The X-Factor 2013 Week Six: Thomas McDonald, Steph Woods and Rough Copy all triumph in the arena auditions

by Matt D


After three weeks I’ve become accustomed to the way the double auditions play out. Essentially acts that didn’t get much exposure last night are given more time to shine. Conversely, acts who were the big talking points of last night are often put through to Boot Camp after a brief snippet of their performance. In a way I feel this is a benefit as we get to know a lot more of the characters who’ll be performing for us once again in a couple of weeks.

A case in point is Nicholas McDonald, the young sixteen year old Scott who last night came to the auditions dressed as if he were going to a dinner party. Tonight he looked every inch the boyband member as he rocked the white vest and open shirt combo. Mr Nasty Gary Barlow told Nicholas that he needed to give it another year and audition again; but the other three judges put him through. As the judges commented that they didn’t think he was ready, I already knew that this lad was getting through to the next stage of the contest. His song choice, Christina Perri’s ‘ A Thousand Years’, showcased his vocals and won the judges over instantly. Nicole commented on Nicholas’ beautiful voice while Sharon told him that he owned that audition. Nicholas is a lock to get through to the live shows, as the boys category is currently incredibly weak, and I predict he will become this year’s Eoghan Quigg.


Last night Next of Kin closed the auditions by making all the judges crying and getting the audiences to reach for their copies of Smash Hits from 1996. Tonight they only featured briefly harmonising their way through Lonestar’s ‘Amazed’ and getting a unanimous yes. Meanwhile boy band Kingsland, whose performance was described as messy last night, came back fighting and were a lot more harmonious. Though Nicole noted that their vocals needed improving, the general consensus was that they were ready made stars. I’m not sure about how far they’ll get in the competition, but I’m guessing they’ll need the money as only two of their number are now in paid employment. Of the three boybands who auditioned last night, it was Rough Copy who got the most time devoted to them. As they were last year, the boys were a ball of excitement and made a spectacular entrance from the back of the arena. It was a surprise then when they went for a ballad and serenaded the two female judges with their rendition of ‘Little Things’. Even though she seemed charmed by Rough Copy, Sharon told them to tone down the confidence as it made them appear cocky. Despite this comment, everybody else praised Rough Copy for their charisma and they easily made it through to Boot Camp. I’d honestly be surprised if these weren’t the three groups we saw in the finals as that category is currently very narrow.

A couple more acts who were given time to shine this week were bus driver James Mcdonald and Essex girl Lydia Lucy. In the room audition, Lydia was told by Sharon that she hadn’t found her identity yet and she’d better off in a girl group however tonight she came out fighting. Though I thought she stumbled to start with she soon relaxed as she gave us her own interpretation of ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ which the crowd went crazy for. Nicole obviously couldn’t remember Lydia as she asked her where she’d come from while the other judges simply praised her voice. Lydia easily got through the arena audition but the same couldn’t be said for James, who last night was complimented for his soulful vocals. I personally enjoyed his performance of ‘Red’ and it seemed like the crowd were really getting into it as well. But when James got the ‘Hand of Doom’ signal from Gary you knew that he probably wasn’t going to make it through to the next round. Gary told James he was limited and generic while Sharon didn’t think he was up to the level they were looking for. Ultimately Nicole was the only judge to give James a yes, but at least this meant there was another driver to cover the number 9 route through Nottingham.

I really don’t understand the decision not to put James through especially when Souli Roots made it to Boot Camp simply by shouting. As much as I love the comedy reggae singer her crowd reaction was mainly due to her infectious personality rather than her vocal ability. Bringing a drum onto the stage, Souli got the audience in the palm of her hand instantly as she performed ‘Three Little Birds’. I say performed, I didn’t really hear that much of the song and instead Souli did more talking than singing. But whatever she did worked as all four judges were up and dancing with the usual sulky Gary Barlow twirling Mrs O around the table. Gary was the only judge not to give Souli a yes, but I have a sneaking suspicion that she’ll be cut during the Boot Camp auditions.


Finally we get to Steph Woods, who last provided the only genuinely emotional moment when she made Sharon cry. Tonight Steph returned with the odd song choice of Celine Dion’s ‘I Drove All Night’, which was a selection straight out of the Louis Walsh songbook. I really didn’t think that this Europop hit suited her voice and indeed none of the judges did either. Thankfully, the audience were so behind Steph that she got another crack at her audition and this time chose to sing ‘Songbird’. Even though Gary only allotted her thirty seconds for this performance, she got at least a minute. Predictably Steph showcased her skills here, but at the same time demonstrated that she can only do ballads. At Boot Camp we’re bound to see Steph change it up and select a more modern number, even if it will probably be an Adele track that we’ve heard a million times before.

With the exception of Nicholas McDonald’s audition, there wasn’t much of note on this week’s arena show. There was some inconsistency in the judges’ decision as Souli Roots went through whereas James McDonald didn’t. The groups category seems sown up after tonight’s show while there already appears to be too many talented girls this year. It feels odd that we’ve only got one more audition weekend to go but at the same time I think there’s room for a few more acts to dominate the bill before we get to Boot Camp.

What did you think to this week’s arena show? Who was your favourite act?

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