Alex Casey and Duncan Greive went on separate field trips to The X Factor auditions at Sky City and compared their findings, trying to imagine how the show would play out in 2015. //
Alex: Well, the first thing I saw was a lot of leather panelling worn by the judges.
Duncan: They all have a vibe that leather panelling would be in their arsenal. Stan and Mel for stylistic reasons, Willy and Natalia for protection from the madding crowd.
Alex: Natalia also was wearing a giant armour necklace made of diamantés. Makes sense considering they were spitting some very heavy truths to the contestants.
Duncan: I don’t have my notes (pro writer move), so can only assume Stan was wearing a giant asymmetrical scoop neck and Willy Moon a custom Crane Bros suit designed for a man 6’4″ with a 22″ waist. Moon didn’t seem to know whether he was the good or bad cop so decided to alternate which was disconcerting. One minute berating a chap to near tears for “just trying to get on YouTube”, the next dispensing quasi-fatherly advice. It was a bit all over the shop. I guess they’re still figuring out their roles?
Alex: Willie was the pure villain in my round. He ate this giant bag of beef jerky, which I can only assume was actually the dried leathery skin of his spirit guide Simon Cowell, and then started shootin’ em down from the get go. Which shocked me, because I was so bloody impressed with every single singer.
Duncan: Beef jerky is such a savvy veteran move. A calculated F-you to cast, crew and country. “I’ll get my lean, smoky protein how, when and where I want”. My singers were super impressive too. I think five of my nine made it through, which was either evidence of a mad hot streak, or desperation to fill out the quotas.
Alex: Only about two or three got through in my round, there was an overwhelming number of “auditioned last year then lost 30 kgs now I’m back” people. Which Will Moon had to make creepy by saying “that’s a lot, my wife doesn’t even weigh 30 kgs!”.
Duncan: Ugh. Those guys have so much reality villain potential eh. The ‘my wife’/’my husband’ schtick is quite oppressive. Natalia had some line about “I’ve never before disagreed with my husband in public, and I’m not about to start now” which was pretty mindblowing. Both because it implies they’re bloc-voting (ruinous for the show on any number of levels, mainly suspense/excitement-related), but also because ‘FFS mate it’s not the 1920s’ and have she even listened to her husband? He’s extremely disagreeable – I’m not sure any other human has agreed with a word he’s said.
Alex: Yeah, I found it bloody insufferable to be honest. One contestant did a cool kneeslide onto the stage in a fedora (which was obviously a winning move) and in his posh English accent Willie goes, “oh, you caught me by surprise, I was just having a little giggle with my wife.” The forced couple-y thing doesn’t sit right at all, I think it adds a totally unwarranted level of weird intimacy or something that I just don’t want to see. Like, maybe if Stan or Mel’s partners got involved that would be a little interesting because they are both so charismatic that you’d want to see the dynamic, but I have no investment in Moon or Kills. It just feels like a terrible puppet show. Hopefully that will change as we get to know them.
Duncan: I feel like the trade of Ruby (sweet, maybe too nice) and Bedingfield (heroically batshit) should have netted us more than Moon and Kills. They feel very high risk, high reward. Risk being that they stay too-cool-for-X Factor-school, and just keep with an aloof, done-it-all-before attitude. Reward being that they evolve into this icy cruelty, and we see their indifference to suffering and Marie Antoinette-vibes toward the Kiwi battler community attain a kind of shocking intensity. Which would make for dynamite TV, as I can imagine Stan fully losing his shit in response.
Alex: Yeah, even in the auditions there were some instances where Stan stepped in to lighten the mood as the KillMoons spat venom all over the show. There was this sweet Christian girl group that sung “All About That Bass” (which totally rocked by the way – they got through and will definitely be TV superstars), and Natalia sarcastically asked them if God told them to sing that song.
She kept pushing it, it was so weird, asking them if God had rung them up, and how he usually communicates to them “does God even use a telephone?”. It was all getting a bit tense, so Stan hooned on in and did this year-long improv sketch of God taking calls and putting people on hold and stuff. It totally saved it. Plus it was obviously hilarious.
Duncan: That does sound like a situation to watch. Stan is goddy as hell, and if Natalia is full-blown Dawkins then the way they interact (via your xtian girl group) should be gold. I’m glad we’ve got a replacement for Gap 5 coming through, because I didn’t really love any of my dudes. This Christchurch busker-oik who sang “With or Without You” was plainly being cast as a Batchelor/Sheeran, and was a little clean cut (though GG Allin would look clean cut next to Batchelor’s leering).
There was this maori male-female duo (either brother-sister or boyfriend girlfriend – honestly couldn’t tell) who did a shampoo commercial Black Keys cover which all the judges had a big drool over. I dunno though – that NZ problem of everyone bringing their bloody axe along was extremely present again. Ugh.
Alex: My crowd was bloody loving it, I felt like everyone was very excited and cheered heaps for every act. And I bought into it straight away. I mean, I had goosebumps and hairs on end like Wolverine at from the first note of “If I Ain’t Got You”. That’s what made it real shocking when the judges cut everyone down. There was one brother sister duo that sung “Cruisin'” which made everyone laugh like bullies at school assembly. I could see the shots coming together in my head. The roaming camera was on me, so I hard out pointed and laughed. I’m a monster.
Duncan: Sibling ‘Cruisin” is legit vommy. Maybe brother-sister duos should be banned, along with husband-wife judges? “Too gross for TV”. My crowd were loud and too boisterous for the producers, who kept coming out to tell ’em to pipe down due to their mongrel volume ruining these sweet takes. 90% female too, which surprised me, as I hadn’t before imagined X Factor was a particularly gender-skewed format. Maybe it was the Stanimal’s presence? He has so much damn starpower – feel like he could be PM one day if he wants. Maybe first dude to PM Australia and NZ? Maybe a merger? Maybe he can heal the world and make it a better place? Honestly, is there anything you feel like Stan can’t do at this point?
Alex: Yeah, my audience was very very female as well. Anytime a floppy haired boy in a flannel shirt came out and sung Ed Sheeran it was nuts. But they were also hard out gunning for Stan, and rightly so. When he came out in those leather jogging pants everyone absolutely lost it. No wonder Natalie told everyone to shut the eff up or whatever. Stan could definitely run a successful political campaign. Tagline: STANd Up.
Duncan: I am fully STAN’d Up just thinking about it. And for The X Factor in 2015. Even with contestants that are way too musician-y for my liking, and the judges fully 50% question marks, there’s so much we know we’re getting. The teflon smooth DomBo, Stan on stun and Mel’s I’m-not-paid-enough-to-hold-my-tongue buzz. And all the killer production slickness that made us feel like a proper grown up country for the very first time. Plus The Xtra Factor, which, like MoonKills, could go either way – but I feel like on balance it’s more likely to be a no budget winner with plenty of unscripted chaos than anything too tame. You all in again?
Alex: I’m all in. If the pigeon that shat on me on the way to auditions is anything go by, it’s gonna be a messy messy time.
The X Factor returns to TV3 in 2015. We’ll be there for every second.