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Sam Bailey – Tracking a class act on X-Factor

Sam Bailey the unexpected class act of X-Factor 2013

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I’ve never written about X-factor before but this year it has been very interesting to watch one persons journey through the show towards the final. X-Factor is an interesting TV show, and ultimately it’s about stereotypes. I always get the impression it’s a battle between the producers and record company execs behind the show and the voting public. They often have different views which makes for occasionally interesting TV when the contestants and the public veer strongly in a direction that the producers don’t really want to go. The show’s producers must have loved Jedward from a performance and ratings perspective but the record companies must have been in a panic!

What the producers want?

Ideally the producers want to reveal the next teen singing sensation, the person the think will appeal to a mostly young audience as they think that’s their sales market. The irony is that all the other demographics actually watch the show. It’s a family show and no doubt that affects the voting each week.
This explains why someone like Sam Bailey is in the running to win the show. Family’s, kids, parents and grandparents alike will all love Sam Bailey. She can really sing and she looks great on stage. It’s a visual transformation that people love, ordinary over 25 working class mum getting a unique chance at stardom.

Sam Callahan – perfect popstar image?

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It also explains why Sam Callahan survived so long on the show when perhaps when he should never have been in the final 12. Visually he was a record companies dream, looked great, would appeal to youngsters and upwards alike and no doubt technology could have auto-tuned him to perfection for the record companies. Unfortunately while Sam is able to sing somewhat it was rapidly clear he does not have the vocal talents of many on the show and ultimately and correctly that led to him leaving.

Luke Friend’s interesting voice

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At the other end of the scale we have Luke Friend, visually interesting and with a voice that while not unique (anyone remember Seal?) stands out and he can sing a bit too. Potentially he’s the new choice for the record companies. He doesn’t have the candy floss appeal that Sam Callahan did but he is interesting and clearly is a musician with ideas. Ending up in the sing off in the semi final is proof that Luke maybe is quite what the public want, having said that I think choice of song is very important for Luke to succeed.

Nicholas McDonald – x-factor winner in waiting or not?

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Nicholas McDonald is a bit of a square peg for me. He sings well but appears quite one dimensional. He is only 16 and perhaps the days of teenage singing sensations are a thing of the past. Today’s media is in our face all the time – there is no time to breathe between seeing an act numerous times and frequent exposure like that unless they are very talented is likely to dampen audience enthusiasm and this is potentially what is happening to Nicholas. He’d have been better entering the show in a few years time when he is a more mature performer who can adjust to the demands of a show like X-factor. Nonetheless he has to be a possible for the record companies – he can sing and they can market him but probably with more effort then they’ d have required with Sam Callahan or Luke Friend. Despite this Nicholas sailed into the final after what wasn’t his best performance so who knows! After all we don’t know the exact differences between the votes. The producers clearly do and I wonder do they update the judges on singer votes after each week?

Hannah Barrett – a gifted voice

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I do feel sorry for Hannah Barrett and here’s an example of where things don’t make sense. Hannah is clearly an outstanding vocal talent, she’s truly gifted and we’ve probably not seen a singer with her type of voice for a long time. However as previously pointed out, today’s deal is about the whole package and Hannah for whatever reason did not capture the public’s heart, which is a real shame. Talent and the personality behind it can take time to develop and record companies never seem to learn, they don’t like investing in long-term talent like Hannah could be. It was a pity to see the judges cast her aside in favour of less impressive singers.

Rough Copy – X-Factor strength in numbers

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Rough Copy played to their main strength in that there are 3 of them. None of them are good enough to stand on their own as an individual performer, perhaps with the exception of Joe. He may have enough charisma and vocal ability to perform on his own. As a group they have worked very hard and turned out good performances every week. It will be interesting to see if they get a contract and if they can make it work for them.

Sam Bailey – X-factor Star Act 2013

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That brings me to Sam Bailey, she is by far the best act on X-Factor this year, she has enough of all the ingredients to make her a success, the only real question is whether or not that is the kind of success the record companies wish to exploit. In a harsh mind she doesn’t fit their stereotype of what a female singer should be, young, slim very beautiful and able to sing. But she is marketable, she can look great and of course she can sing amazingly well. Sam can put soul into a song which some of the other contestants can’t yet do because they are too young.

