14 Apr 2015

The X Factor NZ: Bad Blood

9:32 am on 14 April 2015

A double elimination brings a harrowing ordeal of shock and dread. 


Eliminated X Factor contestant Joe Irvine.

Eliminated X Factor contestant Joe Irvine. Photo: The X Factor NZ

Presumably in an effort to spice things up and trim the fat, this week we awaited the first double elimination of the X Factor season. Yet, quelle horreur, actual good singers Nyssa and Finlay were selected, the latter of whom was sent home by public vote without even the opportunity to sing her elimination song. With Nyssa and Joe remaining, the result was a foregone conclusion and finally Joe was released back into the wild. Everyone was upset. The audience were mad. Stan looked like he was going to cry. Joe always looks like he’s going to cry. The system is broken. It was grim.

Yet the week was not all bad and punctuating this nightmare was English folk-pop sensation Ed Sheeran, who kindly performed two songs slotted in between eliminations on Tuesday night’s results show. Ed seemed like a good natured wee man who didn’t mind Dom pressuring him to emigrate and we should be glad he blessed us with his time.

How better then to thank him, than by pitting him against a significantly more successful contemporary? This week’s performance episode was improbably themed ‘Taylor Swift vs. Ed Sheeran’, a battle in which our twinkling starlets were the pawns. It was an odd theme but, as a nice girl and Lorde BFF, Taylor Swift is always welcome particularly given the difficult time she has been having of late (#prayformamaswift).

There was a lot to take in this week and perhaps they should have saved the double elimination for when there wasn’t so much other stuff going on (international guest, charity single release, #savecampbelllive etc.) But this is reality television baby and it is a harsh reality for our wide eyed contestants. The X Factor took them to places they’d never been (Skycity restaurant, Masu) and now they’re lying on the cold hard ground. SO: ARE THEY OUT OF THE WOODS YET? ARE THEY IN THE CLEAR YET? Let’s examine.

Finlay opened the show with Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off’ which was kind of weird in both the arrangement and the set. When the lyrics you are singing are “I’m lightning on my feet” is that really a good time to be standing completely still on a platform while dozens of bent over people drag you in circles around the stage? This was not the worst performance and Finlay didn’t really deserve to go but I am also not totally mystified that people did not want to spend 99 cents on it.

After last week’s unfortunateness, Joe’s concluded his run with a basically ok performance of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Lego House’. I liked the pretty snowy set and also when Dom asked him if he does cardio he was like “not as much as you”, which was cool. I have been dreading Joe’s elimination for weeks, yet as with all my most specific fears, it was not as bad as I had envisioned and I’m glad we can all move on.

Natalie definitely gave Beau Taylor Swift’s ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ solely because it has a bass drop in it. He tried his best but ultimately just looked kind of embarrassed about the whole thing and it really would be kinder just to get him out of this mess. Mel criticised him for not remaining true to himself with all the “pop jiggery” but it’s like dude I think he knows.

Unfortunately for Lili her success from last week was fleeting and she totally mucked up her performance of Ed Sheeran’s ‘A Team’. Even though all the judges agreed it was bad and her voice sounded bad and she forgot the words, this apparently is not a problem and they concluded that Lili is great and we should all vote for her.

Finlay Robertson.

Finlay Robertson. Photo: The X Factor NZ

Steve Broad did Taylor Swift’s ‘Blank Space’, and sadly this week his penchant for re-purposing songs from female songwriters came a little unstuck. I love Steve very much but the lyrics to this song become considerably more sinister when it is a man singing “girls only want love if its torture, don’t say I didn’t warn you.” Who would have thought a sardonic and self-reflexive feminist anthem about tormenting your lover wouldn’t translate to the masculine?

Mae Valley threw it back to Taylor Swift’s latter day country phase with a very literal performance of ‘Sparks Fly’ that, in spite of some sweet pyrotechnics, was predictably bland. It’s easy to forget that Mae Valley weren’t actually friends before the show and just got stuck together by virtue of being random blonde country singing Hamilton girls. This week we got a glimpse of the conscious coupling that is taking place and even though they’re now BFFs or whatever they still can’t seem to manage to do a high five properly, so let’s not get too excited.

Nyssa did a lovely version of Taylor Swift’s ‘Safe and Sound’ and it was really good. Thank God she didn’t leave. What is wrong with you people.

It is lucky that Stevie is still one of the most energetic, charismatic acts on the show because he did ‘Give Me Love’ by Ed Sheeran and I hate that song. “The taste that your lips allow”? Ew. Stevie is cool because even though he has heaps of presence and charisma, he also seems kind of enigmatic and unknowable and insane to a greater degree than we yet realise. I hope he achieves his goal to “bring back feel”, whatever that may entail.

Brendon Thomas and the Vibes.

Brendon Thomas and the Vibes. Photo: The X Factor NZ

Brendon Thomas & the Vibes closed the show with Ed Sheeran’s ‘Make It Rain’ and we got to hear all about Brendon getting a new guitar which he named Giselle. Brendon also explained that his guitars are “closer to him than people,” which puts a disturbing twist on last week’s instrument smashing. They looked cute in a school ball kind of way and the singing was better.

The first real ‘shock’ eliminations of the season were rough for us all. The double elimination was not as harrowing as the last disaster episode of this nasty little show, but my god was it stressful. With so many average performers remaining, the double elimination seemed like a good idea just to weed out the obvious duds. I was not particularly attached to Finlay, but her and Nyssa are definitely way better than some of those other dweebs and the sense of injustice is disheartening.

Still, every elimination brings us closer to the end and with only seven acts left I cannot help but feel relieved that the whole thing is moving along. Tragedy is preferable to boredom, and this week demonstrated that the powers that be are willing to throw something at this show to try and make it interesting. I for one look forward to finding out what this means for the coming weeks, and remain hopeful for the good that is certain to come from this collective national trauma.