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At least it's now even - with three in each category after Carolynne failed to impress voters sufficiently and found herself at the bottom of the pile last week. Louis got all the blame and Gary walked out but it's time to move on now.

I like the way Dermot's taking charge of the show. And there's a change of seating 'after nine years'.

Dermot lists the numbers. Cue the screams. On that basis, Union J win and Melanie doesn't. But let's see how they all do tonight.

Jahmene


Spot-on singing but no connection between the amazing voice and the lyrics. Great performance but lacking real emotion. One of Louis' 'favourite ever ever contestants'. What? Out of all nine years?

Nicole calls Jahmene 'Baby Cakes'. No-one quite likes to ask.

Dermot said he wouldn't but, yes, he does the heady patting eventually, despite Jahmene ducking out at his first try!

Christopher

Big ears looks like a football ref. Sings like one after a few beers. dreadful start. Oh, it's the Heart number again. Typical karaoke stuff. Solid voice but who'd going to buy this sort of stuff? He separates each word. Sounds odd. looks odd. He gets only modest applause. He needs to go.

Dermot doesn't heady pat Christopher.

Union J

Hope they get the song together better than they did their attempt at 'Team Louis' in unison. My God, it's bleedin' Bleeding Love. That works really well actually. An excellent arrangement. Brilliant. That'll go down well with the fans - and the voting fans too.

No heady patting though.

Ella

Can someone please leave her hair alone? She looks so good naturally. Are the 40s coming back? If so then release her album now and get it over with. This, though, is one of the most difficult songs ever. Loving You Is So Beautiful. OK, she hit the notes, amazing notes at that, but... but there was no emotion or connection at all. It was a bit clinical and, talented as she may be, that's not going to get her the most votes this week. Minnie Ripperton had the feeling and the notes and, whilst she didn't have any more success than that to my knowledge, if you dig out her version you'll see what was missing from Ella's. That might change the odds a little, especially with such a strong Union J performance. Doubt I'll get 25-1 on them again for a while.

So, will she get some heady patting from Dermot. With that hair? Perhaps not.

James

Nicole says 'This is my first time in a pub' during the preview bit.
James gets a call from Mary Blige and, unless he's acting really well, he handles that extremely well - he's looking and sounding very mature, not at all as I'd expected him to be coming across.

Now this guy can do feeling. No More Pain was delivered as if he meant every word. This guy's good. That was a 'moment'. Well done, James.

Nicole likes his trousers. No heady patting.

Lucy

After all the bad news she'd had in the week, and in 'Love and Heartbreak' week, she does a cheery song. Gold Digger. Remarkably well done as if she'd written it herself. Nice performance, totally natural and relaxed. That should be popular.

No heady patting for Lucy either.

District 3

They didn't like the song. I Swear. Heavy production. These guys have good voices and harmony and pull off this tricky number. Not bad but Union J get the boy band votes this week.

Nicole wants them like tabasco on apple pie. And baby oil, with all the actions. Well, not all of them but enough to make you wonder.

It'll be interesting to see how the votes total up - will there be enough for both to be safe? If so then when one does eventually go that could well seal the deal for the other. If not, they'll be out soon.

Jade

Forgettable song last week, despite an excellent makeover. Love Is A Losing Game. Accentuating the tone of her voice that distinguishes her but that also showed the notes that she didn't make which was a shame. I'm not a big fan and I'm not sure how many voters are. She seems very much on her own in this competition - that might help her but she needs to make her own space somehow, like Rebecca did.

Louis says she's in a tough category. That's right, for sure, and I think she knows it but there's nothing to stop two girls being in the final four. Unfortunately, I don't see her being one of them.

She gets a shoulder pat from Dermot instead of heady patting which sends her off before he's had a chance to read out the voting number so he has to call her back. Still no heady patting, though.

MK1

The bloke in the group puts on some sort of comedy act this week. Charlie's great but even her style makes this version of I Want You Back weird. That didn't work and even the dancers were totally irrelevant and mostly off screen. It was a bit like Jedward had returned in places. They may be in trouble.
they did make a good point themselves that they are aware that the people that like their style of music are not the type who normally watch X Factor, let alone vote! Fair comment and all credit to this pair for that.
They get hugs from Dermot. No heady patting.

