Bankrupt Ub40 star Brian Travers is now playing the group's hits in a tribute band. The saxophonist has sold millions of records worldwide with the hugely successful reggae band, but Travers was declared bankrupt in 2011, alongside bandmates Jimmy Brown, Terence Oswald and Norman Hassan, following an investigation into their failed record label, Dep International.
The Red Red Wine hitmakers axed an upcoming tour to finish their new album, so Travers got in touch with tribute act UB42 lead singer Pete Ryder and joined the 'fake' band at a pub in Ipswich, England over the weekend (06-07Jul13).
Travers insists he is having fun playing with the tribute act, and wants to perform with other bands, telling Britain's The Sun, "I know of about 20 UB40 tribute bands around the world and it's my ambition to play with all of them. I can't think of a better way of thanking them for celebrating the music of UB40."
Ryder, who fronts the tribute group, adds, "They had a tour that was cancelled recently because their new album isn't ready yet so he had a bit of spare time and he decided he would come and join us."
And just like that, it's time for bootcamp — round two! I'm going to keep this one short(ish) and simple since I thought we'd narrow it down to the final 24 at the end of the episode and we didn't, so I'm mighty pissed. Also because I have a fever, so excuse me if none of this make sense. But this is The X Factor, so when does it ever? Life is chaos, and there is no God. Carry on, then.
We began at Miami's Mondrian hotel which, if it's anything like its Los Angeles counterpart, means house music, $15 cocktails, ping-pong and luxurious all-white suites with tons of amenities, like cocaine mirrors. It's really fun, you should totally stay there. Britney Spears does all the time.
Tonight the assignment was torturous for the artists, meaning it was kind of fun for the viewers: They all had to compete in pairs, singing the same song, that they would choose themselves. "It's a nightmare, this task," said Simon Cowell with glee. At the end of the day Next week 24 acts would remain, all of them headed to the exquisite rented mansions they call the Judges' Houses. "Forget about friendships, forget about nerves," Simon said. "It's one-on-one." Britney agreed: "The battle is on for a place at the judges' homes." Well, alright then.
Tara Simon vs. Jennel Garcia: "I'm not the girl who has to try hard single every time," said Tara Simon, before the battle began. Um, I think you're supposed to? Tara basically picked a soft folk ballad to totally f*** over rocker Jennel Garcia, who is about ten years younger than her. It was mean, and I hope it eventually bites her in the ass. The song was "Landslide," and Tara looked like a smarmy biotch when the judges were a little bored by Jennel's understated performance. Then she came out and vamped it up, X-Tina style, while Jennel looked completely miserable. "I don't know why you chose that song, either of you," Simon said. "I'm going to guess, Tara, you chose the song. I feel really bad for you, Jennel." Winner: Draw.
Carly Rose Sonenclar vs. Beatrice Miller: The adorable tweens sang "Pumped Up Kicks." Beatrice's voice was beautiful and understated, while Carly goes went for a more soulful approach. I thought they were both good, and Simon agreed. Winner: Carly, by a hair.
Vino Allen vs David Correy: The two friends/roommates sang "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye. Their voices are so different, so it was tough for me to judge, but L.A. Reid was having a blast during Vino's rendition. The intense Vino thought he screwed up, and totally melted down offstage. "I just f***ked up, seriously," he wailed. The judges (and his friend David, who actually seems really sweet) disagreed, but Britney wasn't happy with his tantrum. "He scares me a little bit," she said. Winner: Vino, despite the tantrum.
Diamond White vs. Dinah Jane Hansen: Diamond and Dinah, who is 16 but looks 25, sang "What Doesn't Kill You" by Kelly Clarkson. Dinah was a bit too... breathy for my taste. "I loved them both," Britney said, even though Dinah apparently messed up the beginning of the lyrics. Winner: Diamond.
Sister C vs. Lauren Jauregui: The soloist and the sister-trio both sang "These Arms of Mine." Britney thought Sister C were annoying and likable, while L.A. found their harmonies to be "special." Simon agreed. "I think it's safe to say that you two girls don't want them, and they don't want you," Simon said. Winner: Sister C.
Brandon Hassan vs. Reed Deming (AKA, the "Next-Bieber-Off"): Both boys sang a boring rendition of One Republic's "Secrets." They both impressed the judges, but... Winner: I don't care.
Julia Bullock vs. Ally Brooke: Both girls, who we hadn't seen much of until now, sang "Knockin' on Heaven's Door." The judges said there was one clear winner, and I agree. Winner: Ally Brooke.
