I notice I haven't blogged since last Saturday and this is supposed to be a poetry blog, not an X Factor one, but I have been busy reading submissions for Magma 53 and and things like that. Back tonight though for the live X Factor semi-final, which I'll update as usual as the show progresses. We are minus Janet Devlin this week, as expected. It was getting clear that Janet wasn't interested in the songs she was being asked to sing. Her outburst after her elimination that the show had turned her into a 'karaoke singer' is fair enough. I suppose she ought to have known this would happen before applying, mind you, but on the other hand, she is only 16 and may have thought the show was actually about talent. And, indeed, that they would recognise her talent and allow her to put more of a personal stamp on her material, play guitar, maybe even try one of her own songs. However, the show is not about talent (I saw a gospel choir the other week and several of them had as much vocal talent as any of the current X Factor finalists). For the show's producers, it surely has to be mainly about viewer ratings and money. For the audience, it's all about family entertainment on a Saturday night. Talent may be a by-product now and again. But good luck to Janet, easily the most 'talented' of the finalists. Let's see if she can recast herself as herself again. Last week, Kelly recommended she sing some Cranberries songs. No, Janet. That would be such a bad idea, although I reckon you'll know that anyway. Don't be a Dolores version II, as even version I was no great shakes. You could do better if you set your mind to it.
So to this week. Show just about to start...
It’s Motown night. First tonight is Misha B. The judges keep putting her through, but people don’t seem to like her. So she’s gone to a children’s hospice this week. Do you see the psychology behind that? Thought so! She may be genuine, but the marketing behind her is transparent. Imagine a world without music, she says. Uh... yes, let’s do that. OK, done that? Let’s move on now. She’s whooping and clucking through ‘Dancing in the Street’, rather forced I think. Trying too hard to be ‘Misha B’ the way she’s been asked to by the judges over the last couple of weeks. Yellow and black suited dancers, like Partick Thistle on an cloudy day at East Fife. The judges love it. I thought it was bland. I’ll give that 5, wife says 7, daughter says 8.
'Ain’t No Mountain High Enough', from Amelia Lily. Tartan dancers this time. Who makes those decisions? Is it because we have high mountains here in Scotland, at least in British terms. The difficulty tonight is that Motown songs are well known and also 40-50 years old, so freshening them up isn’t easy. Amelia has gone for the big sound. But I’m not that interested. She sang it well, but I don’t know. I’ll give her 6, wife went off somewhere and missed it, and daughter says 9.
Now it’s Little Mix. They will have fun with Motown surely. Fun! That’s what I need at this point of the show. They went to a movie premiere and saw Charles and Camilla this week – that’s what it’s all about girls! Not... They’re doing the Supremes, ‘You Just Keep Me Hanging On’, and I’m actually enjoying this more than the other performances. There’s an energy...oh, one of them forgot the words. Criminal, of course in the X Factor. Louis didn’t like it much. He is a plonker. Gary and Louis want one of them to be the focal lead singer. Tulisa disagrees and wants all of them to take their turn. Kelly says there’s always a lead singer in a group. Don’t be different, girls! Be the same as everyone else! And then whenever Louis calls anyone ‘original’, wonder about that just a bit. I’ll say 7, wife says 7, daughter says 9.
Marcus really ought to have an advantage this week, given that he’s a soul man and this is Motown. He’s doing ‘My Girl’. He’s smiling a lot. Almost as much as Marti Pellow from Wet Wet wet used to do. That always used to annoy me for some reason. Too much smiling makes me distrust people e.g. Tony Blair. A good scowl does the trick every time. Marcus kind of strolled through that song. Very safe choice. The judges liked it. Smooth. I’ll give that 7 as well. Wife says 9, daughter says 9.
Round 2. Misha B is going to have to pull something out of the bag now if she’s to survive, I think. She is sitting on her own personal smoke bomb. She’s ballading now. And this is certainly better. Towards the end it’s getting a bit histrionic, but I liked the first half. Louis says she stands out from the crowd. Depends who is in the crowd. Gary says she was previously wrongfully accused of being a bully and she won’t win because of that, not because she isn’t good enough. He might be right. But it’s also because she somehow doesn’t always connect with her material (and therefore with audience). She did there though. I’ll say 6. Wife says 8, daughter says 8.
Amelia says ‘I want this so much’ like so many X Factor hopefuls before her, and indeed she has used that phrase on several shows herself. As though, if she wants something enough, it might come true. She is power ballading. It’s so not my kind of music. But I think she is really singing this well. From quiet to loud, intense to explosive, precision. Tulisa says it’s one of her favourite songs of all time, which shows what a very strange and different planet she lives on. Gary says her shouty voice is great but her soft voice isn’t quite there, which I think is complete nonsense. Perhaps a bit of politicking? Anyway, I’ll give her 8. Wife says 9, daughter says 9.
Gary wants Marcus in the final because it would change his life. But it would change anyone's life, so no argument there. It’s ‘Can You Feel it’? Hmmmm, not really. Don't feel much, maybe a faint pinprick on my left ankle. Sounds a bit dodgy, and the sound balance might be a wee bit off, or maybe it's the wrong key for Marcus. but he seems to have settled down. Took him about 30 seconds to get going but he’s doing OK now. The judges all agree this wasn’t one of his best performances. They said it was the wrong song. I don’t know, I think he didn’t sing it all that well. I’ll say 6. Wife says 8. Daughter says 8.
Finally, it’s Little Mix. Wonder why they were third in the first half and last in the second half? SyCo TV are trying to disorientate us, like being in the center of Bucharest after lights out. The first girl singing here looks a bit drunk, although I’m sure she’s not. Something about the way she was swaying with a detached look on her face, like she was having a sudden out of body experience. It’s a Beyonce song. And another decent performance. Gary says the vocals weren’t good enough. I think he’s trying to erode their vote, so that his act, Marcus, can win. Mainly I think that because I didn’t hear anything wrong with the vocals. I’ll give them 7, wife says 9, daughter says 8.
Ok, I think Misha B will be leaving us tomorrow after a sing-off with Amelia (if there is a sing-off in the semi-final? Can't remember). As for the final, that's anyone's guess. There is no obvious winner this year, which does make it a little more exciting than normal, but the lack of a real stand-out also raises the suspicion that...well...no one is a stand out. Except, every now and then, Janet who is no longer with us.