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This was not a memorable show by any stretch of the imagination. Club Classics? Hardly. I can't imagine anyone in a club feeling like getting up and being classic if any of these acts had been on the stage. That doesn't mean there weren't some good performances, just nothing that we'll look back on and think Wow! or rush to YouTube to add to our sites.

For X Factor USA and even last year I was including videos for the best each week but I'm really not bothered at the moment.

Christopher

Quite glad that we get old Baloney out of the way at the start. Strong enough voice but he's just so tedious and who on earth will want to buy his album? As LA Reid would have put it across The Pond, Would you give this old Baloney $5 million? No. Of course we wouldn't. and nor is anyone on this side of the ocean either. He started the show at odds of nearly 4 and finished at 3.2, clear favourite to be at the bottom of the voting pile. But then he was last week and must have done better than at least two others. Damn the Liverpudlian Granny Vote. Can someone go round the old folks homes and remove all the ear plugs.

MK1

The idea of this being their week is a bit ridiculous but I suppose it was more suitable than Abba week will be. They have a strong, faithful fan base from what I can make out and actually put on a good show. If Will.i.am could get over here and give them the sort of treatment he's been dishing out to several other acts (including a remarkably good job for Jessica Sanchez, American Idol runner-up) then they'd get some more fans but, as it stands, they'll be lucky to survive each week from here.

They didn't do themselves any harm, though, with a professional and confident performance, especially from Charlie the girl lead who is quite a star in her own right. They started at 6 and ended 7. Going up is good, but that's still likely to be bottom 3 range.

Jahmene

Once we get past the emotional back story stuff (I wonder whether each act will be getting this extended sympathy vote treatment?) the guy does his bit looking very smart with a nice blue bow tie and matching highlights on his black shiny suit. Not bad. The guy can sing but he can sing a lot better than he did tonight. He didn't look comfortable with the faster track and seemed a beat behind most of the time. That won't have increased his fan base but the back story stuff might so he'll end up safe and sound.

He started at 90 and finished at 85 which is as close to no change as you'll get at those odds which would make someone an absolute fortune if he did go home. Hence it's not going to happen this week.

Jade

Another sympathy vote plea as she's lost her voice. I've always thought her a strange selection for the live shows. She's OK and has a certain different style in her voice, when she has a voice, and has certainly been made to look pretty spectacular by the make-over people, but there were better in this category during auditions. She seems to have really impressed the judges, though, so they must have seen something I missed. This performance was just average. She ought to be safe enough but for how much longer I'm not sure, unless she can really discover some character that makes us want to get behind her.

She was quite well fancied at 20 at the start but dropped heavily to 12.5, probably still safe but now in the land of the here today, gone tomorrow or the next days.

James

At last someone who actually seems to know what he's doing and looks comfortable doing it. Protected by a guitar, James sings well and really puts a lot into the track. He's quite impressive and is someone you can imagine getting an album contract. Not a No 1 at Christmas but a steady No 8 maybe.

He went out from 80, below Jahmene, to 130, well above. people liked that performance. Two in a row for this guy. Good job.

Union J

This is the band that really got themselves together last week and probably were the best act of that week. they've got a huge fan base already and it's only Week 3 which is remarkable for a manufactured affair. They do look good and this week sang well again, making their position nicely safe and a guaranteed run through to Week 4.

With odds moving from 90 to 200 they're going to be a force to be reckoned with. Already being talked about as the next 1 Direction, I see them in the final if not winning the whole thing. These are very early days, though, and it may only take a few dodgy performances for votes to drift.

Rylan

I still find this chap's height amazing. He towers over anyone else nearby and Dermot tends to keep well away. My children spotted the two together last week and reckoned that Dermot was going up on his tip toes and Rylan was making himself sag to be a bit shorter while the camera was on them. See for yourself, too, the extraordinary difference between him and the two boys on Xtra Factor!

He was looking forward to Club Classics. That seems to be his bag. You wouldn't really have known, though, other than from his outfit and a whole pile of dancers everywhere. You hope that he'll at least be a bit entertaining. Last week he actually sang well too but he didn't manage either the entertainment or the singing this time.

