The X Factor NZ: Power Rankings #10

image_4

Oh come on. I spend eight weeks hedging bets, never wanting to make a concrete prediction lest I be proved wrong and foolish, and the week that I finally come out and say that Moorhouse are taking this thing out, they’re gone. And really, it’s an absolute shame. In a competition where surprising and unjustified eliminations have been thin to the point of arguable non-existence (the previous closest thing to a genuinely controversy being the loss of Cassie last week), this was shocking. They had a pretty low-key week, and the argument will always be made that you can’t afford weakness in the penultimate round of a show like this, but they were still reasonably solid, flawed across both performances but both still vastly more entertaining than either of Jackie’s and at least one of Whenua’s. Whether it was cheekbone fatigue, the assumption that they’d be safe and a vote would be better spent on one of the weaker acts or just because people genuinely didn’t like them this week, we now face the final of the X Factor with the competition’s most dynamic act dreaming of the rideshare Kuga that could’ve been. Although they’ll obviously be signed anyway, and we should probably all try to enjoy the month and a half before the age of Moorhouse ubiquity truly begins, I’m mad as hell about this.

image_1

Actually though I’m pretty sure it’s because of this logo. Burn all of this merchandise immediately.

As for everything else that happened this week, it was largely what we’ve come to expect. The acts tended, as usual, to prioritise staid safety above all else, and the result was again unbefitting of a show with such promise at the outset. I’ve come to think that this may in fact be due to a shifting of priorities as the contest progressed; the first few weeks were about asserting an identity and a market share, the last few about trying not to upset anyone. Though there’ve been moments that half-heartedly kicked against this notion, and my recollections may be frosted by my optimism in the early stages, it’d be hard to argue that there’s been much of an upward trend. But maybe everyone just ran out of ideas.

Anyway, for the last time:

Power Rankings

1. Jackie Thomas (Girls, 2) – Performing ‘Angel’ by Sarah McLachlan and ‘Wonderwall’ by Oasis

With Moorhouse gone (still mad), Jackie’s now in the weird position of actually being the obvious favourite to take the title. I have no idea how this happened, and I can absolutely not be excited about her imminent career based entirely on variations of this week’s efforts, but it’d be pretty obstinate to refuse to acknowledge it at this point. Despite barely making the top 12, she’s the only act to entirely avoid the bottom two, and despite increasingly tedious song choices, she’s vastly improved as a performer. Those two songs, though, damn. Why on earth you’d give the competition’s least distinctive vocalist straight arrangements of probably two of the most commonly covered pop songs in existence is beyond me, but the results were predictably forgettable. ‘Angel’ was adequately pitched and self-consciously theatrical, ‘Wonderwall’ just adequately pitched, neither was bad but neither could really be called good. There’s really not much else to be said. Jackie Thomas may well win the X Factor, I can’t begin to understand how.

image_3

Yeah nice try Jackie, but I’ve seen a butterfly before. Ain’t no angel. Pssh

2. Benny Tipene (Boys, 3) – Performing his own song “Boxes” and “Sweet Child o’ Mine” by Guns ‘n Roses

Benny was, for mine, the absolute standout act this week. He was comfortable without coming across flippant, stepped slightly outside his comfort zone vocally and played one very sweet guitar solo. Depending on how the final performances come together – or fall apart – this weekend, he is a genuine contender. I’m still not sure, though, that he really wants to be. Both of his songs this week were pitching Benny Tipene, Serious Artist – “Boxes” being a plaintive, obvious but competent lament in the vein of a spit-shined Bon Iver, and his iconoclastic take on “Sweet Child o’ Mine” entertaining but seemingly existing largely as a vehicle for that aforementioned solo – and in the context of X Factor winners, that’s not really an easy lane to occupy. If he wins, his first release will be the requisite package of covers from the show, originals by bad professional songwriters and MAYBE a couple of his own songs, and it’s hard to see Benny being overly excited by that. If he loses, though, his options are much more open. He’d likely get a similar deal, probably still via Sony, but with much less imperative to release immediately. That’d mean more time to write, more creative input and probably a much more enduring record. We’ve not seen anywhere near enough of his own material for me to accurately judge whether he’s a latent songwriting genius, but that has to be a better option. I said last week that he’d make the final but not the top two, and while I still believe that’s the best possible outcome for his long-term career, it may now be a lot closer than that.

image_2

Post-production was supposed to turn all those boxes into some kind of sick volcano but they spent the special effects budget on all those fake trees earlier in the season. Sorry about it.

