The new series of The X Factor kicked off in style with hosts Ollie Murs and Caroline Flack setting off on a mission impossible to seek out new talents. Of course, while the reality show heralds the usual melee of musical misfits and singing superstars, on this occasion all eyes were on the judges, with Rita Ora and Nick Grimshaw taking their seats alongside Simon Cowell and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini for the first time.
The fresh new line-up brought with it an instant injection of youthful energy and full-on fun, all thanks to Rita Ora's natural sex appeal and sass and Grimmy's unique brand of street cool and general whackiness. Their energy, all-round affability and eagerness to get up and dance if the mood took them, left Simon Cowell by comparison, resembling something of a stern school teacher, brought in to keep the errant young 'uns in line.
With the departure of veteran judge Louis Walsh, the 55-year-old is at least three decades older - and richer - than his counterparts, but seemed to fit in with his judging protégés from the off nevertheless. "I like working with you three. It's really good," he commented. Offering a few words of advice to the newbie mentors, he said simply: "Embrace the madness."
Indeed, with the first auditions of the series, which included a twerking grandma, a dental assistant from Essex with a powerhouse voice and four sisters from the Philippines who smashed it with their first audition, it was clear we're all in for quite a ride this series. The madness has well and truly begun.
60-year-old hopeful "Techno Suzy" got the show off to a flamboyant start, winning the first yes of the night. The judges were left wide-eyed and with jaws dropping as she proceeded to gyrate on stage much to the enthusiasm of the crowd. Initially bewildered, the judges were compelled to put her through.
"I've got to give it to you. You are the highlight of my whole past five years," said an elated Ora.
But the pound signs were flashing in Simon's eyes the minute dental assistant Lauren from Essex, sang her first note. While all the judges were instantly taken with her, the former The Voice judge seemed to forget what show she was on, as she immediately canvassed to be mentor.
"I love you," said Ora. "That sounded like one of my favourite voices I've ever heard. I want to be your friend and when you work with me..."
Giving us a taste of the rivalries to come the judges were already fighting over her. While Jennifer Phillips "took us all to church" it was four singing sisters from the Phillipines who raised the roof at Wembley with their rendition of Bang Bang. "That was probably one of the best auditions I've ever seen on this show," said Cowell. "I just want to be your sister," added an ecstatic Ora.
With the auditionees now permitted to bring backing dancers and musicians on stage with them, the performances are at a whole new level, both for better and for worse. And with the audience taking on the role of the fifth judge and deciding which categories each of the judges mentors, anything is possible.
Much like a returning auditionee, the formerly jaded X Factor has been successfully reinvented and revived, and has returned with a touch of star quality. With the show trending on Twitter, it seems that the public agree. The arrival of Rita Ora and Nick Grimshaw has brought a much-needed shot of street cred to Saturday night TV, as the show is sexed up and brings on the fun factor.
In the words of Simon Cowell, you weren't just good. You were great!
It's four yeses from us.
— karinah (@karinah_ora) August 29, 2015
I love #XFactor even more this year
— Cheryl FV❤️ (@chezzasoldier_x) August 29, 2015
That girl band I'm speechless #XFactor
— Cathy Nevelet (@littlenewt_) August 29, 2015
— Lucy Robertson (@lucyrobertson01) August 29, 2015