It’s due to hit our screens in early 2015, but already the search is under way to discover the next Benny Tipene or… whoever it was that won the first series of X Factor. Robyn Gallagher updates us with happenings land of the X. //
The pre-audition tour has just ended, which no doubt involved the production team hearing hundreds of not even amusingly bad renditions of “Stay With Me”. For the first time ever in an X Factor series, actual bands are allowed to audition. The show might want to discover New Zealand’s answer to 5 Seconds of Summer, but they won’t get there without first wading through a whole lot of average rockquest groups, pub cover bands and reggae jam collectives still searching for their lucky break. Oh, please let the judges’ auditions involve a montage of bands doing bad Foo Fighters covers.
Stan the man returns to the judges’ desk. He’s arguably the best known of the four judges, and gets bonus points for being a New Zealander who is a proper international pop star, sort of. Series one led to Stan collaborating with guest performer Ginny Blackmore, releasing their totes emo-ish duet “Holding You”. But one of the best things about Stan being on the telly is that he speaks with his chilled-out bro accent. This bothers some viewers who have issues with hearing cultural dialects on television and apparently won’t be happy until Stan speaks like Simon Dallow. Get over it, h8ers.
“Not too sure who Melanie Blatt is,” says Facebook commenter Francine, who is probably also wondering who that Jackie Thomas person is. Mel was the series one mean judge, the one who boldly and accurately dissed our national instrument by saying she was sick of all the boring singers showing up to audition with their boring guitars. We need that spirit and fearlessness. Mel was also the one who got rap duo L.O.V.E. to perform the Tinie Tempah track “Pass Out”, an unexpected moment of magnificence from the first series.
“Who the hell is Wiley Moon,” asked Lynn on Facebook. Well, Lynn, he’s best known for wearing suits, and maybe also for his song “Yeah Yeah” which was used on an iPod ad in 2012 (kids, ask your grandparents what an “iPod” is). He looks a bit like the lovechild of Khan and Spock in the Star Trek reboot, and if his early interviews are anything to go by, he also has some of that Vulcan charm. Willy lives in New York via London, but was born and raised in Wellington. Fingers crossed that he won’t make like series-one expat judge Daniel Bedingfield and drop non-sequitur Maori words into every sentence. Ka pai, kia ora!
Reactions from fans on the official X Factor Facebook page are split between people who have never heard of Natalia Kills and seem unsure of how they can find out about her, and people who are hardcore fan-girling over news that their queen will be joining the panel. Ms Kills is known for doing guest vocals on “Champagne Showers” by LMFAO, but last year her genius bittersweet synth pop track “Saturday Night” had a moment of glory in the New Zealand charts. And she’s been writing with Madonna, which is about as queenly as it gets. But something that’s surely going to be wheeled out every episode – Natalia and Willy are married. Cue Sharon-and-Ozzy-style mock marital disharmony.
Traditionally the X Factor judges panel has been filled out by artists who are past their peak, but with Stan, Willy and Natalia, we’re seeing artists who are still in their prime. So why the reality TV gig? Consider the changing state of the music biz – there’s money to be made from music sales, just not as much as there used to be. The non-megastar musician of today looks to other areas to help pay the bills. Stan, Willy and Natalia’s X Factor gig gives them the freedom to keep working on their music, as well as a handy bit of promo downunder. And for Mel, it means she doesn’t have to get back with All Saints and do UK ’90s pop reality show The Big Reunion.
By the way, on Facebook the most popular “why didn’t they get…?” artist is Lorde. Let’s just imagine the alternative reality where Lorde can afford to take six months out of her schedule to work on a TV series in New Zealand. The second most popular suggestion is Annie Crummer. To be honest, she’s probably just as busy.
The Xtra Factor
As announced at Mediawork’s new season launch, the second series of The X Factor will be accompanied by spin-off show The Xtra Factor on FOUR. If it’s anything like the UK version, it will include behind-the-scenes lolz, musical performances, and guest celebs discussing the week’s drama. And if it’s really really like the UK version (please let it be), it will include magic moments like the super awkward interview between Harry from One Direction and Xtra Factor presenter Caroline Flack, who, at the time, were secret lovers.
Next up is the judges’ auditions. The filming is always fun to attend, especially if you like seeing average singers awkwardly shuffle around during the one-minute instrumental introduction of the Stevie Wonder song “Master Blaster”. And if you’re old or alt, it’s also a good time to start familiarising yourself with what’s in the pop charts so when the inevitable top 40 hits episode comes along, you won’t get freaked out by not knowing any of the songs.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.