We're just hoping the crazy fans that he's accumulated in Wagner-Jedward-Chico style will, at least, carry him through and send Christopher home, whether that be by judges' votes or the public vote if someone else backs Gary in a deadlock.

It's not looking good at the end of the show, down to 4.9 from 6.6 at the start.

Lucy

Well, Lucy does what Lucy does and this was pretty much indistinguishable from all that has gone before. Good, but how long can she last with that style? She's sure some odd ball in this rack. Definitely heading for an album and that will sell too. I can see her occupying a sort of slot of her own in the charts for a while and she should make it through for a week or two more.

The bookies think so too, stretching from 11 to 19.5.

Kye

It was nice to see Gary giving it to Kye straight after last night's show, pointing out, even if it was a little pedantically, Kye's thirty two bum notes in that performance. Whilst this was better, it still wasn't good and Kye's going to need every vote he can lay his hands on and another bum lecture from Gary if he's going to get his act truly together to justify his selection. Disappointing as I think everyone expected much more than we've been getting so far.

Kye dropped from 9.6 to 8.2, and into a danger zone.

District 3

They'd been lucky to survive last week with a very lacklustre performance and that seemed to ahve had the desired effect as tonight they may well have been the one of the best acts or, at least, the most improved. they sounded together, relaxed and seemed to know what they were doing and with a desire to entertain and do well. Much more confident, in tune, looking good and more mature than Union J but still probably feeling in their competitor's shadow.

They moved from a low 4.5 to 9, which ought to have lifted them out of the danger zone but we've seen groups go at this point even when they've put in a really good performance. Last year is still fresh in their minds no doubt.

Ella

Closing this less than inspiring show was the ever-reliable Ella. She did the Florence number really well and looked a lot better and moved around more. She said that she wanted to feel sixteen again and I guess she made it back to somewhere in her mid twenties.Yes, she's good and seemingly miles ahead of everyone else in the competition but I still have a doubt about how things will pan out. She is just a little cool still on stage and lacking that something that would make her the real star as opposed to someone who'll have a decent album or two and then not do a great deal more. We don't actually want another Adele.

She'll surely make it through to the final, where my guess is that she'll be up against Union J and James. By then I do hope she'll have got back to sixteen and also something a little original.

She started at a massive 200 and finished at 360. She ain't goin' nowhere, as The Byrds would have sung.

The Xtra Factor was actually far more entertaining a programme and you learned more about some of the acts in that programme's hour, with Caroline Flack and Olly Murs up to mischief and getting all kinds of admissions from everyone. There it was fairly clear that people are fed up with Christopher and also see Ella as the likely winner.

So maybe ITV could swap with ITV2 and put X Factor USA mainstream at weekends where there looks like being some stunning talent coming through and some really interesting rounds. The USA show is a week or two behind ours so no particular problem with finals clashing either.

Here we go - the first of the real shows. The auditions are history. Bootcamp booted out all but about 30 and the judges in hotels, glorious resorts or country retreats chose the twelve acts. With little choice to vote for the sobbing Christopher got place 13 as a wild card. I think the voting figures were Christopher 6, Adam 3, Times Red 3 (they voted for themselves) and Amy 0 (she voted for Adam).

Now the public get a chance to have their say and we'll find out who those that vote prefer. We know who the newspapers like and who the bookies like, who the judges reckon will win too. This is where things can often change with seemingly brilliant acts stumbling and hopefuls losing nerve and then hope while someone who seemed average comes out and surprises everyone!

District 3

Someone must have had some faith in them to put this group on first. A very quiet start to Simply The Best and they might have made a reasonable backing act to Tina Turner. It was all very sleepy and uninspiring. Nice harmonies, which is what they're good at but, despite being the most experienced group, the stage did seem to dwarf them and they're vulnerable from the very start.

James

Sings What Doesn't Kill You Make You Stronger and starts fairly straight and then raps, now that we haven't seen before. No guitar, either. He looked confident on the stage, walking around and he's a natural performer. That track won't have raised his profile with voters, though, but he'll get through.

