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Double Episode – The Fight for Boot Camp!

SATURDAY

This year more than 200,000 budding hopefuls applied for the X Factor at the all important auditions in 6 major cities, in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Over a month into the competition and the heat is well and truly on for the Boot Camp stage of the competition where just over 200 contestants will remain.

Simon intends to push the wanna-be winners to the limit and this years standards have never been higher.
It’s up to Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh, and Nicole Scherzinger to scope out the best talented vocals, taking no prisoners, no I forgot the words, my voice is poor today as I’m ill, I’m just nervous, and such. Certainly no time for socialising or making friends during this gruelling journey as the singers will have to battle it out to impress the judges with vocal training, a new added dance routine choreography, and secure a spot at the various destinations of the judges houses. There’s everything to fight for, let’s get it! Louis comments, ‘They’ve got nowhere to hide, the real competition starts now.’

When the contestants arrive at Boot Camp, they begin to wonder what actually lies ahead, it’s time to separate the serious, from the not so serious, the I-really-want-this, from the at-least-I-got-through-to-the-judges auditionees.

Cher Lloyd, who impressed the judges, and especially Cheryl at her audition, says, ‘I didn’t know I wanted it this bad?!’ – Classic, take the bull by the horns and give it your all girl! She did an amazing modern hip version of If I Ruled The World – Viva La Vida by Coldplay.

Young stunning vocalist who literally blew judges away at her first audition Gamu Nhengu adds: ‘I’ve been practising so, so, so hard, but I’m really excited’ – Bless.

Mary Byrne from Louis ‘s home country Ireland can’t even believe that she’s here, ‘A 50-year-old woman on her way to Boot camp; that’s fantastic!’

Aiden Grimshaw adds: ‘Having a chance like this means absolutely everything.’

Tobias Sumpton proves that he’s in it for the long run, and will do whatever it takes as he realises, ‘It’s a life-changing opportunity.’

Hottie Marlon McKenzie from last weeks auditions claims, ‘I need this more than anything.  I’m going to fight tooth and nail for this.’ At it boy!

As Louis arrives at London’s Wembley Arena, he has a advisory word of clear warning for the acts, ‘To survive in this business you’ve got to be tough; they’ve got to go out there and deliver,’ Keeping it plain and simple.

Day One for Boot Camp begins as everyone is split into categories; Boys, Girls, Over 25’s, and the Groups, then at the end of the day half of the acts will be sadly heading home. The Girls have to sing Beyonce’s ‘If I Was a Boy’, the Boys Michael Jackson’s ‘Man in the Mirror’, Groups Starships, ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,’ and the Over 25’s ‘Poker Face’ by Lady Gaga – which are all pretty challenging song choices.

Simon comments that this exercise is very simplistic from this point onwards, If you’ve got a lot of people and you’ve got limited time, this is the most brutal and effective way of just seeing who the deadwood is and who has got a bit of something different.’

Before her stage performance, Cher Lloyd says:  I’m quite nervous about singing the same song as everybody else.’ She’s so right, as – this way you can really hear whose stands out as being really good and who is perhaps mediocre.

Liam Payne also comments on this strategic judging style displaying good sportsmanship in the competition, ‘I like competition, it’s good, but I’ve heard all the guys today that are in my category and they are absolutely amazing.’

First onto the stage are the Over 25’s, having heard all their performances, Simon comments: ‘I’ve never sat through a session like that in my life,’ and to put it mildly Louis says ‘There were some very strange voices.’

Next it’s the groups – Louis favourite, ‘I’ve got a feeling about this category, I think it could be the best year ever for Groups.’ You think so Louis? That’s great, I’m still stuck on J.L.S…

Simon agrees ‘I thought the groups were going to be the worst category but I think in terms of who’s listened the most and worked the most, I think the groups have actually done well.’

Moving swiftly on and it’s time for the Boys’ first performances at Boot Camp.

