As the X Factor Live Finals of 2015 kicked off on ITV1, fellow finalists Che Chesterman and Louisa Johnson came out individually in turn, flanked by a parade of fighters carrying placards emblazoned with their names as they brilliantly sung their own battle cries. But the X Factor production team knew what they were doing when they left the best till last. Reggie N Bollie thundered through the crowd with a powerful and vibrant rendition of ‘Jump!’ This was their time to shine and they were going to enjoy their time in the sun.
Reggie N Bollie performing with Fuse ODG (far right) and Craig David (second left)
Reggie N Bollie’s duet piece was kicked off by a special appearance by our very own Fuse ODG. The stars had finally aligned as this was the joint performance that many had expected and desired the most: the premier flagbearer of the Ghanaian music scene in the UK allied with the newest Black Stars on the block, on the biggest televised musical platform in the country, live to millions nationwide. The epitome of ‘Ghana Stand Up!’
Craig David then appeared as the bass of ‘Million Pound Girl’ faded into the familiar strains of ‘Re-wind’ – and the capacity crowd of 10000 plus in the Wembley Arena lost their collective minds. Reggie N Bollie bounced off this legend of the music scene effortlessly, with Fuse gallivanting across the stage and drumming up support. It was at this moment that you knew something special was in the offing.The boys’ couldn’t actually do it – could they? What was once fanciful fantasy, now seemed like a legitimate possibility – a sentiment echoed by a certain Mr Cowell himself.
And so the votes were frozen and the finalists returned to the stage at the end of Day One of the finals. Louisa was first called, before Reggie N Bollie’s names were announced as the act to complete the final set-up for Sunday. Incredible scenes, the boys had now secured at least second place in the X Factor 2015!
The gap between the Saturday & Sunday evenings crackled with various views and opinions. It would be amazing if the boys could win it, Ghanaians from grass to grace. But would a win benefit their careers in the long-run? X Factor has a long history of handing the winner a poisoned chalice, with many examples of acts who didn’t win becoming bigger successes revelling in greater freedom. But then it would be painful to lose at the final hurdle right? But can second place at the X Factor Final be considered a ‘loss?’ Debate here, debate there, debate everywhere.
Reggie N Bollie at the end of the day just couldn’t overcome Louisa Johnson, who throughout the finals showed a finesse and an embarrassment of riches when it came to vocal ability – with final vote data showing they had 38% of the vote compared to Louisa’s 53%. A ballad winners’ single did not help their chances, exposing the discrepancy in vocals. It was unfair that in previous years, three options for a Winners’ single were available for acts to choose from, recognising that one man’s meat is another’s poison – and yet this year, Reggie N Bollie struggled as they were shoehorned into an area out of the comfort zone they had consistently remained in from day one. Their poorest performances came with a drop in tempo – ‘Locked Away’ in the semis, which could have proved fatal even then; and the critical Winners’ single performance.
But as the confetti settles, the horizon becomes clearer. Firstly, second place may be nowhere when it comes to football, but when it comes to the X Factor, even third place can be king. As people such as Olly Murs, JLS, Fleur East and pop behemoths One Direction have shown, a place in the live finals alone can be a platform to success.
Reggie N Bollie for the past seven weeks have performed live on Saturday Night Primetime TV in front of MILLIONS of people in the UK and worldwide. There are so many out there who would kill for that opportunity. They got to the final two not on the basis of judges votes (having never been in the bottom three), but on the power of the public! They got there because there are so many out there who fell in love with their humility, their vibrancy, their energy. That’s a massive accreditation of their act, and very encouraging for their future – they are boys in massive demand.
Whether you loved them with all your heart, or despised them because you considered them a ‘novelty act’, Reggie N Bollie were THE act you wanted to see! And that is what will define them in the annals of X Factor history. To re-iterate what I said in a previous post, among a cohort where we saw 12 shades of the same grey we’ve seen time and again every X Factor season since the beginning, Reggie N Bollie plastered our screens with explosive red gold and green! In dark times as these, they presented us humility and joy, bringing a smile to many faces and providing a brief escape from the vagaries of real life. They were the energy. They were the show-stoppers, the party. And most importantly for the big bosses, they were the entertainment.
NOBODY expected ‘Menn On Point’ to be performing on the same stage as One Direction, Rod Stewart, Coldplay and Adele at a world-renowned venue that is the Wembley Arena, packed to the rafters with 10000 people, streamed live into the homes of millions. Nobody expected them to win millions of votes over the series, and take at least 20% of the vote share from Week Four onwards and be second in the overall voting from Week Five right to the very end when Louisa was all that stood between them and winning the whole thing. Nobody expected them to be legitimately, honestly and seriously be considered winners. Not even Reggie himself, who had battled his own demons and doubts just a year ago and had grown so tired of the struggle that he flirted with the idea of pulling the plug on their whole act. And yet here they were. On a pedestal nobody expected them to climb, with the world as their oyster.
So people may speak about their lack of vocal talent all they want (and to be honest, a lot of that comes from people who have never listened to Afrobeat before, so we will allow them). However, the X Factor has always been billed as more than a singing competition. It’s been a competition to find people who have ‘it’ – that rare essence which captivates the masses,electrifies the public, wins hearts and captures minds. They may not have been crowned winners, but as talk of record deals and live appearances start to gather serious momentum, something tells me that in the long haul we will find that Reggie N Bollie do indeed have the ‘X Factor’.
By Dr. Jermaine Bamfo (@Dr_Jabz27)