When the show started it was clear the producers didn’t think Sam could make it and they presented her in as drab a fashion as they could, mumsy and little overweight and quite ordinary. You can see this clearly in the progression of outfits that Sam has worn through the show. As the talent has dwindled someone has realised (reflected in the voting perhaps?) that Sam Bailey can win and they shifted up a style gear and dressed her in a more classy style for her performances, someone is packaging her up for victory.

That’s as it should be, after all as Gary Barlow frequently reminds us this is a singing competition.

So Go Sam Bailey!

In my next post I’ll talk a little more about the dresses Sam has been wearing and why they really work for her from a style perspective.

Sophie Davis

Quality plus size clothing and designer fashion For Women Size 14 – 28

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Lisa Riley Strictly Come Dancing

Strictly Come Dancing – Lisa Riley – A New Dance Star

Strictly Come Dancing – It’s more than dancing for Lisa Riley

Strictly Come Dancing is only a few weeks into the latest series and the show continues to capture our imagination. If you haven’t seen the show Lisa Riley is taking part in this series. If you don’t know who Lisa Riley is, she’s a popular british actress well known for her roles in Emmerdale and for presenting “You’ve been framed”.

More recently we’ve seen Lisa portray a dark character in “Scott and Bailey”. This serious role allowed Lisa to display the full extent of her acting skills and proved for me at least that she is an amazing actress. Seeing her on Strictly Come Dancing you wouldn’t believe it is the same person.

Lisa has perhaps taken the Strictly Come Dancing judges and the public by surprise. Lisa Riley is a plus size lady and few people might have rated her as a having a chance to win the competition. But Lisa is a revelation, she dances very well and easily puts to shame the flawed image generally portrayed by the media that being large somehow means being second best.

Comment about Lisa’s look

Lisa has looked amazing in each of the dances she has done so far. Last night’s Hollywood Theme Night was no exception. Lisa danced the Jive with Robin to “Hanky Panky” tune from the Dick Tracy movie. She wore a short, frilly dress with lace sleeves teamed with sequined tights. Lisa had her hair done in a “Big Hair” style that suited her outfit and the dance perfectly.

Lisa Riley’s dancing

Lisa Riley’s dancing last night on strictly come dancing was no different to the first two evenings. It was exceptional and this is probably the one of the things about the show that people may have been most surprised by. Stereotyped perceptions kick in and people probably didn’t expect Lisa to be able to dance particularly well because she is a large lady. On the contrary, Lisa moved very well and is clearly a good dancer, dispelling this notion. She has excellent timing and rhythm and left us in no doubt about her capabilities as a dancer. Lisa and Robin finished third last night with their Jive. On the overall leader board after three weeks they are joint third with 11 points.

Lisa and Robin on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing

Lisa and Robin Dancing The Jive

Views of the Strictly Come Dancing Judges

There is one element of the show I find somewhat irritating. Some of the judges comments have been slightly patronising as if they can’t believe a larger lady is capable of dancing and dancing really well. The fact that Lisa Riley is a larger lady is of no consequence whatsoever and the judges should not continue to draw attention to this.

Lisa’s personality

Lisa’s personality is a huge contributing factor to her ability to be a success in a show of this nature. This was clear in the strictly come dancing training session clips. Throughout those clips Lisa was bright and bubbly and having fun while working through the routines. Her positive attitude carries through to the dance floor and last night she performed with a big smile on her face throughout, clearly enjoying herself.

So who is going to win Strictly this year?

I think Lisa Riley has a very good chance of winning Strictly Come Dancing. However there is stiff competition in the form of Louis Smith. An Olympic athlete, no less. Louis and Flavia performed a dance routine from the film Dirty Dancing. The dance contains quite a challenging lift at the end of the routine. In their training clips much was made of this lift prior to Louis and Flavia’s performance. During their performance they executed the lift flawlessly and with apparent ease, as you’d expect from an Olympic gymnast. The BBC probably added a little drama to make their dance a little more interesting than it was. Having said that, technically their overall dance was excellent and probably deserved more than the 30 marks that put them in second place for the evening.