Melanie

With A Little Help From My Friends in Joe Cocker's day was slow and earthy. The Beatles wrote it as a cheery sort of number. This was just slow and Melanie seemed to be making just too much effort to be noticed and screamed quite a bit. Admittedly she did scream in tune but it was all a bit over the top and the end decidedly dodgy. She was looking good, the makeover team having done well and the Woodstock outfit was just the right shade of terracotta. She won't be a long-term act, though and could well be in the fateful Bottom Three. Not a good start to this show with two out of the first three performances headed for home.

Lucy

Now this was interesting. Performing her own song, very comfortable on the stage. It was as if she were as guest on the X Factor show, not a contestant. The song was clever, not as jokey as the drinking number she's famous for now, and will surely be an album track before long if her contract permits (which it probably doesn't) so it'll be nearer Christmas. She made a nice job, not spectacular, but that was the right move to make in this nervy and unpredictable first week. Those who were already going to vote for her definitely still will and she probably picked up some more fans on the way. So she's safe for a while.

MK1

Now I'd put this duo down as most likely to go first but I have to revise that now. Although I have no idea how many tracks they mashed up and rapped out they were extremely strong, confident and together. The girl, Charlie, is a good singer on her own and, although not to my own taste, their style is very 'today' which is more than can be said for most of the acts.

Tulisa would have been best advised to wait until the applause and cheering had died down before starting as  MK1 needed to bask in the love for a minute. They did themselves a lot of good and will now be around after all for at least another week.

Christopher

Hero was all very traditional. Nothing exceptional. Just 'OK' singing and in no way do I see him as a 'star' unless there's a Steve Brookstein market out there. He improved a bit as the song went on and is certainly someone who can belt out a tune but really shouldn't be around. He'll survive this week, just, but is one of the acts that has to go sooner or not so much later.

Union J

Who suggested they kick off with just one guy singing? Weak. they do finally get under way and had fun with Don't Stop Me Now. They finished a lot better than they started and there are some good singers in the band. There was a crazy dance routine going on that seemed to have nothing to do with the track and I was expecting the four pretty girls to hook up with the four pretty boys and who knows where that would have gone but as it was the boys remained on freshly painted blocks of wood lifting them a foot or so higher than the stage and making them even more nervous than they probably already were.

Louis got blamed for everything, of course. Actually, if the boys had let themselves go a bit and started a bit more confidently then we'd have been saying how good it all was. Anyway, they'll be through as there are lots of girls voting for them and they'll win the votes from District3 too.

Jade

She looked fabulous in blonde, the most impressive transformation - or restoration - by the makeover team. A very nervous start, though, to I Can Be Your Hero. Nor did it get a great deal better with no opportunity for her to show any of the style that presumably Tulisa had spotted at some point. Very disappointing and not the 'moment' I had been expecting. Indeed, we're still waiting for anything approaching a 'moment'.

Rylan

I had no idea what to expect from this chap. Yes, we may recall the rocking blonde-haired guy from the first audition show but since then we haven't really heard a lot more. We've seen plenty! He appears in a gold dress of some sort on a dramatic stage, surrounded by dancers. The song is Gold and it works well. actually very well and a hell of a lot better than many in the place expected. He's got a strong voice and held most notes and stayed in tune. That was a surprise. He'll survive another week, despite the negative attitude of quite a few commentators.

Kye

Man In The Mirror seems a popular track with the producers as I'm sure it appears every year. This time it's Kye's turn to do something with the Jackson number. Another weak, quiet start. Oh dear. But he does get into a performance of sorts quicker than most of the others managed and put in a decent effort, moving around the stage and saying hi to people in the front row. At times he got into some sort of stride and character but largely it was pretty average stuff. The ending was really crap. Not a clever job by Gary there.

Ella

Rule The World is, of course, a Gary Barlow song and I won't be giving anything away by saying that he was the first to hand out great praise by agreeing that she had sung it far better than he had. She was by far and away the best so far. There were some faults but you kinda forgave them as the rest was so good. Very very good. I don't see how anyone can beat her unless the range of types of performance move away from what she does best.

