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Best Performance: Sam Bailey – How Will I Know
Worst Performance: All contestants – ‘Burn’.
Key Changes: 3
Emeli Sandé Alarms: 1 (Yes, it’s BACK.)
Louis: “You sing, and you dance, and it’s effortless every single week!” (Oh dear.)
Sharon: “Look at Beyoncé, look at Gaga. Throw those legs around, Mrs!”
Nicole: “As Louis Walsh would say, you look like a popstar, you sound like a popstar, potato.”
“You need a little less nuts on your sundae and a little more hot chocolate, honey.”
It was time to sing two songs each for the X Factor contestants this week, divided into two themes – ‘Musical Heroes’ and ‘Viewer’s Choice’. My issue with this new ‘Viewer’s Choice’ malarkey is that all the voted-for songs turned out to be the most commercially known, hence why Luke Friend ended up squealing out ‘Skinny Love’ rather than ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ (which, let’s face it, is an infinitely better song.)
Beauteous Scot Nicholas McDonald was up first, singing the truly abysmal ‘Just The Way You Are’ by Bruno Mars – his viewer’s choice song. Nicholas spent this week trying to find his ‘identity’, which essentially seemed to be thieving the identity of all other tween boy popstars. This song is awful. It reinforces the stereotype of all women (and even more so, teenage girls who listen to this sort of music) being insecure, and I really dislike that Nicholas is trying to adopt this Justin Bieber/JLS/One Direction identity, trying to be this perfect ‘boy-next-door’. I’m not saying he should be Robin Thicke, obviously, but COME ON MAN. HAVE AN EDGE. Anyway, the performance was in tune, but as usual, very, very dull.
Sam Bailey was up next singing a song by her musical hero Whitney Houston. Naturally, I was apprehensive. Sam Bailey has been amazing so far with intense ballads and Big Band type stuff, and I was concerned about the risk of her singing one of the best disco songs of all time ‘How Will I Know’. HOWEVER (as Sharon would say), she just fucking nailed it. She was confident, her dancing was spot on, the vocals were entirely powerful and tuneful, and she did this all in big purple heels. She was, as usual, surrounded by media-friendly young dancers to try and glam things up, but Sam still stood out massively (in the best way.) She approached it like a real superstar.
Lyric amnesiac Tamera Foster saw a hypnotherapist this week to help her remember all her words. The remembrance of these lyrics, of course, was helped by the fact that she sang a song that really only has four lines – ‘We Found Love’ by Rihanna. I was disappointed to see Tamera pick Rihanna as her musical hero, given that she could have picked a strong, powerful, intelligent female performer to pay homage to (Aretha Franklin, or Adele perhaps?) Someone with a shred of dignity, rather than a glorified pole-dancer like Rihanna. Either way, the song choice was very dull (the vocal lines in ‘We Found Love’ are very, very dull) and the vocals were diminished by the fucking awful song choice. Bad week for Tamera, it seems. Which is why she ended up in the bottom two.
Adele’s favourite Luke Friend was burdened with singing ‘Skinny Love’ (a song best left to Birdy and Bon Iver, IMO) by the British public. I thought this song was far too expected from Luke. It’s so appropriate for his niche, and this isn’t showing his versatility (which really is the point of the weeks in which they sing two songs.) It was just karaoke on a really good stage. It was far too much like the original, and I think this is probably why Luke ended up in the bottom two.
Rough Copy evidently didn’t like life in the bottom two last week, so came back fighting with their musical heroes Bobby Brown and R. Kelly. One would think R. Kelly would be vetoed after he pissed on an underage girl, but there you have it. This, surprisingly, was the Rough Copy we all wanted. The harmonies were recently fairly dodgy and the performances quite vanilla, but this week was really spiced up (at least in this performance.) They’re lucky to still be in the competition, and it seems like they’re working hard to prove they deserve it, so props to them.
Back to the boys, and Nicholas McDonald commenced the unmitigated arse-licking by choosing Gary Barlow as his musical hero. Nicholas sang Take That’s ‘Greatest Day’ with a very false VT about squeaking on some of the high notes. Nicholas was fairly (not entirely) accurate on his high notes, but still did a pretty good job. There was a lot of spinning and jumping from him during this performance too, so that was nice.
Back again was deserved winner (yes, I’m going there already) Sam Bailey singing Emeli Sandé’s ‘Clown’. Sam Bailey, as always, nailed the big ballad. Shame it was a bloody Emeli Sandé song, though. Luke Friend followed and pretty much abused the ‘musical hero’ theme this week by singing ‘I Will Wait’ by Mumford and Sons. This was so expected that it was cringeworthy. He didn’t take any risks this week, and it was very dull. Moving swiftly on.
Last up were Tamera Foster and Rough Copy, singing ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ and ‘I Believe I Can Fly’, respectively. I’d been telepathically willing Tamera to sing this song for weeks and I was really disappointed. She was a little bit out of tune in parts, didn’t take any risks with ad-libbing around and omitted the best high note of the song. Poor show. Rough Copy’s viewer’s choice song here was fairly awful too. The harmonies reverted to being pretty dodgy (as in previous weeks), but they did have a few good solo bits each with some decent ad-libs, and they rocked the white suits, so overall it was an ok performance.
And finally, Sunday came and Luke Friend and Tamera found themselves in the bottom two. Tamera sang ‘The Voice Within’ by Christina Aguilera (which was a quite good song choice) and Luke Friend sang ‘Run’ by Snow Patrol (which was a quite good song choice too.) I missed the Sunday show on first broadcast, but got a barrage of tweets telling me that (and I quote) “Tamera left – Luke nailed her in the sing-off.” I can confirm on second watching that Luke did not ‘nail her’ in the sing-off, but did in fact just perform about 1000 times better. Tamera got a bit shouty and desperate (presumably because she knew it was her time to go), while Luke took the opportunity to show off his range. At one point he did a dramatic I’m-going-to-throw-my-guitar-down-and-just-sing bit. It was really quite good. ANYWAY, the judges thought both performances were quite good and Gary ended up taking it to the first deadlock of the series (HOORAY), with Tamera meeting her end of the X Factor.
Tune in this Saturday for Elton John vs. Beyoncé week. (Now there’s a fight we’d like to see.)