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Dublin: 11 °C Sunday 25 August, 2019

#The X Factor

New rumours of X Factor rigging after Mary Byrne's exit

Britain’s tabloids believe it suspicious that the semi-final include a judges’ vote and sing-off – giving Cher a last-minute reprieve.

Waissel may still face X Factor boot The X Factor

Waissel may still face X Factor boot

The deeply unpopular singer has continued her US recording career, despite having apparently severed ties.

Could 273 seconds of silence become the Christmas number 1? Christmas Number One This post contains videos

Could 273 seconds of silence become the Christmas number 1?

A Facebook campaign seeks to make John Cage’s seminal 4’33″ – a piece composed of silence’ – a festive chart-topper.

Is this the worst X Factor audition ever? We reckon it just might be. Telling the crowd to shut up, asking a judge who they are, and hitting each other? Classy young women. Bring back autotuning, we say.

MANY THOUGHT SHE SHOULDN’T have made it through to the second round after her bizarre performance – but now X Factor producers have decided to cut singer Shirlena Johnson from the programme over fears for her mental health.

Questions were raised about Johnson’s mental wellbeing after it was revealed she had lied about her age for entering the Miss Great Britain contest, which permits contestants aged 28 or younger only.

Organisers of the Miss GB contest only learned her true age when she introduced herself as a 30-year-old on the show. She had told them she was 28.

As a result, questions were raised over Johnson’s mental health were she to make it through the next Boot Camp stage of the show and onto the intense Judges’ Houses phase.

A spokesman for the show said the “welfare of contestants is of paramount importance, and for this reason, it has been agreed that Shirlena Johnson should not continue in the competition.”

The show’s makers have been particularly cautious about the welfare of their acts since Susan Boyle, who rose to overnight fame after her appearance on Britain’s Got Talent, had a series of mental breakdowns.

Contestants are usually asked to provide a report from their GP regarding their mental wellbeing before the Judges’ Houses stage, as a precaution to ensure that contestants who qualify for the live TV finals are able to stand the intense public pressure under which they come.

It is believed that in Johnson’s case the GP report arrived relatively late, and producers immediately stepped in when concerns were expressed over her ability to handle the experience.

QUIRKY SINGER Katie Waissel may be disqualified from The X Factor after it emerged that she already has a record deal in the US, and has recorded a massive back catalogue for a popular YouTube series.

Madonna lookalike Vaissel – who sang Etta James’s ‘At Last’ to make her way through to the Boot Camp stage – has recorded a jazz album under the name Lola Fontaine.

Her manager, Jason Silverman, told the News of the World that Waissel was on his books and that she was “just about to release a record – it’s brand new.

“She came to LA and we signed her to a two-record deal. We just finished one and then she went back home to work over there while we get ready to release the record in the fall.”

Producers may now have to dump her from the show, with the competition’s rules explicitly stating that contestants cannot already have a music management contract.

A producer admitted: “We are looking to the whole thing to see if a contract does exist and if there is found to be one, what the wording is. An existing record or management contract could result in Katie not being able to continue, but she is a fantastic contestant, and it demonstrates her determination to succeed in the business.”

She had already recorded a series of songs for use in the Green Eyed World YouTube series, sponsored by Sprite, in which she – under the name ‘Katie Vogel’ – travelled to New York to pursue a music career.

It is not thought that the YouTube series poses a threat to her participation in the show, however, as she could argue she was working as an actress in the series (having adopted a fake name).

THE PRODUCERS of The X Factor have come under criticism for using auto-tuning software to make some auditionees sound better than others.

The show’s makers say it’s standard practice, explaining that the singers auditioning for the programme use different microphones and that the work helps the work sound more uniform.

But viewers watching the show quickly noticed that some singers’ voices sounded curiously robotic – a tell-tale sign of auto-tuning software being used, presumably making good auditionees sound better so that the lesser ones suffer by comparison.

So how does the software work? Well, basically it takes the audio clip – in this case the singer’s vocal track – and slices it up into tiny segments.

Chopping and changing

The musical scale has twelve notes in it, all of which have very specific audio frequencies. What the software does is take the tiny segment, analyse what frequency the singing is, and then nudge it up or down until it’s exactly equal to the ‘proper’ frequency.

It then strings all of the individual chunks together – which is where the tell-tale robot sounds come from. Instead of gliding between notes the way a regular voice does, the final clip will have more mechanical jumps between notes.

More sophisticated autotuning software can recognise a deliberate slide between notes (known as a glissando in musical parlance) but it’s not yet possible for an artificial mind to discern when a slide is artistic or when it’s just a bum note.

Hence, the final clip is slightly clipped – as demonstrated in Gamu Nhengu’s audition, where the audio seems to make a popping noise between C and D notes about 22 seconds in, as she sings the word ‘sure’; and again in the first line of the second verse from 50 seconds in:

The software, as it turns out, is quite cheap – in fact, you can get plugins for the free Audacity audio editor that’ll do it for you – so it’s quite possible that the future generations of home-schooled musicians will be reliant on such technology.

If you’re bothered, in the meantime, you can join any number of Facebook groups and pages in protest at the practice.