Carolynne

Keeping up the standard, carolynne is professional. A good start and you could sense that she was happy on stage and had been there, well nearly there, before. She looked good, naturally pretty and was just competent and spot-on notes-wise. Her 'country' version of a Nicki Minaj song I didn't recognise and it's no big attraction for voters but she ought not to have to worry.

Jahmene 

Jahmene gets to close the show with Imagine. Everyone knows this song. His voice is clear and he knows where the notes should be and hits them. then he starts finding a whole load more, almost making things up as he goes, but in a nice way. There were times when, like last year's Joshua, he tries almost too hard to impress and the notes wail into the air pointlessly but this guy is capable and really talented. Definitely safe for a long time yet. He could win but I don't see a market yet for what he'd do and we've yet to see that individual star quality emerge. Dermot O'Leary, finally back with a decent job there, is forever rubbing Jahmene's hair and the two seem to get along really well. Not that that influences anything.

So, Sunday brings the first Bottom Three, the first sing-off and the first sending home. I fear for District3's chances.


These are the odds at the time of writing at Betfair.com. Ella way, way out front. Carolynne and Rylan are regarded as least likely to win. 

District3 (shown as GMD3) are very much the favourites to go in Week 1 one, though (in charts not shown here). Second favourites to go are currently MK1 and Carolynne.





It's Judges' Houses Week - the contenders who have survived this far have now had their makeovers and professional photos taken and get to spend some time with the judegs' teams at various expensive locations. Although they don't get to perform that much, just a selected few getting screen time for a start to finish performance and even those being remarkably short, we do get to see how they come across as individuals and how they relate to the judges whose decisions will make such a huge difference.

This is the week when the Top 12 (assuming there are no wild cards this year!) are chosen, three girls by Tulisa and Tiny Tempa, three groups by Louis and Sharon Osbourne, three boys by Nicole and Neo-Yo and three over-28s by Gary and Cheryl Cole. They each have their own preferences, which may not match the initial enthusiasm shown in the first audition and Bootcamp rounds, as now they're guided by advice behind the scenes on who would make good TV as well. This is the stage when mistakes are usually made, most memorably by Louis! Will Sharon Osbourne - seen tearing up and throwing one group's card into the pool restrain his temptation to put Posionous Twin (for surely it must have been theirs) through? Neither seem to get the accomplished but odd Duke or Mitsotu and the acts must have wished they had a Neo-Yo or Tiny making the choices instead of what looked a couple of old fogies on holiday.

My guess is that Union J are safely through - especially after Louis went to all the trouble of pulling back not only the three Triple J but also resurrecting George Shelley from the Boys rejected at Bootcamp. GMD3 ought to be in there too. There will be some debate about their similarity and splitting votes possibly resulting in neither getting as far as they could but that's the way Louis was thinking, from what I could tell. But who gets the third spot? MK1 seem slightly weak as just two and whilst the girl is really talented and a great performer, I don't see them making it. So it's between Times Red and, yes, you guessed it, Poisonous Twin. There's no way the Powers That Be will let the Groups be just ten guys so you can see where that's going.

Gary has a far better mix to choose from than Louis had last year with the Over 28s. Christopher is a near certainty. 'Viewers will love him', says Cheryl. He sang really well too. Not my idea of the best new act for the 2010s in British pop history but there can be no doubt he's in. It's also safe to assume that Nicole is out after a pretty poor audition and, despite all his efforts to put her at ease regarding his earlier comments that she was annoying (and the fact that she is the only act who received less than four yesses initially), she'll be going home. Brad Shackleton has had virtually no screen appearances at all which can't be good news. He has very strong, raw vocals and hits all the right notes and reminds me a bit of Bruce Springstein. But Brad just doesn't seem like someone who'll be going through. He comes across as one hell of a ladies man, being very forward with Cheryl when she arrived and I can imagine a lot of viewers cringeing at his style. He's also up against the nice Kye who, we keep being reminded, is a chimney sweep and seems a decent chap all round.

Both guys, though, have to contend with Melanie and Carolynne. Carolynne is trying so hard, putting in superb auditions and looking attractive too. Being rejected in favour of Johnny Robinson and JonJo last year can't have done her self-confidence much good at the time so you tend to think that a wrong needs to be righted this time around. So I'm giving the second slot to Carolynne and, unfortunately for Kye, I see Melanie getting the third slot. That'll be a touch decision to watch, whichever way it goes. But with the Boys group comprising comparatively older guys this year and Kye actually looking younger than some of them, I fear for his chances.

