X Factor fans might know him as Barry Southgate, but Barry Conrad is quick to let music lovers know that chapter of his life is firmly behind him. As if to prove the point he’s emerged with a brand new name (dropping his surname in favour of his middle name) and a brand new single “Anywhere We Go.”

I listened to the single version first, and honestly I wasn’t that impressed. It was a bit overproduced and too polished for my taste. But I’ve always loved Barry, so I decided to give the song one more try and listen to the version he did on The Morning Show.

This is where it’s at. Without the bells and whistles of a studio, the song’s laid bare and it’s better for it. Changing his name late in the game means Barry really has to start again in terms of building his brand, but he’s got the talent to do just that.

The folks behind The X Factor are set to capitalise on the popularity of its 2012 season with a tour next year. The top six acts – The Collective, Bella Ferraro, Samatha Jade, Jason Owen, Shiane Hawke, and Nathaniel Willemse will hit stages around the country next January.

Normally we see the winning act touring the country, but this is the first time a selection of the top acts will play shows together. The gigs promise to bring all the production values the show’s famous for to audiences around the country. The biggest fans can also buy tickets to the X-Pit, a standing area that should be a wee bit tamer than the mosh pits of old.

Tickets are on sale now for the following X Factor shows.

8 January 2013 – Jupiters Theatre, Gold Coast
11 January 2013 – Festival Hall, Melbourne
13 January 2013 – Derwent Entertainment Centre, Hobart
15 January 2013 – Adelaide Entertainment Centre Arena, Adelaide
16 January 2013 – Challenge Arena Stadium, Perth
18 January 2013 – Hordern Pavilion, Sydney

Image used with permission from Revolutions Per Minute

We’re at the pointy end of  The X Factor competition, with just three acts remaining. Andrew Wishart, Reece Mastin, and Johnny Ruffo had another chance to win us over tonight with some solo numbers and a duet with one of the visiting stars.

Andrew kicked things off with his audition song, Adele’s “Someone Like You.” It was fitting to see him perform it live again after all this time. It didn’t so much showcase growth but just how solid he’s always been. He is what he is, and I love that.

In contrast Johnny showed us just how far he’s come with Jay Sean’s “Do You Remember.” He was singing well and dancing well; I couldn’t fault him technically. However I also feel like I’ve seen it all before. He’s improved immensely, but I still don’t see X factor. And let’s remember that, rather than growth, is really what it’s all about.

Reece also showed us he’s developed that extra special something since first treating us to Rooster’s “Come Get Some.” There seems to be a bit more swagger to him, some extra confidence and self belief. He was good in the auditions, but tonight he was great.

Pairing The Fray with Andrew seemed like a natural fit, but I don’t think their version of “You Found Me” did him any favours. It felt too low throughout, and consequently he never got to show us his sweet spot. The arrangement was a real injustice here. Hopefully his fans don’t care; I’d hate to see him go on the back of this.

I’m not even going to bother re-reviewing Johnny’s performance of “Sir Duke.” It was good the first time and it was good again. Certainly this was his best, but did we really need to see it again with all the same staging and choreography?

Ditto Reece’s performance of Aerosmith’s “Dream On” and Andrew’s retake on “Dakota.”

Johnny Ruffo was outclassed in performing a medley of some Salt N Pepa hits. He held his own with the dancing but his rapping skills were very under par. This was fun though just for the trip down memory lane. Those ladies have lost nothing over the years.

Then Reece treated us to his potential single “Good Night.” Perhaps treated is a bit generous, because I found it to be pretty middle of the road pop. The verses felt like virtual carbon copies of Pink’s “Raise Your Glass.” All in it didn’t feel like Reece, which is really disappointing when the singles are supposed to be tailored to the artists.

I don’t remember the name of Andrew’s potential single if it was mentioned, but I wasn’t thrilled by it. He sang it beautifully but the song itself seemed a bit mediocre and aimless. I didn’t actively dislike it, but I’d probably switch over the radio after hearing it a few times. Seriously, where are they getting these songs?

I don’t know what Johnny’s single is called either, but the Eurovision nut in me lapped it up. It’s super cheesy, but also lots of fun. For the first time this year I seriously considered the merits of Johnny winning this thing. I expect to see Belarus covering this in Azerbaijan next year.

The duets hadn’t impressed me until Reece and Kylie Minogue took to the stage for “Kids.” His vocals were a bit rough in places but they really seemed to gel and that mattered more than the notes. What a way to end the show.

