‘The X Factor’ UK review: Hannah Barrett, Kingsland Road, and Abi Alton vs. judges’ houses

The latest news -Yesterday on ‘The X Factor” UK, the judges’ houses, began, and we saw a hearty amount of controversy to go along with it. Sharon Osbourne got rid of the only guy that she had in the Overs category, Louis Walsh opted not to bring perceived favorite Paul Akister to the live shows, and for whatever reason Sinnita decided to introduce herself in a bikini to the boys.

But now that the dust has settled somewhat on that, we move along to the final two rounds of the competition today for what is going to be a marathon episode. Seriously, let’s hope that you had nothing to do today courtesy of this and “Downton Abbey.” Heck, if you’re watching this in America, you could have this coupled with three more hours of primetime programming tonight. Who needs NFL football?

Before you do anything else, click here if you want some updates about who got through from the other rounds of the competition.

The Groups – Gary Barlow and Olly Murs

Welcome to the Big Apple! The lights are bright, the streets are crowded, and Gary seems to have deviated from his typical move of wearing a series of dapper suits. Actually, we’re pretty sure that he and Olly could have been brothers in another life.

Kingsland Road, “Dance with Me Tonight” – A great band with a great performance. They were a little unpolished the first time we heard them, but they have worked really hard at this. They are probably going to continue to do that, and they have charisma that can go for days. We love the song (convenient as it was), and this group has to be a lock. Has to be.

Brick City, “Been Around the World” – Gary introduced the group by saying that they were his “favorites,” and this to us is almost like a siren alarm going off: There is trouble ahead! That level of hype comes with a certain amount of disappointment. The judges’ awkward faces more or less said it all that there was nothing to love about this mediocre performance that paled to Kingsland Road’s.

Rough Copy, ‘Boyfriend” – Why was one of these guys still wearing the backpack even while performing here? Don’t really get that, but we do get the performance here. These guys have a serious pop / R&B vibe going that is super-hot right now, and like the earlier group, so much charisma. The only issue is that they really are better as three rather than a two.

Xyra, “In the Air Tonight” – Congratulations to the producers for making it obvious that these ladies are not going on to the next round. They always do that with one of them, and we get the sense that Gary and the ladies don’t even really along that well based on some of the interactions from bootcamp.

Code 4, “Superstition” – We suppose that they still intend to be a quartet judged on the fact that they did not change the name at all. This performance was just that: An actual performance! There were dance moves, some vocal harmonies, and oodles of hard work. That sort of effort is always loved and appreciated and even though they are not the best singers the personality makes up for that.

Miss Dynamix, “Pure Shores” – We’re not that familiar with the actual song here, but the ladies themselves sounded like something more than just a band that came together. To be honest, we thought that this was going to be a trainwreck since they were awful at boot camp, but they were much improved vocally; if they are this good now, how good could they be within the span of a few months?

Prediction – This is a tough one between two groups, since Kingsland Road and Miss Dynamix are locks. We’d take Rough Copy over Code 4, but this is a very close call. Seriously. They both deserve it.

Results – In what has to be the most predictable result yet, we have Kingsland Road, Miss Dynamix, and Rough Copy. The twist here is that Gary is going to try and get Kaz back into the group if he can for live shows.

The Girls – Nicole Scherzinger and Mary J. Blige

Welcome to Antigua! The girls clearly got the coolest judges’ houses in that this is virtually a vacation to paradise… save for the part where they have to work and sing. If they are told no, this will end up being the most traumatic experience ever.

Tamera Foster, “Fallin'” – We understand that when she’s on, she’s on; but, she has been off so many times already, including the infamous moment of forgetting her lyrics. We just don’t find her particularly likable, and more than that, we don’t think that she is fully ready yet for this experience. Give her a year or two, and then have her come back.

Jade Richards, “Hurt” – Not a great performance by Jade, and to be honest, she needed to really deliver a vocal smackdown if she wants to find a way to stay in this competition. The unfortunate thing about Jade is that we don’t know how many times that she can go through with this; she’s done judges’ houses before.

Abi Alton, “Only You” – First of all, a performance here of one of our favorite songs, Joshua Radin’s indie gem “Only You,” is so refreshing and wonderful. We want her in the next round thanks to that, and her sensibility is something that we would want to root for. The criticism from Nicole of her as a “one-trick pony” is just silly, since people with this “trick” have been very successful in the past.

Relley C. – A good performance, but a nervous one. We got to say that out of the first four singers, Abi is the only one that really impressed us and seems to have that killer instinct that you need at this point in the game. If you don’t have it, why are you still here? She’s just not ready yet, either. Another year, and she may be set.

Melanie McCabe, “Light Up” – Here we go again with Melanie. Round 4 of the auditions! This young woman is very good, but the problem when you’ve been on this show so many times is simply that there is probably a reason why you haven’t made it. If there a year for her, this is it. We can’t imagine her giving a better, more vulnerable performance than this one from her.

Hannah Barrett, “A Change Is Gonna Come” – Hannah bucked the crying trend by actually tearing up prior to the start of her performance, and then still finding a way to sing the heck out of this Sam Cooke classic. A change in her life is gonna come, that’s for sure. She is beyond a lock for the live shows, and could go very far in the season. Let’s hope that as time progresses, she will get over some of the tears and simply be thrilled to perform.

Prediction – This is pretty easy for us: Hannah, Melanie, and Abi. There’s nothing that special about the other three, and while Tamera has the talent, we don’t see her as being worth the risk right now.

Results – “You’re still so young,” Nicole tells Melanie … which is probably what she was told every other time. The problem with this logic is that she took a risk on someone even younger in Tamera, but not her. We don’t so much agree with that. As for putting through Abi and Hannah, those are slam dunks.

What do you think about the performances this week? Sound off with a comment below, and now that we know the live-show lineup, be sure to come back all week for more scoop about the contestants.

Photo: ITV

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