Tag Archives: Singing

The X Factor – Season Least?

14 Nov

The X Factor Season 3

The X Factor USA is the middle sibling of vocal talent shows. The older sibling, American Idol, has settled down, had a few kids, and lives in placid suburbia in a three-story house with double white doors and a patio with a grill. The younger sibling, The Voice, is getting all of the attention because, well, it’s frankly more entertaining to many people. That leaves the gangly, awkward X Factor in the middle to acquire acne and try to make it in the cruel world of reality singing competitions.

Now in its third season, the X Factor has desperately tried to spice things up. An x-shaped battle round provided a little juice to the competition, but, despite its differences, it was seen as a reaction to the little sibling’s vocal battles. Some strange form of live voting was attempted, but it failed miserably and caused a 2-hour live show to be scrapped and wasted (there is something the X Factor can proudly say was unprecedented).

Frankly, though, no matter what the show does, people will watch it for the singers. And, no matter how much the judges want to praise this stock of vocalists, this is really the season of the least. Of the remaining contestants on the show, I can count on a few fingers how many actually have the so-called X Factor. In year’s past, I have put together a full review of each contestant. For this season’s remaining contestants, I am going to do something a little different. Each contestant will receive a ranking between 1 and 5 Xs (1 the worst, 5 the best) as well as a brief, frank reason why they are ranked this way. Let’s get to it. Oh, and two of these individuals are voted off tomorrow, by the way.


Tim Olstad

Tim Olstad (XXX)

Three Xs for soft-spoken Tim Olstad. He seems like a kind and genuine person. His voice is sweet and he carries a good tune. His issue is his kindness. He lacks an edge. Besides from his good voice, he has nothing else that sets him apart.
Josh Levi

Josh Levi (XXXX)

Early favorite. He has the combination the X Factor is looking for: looks, dance moves, and good enough voice. His vocal needs a bit of work, but, let’s be honest, the studio does wonders. He is marketable; that’s what matters. If the female voters think so too, he will be around for a long time in this competition. He’ll play on the Bieber factor for as long as he can.

Carlito Olivero

Carlito Olivero (XX)

An older, less talented version of Josh Levi. He will also try to play to the public with his combination of looks, dance moves, and vocals, but his vocal is a bit whiny and that won’t last long in this competition.


Ellona Santiago

Ellona Santiago (XX)

Same person as Jessica Sanchez from Season 11 of American Idol? Both Filipino singers from California around the age of 17-18. Both sing the same style of pop-diva music. I’m fairly confident they are the same person. Too bad Jessica Sanchez is better, and Ellona is the doppelgänger.

Khaya Cohen

Khaya Cohen (XXXXX)

Give it up for the saving grace of season 3 of The X Factor. Raspy, Amy Winehouse-like voice paired with some gritty classic rock ‘n’ roll soul all mixed together with modern flavor; Cohen is hands down the best singer in the competition, and she should sail to the end of the show without must issue.

Rion Page

Rion Page (XXX)

Rion Page has arthrogryposis multiplex congenita, which screws with the joints in her hands. Despite this, she is perhaps the most optimistic person you’ll ever meet, and I do not think it’s an act. While she inevitably has to play the sympathy card (because people see the disability), she clearly doesn’t want to. She just wants to be a country singer, and, frankly, she is pretty good (better than most of the people in the competition). Who are we to judge? She is talented, kind, and better than all of the over 25s and groups combined!

Over 25

Nicole (Lillie) McCloud

Nicole (Lillie) McCloud (X)

What a great way to start off the two worst categories on the show. If you watch the X Factor, you know this contestant as Lillie McCloud. But, as the X Factor finally admitted during the show yesterday, Lillie is actually Nicole McCloud, a recording artist from the 1980s – 2000s. But she only put out one single and never made (“I was so close”), right? Wrong. She is a fraud. FRAUD. She recorded four studio albums and her single “Don’t You Want My Love” became an international hit. This single reached the top 10 on the U.S. dance charts, in addition to charting in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden. Her 1994 single “Runnin’ Away” peaked at No. 3 on U.S. Dance charts. She has had 7, yes, 7 charting U.S. singles, the latest one just a little more than a decade ago. Never made it? Are you kidding me? She is an absolute fraud who should never have been allowed in the competition. I know X Factor does not have a record contract clause like some other shows, but come on, it destroys the purpose of these competitions. I just feel bad for the other contestants who are just looking to make it for the first time. Move aside and let someone else get his/her turn.