As for the Boys, Nicole may have a simpler decision to make. James Arthur is, to my mind, a front runner for this season. Nathan is good (although, strangely, we haven't seen much of him to date) and I have a feeling the Powers That be will insist on his inclusion anyway. The third place is likely to be between Rylan and Jahmene. Rylan for the etertainment value, perhaps, although he did put in one of his best auditions just at the right time. He's not going to win or anything close to that but will have a fan club develop and could be good for the ratings. The logical entry would be Jahmene on talent alone but he does seem ridiculously nervous each time and there has to be a doubt about whether he would really make it through the live shows. Jahmene has a remarkable singing talent and, whichever doesn't make it will be emotional television. The other two, Adam Burridge and Jake Quickenden are both good-looking mature guyswho look good on the screen and sing reasonably competently. I just don't think they'll make it through which, again, promises to be a real tear-jerker next time, especially with Jake using the very ill younger brother thing (which is genuinely sad but shouldn't influence their decision) to make us want him to succeed. I can't imagine Nicole choosing either of Adam or Jake over Rylan and Jahmene, though, which lands them in the 'going home' category.

Lastly, the Girls. Ella Henderson is my tip to win the whole thing and simply has to go straight through. Her audition even further emphasised that too. Choosing from the others is tough, though, and I'd hate to have to make that decision. Jade Ellis will have helped her cause with a great version of Stand By Me and you just have to have some sympathy for someone who admits that her little daughter 'shouldn't be in a pace where she's quite scared'. However, she hasn't really shone that much so far and needs more work on her appearance but I can see her making it.

Amy's hair annoys me but she is a good singer. The Adele style can get a bit tiresome. She may have to wait for another year, despite her talents.

Leanne does look attractive and seems to sing really well. However, we get such a short audition clip that it's impossible to tell what she's like or, for that matter, what Tulisa thinks of her.

Jade Collins, too, flies by and we learn almost nothing. I've been really impressed with her before but this time I simply can't tell.

Lucy Spraggan, in complete contrast, has had all the screen time and bags of publicity, creating a groundswell of popular support that makes her a pretty likely choice for the shows. I am not convinced the X Factor is what she's all about, though, and have doubts as to what she'd do in some rounds and, certainly don't see her naturally handling the 'let's all dance around' stuff.

So, if pushed, it will be Ella, Jade Ellis and Lucy but my choice would be to give Jade Collins a chance instead of Lucy, who may well succeed anyway.

All will, of course, be revealed in a few hours!


Lucy Spraggan gets to start Bootcamp Pt2 as the judges look at individual performances and we see much more of what some of the contenders can do. She comes out with another of her own sparky little compositions. She ought to work with Dennis Potter on some series with that witty and delightfully accurate observation of daily life. She'll make the Judges' Houses, I'm sure and could be an entertaining act on the live shows but it will be as entertainment rather than a potential winner in the Girls category.

Rylan's track is far too loud to hear his voice and it's not an impressive performance. He's a likeable character, playing the Essex card as well as the gay card well. Again, an entertainment act, not a winning act. Gathan appears and then disappears. Odd bit of editing.

Jahmene has a melt down so we see what's left of MK1 instead. Pretty average and uninspiring. the girl can do better than that, I'm sure. Again, no winner there.

Triple J, Melanie Masson, Chris Maloney and Carolynne Poole come go, all doing kinda OK acts and you get the feeling they're safe enough. Kye Sones, though, is the first real act that really hits you and makes you think Hey, this guy's good!

From Above won't survive, way out of tune. Jade Ellis seems nervous but has some touches of quality in the performance. Not sure what to make of her at the moment.

Joe Whelan has a good vocal performance, as do Times Red, looking and sounding pretty good.

James Arthur, in glasses and looking big and much healthier than before, is relaxed and just excellent. He has to make the live shows on how he's doing so far - a really talented guy.

