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The Inaugural X Factor NZ Group Think

The Spinoff knights meet at television roundtable to reveal their hopes, dreams and insights before the new season of The X Factor NZ. //

Nic Sampson on the Sponsored Car:

Let’s face it, the entire X Factor competition is just a way to get around not paying actors to be in various commercials. Why cough up for an expensive actor when you can cast literally all of New Zealand in your car commercial by having them butcher snippets of Che Fu’s ‘Fade Away’ from the vinyl interior of a Ford Kuga? Oh the Ford Kuga. The X Factor NZ can’t guarantee you a long and successful music career, or even a short successful music career; but it can at least give you a brand new overpriced car you probably don’t need and will find hard to sell to a nation of people who don’t want brand new overpriced cars.

Let’s hope this year’s car has an equally funny name. How about the Mazda DILF?

Joseph Moore on the Judges’ Retreat:

This year I’m most looking forward to the Judges’ Retreat section. What a treat, for us the humble viewer, to see our friends, The Judges, away from the red leathery prisons of their judge chairs and just hanging out where they feel most comfortable. Be it in an artfully lit Queenstown lodge, or just sitting on a wooden chair at the beach. I hope they adhere to the overseas format a little more this year and go the the judges’ actual houses. Imagine seeing inside Stan Walker’s house?! I bet it has one of those canvases that lists all the New Zealand place names but in different fonts. What happens in Willy Moon’s house? Does Willy Moon have a house? Or is his house just whatever cocktail bar didn’t kick him out for being asleep. At least one of the judges has a Le Chat Noir poster. I CAN’T WAIT TO KNOW MORE.

Joseph Harper on the Sex Factor:

I watched most of the first season of X Factor. I went in hard, tweeting away and revelling in the weird stupidness of it. But by mid-season I’d lost a lot of that passion. By the time the weekly karaoke sessions really got down to brass-tacks, the only thing that really kept me watching were the rumours of a fresh and lusty love affair between eventual winner Jackie Thomas and throwback ruffian, Tom Batchelor. Secondhand stories of cheeky mid-shoot lovemaking in the Sky City compound led me to seeking out clues in each week’s episode as to the validity of the rumours, until it came out that there was indeed fire behind the smoke.

A brief perusal of the instagram accounts in question reveals Jackie and Tom (bachelor no more) have indeed settled into a routine of digitally documented domestic bliss as they enjoy whitebait and support each other’s flourishing careers in music. I’m sure the Ford Kuga is a nice enough whip, but the real prize for Jackie has clearly been the love of a good south Canterbury man.

For me the real question going into this season of X Factor, isn’t who will win New Zealand’s premiere singing contest. It’s how many beautiful romances will emerge in the light of the silvery (Willy) Moon?

Robyn Gallagher on Tip(ene)s for Success

At the heart of The X Factor is the idea that the show will take an unknown singer and, via televisual voodoo, transform them into a proper pop star. But is that actually what happens? Series one winner Jackie Thomas had a mere six months of glory following her telly triumph in 2013 before simmering down. Since then, she’s played a few community festivals and has hinted at new material, but she’s generally keeping quiet. This is much to the annoyance of her hardcore fans who desperately want Jackie to release more Birdy covers. Fourth-placed Moorhouse released a self-titled album in December, but their dinky old-style boyband pop is yet to have much of an impact in the sophisticated post-One-Direction environment. Runner-up Whenua Patuwai overcame his chronic humbleness and released a mum-pleasing album of soul covers, which was popular enough to warrant a special Christmas edition.

But the most successful of the class of ’13 is Benny Tipene. Five singles, one EP, one album, a New Zealand Music Awards nomination (he lost to Lorde), a national tour with Anika Moa, and a man-bun. That’s as good as any New Zealand musician could hope for, and this is the type of success that The X Factor needs, proof that the show can create legit pop stars. So what’s Benny got that the others haven’t? For a start, he appeals to the younger music-buying market, not older television audiences who enthusiastically vote but rarely buy (or stream) music. And most importantly, B. Tippz came to The X Factor with performance experience and the ability to write decent songs. Others needed hand-holding, but the Tipster was ready to be unleashed on the world of pop. Having a great voice and being able to perform entertaining cover versions on television for 10 weeks needs genuine talent, but it takes a different kind of talent to be a successful musician out in the real world.

Duncan Greive on the New Judges:

Into the pink hair of Ruby Frost and insane trousers of Daniel Bedingfield slip Natalia Kills and Willy Moon. They’re this year’s version of Benji and Zoe Marshall – an imported celeb couple slumming it in the AK for a season.

Like Benji, they’re code swapping in what should be their prime, and part of what will be revealed on Sunday is whether Willy’s debut is going to end as ignominiously as Benji’s. As Joseph and Nic pointed out in their podcast, Moon’s music is it that wasteland between proper chart pop and ‘real music’ credibility. I worried that he would lecture us endlessly about musician-y stuff, and that it would be exceedingly tiresome. But maybe that’ll work – if he embraces his role as a heel, and plays a kind of Simon Cowell Jr – a less articulate and authoritative funcrusher with sparklier clothes.

If Willy’s Benji, then Kills is Zoe – a throw in on the original deal, only here because she married a New Zealander. Zoe had a disastrous TV show (bad omen), but seemed to do fine on radio (good omen) (omens are now tied). So far Kills has made headlines for swearing (good omen for the win) which suggests we should be in for histrionically great TV.

When they were first announced, Kills and Moon seemed like an astoundingly bad choice – unknown and aloof, a toxic combination. But the longer they hang around, the more I’m coming around to the idea of a pair of cartoon villains with posh accents and temper tantrums. Because horrible is always, always better than boring.

Alex Casey on What’s in Store

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The X Factor NZ premieres Sunday at 7pm on TV3, we’ll be there for every bloody moment.

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