Jeff Gutt

Jeff Gutt (XX)

An uninspiring rocker with a decent rock croon and, uh, that’s basically it. It’s good that the show has a true rock singer, but I just don’t see where Gutt fits in the market. I guess he is a good enough band singer, though, so hopefully he joins up with some semi-successful band and provides solid lead vocals.

Rachel Potter

Rachel Potter (XX):

In the process of writing this post, I had seen Potter’s name every time I glanced over at the contestants, but as I started writing her segment I had to look back to get her name again. What does that mean? She is forgettable. Is it just me or are you also sick of fringe female country singers? They are limited vocally and generally hokey. Last night’s performance was overdramatic and almost comical.

The Groups

Alex and Sierra

Alex and Sierra (X)

Ah, the groups – Simon’s babies. One issue. He doesn’t have any talent this year. Oh well. This duo is terrible. Let me sum them up with some vocabulary words: mawkish, maudlin, syrupy, and nauseating. The girl is an awkward mess. The guy does a terrible Jack White impression. The act is garbage, but it will stay because they are a couple and for some reason this resonates with a desperate American public. They should have never made it past auditions.

Sweet Suspense

Sweet Suspense (X)

Sweet Suspense provides me with such suspense that every time they perform I immediately fast forward through the performance. Why? They suck. No lead singer. No harmony. Just three young, pretty girls performing hackneyed, karaoke renditions of mostly terrible songs.

Restless Road

Restless Road (XX)

I am starting to get a bit restless. A product of Simon, Restless Road is a country boy band. I loved Simon’s thinking. I actually think this concept can work … with better singers. One of the three is good. The other two are filler. This act could last for a while because it is country, but ultimately it will wear out.

American Idol Predictions: In Review

12 May
Final Two: Candice Glover and Kree Harrison

Final Two: Candice Glover and Kree Harrison

Let’s be realistic. This has been an unsuccessful season for the declining singing talent show, American Idol. After 12 seasons it seems that the show is losing touch with the viewership and the loss of ratings evidences this theory. The show is formulaic, almost intransigent in its weekly routine. Superficially, there have been some changes to how the results are revealed, for example, but these are not extensive. It seems like I am a bit captious in this brief synopsis, but after so many years of watching the show I’d love to see American Idol transform with the times. The basic structure will always be effective and enjoyable, but the show needs to do a massive re-haul of the judges (which seems to be happening) and the creative content.

For the most part, Season 12 of American Idol came down to two singers. Putting aside the sycophantic, effusive praise machines that were the four judges this year and the top 10 that was almost completely devoid of talent, the show was saved by two vocal powerhouses – one a gritty country vocalist and the other an Aretha Franklin-like, soul superstar. Back on March 11 when I made my predictions for the Idol Top 10, I went on the logic that these two singers would be in it until the end, and I am happy to report that I was accurate in my guess. Kree Harrison and Candice Glover make up your final two.

Of all of my predictions, I was most wrong about Amber Holcomb. I initially viewed her as a throw-away contestant who would be the first eliminated in the Top 10, but she made it all the way to 4th place. This was more of a testament to the lack of talent among the top 10 than her own ability. For some reason the judges gushingly extolled her like she was the second coming of Beyonce. Holcomb’s voice only worked in the lower register, and when she tried pushing it higher she was invariably flat. Yet despite her clear inability, the judges praised her with impunity. It was strange. Sometimes it felt like the judges were listening to another artist.

Back to Kree and Candice. Who will win? In my initial predictions I chose Kree. The country audience is just so strong. Now, I’m not sure. Candice has proven that her voice is freakishly good. She is a vocal spectacle. It is an absolute wonder to listen to her sing. In March I compared her with Jennifer Hudson and said her “big voice should help her sail through the competition.” It may help her win it. Check out her performance of “Somewhere.” Just mind-blowing.

Kree “has rangy chops and her voice just fits today’s country music scene.” I agree with my assessment from March. She has displayed her relevance and ability. It would not surprise me if she made good on my March prediction and won Season 12.

Ultimately, though, I will be happy with whoever wins, and it will be good to see “American Idol” have its first female winner since Season 6 and first all-female final since Season 3 when Fantasia won.