Paije Richardson says, ‘If I went home on the first day of Boot Camp I’d be devastated it’s the number one thing in my life.’ Tobias Sumpton on the other hand proudly adds, ‘I could be like an international superstar in a couple of years, but when he goes onstage, he struggles and asks to start again, didn’t we say no second chances? I take my hat off to Tobias Sumptons determination though, but unfortunately he just started the pitch and tone to Michael Jackson’s Man In The Mirror a little too high for his range, if only he could have rewound that moment and started again.’

Last but not least it’s the Girls. Chloe Victoria shows up late missing the first segment of vocal practice, ‘Like a stupid idiot I went out last night when I got here and I haven’t even been to sleep yet.  I just feel sick and can taste vodka in my mouth. I’ve got same make up on that I’ve had on since yesterday morning.  I just look disgusting.’ Oh Chloe!! Didn’t we here you say singings your life just last week?

When Katie Waissel next up on stage she says, ‘I’m super worried that I’m going to forget my words and I’m freaking myself out about it!’ Didn’t we also say, no excuses if you forget the words? Tough! After her turn philosophically she states, ‘It’s in the lap of the Gods, isn’t it?’ Amen chick.

Once all the ladies have sung, it’s time for a drastic 50% of them to go home. Rebecca Ferguson hopes for the best pleading. I don’t want it to end here.’ There’s hope for some as Simon comments, ‘I see in every category a star in the making and we’ve only just begun.’

When the remaining acts learn that they will also have to master a dance routine with top Choreographer
Brian Friedman Simon’s advice is, ‘Be daring, be brave, be unique.’

We hear a resounding sigh of relief from previous contestants who escaped this new session. Simon continues, ‘It’s something we’ve never done before, I’ve got no idea if it’s the right thing or wrong thing.  Most of these people, they’ve never danced a step in their lives. So this is going to be difficult.’

Craig and Joseph Diva Fever, admit their flaws but promise to do the best they can, whereas Girl Group Hussle are thrilled at their opportunity to bust a few moves! ‘Dance is a big part of our performance, so it’s ideal for us.’

As all the acts take to the stage to give it all there is one person missing. 17 year old Zain refused to take part after struggling with the routine steps. ‘I seriously don’t want to do it because I hate dancing.  I’ve never done it before and I feel like an idiot.’ Simon goes to get him. ‘Zain, why aren’t you out there? You can’t just bottle it…you’ll ruin it for yourself.’ Key word here, Ruin. But wait, if more than one person refused  to dance would Simon honestly have the time to go and personally find them and encourage them to not blow their once in a lifetime chance? Blatantly Staged, gotta love a little added suspense though!

When the dancing’s over, the most personal and creative round begins, where the singers must chose a song and perfect it within 24 hours where they will perform it to the judges and thereafter, will have secured their places at the Judges houses.

Louis warns the acts yet again saying, ‘This is your last chance, don’t mess it up.’

When performance day is upon the acts already, Nicole Scherzinger joins Louis and Simon again adding, ‘This is, I guess, where we separate the boys from the men and the pussycats from the dolls. Have fun and kick some butt!’

Shortly before her rendition of song Wishing On A Star which started wonderfully, Chloe Victoria gains some momentary good spirit but then downfalls during her performance and admits to not being ready and let’s everyone know, ‘I’m not happy being no-one, I want to be someone.  I’m just praying that when I get on stage I can get through the first part of the song and then it’ll go alright.  I just don’t feel ready to go into the biggest audition of my life.’ She flopped. All she can do now is pray and hope that her lack of preparation and commitment, after a drunken night out doesn’t mean the end of her dream.

Matt Cardle and Storm Lee, prove to be the best male vocals for Boot Camp in my opinion so far. My goodness they were both great! Much to Simon’s disapproval he really does need to give Storm a break! He’s clearly working his butt off, and have the audience on his side for purely good vocals and entertaining stage presence.