Willie Jones vs. Tate Stevens: Willie and Tate, who is about 20 years Willie's senior, sang a country rendition of "Nobody Knows," and Willie forgot the words. Like, all of them. It was awful, because I really like him. Tate was good, if a little bit boring. L.A. asked Willie if he knew the song, and he said he did not — Tate had picked it because he knew it in the '90s, which is, ugh, such a d*** move. Willie was super classy about it, too, but the judges could see right through it. "I think Tate knew what he was doing," Britney said. "I think there was an agenda," Demi Lovato agreed. Winner: Tate, because he knew the words.
InTENsity survivor Arin Ray vs. Normani Hamilton: Arin and Normani — the only boy/girl battle we saw — formed a romantic bond, but InTENsity survivor Arin was careful not to let things get too far. "Maybe afterwards something can happen, but I've gotta work right now," Arin said. So, no hanky-panky behind the scenes (right). They sang "What Makes You Beautiful." Normani has a pretty voice, but she didn't wow me. Arin did better and will probably get through, because he's got that "next Usher" thing going on. Not Chris Brown. I will never say Chris Brown. Winner: Arin.
Jillian Jensen vs. Latasha Robinson: Bullying-victim Jillian seemed very intimated by Latasha going in, while Latasha was pure bravado. They sang "Stay" by Sugarland, but Latasha totally lost it and forgot the words. "I'm sorry, I can't do it," she cried. Jillian then sang beautifully, while Latasha broke down in the background. It was sad, but we've been told to root for Jillian since episode one, so it wasn't that sad. "I'm so sorry, I knew all the words back there," Latasha cried, when all was said and done. "She really did," said Jillian. "She really did a great job with it." The judges just sort of... stared at her, and Latasha knew it was over. Sad. Jillian was really sweet and supportive, so that's just one more reason to root for her. Britney was in tears at this point. Winner: Jillian.
Freddie Combs vs. Jessie Bryant: Both of them forgot the words. Aww. "Simon just looked like he was disgusted," Jessie said. "All my eggs was right here, man," he said. Winner: Neither.
Paige Thomas vs. CeCe Frey: The main event! Before the big battle, we were treated to a shot of CeCe painting her signature leopard print all over her legs. The ladies sang "Secrets" by One Republic, which Paige was NOT happy about. I felt for her — but you have to be more assertive about your song selection if you're in a contest for $5 million. The judges asked both of them why they deserved to move on. "I don't fit anywhere else except for the spotlight," Paige said, already in tears. "I want to succeed, as bad as I want to breathe," CeCe added. "I want this like the very oxygen that is in my lungs... I will make a believer out of you." CeCe cried fake-looking, Lindsay Bluth-style tears. God, I love her. Paige did well despite not knowing the song, but CeCe was just a little bit better... again. "They look exhausted," Simon said, as the girls walked offstage. "I've never seen anyone look so tired in my life." Britney liked Paige, but Simon liked both of them. "If they have to choose one of the two of us, it has to be me because she messed up," CeCe said. "I didn't — that's great." Winner: CeCe.So, X Factor fans — who do you think won the battles? Who will fight it out at the judges' house round? Let us know in the comments!
Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna
[PHOTO CREDIT: FOX]
'The X Factor' Bootcamp Recap: CeCe Frey and a Ballad of Broken Dreams
'The X Factor' Recap: A Very Special Episode
'The X Factor' Recap: Miss Independent
Previously, on The X Factor: L.A. Reid got out of his chair. A mentally unstable Britney Spears fanatic had his life ruined on national television. Simon Cowell ogled someone's butt. Talent was discovered, maybe.
This week, we kicked off in Kansas City, Missouri. Simon had the day off, because he contracted chlamydia from last week's failed contestant Alexa Berman, or maybe he just had a cold. Either way, he was replaced with a generic Irish man named Louis Walsh. Google tells me that the very same Louis Walsh discovered Westlife and Boyzone, so color me impressed. It was also L.A.'s birthday, and Demi Lovato was very fake excited about it. She ordered him a cake, and Britney sang the happy birthday song. "Oh, that's such a great idea!" Demi exclaimed. I know. Totes original.
First up this week was Rizzloe Jones, an 18-year-old ADD case who referred to himself in the third person and made Blake Shelton look edgy. He was really nerdy and practically albino, so when he told L.A. that he was going to freestyle rap, the famed founder of Justin Bieber was understandably skeptical:
But L.A. gave him a chance, asking him to freestyle about X Factor, and somehow it went over well. Like, there's absolutely no way that he made this thing up on the spot, but Demi was still really excited when he incorporated both her name and marshmallows into his beats:
"It was really good," L.A. said. "Rizzloe Jones — remember that name," Louis added. We probably won't after next week. Britney compared him to Vanilla Ice, which I think she meant as a compliment. So, he's through. This is a $5 million talent competition.