Kye

This guy could easily be a future producer. Reminds me of Chris De Burgh. Great voice and production - I just wish he'd hit the high notes better in the first half. He may have rescued himself near the end when he was right in his best range and sounded good. He's a talented chap but may struggle. Christopher's and MK1's unpopular-sounding performances may just save him, as should the judges if it comes to it.

Rylan

Clear favourite to go at the start of the show but now looking safe with the bookies, at least! He doesn't wind up the show but he does wind up Gary by starting sing one of the Barlow numbers. Lovely. Starts then stops and is very relaxed in swapping from number to number in this weird mash-up and way OTT production. The budget's gone to hell. Groove Is In The Heart was never in tune in the 70s so he could get away with some dodgy bits but actually was not at all bad. It was weird but interesting and even included reference to Gangham Style and loads of references to the new wave of Korean stuff coming our way in there too. An informed production for which Brian gets all the deserved credit. I've no idea what to make of it and nor will many voters but it was bizarre enough to keep him in.

No heady patting as he towers over Dermot like a giraffe.

Melanie

White trouser suit. Flares. That says 1970 to me. Bond-style silhouette behind her is more interesting than Melanie. Two Worlds Collide was over sung but oversung pretty well. Not sure how that'll go down. I'd have given her a Righteous Brothers track.

Louis says the old school is now new school. OK? Whatever that means.
Tulisa, in an attempt to catch up with the million points already scored by Nicole this week, says Melanie was in MILF mode. No baby oil, though.

Nor heady patting.

So that's Week 2 done - apart from the results. It should be Christopher going home but might be District 3 or MK1 getting the close shave. Jade, Melanie and Kye should thank their lucky stars for another week.

The first results show. Wow! If SYCO were looking for headlines in the tabloids, a mass of Twitter messages and to hit as many other publicity buttons as they could to boost ratings then they did a good job with this show.

Dermot raced through the acts that were safe - he had ten of those and calling out District3's name between Ella's and Lucy's was the first surprise. Union J, Christopher, Carolynne and Ryan were the four left standing. Being 'in no particular order', putting Union J on the safe side of the stage was predictable as they may well have had one of the biggest votes, despite a lacklustre performance last night.

That left us with Christopher, Carolynne and Rylan. We guessed that Christopher, having only just been brought back from obscurity with public wild card votes, was safe and it was, indeed, Carolynne and Rylan left standing as the two acts with the lowest votes.

That was quite a surprise. Both had put in reasonable performances last night. Both had been in tune and stronger than several of the others but this is all about who the people actually voting prefer and, certainly to me, Rylan had not garnered as much of an early following as I'd expected and Carolynne had just not impressed anyone with a song that her natural supporters may have recognised. She may have fared considerably differently with a safe standard as she was confident, looked really attractive and sang very well but just not in a way that appealed to enough people pressing the numbers on their mobiles on a Saturday night.

Their sing-off performances were both good. Rylan was in his element with an excellent choice of One Night Only which I wondered might be apt. He was in tune and it was a strong performance with a gorgeous background and everything just worked for him. Carolynne was faultless and produced a stunning performance which all her supporters must have wished she'd done the night before. As she finished to impressive applause from everyone, she was the obvious choice to stay if anyone was to be judged on those performances.

Betfair's odds showed Carolynne favourite to go at the beginning of the sing-off. As she sang those odds reversed and Rylan became the clear favourite to go instead.

Now the fun starts. You know that Gary would support her and Nicole would support Rylan so it was down to Tulisa and Louis. You can also be pretty sure that the judges had been tipped off beforehand as to the voting and would have chatted about what to do. My guess is the producers had told Louis to take it to deadlock and Gary to argue and do something like walk off in disgust.

So that is more or less exactly what happened. At the end of the day, Gary would have to accept that Carolynne's bottom place in the voting wasn't boding well for her in future weeks and Rylan does have that entertainment value too which, in the absence of a Jedward or Wagner this year, the show seems to insist on.

Louis played along brilliantly and got everyone annoyed, not least good old Dermot O'Leary desperately watching the clock and trying to get a decision out of him. In fact, Louis first said he was saving Carolynne and you really did have to feel sorry for her when he clarified that, well, completely reversed it if we're being accurate, and said that he wanted to leave it to the public vote - hence saving Rylan.

That gave us tonight's unexpected result of Carolynne falling at this first hurdle and Rylan living for another week. It may also have given SYCO  better viewing figures for next week by the time the headline writers have had their day!

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.



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