I’ve decided to blog the X Factor live as it happens. I’ll update this post during the ads.
First up, Storm Lee, whom Simon Cowell last week described as a ‘failed rockstar’. He’s singing ‘Born to Run’ and sounds like a thin papercut of Springsteen. Awful song choice, badly performed, and the dancers and lights make it even more parodic. Cheryl Cole is booed for criticising him, but she’s right.
Marks out of ten – 3. My eight-year-old daughter gives it 9.
Treyc Cohen is up next, singing ‘Purple Rain’, a song I can’t stand. The audience are swaying away to it. Here come the vocal histrionics, which the song was built for. Yes, she can sing, I think I’ve got the idea. Bet the judges love it. Yes, they do! All of them!
I’ll look past the song as far as I can and give her 6. My daughter says 10.
Now, here’s Paige Richardson, who killed ‘Killing Me Softly’ last week. I’ve never been able to listen to that song without cringing since the ‘About the Boy’ movie. This week, it’s... oh what’s it called?... Apparently he has problems with his breathing, so they’ve given him a song where he can take lots of breaths between phrases. Crafty. He sang it OK though. I’ll give him 6 too. Daughter says 8. She is more generous than me...
The first group now take the stage, One Direction. To state the obvious, that’s not a good name for a group. This is bouncy pop stuff of a kind I never listen to, but they are making a good job of it. So young though and they look to have an average age of about 12. Was it a Kelly Clarkson song? Louis mentioned her. I wouldn’t know. Cheryl wants to “hug them in a nice way.” Simon says they are “the most exciting pop band in the country today.” He can’t be serious. There are plenty of groups playing in bars up and down the country tonight who will have more ideas and originality. But I’ll still give them 8 for the energy. Daughter says 10. I had a feeling she would like that one!
Cher Lloyd is this year's kooky contestant, the kind of person you don’t want to see moulded too much, so I hope she doesn’t get to the final. It is quite strange too. ‘It’s a hard enough life for us,’ she sings over beats and then raps in a curiously American accent. Odd dancing too, stamping about. Simon says, ‘I’ve seen the future here.’ Strange thing to say about a cover version, but she does seem fun. I’ll give her 8. Daughter says 9.
John Adeleye says he has to watch not to get too emotional in case he can’t finish the song. It’s a ballad. He’s a decent singer, but there’s nothing distinctive about him. Same with the song, could be anything. What is it? George Michael or something? I never know those things, unless I'm hearing a track John Peel played once on his radio show sometime in 1983. I might remember who played that one! Talented, of course, and he seems like a nice guy, but also forgettable. Better than Storm Lee though. I’ll give it 6. Daughter says 10! Shows how much I know...
Now we have Diva Fever. This is camp gay disco fun. A hilarious start – lots of men in swimming trunks and arms waving all over the place as a form of dancing. Barbara Streisland and Judy Garland are both referenced during the song. They made Louis smile. I’ll give it 8 as it was entertaining, and I'll award 10 to the choreographer. Daughter says 9.
Rebecca Ferguson next. She was one of the best last week, I thought. She is shy and the choreographer wants her to hoist her shoulders back and sing with confidence. Can she do it? Oh, it’s the Nina Simone classic, Feeling Good’. Now there is a song I like. She has a great voice, no doubt about that. Effortless, it seems. Danii M made a good point (amazing, I know) that she didn’t go over the top and try too hard. She doesn’t need to. I’ll give her 9. I’d give 10, but just in case someone does better... Daughter says 9 too.
Aiden Grimshaw is going to sing John Lennon. Hmmm. Depends what... He was really good last week too, so he has something to live up to. It’s ‘Jealous Guy’. It’s an intense, edgy performance, different from an average X Factor singer. But he muffed some notes, especially a big high note. Lacked the warmth of John Lennon somehow too. Louis liked it. Cheryl says it’s a shaky performance and is booed again (wasn’t she the UK's darling last year? How fickle is this country's obsession with celebrity!). Simon agrees with Cheryl. They are right. Aiden knows he’s messed it up, it’s all over his face. But he deserves to stay in, I think, as he has something. I couldn’t give that performance any more than 5 though. Daughter says 5 as well. She has suddenly become a tough customer.
Wagner is here! A born entertainer. Lots of fun. I'd never dream of buying a record by him though and can't imagine why anyone would. It's all in the live performance. A TV and stage career beckons. I'd say 7, daughter says 10!! She had her build-a-bear dancing to it, which might have influenced her appreciation.
Now it's Katie Waissel, my daughter's favourite. The judges want to see more of her personality and didn't like the fabricated image of last week. She looks like a typical X Factor hopeful this week! Oh dear... She sings the song adequately though and should get through. I'd say 6, daughter says 10 of course. She'd give her 11 if she could.
Another group now, Belle Amie. I keep thinking of the late TV botanist David Bellamy when I hear their name. Thoughts of the bearded one don't go with their image at all. It's most distracting. Go away, David! There is a Man City football player Bellamy, isn't there? On loan somewhere this year. A guy with loads of tattoos. Doesn't mix well with the girl group either. And they’re singing The Kinks! ‘You really got me’. Ouch. I really hate this. That’s what comes of hearing a song by one of my favourite bands ‘girl grouped’ with dancers and silly smoke and pained expressions. But Louis likes it. In fact all the judges like it. They are nuts. I’d give this 4. Daughter says 8.
Mary Byrne is next. A 52-year-old Tesco worker. Or ex-Tesco, we can confidently say now. She got rapturous applause last week. She will do great in musicals and I’m sure people will buy her music too, however far she gets in the competition. She is a fantastic singer. Not my kind of thing, but there again not much in the X Factor really is. The entertainment isn't so much in the music as in the competition itself. She sang well again, just as we all knew she would. Rapturous applause again. It’s the Susan Boyle effect. People can’t believe that someone over 30 who doesn’t have a a plastic face and a stick-figure can sing on TV. Weird. Cheryl “respects her as a woman”. Simon says “it’s just right that someone like you should be in the competition.” They must be having a competition to see who can be more patronising. I’d say 8. Daughter says 10.
Closing the show is Matt Cardle. He’s come over to me so far as a good singer, but nothing special. He has a falsetto, which is fun. He has also played in bands for most of his life, so he’s not new to performing. He’s singing very well tonight, and it’s not an easy song to sing either. I don’t care for the gasping between notes. Represents ‘emotion’, I guess. He hit the high notes perfectly. I’d say 7 for that. Daughter says 8.
So that's it all over - results tomorrow. I'd say Storm should be deleted, without a doubt. If I was a voting man, which I'm not, I'd cast mine for Rebecca.