with the weird hair (don't make the joke... it's too easy) did crack a few times.
Shelley Smith: She started by kind of swallowing the notes. They were all in the back of her throat instead of being projected out towards the audience. Do not pick a powerhouse song if you're not a powerhouse singer. This has been one of my biggest problems with Shelley from the start. She picks songs that are frankly more than she can handle. It got better once the chorus kicked in but it still wasn't special. I can see why Shelley ended up in the bottom of the flash voting thing. Also, this show freaking loves plinths.
Abi Alton: Oh, yeah. This is what I needed in my life. A really boring version of Livin' On A Prayer with an altered melody to hide how weak the singer is. Bad breath control. Irritatingly closed vowels. Always on the verge of cracking or going flat. If I want to hear a kinder, gentler version of a rock or pop song I can just head to youtube and find people with talent, thank you very much.
Lorna Simpson: She started out a little weak and was kind of shaky on a few notes. I loved the little growl but I wish the vowel on the word "like" hadn't been so rough. But from that point on things got better. I do think it was still a little rough. She needs to open up those vowels or it just sounds like she's screaming at you. I loved the little high notes. She definitely has a voice. She just needs to work on refining it. I know she's barely an Over at 26 but I really hope she doesn't get lost in the shuffle because I do like her and I want her to get the time she needs to come into her own. A few weeks of working with all the coaches behind the scenes and Lorna could be a great pop star.
Tamera Foster: Tamera started off really strong. She kind of lost the ends of phrases a bit as the song went on and something odd happened when she suddenly turned her back to the judges. She didn't really go flat or anything that was easy to pinpoint but it was just indefinably not right for a few moments. But other than those little things, I really liked the performance. It seems like Tamera has really been putting in some hard work rehearsing and gaining confidence.
Luke Friend: Well, his vocals are still very shaky. It's like he's afraid the world will be destroyed if he actually sings a note properly. It was also a little flat. It's times like this that I miss Aiden Grimshaw's weird intensity. He would have known how to sing a song like "Every Breath You Take". As much of a mess as this was, I really like this song so I probably won't put him at the very bottom of my rankings.
Rough Copy: Yay, their third member is back! So, here's the thing. I like their voices. But I don't think they are strong individual singers. They don't have a lot of power. Thankfully they do seem to enjoy singing together (unlike Miss Dynamix). There were a few weak spots here and there but it was barely noticeable. It was very 90s boy band but I enjoyed it. The storms and the light show were too much, though.

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