The X Factor 2018 - The First Auditions

*Article may contain spoilers relating to the Six Chair Challenge, Judges’ Houses and the live shows*

Did you enjoy the summer? That’s good, because you know it’s pretty much over once The X Factor is back on our screens. I was planning on writing about the first two shows this time last week, but then was sick all week so decided not to. Fortunately for me, there was barely anything writing about in those first two shows anyway. Now we’ve had four shows and that still sort of feels like the case.

The extreme focus on original songwriting, which propelled Grace Davies and Rak-Su to the final last year, seems to be out in favour of good old-fashioned karaoke rubbish. Performing talent seems to have taken a backseat to the new judging panel on the show, which is; Simon Cowell, Louis Tomlinson, Robbie Williams and his wife, Ayda. Traditionally, the auditions are frontloaded with all the best talent, but that doesn’t seem to be the case this year. If it is, then we’re likely in for an absolute shocker of a series. Still, we should expect to see several of the acts featured in the first weekend to make the live shows.

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Heading the market is Liverpudlian Anthony Russell (9.8), who had to pull out of the show last year due to a drug addiction. Since his auditions aired last year, it seems he’s been mentored by Louis Tomlinson and supported by the show itself. He closed out the second live show with an emotional segment, sounding stronger than he did last year. Though he still doesn’t really look like a popstar, it is amazing what the X Factor stylists can sometimes do before the live shows.

Brendan Murray (10.0) is another act with close links to the show, having been managed by Louis Walsh when he competed at Eurovision for Ireland. It was very tedious having to watch the judges keep letting him try and try again until he sang something good enough to take him through. It wasn’t a particularly favourable edit, though he must be a favoured contestant as he gets a golden buzzer at the Six Chair Challenge. His screechy voice won't be to everyone's tastes.

Hoping to become the next Louisa Johnson was fellow blonde Molly Scott (14.5), who did a decent enough rendition of ‘Man’s World’. She appeared in the first weekend of shows and we got to meet her family, which means we can probably expect to see her in live shows. Based on everyone we’ve seen so far, she may be the best of the lot.

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Urban duo Misunderstood (14.5) also look potentially set for the live shows. With their backflipping moves, they seem like a bit of an upgraded MK1 and seem like reliable performers for a Saturday night, if unlikely eventual winners.

Olatunji Yearwood is from Trinidad and Tobago and could fall into the ‘Novelty act that can sing’ category in the Overs. Despite being an entertaining personality, 21.0 seems a bit short for him to actually win the thing but could be the sort of person to get a controversial sing-off save at some point.

New Jersey-born Janice Robinson (34.0) got to perform her 90s club classic ‘Dreamer’ to an arena crowd and Saturday night audience. The question is, has she served her purpose already? She can most definitely sing, but I could see her potentially getting ditched at judges’ houses.

Danny Tetley is a bit of an everyman from Yorkshire (via Benidorm) and gave a nauseating rendition of the Sam Bailey and Nicole Scherzinger classic ‘And I Am Telling You’. It went big in the arena (and probably at home) but I would be surprised if producers had many plans for him.

More recently, a manufactured duo of two young girls, Aaliyaha + Acacia (I suspect they will be given a group name) did their best with little time but the Jessie J song was a bit big vocally. With some guidance and coaching there is probably some potential there. Despite their audition going viral, I’m not rushing to back such young performers at 20.0.

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Scarlett Lee was another returning auditionee who was given the show four pimp slot. I don’t blame her for attempting an original song given all the hype around them last year. Sadly, it wasn’t much cop, but luckily she had one of the biggest songs from monster hit film ‘The Greatest Showman’ ready to go. To my ears she sounded better than she did last year, but we all know how she has the tendency to go off on some of the big notes. 19.0 is another no bet for me, though she perhaps looks set for the live shows this time around after closing out the Sunday night show.

Who, if anyone, has impressed you yet during the auditions? Do any of the current prices represent good value, or are you waiting for better contestants to pop up in the next couple of weeks? Have we seen this year’s winner? Let me know your thoughts below.