Leanne Robinson we haven't seen much of so far but she's attractive and hits all the right notes too, with signs of more than just natural talent but some sort fo training and experience too.

Adam Burridge sounds cool. Not so sure where he fits in but a decent act.

Ella Henderson is the last we get to see. She sings Believe, the Cher track that first introduced the world to autotune. This was a stunning performance of the track, totally different and this girl is going to be extremely difficult to beat. Only 16, too. This week someone had sorted out her hairstyle so much better too so she looked more 26 than 36. I reckon it could be between her and James Arthur. I know they haven't even made it through Judges' Houses yet but they are both that strong.

Now we get to learn the actual Final 24. This is the really important cut when 24 acts will get a chance to perform and get to know their mentor and make a real impression as to what they're really capable of and show whether they've the range of talents to get through to the live rounds and the personality and reliability needed for shows where emotions will run high and the public will expect to be entertained too.

We also learn, through a call from Simon Cowell in the States, just showing who's still boss, who gets to mentor which categories.

Nicole gets the Boys:
James Arthur
Jahmene
Nathan
Adam
Rylan
Jake

In Xtra Factor, Nicole gives a clear indication that she thinks James is the artist, is hoping that Jake will be the one for the girls and eithet Nathan or Ryland for entertainment.

Tulisa gets the Girls
Ella
Amy
Jade Collins
Jade Ellis
Leanne
Lucy

Tulisa sees Ella as the clear winner and admires Lucy. My guess is that she'll add Leanne to the mix. Whether one of the Jades replaces Lucy at the end of the day remains to be seen.

Gary gets the Over 28s
Kye Sones
Melanie Masson
Nicola Marie
Brad Shackleton
Carolynne Poole
Christopher Maloney

Gary has some strong acts. He favours Kye, Chris and will need the third to be either Carolynne or Melanie. Nicola and Brad, I fear, can assume they've got as far as they're going to go.

Louis gets the Groups
MITSOTU
Duke
MK1
Poisonous Twin
Rough Copy
GMD3

GMD3 won through a sing off with Triple J. That was a close call. You had to feel sorry for Triple J. I wonder if they'll get the call when Rough Copy can't travel to Louis' place?

This is one mixed bag and not the make-up I'd expected at all. Rough Copy would walk away with winning in this category but won't so at present it has to be GMD3 that are likely to make the running. Duke we have seen so little of but Louis has high regard for them. MITSOTU too seem to have caught his eye but will he, as usual include the novelty act to bring on the fun? If so then we'll have to put up with Poisonous Twin a bit longer.

So now we know.

Having remarked at how rubbish the production has been so far in this season, and not exactly looking forward to reviewing what is usually the most annoying set of programmes, I have to say that Bootcamp this time has started very well indeed.

200 candidates will be whittled down to a mere 24 to go forward to the Judges' House round over two days, of which we saw the first 24 hours. For about 70 or them that had made their way to the venue, the only good thing was to see JLS live for a few minutes as one-third got sent home. presumably the judges realised that they'd made some mistakes during the audition rounds. We could have told them at the time and saved SYCO a few bob but never mind.

Tulisa appears as a blonde - a distinctly custard tint or that may have been my telly. Nicole is now on board rather more seriously so there's no ex-Spice Girls or a somewhat lame Leona to interrupt debate at this stage.

At the start of the programme we're shown glimpses of all the familiar people which is a pretty good hint as to who we can expect to see more of as the weeks progress. Basically, there's about 130 we've never seen so far and probably never will, apart from a fleeting glimpse in a large room or prancing around on stage.

Gary tells the remaining people that they have 72 hours and a massive digital display starts to count down in tenths of a second rather ominously and, to my mind, pointlessly. We then see him telling them It's been four hours... and the huge display says 57 hrs something or other. Continuity guys just got fired but at least Tulisa's hair is still custard coloured. Louis' hair has changed but that's nothing unusual.

So off we go.

Joe Douglas and Jahmene get through in the first group. Jahmene has been one of the favourites so far but still looks odd in a jacket two sizes too small. maybe the trousers are similarly too small which accounts for the falsetto. He makes a poor job of the audition track but is forgiven by the judges who clearly have him marked down for the live shows. Not so sure about Joe.