3. Whenua Patuwai (Boys, 4) – Performing “If You’re Not the One” by Daniel Bedingfield and “Piece of My Heart” by Erma Franklin

Let me just reiterate, off top: I really like Whenua. He seems like a deeply genuine, deeply nice guy, who’s probably dealing with this about as well as an 18-year-old without a history of stage performance could possibly be expected to. He’s become something of a victim of his own ego, believing the hype above the generally justified critique, but while he may not be quite ready for the big time, there’s a star in there somewhere. Unfortunately, that’s basically reason enough for him not to win this contest. This week was a mixed bag, a crushingly average performance of Daniel’s weepy Westlife-cribbing number offset slightly by a by-numbers but totally entertaining run thru Joe Cocker’s version of the Erma Franklin classic, which somewhat inexplicably received the most rapturous reception of anything all season. It may be, as Mel said, more due to the perceived improvement and the fact that his earlier performances were largely quite bland than it actually being good, but it may have just kept him in the competition. As inferred above, though, I really don’t think Whenua’s ready to win this contest. With training he could definitely become a great performer, but psychologically he just doesn’t quite seem equipped to handle it. If he somehow takes it out, I’ll be ok with that, because an oeuvre of soul covers and standard-aping originals is always going to appeal to me more than “Jackie Thomas presents: Love Songs ‘til Midnight ‘til Infinity”. And he’d give his mum the car. OK maybe he should win.

 image

“I’m sweating!” – Whenua. True though.

====

So after nine weeks of live shows, and ten installments of this column, we’re finally there. By Monday evening we’ll have our first X Factor winner, and one lucky New Zealander will have signed their life away for a warehouse full of unsold CDs and a family SUV. We’ll be there, as we always are, making fun of people who are more talented and successful than us on Twitter. If that sounds like your kind of thing (if you’ve read this far, stop lying, that is obviously your kind of thing) you can follow us at @_thecorner and unfollow everyone else. This is not a joke. Do that. Hit us up in the comments if you disagree, or just leave some nice compliments if you don’t. I’m working hard out here. Show love.

TOP TWEETS v. 10.0

BONUS FOR DEDICATED READERS: GIFS

 image

The essence of a man

 image_1

“Brrtz” – Whenua

 image_2

Benny rehearsing for his post-competition Sepultura-aping R. Frost diss, “Roots Mousy Roots”

16 Comments

  1. I don’t want Benny to win. I don’t want him to have the pressure of putting out a gran-pleasing album in a few months’ time. I just want him to tour and get pissed and write and collaborate with Street Chant.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Jackie reprised “Skinny Love” and won based on masses of votes from people who genuinely think it’s an original arrangement and haven’t even heard of Birdy, even though her version has been all over pop radio.

    If Whenua wins, things will take the NZ Idol path and he’ll enjoy a career as successful as Ben Lummis or Rosita Vai. That is, he’ll be a professional singer but not a pop star. And if the show gets picked up for a second season, they won’t risk putting through any more singers like him.

    • matthew says:

      Yuh that’s pretty much what i’ve been hearing from everyone re: Benny, which is to say it’s probably the indie consensus. His voting base probably doesn’t want that at all though. Very unclear what Benny wants.
      As for Jackie, that wouldn’t be massively surprising. That song was actually covered by some Australian for their X Factor too, some time. Australia sucks and I try have no interest in expanding my knowledge for this anecdote.
      And you may be reasonably en pointe about Whenua, but I think it’s worth noting that he’s a much better technical singer than Ben Lummis, and much poppier than Rosita. He’s also got exponentially more personality than either.

    • Maurice says:

      give street chant some credit, he’s not in the same league or genre!!!!!

