‘THE JOKE’S ON US’
James Blunt and Chris Isaak found an unlikely comic partner on The X Factor
BEFORE they met, Chris Isaak and James Blunt formed opinions of each other that weren’t exactly flattering.
Veteran US rocker Isaak knew little of the British crooner, except that he had a string of hit songs about love and loss. “I thought, ‘Oh, he’s going to be the sad, romantic guy’,” Isaak says.
“I had the total wrong impression. He’s hilarious – a real nut.”
Blunt was surprised Isaak was on The X Factor judging panel.
“Before that, I actually thought he was dead,” he jokes.
“I’m thrilled to know he’s still kicking. He’s great fun. I mean, I don’t get any of his stories because they all happened in the 1920s, but he’s a wonderful character.”
The two new judges (they join Guy Sebastian, returning after a few years away, and stalwart Dannii Minogue) have surprised since day one.
Set insiders say the pair constantly ribbed each other during early filming, with hilarious results.
“We’ve gotten along incredibly well,” Blunt says. “We take the p--out of each other endlessly and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed that.”
When it comes to humour, Blunt – the army captain-turned-singer whose debut hit You’re Beautiful made him a global star – is something of a social media icon.
A few years ago, his label insisted he join Twitter. Discovering the awful things some people say about him and his music, Blunt started replying with witty, dry comebacks.
“It reminded me of being in the army where we constantly picked on each other, so I started laughing at people who took themselves so seriously,” he says. “It’s a strange thing some humans do from the anonymity of their bedrooms, probably with their trousers around their ankles, writing abusive things to people they’ve never met.”
That sarcastic sense of humour is bound to win over viewers. And that’s a good thing – securing him and Isaak for the show was no small feat.
“You don’t just knock on the door, say g’day and get them to agree to do it,” Seven’s director of programming Brad Lyons laughs. “There are many, many conversations.”
As the show enters its sixth season, Lyons says there’s pressure to up the ante and ward off viewer fatigue.
“You’ve got to bring freshness and we certainly have. Straight off, we’ve got a new bunch of judges. Then there’s a twist in boot camp.”
But all the tricks in the book mean nothing without talent, which Isaak says the show has found.
“I walked in with a smug attitude – like, ‘I’ve been in a band forever, these are young people with no idea’,” he says. “Then this 15-year-old girl walked out and just sang. She hit every note, shook the rafters, did a dance step and had people on their feet. I went back to my band and said, ‘We’ve got to work harder. These kids are better than we are’.”
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Odd couple: James Blunt and Chris Isaak breathe new life into TheXFactor.