A group called From Above  get through next, as do Times Red and the two comprising MK1 now, both of these last two putting on an excellent performance. A group called The Lightbulb Thieves ask why they're not put through and all credit to Nicole for an excellent explanation which put her several steps up in my estimation. She's been good on X Factor USA too last year, if a bit indecisive in the live shows.

Lucy Spraggit scrapes through in her group despite a lousy performance but, again, she's almost got a ticket for the live shows too.

There is then a string of people, most of whom we've seen plenty of before, flying through. Amy Mottram, Leanne Robinson, Harriet, Maisy Sylvester, Jade Ellis, Carla Jaye, Eli Cripps and Melanie McCabe. I'm really not at all sure about a couple fo those names who were entirely new to me and probably you too. My guess is we don't see them for long.

two more groups fight it out: GMD3 and Triple J. Both were excellent and it's beginning to look quite difficult for whoever has to choose which three will be going through in that category. Cue some heavy disappointment scenes for a few weeks' time.

Britt Love beats both the annoying Collagen and the nice Deirdre Lawlor. I am very glad not to have Collagen's collagen and cleavage on the screen any more. But why give the annoying and untalented girl yet more air time afterwards?

There is then a slew of rejections, but no-one we've seen before so nothing of interest there. Gary was very firm and, understandably, getting a bit fed up with some pretty useless performances. Now I know that it is really crazy to expect people to work together and learn something they may not even think suits them or like in a short time but several really appeared not to have made any effort at all. If they really talented then they can get away with that but they weren't, and didn't, we,,, mostly they didn't.

Finally two more groups come along and really excel. Rough Copy and Mr Xoto or something like that were very good indeed. Unfortunately, you'll find that Rough Copy, who might have been dead certs to appear in the live shows, get cut as one of them doesn't have a valid passport. Duh!

I'm thinking that we haven't seen many decent boys go through yet. Plenty of Overs, Girls and even Groups but not many for the Boys  category.

Poisonous Twin join the groups going through and could add some fun to the live shows if Louis gets to choose. they don't really deserve a place on their singing although they're streets ahead of most of last year's.

Finally we get some in the Boys category. Jo Whelan is the only one out of five to get through. Then James Vickery and another favourite and potential winner James Arthur show how this stage should be handled with some excellent performances, followed by an extraordinary trio of gays who could be a group if someone wanted. Rylan and Gathan are joined by an odd-looking new guy to the screen, Octavio. Gathan is pretty full of himself and doesn't associate much with the other two but nevertheless they manage to pull off an impressive show of talent although I reckon Octavio's days are numbered and is there really room on the screen for both Rylan and Gathan. That'll be an interesting battle to watch.

Amongst the girls, now, the  very reliable Hayley and a new girl Nicola Marie, get through nicely. More boys in the shape of Jake Quickenden, and Adam Burridge are easily through but poor Robbie Hance, one of my favourites and who I saw as a definite live show contestant, simply tries to wing it and fails. I was really impressed, though, by his honesty and lack of show. He simply made a sign of having shot himself, lay down the microphone and walked off quietly. Very disappointing and if I were the judges I would still rush after him and give him another chance.

In Xtra Factor we see some more successes: Brad and Shelley and someone who appears to be called 2BStream join the Overs with some good vocals particularly from an elderly and not exactly pretty Shelley. 2BStream is a black guy with a very high voice.

Eddie Spring and Mitch Summers go out on the tiles and hit the sack at 4am. Eddie has a great personality and I get the impression he's extremely bright from some of the responses he gives. he's bound to annoy a lot of viewers but I'd like to see this Jagger-esque figure in the live shows. He'll either sink or swim. My guess is that he'll swim. Anyway, for all that, his performance is great but his drinking companion's isn't. So Mitch is quite surprisingly out but he's only got Eddie and himself to blame. They perform on stage with the much straighter Kian who is also through and hoping he can get on on his own from here.

We get glimpses of Clapz Shazzahne, or whatever his silly name is, who chats up anything in a skirt. Mia & The Moon, who should get through just because of their name in my view, three groups Array, LMNY and Electric Punx. Not sure whether any of the last three get through.

