The X Factor NZ: Power Rankings #3

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Two weeks into the X Factor, and already we’re seeing some controversy. Spurred by the elimination of the consistently poor Taye Williams, when most had assumed the equally underwhelming but much more erratic L.O.V.E. would be packing their bags, the New Zealand Twitter population exploded on Monday night. Mainly the Auckland Twitter population. Specifically the Ponsonby Social Club and Tarocash loyalty club Twitter populations. Point being, though, I guess some people were mad.

For what it’s worth, absolutely no one should be surprised by that elimination. As bizarre as Daniel’s decision not to send home the now clearly supremely-ambivalent-about-this-whole-thing L.O.V.E. may have seemed, Taye was hardly tearing up the competition. Though he’d apparently become a much-loved figure within the ranks of the final 12, his performances have never once been better than mediocre. Charismatic as hell, but without any sort of voice to back it up, if it wasn’t for the fact that the over-25s category was so light on talent that they actually explicitly pointed it out during boot camp, he’d never have been on the live shows in the first place. You may be mad now, you will absolutely have forgotten his name by the end of the long weekend.

Power Rankings

1. Gap 5 (Groups – 1) – While I’m not sure that Gap 5’s performance was the best of the week, there’s no question that they’re the total queens of this shit right now. Though the inclusion of the classic wordless hook of Johnny Farnham’s ‘You’re The Voice’ in their rendition of Lorde’s ‘Royals’ was reasonably bewildering and extremely unnecessary, there wasn’t a whole lot else to complain about. The staging was immaculate – the girls given a heraldic presence by simple virtue of performing five feet higher than everyone else – and the song’s basically arranged for five part harmony anyway, so it was always going to be impressive. Group leader Nicole’s voice was noticeably weaker than usual, but given the fact that she was out for at least the earlier rehearsals with illness, I’m giving her a pass on this one. Seemingly still getting better, beginning to look monolithic.

2. Benny Tipene (Boys – 6) – I have no complaints about this one. Great performance of a great song, under incredibly weird conditions. It would’ve been entirely understandable if Benny had totally lost concentration at the premature detonation of his already deeply superfluous pyrotechnics, but it seemed instead to relax him further. The performance as a whole was much more natural and charming than we’ve seen him so far, and the fact that it was by Chris Knox also stopped all the herb-ass West Lynn cool dads from tweeting about Straitjacket Fits or whatever the hell. Thank you Based Benny.

3. Cassie Henderson (Girls – 7) – If there had been any question over whether Cassie’s demographic (that is, girls exactly like Cassie, of which there are many) would stick with her after her underwhelming performance on the first live show, one crudely beautiful yellow sign answered emphatically ‘yes’. The sign (pictured below) was the archetypal Sunday afternoon craft project, an amazing combination of papier mache, tempera, collage, glitter and various hand-lettered acronyms and slogans of questionable relevance. When you’re a tween with limited skills, that shit is time consuming. Some parent actually let their child sink untold hours into that, which indicates nothing if not deep commitment on both of their parts. No dad wants his daughter holding up a sign that he’s not proud of. They’re both voting for Cassie, as are all of her friends and probably her grandparents. Also her performance this week was far, far better than her first, slightly weak in the mid-range but showing surprising strength in her higher register, with some interesting vocal runs in the choruses. She’s not going home anytime soon.

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go go go go go go go go go go

4. Moorhouse (Groups – 3) – When I mentioned the issue of prefab groups struggling with adaptability in my first column, it was in reference to Gap 5. It seems, however, to have been much more of an issue for their male counterparts. While this was the first time I’ve found Moorhouse genuinely entertaining, there’s still something slightly sheepish about them. Still finding their feet in the live setting, they’ve yet to really reach their peak vocally, but being blessed with a song that can be sung competently even by perma-drunks certainly helped. Hopefully this is the beginning of their upturn, because whether they get any better or not, they’re here for a long while.

5. Whenua Patuwai (Boys – 5) – Dude can really sing. After a performance like Sunday’s, there’s really not much else to be said. Vocally, he’s already as good as any of his local contemporaries – better than a few – so his progression through the contest will be largely dependent on how well he can be coached and managed. ‘Bathe in the River’ was by no means a misstep, but it wasn’t revelatory either. It was a straight rendition of a song which demands vocal power, and he absolutely delivered, but that’s less impressive when you’re expecting it. I still love Whenua, but I just wanna be surprised.

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The product placement on this show is on a whole other level. Dove deodorant microphone, I feel you doe.

6. Tom Batchelor (Boys – 9) – Much better than we’ve seen him before, although clearly very uncomfortable with all that fabric around his throat. A lot more nuanced than his first live performance, or any of his audition rounds, and served well by the fact that he was singing a song by Dave Dobbyn, clearly his spirit animal/possible father. His voice is and always will be a polarising one, but he’s charismatic and seems to genuinely give very few fucks. You do you, Tom Batchelor. Get that votes.

