Week One

It's that time when half the country gathers around their television sets on a Saturday night to pour love, abuse, admiration and disgust on a bunch of people who want to be singers/famous.

The X Factor is without doubt a big show, and it needs some big coverage. Every week our team of hard-hitting writers/total saddos will be watching the show and letting you know what they think. Agree or disagree? Feel free to let us know.

Amy Jones — aka, The Reluctant Obsessive
I hate The X Factor. I honestly do. But again I find myself glued to the sofa, filling alternately with rage and self-loathing as I watch a parade of oddballs and desperate teenagers try to win the approval of the "judges" — three people who know everything about being on stage but nothing about being behind it and one strange Irish man who, quite frankly, makes me worry for his sanity more every year.

This was a poor start to the series, even by The X Factor standards. Frankie, who tried to come across as a “cheekie chappy” but is actually just a complete and utter dick, proved once again that The X Factor is to music what Greggs is to diet food. And whilst it was all nice when Luna Lovegood wandered on stage and did an impression of Ellie Goulding, the show was rounded off by a man who made me despise myself and the rest of humanity. I shouldn’t watch this, it isn’t good for my mental health. But will I be glued to my sofa next Saturday? I’d bet money on it.

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Sam Burnett — aka, The One Who Thinks He's Simon Cowell
I genuinely never thought I’d be nostalgic for brightdancing and Yeo Valley, but lo it was so. You know when the hoover gets crapped up and you have to sift through all of the most obnoxious flotsam that’s been sucked off your floor? That’s what the first show of the new X Factor was like. Without exception everyone proved utterly mental, new judges included.

Gary Barlow is a complete charisma vacuum; he has you mentally staring at the ceiling whenever he talks. I reckon he made washing up rotas when Take That were in the studio recording albums. Next to him, Louis Walsh looks like quite the wit.

Spot-squeezing cam, bum-baring boy, exotic Hong Kong drag act – the best thing about the show was that it can very definitely only get better from here


Sarah Hill — aka, The Wannabe Auditionee
Gary Barlow got mean, Tulisa looked hot and Kelly Rowland was so dull I literally tuned out everything that she said. Louis did his age old trick of calling people a young “insert Irish star here”, snooze. Couldn’t they have booted him too?

There was at least one stand out performance. Janet, bless her, who appears to be a puzzling Vickers/Goulding hybrid, but a beautiful one nonetheless. Then, sigh, there were the inevitable disasters. From poor old “I’ve matured” George (with his own name tattooed on his hand) who proceeded to swear at Tulisa and flip the bird on his way out, to Sondesh who just plain couldn’t sing (or dance for that matter) and unfortunate “what a feeling” Ellen (I’ve got a feeling you’re not going through, love). 

I love people that can sing but I must confess, the ritual humiliation of people that can’t is getting old, especially since they’ve been through several auditions to get to this point. I was hoping this year might be different with a new set of judges but the producers still want their pound of flesh. Here’s to the end of the embarrassing auditions and on to the actual fun parts - the live shows for the people that deserve to be there.

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Garry Pinches — aka, The Professional Musician
I was asked to write a few words to sum up this years X Factor from the point of view of a professional musician — I've worked all over the world with major artists and orchestras, and I've spent the last 10 years of my life teaching music.

I was all set to write a lighthearted and sarcastic review about how crap the X Factor is and how the first show is like poking a bus load of mental patients with a sharp pointy stick and laughing at the poor deluded bastards. Instead I'm going to give you a full on bitch.

The first contestant Frankie Cocozza comes onto the stage, alluding to the fact his main aim is to shag as many woman possible, and brandishes his skinny naked arse to the audience to show off the tattooed names of seven unlucky ladies he recently put his winky inside. This is met by applause and laughter from a 4000 strong audience and a smirking panel of judges. Frankie then lets rip with a piss poor and out of tune performance of "Valerie", yet still manages to get through with four yes votes. And there we have it, 15 minutes into the show and we're shown the show isn't about about music. It's not even about making fun out of nutters anymore, it's been reduced to feeding the egos of vile, womanising, childish, talentless excuses for human beings.

Carole Jones — aka, The Mum
I’ve watched every series of The X Factor so far and have enjoyed all of them. With the introduction of the new judges, and with Gary Barlow replacing Simon Cowell, we’ll have to wait and see how well they work together. Gary was surprisingly ruthless with the contestants, which appeared to amuse the other judges.
 
The first contestant Frankie from Brighton, described himself as mental and a liability. I think he’ll probably prove to be true to his description. The second contestant wasn’t much better. Kitty was as a talkative, potential diva — but she did have a better voice than Frankie. We then saw a trio of rejects, Sandesh, Ellen and Wendy who must have friends and family who haven’t been honest with them about their voice or ability.
 
In Birmingham, they showed the first contestant Goldie Cheung throwing up in a bag. Is this really prime time TV? The only real contender was a young Irish girl called Janet Devlin, who I thought looked and sounded a bit like Diane Vickers.

The last contestant George had been on the show in 2009 as part of a group and it had ended badly with him being abusive to the judges and throwing a mike on the stage . He’d described that audition as a train wreck, and this one wasn’t any better. He had to be escorted from the stage. My question is, how did he get through the pre-auditions and why on earth did they let him back?
 
Over all the show was disappointing with plenty of room for improvement over the coming weeks

And finally, Nick Bryan — aka, Mister Sensible
After being urged to “keep calm and carry on” at every juncture during those riots, I’m comforted to see X Factor doing just that. Despite culling the judging panel, they seem determined to keep going as normal. Much is the same: ludicrous bombast, tragic figures of fun, inspirational sob stories, Louis Walsh.

New girl Tulisa, whose surname “Contostavlos” is deemed too difficult for viewers to pronounce, comes across well, particularly when a contestant acts up and she overshadows Dermot O’Leary’s attempts at discipline. Do we think they rushed that incident into the first episode to get us on her side?

Kelly Rowland, meanwhile, takes the Cole platitude-mouthing approach, and Gary Barlow is never going to be Simon Cowell unless he finds some insight to go with the snide remarks. In fact, Cowell’s absence is the one thing they haven’t managed to paper over; the judges seem too obvious and unanimous without him. Hopefully things will disintegrate as the series goes on.

What, the actual contestants? Well, Walsh might have already found his token Irish finalist for the year, following in the esteemed footsteps of Mary Byrne and Jedward. The others were all forgettable. By now, it’s easy to tell which X Factor contestants are intended as main characters and which are comic relief or cautionary tales.

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