Really what happened tonight didn’t change my views one way or another. I’m firmly on Team Andrew. Who’s your pick?

Tonight’s X Factor elimination was always going to be tough. We learned early on that Andrew Wishart and Johnny Ruffo were safe, leaving us to sweat on the fate of Reece Mastin and Three Wishez for the rest of the show.

Given the options I hoped Three Wishez would be safe. We already had one cute young thing in the final after all. Three Wishez bring a different energy to the competition, and I can see them doing well on an international stage.
However it wasn’t to be, and we said farewell to the trio, at least for now. Something tells me they’ve got a big future ahead of them, with or without this competition’s help. I can’t wait to see where they pop up next.

And now I’m left cheering on Andrew Wishart. Last night he compelled me to pick up my phone and vote, the first time I’ve done so all year. That counts for a lot.

Who do you want to see taking this thing out?

They keep talking up shock eliminations on X Factor, but I don’t think there are any shocks at this end of the competition. And so while the judges seemed surprised to see Declan Sykes and Three Wishez battling it out for a place in the top four, I figured it was about right after last night’s performances.

I really like the way that Tuesday night’s show gives acts a chance to redeem themselves. Declan didn’t really with a fairly lackluster performance of Panic at the Disco’s “Ballad of Mona Lisa,” but Three Wishez stepped up with Jessie J’s “Nobody’s Perfect.” That’s what it means to sing for your life.

It seems the judges agreed because three to one they sent Declan packing. I’m sad to see him go, but hopefully he can capitalise on this exposure and we’ll see him cropping up somewhere soon.

After enduring more dance songs than I cared to last week, I was happy to watch The X Factor contestants singing songs from music legends tonight.

Johnny Ruffo kicked things off with Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke.” I’ve been pretty hard on Johnny in recent weeks, but I’ve never heard him sounding better. Finally the vocals matched his pretty boy looks and dance moves. I’ve had him doomed to the bottom two for weeks now, but this time I’m not so sure.

I wasn’t too enthusiastic about the idea of Andrew Wishart singing “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” But this guy can really do no wrong. It doesn’t matter what he’s given; he nails it vocally and I believe every word he sings. That’s all he needs to do, and he does it consistently.

Declan Sykes shook up The Beatles “Help,” and when it came out the other end I just didn’t like it. I still like him and what he stands for, but when you take risks some of them just won’t pay off. I don’t think the treatment worked, and in some places his vocals suffered from all that jumping around. The judges might have liked it, but it just wasn’t my cup of chai.

Three Wishez has blown me away in recent weeks, so I was a bit disappointed by their take on Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.” I certainly didn’t hate it, but it didn’t reach the dizzy heights of their past couple of performances. Perhaps they set the bar too high too early?

I was nervous when I heard Reece Mastin was taking on Celine Dion. I was much happier to hear that really he was covering Eric Carmen. Either way, his version of “All By Myself” allowed us to see a vulnerability he doesn’t often show. He didn’t always nail the vocals, but I think he hit the notes that counted. He didn’t get glowing reviews, but I still liked this.

There was a lot of like tonight and not a lot of love. I wasn’t blown away, and actually think Johnny Ruffo’s performance was the strongest. What a topsy-turvy night! Given all that, I’m not even going to guess who’ll be in the bottom two tomorrow night. What do you think?

I’m a bit late with my X Factor elimination recap this week. I always figure it’s best to steer clear of technology after a few drinks. I’d hate to think how a post-Melbourne Cup luncheon entry might turn out. Better late than never and typo-free though, right?

I’m not sure whether you can ever call results towards the pointy end of the competition shocks, but I was surprised to see both Christina Parie and Reece Mastin standing in the bottom two. I guess Johnny’s fans know he’s vulnerable and have been voting in droves. Christina’s performance was probably one of the weaker ones on Monday, but I didn’t expect we’d see Reece in the firing line yet.

Both acts did OK when singing for their life, but didn’t sing anywhere close to their best. I suspect nerves might have been to blame here. I thought Christina outsang Reece with her Avril Lavigne cover, but it was a close race. However Mel B was the only judge in her corner, with the rest of the panel opting to send her home. I think the right decision was made as Reece really has been Mr Consistency. Hopefully his fans will rally behind him to ensure he’s not in the bottom two next week.

