X Factor: Provincial pride and promises

LAST ACTS STANDING: Benny Tipene, Jackie Thomas and Whneua Patuwai
LAST ACTS STANDING: Benny Tipene, Jackie Thomas and Whneua Patuwai

The final performance show of the first season of The X Factor New Zealand didn't rock my world nearly as much as the ground underneath me did yesterday. 

The contestants told us their lives would never be the same, then sang for a bit and the judges told all of them they were up for international fame.

Host Dominic Bowden seemed on fire, cracking (lame) joke after joke and told us "this is the big one". The three remaining acts would each perform one song picked by their mentors and then one duet with a New Zealand 'superstar'.

Before we went to see our three acts in their home towns, Bowden asked the judges (who were, apart from Ruby Frost, all dressed in black, implying they were mourning their sunny spot in the spotlights already) for their guess as to who would be crowned the winner of the competition.

Melanie Blatt said it was "everybody's game" (do they get a dollar every time they mention this phrase?) and Stan Walker called Jackie Thomas the "dark horse of the competition."

Just to make sure: We're talking about the same Jackie Thomas who was basically declared the winner of the show when she first rehearsed and has since - apart from that dramatic melt-down in boot camp - been dubbed a sure favourite for winning the thing all along?

Yes? Just checking, if I have missed something.

Before we had them singing for one last show, we were taken on a journey around the country to visit the acts' hometowns. We went to a theatre in Greymouth, a shopping mall in Christchurch and a community/arts centre in Palmerston North - and fans turned up in scores.

What made Thomas' segment special was her brother who told the audience how good it was to have Jackie bringing some positive vibes into a community battered by stories about job losses

Then Thomas performed Emeli Sande's Next To Me, supported by a bunch of crazy piano players, in a short glitzy dress on top of an odd four-way-instrument and backed by dancers who did some super-awkward free-dance-movements.

As always she delivered a rather spotless performance, but she seemed more to cater to Celine Dion fans than people her own age.

I don't always get the song choices or how they want to market her. Over the last months I would have liked to see her a bit more acting her age bringing something unique, young and fresh. So we'll see how tomorrow's vote goes and what happens afterwards.

Next stop: Christchurch, home of Whenua Patuwai. We were treated to a photo of him as a three-year-old dressed up exactly like his mentor Ruby Frost.

He was performing in front of hundreds of people at the Riccarton Mall in Christchurch, and said he was stoked and felt like a superstar.

And although I understood the excitement of all that cheer, superstars don't perform at shopping malls - just after lunch time.

Anyway, back to his performance. He was doing great, singing Jason Mraz's I Won't Give Up, and finally looked comfortable on stage.

The audience loved him too and Walker waded into yet another Maori appreciation talk. "You represent Maori people so well, your voice is like strength," he said. People thought that all Maoris could sing, he said, but Patuwai stood out and Walker was so proud.

Daniel Bedingfield was just grateful that he never had to say anything negative about him ever again, and Frost was, who would have thought, proud, too.

Then it was off to Palmy, where the third remaining contestant was celebrated like a royal.

We got to meet his parents and his ginger dogs, cats, cow and chickens.

The Prince of Palmy performed Bat for Lashes' Laura. Beautiful song, but I am not convinced choosing a song that the majority of viewers might not know was so smart at this stage of the competition.

But it did show off his voice rather nicely. And of course he's just dreamy.

The judges were, again, just really nice, talking about international fame, in Australia, and "great ups".

And then Bowden was back, wearing Bedingfield's tight pink pants. Seemingly checking that the zipper was still closed. Was this something I ever wanted to see? Surely not.

Moving on, time to bring in some New Zealand superstar duets. Patuwai was performing Bathe in the River, a song he has done in the show before, but this time he was teaming up with Hollie Smith (Who is obviously a great fan of the show)

He told us, that the two of them performing together were pretty much like "two lions roaring in the jungle". (Nice script writing there...)

Again he was doing a good job, but this pairing let her still shine so much more than him.

Also: Smith is probably one of the best voices to come out this country in a while, and even she struggled to cement an international career...Makes you think.

Thomas got to perform with "superstars" Adeaze. Have they done anything since 2004? Still at least they did let her shine performing Getting Stronger.

And call me anal: But what was this round called again? Duets! Like in two people singing together? Not just "random cooperation between how many artists we can convince/who need money).

The singer to close the night was the Palmy-Prince who teamed up with Avalanche City to perform Love, Love, Love. I know the song is just a bit too cutesy but I always sort of liked it.

The audience was clapping along without any feeling for rhythm, but Tipene looked happy and like he was having fun. That's not that bad, eh?

So, let's all hope the earth will stop rocking and allow us to one last night of emotions, tears and one lucky winner tonight.

After all, it's 'everybody's game".