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Hey Manchester! What have you got for us this week, in the way of amazing talented diamond in the rough singers?  Speaking of amazing – the beautiful Nicole Scherzinger joins Simon and Louis, and intends to hold it down for the girls, as Cheryl Cole at the time of recording falls sick with Malaria. It was a double whammy this weekend, for X Factor fans this Saturday followed by another exciting dose on Sunday evening.

SATURDAY

Rachel Chu a 44 year old Beauty Therapist originally from Hong Kong but now living in Manchester takes on Whitney Houston’s hit track ‘Saving All My Love For You,’ a somewhat popular song for past auditions. Now please note, if you are to take on a Whitney song you have to be bloody good! Pardon my French, as soon she began I thought uh oh here we go! I’m sure I heard a friend backstage say she was powerful, How? So there I was – eagerly anticipating her first few notes to a song and artist I adore. Omg big letdown. At least she gave it a go she was brave. In quoting – My boyfriend said to me ‘Ha-ha! Is she having a laugh?!’ I replied ‘No babe, she genuinely thinks she’s good.’ He says, ‘Yeah, that’s what makes it even funnier! Ha-ha-ha!’

18 year old Aiden Grimshaw from Blackpool travelled the long distance to Manchester to impress us with a clever yet subtly simple accapella version of ‘Gold-Digger’ by Kanye West displaying great range and skill.

‘I used to go round to my Grandma’s house and I used to sing for my Grandma, all sorts of cheesy songs. I used to make her stand in the kitchen so she couldn’t see me cos I used to get embarrassed when she looked at me.’ Despite Aiden’s outdated 90’s haircut he really gave his all! Well done kid, someone’s straight through to the next round.

Widow Hazel Jackson aged 69 from Cheshire brought viewers her adorably entertaining famous Tina Turner trot all over the X Factor stage to hit karaoke and audition song ‘Simply the Best.’ When the judges voted and gave their reasons as to why it was a resounding no due to her poor level of vocal skill, her responses and accompanied facial expressions were so amusing! Simon tried to soften the blow by complementing her personality, as Hazel found it hard to believe she wasn’t getting through. However, saucy Hazel and Irish judge Louis Walsh would make such a cute couple! Fancy being a toy boy Louis?

Make up, eyelashes, hair extensions, versus ripped jeans and fake beauty spots is Wakefield’s [Leeds] very own 19 year Chloe Victoria a full-time yummy mummy. ‘I’m here at X Factor because everywhere I go I don’t fit in properly anyway but I know the place I would really fit in is just on stage. Singing is my passion, it’s what I love to do, I know I can do it good,’ she says. I feel that the audience gave the poor girl such a hard time and were so mean to her by booing after her performance. Simon at one point tells to shut up and listen for a second. She had me on her team instantly when she told the audience she split up with her boyfriend of 6 years, and just loved singing, I really believe that she does, and hidden behind her mask of sorrow following her break-up, is a really nice girl who finds a great deal of comfort in singing and music as a whole. I’m so happy she got through.

Stunning Rebecca Ferguson, a 23 year old mother of two from Liverpool, was told after the birth of her second child that was it. Way harsh. As a proud mother, determination and motivation comes naturally, and she desperately wants the chance to have a shot at pursuing her musical career. ‘I was very confident as a child, I was very, very cocky.  I was always singing and always dancing and then when I got pregnant with Lily, everyone just said you’re life’s over, you’re never going to become anything. I started to think well maybe I won’t be able to become a singer. Who’s gonna want me now I’ve had a kid so I’m just gonna give it a try this year and see how it goes.’

Her extremely unique and quirky interpretation of ‘A Change Is Gonna Come,’ moved Pussycat Dolls singer Nichole Scherzinger immensely. ‘Rebecca, your voice really moves me and I love to listen to you. It’s okay to be vulnerable in your music but you still have to connect to the people that you’re singing to so just keep that in mind.’

SUNDAY

As we watch the last round of auditions  witty Tobias Sumpton from Hull experiences his 21st Job interview, but this time round only in front of thousands of audience members – so uhh, no pressure Toby! ‘My name’s Tobias, I’m 20 and I’m a clothes shop manager from Hull.  I’ve had about 20 jobs and they’ve all been a bit random or boring.  I’ve worked in a car wash, I’ve worked in a pub, in a shoe shop, I’ve been a dish washer, a tour guide in a museum.  I’ve done so many things and I’ve never really thought that they’ve been right for me.  Singing – I think I’ve finally found the job that I want to do.  X Factor feels as though I’m going for a massive interview for the best job that I’ve ever had.  I’ve just got to make a good impression.’ He sings the Moulin Rouge arrangement of Elton John’s ‘Your Song.’ Wow say goodbye to all the mediocre boring jobs you’ve had in the past mate hello Boot Camp!