I must admit, I approached this week’s X Factor with some serious trepidation. Dance music really isn’t my thing. I don’t mind some old school disco, but I can take or leave the Rihannas, Beyonces, and Lady Gagas of this world. And considering the trend in recent weeks, I wasn’t feeling optimistic that the judges would head back to dance music’s heyday. But this is X Factor so I found myself tuning in in spite of myself.

Reece Mastin gave me the old school dance I was craving with a rock edge with a really cool version of “Staying Alive.” I’m not sure the mash-up of the Bee Gees track and “Kashmir” was completely successful, but it was really interesting. I think it’s smart to play with the songs and make them fit the artist. You wouldn’t ask an established musician to step outside their genre, so why should he?

Guy got song choice right again in giving Declan Sykes some Empire of the Sun. Sure the falsetto was thin and not always on the money, but on the whole this was still gorgeous. Declan doing dance could have gone all wrong, but with Guy guiding him Declan got it so right this week.

I expected a predictable modern dance song from Christina Parie, and I got it with David Guetta’s “When Love Takes Over.” Mel B really needs a few song choice pointers. I was nervous as so often this song gets screechy when performed. She managed to avoid that, but in doing so it seemed a bit under. Perhaps there’s just no pleasing me when it comes to this track.

I was hoping to hear Andrew Wishart busting out some old school funk. Sadly it didn’t happen but Nat Bass still got it right with David Guetta’s “Titanium.” It had the emotional heart that is missing in so many dance songs. He came through this week surprisingly well.

Johnny Ruffo again turned to one of his idols with Usher and David Guetta’s “Without You.” Again the vocals were under and again I was bored. He’s a lovely chap but I feel like his time is up.

Three Wishez made this child of the 80s very happy with their mash-up of Chaka Khan’s “I Feel for You” and Salt N Pepa’s “Push It.” They slayed it. I am so glad they did this instead of the Black Eyed Peas Mel B suggested. What a way to end the show?

We’re getting down to the nitty gritty now. I feel Johnny’s been biding his time for a while so he’s the obvious choice for the bottom three. He might be sharing the spotlight with Christina or Declan, but surely the judges have to send him packing this week, right?

The X Factor has been a bit heartbreaking in recent weeks, with several of my favourite acts sent packing. However this week I think Australia got it right as Johnny Ruffo and Mitchell Callaway sat in the bottom two.

Johnny’s vocals haven’t been up to scratch in recent weeks. In fact, the only thing harder to hear has been Mitchell’s bad attitude. Clearly Australia’s had enough of his bitching too.

Mitchell was finally given the chance to sing in his genre with Rascal Flatts’ “I Won’t Let Go.” It’s funny how when you’re waiting so long for something it can often disappoint. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t a patch on the original. The vocals didn’t always stick, and again performance let him down. He might have been singing country, but he still seemed uncomfortable.

Again Johnny Ruffo came off as imitative with Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” It was fun and with the exception of the falsetto the vocals were actually impressive considering his fancy footwork. However I’m still not getting a sense of who he really is. I know the music he enjoys, but where’s Johnny in it all?

Frankly I didn’t care which way it went this week. The judges were split and so the decision was made by the public. It seems Mitchell’s bad attitude has grated on them too, because despite better vocals last night they sent him packing. At least he went out doing what he loves. Now if he could just find a little humility perhaps he can continue to do so in the industry.

This week The X Factor contestants were celebrating homegrown tunes with their Aussie Anthems special.

Mitchell Callaway kicked things off with “Throw Your Arms Around Me.” Again it was strange to see Nat picking a non-country song for her act, but I thought this suited him down to the ground. It’s the best I’ve heard him sing since the auditions, although I felt a real wall between him and the audience. Even when he was touching the hands of the audience it felt very uneasy. He needs to become more comfortable as a performer if he’s going to go much further in this competition.

Johnny Ruffo shot for the moon in taking on Delta Goodrem’s “Lost Without You.” Sadly the song exposed all his vocal shortcomings. He certainly tried, but he never got there. In parts it was bearable, but it was also flat and tuneless far too often. I admired his intensity, but it had more than a bit of Eurovision cheese to it.

Three Wishez gave what I think was the performance of the season so far with John Farnham’s “You’re the Voice.” This was just incredible. It had so much joy and patriotism; it brought a tear to my eye. Last week when Ronan lost YMS I wondered whether the competition was all over for him. With this though, Three Wishez showed they’ve got what it takes to win this thing. More of this please!
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