Someone with a name like Corm Malloy is though. No idea who he is and then we get to see that four very, very reliable performers are safely through, and likely live show contenders too, being Carolynne Poole, Melanie Masson, Christopher Maloney and Kye Sones.

I think I've counted 40 getting through so far. That makes about 60 that didn't and still 30 or so that we haven't seen at all. Maybe tomorrow?

We'll see. Or not, as the case may be. My feeling is that we will have seen the winner today. But I'm not making any bets yet!







So here we go again. Either Peter Dickson was speaking more quietly than usual or the letters were smaller but this was a classier start than usual and Dermot O'Leary is in there at the start, along with Olly Murs in fine form, on video at least, with Caroline and the judges.

This year for Kelly Rowland read Nicole Scherzinger which could be confusing for American readers, especially when X Factor USA kicks off soon. Nicole steered the excellent and not immediately marketable Josh Krajick to 2nd place in America's version, (Simon winning, naturally, with Melanie Amaro) and if she can actually make her mind up and keep back the tears a bit while she's over here then she's likely to be an improvement on her predecessor. Gary seems a little less desperate to impress, Tulisa looks older but still very pretty and Louis has more hair in several shades of grey. He is so fortunate that Simon isn't on the panel.

The show was under way really quickly and someone calling himself Sheyi takes the stage with a big smile, great manners and obvious talent. A natural entertainer but for some reason he rasped away in a bad impression of Louis Armstrong in tight trousers which no-one in their right minds would expect to get through. I'm convinced that this was some kind of set up - maybe they didn't have anyone amusing and reasonable for the first act so got this guy to act up for a few grand. Two reasons: one, when he dropped out of the rasping growl voice for the intermittent 'yay' or 'hey' you heard a decent and absolutely in tune voice, the sort you'd expect from someone like him and, two, my daughter tells me that he's Deputy Head Boy at Royal Latin School in Buckingham, or was last year, and that's neither his name nor his style. She also rather doubted that he worked at Nandos in London - Milton Keyenes, maybe - or came from Camden. Camden does sound cooler than Buchingham, though.

We moved on and someone with a name like Feckton sings Freedom pretty well, Rick's a fireman with red blotches and gets through as does Tasha with a nice tone and a first glimpse of some real talent. Then comes Jahmene Douglas. You think he's going to be the joke act and whine a lot or something. He has a nervous laugh at the end of each short sentence and long ones seem to be beyond him. The shiny grey suit is worrying too, looking like something someone bought for him and poured him into before feeding him up.

Then the guy sings. At Last is a pretty smart song at the best of times and he is just brilliant. Every note absolutely spot on, a totally natural singer. Outstanding voice but I don't know - despite all the raves from everyone there - how will he fare as the stages progress and can we really, honestly, imagine this chap dancing to an Abba song or whatever they get the poor contestants to do on the Live Shows? Writing this rather later than I should did give me the befit of a peek at some odds and the bookies have him as an early favourite so I guess he's safely through for a while yet.

We get a better chunk of Peter Dickson now with some competition that doesn't even have a question to answer. Eh?

Zoe does a Pink tribute not particularly well, despite a build up that made us think she'd be a good act. There's some nasty behaviour as she storms off and you do have to wonder whether the return of Brian Fieldman to direct the shows has had an influence on upping the drama.

Off to Manchester next and we get Scary Spice Mel B in various shades of strange orange being particularly grumpy with almost everyone. To be fair, they all deserved it and it was quite refreshing to see a judge telling acts that they weren't much good instead of pussy-footing around as most of the others have tended to do for fear of breaking some Single Equality Act regulation.

The one that didn't get the grumps was Ella Henderson who sang one of her own compositions. Now that's a brave move anyway but both her writing and her singing are damn good. Perhaps she will find herself aligned with Adele too much and it is to be hoped that she can pull herself away from that overdone genre. One class act and another tip for the top.

These are, though, very early days. It is, thank heavens, a long time 'til Christmas and the Final! I suspect there will be more contenders than the two everyone is talking about this week.

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