7. Jackie Thomas (Girls – 8) – And with that, we move into the deeply uninteresting, almost arbitrary “just ok” section. While certainly stronger and more confident than at the first live show, Jackie still seems to be struggling with being on stage. Hopefully this will soon pass, because though I feel like there’s probably a really nice voice underneath that nervous vibrato, even your mum (who, as stated last week, bloody LOVES Jackie) will get sick of being underwhelmed eventually. She’ll still buy the CD at the petrol station though.

8. Anna Wilson (Over 25s – 4) – To be fair to Anna, this placement isn’t entirely her fault. Poorly served both by wardrobe (I get the general feel, but just because she’s the kind of act that could work in a winery setting doesn’t mean that you should dress her like my mum’s wild-ass sexagenarian choreographer friend) and scheduling (of the two Brooke Fraser performances, hers was a less interesting run-through of a worse song), but that doesn’t change the fact that this was a huge step backwards from last week. She’s by no means bad enough to warrant going home yet, but I don’t know if voting will reflect that for long. For her sake, I hope that she’s given a far more forgiving treatment this weekend. Also, tulips are boring as hell. No more tulips.

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Give her a headset microphone and this becomes a very accurate reproduction of my aerobics-based nightmares

9. Māka Fiso (Over 25s – 2) – A steep drop this week for Māka, who, like Anna, suffered from his song selection. While Matiu Walters is a talented vocalist, ‘Don’t Forget Your Roots’ is dynamically very flat, and for the most part sung in a register slightly too low for Māka to really wrap his throat around. It also didn’t really help that he forgot the words a bunch of times. By the final third of the song, he managed to find some of his previously present vocal power, but it wasn’t quite enough to bring the performance back into the black. I’m sure he’ll recover, but, especially considering his showing last week, this was poor.

10. Fletcher Mills (Boys – 11) – Does Fletcher really want to be here? Like, really really? He seems pretty shell-shocked at the moment, just buried under nerves that have been compounding since his judges’ retreat performance and are probably only exacerbated by speculation like this. Sorry, Fletch. For mine, he wasn’t helped by the quasi-jaunty treatment of Bic Runga’s ‘Sway’, but considering the reaction to his sans-piano ‘Paradise’ last week, it’s not difficult to see why he and his coaches went down that particular path. I don’t think all hope is yet lost for Fletcher, and the longer he’s in the contest the more I want to see him really smash one out of the park, but time is surely running out.

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Spooky Frost

11. L.O.V.E. (Groups – 10) – I really wanted L.O.V.E. to succeed, I genuinely did. Unfortunately for everyone else, they seem not to care about that in the slightest. It’s hard to know whether their dated presentation so far has been their work, or that of Melanie Blatt, but it’s clearly not connecting with anyone and is showing no sign of improvement. I’ll be blown away if they’re still in Auckland past next Tuesday.

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Giraunchy, the Hamilton Commes des Fuckdown

This weekend, being Queen’s Birthday, is the show’s British special. I’m assuming this means a bunch of songs by previous UK X Factor acts, with the requisite smattering of Britpop and probably Fletcher singing ‘Imagine’. If you don’t like the sound of that, take solace in the fact that you can get as drunk as you like, sleep in and forget all about it. Get at us with your comments, predictions and fawning praise, and follow @_thecorner on Twitter for the best live updates you’re likely to get. Forget the rest, get with the best.

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13 Comments

  1. I don’t know how you can sit through a whole show, I know I can’t. Even Simon Cowell is getting bored of them.

  2. Week 2 Anna Wilson + headset microphone + bootleg trousers = Deep Obsession.

  3. Benza says:

    Anyone else think Taye’s departure was a legal one as well as the fact he actually wasn’t good in live shows.

    The contestant who has had NZOA funding before was eliminated the saem night the NZOA feature was on

  4. so british songs -moorhouse with a 1d hit? will someone do mel blatt song??

  5. joseph says:

    “Tarocash loyalty club” <— Lazer.

  6. Talia says:

    I would put Tom lower on the list – his performance was terrible. The vocals were grating and although I do love his whatev attitude it comes across in the way he sings so he ends up sounding like a your embarrassing drunken brother down at the local pub.

    • Matthew says:

      good points, and I’m not personally a fan, but I think that could be a large part of his appeal. I can only assume, but coming from a south island rural background myself, I’d say that he probably has a lot of pull in the provinces. especially with no country artist in the finalists, he’s like a classic rock mirror.

  7. Maurice says:

    It’s quite interesting how The Corner covers everything from serious music to talent contests. Is this too big a stretch and bottom feeding?

    • Dan Taipua says:

      Mate, if Barthes can go to the wrestling then The Corner can rest up with a cup of tea and TV3 7:00pm Sundays

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