The X Factor NZ: Power Rankings #1

The X Factor NZ

So it’s finally here. Or rather, it’s been here for a little while now, but it’s finally about to get REAL. The inaugural season of New Zealand’s X Factor is well underway, with live shows beginning this weekend, which means that we now have a decent idea of who we’re going to grow to love, hate, or immediately forget about.

Here at The Corner, there’s nothing more we love than judging, and in a competition designed to recognise that most unquantifiable factor, the factor of X, what better way than power rankings? NB: there is no better way, this is indisputably the best way.

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1. Moorhouse (Groups) Straight out of the gate, Moorhouse are going to be hard to beat. Vocally poor and possessing the kind of charisma that translates very well in static images, not at all in any other media, they’re actually one of the weaker acts in the top 13. But you can’t spell “Skux” without an ‘X’, as in Factor, and none of the other acts are half as skux as the recently fifth-member-amputated group from Grid City. They currently have over 30 thousand Facebook fans, most of whom seem to know each member by name, and based on the assumption that the voter base for this show is exclusively teen girls, they will likely win every vote by roughly 400%.

2. Whenua Patuwai (Boys) – I am all about this guy. At the start of the competition, it looked as though he’d be just another of those affected-humility sad sack dudes that generally crop up more in the over-25s groups (Altiyan Childs, that face tat chump from the last American season), but it turns out he’s actually just a humble-ass guy who happens to be an amazing singer. Melanie Blatt’s point about New Zealanders leaning far too heavily on chunky reggae strums and sub-Clapton acoustic noodling in the audition rounds was a valid one, and needed to be made, but Whenua was different. He knows the limitations of his voice – though it’s a deeply powerful instrument – and treats his guitar as a tool for augmentation, not a security blanket. He’s basically a rugby league playing, scoop-neck wearing subtropical Prince, and the only reason he’s not number one right now is because Moorhouse have Skinny Mobile on lockdown #teamwhenua.

3. Cassie Henderson (Girls) – Cassie is probably the closest thing to a Carly Rose Sonenclar that this show has, though obviously minus the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” pedigree, and also minus the voice. I hated her first performance, and though her progression hasn’t been particularly dramatic, her judges’ retreat rendition of some third rate Disney balladeer’s “Undone” was controlled and showed a surprising range. With the astonishingly poorly named TYP (The Young Project) missing out at the Wildcard stage, Cassie will have the tween vote on lock for a few weeks at least.

4. GAP5 (Groups) – GAP5’s interminably hi-NRG mean mugging seemed pretty out-of-place in the first rounds of this contest, but should translate well to the much louder and brighter live shows. The occasional problem suffered by prefab groups in these contests is that they’ve already determined their various internal dynamics, so are typically much less raw than their solo and show-made group counterparts, making them less immediately malleable for their judges and coaches. They do seem refreshingly aware and in control of their aesthetic, so hopefully they won’t end up in the same hopeless cul-de-sac of misdirection as Lyric 145, but time will tell. Easily the most (possibly the only?) fun act in the contest.

5 . Benny Tipene (Boys) – Pre-live shows, Benny is my pick for the dark horse of the Top 13. He’s been pretty flat since auditions (where he may have also been flat, I genuinely can’t remember him ever singing anything well) but he’s very smouldering and wears a bandana well. Also in his favour: he’s not as corny as literally every other “indie guy” finalist in every iteration of this or any other talent show, he’s not Fletcher Mills.

6. L.O.V.E. (Groups) – I initially had L.O.V.E. pegged as low as 10 in these rankings, but decided to have a heart. The X-Factor typically does incredibly poorly with rappers, probably the only exception being America’s Astro (who was actually on some self-driven mixtape hype in XXL even before that show), and these women (thankfully?) aren’t really novel enough for the gaudy Fresh Prince of Bel Air style production usually afforded (see: the aforementioned Lyric 145). I’d really like to see them do well, and be matched with coaches and songs that work for them, but unfortunately I can’t see it happening.

7. Maaka Fiso (Over 25s) – Maaka is a very competent vocalist – probably the churchiest singer in the group – but I’m not expecting that to carry him too deep into the finals. He’s not a natural performer, despite having the lungs of one, and coached charisma will only get you so far. Expect some competently sung ballads, but not a whole lot more.

8. Tom Bachelor (Boys) – The loudest contestant, with the worst shirts and trousers. He’s technically not THAT bad, but I just find this whole style just incredibly played out and not at all endearing. Will probably be very successful on the Western Australian mining pub covers circuit in 5-8 years, I guess that counts for something.

9. Jackie Thomas (Girls) – Performed an en pointe cover of a cover of a reasonably cloying Bon Iver song in the first round, has somehow made it through all subsequent rounds despite often ferociously below-par showings, possibly daughter of a producer.

10. Taye Williams (Over 25s) – I couldn’t remember dude, so I watched his judges’ retreat performance again. Uhhhhhh. Seriously handsome though, bruh is out here looking like Tiki Sisarich. Ok maybe I get it.

