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2016 LIVE SHOW 2: Motown

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Oy vey. I think I haven't been so bored by a season in a while. Aside from Matt Terry (most likely to be in the final two/win the damn thing) & the Jackson 3 5 A.M. (energetic, fun, dynamic), noone stood out, this week :

- Freddie Parker & Ryan Lawrie were both bland as heck and totally unmemorable.

- Emily Middlemas didn't fare much better with her low-key, low-energy Stop, in the name of love cover.

- Relley C had the perfect look for tonight, but she was just staring blankly into space during most of her song, and she's just lacking charisma compared to someone like Gifty.

- Sam was... eh. And inaudible at some points due to the music/chorus.

- One thing I can't blame Honey G for : she's giving it all she's got, and she's sincerely trying. But that's about it.

- Gifty was pretty average, and unnecessarily shouty, tonight. Not the best song choice.

- Can't help but have a soft spot for Finland girl, but she's way too over the top & theatrical in her singing to go anywhere in such a competition. Way too Eurovisiony. Or Vegasy.

- Oh, I almost forgot Four of Diamonds. Quick, before I forget their performa-- oh, wait, too late, I have totally forgotten it. Oh, well.

Can't say I'm really waiting for the results with bated breath.

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Freddy Parker: Well, he has nice hair. He's singing like he has soul but he doesn't. There's just no depth to his voice. Which is fine. It's hard to force it if it doesn't come naturally to you. But you and Michael Buble can make all the faces and gestures you want. I still have ears. I think it was mostly in key but it wasn't enjoyable to listen to half the time and the rest of the time it was fine at best. But, you know, for Freddy it was a big improvement. 

Emily Middlemas: Even though Emily kept it very chill, her voice still cracked which is worrisome. What is that voice teacher doing? But yes, see Simon knows how to handle Emily. Let's not pretend that you have a big voice. The only thing that was disappointing was in spite of the bass dropping, the song didn't really go anywhere which is not fantastic for a repetitive song. If you can't get any louder, make it more emotional or go uptempo. Do something. 

Matt Terry: What producer keeps telling Matt to talk about his grandma? Matt sounds more credible singing a Motown song than Freddy or Emily because he's doing more of a pop kind of R&B. Not that I think he sounds like Robin Thicke or Justin Timberlake but it's that kind of thing. It doesn't sound like he's trying to force a depth to his voice because he's not. But they need to A) stop picking songs that could be allusions to his ex-girlfriend and B) stop picking mildly aggressive breakup songs because I they're trying to sell Matt as really sweet and then they send him out their to start posturing like he's Justin Bieber. I love when Matt hits those nice clean notes. They're so smooth and so clear. He's a pretty decent singer and the tricks are great. Do I think he's fantastic? No. He definitely needs to work on all those moments in between the riffing and the high notes. But he's a heck of a lot better than some of the others. Though, really, get it together team. This isn't a 90's boy band. He doesn't need to gesture that he's losing his mind or crying. We get it. We understand words.

Relley C: Not exactly dead-eyed but lacking focus and commitment. Some shakiness this week in the vocal. She's still great but she just didn't seem to have the confidence in either the vocal or the performance. And why would this song need a choir? The big notes were also a little rough. The riff was sloppy and she didn't really nail some of the notes so much as grittily shout through them.

Sam Lavery: I know it was released by Motown, but it came out in the 80's. It doesn't really fit the same vibe. So if the goal was Motown, I don't think we got there. If the goal was present Sam as a credible X Factor winner, yes, I think with the hair, makeup, outfit, and a song she could mostly handle we're doing pretty well. (Though I think the fake lashes need to be dialed down... or at least find a nicer pair.) She does that... yodel up to the note so much that I'm now convinced it has to be intentional. I maybe would have avoided it for this song but it wasn't too bad. Was it a perfect vocal? No. But she's obviously been working hard. I just wish her voice teacher would get her to stop straight toning all the long notes because while not shouty, it doesn't really sound like singing either. It's like she's bleating the notes sometimes... like a sheep. Does that make sense? For Sam, this was great. She's still a ways off from being a solid singer but she's improving really quickly.

