Autotune-gate (or, we need a ratings boost-gate, as I prefer to call it)

A friend of mine downloaded an iphone app a few weeks ago that let you sing over pop tracks and would autotune your bum notes. For about 3 seconds I was quite excited about this until I remembered that I don’t need autotune as singing in tune is one of the few things in life I don’t struggle with. Apparently the “stars” of the X Factor are not quite so blessed. So, with one ear listening out for over-production on the vocals, I’m sitting down to watch the second X Factor audition show.

This week we are starting in Dublin – have to say Irish contestants haven’t really blown me away with their talent – Jedward, Eoghan Quigg, The Conway Sisters … the main contribution to the show from these acts being their ability to survive longer in the competition against far superior talent, mainly down to professional Irishman Louis Walsh and his ridiculous bias, one that even saw a pensioner dressed as a leprechaun get through to the live Britain’s Got Talent shows.

Katy Perry is our guest judge this week – the future Mrs Russell Brand standing in for Dannii Minogue. Ms Perry has probably had more chart success in the last 18 months than Minogue Junior has in her entire career.

First up is an appalling, camp boy band – they have not been autotuned. I wonder if this is what Westlife and Boyzone sound like without technology. Cheryl is “speechless” – probably because she has finally found an act with vocal talent to match hers. Simon blames Louis. Next up is a camp Irishman who thinks he’ll be as big as Madonna. Next act isn’t camp but he is crap. Katy seems a bit dead behind the eyes but maybe it’s just because all the acts are crap. Ah I see what they are doing, a montage of crap to set Louis up. In a second there will be somebody brilliant.

Here comes a pretty lifeguard. His voice isn’t very strong but he fancies Cheryl. I’m with Cowell who thinks his vocals are terrible. Katy Perry puts him through because he takes his top off. Oh God.

Girl band next – they can sing but they’re really boring. In fact it’s all really boring. There had better be something pretty amazing coming up to justify wasting the first 20 minutes of the programme on acts that aren’t even bad enough to be funny. The unemployed hairdresser would be better off looking for a job as a Caoimhe from Big Brother impersonator. Her vocals are wobbling all over the place but the Mr Nasty segment is over and Cowell puts her through.

Time for Susan Boyle. Well, actually Mary Vaughan. She wants to be a legend. She’s not as nuts as Su-bo which is disappointing but she looks very ordinary and she is clearly of interest as we’ve seen footage of her on the checkout in Tesco to confirm this. In the first 2 bars you can tell she is a million times better than the hairy angel. What I like her is that, unlike Susan Boyle, she knows she’s good and isn’t pretending it’s all an overwhelming surprise. It doesn’t inspire great emotion in me but it’s a powerhouse vocal performance and pisses all over the dross we’ve seen so far this series. She hits a big note and Cowell’s face lights up – he’s not seeing Mary any more. He’s seeing his latest cash cow. And, in a week when another contestant had been ruled out for having mental health issues (the biggest shock story since Joe McElderry came out as gay), it’s even better news as this one isn’t mentally fragile. Why do I have a feeling she’s going to fall at the last hurdle for “being a bit cabaret” or “being great at power ballads but how would you cope with Girls Aloud week?”

Mary has saved Louis. He is glad to be Irish (another shocking revelation) and X Factor moves on.

We’ve moved on. Back to London and first up is an average looking painter (ordinary boy makes good alert) doing a bad karaoke version of an Amy Winehouse song. I think he’s boring but as the soundtrack has kicked in, he’s going through. Far too humble for my liking. I like my rock stars with a bit of ego. His awkward act is a little bit too rehearsed. He should get together with 80s girl from last week.

Bring on the Michael Jackson impersonator with weird Twilight-style make-up. Is this the same nutter who was on the programme with Derek Acorah when he tried to contact Jackson’s ghost? Michael the Jackson impersonator is 26. Surely at 26 you grow out of stuff like this. Simon’s rolling his eyes, Cheryl’s nodding with empathy. He can’t dance. Oh and guess what, he can’t sing either.

Next up we have some fit, tattooed blokes who are a “vocal harmony group”. They talk about harmonies a lot so I have high hopes. I’m not sure how good they will be though as they only want this 100% and everybody knows that on X Factor nothing better than 110% (a mathematical impossibility) will do. Bizarrely they are doing a Chezza Cole cover – I hate the husky voice of the first soloist and his lower notes are a bit dodgy. They are also doing that really annoying R’n B thing with their hands of bobbing them up and down a bit sort of in time with the beat. But the harmonies are tight in a weird Jersey Boys kinda way. I reckon they’ll make the Top 12 but the lead singer’s voice will let them down.

The fit vocal harmony boys are followed by a Glee club that clearly thought it was going for that awful Channel 5 programme. Shouty and predictable. Then we get this year’s group of trashy, aggressive girls with weak voices. Simon likes them. Strangely so do the others. Have I found my hate act? Even worse are the 5 mis-matched geek boys. I suppose there are fewer groups so we need some to cull later on.

Then it’s time to bring back a previous also-ran. She is completely unrecognisable – dead cert for the live shows then. It’s in the X Factor rules. I don’t remember her at all but my God she’s confident. Cowell is playing Bad Cop with his “I’ve heard trannies sing this better” comment. Her second song still sounds like a Tina Turner tribute to me. Simon’s “yes” was a bit of an anti-climax there as you need 2 to go through. Oh well, let’s see what happens when Simon gets the girls and takes her back to basics.

And that’s the end of show 2. They’re starting to introduce the contenders now. Still no Jedward though.

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