11. Anna Wilson (Over 25s) – A fittingly bland name for easily the most nothing contestant on the show. The only reason she’s coming in at 11, rather than rounding out the 13, is that she’s too deeply uninteresting to get mad about. Everyone reading this knows at least one other Anna Wilson, and that Anna Wilson is much more worthy of your time. This one won’t be sticking around for long.

11. Eden Roberts (Girls) – If you are on the X Factor, you are not above singing a Katy Perry song. Eden is the total Bianca of the contest, except Bianca was ostensibly good at modelling. Between the petulance, the deeply sub-Fiona Apple originals and the hilarious hesitance to sell her soul to Sony, I see no reason for her to be here.

13. Fletcher Mills (Boys) – Jeff Shmuckley. No one likes this guy. Come on.

So there it is. Arguably reasonably arbitrary at this highly edited stage of the show, but that’s how we see it. Let us know what you think in the comments. We’ll be posting up new rankings after each results show, along with panel discussions, top tweets and everyone’s favourite, still images of the judges and contestants pulling weird-ass faces during performances. For now, though, we’ll leave you with this.

15 Comments

  1. Kayle says:

    these rankings are hard out gay as!

  2. A couple of things:

    While Fletcher is a schmuck, coming through the LIGHTNING ROUND gives him a lot of momentum. He’s already won through a voter elimination round (admittedly against weak opposition) so he has some fans that are willing to vote for him. I’m not 100% if audience voting is going to be a big part of the show (assume it is), but he is likely to beat a lot of other contestants based on that.

    Jackie should also be higher. It was likely media driven, but her omission then subsequent admission was a story on the Herald website, it means people are out there talking about her.

    I’d also point out the show has a flaw in organising the groups prior to seeing the talent. The Over 25s are a weak group, even at the audition stage they mentioned they were lacking in talent. They should have had the first (‘live’) audition then moved the Overs age barrier to a better level. Lowering it a few years could maybe have moved 1 or 2 stronger Girls/Boys into the Overs group and increased the overall level of the comp.

    • matthew says:

      yeah good point re: fletcher, though I wonder if that result may have had quite a bit to do w/ confusion and/or the noted weak field. I personally was under the impression that voting closed much later in the week, and according to the official sources, the announcement wasn’t actually supposed to happen until tomorrow, but mel “idgaf” blatt just went for it because she was mad. v shady dealings.

      re: the overs, also a solid point, though I guess the format is the format and there are certain rules that must be followed. at least it’s not the over 30s, like season one in america. god that’d be awful.

  3. one of the dudes in moorhouse shot me in the temple with a bb gun in year 11 english!!!!

    • matthew says:

      i’m not being facetious when i say that this is easily in the top 5 greatest comments ever on this site

  4. I was an Eden supporter until she screwed her nose up at Katy Perry. “Firework” is quality Swedish-American pop.

    • matthew says:

      she’s actually totally competent as a vocalist and probably as a songwriter (i notice that she’s play it strange alumni circa-2010) but yeah, the attitude is absolutely wrong. she could do really well if she allows herself to take direction, but i almost don’t think she even wants to be there at times. like an actually talented version of the steamrollers.

      • yeah but says:

        “I did not mean to be offensive – apologies if I have offended you. I DO respect Katy Perry as an artist, because she is genuine about what she does, and I respect that other people do as well. I purely spoke my opinion – songwriting is my life and therefore when I am engaged by an artist, that is a large part of a what I hold my focus on about them. I understand that different people have different tastes, and focus on different aspects of different artists. I respect your opinion too.” from eden’s facebook

      • matthew says:

        yuh that’s cool, i’m less concerned with disrespecting katy perry than disrespecting a good-ass pop song. like, every song is written by someone, the conceit that a song can’t be good unless all parts were written and arranged by the original performer is weird as hell. for what it’s worth, k. perry does have a co-write on firework. pretty sure it was inspired by russell brand’s deep and embarrassing love for jack kerouac.

  5. Only just got round to reading these. Bloody great work Matthew.
    Agree re Top 5 comments of all time. Holy shit. Am super interested to see how they shake up post the first live show. Was super interesting to watch some mid-tablers beats it (Maaka in particular, but L.O.V.E. were stunning too. Jackie is the Carig MacMillan of this shit – one good innings in three keeps you in the side. Fletcher is not going to work without a goddamn baby grand in front of him. And the Bianca/Eden comparison is out-fucking-standing. I am filled with self-loathing for not picking it up myself.

  6. awe'z says:

    WOW!! Ok, Ive sung with Maaka for 8 years in a full band and a lot of other performances. He is a natural performer and has sung all sorts of music, right across the board stuff, you’re saying he wont deliver more than his first performance?? You have noooo idea!

    • matthew says:

      thanks for the comment! just called it how i saw it,but for what it’s worth, I was 100% into maaka’s performance this week. powerful stuff.

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