I’m not sure why I think I’m qualified to be a judge on The X Factor NZ.
My previous performance experience stretches only as far as playing a troll in a Howick Dance Club production of The Troll Under the Mountain and a lot of karaoke in the living room with Mum (apologies to the neighbours who have heard Bohemian Rhapsody butchered many times). But still, last night I found myself shouting at the TV as almost all of my favourites were sent packing from the Judges' Retreats.
Jessie Matthews, Fletcher Mills, Finlay Robertson, Oriana Faaumu, Madeline Bradley – acts both myself and my flatmates were certain would make the top 12 went home. And judging by the reaction on social media, I wasn’t the only one crying foul at the screen.
But I guess it’s the way it goes with a show like The X Factor – and that’s what the judges are there for. And while I’m mourning my lost favourites, there are still so many amazing acts in the competition that I’m incredibly excited to see. Cassie Henderson has to be the odds on favourite at the moment. She's 14 and sounds like that? Really?
Of course, Jackie Thomas was brought back. We’d been promised a twist all week, and it really couldn’t have been anything else. Luckily, she was sitting at home with her Samsung phone and a camera crew right beside her when she got the news. Phew.
So the girls' category, already arguably the most contested, swelled to seven – with only three places up for grabs.
While Jackie and the girls walked along the beach in Rarotonga, the groups made their way to Mahurangi (yes, Mahurangi) to meet their mentor and guest judge. I almost died with delight when former S Club 7 member Rachel Stevens emerged from a helicopter. While the folks in England pitied us with our “has been” judges, New Zealand’s Twitter faithful lit up their pages with 140-characters-or-less excitement. Who doesn’t remember having S Club parties? Sssssss, Clubbbb…
Although I was a bit distracted by the apparent ability of both Dom Bowden and the blonde keyboardist to magically teleport to each location (Queenstown and Sydney, as well as Mahurangi and Rarotonga) we finally got to see the acts perform a song they know and love. After Rachel and fellow guest judges Guy Sebastian, Natasha Bedingfield and Hollie Smith (who wasn’t wearing shoes – which I thought that was brave, considering it was snowing in Queenstown at the time – chipped in with their two cents, we were left with the obligatory hour-long results episode that was filled with tense pauses, suspense-filled musical introductions and a LOT of tears, good and bad.
Mel was the first to reveal her groups: girl group GAP 5, Moorhouse (or “the hot ones” as my flatmate calls them), and rapping duo L.O.V.E all made the grade, leaving my personal favourites Anabac, the one with the three Johns, and the young made-up group TYP sobbing by the pool.
Stan let widowed father Bryan down gently, as well as Jessie Matthews, but sent through good-looking blonde Anna Wilson, Taye Williams and Maka Fiso, completing his Overs. Ruby didn’t seem to cope too well with sending three acts home, but, perhaps questionably, sent through Tom Batchelor, Whenua Patuwai and Benny Tipene, sending fan favourite Fletcher to the wildcard round.
Lastly, Daniel’s girls. Dan under pressure was worse than Ruby, telling a producer he was having a panic attack as he was about to reveal his final three. Findlay went, as did Oriana and Maddie, who all arguably deserved to be there – perhaps in the place of others in the first three categories. But that's not the way it works, and Daniel seemed reasonably satisfied with Eden Roberts, Jackie Thomas and Cassie Henderson.
But of course, there’s one final twist – the wildcard to make up the lucky 13. Aotea Beasley, TYP, Grace Ikenasio or Fletcher Mills will complete the acts, with the public voting to decide who to put though. All will be revealed on Sunday.
Were you happy with the decisions the judges made?