Effi Summers - Music Industry Blogger
Creative Blog- Creative Direction, Branding and Design Projects
When I initially scoured Google for some hints about what was happening to the X Factor this year, I stumbled upon the supposed replacement, which was Britain's Got Talent - The Champions.
I was very very sceptical. I thought it was going to be a 'poundland' re-run full of acts who hadn't quite had the desired success the first time round and now were coming together with no new surprises and mediocre performances.
After the first episode, omg was I wrong. Now, I love BGT and X Factor, I've grown up with Ant & Dec and Simon Cowell, they're like my surrogate parents. However, I don't like everything and anything that appears on these shows; I'm quite particular about the acts and who I think could have a career in the big wide world.
I like to watch and think about what I would have done differently and how I would have gone about implementing it. Plus, the one mistake I think the critics make is to lump it all together as a whole. You can't scour the country and end up with 100% of the acts being this or that. Judge the shows as you will but at least give the individual acts some kinda constructive, well thought out comments.
Enter me. Pahahha.
I'm going to do just that; share my thoughts on the show concept as a whole and each of the finalists individually.
Firstly, I was ecstatic to find out that The Champions would feature acts from around the world. This means brand new acts I've never seen before and new people having the chance to launch careers from a British stage. I think the (racist) Brits who say BGT should only feature British people see this all wrong. It's not about us restricting our stage for our own, it's about us being the country to propel these talented people from around the world to success. It's an achievement for all involved! Let's work together for something great and not shut ourselves off like a moody bedroom teenager, mmkay?
I was also a big fan of the Eurovision style tables with flags and fam members. It added excitement, community and togetherness in a fun, lighthearted way.
Ok, so let's take a look at the finalists...
This was Amanda's golden buzzer and I do agree that it was well deserved. It's not entirely my cup of tea but I appreciate the incredible talent and the speed in which she performed was insane! It was a breath of fresh air to see something completely new and I think the British stage could do great things for her career.
The performance production was very well done in terms of music and lighting, it really captured the mood and progressed with the piece, complimenting it in all the right places. I would have ditched the animation in the background though; I found it distracting and it lessened the impact and emotion of the performance. Keeping it stark and with the screen as the only focus would have dramatised the whole feel.
The story was great, inspiring and captivating which is exactly what is needed to evoke emotion from the audience. A worthy first finalist, am I right?
Bello & Annaliese Nock
OMFG this may have been my favourite act ever, in close competition with Spellbound. Everything was flawless; the music, the comedic value, the camera angles and the showmanship.
They made it look completely effortless. Bello's years of experience showed; he seemed super comfortable, he was funny and loveable, all while risking falling to his death. The rhythm and timing was absolutely impeccable, with the wobbles and close shaves executed perfectly.
I have watched this at least 75830202 more times on youtube since because it fills me with life.
This performance was one of the most exciting I've seen on the show and their attitude to life is infectious and inspiring. I wouldn't have guessed at the audience putting them through, but they made the right decision. Very well deserved and I can't wait to see what they do next.
The second gold buzzer (thanks to Ant & Dec) and oh my god. I agree that this was the stand out performance of the night (closely followed by Antonio Sorgentone imo). I cannot get over the fact she's 11 years old and the doggos performed wonderfully. I did YouTube her first audition in Germany and she has come on leaps and bounds since then. There were still a couple of little wobbles that could be smoothed out for the next time but all things considered, it was fab.
I think the Greatest Showman theme is a little over done now so hopefully they'll be a new theme next time but other than that it was a completely class act. The added little touches of Alexa throwing the ring to the assistant guy really improved the showmanship as a whole.
I have mixed feelings about this. There is no doubt that their story is absolutely incredible, inspiring and life changing and they thoroughly deserved to be on that stage. However, I wouldn't have put them through to the final.
Saying that, I CAN see both sides; although the talent should be judged as a lone factor, how the audience gets to know the acts DOES impact voting. The more you connect with an act, the more you're likely to vote for them. This is why choirs never fare as well imo, it's too difficult to feel connected to so many people in a short space of time.
