We’re down to the last 10, exciting times or a bunch of unsigned for a reason bands convincing a major label fat cat that they are in fact good enough for his sweet dollars?  Well a bit of both actually.  Last year Envy & Other Sins were the only band I had heard of at the start and having heard the way below par competition they had, I felt that they should have gone all the way, but having gone down to the last few they got the boot! Thus urging me to boycott the remaining shows in disgust.  As it happens, someone clearly had a word in the ear of  Simon Gavin (head of A&M Records – The Courteeners/Duffy) to advise the smug CEO that Envy & Other Sins were in fact the only band who had a chance in hell of selling any records, at which point they were duly brought back in, and won it. So E&OS aren’t the most exciting band around but fear not, this year should produce a far more interesting victor.  This year I’d heard of a few outfits going into it, firstly there were the ones that applied and didn’t even make it past the prelims. Young and fantastic singer songwriter Polly Mackey, Indie tune merchants The Phettz, outstanding witty and melody laden North East teens The Ramsays and Leicester’s The Screening - who in my view have an arsenal of tunes that could have seen them cruise to the final stages easily, an academic point now of course. When it came to the last 54 bands, most were frankly diabolical, but I was surprised to see the capable but familiar Leeds 4 piece Volcanoes get the early chop. Ditto applies to the ultra polite and giggly youngsters Came By Plane (who actually came from Peterborough) who’s girly exterior was soon ripped to bits when they unleashed their screamcore emo missiles on stage. So the judges have now tore the rabble of 54 into a tour sized group of 10, who will be departing on tour together in the coming weeks.  So who’s left?? This is who’s left… 1. The Scarlet Harlots – The Scarlet’s have been one of my absolute favourite bands since 2006 when their indie punk-step grooves pricked my ears with early demos that stood out from the crowd.  Cunning vocals delivered with the wit and poise of a rapper layered over stabbing guitars and grimey beats,  sometimes combining with a Caribbean steel drum vibe is a sexy formula indeed. The demos have kept on coming on their myspace and they never disappoint.  The Brummy lads swagger on record and they do in person, which didn’t endear them to the judges to begin with.  Especially Alex James who gave a big fat NO verdict to their initial stage performance, apparently taking exception to singer Sam offering his phone number to him, after the ex Blur man commented on how cute he looked (a comment he has made with some regularity to a lot of the male fronted bands as t happens, hmm).  However after delivering one of their best tracks in the shape of ‘Backlash’ on the acoustic show, they won back the judges but were given a Maybe and made to perform again, this time opting for the floaty chilled out ‘Sunflowers’ which sealed the deal and saw them be confirmed as final 10 act and contenders to go on and win it. My only slight concern is that my two favourite songs ‘A Secret’ and ‘Harlots House’ have recently been re-recorded and aren’t exactly an improvement on the original demos (which can be downloaded from the link at the bottom).  Clearly I’m biased, with them being one of my most listened to bands of the last few years, but if these lads don’t win I’m taking the Van Gogh route and severing my left ear lobe in protest. 2. Fangs – Pretentiousness and contrived arrogance is not a great image to strive for in my opinion but it’s what these Glaswegians are all about (trying their hardest to not say anything whatsoever or crack and smile when being given the nod for the final stage was cringey, even more so when singer ‘The Queen’ eventually let a grin cross her stoney face).  Music wise they are a pretty plodding, droning affair which is reminiscent of fellow Scots The Jesus And Mary Chain.  The synths can occasionally spunk things up to almost Ladytron proportions, almost but not quite.  The judges love them though, blanket yes’s so far, so what do I know.  Attitude and lipstick likely to take them far. 3. Klaus Says Buy The Record – The only other act I’d heard of going into the competition and I didn’t really take to him before, I remembered thinking he was OK and that was about it.  With ‘Battlezoo’ however, the boy has won me back, big time.  Performing with rolled up skinny jeans and always performing barefoot, it’s easy to smell a gimmick.  So it’s up to young Jon to convince the panel that he has real substance.  Has gone down really well so far, will he have enough tunes to see him still wowing the panel if he gets down to the last few though?  Only time will tell. 4. Pyrelli – Hip-Hop not the preferred listening choice of the judges I suspect, but Pyrelli followed up his rowdy first performance with an acoustic set featuring live backing Violin, much to the delight of the judges it turned out.  Lauren Laverne and Alex James grinning throughout ‘I Wonder’, a lovey dovey track about girl he’s been digging who was ‘Bad like dat’ and ‘Eleven out of ten’.  He’s possibly the Jack Penate of Rap, but he actually can flow pretty well and he’s fun, I like him but can he win it?  Probably not. 5. Sleeper Cell – Often compared to Mcfly by the judges, these young toffs certainly have a way with a harmony, but nice tunes don’t cut it when the suits at A&M Records will demand nothing short of monster hits.  Quirky, future Smash Hits cover stars, but winners of this comp? No No No. 5 other artists made it through of course, so keep your peepers on thefourohfive.com where I’ll be running through the rest in the next few days.  Next show is Thursday 4th at 9pm on ‘4Music’ Sky Channel 360 and repeated on Channel 4 at 12pm on Sunday. Anyone else been watching this?  Got a winner in mind?  If so place your bets now!!