Nicole states ‘I really like your voice a lot.  You have a really unexpected fire behind your voice.  You’ve had a lot of jobs but hopefully the train stops here.’

16 year old Harry Styles did Stevie fans proud with his cover of Stevie Wonder ‘Isn’t She Lovely,’ despite Louis’s decision to say no, thinking that at 16, Harry may not be ready? Louis we didn’t see any signs of immaturity or unprofessionalism! ‘For all the right reasons I’m going to say no as I don’t think you’re ready.’ [Audience boos Louis] Simon responds ‘I don’t actually think they booed you loud enough there Louis! A string of forthcoming acts find it hard to receive a positive yes from grumpy woke-up-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-bed Louis thereafter. However Nicole and Simon out vote Louis so Harry’s through to the next round.

Joseph & Craig who together, form Diva Fever where definitely my favourite act of the night. I love Tina Turner with a passion, and when they changed their song choice from ‘Let It Be,’ by The Beatles to ‘Proud Mary’ by Tina Turner – my goodness was that the best decision ever. They had Nicole Scherzinger and the majority of the audience on their feet dancing ‘I love that song. You got me up on my feet and moved me.  I think you need to think about what sort of songs are going to match your image.  It’s Diva Fever honey, so I loved that you came out with Tina Turner and worked it out!’

The saddest audition of the evening had to be married proud father of two Richard Thomas who sang Higher and Higher’ By Jackie Wilson. His story was so moving he deserved more of a chance, as a singer who performs in clubs and pubs – even Simon acknowledged how hard that can be. He introduced himself; ‘My name is Richard, I’m 28, I’m from Hull and I’m a singer.  I’m also married and I’ve got two kids.  Chloe’s 8 and Leighton’s 20 months.  For my job I play a lot of clubs and pubs.  I enjoy it but a lot of clubs have closed down and it’s getting hard for artists but I don’t know anything else.  I wouldn’t have met my wife if I hadn’t of sang cos I met her at a place I was singing.  My family are very supportive.  My wife knows what I’m doing it for.  I said to her, if I’m successful then we’re going to have the life we really want.  I really want to do better for myself and my family.  I don’t want to be a pub and club singer anymore.’

After his performance which I thought was good enough to go through, Louis said ‘You’re song choice was good.  Everything else was all wrong.  It’s about 20 years out of date.  You’ve picked up all the bad habits from karaoke, pubs and clubs.  You’re voice is ok it’s just we’re looking for somebody with a unique recording voice.  You’ve picked up so many bad habits I just don’t think it’s there anymore.’

Simon followed ‘It was the wrong song. Completely the wrong song and I think you knew that at the halfway point.  This crazy thing about doing this to have fun, even as you were saying it I don’t think you believed that.’

Richard replies ‘I just didn’t want to come across as really boring.’

Nicole finishes by adding I don’t think you were boring at all.  You have great spirit when you perform.  I want to come to where you’re at and come and have a drink and watch you sing.  But we’re looking for a recording artist voice.  I didn’t hear any unique quality right now.’

Unfortunately Richard gets three no’s, and at this point I wonder why Simon didn’t stop him and give him a chance to sing another song like he has done with previous acts? Staged? Probably…

X Factor welcome back Marlon McKenzie who first auditioned in 2005, again back in 2008, got through to Boot Camp but missed out going to the Judges houses. Third time lucky singing ‘Aint No Sunshine,’ he surprises Simon, – ‘I’ve got to be honest, when you said you were going to sing Aint No Sunshine, I thought oh God we’re going to hear that same old version we’ve heard thousands of times.  The fact that you came with your own version of it, that was different, it actually made the song sound incredibly current, made you relevant…

I think you’ve got a great voice.’

Congrats Marlon, you little stunner you! Well auditions are over and next week we can look forward to a double episode of Boot Camp, where singers are put through their paces, vigorously, told ‘no’ at the crucial stage, criticised, and challengingly choreographed and put under testing pressure to battle it out – the heat is well and truly on, it’s time to get serious and find star quality. Miss it? Quite frankly – miss out.

Words by Kemi Giwa

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