A couple of months back some X Factor fans were suggesting that the weekend-engulfing reality series wouldn’t be the same without Simon Cowell on the judging panel, but as this year’s auditions draw to a close the competition looks healthier than ever.
ITV’s new judges appear more than capable replacements for Cheryl & Co (Barlow has been a straight-talking revelation, Tulisa has filled the gap left by Cole – quite literally – and a tearful Kelly Rowland has proved VERY popular) while ratings are as high as ever. The Press Association revealed staggering statistics which showed that with 12.5 million viewers, half the people watching TV on Saturday night watched X Factor. Yet fans and judges alike have been spoilt by the genuine talent on show this year.
Last night Amelia Lily became the latest auditionee to wow audiences with a show-stopping performance but she will be joining a very strong girls section which boasts joint favourites (depending on who you go to for your odds) Janet Devlin and Jade Richards, as well as Melanie McCabe and Sami Brookes. The boys are also looking very strong, with young Luke Lucas, Craig Colton, Marcus Collins and Lascel Woods – who performed a moving version of Kings of Leon’s Use Somebody before sharing an emotional embrace with his mum on stage – all displaying vocal abilities which bely their age.
Boy-band The Keys look to be the strongest in the group’s section at this stage but producers are expected to repeat their tactics of last year and unite a crew of solo artists who’ve missed the cut. However with standards in the Boys and Girls sections soaring, there could be some genuine talent in the competition’s middle order for the judges to choose from.
The high level of sixteen year-olds (contestants must be at least this age to enter) has also lead some to suggest that we could be witnessing a ‘golden generation’ of musical talent. Two of the three girls who feature on the list of favourites for most bookies would not have been allowed to enter last year and a few other contestants – most notably the promising Luke Lucas – are also just sixteen.
So what do you think of this year’s crop of hopefuls so far? Are we in for an epic competition or are this bunch just the same as every other group that have come before?