Matt Cardle sailed from his audition into Boot Camp singing a track which 2006 winner and personal favourite Leona Lewis – does absolute justice ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.’ He was brilliant.

SUNDAY

200 acts have been reduced to 100 and today in the second leg of Boot Camp the remaining hopefuls will learn their fate, as they fight to earn their place at the judges houses. The competition moves forward as vital cuts are made and it’s time to really get serious, before we know it the live shows will be fast approaching.

As Dannii Minogue and Cheryl Cole are still both away Nicole Scherzinger assists Simon and Louis in making that crucial decision. ‘Well this is it, these are the final performances now, says Simon. Louis says, ‘I’ve never felt under so much pressure on X Factor because the talent is so good this year. Nicole, ‘It’s a big day today.’

Each act has been given 24 hours to practise their chosen song from a list of 40 songs picked by the judges.

Katie Waissel.

‘It’s been a massive, massive goal of mine to be a huge star. I just want to be a legend, I want to create a legacy, and that’s what I will do. I would have to say, today I’m feeling super charged. It’s terrifying but it’s incredible.’ Katie sung Adele’s Make You Feel My Love. Nicole commented, ‘Oh do I want to watch her and look at her. Louis however said ‘She tried too hard.’

Diva Fever.

Craig, ‘We’re friends and we’ve known each other for a couple of years. We haven’t sung together but we both sung individually so we thought we’d give it a go as a group. You never think when you stand in that queue at the beginning that you’ll be in the last 100 of Boot Camp. We’ve both dreamed of being singers since we were quite young. If we don’t get through today we’re going back to the books and back to the call centre and we don’t want that to happen.

Craig, ‘Simon you sit there and say you’re looking for something different, well here it is, we’re different.
I think the world is ready for something different.’

They sing Lady Gaga’s Poker Face and Louis says they’re so likeable!

Twem.
‘We are crazy about music, we love music. Each day, each moment, each second, we sing.’ They sing Mariah Carey We Belong Together. Simon says, ‘They can’t sing,’ Louis comments, ‘Simon, they’re good.’

Aidan Grimshaw.

‘I’m just going to go out there and give it my best shot and hope its good enough for them. I love music more than anything. I want to make a difference and make some kind of imprint on the world. That’s the dream, that’s what I want to do.’ Aidan sings David Grays this Year’s Love.

Louis, ‘I like him.’ Simon, ‘He’s smart, he loves music.’ Nicole, ‘It would be nice to sometimes see his eyes, he doesn’t have to look at us, but I respect he goes to ‘that’ place and we go with him.’

At this point Louis favours many acts, I’m sure if it was up to him the whittling-it-down process would take days!

Annastasia Baker.
‘I believe you do have to go through certain things in life to make you stronger so that you can deal with things to come.  I’m a person that’s never given up on my dream, I’m just so determined to do this.’ She sings Song For You.

Rebecca Ferguson.

With Rebecca’s first audition she agreed with Simon when he noticed that she lacked confidence – a general lack of self-belief since becoming a mother and has been working hard to improve this with vocal coach John Modi.

John, ‘At the moment she’s got this amazing voice but I really would like to get that star confidence out of her.
I want her to match her body language, her eyes and her face with that voice.’

Rebecca comments, ‘I just want my kids to be proud of me and I don’t want them to see me fail – It’s important. I want a nice life for them and I think I could do that through singing. I’ve got one chance to get on stage and shine. There’s no room for nerves, I’ll have to overcome them and forget about them. If I can’t do that then I don’t deserve to be here. I think I should continue on in the competition because I think I’m determined and I think I’d blossom in a show like this, I’d grow. I think I’ve grown a little bit since I’ve been at Boot Camp.’ Rebecca sings Corinne Bailey Ray’s lovely song Just Like A Star.