Also, I feel like these shows have rinsed the sob stories to the moon and back, meaning that when there are incredible and recent events like this one, people are more immune to the emotional side. It's been over done and now people care a whole lot less.
I do need to add in that this performance was a million times better than their previous ones and I am in absolute awe of anyone who can overcome the odds like this. For me though, purely on raw talent, I would have chosen Antonio Sorgentone to go through.
Paddy & Nicko
Ah, David and his golden buzzer are responsible for some unique acts aren't they. Firstly, this act IS super inspiring; I've heard people in their twenties complain about being old and people in their forties feel like they're too old to start something new and Paddy is here to show you that it's all bullshit. My aim is to be that fit and fabulous if I make it to my eighties!
However, I don't find the dancing completely effortless (and I get that it's not, but that's how you should feel when watching it). I can't say I enjoy their performances personally and for me, the production was a bit dated. The pink outfits and pink backdrop was too much, they kinda merged into it. I think a change of colour scheme and production theme could have made it much cooler and more on par with the other top acts.
Oh my. The personal element at the beginning was an effective little touch; it's always great to allow the audience to get to you know and connect with you on an emotional level.
Not a fan of the jacket though, I would have kept the entire aesthetic raw and industrial, including the styling. Leopard print just doesn't scream 'abandoned warehouse' to me.
Oh and now the jacket's off. Big fan of that.
I have no idea how much of the production was necessary to the act/safety requirements but the hanging ropes and chains and the 'grubbiness' of the box work perfectly and (prerecorded or not) the 'inside the box' camera was a great idea to connect even more with the audience.
Other than it being proper stressful to watch, it was extremely well done, the overall production and showmanship was extraordinary.
Ok immediately I realised this was too 'big' and American for my personal taste in comedy. I can appreciate he's very good at what he does and I do think he'd be a welcome addition to some of the panel shows; his energy was incredible and the delivery was on point.
I wouldn't have used the USA and UK flags in the background, I thought that was a bit weird. They seemed to have been covering a cityscape backdrop which I think would be been much more aesthetically pleasing on its own. I liked his shirt though, that was a fab shade of blue aye.
I mean, I don't really know what to say haahaaa. Ten out of ten for entertainment factor for sure and their personalities are infectious! The VT concept was a fab idea; I enjoyed the mash of cultures and the comical incorporation of the Greek history.
The production was great, going bigger was the right choice, although I think it possibly overpowered their talent slightly. Overall though, what a weird and fun act! If anything shows you that anything is possible, it's this!
Bars & Melody
I enjoyed this much more the second time. This is an interesting one I think. They've had success around the world more so than the UK and I do feel like this could be the platform they needed to make that extra boost. They seem to have made the difficult transition from kids to adults smoothly, in a branding and identity sense, rather than literally! Their music has grown and their image has adapted really well, allowing them to continue with their success.
Simon Cowell signed them after their initial appearance so I can only assume they've had a very talented team working with them on these aspects. I see real potential here though and the songwriting is on point. I think a lot of people don't realise how difficult it is to write an amazing pop song and these kids and have got that down.
The production worked, the 'light up sun' added some glitz while staying on brand and the use of background dancers made it feel like a show rather than an audition. I possibly would have kept it a bit more raw though; they are a pop act but I think going down the 'gritty' route rather than the 'shiny' route would have complimented their style better.
Twist & Pulse
At the start of this I was a bit disappointed, it was very much more of the same. I think the reason previous (BGT) winners and runners up haven't done as well in the Champions is because they've lost the surprise factor. Things just aren't as exciting the second time round.
However, then it picked up. The comedic factor makes the whole performance better and the use of audio is extremely well done. I imagine this would convey better on TV than for the audience due to the small, detailed movements.
These guys have an incredible brand. They know who they are, what they're doing and who it's for and they've stayed loyal to their very fine niche. I'm a big fan of the smaller details so having their original audition numbers on their jackets was a great idea and sticking to the red/blue makes it all better imo. By the end of the performance I thought they were very worthy golden buzzerrrrrssss.