Group ThinkMay 19, 2015

X Factor NZ: Group Think, Week 14 – Jelly Wrestling, Advice for Beau and Burying the X Factor Corpse


In the final Group Think for X Factor NZ 2015, the Spinoff writers assemble one last time to express their frustrations, pitch future projects and remember the good times many KillsMoons ago.

Jack Riddell on Advice for Beau


Shot Beau, na, straight up g, you were fuckin’ sik and way better than Stevie Tonks. Thanks to you we’re all winners. Beau winning is like Team New Zealand winning the America’s Cup in 1995, like the majestic 69-70 Knicks win. And now, Beau, you have a brand new Mazda CX-3 to match your beautiful smile and sense of humour.

But finally, it is over, we can all go home and have a little cuddle to celebrate what we’ve all accomplished here. Feels good doesn’t it? Julie Christie and Simon Cowell no longer control our minds and we can go back to what we were doing before this bedevilled show ever existed – listening/watching MediaWorks owned entities, eating McDonalds and Streets Ice Creams and driving Mazda cars (Zoom Zoom).

Please don’t let Sony Music fuck you over bro. Be this guy in meetings. You can do this man. Looking forward to listening to the album after your obligatory X Factor covers album (please don’t do ‘Freestyler’, recorded music doesn’t need that).

Alex Casey on Dom’s Small Groove

If X Factor has given us anything (and it hasn’t), it’s Dom Bowden bobbing around on the Rainbow’s End stage to the dulcet tunes of ‘Goody Goody’. Why is your mouth open?!

Eli Mathewson on Shelton’s New Business

It’s over. Beau won. And all that remains is my intense desire for a range of Shelton Woolright skin care products called I am Giant Cleanser, Blindspott blackhead removal stick, ShelToner and Woolrighteous moisturiser.

Robyn Gallagher on Burying X Factor

If there’s any performance that exemplifies series two of The X Factor, it’s Nyssa’s version of “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” on Sunday night. It was a mashup with ‘Thriller’, but the Backstreet Boys component came with a significant lyric change. Where the sexy rotting bondage mummy corpse of Nick Carter had previously demanded “Am I sexual?”, Nyssa demurely enquired “Am I beautiful”.

This perfectly sums up the series after Kills and Moon left. Where the infamous motel rooters had previously brought their seductive gothic charm to the show, the new X Factor was neutered and painfully inoffensive.

A few hours prior to The X Factor final, the video for Taylor Swift’s single ‘Bad Blood‘ was released, a saucy and cool slice of modern pop. And I’ll tell you what – it’s the hardest thing to watch the video to ‘Bad Blood’ and then switch over to Brendon Thomas and the Vibes banging out yet another by-the-numbers pub rock cover of ‘Foxy Lady‘.

But maybe The X Factor New Zealand exists in a totally separate world from modern pop. After all, as I write this, Beau’s version of ‘Ruketekete Te Mamae’ is outselling ‘Bad Blood’ on the iTunes chart. And I Am Giant is number one. Maybe X Factor isn’t even about good reality television. Maybe it’s a combination of light entertainment bits and pieces that all up to a vague ratings/text vote/music sales sweet spot.

I don’t want another series of X Factor if it’s going to be like this. If the joy and the madness is gone, there isn’t really anything left. Mediaworks should be encouraged to bury X Factor in Nick Carter’s sexy sarcophagus.


Angella Dravid’s Conclusion

No words can describe. Schrödinger’s cat was dead the whole time.

Renee Church on Losing Youth

As the winner of X Factor NZ was announced, I had an inevitable feeling. Much like the confetti that showered the stage, I felt an impending shower of doom. I realised that, regardless of the outcome, I would feel a loss. A loss for the cast and crew who have to find new jobs now, a loss for the contestants who now have to forge their own path with the reality TV show cloud over their heads.

But mainly, I felt a loss for myself. A show I’ve held so dear has ended. More importantly, I just spent like 15 weeks married to this thing, and I will never get my youth back.

I’m very happy for Beau, maybe one day he’ll get his restricted and be able to drive his new Madza (the work doesn’t stop here, mate). Hopefully Nyssa will release that jam of a Stan Walker song, and Brendon Thomas & The Vibes will nail their “successful-rock-band-that-also-is-low-key-underground” thing.

And I truly, truly hope Dominic Bowden never stops calling Clint Roberts a “player”. Thanks X Factor.

Josh Davis on Making it

Talia Smith on Memory Lane

We started from the bottom…and that’s where we stayed.

KillsMoon-gate, crying Joe Irvine, the fact that I never got over Natalie not taking the guy wearing suspenders in the knock out rounds, lizard prince, soul eaters, sassy rural teenage girl Shelton, I am Giant????, Brendon Thomas and the Vibes making it to final three, #Hatbeard, Mel and Stan still being cute bffs, nodules, the Milky Bar kid, hating every single contestant, the near up skirt of Natalie in the final when being carried to the stage….

It’s been tough and most of the time I fast-forwarded through the performances because my heart just couldn’t take it anymore. This season was a goddamn ordeal but, as all NZ singing comps have shown us, the memories will fade away soon enough.

Duncan Greive on Jelly Wrestling

Basketball coach and analyst David Thorpe has a theory that I’m pretty into in a sporting context. It derives from ‘royal jelly’, a substance bees secrete and use to create a new queen when their current one is on the wane, which changes a regular bee into a beast queen. In a sporting context Thorpe views royal jelly as the coaching, support, environment and structure which helps turn a player of raw talent into a player who can thrive within the NBA.

I’ve often thought about this idea while watching this increasingly dire season. I wonder if, post the KillsMoon debacle, the producers got incredibly worried about the, like, OSH situation of the contestants. So they hired two total blandsters in their stead, and instructed all the judges to ignore the performance, and concentrate on what fine young citizens they had standing before them. Maybe it was a last-ditch effort to prevent the franchise from being taken off them. I don’t know.

What I do know is that, my power rankings and sub-Simmons theorising aside, music and sports are quite different. In sports you’re part of a team, you have a coach, you have trainers – there’s a whole ecosystem set up to help you succeed. To a certain extent that’s what happens on X Factor – all of a sudden you’re surrounded by team-mates, coached alone and in groups, and willed to grow. But X Factor is so, so far from what life as a musician is like. It’s a mostly solitary pursuit, for starters. Most coaches that exist are rubbish, and your teammates are actively praying for your downfall. That’s why Benny Tipene and Tom Batchelor are the only ones with careers from last season – they knew what it felt like when the lights went out.

When X Factor works as television it allows a little peek at that, with judges who will give you the kind of ruthless critiques you’re likely to get from record label people or (worse) music critics. That’s what the audience is watching for – the kinetic energy that comes with the end of a performance, not knowing what’s coming.

In a show which is to real musician’s life what Streets Frutare is to a strawberry, that was what was missing. The producers and judges conspired to drown these kids in royal jelly rather than give them a tiny shot of criticism. As a result we got Stevie Tonks and his rampaging ego, The Vibes encouraged to chase their worst instincts down a rabbit hole and Beau Monga as champion. All because the show freaked out and lost its nerve.

Keep going!