December 19, 2011

Podcast: The X-Factor Season 1 – Top 9 Through Top 4 Week

Written by:

Listen to the podcast

Episode 33 direct download

Subscribe to podcast on iTunes


Time Stamps
0:00 – Introduction
1:07 – Top 9 Week Eliminations: Lakoda Rayne & Leroy Bell
4:23 – Top 7 Week Eliminations: Astro & Drew
10:13 – Top 5 Week Elimination: Rachel Crow
13:48 – Top 4 Week Elimination: Marcus Canty
14:18 – Melanie Amaro was amazing during Top 4 Week and Josh Krajcik performed “Hallelujah!”
16:57 – The background dancers, choreography and Simon Cowell
18:52 – Wrap-up

Episode Length: 21:50

Summary

Summary to be written. We just wanted to get this podcast up and out before the finale aired.

Please let us know your thoughts by dropping us a comment here after listening either here! We love to hear feedback and what you thought of the show. We also encourage you to check out our blog or twitter feed to keep up to date with us!

Tags:

December 5, 2011

Podcast: The X-Factor Season 1 – Top 10 Week

Written by:

Listen to the podcast

Episode 32 direct download

Subscribe to podcast on iTunes


Time Stamps
0:00 – Introduction
0:11 – Astro controversy
8:36 – Astro and Stacy’s performances
12:45 –  The rest of the performers: LeRoy Bell, Rachel Crow, Chris Rene, Melanie Amaro, Josh Krajcik, Lakoda Rayne, Drew and Marcus Canty
24:56 – Wrap-up

Episode Length: 26:46

Summary
Rock week brought the drama on The X-Factor. After the previous week’s excellent set of songs, many contestants found themselves stumbling as performance night contained a bunch of song arrangements that were not really rock, which we largely blame the judges for because they should know what constitutes rock music.. Despite the genre problems, the bigger issue at hand was that the actual numbers, rock or not, were just not that good. This let-down calls into question the wisdom of having these theme weeks, as it not only distracts the judges by having them argue over style categorization but it also results in performers tackling songs and arrangements that just do not suit their personality.

It’s impossible to talk about this week of The X-Factor without discussing what happened on elimination night. Astro and Stacy Francis were in the bottom two and Astro did not react well to the news. This included not wanting to perform his “sing for your life” song and having an argumentative and dismissive attitude during the judges’ vote. As expected, this resulted in a flurry of activity on twitter, facebook and blogs where the general reaction was hostile and negative. In this podcast we discuss in detail our thoughts about how Astro responded to the situation and America’s general reaction thereafter. You’ll have to listen to hear our thoughts, but as a quick summary, we think Astro should have handled his reaction better and do not condone his behavior, although we at least understand where it’s coming from. America’s rage towards him was way over the line. The abusive comments towards him and the assumptions about him and his family are uncalled for. On the humorous side of things, the irony of the angry and irrational rants from middle-aged adults about Astro’s immaturity amuses us.

Stacy Francis going home was the right decision. Her off-pitch caterwauling during “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” was too much to ignore and concluded a journey that was going slowly downhill after her initial audition. It appears her audition song was her ace in the hole and she used it way too early in the competition. Combine that with the questions about how authentic and honest she was being about her past and it was inevitable that the viewership would turn on her. Astro has a chance to rebound. Stacy does not.

Please let us know your thoughts by dropping us a comment here after listening either here! We love to hear feedback and what you thought of the show. We also encourage you to check out our blog or twitter feed to keep up to date with us!

A quick note if you choose to comment about the Astro controversy: Please be respectful of us and the contestants and also listen to that portion of our podcast before commenting. We would like to engage in a discussion if our listeners wish, but aggressive, disrespectful comments will be deleted. Thanks!

Tags:

November 19, 2011

Podcast: The X-Factor Season 1 – Top 11 Week

Written by:

Listen to the podcast

Episode 31 direct download

Subscribe to podcast on iTunes


Time Stamps
0:00 – Introduction: Steve Jones, no backing tracks and high quality performances
2:56 – Bottom Two: The Stereo Hogzz (eliminated), Lakoda Rayne and Paula Abdul’s breakdown
7:22 – Astro
10:01 – Leroy Bell
11:20 – Josh Krajcik
13:11 – Rachel Crow
14:58 – The rest: Stacy Francis, Marcus Canty, Drew, Melanie Amaro and Chris Rene
23:31 – Wrap-up

Episode Length: 24:32

Summary
We fell behind on our publishing schedule with The X-Factor, as you can see. This is for the Top 11 week of performances (the one where The Stereo Hogzz were eliminated). As viewers of The X-Factor know, the Top 10 week provided lots of drama involving Astro and we’ll get to that as soon as we can.

