So the auditions are over and now The X-Factor is heading back to Liverpool, thankfully without Geri Halliwell this time, as Echo Arena hosts the Boot Camp stages of the auditions. Though there were already rumours of her being axed Nicole Scherzinger finally took her place alongside Louis, Gary and a now blonde Tulisa as the over-200 acts who passed their auditions gathered in a nightclub for a pre-boot camp party. Little did they know that a third of them were going to be cut, though if they had watched last year then they could guess that this was possibly coming, as the judges relived the horror of the auditions once again. Thankfully at least they had a good day out as JLS turned up to serenade the guests and tell them that this was there one shot at stardom that is unless they come back again next year like Joe Cox, Melanie McCabe or Carolynne Poole. The news of the cull then came with a lot of bemused acts that we’ve not seen before being sent home to up the drama quota for the next hour in addition the producers have installed a giant clock so the contestants can see the 72 hours countdown which must be just one step up from watching paint dry.
We sort of know the score with The X-Factor as mismatched soloists were put into groups of three while groups were pitted against each other in battle rounds. The early story seemed to be that camp Essex dude Rylan and the extravagant Ottavio were at odds with their team-mate Gathan who was so eager to nail their rendition of ‘Respect’ that he stayed up past midnight. The next day the first group featuring the wonderful Amy Mottram were the first to sing with her being the only to survive in the trio we sort of got the idea of what to expect we also saw Melanie McCabe being part of a group of girls singing Respect all of whom made it through to the next round. Another favourite from all the way back in episode one was the adorable Jahmene Douglas who was shoved in with two unrecognisable contestants to sing ‘Moves Like Jagger’ a song that was completely out of his comfort zone and it more than showed. Though Jahmene’s efforts were totally shocking there was no surprise from me whatsoever when he was given a second chance but more intriguing was that the tone-deaf Jae was also put through to the next round.
The dreaded groups category was given a chance to shine as we were shown some of the main contenders battling out starting off with the two boybands with three members. Triple J and GMD3 battled it out on Moves Like Jagger, a song that was heard far too much tonight, personally I thought the former were stronger however the judges saw appeal in both and gave them a pass through to the next round along with girl group From Above. Personally my favourite battle of the night was between Times Red and Duke both of whom deserve to be in the finals but I doubt either will as I don’t see the beat-boxing thing to be Louis Walsh’s cup of tea. Finally we saw the battles actually get physical with MK1 and Lightbulb Thieves jostling in front of each other on a version of ‘She Said’ with MK1’s Charlie proving more dominant her group were sent through while the Thieves were left arguing with Nicole who let her rage out to a bemused Gary Barlow after both groups had left.
Like with Jahmene Douglas, Lucy Spraggan didn’t feel comfortable singing ‘Moves Like Jagger’ and felt naked without her guitar so sort of nervously strutted around in the background while team-mates Jessica Beckett and Farah did most of the hard work. The other two girls were dismissed straight away and Lucy admitted to the judges that she’s never performed as bad as that in the past but in another predictable move she was put through with my guess being that she wows everyone with an acoustic number and goes storming through to Judge’s Homes. In another girlie trio we saw the appalling Collagen Westwood, who I have no recollection of from the auditions, getting majorly drunk causing her team-mate Britt Love to get really annoyed as they were all giving each other the evils during their performance. After all the accusations had been thrown around Britt was given another chance while drunk Collagen was sent packing however I felt sorry for third member Deirdre Lawlor, who was equally as good as Britt, who had to leave also.
As we saw Gary Barlow try to hang onto his sanity through rapping and practising yoga it was clear that he was getting more agitated as the day went on. We then saw a montage of him being harsh on several groups upset that they weren’t even trying on the day where they had loads to prove with groups looking bored on stage or not bothering to learn their words there seemed to be a period where nobody was getting through to the next stage. This caused for tough measures so Barlow went backstage to yell at the acts so when the next trio of girls came on they were equally as awful and caused Gary to take a second look at his contract to make sure there wasn’t an emergency exit clause. Luckily there was another great group battle on the way between cheeky devils Rough Copy and the impressive Mitsotu who wanted to put each other over while impressing and managed this bringing a lot of personality to the stage to the extent that Barlow wanted them to perform again backstage so everybody got what they had to be doing. It was at this point where we were also given montages of some that got through, including rocker Joseph Whelan, and some that didn’t which sadly included ‘Tulisha’ admirer Jason.
The loveable nerd Curtis Golden was up next alongside favourite James Arthur and the less memorable James Vickery with the three singing ‘Use Somebody.’ For my money this was the longest single performance we saw with the trio impressing throughout, though I thought Curtis displayed some sort of personality disorder singing each line in a different style, and all getting through with ease. Then we heard from Gathan, Ottavio and Rylan with the Essex queen in particular suffering from a swollen larynx but despite this they had a ‘diva-off’ with their rousing performance of ‘Respect.’ Though all three did get through I’d like to see them put together as a group with Nicole even giving them a name describing their performance as a ‘Diva Ho-Down’. As was reported earlier in the week Tammy Cartwright left the show to care for her brother meaning that Nicola Marie and former Pop Idol star Hayley Evetts had to perform ‘Stronger’ without her initially standing around in the musical gaps in which their fallen team-mate was meant to sing which seemed to anger Nicole. After the former Pussycat Doll gave them a pep talk in which they told them to fill the silence with a hum or a run, whatever that meant, they absolutely stormed through the song proving themselves to both be strong contenders in the ‘overs’ category.
After a brief rundown of some other favourites who made it through to the next round – Melanie Masson, Christopher Maloney, Kye Sones and Carolynne Poole it was time to see our final trio. They were Jake Quickenden, Adam Burridge and Robbie Hance who as we saw last week lives on the street and there has since been rumours of him wandering off while here he was presented as someone who didn’t want to join in. Jake and Adam were annoyed that Robbie would just go off and have a nap somewhere, but to be fair he’s probably glad to be in the warm, so the stage was set for a feasible way to get rid of Robbie without looking to be too harsh to the homeless guy. As you would imagine without the endless preparation Jake and Adam didn’t sound as good as they could’ve done while Robbie forgot most of the words and wandered off the stage before he could be eliminated. Jake and Adam were both given reprieves however Robbie didn’t wait around to hear his fate meaning that the collective X-Factor conscience was cleared and they didn’t have to eliminate Robbie on their own terms.
The first Boot Camp show did little for me and I really didn’t think it needed to be ninety minutes long as not much happened in that time. The only big story was Robbie abandoning the competition and to a lesser extent Tammy’s departure but most of it was just mismatched trios singing or groups getting aggressive with each other. Even if I hadn’t seen tonight’s episode I could’ve made an educated guess who had made the final day of Boot Camp and judging on who got through I would’ve been right. There’s no doubt that hearing all the talented singers tomorrow night will probably be fairly entertaining I just wish I hadn’t had to sit through tonight’s show first.