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ColumnsMarch 10, 2015

The X Factor Group Think: Week Four

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The Spinoff knights meet at the television roundtable to discuss Judges’ Retreat Week on X Factor NZ, and look towards our Top 12 contestants. //

Eli Mathewson on Lili’s Lockdown

Lili stands inside a Bangkok hotel when a sudden realisation seeps over her. With all the excitement of a beach holiday, a chance to plan some cheap dental and tough decision-making regarding the plane food she had forgotten something huge. She’d forgotten she would have to sing today.

As she walks out the door and towards Stan and his new friend young Morticia Adams, her mind races. She’d spoiled this for herself. She had used up the two songs she knew in the earlier auditions. The only two songs she had needed to make heaps of moolah busking, thanks to the shape and appearance of her face and body.

“What will you be singing today” asks Stan.

Lili bursts out literally the first song she can think of, ‘Love Lockdown’ by Kanye West. Lili hasn’t heard any new music since 2008.

She plays the three chords she knows: C Am Em, C Am Em. She doesn’t drop her gaze, she won’t be stopped.

And she sings. Does it rhythmically make sense? NO! Does it melodically resemble the actual song? BARELY.

Does it matter? Not one bit.

“You’re through to the next round!” Stan beams.

And New Zealand is reminded of an important lesson: if you’re a blonde female and you can learn some basic guitar you can probably be Prime Minister if you want.

Angella Dravid on the Artistic Retreats

The cinematography was gorgeous in tonight’s episode. I was particularly taken aback by the intensity and ferocity of overhead shots and wide-angles. Beautiful. Whoever directed and orchestrated this amalgamation of artistry and sheer-craziness is a fucking God. This is my tribute to you.


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It kinda went a bit shit after this:

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And then I decided to just stick with movies:

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Nailed it.

Renee Church on the Truth About the Overs

This week the Overs were treated to a wonderful trip to Thailand (real happy that the oldies are getting out of the house), where their musical fate was decided by not one, but two All Saints! Steve Broad, Sarah Spicer and Joe Irvine got through to live shows – thank God, because they were the only ones I could remember the names of.

So here is what the top three got up to on their retreat, probably:

SARAH: Taught some local street performers how to play some sick AC/DC covers on their instruments.

JOE: Met an elderly Thai woman on the beach and said “Whoa! We don’t have that in Invercargill!”

STEVE: Probably bought heaps of souvenir pencils and erasers for his students back home in New Zealand, but then used them all up when he wrote a thesis in his Dream Journal about how he has to one-up Michael Murphy.

Josh Davis on Joey Irvine’s Emotional and Spiritual Wellbeing

I just want Joe Irvine to be OK. That’s all I’m asking from this whole ordeal. That Joe doesn’t mentally disintegrate in front of the entire country. Are the odds of Joe making it through his X Factor experience without having a complete meltdown good? No, not at all.

Chances are, Joe will receive too harsh a criticism or maybe even too nice a compliment, and simply be unable to stop himself from attempting to run into the ocean (someone is going to need to teach him some alternate methods to deal with sudden, life-changing news because IMO that won’t be OK or even an option at all during the live shows).

“I must now leap into the ocean, for I have received outstanding news.”

Having said all that – I don’t want Joe to change! He is too original and just straight-up entertaining. It is his vulnerability that makes hims so gosh-darn compelling to watch. Never keep your emotions in check, Joey. Run into that ocean my friend (the producers are going to need to find a venue for the live shows that is quasi-adjacent to a large body of water).

Alex Casey on More Gross Kills-Moon Scoops

Hi everyone, I’m very grossed out this week. I read something I really didn’t want to read, and now I’m here to share it with you all to ensure that we are all on the same level of complete brain sludge going into the live shows.

My favourite publication The TV Guide printed a stunning interview with Will and Nat this week, and here are some great great facts that I learnt:

– Natalia insists that every beverage be served to her in a champagne flute
– Willy is never ever drinking water from his glass, and is allegedly drunk 98% of the time
– The pair constantly play footsie under the judge table (blergh)
– They like to make good use of the lock on their dressing room door (blergamot)
– They refer to it as an ‘undressing room’ (ingrid blergman)

Here’s me after all that unnecessary intel:

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Jack Riddell on Psychic Anne’s Votes

For the last week and a half, I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night, dripping in cold sweat. Reeking of fear and B.O – staring into the stark, deep, dark abyss, in the realisation that I have elected to watch X Factor for the next 100 weeks. So I thought, “screw it” and called some nice psychic lady called Psychic Ann for her predictions on the future, in order to achieve slumber once again.