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5 After Midnight: Wardrobe was questionable. I feel like they already looked cool with the suits. They didn't need skirts and long shirt tails. That just made it look off. They can have a week where they dress up a little. I'm not going to pretend it was great but it was decent. Still a little squeaky and not that powerful but I didn't mind it too much. Also, this is one of the only weeks they've sounded better solo than when they sang in unison. It may be because I was comparing them to baby Michael Jackson so the squeakiness wasn't as offputting. Though, yeah, Jackson 5 MJ was still better than them. The dancing was better this week. I think this was a good week for 5AM. 

Ryan Lawrie: 1972 is a little better but again we're pushing it. It's like right when they were leaving Detroit. The musical has a ton of songs and notably this and Hello aren't on it. I don't think I like the new hair on Ryan. The vocal was improved. Not fantastic. But improved. I could actually hear him most of the time which was nice. I don't think he was off key though he just drops out at the ends of phrases. I didn't like the set up this week. He seemed kind of banished to the back instead of charming the camera and then he got lost in all the dancers.

Honey G: Oh, dear. Are just not enough people watching X Factor to find this super offensive and insulting? It was very difficult to tell what she was saying. And you can't be your own hype man. And... what song was this? 

Gifty Louise: Ahh! Speed claps. I missed Gifty last week. This is why. I know they don't really look alike but I get such a strong Lauryn Hill circa Sister Act 2 vibe from her sometimes. I didn't like the pants but the performance... the vocals? Someone is finally a professional. Power and control but with a lovely rasp. It's not flawless because she's not Whitney Houston. But in its real gritty rasp it's solid singing. Oh God, expectations are so low this year. Like we still need to get most of these people on the same page of singing the right notes properly. Thank god for Gifty.

Saara Aalto: OK. I asked for something a little different last week and while this isn't weird, I'm still into it. To me, this is better than the Sia knockoff. The staging was bad, making her walk down stairs in heels and a short skirt plus the weird flirting. But I think this suited her voice well by giving her room to breathe and she really brought it with the power vocal this week. A little cheesy? Sure. But very solid vocal. Slightly sloppy at times but with all she was doing compared to the others, I'll let it slide.

4 of Diamonds: I'm side-eyeing their VT a little now that I know they were put together by production. Does a girl group need backup singers? It was little shady because I feel like it was obscuring their own vocals too much. What I could hear of them sounded pretty good. Not perfect but very solid for being a production assembled group and just jumping in on week 2. In the future, I would like to actually be able to hear them sing the whole time. Thank you. The end was the best part. 

Rankings (It was tough this week aside from Gifty, Saara, and Honey G because Sam and Ryan improved so much and Matt and Relley let me down a little.)

1. Gifty 2. Saara 3. Matt 4. Sam 5. Relley 6. Ryan 7. Emily 8. 5AM 9. 4 of Diamonds 10. Freddy 11. Honey G 

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Safe: Emily, Gifty, 5 After Midnight, Matt, Honey G, Sam, 4 of Diamonds, Relley C

Bottom 3: Saara, Freddy, Ryan (The public are really not warming up to Freddy and Saara. I thought Saara did well but maybe she's too cheesy/not actually British. I thought they'd be cannon fodder but I'm surprised they're keeping Honey G out of the bottom.)

Bottom 2: Saara, Freddy. (Ryan was saved by the lifeline vote. I don't think his dramatic reaction will endear him to the public.)

I don't think Freddy's a great singer, but for him, that was a solid sing off vocal. Saara's obviously better but I was kind of bored. She's shaky and choppy when she sings a drippy ballad. It doesn't ring true and her voice doesn't match up to the people she's covering. 

ELIMINATED: Freddy. The judges went to deadlock.

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