List of The X Factor finalists (New Zealand series 1)
The first season of The X Factor began on TV3 on 21 April and ended on 22 July 2013. The live shows started on 19 May. The 12 chosen finalists were Tom Batchelor, Maaka Fiso, Gap5, Cassie Henderson, L.O.V.E, Moorhouse, Whenua Patuwai, Eden Roberts, Benny Tipene, Jackie Thomas, Taye Williams and Anna Wilson. Ruby Frost mentored the Boys (Batchelor, Patuwai and Tipene), Daniel Bedingfield mentored the Girls (Henderson, Roberts and Thomas), Stan Walker mentored the Over 25s (Fiso, Williams and Wilson) and Melanie Blatt mentored the Groups (Gap5, L.O.V.E and Moorhouse). Before the start of the live shows, one previously eliminated act from each category was chosen as a wildcard, with Fletcher Mills from the Boys being voted in by the public as the 13th finalist. Jackie Thomas was the winner, with Daniel Bedingfield as the winning mentor.
The Boys category was mentored by Ruby Frost. Contestants in this category are males aged 14 to 24. The six candidates at judges' retreats were: Tom Batchelor, Liam Kennedy-Clark, Fletcher Mills, Taiaroa Neho, Whenua Patuwai and Benny Tipene. Frost chose:
Tom Batchelor (born 1991) was a 21-year-old labourer from Leeston, Canterbury. He auditioned with the Beatles' song "Oh! Darling". Batchelor had previously worked as a busker and is part of psychedelic folk and blues duo the River Jesters. In week six after Batchelor performed "Whole Lotta Love" against Benny Tipene, mentor Frost refused to vote to send home either of her acts, leaving the three other judges to vote. Batchelor was eliminated with majority votes from the judges. Batchelor released his debut single, "Waiting For You", in December 2014.
Fletcher Mills (born 1995) was a 17-year-old student from Wellington, studying classical piano in Auckland. At his audition he played original song "Good Winter", an ode to indie folk band Bon Iver. Mills was originally eliminated by Ruby Frost at the judges' retreats round, but was later put forward as her wildcard and won the public vote, ensuring a place in the top 13. Mills won the Mainz Musicianship Award at the Wellington regional finals of the 2012 Smokefreerockquest. In week four, during the double elimination, Mills was immediately eliminated with the fewest public votes, finishing in 10th place.
Whenua Patuwai (born 1995) was a 17-year-old NZIS student from Christchurch, who auditioned with the Sam Cooke song "A Change Is Gonna Come". He was born in Christchurch, and had moved to Dunedin at a young age and then back to his home town during intermediate and high school. Patuwai was in the bottom two only once and was one of the three contestants to make it to the grand finale. At the grand final he performed his potential winner's single "Something Special", eventually finishing in second place.
Benny Tipene (born 1990) was a 23-year-old music retail assistant from Palmerston North. He auditioned with a sung version of Outkast's "Hey Ya!". Tipene is a self-taught singer-songwriter who describes his genre as "acoustic folk pop". He previously played with popular Palmsterton North indie rock band the Nerines. In week nine, Tipene performed his self-penned song "Boxes", the first contestant to perform an original song outside of auditions or a sing-off. Tipene was in the bottom two only once and was one of the three contestants to make it to the grand finale. He placed third after being eliminated with fewest public votes at the first part of the final show.
The Girls category was mentored by Daniel Bedingfield. Contestants in this category are females aged 14 to 24. The seven candidates at judges' retreats were: Aotea Beazley, Madeline Bradley, Oriana Faaumu, Cassie Henderson, Eden Roberts, Finlay Robertson and Jackie Thomas. Bedingfield chose:
Cassie Henderson (born 8 November 1998), now 23, was a 14-year-old student from Christchurch. At her audition she performed the Taylor Swift song "Mean", which prompted Stan Walker to comment "I think you sung it better than her [Swift]." Henderson previously lived in Portugal, England and Japan due to her father's rugby-coaching job. After being in the bottom two in weeks seven and eight, Henderson was eventually eliminated in week eight. Having lost the deadlock vote against Whenua Patuwai, Henderson became the ninth contestant to be eliminated, finishing in fifth place.
After The X Factor, Cassie performed at the Christchurch Christmas in the Park event in November 2013.
Eden Roberts (born 1995) was an 18-year-old music student from Auckland. She sang her original song "Blue Home" at her audition. Roberts previously won several secondary-school music awards, including the Women’s Musicianship Award at the 2011 Smokefreerockquest, the Play It Strange 2011 Peace Song Award and Best Solo Instrumental at Stand Up! Stand Out! Auckland Secondary Schools Performing Arts competition in 2012. Roberts was the first finalist to be eliminated, sent home from the judges' vote in week one. After The X Factor, Roberts now performs under the name Eden Iris.