This proved to be a high quality week for The X-Factor with many of the contestants putting forth their best performances since the beginning of the live shows. We really enjoyed Astro’s version of “Lose Yourself,” which showcased a lyrical talent way beyond his years. Leroy Bell and Josh Krajcik were also standouts for us, both choosing songs that suit their respective voices which resulted in performances that felt like excerpts from a concert for each contestant. Rachel Crow took a step back from the material Simon has been giving her, which we haven’t been fans of, and sang “I’d Rather Go Blind.” Although we’re still of the belief that we’d like her to wait a couple more years until her voice develops more fully, this number showcased a depth in her vocals that hasn’t been present since her boot camp rendition of “If I Were A Boy.”

The bottom two was predictable with the two remaining groups, The Stereo Hogzz and Lakoda Rayne, ending up there. Neither group had a good night, although Lakoda Rayne’s awful harmonies in both their Wednesday performance and Thursday “sing for your life” song grated our ears and made us want to fast forward our DVR. The Stereo Hogzz, now backing track free, displayed better blending but were having a bit of an identity crisis as each week they adopted a different visual style and genre of music. We would have kept The Stereo Hogzz simply for their more coherent singing, as Lakoda Rayne has progressively gotten worse with each passing week. But in the end it’s not a big deal for us as we aren’t attached to the groups category.

Please let us know your thoughts by dropping us a comment here after listening either here! We love to hear feedback and what you thought of the show. We also encourage you to check out our blog or twitter feed to keep up to date with us!

Tags:

November 6, 2011

Podcast: The X-Factor Season 1 – Top 12 Week

Written by:

Listen to the podcast

Episode 28 direct download

Subscribe to podcast on iTunes


Time Stamps
0:00 – The Stacy & Dexter controversies, group routine lip syncing, the Eliminations show format and PEPSI!
7:50 – Bottom Two – The Stereo Hogzz (Yep, they’re lip syncing!) and InTENsity
12:36- Leroy Bell
14:32 – Rachel Crow
16:40 – Lakoda Rayne
18:20 – Brian “Astro” Bradley
20:34 – Drew
23:06 – Quick words about the other acts: Melanie Amaro, Chris Rene, Josh Krajcik, Marcus Canty and Stacy Francis
30:06 – Wrap-up

Episode Length: 31:46

Summary
Vocal artists and lip syncing, this topic gets debates raging about what’s acceptable and what’s not in the world of music performance. It’s known that pop artists make use of lip syncing when their live shows involve lots of dancing or when performing and sometimes during late night television appearances, but what’s more controversial is whether this practice has a place in singing competitions. The X-Factor showed us in several instances that lip syncing is being used during the elimination episodes, from Leroy Bell’s vocal cue mishap during the group number to the Stereo Hogzz using a backing track during their survival song “Emotion.” To our ears, it also sounds like the Stereo Hogzz’s live Wednesday performance contained enhanced background vocals to beef up the sound. FOX issued a statement about the observations, which admits to lip syncing being used during the group numbers and for the backing tracks in the survival songs.

Aside from the lip syncing stuff, the performance episode contained a mixed bag of performances, from the excellent Melanie Amaro and Drew to our lukewarm reaction to Chris Rene. Rachel Crow’s performance did not work for us, being too focused on flash at the expense of substance. Rachel’s vocals again weren’t as strong as we’ve seen from her (see “Mercy” and “If I Were A Boy”), but we’re more concerned about the image and performance style Simon grafted on to her. It’s bubblegum pop that wears thin on the ears. Josh Krajcik’s “Jar of Hearts” performance also had its issues in the first half of the song. The arrangement placed him in the bottom-end of his range, which led to several sour notes and the loss of his trademark bluesy grit. By the end he regained his strength, but we’re not happy that Nicole gave him a song that made half the performance weak.

Lakoda Rayne we found to be the worst act of the night, from the brutal harmony clashes at several points in the song to the “sweet” arrangement and performance that jarred with the lyrical content of “Landslide.” We don’t know what in the world the judges were thinking with the “singing with one voice” comment, or why the dresses were the point of contention, a silly superficial distraction from the larger problems of the number. For them to be the only safe group on Thursday night shocked and confused us, begging the question, who likes this and is voting for them?

We agree that Steve Jones needs a new tagline (“Bye bye” doesn’t work), that Nicole needs to give Leroy Bell songs that are closer to his solo album material and that Vote For The Worst’s pick of Astro doesn’t bother us at all. InTENsity’s departure, while sad, doesn’t upset us as we weren’t too attached to any of the groups. As we discussed in previous podcasts, we were expecting the various groups to go home first in the competition. And Marcus Canty, while a fun performer, isn’t proving to be memorable for us. James in particular completely forgot what his performance sounded and looked like by the time we got around to recording the podcast!