Next: Cece Frey and the ballad of Deangelo Wallace
Next up was 20-year-old mail clerk Cece Frey, who tried her best to pull evil Jedi mind tricks on her competition. Her methods were questionable: She asked a boy-girl platonic singing duo if they liked each other, like, more than friends, and fake-flirted with Rizzloe. She thought she was Shakespeare's Iago, but ended up being more like Leroux's Christine — because despite the terrible fake face tattoo, she was actually very talented. Cece started out with "Unchained Melody" and it was all wrong, but luckily she kept a copy of "Ain't No Other Man" by XTina in her back pocket. Her version was sexy and vocally stunning, and Demi instantly developed a totally reciprocated girl crush. This was all well and good, but what most excited me about Cece was that she was the first contender to utter reality TV's most historically ubiquitous phrase: "I'm not in this thing to make friends." You guys, I hope that Cece goes really far in this competition. We didn't get a bitch last season, and it just wasn't fair.
Then we met this season's Josh Krajcik, a 39-year-old named Vino Allen. I was immediately drawn to him, because his name means "wine" in both Spanish and Italian, which is something I drink a lot of to get through early audition episodes of The X Factor. He sang "Trouble" by Ray LaMontagne, and it was beautiful, soulful, and thoroughly enjoyable. The judges were pleased, and he was through. So, if you like the maths, that was three yesses in a row — meaning that someone had to f*** up, and soon.
That someone ended up being 19-year-old Deangelo Wallace, who purposefully acted horrible in order to get on TV. Congratulations, you did it. He also spoke in the third person, and started off by saying he was better than Britney and the rest of the judges. If you're interested in my general feelings about Deangelo, please see below:
Ugh. I'll keep going. He "sang" something by beloved international humanitarian/feminist Chris Brown, and the judges dramatically left the arena to protest his general awfulness. "I think they worship the devil, all of them," he said as he marched offstage. Then he stole a body-mic that was apparently worth $3,000, and was arrested for a misdemeanor. Moving on.
Soon we met 37-year-old road worker Tate Stevens. Tate wore a cowboy hat, so we knew right away that he was going to sing a country song. The judges asked Tate what he would do with $5 million (make a record), and Tate said that he would have "a big-ass party" — and all of us would be invited. From the looks of things, L.A. was really excited at the prospect of being invited to Tate's party.
Tate sang "Anything Goes" by Randy Houser. It was good, but is anyone who watches this show actually going to vote for this kind of music? I know X Factor prides itself on its diverse kaleidoscope of talent, but Tate seems too niche for this kind of competition. Anyway. "You're my favorite so far," Britney gushed. "Holy cow, yes!" Tate, have fun learning how to dance at bootcamp.
Then we were back in San Francisco, again. "Is Simon still sick?" Demi wondered. Her concern/this timeline would have been believable if everyone wasn't wearing the same outfit and hairstyle from both San Francisco episodes last week. Anywho, back in San Fran we met a group called Citizen, aged 21-25. One or all of them was probably named Justin. "The music lives within all of us," claimed Justin # 2. The boys sang "Don't Let Go" by En Vogue, and Simon really loved it:
"I didn't get it," Simon said. "It was ten years outdated. It's like you're in a time machine." A valid critique, but this is coming from the guy who prides himself on the creation of One Direction. Regardless, Citizen was through.
13-year-old Diamond White had a baby voice and a stripper name, but she was also really poor and we heard her sob story, so I knew she'd do okay. Call it the Rachel Crow defense. "My dad doesn't really, like, associate himself with me," she said. "So yeah, I don't really have a dad." She sang "It's a Man's World," and it was pretty good. Not the best we've seen, but good enough for boot camp.
Then we journeyed back to Austin, Texas, where we were treated to a montage of actually talented singers. First was 19-year-old Ally Brooke, who claimed to have big dreams — Ally wanted to sing, act, have her own clothing line, create a perfume, own a TARDIS, solve the Goldbach conjecture, sit on the Iron Throne, and figure out the meaning of Tree of Life. She sang "On My Knees" by Jaci Velasquez, and was through.
