Seven days of TV view­ing

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page - DEBBIE SCHIPP The X Fac­tor,

MEGAS­TAR Kylie Minogue may be set to steal the show as spe­cial guest when The X Fac­tor draws to a close this week, but judges Ro­nan Keat­ing and Guy Se­bas­tian are con­fi­dent they’ve seen plenty of ris­ing stars this sea­son.

The pair come from dif­fer­ent sides of the mu­si­cal tracks – Keat­ing shot to fame the old­fash­ioned way, via Ir­ish boy band Boy­zone in the 1990s, while Se­bas­tian won the first Aus­tralian Idol in 2003 – but they share the view that says re­al­ity TV singing con­tests can be a le­git­i­mate way to un­earth new tal­ent.

And, given the show’s dom­i­nance of the rat­ings this sea­son, au­di­ences agree.

Keat­ing and Se­bas­tian, who signed on as judges and men­tors last year and were joined this sea­son by ‘‘ Scary Spice’’ Mel B and Natalie Bass­ingth­waighte, are not sur­prised with the show’s pop­u­lar­ity surge.

‘‘ It’s had a breath of fresh air,’’ Keat­ing says.

‘‘ X Fac­tor has ex­ploded glob­ally – it’s mas­sive in the US and UK. It’s had eight years in the UK and 18 mil­lion watched the fi­nale over there last year.

‘‘ More peo­ple voted in X Fac­tor in the UK last year than in the pub­lic vote [ gen­eral elec­tion] – the ac­tual govern­ment vote. That’s nuts. That’s a jug­ger­naut.

‘‘[ Aus­tralian] view­ers got to know it, like it and un­der­stand it, and that’s why it has come back with all guns blaz­ing.’’

With the fi­nal three con­tes­tants set to per­form to­mor­row night and Tues­day night, ahead of the fi­nal ver­dict, Keat­ing and Se­bas­tian say it’s not only the even­tual win­ner of a Sony record­ing con­tract who stands to make it big.

‘‘ You don’t have to win this show to have a ca­reer. Ab­so­lutely not,’’ Keat­ing says.

‘‘ In the UK, sec­ond and third place some­times have an even big­ger ca­reer than the win­ners.

‘‘ JLS is the big­gest boy band in the coun­try and they came sec­ond in the UK two years ago.’’

Of this year’s crop, Se­bas­tian – the men­tor who held on to his three charges in the un­der- 25s male cat­e­gory the long­est – pre­dicts big things for young guns Reece Mastin ( pic­tured with the judges and Minogue), Johnny Ruffo and De­clan Sykes. Keat­ing agrees.

‘‘ Reece is re­ally strong. He messed up late in the show, but re­cov­ered and he’s a great per­former,’’ he says.

‘‘ De­clan [ who ex­ited al­most a fort­night ago] in a few years will be great – this sea­son he’s too young and he’s not ready yet.’’

Of the groups he has men­tored, Keat­ing pre­dicts Young Men’s So­ci­ety ‘‘ can do some good things with the right pro­duc­tion’’.

Of his most en­dur­ing group, Three Wishez, Keat­ing says ‘‘ there’s no act in Aus­tralia like them’’.

He says he also en­joys the ca­ma­raderie he feels on the judg­ing panel.

‘‘ There’s a great dy­namic on the panel and we’re not afraid to say how we feel,’’ he says.

‘‘ You say it, you’re thick­skinned, and you move on.’’

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