Saturday, October 19, 2013

X Factor UK Live Show 2

Hi chickadees!

I'm back for week 2 of the live shows. I missed the live blog this week (I'll be reading it after I write this post). Instead, I watched a John Barrymore/Carole Lombard movie from the 1930's before remembering that it's Saturday and it was time for another episode of the X Factor. But then luckily all the videos had already been uploaded to the youtube page. This week's theme is "love and heartache". So... at least 80% of all songs ever written. Whatever, I'm in a good mood so let's see what the contestants do with this nice vague theme.

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

Sam Bailey: Why do they keep putting my favorites in the spot of doom? Sam is singing "To Make You Feel My Love". I know it's a Bob Dylan song but for me, Adele owns this song and unless you do it differently, it's hard to measure up to her standard. Yes, I cried when Lea Michele sang this on Glee. But I still don't think it was one of her best performances. There are four ways of singing a big song like this. Better, worse, equally as well, or differently. Sam ended up somewhere between "not as well" and "different". I think she should have changed the song even more to avoid the comparison. For me, her version was a little too breathy when she wasn't belting. I do think it improved as she went along. It was a very good performance, but it just wasn't my favorite performance from Sam. I just think she could have pushed herself a little more.
Kingsland Road: They chose to sing "Marry You" by Bruno Mars. There are days when I love Bruno Mars and days when his songs are just too saccharine or melodramatic or calculated to me. There was nothing wrong with the performance. At least nothing I can pinpoint. But it was just... there. There was nothing exciting about it. They didn't do anything interesting vocally. It wasn't out of tune (though the part with the lead singer was a little rough). It just wasn't great. The performance wasn't even all that fun. I don't know what it was missing.
Nicholas McDonald: Nicholas sang "She's the One". I am not British. Therefore, I do not know this song. The only Robbie Williams song I know is "Somethin' Stupid" with Nicole Kidman and that's only because it was a Sinatra song first. I mean, I may have heard this song in my years of watching The X Factor but I do not recognize it at all. Why is Nicholas always wearing casual clothes? Seriously, he looks like he just walked in off the street. Did he not have time to change after school? Is there not enough money in the budget to get him a proper wardrobe? Are they spending all the money on plinths so there's none left for Nicholas? So many questions. None of them related to his performance. Right. Getting back on track. His first "if there's somebody" was not good. The silent dancers in black were creepy. Guys, it's not Halloween week yet. Calm down. Other than that, it was a very pretty performance. There were a few notes here and there that weren't perfect but all in all, a very nice job. He's very cute but right now I don't know if he's a star. He doesn't have that Rebecca Ferguson thing where he seems very shy or nervous. But for whatever reason he just doesn't seem to perform as well as he sings.
Abi Alton: Oh, here we go. Abi is singing "Can't Get You Out of My Head" by Kylie. Oh, pink umbrellas. That's cute. I do like her dress. Uh oh. The dancers seem to think they're backing up Rylan, and not Abi. Why does she need dancers anyway? Well, Abi's voice is still very breathy and weak. It's not exactly that her voice is nasal. It's just not being projected out the right way. You can hear it when she sings the word "arms". That long, exposed vowel shows the way she's not singing properly. When she sang "won't you stay" I wasn't sure if she was straining to hit the note or intentionally trying to imbue her voice with a wispy quality. Either way, failure. I think what annoys me about Abi is that will never be a brilliant singer. But she is a decent singer... who refuses to try very hard.
Shelley Smith: Oy. Shelley is singing "Single Ladies". I don't even... why? I just... Nevermind. Let's get it over with. The big disco ball is distracting. The eye makeup ages her horribly. It was fine. The performance was an improvement from last week though I think her voice isn't big enough for a song like this and she kind of got lost once the uptempo part really kicked in. I think the biggest problem with the performance is that Shelley feels like an "Over". Unlike Sam, she doesn't seem to own who she is. Or who she is is someone's recently divorced aunt doing karaoke at a wedding.
Sam Callahan: Sam is singing "I Won't Give Up." That's the spirit! It's still very shaky. That's not vibrato. That's bad breath control. That slightly whiny affectation is a little less annoying in slow ballad form. OK, he's probably never going to be my favorite singer because of all the little idiosyncrasies that I just find so irritating about his voice. And he's probably never going to be the best singer in the competition. But it was better this week. Much better. I still wouldn't call it good, but I respect that he's probably been working hard to improve his singing. So, A for effort.
Tamera Foster: Tamera is singing "Beneath Your Beautiful". I'm not familiar with this song because sue me, I don't have the time to listen to every new artist that someone tells me is popular. I get to things in my own time. Which is usually 3 years late. I just got Spotify a few days ago. I think Tamera sounded gorgeous. A too little breathy and wispy at first for my taste but otherwise, a very good performance. What do you want me to say? It's harder to critique songs I don't know. I think there were one or two spots where I couldn't tell if she landed the note she was trying to hit but they were very minor things.
Luke Friend: Luke is singing "Let Her Go." I can't decide if I like or hate this song. Let's see if Luke's performance will sway my opinion. Well, it's a nice easy song to sing, which is great for Luke. He sounds pretty good. He's still a little rough at the ends of phrases but it's actually kind of pleasant. Did I actually like a Luke Friend performance? Yes. Let's just stop speaking about this.
Rough Copy: They chose to sing "I Want It That Way." They are apparently really determined to sell the 90's boy band thing. One of them is wearing a pleated wrap skirt. It wasn't perfect but when you sing a Backstreet Boys song you set off my nostalgia sensors and it's hard for me to judge things objectively. The boy band sound should be very smooth. There were maybe 4 rough spots. But they're people, not robots or a manufactured group lip-synching to an autotuned track. So, another performance in the good not great category. Moving on...
Hannah Barrett: Hannah is singing "Beautiful." I wasn't in love with the start of the song. I think her breath control was a little shaky. Just because you're singing more quietly, it doesn't mean you don't still have to support those notes. Hannah sounded so much like Lauryn Hill to me during this performance. You know it was fantastic once the song really kicked into gear. Why are you waiting for me to tell you that? She brought back that grit and those gorgeous low notes.

All in all, this wasn't a fantastic week in terms of song choices or performances. I did enjoy some of the performances but I don't think they're really going to stay with me. I'm hoping for better next week when the theme is... Songs from films. Oh, great. Well, see you next week!

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