Louis says, ‘She’s blossomed, she’s changed. Simon, ‘That is a recording voice. Nicole: That IS a recording voice. I told you when we saw her first – she’s our generation’s song bird. Simon: Can I tell you the only problem with this girl? She’s got no confidence, zero.

Nicolo Festa.

‘They don’t call this Boot Camp for nothing this is pure pressure. I don’t know why everyone is stressing out about the whole ‘Diva’ thing [From his first audition] I’m the most normal person, more or less! I think it’s too late to do any changes to my performance so I’m just going to have to go on and do my best.’

‘I’ve wanted to do this ever since I was in the womb. I’ve come a long way from Italy and should I fail today I’ll go more ways to make it happen.’ He sings David Bowie’s Life on Mars. Simon says ‘He’s a Diva’. Louis replies, ‘He’s a rock star!’ Simon, ‘I like the fact he’s out there.’

Paije Richardson.

‘I’m hungry for this. The only thing I’ve ever been comfortable doing is singing and I can’t really see myself doing anything else. Simon wasn’t a big fan of mine in the first audition but hopefully with this next song I can get him on my side.’ Paije sings Adele, Make You Feel My Love.

Gamu Nhengu.

‘I originally come from Zimbabwe and my mum decided to move us here as things were really getting bad in Zimbabwe. There was a point where it was hard to get simple things like bread and milk. I’ve wanted to be a singer since I was about 10. It’s the thing that I’m good at. It’s the thing that I love. I’ve never wanted anything more than this. I’m doing this for me but if I could be something big, I’d support my mum then she wouldn’t have to work so hard. That would be amazing.’

Towards the end of the show, the nail-biting waiting process begins where the judges announce which final 8 acts in each category are through to their houses – a total of 32 singers. Not only is it nail-biting for the acts but also the judges who learn who they will be mentoring. Two aspects have changed this year, the Over 25’s has become the Over 28’s, and instead of 6 acts going through to the judges houses its now 8. Two new groups are also formed with 8 boys and girls too talented to let go:

Belle Amie – Rebecca Creighton, Esther Campbell, Geneva Lane, Sophia Wardman

1 Direction – Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan, Harry Styles and Zain Malik

The Girls mentored by Cheryl Cole [16-27yrs]
Raquel Thomas, Gamu Nhengu, Annastacia Baker, Rebecca Ferguson, Tracy Cohen, Katie Waissel, Kerri Arrindell and Cher Lloyd.

The Boys mentored by Dannii Minogue [16-27yrs]
Karl Brown, Nicolo Festa, Aidan Grimshaw, Paije Richardson, Marlon McKenzie, Tom Richards, John Wilding and Matt Cardle

The Overs mentored by Louis Walsh [Over 28yrs]
Wagner Carrilho, Justin Vanderhyde, Elesha Moses, John Adeleye, Storm Lee, Stephen Hunter, Yuli Miguel and Mary Byrne.

The Groups mentored by Simon Cowell
Belle Amie –  Rebecca Creighton, Esther Campbell, Geneva Lane, Sophia Wardman
Husstle – Jessica Kozi, Carol Mounsey, Stacey Camps, Alana Mags, Sam Grierson
1 Direction – Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan, Harry Styles and Zain Malik
Princes & Rogues – Cameron Neilson, Ashley Emerson, David Hodgson, Jonny Lloyd, Derek Clougher
The Reason – Marc Higgins, Nathan Rawlings, Glen Vine, Scott White
Twem – Medhi Beni Nouh, Samir Beni Nouh
Diva Fever – Josef Al-Smadi, Craig Saggers
FYD – Matt Newton, Jordan Gabriel, Kalvin LaMey, Ryan-Lee Seager, Alex Murdoch

Next week is another double bill, where we see the 32 acts perform on a more personal level to their mentors at their private homes and see if they have made the all important advance to the live shows. Exciting, gripping and certainly emotional stuff.

Words by Kemi Giwa

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