The X Factor SEMI-FINAL 2013

Daniel Wren

Best Performance: Luke Friend – Best Thing I Never Had

Worst Performance: Rough Copy – Survivor

Key Changes: 2

The most bizarre, random and somehow most incredible theme occurred this week when an array of Beyoncé belters were followed by some kick-arse Elton John classics, with ‘Beyoncé vs. Elton John Week’. Two of the most iconic and brilliant musicians of our time thrown together for one pretty great theme.

First up was Luke Friend singing ‘Best Thing I Never Had’. The best thing Luke never had before, obviously, was a decent Beyoncé cover in his repertoire. Which he now does. This was pretty damn good. Luke knows how to throw out some big notes when he wants to, and this Mumford And Sons-esque style cover was heralded by the audience. The tempo was different, he ‘made it his own’ (forgive me…) and it was just quite good. Later on, he performed ‘Something About The Way You Look Tonight’. Despite being styled like a lech you’d see on a playground in a dodgy area, this wasn’t bad either. It wasn’t as good as the Beyoncé cover – Elton’s intricacies were lost because Luke’s voice isn’t technically the strongest and they became a little flat in places. A bit whiny. Nevertheless, it was a pretty good week for him overall, so it was probably just bad luck that he ended up in the bottom two.

Sam Bailey began her (needless to say) AMAZING set this week with ‘If I Were A Boy’, which naturally prompted my company to shout “not with THOSE breasts!” Some arsehole backstage put this in the totally wrong key for Sam. She had to change some of the notes because it went too low for her range in places, but she adapted nicely, and still nailed the rest of it. Being the first person EVER to sing ‘Candle In The Wind’ on X Factor UK, Sam Bailey has to be applauded. It may have been a tiny bit overdone, and obviously she’ll never have Elton’s sentiment, but she was still note-perfect. ‘Candle In The Wind’ shouldn’t be changed to a power-ballad, but exists well as just a ballad and dedication.

Rough Copy did the bad thing (no, not that) and diverted from the theme for the first time this series. They sang a DESTINY’S CHILD song on BEYONCÉ week – and yes, I know Beyoncé was in Destiny’s Child. But I wouldn’t stand for an N-Sync song on Justin Timberlake either, if that existed. Which it should. They sang ‘Survivor’, one of my favourite pop songs of all time, and destroyed it. Ironically, I barely survived it. The harmonies were abysmal. The key change was horrific. They fell even more out of key than they were, and what little hope I had for them was gone. They followed this with ‘Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word’. Oddly, they omitted most of the harmonies. Those boys have seriously strong voices individually, and could probably have made it quite far as singular contestants. However, they didn’t work hard enough on their harmonies, and quite rightly ended up in the bottom two.

Nicholas McDonald chose what is possibly the most vocally challenging Beyoncé song (excluding ‘Listen’, of course. Even Beyoncé can barely sing that) – ‘Halo’. Nicholas seriously lacked the power for this song. He’s way too vanilla, and Halo is an intense song. There are a lot of vocal rolls and emotion in this song that Nicholas just can’t achieve. There were several disappointing moments where Nicholas’s voice broke because the notes were too high. You know what happened to the girl who tried too much too fast, don’t you Nicholas? (She died, Jill.) This was followed with a terribly mediocre ‘Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me’ which REEKED of Joe McElderry duetting with George Michael a few years ago in the final. It was entirely bland, which is shocking for such an incredible song. Poor show, Nicholas.

Sunday arrived, and the flip-floppingly good Rough Copy were against Luke Friend in the sing-off, singing ‘End of the Road’ and the song of the moment ‘Somewhere Only We Know’, respectively. Rough Copy chose appropriately, as this really was the end of the road for them. Their sing-off performance didn’t compare to their second performance on the Saturday, and Luke always smashes his opponents when he’s faced with elimination. So it was goodbye to Rough Copy, and a ticket to the final for Luke Friend.

My prediction for the final next week is 1st) Luke Friend, 2nd) Sam Bailey, 3rd) Nicholas McDonald.

Tune in on Saturday for the X FACTOR FINAL 2013. Luke will duet with Ellie Goulding, Sam Bailey will duet with Nicole Scherzinger and poor Nicholas McDonald will have to duet with Shane Filan (of Westlife fame.) And I, of course, will duet with a bottle of wine.

About Daniel Wren

Vada Magazine staff writer. Interested in travel, news, politics and dating.