|By Glenn Meads|
Superstar blog: Who does the Lord want?
Date: 20 July 2012
Another night; another episode of Superstar. I think I must be going mad as I was on a train yesterday and I heard a woman say "When's it gonna end?" to her friend. I almost piped up Wednesday and it'll get better before then. Then it dawned on me, she was referring to the rain.
It is becoming clearer as the days drift on by who the Lord wants to win. The other judges seem to have been primed too. This is not unusual, of course. On X Factor they discuss various bottom two scenarios before they happen and discuss which they would vote before a song has been sung.
Now, I know because this is a musical theatre show, many of you are thinking it's not a Simon Cowell show. But, underneath it it - this is X Factor's quieter, and shyer little brother - who happens to like musical theatre but doesn't want anyone to know. So he sings pop music all day, instead. This is a long winded way of explaining why there's so much pop in this show.
On Twitter, many of you think that the winner has almost been 'cast' already. Narratives have certainly been set as Jon and Nathan have reality show roles. Nathan has toned his act down yet still is referred to as cocky. Daniel Boys has the same style of narrative delivered to him. It meant some viewers, including myself never warmed to him. I then went to see Avenue Q and found him to be a terrific and engaging performer.
I felt the same way about Connie Fisher - cold on the Maria shows but sublime on stage. But, as much as many of us may get snobby about these shows - as soon as The Voice ditched some of the bad singers, didn't have the judges arguing and focused on the talent, not the drama - viewers turned it off. So Superstar is caught behind the fishes and loaves here (apologies - cliche alert!). Jon has been built up and is now being told he keeps doing the same thing night after night. He is given songs and he sings them. Not sure what else he 'can' do.
So, to quote Amanda Holden, who is your "Personal Jesus?" Who do you want to win? The relentless singing night after night is now taking its toll on these performers and you do think to yourself why was this not a weekly format? I know the Olympics is coming in a week. But this has been known for years now, so couldn't Superstar have run for 6-8 weeks prior? Don't get me started on the final - I know I have ranted before but a Wednesday?
Baby Jesus - Jeff sings "Satisfaction" and I feel like I have eaten some fast food. It's filling at the time but once the song has finished, I am left wanting. During the performance Dawn frowns, almost as if she has borrowed this particular look from the Lord. I can see why, as beneath all of the swagger, this is 'karaoke Jagger.' This song is supposed to be sexy but Jeff walks up and down the stage like he's pacing, waiting for a bus. I know they don't have long to prepare for these songs but that's the nature of these shows and some deliver consistently, others don't.
David - who I have referred to as a Manc due to his accent, is in fact from Warrington. (thanks tweeters). Moving swiftly on - he sang "Nothing Compares 2 U." For a while I have not seen what the judges see but he really has started to read into the meaning of a song and perform it. To me Rory sings a song and David performs it like a mini play. His interpretation and phrasing is getting much better too. So, a thumbs up here. Jason tells him to bring it down a level and put a bit of himself in there. To be fair, he had been doing that with "You Got The Love" and it got him in the bottom two. So, it's no wonder we now have a room full of confused.com Jesi.
Rory and David should have swapped songs as tonight he has the look of Sinead O'Connor about him. According to the judges - Nothing Compares to Him. But to me, he fails to interpret a song beyond a Rock of Ages style performance. I always feel like I have wandered into a gig halfway through. He is better tonight, as during his rendition of "Fix You" - he does connect with the material. But, I don't see an actor here; just a singer. A very good one but someone more suited to BGT or X Factor and I don't mean this an insult - as the boy can sing. But could I gamble my £60 to see him lead an Arena show. And, don't worry I'm not going to say does he have "arena-bility?"
Nathan is a funny fellow. On Wednesday's show he did demure and had his hair tied back like Kate Monster from Avenue Q. It's like he takes the judges literally and washes his face with swarfega as soon as they say "You need to strip it back." They should maybe add a "not literally" - else the poor bloke will be back stage taking his skin off and wander on stage as Jack Skellington. Now, they are dubbing him cocky again. He has bags of talent but I suppose why some may not like him - is that he comes across as someone who is trying too hard. When the judges give him feedback - he looks pensive, desperate for them to say "we love you." When they don't he looks hurt and dejected. He needs to realise - he is a great singer but on these shows, often the guy or gal who acts 'natural' wins the show. But I say - cast him in Rock of Ages once Shayne Ward has left. He'd make a great Stacee Jaax.
Ben was my favourite at one time. I still like him and can see why the Judges adore him. His "Fast Car" was a soothing yet intense performance. Intense because you feel he is doing everything that's expected of him but that he needs to let go sometimes. What I mean is - let the song take you there, instead of becoming a singing Sat Nav. It's almost as if he has a machine syaing to him "On the left, put some emotion in." He does that and then it says: "At the roundabout crouch down and do the puppy look." If he can let go more, he could be Jesus. (I love typing that - it's not said enough in the show!).
Niall is at the end of his tether - he looks tired and if I were him, I'd have gone by now. He has been lumbered with some truly awful songs. He sings the line "I'll go wherever you go." I'm going home soon, so maybe he will go too if he's a follower. Why they make him carry his mic when headsets are cheap these days is beyond me. It's safe to say he's off - if he's in the bottom two.
Jon has toned his act down considerably and he can deliver a ballad with style and grace. I almost want him to come on deliver a slow song with intenstiy and just when he has the judges in the palm of his hand........out come the maracas and he launches into "Forget You" - surrounded by muppets. This is obviously a fantasy and I need help! It's mainly because they refer to his cabaret background constantly. He's a jobbing singer - what's wrong with that? He's toned it all down but you get the feeling as he keeps getting through - they are now starting to freak. I always remember Cam Mack's face when Jodie Prenger was crowned the peoples' Nancy. You can imagine his meeetings afterwards "Blackpool in the West End. What are we going to do?"
Roger is last up and does "Rolling in the Deep." He brings energy to the song and sings like his life depends on it - he's a tryer this one. It would be better if he was dressed as Simba chasing a deer but even so - it's a valliant effort. This guy will get work as a result of this show. But I say stop the process and give him a graduation present - the role of Mufasa. Then he can roll in the deep every night in a show he knows really well. What's not to like?
Amanda says: "Next up comes the night I dread." Every night is Superstar night so does she dread that? Ah, someone in my ear has said that should have read: "Next up comes the part of the night I dread." She means the sing off - awkward moment no: 500, along with Jason saying the word "Rogered." Bring back - the "Too Many Broken Hearts" Jason, please.
Jake Shears and his Scissor Sisters are on next singing "Baby Come Home to Me" and you realise what a fine show it would make if he was Andrew's Jesus. Opposite Tim Minchin, this would be brilliant - imagine his exits - Gloria Swanson moments, a plenty! Anyway, back to reality tv land - we have a sing off - it's Rory and Niall.
Niall goes home and the Lord promises him work. If only I were so lucky, I'm due some shifts in Argos as soon as the public has picked its Jesus.
- by Glenn Meads
Any opinions expressed above do not represent the view of Whatsonstage.com nor any of its staff or contributors beyond the bylined author.
|Glenn has covered the Manchester theatre scene for Whatsonstage.com since 2001. Since then he has edited whatsonstage.com/manchester and he currently edits the North West site, as well as providing news, reviews, features and competitions.|
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