The X-Ploitation Factor Part II: The Judges’ Houses

The final 12’s out, the Internet’s erupting, I am speechless.

Not over the chosen contestants. I couldn’t resist the spoilers (which turned out to be correct), so this weekend’s X Factor dosage was tedious to say the least. It’s not a huge amount of fun watching the “judges” make the suspense of the decisions as emotionally crippling as possible for the contestants when you know what the stupid verdict is anyway.

Overall, then, I wasn’t surprised to see the likes of Gamu and Paije go home. The former attracted more attention because at least one of the girls picked wasn’t nearly fit to have her place instead. Cheryl Cole’s undergoing one helluva stupid attack from the media and Internet users alike:

I don’t really care that much about Ms Cole’s credibility, but rumour has it that her only input in the girls category was to have Rebecca in the line-up, meaning that the Powers That Be made the “controversial” decisions. Why are people so stupid as to think Cheryl Cole has any more creative input in The X Factor than she does in her Loreal contract?

I take it everyone’s in agreement that the vocal talent of the final line-up isn’t anywhere near the best it could’ve been? OK, just so we’re clear on that, let’s look at the mentality behind each selected contestant:

Boys (“Mentor”: Dannii Minogue)

Matt (decorator guy, wears a cap): good voice. Bit of a bum-around Average Joe that I’m sure a lot of people can relate to. I think he would sell records, so could be a potential winner.

Aiden (weird hairstyle, sang Gold Digger at this audition without music… looks a bit like Joe McElderry in a wig): Possibly a disposable… I don’t seem to recall this guy getting an awful lot of exposure – this is a key aspect from the preliminary stages. I’m fairly sure there’d be a positive correlation between the familiarity of a face and voting figures, but I don’t have an official source on that.

Nicolo (Italian douchebag): Has been compared to Rhydian. Vocally, of course, he’s very different, but for some reason pantomime villains go down very well on this show. I guess arrogance is a breath of fresh air for the audience when the 11 other contestants are prone to crying and breakdowns. Will it emerge that the preliminary shows were edited to make this guy look worse than he actually is? It wouldn’t surprise me.

Over 28s (“Mentor”: Louis Walsh)

This category has had very little to go on this year, and with the minimum age to qualify for it going up, it’s become even more of a mid-life crisis fest than ever before.

Mary (Tesco worker made up to look like Dawn French for the live shows): They’ve bigged this woman up a lot, and she’s certainly filling a very Nikki Evans-esque (XF ’07) role: middle aged with bingo wings and a shit day job. This lady will certainly haul in a good number of votes from women who can relate to her, but I doubt the producers want to have her win. They may’ve been seeking another SuBo (her audition was equally “inspirational”), but it’s not taken off like that. My guess is that Simon will say, at some point in the live shows, “People like you are what this show is all about… having a last chance at changing your mediocre existence and experiencing glory”… or something to that effect, anyway.

Storm (the guy with the stupid name): a contestant that “divides” the judges, especially Simon and Louis (Same Difference, Jedward), makes for great entertainment and normally provides a cue for the audience to pick up the phone and vote for the underdog.

John (who?): unfortunately, a disposable (see Aiden). I don’t recall seeing this guy until the Judges’ Houses, where it became evident that he was the best in the category. I predict that he’ll be in the bottom two in the first show, but I’m not sure if the judges will eliminate him initially. Best to hold on to him until he’s up against a Chosen One.

Groups (“Mentor”: Simon Cowell)

One Direction (reject ensemble, boy version): At first, I was a bit perplexed by another decision to round up rejected contestants for an “all in one” package – hadn’t previous years’ attempts been unsuccessful? – but one look at the line-up for One Direction, and it clicked. The kids look as though they’ve been perfectly genetically engineered for the Disney Channel itself. It’s like a mass invasion of little Eggnogs and Lloyd Danielses. The pre-/early pubescent part of the audience should go nuts for these guys, and for a group, they may actually do quite well.

Belle Amie (reject ensemble, girl version): kudos to them for coming up with a slightly more original name than something that blandly relates to their emotional journey to becoming a mass marketed musician, but I think this group is a disposable one. It may be the case that they were assembled purely because some of the boys were, and they turned out to be decent enough, and so were put through (just a theory, though). There hasn’t been a successful girl group on The X Factor yet, and they’re normally sent packing quite early on.

FYD (sang that annoying Plan B song in their first audition. Can dance): I’m sure there was a better male group in the auditions process that sang “Fight For This Love,” and I don’t know why these ones were chosen above something more gimmicky like Diva Fever. They’re likely to be a disposable, but I’m more inclined to form an opinion of their role after their performance this Saturday.

Girls (“Mentor”: Cheryl Cole)

Rebecca (sweet looking young mother): As I’ve already mentioned, rumoured to be Cheryl Cole’s actual choice. She’s good vocally and rather attractive, one of the few contenders that’s there for legitimate reasons.

Katie (idiot): Marketable fusion of Lady GaGa, Madonna and Gwen Stefani. Very memorable face and personality (the latter for the wrong reasons if you ask me). I’m fairly sure it wasn’t preferable for her to screw up her audition at the Judges’ Houses, especially after an equally shaky “initial” audition. It will be interesting to see how far she goes; does she have a substantial enough fan base to make it through a good number of live rounds, or is she as hated as everyone’s currently implying?

Cher (eyebrows): Having a much talked about first audition can be dodgy – Danyl Johnson was shot down very early on last year and Cher’s reputation seems to be going the same way. Playing the tonsilitis card so early is also a risky move. I would’ve recommended week 5 of the lives myself. This all seems to be falling out of the control of the producers: I think they’re counting on Cher doing well, because if she wins the show with the popularity she experienced in her first audition, she’d probably be one of their more successful winners.

Of course, as if this show wasn’t already looking like some Big Brother-esque attempt at a “social experiment,” there’s also the “wildcard” rumour that’s circulating the net right now. We know that there’ll be a “twist” on Saturday, so it could be true that one of the rejects will get a second chance. We can only hope as to who it will be.

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