X Factor sing-offs are better than the competition

Last night’s sing-off between Angel Tupai and Samantha Jade on The X Factor was one of the best the show has seen.

With their future on the line both girls sang up a storm, making decisions impossible for the judges.

Their songs were even better than the numbers they had performed the night before.

But here’s the thing: they always are.

Why is it the contestants constantly choose better songs for themselves than some of the banal choices they get lumbered with by the judges?

How bizarre to be made to perform What’s Love Got To Do With It as a buoyant reggae song, when the lyrics are about loveless relationship (no judges picked up on this!).

Every week we see singers struggling with the material, many of which were hits before they were even born. When Jason Owen was asked about performing an Aerosmith song, he admitted he’d “never heard of him” before the show. Umm…

Shiane Hawke, who is doing remarkably for just 14, has conceded Beautiful by Christina Aguilera has been the only song she has known that she has performed. She is frequently given songs from the 1960s.

On top of the song choices, there is also over-production, sometimes swamping young singers. Eurovision often gets a run for its money.

When they sing to avoid elimination we can connect more without all the tricks, but by then it’s just too late.

X Factor judges could better serve their acts by listening to their song choices instead of the ones producers are pushing, and help the viewer connect with the act and style of the artists.


  1. just watched the episode just i can’t believe the public sending angle home, she was best singer in the competion, very disappointing with last nights results, just hope it dosn’t happen again in a weeks time

  2. Normally I enjoy Ronan but last night he made the wrong call.

    No one likes Guy Sebastians friend she never connects with the song and always comes across as cold and soulless .

  3. For people who want to be in the music industry, I think these singers need a greater knowledge of songs including ones before they were born. That’s no excuse. But choosing songs and changing them to suit the contestants just because they can doesn’t sit well. You can change the orchestration of a song that sits better in the contestants style and do an original version without having to do a complete 180 on the musicology of the song.

  4. The production for The Collective was fitting for One Direction. it was good but it makes them look better than they are. The budget for the other acts were lower and its not really fair. Looks like they are thinking past the show and all the money they can make out of a successful boy band. I am finding NattBass really annoying this year with all her fake and over the top reactions. Overall i still enjoy the show.

  5. This show is atrocious. The Shiane girl simply cannot sing. Not many 14 year olds can sing well. The judges need to stop lying to her by telling her how good she is. And not really sure how Scary Spice and Natalie Bassingthwaighte can judge people on their singing ability, it would be like Brynne Edelstein judging someone on their acting ability. The one redeeming feature of the show is Bella, hopefully she will follow in the footsteps of Lisa Mitchell and make a career of it. And no I don’t watch the show, I just record it to see Bella’s performances and sometimes see the end of it waiting for other shows to come on.

  6. You can see it in their face, When they chose their own song on tuesdays show there has been a moment where they were listening to that song on a train or something and envisioned themselves performing it on stage and have a good idea of how they want it to go. Monday’s performance it’s quite clear that they are acting out someone else’s instructions for their vision of a performance, it just doesn’t work. I dont think anyone has ever come into the top 12 and improved on their audition.

  7. Pretty much over X factor. So contrived. I think I’m right out of the target demographic too:-P Trying to figure out why I absolutely loved The Voice (which was also pretty contrived) but am finding X factor absolutely cringeworthy.

  8. I too agree the brightly flashing lights on the screens behind, plus the use of erotic dancing (in my opinion), smoke machines etc are quite detracting from the overall performance.
    If they had the X Factor they wouldn’t need all the bells and whistles.
    @Kimbeth -Thanks for the tip. But a choice of 2-3 songs by poroducers (probably due to licensing) is limiting and if the mentors pick the ‘best’ song, they do not always resonate with the performer or the audience.
    It is like lets see who can be given an awful/ irrelevant song and try to win votes?!?

  9. I didn’t like it when Guy (I presume prompted by the producers) asked Shiane what the song True Colours means to her.

    Some of the songs are ok as I see them as classics, but next week should be a bit better with more modern song choices.

  10. David, the answer to your question is simple. The judges/mentors are given a choice of 2-3 songs from producers for each performer. Unfortunately the songs are rarely good choices. Clearly the audition songs and the sing off choice of songs are always going to be better because these are the only ones the performers get to choose.
    And producers also encourage certain choices each week if you get my drift…. I know a relative of one of the judges

  11. I agree totally David. The overproduction particularly annoys me and some of the songs have no context for the performers.
    If you’re choosing songs for a 14 year old at least make the words have some resonance with their experiences. I also think 14 is too young for a platform like this, Shiane is still a kid and doesn’t look like she’s coping too well.

    The sing off was awesome last night but I think Samantha Jade is more marketable as a pop singer so the public got it right. Just sayin’.

  12. daveinprogress

    Yes, i’m with you on a lot of this, David. The production numbers swamp the singers – fog burying pocket rocket Samantha, young Shiane being propelled into adult dancers and musos. I know it is a tv event, but sometimes less is more. No wonder some of the best voices are eliminated – their vocals are simply lost in the mix – both visually and via the kick ass band. The mentors need mentoring!

  13. I’m so shocked Angel is gone! She has the best and strongest voice in this year’s competition. Some of Nat Bass’ song choices for her were not right.

    Hey David, I forgot why Mel B voted to send Samantha home. Do you remember what she said?

  14. The older the song, the cheaper the rights are to use it. Same when I was in high school. Every year the music classes sang the same songs and played the same music at the school concerts. The parents were sick of it as well as the students. Most of the students hated the choices and never heard of them before.

  15. I think the song choices would also be better if they ditched the themed weeks and just let them pick any song they want each week that suited them. Party Week was a perfect example of how themed weeks are a disadvantage to some as at least a third of the contestants that week sang a song that wasn’t suited to them as a performer.

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