Last week, “Let It Shine” got off to a good start on BBC One by showing that this is not your ordinary “X Factor” clone — while it may be a singing competition, at the same exact time there’s such an interesting musical theater background to this show, as well. It’s fitting that Amber Riley is a judge on this show, since there is a little bit of a real-life “Glee” quality to what the show is bringing to the table.
Don’t forget — at the end of the series, Gary Barlow and company are going to be handing out golden tickets to join a stage show about a five-piece boy band. Technically, it’s not Take That, but it kind of is … maybe. The whole premise of the victory is a little bit tricky to figure out. Let’s not focus on that TOO much, since we’ve got some serious talent to talk about.
Jonnie Halliwell – A killer start to the show, and our first perfect score of the night! Granted, he was the first person we saw during the night, but this is what seasoned West End talent looks like. He works hard, has a great sense of humor, and has that sort of raw masculinity and performance quality that will translate well to ANY stage. Maybe the most complete performer we’ve seen through two episodes, though Jason Brock last week is right up there, as well. Our Score: 5.
Dylan Reid – What is it about the musically-inclined in Derry, Northern Ireland? Do they teach kids music in the nursery or something? Reid comes from the same hometown as Riley’s former “Glee” co-star Damian McGinty, and he did so much with just a guitar and a cover of Katy Perry’s “Roar.” He showed off a lot of different dimensions and personality in here. We get the Dannii Minogue comment that there were some nerves holding him back, but there’s zero reason to worry about that being a factor in the long run. He didn’t get a perfect score, but he had some tough feedback about intonation and nerves. Our Score: 4.
Lee Stinchcombe – We’ve already reported that Lee is a performer in a Take That tribute band entitled Just Take That, and it was clear from the get-go he had an uphill battle. He’s 35, and he’s significantly older than the majority of the other contestants. He does seem like a guy we’d want to get a pint with at the local pub, but he’s not a West End singer. He seems to have a little business for himself performing Take That songs at parties, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Suffice it to say, he didn’t get through. Our Score: 2.
Damien Kivlehan – He works in special effects on “Game of Thrones,” so it makes sense that he came out like he was in the middle of the Battle of the Bastards. This was INTENSE. Luckily, it was also really good. We love a good Bon Jovi cover, and he really embraced the theatrical elements of this. While there is a certain element of artistry that is important for this show, we like that they don’t encourage working the crowd and performing BIG in the way that other shows do. He was a love to advance, and we absolutely loved him. Our Score: 5.
Curtis T. Johns – Admittedly, “Put Your Records On” is not a song we find ourselves craving to hear. It’s a little too mid-tempo and the lyrics don’t do a whole lot. Still, no doubt Curtis was a great singer; you did get the sense through this that he came more from a vocal background as opposed to one in performance. That is the part of his total package that will need a little bit more work. Our Score: 4.
Julius Wright – This dude can MOVE. One of the fun things about “Let It Shine” is the random Gary Barlow remote where he goes out and “surprises” someone with an invitation to appear. After all, some performers were nominated rather than auditioning in their own right. He’s not the best singer in the world, but there’s just something about watching him boogie on “All Night Long” that brought an enormous smile to our face. Our Score: 4.
Jamie Corner – The best dancer of the day. You can tell that the cruise-ship performer put a ton of preparation into this, in between the dance moves and even a flip at one point! The obvious negative here is that he chose a song that didn’t give us a sense at all of how good of a singer he is, but this is the auditions! We’d be stupid to not want to see someone like him again, and clearly the judges agreed based on their score. Our Score: 4.
Scott Sutcliffe – We loved this guy. He had a wonderful story of perseverance, and there was something about the tenderness of his “Against All Odds” that genuinely moved us. This is where Martin Kemp got it right as a judge, and where everyone else got it wrong: Sometimes, you do have to go with your heart more so than just judge every single singer at face value. They didn’t put him through, mostly because of Dannii and Amber giving him lower marks. We’re Team Martin on this one. Our Score: 5.
Huw Roberts – He’s very raw. To us, he’s probably a little too raw. His voice was a little shaky, and after being moved so much by Scott, this one didn’t do nearly as much for us. A part of that for us just stems from the fact that he’s still a 16-year old kid and we don’t think he’s experienced enough to relate to many of the lyrics. We did get a sense that the judges would put him through, and they did. He’s extremely marketable to young women out there. Score: 3.
Harry Neale – Harry’s an actor with one TV credit to his name — an episode of “EastEnders.” He’s also rather handy and loves keeping in good shape. Aside from all of that … he’s a great singer! He was the last performer tonight, and probably one of the better ones — though, we do think a good part of him being placed at the end was for the TV moment of him taking off his shirt after getting all 4’s from the judges. Score: 4.
Overall – “Let It Shine” really delivered in episode 2. This was an episode with great talent, great judging, a clearer identity, and also the perfect amount of humor. Our favorite singing show in quite some time. Grade: A-.
How are you enjoying “Let It Shine” at present? Let us know right now in the attached comments! (Photo: BBC One.)