Please let us know your thoughts by dropping us a comment here after listening either here! We love to hear feedback and what you thought of the show. We also encourage you to check out our blog or twitter feed to keep up to date with us!

Tags:

October 31, 2011

Podcast: The X-Factor Season 1 – Top 17 Week

Written by:

Listen to the podcast

Episode 26 direct download

Subscribe to podcast on iTunes


Summary
The X-Factor, from its first audition episode, was full of flash and bombast. Everything was big! This didn’t prepare us for the over-the-top production values found in the first live show, which featured floor-to-ceiling monitors, a transparent stage with flashing lights, smoke machines and a small army of backup dancers. The only thing missing from the spectacle was pyrotechnics. It made an impression, but we’re not convinced it was necessary to be flashier than American Idol. In the end, it came down to the performances whose quality was independent of the special effects employed throughout the evening.

Indeed, stripped down performances made for some of the best moments in the show. Josh Krajcik gave a soul-stirring performance of “Forever Young,” eschewing instrumentation in favor of a controlled vocal tone that rang out and filled the room. Drew followed suit with a low-key arrangement of “What a Feeling” carried by the haunting qualities of her voice. Both contestants established themselves as strong contenders for America’s vote and the five million dollar record contract. Leroy Bell did things his own way when singing “Nobody Knows.” Even though it’s not a song best suited for his artistic style, Leroy ran with it and let his charisma and smooth, intense voice carry the song, showing how his past experience as a song writer and an indie performer will turn him into a dark horse for this competition. He doesn’t have a lot of buzz behind him, but he’s one of our favorites and the comments we find for him are very positive.

This is not to say that flashy and fun performances didn’t have merit. Brian “Astro” Bradley’s opening hip-hop mashup of “Rump Shaker” and “Jump” demonstrated his rapping prowess, spitting forth rhymes and rhythms in quick machine-gun bursts. Even with multiple re-watches we are in awe of his ability as a hip-hop MC. InTENsity and the Stereo Hogzz, while having issues in each of their respective performances, were fun to watch and showed that Paula Abdul can and will take the groups category in a positive and constructive direction.

Some performances have us worried. Chris Rene, Rachel Crow and Melanie Amaro all had some problems in their songs with vocal issues creeping in during important moments. We’re the least worried with Melanie Amaro, as it appeared that nerves got the better of her due in no small part to the mind games Simon Cowell has played with her. If she knocks it out of the park on the next show she’ll be fine. As for Chris Rene, the song highlighted his limited range and downplayed his smooth R&B flow, which is the opposite of what we think L.A. Reid would want from him. He needs a song that recalls the moments from his audition or his fan-base will dwindle in the coming weeks. Rachel Crow was the most controversial performance for us. The judges and many online fans loved it, but we didn’t like the song choice and heard multiple vocal errors in the verses of the mashup. Simon is placing her in this child performer box that she is going to outgrow in one or two years, which is a dangerous place to put her.

The eliminations were the correct choices as they consisted of the poorest performances of the night. Dexter, Simone, Phillip and Tiah all had over-wrought set concepts and backup dancers coupled with sub-par vocal performances. We actually enjoyed the Brewer Boys, but since the groups category had an even level of quality it was hard to argue for another group to leave. We would have sent Lakoda Rayne packing because of our music preferences and distaste for their pop country aesthetic which still feels uncomfortable on them. We’re not upset about any of the losses from the first live show.

We’re curious how America will take to the remaining contestants. Who will America love? Who will the fanbase hate? It’s up in the air and gleaning information from the internet buzz will only get you so far. The upcoming week of live shows should prove interesting!

Please let us know your thoughts by dropping us a comment here after listening either here! We love to hear feedback and what you thought of the show. We also encourage you to check out our blog or twitter feed to keep up to date with us!

Episode Length: 34:34

Time Stamps
0:00 – Introduction: Our thoughts on the live show stage and production and Steve Jones
4:23 – Eliminations: Phillip Lomax, The Brewer Boys, Dexter Haygood, Simone Battle and Tiah Tolliver
12:27 – The performances we loved: Brian “Astro” Bradley, Leroy Bell, Josh Krajcik and Drew
19:05 – The performances we didn’t like: Chris Rene, Marcus Canty and Lakoda Rayne
23:51 – Controversial/Lukewarm performances: The Stereo Hogzz, InTENsity, Stacy Francis, Rachel Crow and Melanie Amaro
32:24 – Wrap-up

Tags: