I am back with the live X Factor blog this week after missing out on week 7. This week, everyone has to sing two songs, which means I will keep my comments as succinct as possible. As ever, I will update as the programme progesses. Four minutes to go...
Little Mix are up first. The theme of part 1 is ‘guilty pleasures’ – songs you’re not supposed to like but do. They’re doing Justin Bieber with a sprinkling of Diana Ross. I thought that was pretty boring. Awful Bieber song. One you're not supposed to like because it's ...well... so overwhelmingly unlikeable. Nothing cute about it. Gary liked it. Louis says we need some ‘girl power’. Little Mix is all about ‘having fun’ says one of the band. Well, that wasn’t much fun... I’ll give that 5. Daughter says 8.
Janet is next. She sounded as if she was auditioning to be a Cranberries vocalist last week. This week it sounds cheesy, which is the idea, I guess, but somehow lifeless as well, and she forgot her words. She’s really lost the fragile intensity of her first audition completely. Ooh bop dibbeedap a doo bop. Along with Janet, that’s about all I can say. Gary says it’s a “real mess”. There’s always a second song, says Kelly. Oh dear. I’ll say 4. Daughter says 8. Daughter keeps faith no matter what!
Here comes Misha B. Can she bring some class to the show. She’s doing ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’. Don’t think her voice really suits the song - almost too powerful. She can rap though! That ought to bring in a few teenage votes. It’s got better towards the end. “Now the show has started,” says Gary. So much better than the first two. I’ll say 7. Daughter says 7 as well.
Apparently Marcus is doing a Wham song. He is the best performer left in the competition, I think. Odd white-suited people writhing away behind him – a bit unnerving. “If you’re going to do it, do it right (do it with me).” I’m your man, says Marcus, and he is really. The dancers are annoying and unnecessary. Marcus could carry this by himself, no problem. I do wonder, mind you, how boring a Marcus album would be. He’s a fun performer though. I’ll give him 7. Daughter says 9.
Finally Amelia is up. She says she was disappointed by her performance last week of Aretha Franklin’s ‘Freedom’ (or whatever it’s called) which left her in the bottom two. I thought it was pretty good. Maybe it wasn’t a big crowd-pleaser and Tulisa had somehow never heard it before (Aretha! Tulisa). Tonight it’s T’Pau’s ‘China in Your Hands’, which I hated at the time and it doesn’t sound any better now. But Amelia can sing and she’s giving us those huge-voice licks tonight. Tulisa says she loves Amelia’s passion and that her face (when she sings) looks as if it’s in a music video – what a weird comment! Gary says he’s glad to hear the song sung in tune – a barb at the original. Ha ha. Dermot gasps slightly. OK, I’ll say 7. Daughter says 10.
It’s round two, and they’re singing songs by their heroes. Little Mix say their hero is Christine Aguilera. Well, I suppose someone in the world must feel that way. Doesn’t make it any less astonishing when it actually happens though. Must be ’Beautiful’, I suppose. And yes, it is. Started well – very moving. But now they’ve lost it – going for vocal histrionics rather than sheer intensity. But they do clearly mean it. Louis again says we need ‘girl power’. No, we don’t, because the phrase means nothing whatsoever. Apparently they’ve had a bad time with the press slagging them off because they don’t look like models. The same papers who run shock reports on size zero models being a bad example for young women etc. Hypocrite journalists, as ever! I’ll give that 6. Daughter says 9.
Now, can Janet rescue her evening after her initial disaster? Well, this is certainly better, but it’s not that good. She sounds like she means this song just as much as it was obvious she couldn’t have cared less about the earlier one. It’s Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Mind you, she’s never been in the bottom two and must have a large fanbase. That might save her yet even though the judges seem to have decided to put the pressure on. I was bored again, to be honest. I’ll give her 5. Daughter says 6.
Misha B again. Her dress looks like it’s made been made from strips of black gaffa tape arranged in a random collage. It’s Killing Me Softly (with his Song), the dance version. This is good, I reckon. I’d go as far as to say I’m genuinely enjoying this performance. Real quality. Louis says ‘consistent’, but I thought it was better than that. I’ll say 8. Daughter says 9.
Marcus is doing Stevie Wonder. That’s no surprise. I hope it’s good SW as opposed to later boring SW. Ah yes, this is how I like Marcus. Drop the silly dance routines please and let Marcus sing. He is a soul man. He’s getting real feeling into this. Great performance, which did Stevie proud. I think Marcus has pulled ahead of the pack this week. Gary says people know him as the entertainer but now as the voice. I much prefer the voice side of Marcus... I’ll say 9 as well. Daughter says 10.
Finally, Amelia returns. Oh dear... Amelia’s hero is Kelly Clarkson. She is only 17. I suppose she will find better heroes given a bit of time. She has a rare quality of seeming very nice and humble and yet also incredibly driven. The pink trousers don’t suit her. Not that they would suit me either. At least she had the courage to wear them. It’s huge-voice territory again and she does this as well as anyone - soft MOR rock this time, as opposed to power ballad. It’s definitely not my kind of thing. In fact, I can't stand it. But she can sing it. Not much to say here. I‘ll give her 7. Daughter says 10.
Who is in and who is out? Janet should be out. But... she must have people voting for her in large numbers not to have been in the bottom two ever, even after some dodgy performances before tonight. I think Marcus and Little Mix will get through. Misha B and Amelia, despite doing very well tonight, have both been in the bottom two before and can't be counted as safe.