      • matthew says:

        street chant for real love benny tipene

      • It wasn’t intended as a diss. Street Chant and Benny have mutual aroha for each other, which tickles me as I love them both. It would be amazing if they collaborated.

  2. Martin says:

    What a load of Sony shit.

  3. Talia says:

    I never thought Moorhouse would win, I think they will probs be successful after the show because they are babin’ boys but as far as the show went you still had to have some kind of singing talent which I think those guys are still working out.

    My money is still on Jackie, I don’t care for her at all – she can sing well but she sings everything the same damn way without much emotion (despite dan bed’s cry face). She’s pleasant and that’s about it and because of this kind of pleasant, blah, doesn’t murder every song she sings thing she will get through. She is blah enough that she can easily be marketed as the next brooke fraser or anna mac or whatever and that really sells with mainstream voters.

    I love Benny and Whenua and I think that Whenua has had a real tough time throughout the comp, I think he actually did have confidence (albeit maybe a bit cocky) but then everyone kept talking about how he wasn’t comfortable (um stop putting him in so many layers of clothing so he doesn’t get so freakin hot) and how is confidence looked shaky and all of sudden the guy was tearing up all the time. He may not be ready for the ‘big time’ but I still got his back and hope he makes it anyway, he seems like a good as genuine dude – I got you whenny.

    I agree with the comments previous about Benny, he doesn’t suit the mold that his record deal will no doubt push him into so I hope he comes second so he still gets the following and a possible deal but one he can do on his own terms. FYI I saw him the other night at DOC and he is just as cutie in real life.

    And I’m done.

    I think that Jackie is still a huge contender to take out the crown. I don’t care for her at all but as I have said in previous lengthy comments (ha) she is boring enough to appeal to the general masses.

    Give her

    • Talia says:

      godammit I should have edited my comment properly. shame.

      • matthew says:

        hahah na it’s great. good points too, especially re: whenua’s wardrobe. layered+black, all the time. looked good but v sweaty

  4. I_Could_Be_Famous says:

    Can’t say I particularly agree with your summary of Benny Tipene’s likely post X-Factor fortunes if he goes onto win. Generally the record labels put out the Covers/manufactured pop song albums following these sorts of shows in order to ‘strike while the iron is hot’ and capitalize on the contestants success during the show and also because it is generally in the contestants overall best interests career wise (and not to mention the labels). However, in Benny’s case he already has a studio recorded EP that happens to also be the number one downloaded New Zealand album on bandcamp at the moment, which features a likely top 5 single in “boxes” (and other songs I suspect we’ll hear this weekend) that could really be released onto iTunes the day after X Factor results if need be. On top of this, he also has another body of work on the site called “Tummy” that he could easily expand into a full length album within a quick space of time (an extremely prolific songwriter from all accounts, so he could well have that material already) so could have a debut full length album out quite quickly anyway as well. Wouldn’t be any point in the aforementioned pop rock/covers album. Should also be of point that similar artist Clara Van Wel from NZ got talent didn’t receive pop rock/covers album treatment after she won her show despite her contract with Sony. Both Stuff and NZHerald received similar poll feedback following Monday nights elimination which said that Benny was about a 47% chance to win, Jackie a 40% chance and Whenua a 13% chance, so really I think Benny should be 1 and Jackie 2.

  5. Hussein says:

    “Cantabrian contestant and top seven finalist Tom Batchelor has also spoken out, saying he felt uncomfortable with aspects of the show, including being told to mime playing his guitar.

    He also said contestant’s ability to choose their own songs was limited, with the producers having the final say.

    A source involved with the show said that on-screen events were also often manipulated in post-production.

    And while the prize package for the winner is touted as including a contract with Sony, documents released reveal that all 13 finalists are already signed to the company.”

    via

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/tv/8944712/X-Factor-follows-reality-bible-religiously

    • Benza says:

      That’s like all of these shows aye bro even NZGT….it’s all a hustle & a contestants talent has to be comprimised which is why we never see the most amazing artists because their all at home keeping it real with their gift.

      Few artists I know are crazy singers/artists but got rejected from the show…maybe it was the show doing them a favour though, which is dope (if thats the case)

      I would have walked out if I was a guitar player & couldn’t play my guitar lol

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*