Also through were 16-year-old Brandon Hassan, 15-year-old Normani Hamilton, teen to 20-something girl group Sister C ("We are all sisters, and our names start with a C") and cute-boy duo Jeremiah and Josh. Britney really enjoyed the inoffensively handsome J&J performance:
"I wish you could wake me up in the morning," she said. Simon was offended by Britney's vocal infidelity: "Finacee in the house!" he said, as the camera flashed to an indifferent Sam Trammell Jason Trawick. She meant like an alarm clock, bee-tee-dubs.
Finally, we met the highlight of the night: 42-year-old morbidly obese contestant Panda Ross. Panda was wearing a gold necklace that said "single," just for Simon. I needs to get me one of those. For Simon. Panda had also just been released from the local hospital — where she suffered from a case of "the pneumonia" — yesterday, and she busted herself out of there just to make it to the audition.
"It's Panda, like the bear," she told the judges when she marched onstage. Panda then explained that her mother was in jail when she had her, and that said mother's cell-mate was a white lady. Therefore, the name Panda totally made sense. She was sweet, silly, and enthusiastic, and her rendition of Sam Cooke’s "Bring It On Home" was a soulful highlight of the evening. The judges gleefully took in her performance:
... Then let her through. Unfortunately for Panda, that's when the true drama began. She left the stage in a state of post-performance ecstasy, but it was short-lived: Her pneumonia cough made its sneaky, triumphant return. "Don't let Simon see this," she wailed, as the ambulance carried her off in a stretcher. Too late, Panda. We're still rooting for you.
Capping off the night was 22-year-old Jessica Espinoza, from the south side of San Antonio. She sang Pink's "Nobody Knows," and the judges loved it. "I honestly don't even know where to start, because you have, like, a sparkle in your eye that you only see in people that have the X factor," Demi said. Yes, but was she through? "Um, duh."
So, there you have it: Hours four and five out of nine in this X Factor live audition madness. Bear with us, here.
Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna
[PHOTO CREDIT: Fox]
'The X Factor' Premiere Part 2: You Can't Be Pretty And Talented
'X Factor' Premiere: It's Britney, [And She's Kind Of A] Bitch
'The X Factor': A Deep Dive
Green Zone is a story we’ve already heard shot in a manner we’ve already seen and starring Matt Damon in a role he’s already played. Remember those WMDs that were never found in Iraq and later exposed to be the invention of a dubious and poorly-vetted informant? Remember the misguided and hideously botched attempt at establishing democracy after the fall of Saddam and the violent prolonged insurgency that ensued? If you’ve been away from the television for the past hour and somehow managed to forget any of these details Green Zone is here to remind you.
Damon plays Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller an Army weapons inspector whose frustration over repeatedly coming up empty in his search for Iraqi WMDs leads him on a quest to track down and expose the people responsible for leading him (and us) down that infamously bogus path. Though his hand-to-hand skills are a notch below Jason Bourne’s Miller’s single-mindedness moral certainty and permanent expression of square-jawed defiance — always threatening another “How do you like them apples?” rebuke — in the face of an insidious multi-level government conspiracy are essentially equivalent to those of Damon’s Bourne trilogy soulmate.
And like Bourne his most dangerous adversary isn’t found on the battlefront but rather within the government he once served so proudly. As Miller delves ever deeper into the Case of the Faulty WMD Intelligence Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear) the duplicitous arrogant Defense Department bureaucrat in charge of U.S. operations in Iraq summarily relieves him of his post. (Hint: the better dressed a Green Zone character is the more sinister his ambitions.) But Miller remains undeterred and he goes rogue to locate the CIA informant “Magellan ” a formerly high-ranking Iraqi official whose supposed confirmation of Saddam’s nuclear ambitions served as the basis for U.S. invasion.
We know how the story ends. Green Zone’s pervasive overarching sense of deja vu is accentuated by director — and veteran Bourne helmer — Paul Greengrass who employs the trademark hand-held super-shakycam style which was so fresh and inventive in 2004 but now feels stale and predictable. (Admittedly my aversion to Greengrass’ approach was no doubt heightened by a previous night’s viewing of Roman Polanski’s excellent The Ghost Writer a political thriller as subtle and precise and finely tuned as Green Zone is ham-fisted and haphazard — and which also uses the phantom WMD controversy to far greater narrative effect.)
Green Zone culminates in essentially a violent footrace between Miller and the Army Special Forces as they scour a heavily-armed insurgent stronghold to find Magellan with Miller hoping to secure his potentially damning testimony before the Army can silence him for good. The climactic sequence for all I could tell was either shot in Damon’s backyard culled from Bourne trilogy deleted scenes or assembled from scattered YouTube clips. This punishingly chaotic often incoherent and ultimately exhausting approach to storytelling isn’t cinema verite; it’s dementia pugilistica.