There are a number of weeks to go and there are plenty of other strong competitors in the mix, but wouldn’t it be special if Lisa goes on to win Strictly Come Dancing? I do hope so. Lisa’s positive approach and obvious ability are currently doing much to combat the negative attention that plus size women get in the UK press. So watch Strictly Come Dancing each week and vote for Lisa Riley, her performances thus far have deserved the votes she and Robin have received.

Joanna

Vida Moda | Designer Fashion For Women Size 14 to 28

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Bitte Kai Rand Chocolate Merino Skirt Vida Moda

Who will be your 2012 television style icon?

Image: nuchylee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Behind everyone’s personal style there’s a number of influences. They could be designers, artists, shops, boutiques, celebrities or people we know. However, increasingly it’s television that is the root of our style choices these days.

Traditionally, we’d pick up a copy of Vogue or other glossy mags to see what is at the cutting edge of style but nowadays other mediums are making a bigger impact on what we wear & how. We are more likely to absorb our fashion intake through music videos, movies and television programmes. It’s a phenomenon that has occurred over the last few decades. Who didn’t sport a pair a legwarmers after watching their weekly dose of The Kids from Fame? No one had ever heard of shoulder pads before Dynasty. A week didn’t go by for a hairdresser to be asked for a ‘Rachel’ cut after Friends peaked in popularity. But now there are shows where fashion is an integral part of the plot.

 

When Carrie Bradshaw made large fabric flowers a feature of her wardrobe in the series Sex and the City, women across the world sported them whilst sipping their new found tipple Cosmopolitans. Not to mention the numerous other designers and looks that particular programme boosted, Manolo Blahnick, Jimmy Choo and Roberto Cavalli to name a few. Ugly Betty is unashamedly a cat-walk wrapped around a drama. Even though Absolutely Fabulous poked fun at the industry, there was still a fair amount of showcasing and name dropping going on.

Nostalgia is playing a big part in our style influence of late also. Mad Men, set in a 1960s New York advertising agency was a welcome glamorisation of women’s natural curves. In the UK, The Hour made 1950s prim popular as well as inspiring some of us to dig up the red lipstick again. We really loved The hour and ladies if you have hips you can recreate some of the look yourself by choosing our merino wool skirts by Bitte Kai Rand! Romola Garai who played the Bel Rowley character wore some fantasic dresses and skirts in the series.

Bitte Kai Rand Beige Merino Skirt Vida ModaBitte Kai Rand Black Merino Skirt Vida ModaBitte Kai Rand Brown Merino Skirt Vida Moda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on the images above to see full details on each skirt as they are slightly different. Images ©Vida Moda 2011

In a more modern vein on Channel 4, This is England ’86 and ’88 have been playing out a trip down fashion memory lane, from punk to dodgy highlights and dayglo accessories.

What will 2012 have in store? We’ve already had a ultra chic start to the year with the BBC’s We’ll Take Manhattan, a portrayal of Jean Shrimpton and David Bailey’s beginnings at Vogue. You cannot fail to be aroused by the 1960s looks against backdrop of New York City. If anything, that will bring back the pout…..it can only get better from here.

Joanna
Vida Moda | Designer Fashion For Women With Curves

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“It’s Martine… With Extra Curves”

The Daily Mail had an article last Thursday pointing out that Martine McCutcheon is currently more curvy than in her TV advert for Activia. Does it matter, it is really worth writing about? Those ads were probably made months ago. The article also quotes Miss McCutcheon as not wanting to fly a flag for being unhealthy and overweight or being too thin either.

It is sad that the Mail used Miss McCutcheon’s curves as a basis for the article which goes on to provide some publicity about her career. Why does it discuss her curves first (in a negative tone) and career second? Do we not enjoy her presence on our screens for her acting talent or do we all rush to watch her on screen because she has extra curves? It is equally baffling as on the same day the paper had quite a feature on “regular people” a set of 5 couples (all over 30) finding out what they thought of each others bodies after a number of years together. This article had a relatively positive tone about body image.
Curvy Marine McCutchoen looking Fabulous
So it was ok to talk about about body perception and weight with non celebrities in a positive fashion but then to subtly criticise Miss McCutcheon for her “extra curves”? Martine McCutcheon is a beautiful woman with a successful acting career and her weight fluctuates like a lot of other people and she looks fabulous regardless. There is no perfect weight and is sad that people automatically associate that being overweight means you are unhealthy. Being skinny can be also be bad for your health and I’m not simply referring to very thin people.

