Coming into this year’s X-Factor Boot Camp shows we already knew the format had changed somewhat. These changes were evident right from the off when the judges received the categories they would mentor right at the top of the show.
This news was delivered by producer Richard Holloway, who was rocking a vintage Doctor Who look, and as always there were some who were happier than others. Louis was delighted when he got the boys, insert your own jokes here, while Sharon seemed a little down when she found out she was mentoring the overs . Nicole was over the moon when she got the girls however it was Gary who drew the short straw this year and he got the groups. The first part of the challenge was a simple sing-off where the acts were put into groups of two or three and had to impress the judge who’d be cutting down their number by half. An early casualty of the Boot Camp process was Steph Woods, who lost out to fellow returnees Melanie McCabe and Amy Mottram. Despite Sharon’s plea to Nicole, Steph was ultimately eliminated but did receive a consolatory hug from Mrs. O.
With Nicole satisfied that she’d put the strongest singers through, we were then presented with our ‘musical chairs’ twist. Nicole had six chairs in which she would put the six girls who would be journeying with her to judges’ houses. The twist was that, even if you did get a seat, you could lose it if Nicole deemed one of the other girls a better singer. The first singer to fight for a place was somebody who don’t remember from the auditions – Karen Hardy, who performed a great rendition of ‘We Are Young.’ Her performance here was praised by all of the judges with Gary being particularly enthusiastic about her singing abilities. Nicole was also won over by Karen and awarded her the first of the six chairs. Essex girl Lydia Lucy was next to take to the stage and was determined to fight for her place with her performance of ‘For Once in My Life’. Despite Gary feeling that she oversung, Nicole felt Lydia had done enough to warrant her place in the top six. Somebody who had sacrificed everything to get to Boot Camp was Hannah Sheares, formerly of The Daisy Chains. After Gary separated her from her best friends, Hannah has had to go it alone and struggled tonight as she looked lost up on the stage. Ultimately her performance of ‘River Deep, Mountain High’ didn’t have enough soul for Nicole and Hannah was eliminated from the contest.
The eliminations then started to come thick and fast as Siana Schofield, Crissie Rhodes and Jade Rendle were all sent home in quick succession. Nicole felt the performances, in particular Jade’s, were uninspiring so went backstage to confront the remaining contestants. Nicole was reminiscent of Debbie Allen in fame as she told the girls to believe in what they were singing about and actually act like they wanted it. It seemed that this pep talk worked as the girls who followed all delivered brilliant performances, starting with Tamera Foster. Tamera’s performance of Rihanna’s ‘Stay’ was a step up from her arena audition as she actually remembered the words this time around. Nicole felt that Tamera got it together on the day and felt that she meant every word of her performance so she was given a seat. The seats began to fill up with both Relley C and Jade Richards doing enough to impress Nicole with their performances. With one seat remaining, Sheana McHugh came on stage and delivered a slightly above-average rendition of ‘The One That Got Away’. Ironically Nicole almost let Sheana get away however, following an emotional plea by Sheana, she was given a second chance.
Things then started to get interesting as the final three girls were competing to win a seat from one of the girls who’d already won a place in the next round. Music student and part time pasty-maker Hannah Barrett was first to take to the stage and instantly won the entire arena over with her rendition of ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’. Following a standing ovation, cries of ‘swap’ ran through the arena as Nicole had to make her first heart-wrenching decision to crush the dreams of one of her final six. In the end Hannah replaced Sheana, who I’m guessing was a little gutted especially considering she’d made that plea only minutes before. Abi Alton, who is still my personal favourite, was next to sing for her place in the contest. Her stripped down version of ‘I Want to Dance with Somebody’, was utterly spell-binding and earned her a place in the final six. Unfortunately it was Lydia who lost her chair and, of the girls who were eliminated, she definitely looked the most dejected. Finally, Melanie McCabe took to the stage for what would be her fourth bite of the cherry as she performed ‘The One That Got Away’. This time the judges didn’t let Melanie get away and she was the final entry into Nicole’s final six. I felt it would’ve added to the emotion if Melanie had replaced fellow returnee Jade, but it was ultimately Karen who lost her seat. I definitely feel that Nicole has a strong final six here and I feel that it will be Hannah, Abi and either Melanie or Tamera that will progress to the live shows.
The final portion of tonight’s programme focused on the start of Sharon’s quest to find her top six. Prison guard Sam Bailey was the first to try and impress Sharon with her rendition of Emeli Sande’s ‘Clown’. Gary described her performance as note-perfect while Louis felt that Sam had been wasting her life. Sharon told Sam that she’d been waiting for a contestant like her for ages and gave her the first of her six seats. Not as lucky as Sam were Souli Roots and Jayson Newland who were both sent home, however I felt the latter deserved a shot as I really enjoyed his performance. A contestant who I can’t remember from the auditions is Sabrina Ramikie but she displayed her fighting spirit as she told Sharon she’d battle for her place in the final six. Sabrina did just that as she sung ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ and joined Sam on the seats in Sharon’s final six. Last up tonight was rocker Joseph Whelan who took to the stage and performed quite a safe version of ‘Iris’. The judges praised his performance, but when Sharon brought up Joseph’s son, he started to break down in tears causing Sharon to brand him a wimp. Luckily he came round in time for her to award him the third seat and, for once, his son was nowhere to be seen.
Some people have criticised this new Boot Camp twist for being too cruel but I didn’t really have that much of an issue with it. At the end of the day, the judges have to cut down each category to six members so it’s going to be a heart-breaking experience for a lot of people whatever way it happens. However, I did have a couple of issues with the format one of which was the way this programme was edited together. I found it incredibly sloppy that we only got one and half categories decided in the first programme. I felt that this show was incredibly disjointed and I would’ve preferred to see both Nicole and Sharon’s top sixes decided by the time the show had finished. Another issue was that we heard a lot of songs twice with at least two acts picking ‘Iris’, ‘Clown’, ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ and ‘The One that Got Away’. I’m assuming that the acts could only pick from a handful of songs but I find it quite boring having to listen to the same song twice. On the plus side, I think it’s great to watch a show where the majority of the acts have genuine talent. I’m just hoping that tonight’s show feels a little less disjointed and that we hear some songs we haven’t already heard in the first show.
What did you think to the first Boot Camp show? Did you enjoy the new twist?
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