Jackie Thomas (born 26 November 1990) was a 22-year-old Greymouth-born, Auckland-based unemployed singer. At her audition she performed Birdy's version of the Bon Iver song "Skinny Love", prompting Melanie Blatt to declare "I think I've just witnessed a performance from the winner of X Factor." After Thomas' audition screened, Birdy's 2011 recording of "Skinny Love" entered the New Zealand pop charts for the first time, peaking at #2. After being eliminated on day two of bootcamp, Thomas was brought back to judges' retreats after Girls mentor Daniel Bedingfield campaigned for her return. Thomas was the only contestant never to have been in the bottom two, and was one of the three contestants to make it to the grand finale. At the grand final on 22 July 2013, Thomas was announced the winner of the competition and it was revealed that she had been the top-voted contestant in seven of the 10 live shows. She performed her winner's single "It's Worth It" on the final episode, with the single released later that evening.
The Over 25s category was mentored by Stan Walker. Contestants in this category are either of gender and aged 25 and over. The six candidates at judges' retreats were: Maaka Fiso, Grace Ikenasio, Jessie Matthews, Bryan Townley, Taye Williams and Anna Wilson. Walker chose:
Maaka Fiso (born 19 October 1985; name alternately spelled Māka Fiso) was a 27-year-old kohanga reo teacher from Upper Hutt who sang John Legend's "Ordinary People" at his audition. In week four, during the double elimination, Fiso was the fifth finalist to be eliminated after losing the judges' vote against Gap5. Fiso released his debut single "Movin' On" in June 2004, under the name Maaka.
Taye Williams was a 34-year-old business development executive from Auckland, who also sang John Legend's "Ordinary People" at his audition. Williams was born in Tauranga but is now based in Auckland. In 2009 he released a video for his song "Turn It Up" which had also received NZ On Air funding. Taye was the second contestant to be eliminated after losing the deadlock vote in week two. Since leaving The X Factor, Williams has released several singles: "Now or Never", "Now or Never (Remix)" and "Ready to Love", and has featured on the Smashproof single "Survivors".
Anna Wilson was a 25-year-old clothing store manager from Auckland who auditioned with Alannah Myles' "Black Velvet". Wilson previously worked as a child actor, featuring in the 2001 Disney movie Kids World. She released the country album Just For You in 2007. In 2009 Wilson moved to a contemporary pop sound, releasing her debut single and video "Say You Love Me". In week five Anna was the sixth contestant to be eliminated after losing the judges' vote against Gap5.
After The X Factor, Anna performed at the Auckland and Christchurch Christmas in the Park events in late 2013.
The Groups category was mentored by Melanie Blatt. Contestants in this category are duos or vocal groups and all members must be aged 14 or over. The six candidates at judges' retreats were: Anabac, Gap5, L.O.V.E, Moorhouse, Voltech and The Young Project (TYP). Blatt chose:
Gap5 were a five-piece girl group from Auckland, composed of Alex Foster (21), Hannah-Jane Thorne (22), Taiva Ioane (18), Nicole Hedder (18) and Nica Israel (19). At their audition they performed an a cappella version of Estelle's "American Boy". The group was formed after the girls were introduced to each other by their singing teacher in December 2012. Their first piece of originality was released via YouTube, a song called "Summertime". As explained to the judges at their audition, Gap5's name comes from their belief that "there's a space in the market for a girl group right now and we feel like we can fill that gap." Hedder's previous band Greatwhitebuffalo won the Manukau regional final of the 2012 Smokefreerockquest. Gap5 were in the bottom two three times, finally eliminated in week seven after losing the judges' vote against Cassie Henderson.
After The X Factor, Gap5 performed their song "Only Boy" at the Miss Universe New Zealand pageant in October 2013. The group also performed at the 2013 Christmas in the Park show in Auckland in December 2013, and are part of the line-up for the 2014 Parachute music festival. Gap5 released their debut single, "Hold On", in June 2015.
L.O.V.E (Living On Vital Energy) were a hip hop duo from Hamilton, consisting of Stacy Awheto (21) and Toni Turner (27). They performed an original song at their audition. The pair first met as students on a Maori performing arts course at Te Wananga o Aotearoa in 2010. L.O.V.E were in the bottom two every week for the first three live shows, finally eliminated in week three. After L.O.V.E performed an acoustic version of "No Scrubs" against Moorhouse, mentor Blatt refused to vote to send home either of her acts, leaving the three other judges to vote. L.O.V.E were eliminated with majority votes from the judges. After The X Factor, the duo released their debut single "Bubblegum" in July 2014, written and produced by Maree Sheehan.
Moorhouse were a four-piece boy band from Christchurch, composed of Brock Ashby (19), Rory McKenna (20), Jason Aileone (19) and Marley Sola Wilcox-Nanai (17). They auditioned with an a cappella version of Justin Bieber's "As Long as You Love Me". Moorhouse originally auditioned as a five-piece group, but before the bootcamp round, fifth member Rameka Paraki left to pursue an opportunity in rugby. The group took their name from their rehearsal studio's location on Moorhouse Avenue, one of the "four avenues" surrounding Christchurch's city centre. Moorhouse were in the bottom two only once, winning the sing-off against L.O.V.E in week three. Moorhouse were eventually eliminated in the semi-final, immediately voted off with the lowest public votes and coming in fourth place. Moorhouse disbanded in February 2015.
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