It is perfectly possible to be healthy and be over or under an accepted bodyweight for your height. And it is possible to look good too. Curvy is just as good and as beautiful as skinny, so if you are a curvy bird then hold your head up high and use your curves to express your personal style. Celebrate your talents, skills and achievements and don’t measure yourself on the basis of how other people think you look because of your weight.

Joanna

Image ©DFS

Joanna Davis | Vida Moda | Designer Fashion for Curvy Women Size 14 to 24

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Crikey! What’s happened to Downton?

Crikey! What’s happened to Downton?

Downton Abbey Ladies

"Downton Abbey Ladies"


I enjoyed the first series of Downton Abbey but feel the second series has become somewhat of a parody of itself (maybe it is supposed to be like this). Why has it gone downhill? The actors playing the characters all seem reasonably well suited to the parts they play and the premise is there for a good yarn But this series is lacking. Perhaps it is the way in which we hop from scene to scene, there is too much going on, too many individual story lines being covered, and all of them without satisfactory endings.

In the last few episodes an injured solider turned up who could have been the legitimate heir to Downton but was physically unrecognisable due to his injuries. Now this story had potential for intrigue, drama and full blown confrontation. Instead the character wimped out and scuttled off (we didn’t even see him scuttling), presumably never to be heard of again.

What is the point of “Ethel’s” story? Yes it shows how difficult life was for single mothers with illegitimate children, but then why is there a new maid in residence who is also a single mother but who is a war widow. (we now know, she is likely to be naughty with Lord Downton) We’ve never seen her child and she puts a pained face on whenever it is mentioned. (I’m desperately seeking skullduggery of some kind in this small story)

Richard Carlisle From Downton Abbey

"Carlisle"

The only character with a hint of proper devilment is Mr Carlisle who issued a threat with some menace to Lady Mary who didn’t really bat any eyelids at all. Oh, and Matthew seems set to recover, his wheelchair went over a bump on Sunday night and low and behold he clearly feel something downstairs, and no it wasn’t a maid. Most of all I have felt some dismay for Lord Downton, Granville or whoever. He has had to strut about in a uniform at home for weeks and he didn’t even have anyone to have Luncheon with this week. He also appears to have lost any real story lines as does the whole programme.

What of the youngest daughter, Sybil (aka Lady Florence), what on earth is she doing with the Chauffeur? Nothing, absolutely nothing, for weeks, mind you he did put a hand on her waist this week. (shocking). Anytime there is potential for drama they snuff it out straight away, what about the tractor driving Edith kissing the farmer? Bang! Letter from the farmers wife telling her she is no longer required. Story over. Instantly, she was demoted to concerned librarian for the next two weeks.

Mr. Bates from Downton Abbey

"Bates"

What about BATES, and Anna. Anna seems ok and has the odd good line or two. But BATES seems to have overdone it with the Botox, he’s permanently canted over to the right with a look on his face that implies he has recently sat on a very large blunt thumb tack. Oh, and who the heck buys arsenic and leaves it lying about in the kitchen?

It is such a shame, this series is not a patch on the first and all it goes to show is that ITV cannot manage period drama in quite the same way as the BBC even though I’m pretty sure Julian Fellows is an excellent writer – he doesn’t seem to be allowed the freedom to develop story lines properly over the series. The costumes remain excellent (I don’t know how authentic they are to the period) but it all goes to show that window dressing is nothing without the story.

Update from last weeks episode!!

Did you see it? Matthew’s miraculous recovery, he sprang from his wheelchair to catch Lavinia to prevent her falling. He did this after months of not being able to move his legs and with no rehabilitation. Yes I know it’s television, but really some of it is so far fetched! It lacks the sense of space and time that would make it anywhere near credible and detracts from the reality.

Its the last episode of this series tonight, will there be a third? I fear it is too late to properly conclude any of the current story lines. Oh and there is a Christmas Special coming… maybe that will be better. Mind you I did like some of their jewellery!

Joanna

Joanna Davis | Vida Moda | Couture for Curvy Women

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