Thursday, September 28, 2006

X-Factor Preview - Simon Cowell's Under 24s

A huge welcome back to (please bookmark the new url) and to our X-Factor coverage.

We're going to take a look at some of the runners and riders from this year's auditions. As you will know, X-Factor is pre-recorded at this stage.

Next Saturday's Bootcamp actually finished some time ago and judges Simon, Louis and Sharon have already chosen the 8 acts in each category that will make it to Simon, Sharon and Louis' houses for further work.

Simon has the under 24s, Sharon the Over 25s and Louis the groups. (Sharon was originally to take the groups but managed to palm them off on Louis).

We're going to kick off with a run-down of Simon's impressive stable of performers that he had to choose from for his final 8 then 4. Simon is the current front runner on Betfair's winning manager market and we can see why. We'll be tweaking this run-down and adding more of our views in the coming days.

*This article originally embedded youtube links to auditions, the show asked us to remove them and so we've obliged.

Ashley (20) is a strikingly good-looking mixed race young man with a cool Lenny Kravitz style loose afro. He sung Stevie Wonder at his Audition. The judges were very impressed. Sharon sums it up rather nicely in the above clip.

Raymond (Ray Quinn, 17) is an TV actor who appeared in Brookside Anthony 'Tony' Murray (2000-2003). The scouser, who professed he likes Dean Martin, Elvis, Sinatra impressed the judges. Ray seem like a likeable lad. Teenagers singing swing just seem like karaoke to us, but we'll reserve judgement for now.

Shaun (11 1/2) is the nervous tearful boy from episode one. Sings "Right Here Waiting". He's definitely waiting for something, but we think its probably just puberty. Poor Shaun sounded like his balls have not dropped could wet himself at any time - this may have charm with the voting public. However if Simon takes him through, Sean will surely be the Kevin Covais of the show...

Gemma (23) was promoted on the show as being part of a couple with boyfriend Joseph (below). Gemma did a very adequate Bonnie Tyler style power-ballad rendition of Heart's "How do I get You Alone". The judges were clearly scratching their heads as to what to do with such an act, but put her through anyway.

Joseph has been working out and was wearing a
tight white vest to show that off, which didn't escape Sharon's attention. Joseph sang "Can you feel the love tonight" from cartoon epic "The Lion King" which bored us. Joseph is a handsome chap but seemed to be fully aware of that as he tossed his carefully blow-dried hair from beneath his croched bonnet.

A song from a cartoon was an appropriate choice for a contestant that was just a bit too much like the the sickly smooth prince charming from Shrek for us to feel he could really connect with the public.

Samantha (21) is a mother of 2, is pretty, slim and has a pleasant voice. She seems like a really nice person to us but we can't see her as an artist that sells a lot of records - not exactly sure why - it will be interesting to see what sort of material Simon gives her...

Punk/Goth Lesbian Laura - sung "I wish I was a punk rocker" by Sandie Thom. The only thing interesting about her performance was her image which was in stark contrast to her assertion that her mum wanted her to go on the show. Girls following this particular trend are all over the 'net, perhaps the judges should have just clicked over to SuicideGirls and found someone with a decent singing voice. If there are any supporters of Laura (apart from her mum) they will point to the similarly styled Alex Parks being the winner of BBC's Fame Academy in 2003, but unfortunately for Laura, Alex was a decent singer.

Leona Lewis

Leona is through to the final, we're pretty sure of that. She has a commercial look, is a proven performer and has a good voice. We're concerned that the "fix" element may well come back to haunt the lovely Leona, but we'll be back to you about that at a later date

Gemma (23) Is a near-flawless and individual singer. "You could sing the phone book" (Cowell) Seems to have a nice personality - after the whole panel gave their overtly positive comments Simon still managed to trick her into believing he was going to say "no".

Trevor made it to bootcamp last year but didn't make the grade to the final. He was up before the judges this year singing "I Don't Wanna Talk About It". Trevor has been having singing lessons and vocal training and even turned from a brunette to a blonde in an attempt to get through
again, however We agree with Cowell that Trevor smacks of someone just trying too hard. Simon voted no and Trevor would land in his group - it doesn't look promising for the lad.

Nikitta (17) Came through from the Glasgow auditions. She looks a bit like a slim version of Queen Latifa and to us sings like Lauren Hill would like to. Look at the video clip for the real insight here. Cowell looks quite unimpressed until Nikitta opens her mouth, then he looks annoyed. He's annoyed because Nikitta represents a problem for him, she's potentially in his group but he doesn't like surprises. She's not a skinny industry-friendly type like Leona Lewis but we think she has a better voice. What will Cowell do with 3 potential black female stars to choose from - Leona Lewis, Gemma and Nikitta? I imagine he won't pick them all...hopefully the others get signed up by a record company anyway.

Tina announces to the judges (presumably suggested by the producers) that she has a "heart condition" and was recovering from an operation but discharged herself from hospital to make the audition. She strained her quite good voice singing "killing me softly" and receives 3 yes votes from the judges. This group is too tough for sympathy to be much of a factor, we don't think that will be enough.

Rudi (19) auditioned in Dublin and London due to his persistence after not getting 2 yes votes due to Sharon's absence (see video). Unfortunately for Rudi, Simon doesn't like him very much. He's now found himself in Simon's choice pool so despite his teenager-swooning good looks we don't think he stands much of a chance.

Hari, formerly the sexy one in Eskimo Blonde - (Special Bets prefers the other blonde in the original line-up) Hari sings in an american accent and looks kind of "page 3" to us - Simon seems to have a special regard for her though, remembering the happy time they shared together at his Marbella Villa perhaps and the others fall into line and put her through. Despite Cowell's enthusiam we can't see Hari as a contender.

Leonna(20) Shop Assistant. Does a Christina Aquillera-inspired "Son Of A Preacher Man" by Dusty Springfield. Good voice that needs training. Has quite a "hard" face and the panel were mixed with Simon saving her. There's only room for one Leonna in Simon's final group - and it won't be her.

That's all for now. Check out the list of X-Factor Specials and markets here;

Best, Special Bets.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Gutshot Poker Case Featured On London News Sept 26th;