– A under 25 male will win The X Factor.
– Archie has future despot potential.
– Beau will be huge regardless if he wins or not. Like, bigger than Bennie Tipene big.
The Xtra Factor will be the television equivalent of having your cat wee in your eyes whilst you sleep (sorry Guy, it’s this psychic, I still think you’re cool).
– By appearing on the X-Factor, Jason Kerrison has now severed all ties with TVNZ and will probably never play a Breakfast Christmas Show again.

"I know, right?" – R. Christie
“I know, right?” – R. Christie

X Factor will have higher ratings than Our First Home.
– A contestant on The Bachelor will fall off a horse and break a limb.

Thank you Psychic Ann.

Robyn Gallagher on the Betting Game

The judges’ retreats wrought moments of bewilderment at the decisions to ditch otherwise brilliant acts. “OMG no! Why’d they get rid of Sally/Duel/Reiki,” fans wailed. But there’s something to keep in mind: as well as being a singing competition, the X Factor is also a live television show. Therefore it needs to be cast with a variety of entertaining performers who’ll make good telly for up to 10 weeks. Not just quality singers, but strong personalities as well. You know, emotional journeys.

This can be further explained by the alpha/beta/gamma theory that originates from the X Factor UK betting community (yes, it exists and yes it is full of amazing theories). The idea is that within each group there’s the alpha (the preferred winner), the beta (the back-up) and the gamma (the disposable one). Gammas are there as easy pickings in the early weeks. After all, you don’t want to lose your star performer if they are hit with nerves on the very first live show. As an example from last year, in the Groups: the almighty Moorhouse were the alphas, Gap5 the betas and poor L.O.V.E. were the gammas.

So with that in mind, the casting of the final 12 starts to make a lot of sense. There are the obvious stars, the hardworking ones – but then there are the weaker acts, the ones who’ll be doing an Eden Roberts (who?) and being the first out the door next week.

If you’re like me, you’re already started to mentally sort this year’s lot, but also remember this: sometimes strange things happen and gammas outlast alphas.

Duncan Greive on the Alternative Top 12

The Top 12 is out and I’m half pumped, half devastated as per. Here is an alternate 12 which would be at least as good and a bunch more entertaining while also guaranteeing the entire worldwide X Factor franchise would be sealed in a shipping container and tipped into the Mariana Trench.


They might not sing good, but their workout vids would be off the hook, and they’d dominate the after hours Xtra Xtra Factor / Raw scene.

I don’t know if New Zealand is ready for a pair of forced-together pop country singers with no real connection. But I am.

Soul Sisters
Like TrendPrince, singing is not their strong suit – is it for any group, though? Just imagine the banter!


He’s the rappin’ Joe Irvine, and I’m gutted that we missed his chance to blow.

Archie Hill
Mainly just want to see him learning about the world with Shae Brider and the Soul Sisters. Plus he could actually win. That too.

The hair! The braces! The tears!


Jazzy Acton
Still can’t figure this one out. Was she kicked out because she would’ve made the other 11 look rubbish? Or because Willy was too gross around her? A great New Zealand mystery.

Georgina from Levin
She was the straight R&B singer the comp needs and looks like she’d menace Auckland’s ‘club scene’ which would have been exciting and cool for a few weeks.

Ria Hoeta
She did an original rap and it was devastating in the same way that Eve’s ‘Love is Blind’ is devastating. So of course they made her sing boring songs and not make it in.


Shae Brider
Edgy selection, sure, but reality TV needs dudes as real as Shae Brider.

Ol’ Man River
I feel like he and Shae would’ve started a foundation to heal the world together. Hand weaving Mickey Mouse ties for the children.

No One
Five minutes silence on a darkened stage to symbolise what a junkyard this category is.

Catch up on The X Factor NZ on 3 Now here

Keep going!