So the final 12 have been chosen. I wasn’t without the usual high drama, emotional roller coaster and difficult decisions that the final twelve were finally selected in last night’s fantastic but rather horrible X Factor episode. In my own mind I’d made up my mind from the Saturday performances who would be going through to the live finals, and while some choices were obvious, it was still hugely suspenseful waiting to hear those words of approval from the X Factor judges. The series has now become a slick, carefully planned affair, designed to create as much drama as possible. With a new record number of viewers watching the emotive 2009 final 12 announcements last night it seems more and more people are being caught up in the roller coaster ride that has become the fun and enjoyment of watching the X Factor.
From his heyday as Mr Evil in Pop Idol I have watched as a remarkably talented and uncanny Simon Cowell has become a national Icon and revered as Mr Cool. From the days when he’d almost leap back in fear as contestants leaped towards him to embrace him as he announced their good news, to watching him be the one to engage and embrace this year’s contestants, Simon has certainly grown with the program that has brought him international fame and super stardom. X Factor fame has grown as each year the talent going through to the live finals has year on year improved. I remember asking myself last year how you could top Alexandra Burke, however I personally believe that this year’s panel of contestants brings together the best group of singers that the competition has ever seen.
From a very uncertain beginning in the X Factor, Cheryl Cole has asserted herself firmly in her place as an X Factor judge, and as with Simon and Danni before her, I have warmed to the Geordie Chick in her role as one of the maker and breaker of dreams. The only judge that I still cannot feel any sort of emotion, sympathy or support for is Louis, who this year seems to have once again totally lost the plot when it comes down to final selection. While I agree that a little controversy spices up the value of the show, makes it interesting and certainly gives the X Factor a unique flavour, since the departure of Sharon Osborne from the show, Louis no longer has a rival that wishes to give him a shower on national TV and has sunk into the depth of senselessness in his complete failure to gauge the public reaction to his beloved twins. Perhaps thinking with his head rather than his head has taken over the 57 year olds judgement completely.
One of the great things about this program is its ability to keep surprising you. As far back as the year Sharon threw water over Louis to stand up arguments and Simon storming off stage, to disqualifications as contestants try to cheat their way through. The glamour and glitz that keeps you wondering which big name will be next to appear in a Cameo role was blown away as Kylie joined her sister this year, making the pop duo a powerful combination to first have to audition in front of, but secondly to get an endorsement from the princess of pop must be a huge ego boost for the contestants in Danni’s group. It is also interesting to see how winners of the X Factor fair as their career progress, and see how well the judges really got it when they selected their acts.
I also really enjoy trying to pick the winner myself. Not that I have always got it right, but I do love to think that I’ve picked a few of them out from the pack in the past. Of all the winners of the show I still am blown away by the success of Leona Lewis. She has been a humble and honourable X Factor success story, and become a pop princess herself. It was also an amazing year to watch when she made it to the final and won. It was clear towards the end of last year’s competition that Alexandra stood out from the pack in that she is such a power house with that faultless voice of hers. However I did still think that Ruth Lorenzo wasn’t given nearly enough credit in last year’s competition. Maybe Simon was right and she should have stuck to singing in Spanish.
So this year presents a whole new bag of tricks. We have 12 more contestants to whittle down till we finally get to choose our winner for 2009. In many ways there are a few people that stand out for me this year. I am glad that Wales has had a good innings this year with two very good representatives in the competition. I believe that the over 25’s have the strongest chance this year, as some fantastic voices and amazing characters have stepped up to the mark in this category, and Simon must be thrilled to be mentoring this group. For me personally I believe the winner will emerge from this group.
However having said that, I think there are some amazing voices in the girls category, and I think Danni has got it spot on with her selection for her final three. Having seen the publicity shoots for the girls last night I was thrilled to see how stunning Rachel Adedeji looked in her promotional photographs. With such a wonderful natural smile, she certainly looks like a diva, sings like a diva and ticks all the boxes for me when she sings. Lucie and Stacey both have really strong voices, but both are so humble and genuine that you have to wonder if they have the personal belief and pizzazz about themselves to bring out that star quality that we all seek.
Again I would say that Cheryl has got it spot on with her choice in the boys section. Here Lloyd shines the torch for Wales, and is my firm favourite despite his age. The boy has the most amazing blue eyes and a genuine likeability about him that won me over really quickly. The other two are just as talented, but I do think that Joe will struggle with confidence as the weeks go by. Rikki for me could be a dark horse in this competition, he is an unknown in my opinion. You have to give it to him though, to return for a second season, let’s hope he really does deserve the place that Cheryl has given him.
As I said, I really think that Louis has lost the plot this year. While realistically the groups really do not produce any real contenders for the competition, last year JLS stepped up to the mark and made a credible challenge for the title, but this year I am lost for words as to how he managed to put the twins through to the live finals. I think Miss Frank are his only real shot at getting anywhere near the final as Kandy Rain are far too much like every other girl band out there at the moment, and let’s be honest, Louis doesn’t really have a very good track record at producing the best with girls. As for John and Edward…enough said.
I honestly believe that Jamie Archer presents the biggest challenge for the competition this year. He is hip, trendy, sophisticated and fearless as Simon so rightly put it. He has such a likeability about his personality that you just have to smile when he’s about. Olly has a great chance to get far as well in my opinion because he has a rustic rawness that I believe will appeal to a lot of the 20 something’s that watch the program. Danyl again for me is an outsider, and I was a little disappointed that the girls didn’t maybe get given a chance in his place. While his first audition was unreal, for me he didn’t really shine in either of his next two performances and I do wonder how far he will get, but again he is an unknown.
So there we have it. From next weekend the Live finals kick off and we are in for a massive treat this year as the competition shoots down the tracks towards Christmas number one. I am excited to see what mischief and antics this year’s competition will throw out, what new and different paths we will be taken down and who will finally emerge as the 2009 X Factor icon. I really do hope that its Jamie Afro. For now he’s got my vote.