Last week the Girls category faced the X Factor Malta‘s Chair Challenge, this week it was the Boys turn. Eleven survivors from the Bootcamp round faced the judges, but there were only six seats to take them through to the next round. Who got those six places? Let’s take a look!
While all four judges could comment on the performances, the decision in who gets a seat could only be made by category judge Ira Losco. The two-time Maltese Eurovision singer could potentially be selecting the artist who will follow her to Eurovision 2019.
First up was Norbert Bondin, who had previously spoken of his struggle living with a verbal stammer. But just like in his audition, he gave a flawless performance. Norbert performed the Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody”. Both the audience and the judges liked what they heard and category judge Ira had no trouble deciding to give Norbert a seat.
Next was Miguel Bonello who tackled Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good”. The judges noted that it wasn’t quite the right song choice for the young singer, but Ira was still willing to take a chance and give Miguel a seat.
Isaac Mercieca was next to face Ira. He performed Billie Eilish and Khalid’s recent single “Lovely”. The judging panel said they weren’t sure if Isaac was ready for the X Factor but he was determined to improve. Ira took a chance and gave him a seat.
Next was MESC 2018 star Matthew Anthony Caruana, who had undergone a significant makeover since the Bootcamp. He was now rocking silver hair, amber-tinted aviator shades along with his trademark hat. He was also using the stage name Matt Blxck (pronounced ‘black’ not ‘blcksck’). Mr Blxck performed Ariana Grande’s “Side to Side” and… it wasn’t quite right. It felt like he was trying too hard to be a stand-out pop star and didn’t put enough effort into his vocals. Ira also wasn’t impressed and sent him home without a seat.
Aleandro Pace Tahir was the next contestant and he brought joy to the stage. Aleandro performed Outkast’s “Hey Ya” and had the whole audience bopping along. The kimono-clad Ira gave the gold-sequinned Aleandro a seat.
Claudio Zammit was next, and he had the challenge to lift his game from the sleepy folk-pop style he’d shown in previous performances. Claudio tackled Alice Merton’s impossibly catchy “No Roots”. While he still seemed a little reserved, he had loosened up a little and Ira was happy to give him a seat.
Next up, Owen Leuellen. He performed his own song, with rapped verses and a sung chorus. The song’s powerful fighting lyrics — and a shoutout to his mum — delivered one of the biggest performances of the night. While Owen might be unconventional in terms of the X Factor, Ira was happy to give him a seat.
MESC 2018 act Aidan Cassar was next with Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville’s ballad “Don’t Know Much”. Aidan had previously been criticised for all the vocal tics he brought to his performance. He had made the effort to tone down, but there was still a fair bit of showboating going on. The judges talked about his potential and Ira agreed, giving him a seat. But this meant someone else would have to give up their seat. Sadly Ira called Aleandro’s name, meaning the musical magician was going home.
Next was Luke Chappell. After wowing the judges with a self-written song at his audition, he performed Ed Sheeran’s “Photograph” in his bid for a chair. Despite some issues with his voice, Luke still delivered a good performance. He was praised for his emotional performance and Ira gave him a seat. Sadly, this meant Isaac Mercieca had to give up his chair.
James Mifsud was the next, delivering a camera-ready look. He performed Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song”, but had obvious trouble getting the higher notes. Judge Alexandra said the untrained singer needed to make some improvements. Ira wasn’t convinced either and sent him home.
The final performance came from Mark Anthony Bartolo, who performed Sam Smith’s James Bond theme song “Writing’s on the Wall”. Mark Anthony has a rich, expressive voice, but when he performs everything is turned up to 11, much in the style of a street performer who needs to always be loud to grab the attention of passersby. Judge Alexandra called him out about his lack of dynamics and he got super defensive, which suggests this might be a tension point if he makes it through to the live shows.
Ira gave Mark Anthony a seat, but couldn’t decide who to swap him with. This means — oh yes! — it was time for a sing-off. Claudio Zammit and Miguel Bonello were called on to sing for a seat. Ira listened and made her decision: Claudio got to keep his seat, while Miguel was sent on his way.
So, going through to Judges Houses will be Aidan Cassar, Claudio Zammit, Luke Chappell, Mark Anthony Bartolo, Norbert Bondin and Owen Leuellen. They’ll be battling it out in coming weeks for one of the few places in the live shows.
The X Factor Malta Chair Challenge round continues next Sunday, with the Groups and Overs categories still to face the six seats of fate.
What do you think? Who do you think should make it to the live shows? Should any of the dismissed singers be brought back? Leave your comments below!
I don’t know what the hip hop scene in Malta is like but Owen sounds like he hasn’t heard any hip hop made in the past 15 years. He has a dated style – sounding like Eminem in the early 2000s. But the way everyone on the show reacts you’d think he was the Maltese answer to Kendrick Lamar. But Malta’s Eurovision entries are always about 5 years behind pop trends – not surprising they’re not on the ball with hip hop as well.
I like Mark Anthony’s voice, done. His image and attitude needs work, even though he might be struggling, you never talk to a judge like that.