A Review of Music in America’s Got Talent Top 10

1 Sep

Gosh, Matt, how many trashy reality shows do you watch. Three. Let’s get the record straight. I watch American Idol, America’s Got Talent (as of this season) and The Sing Off. Oh, wait. I watched The Voice. Damn. Yes, I admit it, I am a fan of music-related reality shows. What can I say? If you haven’t noticed from this blog, I love music. I love everything about it. I love melody and harmony – a simple acoustic guitar riff and a jazzy complicated bass piece. I’m a fan of good musica, musique, μουσική – music.

So, a show like America’s Got Talent appeals to me specifically because of the diverse music acts that tend to do well in the competition. Last night, after what seemed like an eternity (I am just figuring out that a season of America’s Got Talent lasts several months), the top 10 acts were revealed. And while judge Howie Mandel insists on calling season 6 the year of the dance, an equal amount of music acts are in the upper echelon of performers.

One cannot choose the “best” act of the bunch. I mean, how can one compare an old-fashioned, unexpected crooner with an opera singer? How about comparing a group of talented 12-16-year-olds who look like a 21’st century Jackson Five to an 11-year-old bluesy belter? It’s difficult. I do think that they are all quite talented and I am looking forward to seeing each of their performances on the top 10 show. But, before that happens, let’s take a look at each one and afterwards I will attempt to pick the act that I think will make it the furthest in the competition.

Performer: Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.  – 36 – West Virginia

Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. is a crooner. The purpose of America’s Got Talent is to find a potential Las Vegas act. It is difficult not seeing a man with his immense talent on a Las Vegas stage. I say this because there seems to always be a place for a 40’s/50’s throwback. I don’t think the crooner act is tired or antiquated. Murphy’s delightful voice can help restore the genre to Vegas. Murphy, a car washer from West Virginia, has blown away the judges week-after-week performing classics by crooners like Sinatra. And, on top of it all, he is so wonderfully humbled by the praise that it almost seems that he doesn’t realize the talent he has. You can’t help but root for the guy, and it is not difficult to because he is both genuinely talented and perfectly kind.

Lys Agnes – 27 – Colorado

Lys Agnes was a rising operatic voice until the sudden death of her fiance put her singing and vocal studies on hold for two years. Her touching story of triumph in the face of such personal tragedy immediately hooked the judges and audience during her audition. When she proved that she had a dulcet voice with exceptional range, she was pretty much propelled into the top 10. Talented opera singers with inspiring stories do well on talent shows. See Susan Boyle. Agnes deserves her spot.

Anna Graceman11 – Alaska

Anna Graceman is a prodigy in every sense of the word. The 4’11” singer is both mature in voice and prescense. Seriously. At 11, I was still having tantrums over not getting good baseball cards. Maybe I shouldn’t have admitted that. Anyway, Graceman has handled the stage with…well…grace, and her rocking voice and incredible piano skill make her a contestant to be reckon with on the show, even though, by the looks of her, you would never guess she was in a competition. She may be a little girl, but she kicks ass on stage.

POPLYFE – 12-16 – California

POPLYFE, the only band left in the competition, are a group of talented youngsters from Oakland. Here are the band members.

Dylan Wiggins, age 13 (Keys, Music Director/Producer)
Denzel Merrit, age 12 (Drummer, Co-Producer)
KehLani Parrish, age 13 (Lead Vocals, Writer)
Ranzel Merrit, age 15 (Sax)
Jaden Wiggins, age 11 (Bass)
Ali-Khan Lochin, age 15 (Dee-Jay)
Dillion Ingrem, age 13 (Guitar)

Now, don’t let their U.S.-wide anonymity fool you, POPLYFE is well-known in Oakland, where they are considered the next “big thing.” The band is being groomed by producers and, at such a young age, has performed at known venues. They are a gritty reboot of child-acts like the Jackson Five. They play serious rock n’ roll with flavor. It has been fun watching them perform and lead singer KehLani Parrish has one heck of a voice. They are all talented.


Like I said, it is impossible to predict what musical act will outlast the other three. Like I said, they are all talented and I can see any one of them getting far. But since I challenged myself to make a prediction here is my final music act standings from 4-1.


3 – Lys Agnes

2- Landau Eugene Murphy Jr.

1 – Anna Graceman

Good luck to all of the talented acts!

UPDATE – 4:39 on 9/8 – I was correct with one of my predictions. Landau is through. But Anna Gracemen has been eliminated as well as Lys Agnes. POPLYFE, the precocious youngsters have made it through. The top four has two musical acts and two dance troupes. I am pulling for a Landau win. Who do you think will win?

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