Saturday, December 04, 2010

The X Factor - Semi-Final: Live Commentary

X Factor time again. I missed blogging last week after being waylaid by a few pints of Guinness with ABJ and friends. I really ought to be more professional about this... Still, I’m here with more live blogging fun tonight and will update as the show progresses. Five acts still in with a chance – One Direction, Mary, Matt, Rebecca and Cher – and two must go this weekend (edit: actually, sounds as though only one is going and four will be in the final). My hunch is that Mary is doomed. Next in line are Rebecca and Cher, even though they are far more interesting than the boring Matt and the boyband OD. Difficult to call. Of course, it partly depends on their performances. Rebecca was streets ahead of the rest earlier in the competition, but she’s not been as convincing lately. Let the show begin...

We’re going to find out how Rebecca is shaping up right now. She’s first on tonight. She’s still going on about how she’s beginning to regain her confidence. She’s singing up-tempo clubby stuff and is absolutely static – OK with ballads and cool jazzy songs of her previous outings, but she needs to move just a little bit this time! She sang it well, mind you. Nice hairstyle too. I’ll give that 7. Daughter says 9.

Mary is up next. Louie uses the phrase ‘final four’ so maybe only one person is leaving tonight. If that’s the case, I guess it’s Mary unless she has a storming night. She’s singing fine but she’s so MOR. It’s karaoke, superior karaoke of course, as she’s a good singer, but dull. Danii says ‘Mary has her mojo back.’ I don’t know what she’s talking about. My wife says ‘Stop putting her hair in a bun. She looks like Mrs Pepperpot.’ I’ll say 5, daughter says 5 too.

Oh Matt’s had a sore throat. Let’s have some sympathy for Matt. He won’t be able to do his high James Blunty licks tonight, so it may be the Brian Adamsy Matt tonight. Oh, but no, he can sing fine. The throat has made a miraculous recovery. He’s as predictable as ever... However, the throat is beginning to crack as he continues. Louie doesn’t say ‘predictable’ but says ‘consistent’. Matt could win, but could be the next Leon Jackson, my wife says. She’s got it right. I’ll give Matt 7. Daughter says 6.

What will Cher do tonight? She’s rapping. Surprise us, Cher! Now she's singing. Her vocals are kind of ropey, as if she’s straining at the higher notes. She gives a cheeky little ‘hello’ halfway through the song. Danii says the song didn’t show her vocals at their best. Well, someone had to say it. No one else seems to have noticed though. Simon says she represents every teenager with a dream. Every teenager? I hope not. I hope some of them are reading J P Sartre novels, listening to Can and watching Bergman movies. Anyway, I’ll give Cher 5 for that. Daughter says 8.

Joe McElderry, last year’s winner, has given One Direction advice. Well, listen to the experts, boys. Maybe Leon Jackson will be offering you a few pearls of wisdom next week! They promise they’ll be on stage with ‘hot girls’ tonight. They are performing well, I have to say, although they are not for me and would no doubt be shocked if I gave them over 6 or 7. They don’t sing many harmonies, do they? Is that because they can’t? I’ll give them...7. Daughter says 8.

End of part 1. Part 2 begins with Matt. Sounds great, I must admit. Really strong vocal to a terrific song, and a song with a huge range. He must have been sucking the Lockets over the break as his throat showed no sign of strain at all. Simon says it was too safe and didn’t like the song. I disagree. Matt seems disappointed. I don’t know why, as I thought that was better than his first half performance. I’ll give him 8. Daughter says 7.

Mary is singing for her life now. She is out if she doesn’t really hit everyone for six right now. Well, if Matt was safe, then Mary is already cocooned. She’s singing ‘The Way We Were (Memories)’, the kind of ballad she is absolutely at home with. I’m falling asleep. Wake me up, someone! ‘I could see her singing on a cruise ship,’ says my wife. Yes, perhaps on a Shirley Bassey themed night. Mary is crying. If she goes out, she won’t be back at Tescos. In fact, Simon says just that after I wrote it. A life on stage awaits you, Mary and you’ll no doubt sell bags of records for the MOR set too. I’ll give her 7, as she sang it OK. Daughter says 8.

(As a quick aside, I now take back my earlier comment about Joe McElderry. We got a quick clip of Joe singing - one of theose phone-in X Factor comeptitions just before the break, and, do you know, he'd beat any of the contestants tonight... One Direction really should listen to him.)

Now here comes Cher again. Cher says she’s very emotional about the song. It’s a song that cries out ‘Please vote for me,’ she says. Danni wonders if she might not be compared unfavourably to the original. She sings away and does OK and suddenly enters a rap – the rap didn’t ‘fit’ this time. It’s as though Cher thinks a quick rap is obligatory to pick up votes. She is highly intense and sings well. Danii doesn’t like it much. Cher isn’t exactly articulate and talks nonsense afterwards, but I hope she makes the final. I’ll give her 7. Daughter says 8.

Rebecca is talking about how much of a struggle it is to bring up kids on her own etc – really going for the sympathy vote. You don’t need to Rebecca – sing well and you’re the best in the competition. Can you believe it? She’s singing Amazing Grace! And she’s singing it incredibly well. Fab key change into second verse. She’s singing that song as if she believes every word – whether she does or not. Louie says she’s his favourite contestant ever. Wow... She did that really well though. The best of the night easily. Singing like that, she'd whip Joe McE, no problem. I’ll give her 10. Daughter says 9.

Only One Direction to go. Any harmonies in this song, guys? Can you do them? They’re singing Snow Patrol, an X Factor standard. ‘If I lay here, would you lie with me and just forget the world?’ Perfect lines for harmony, but not a trace. However, in the speeded up section, one of them goes a third up! Wow, what a shock. A harmony, albeit the simplest one possible... But I want to hear four-part harmonies. They obviously can’t do it. It was OK but hardly an advance on the Snow Patrol original. I’ll give them 6. Daughter says 7.

Who is in danger? I think Mary is out. End of the line on the X Factor, but her career in music is safe, and that’s what we all want for Mary, isn’t it? Seems like a nice person with a fine voice. Good luck to her.

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