‘The X Factor’, Week 4 Review

So, it was a night of hellish, ghoulish fun for not-quite-all on Saturday, with the theme of songs being the first decent idea to come from the show since… well, Guilty Pleasures week, but since only three acts actually performed guilty pleasures last week, we’ll call that a non-entity and move on. A Halloween-themed evening certainly beats the obligatory Big Band Evening or even Music Heroes week, but you could’ve carved it in stone that at least one of the acts would be forced to tackle ‘Thriller’ at the very mention of a Halloween evening. But whilst Aiden Grimshaw did perform the MJ classic, quite a few of the other contestants still haven’t quite got the idea of conforming to a theme, opting the sing any old song and let the staging to the scary stuff: Belle Amie, 1Direction, TreyC and Tesco Mary to be precise. In fact, did anyone notice Simon’s song choices would’ve fitted Guilty Pleasures week better than Halloween?

Just think of the other possible song choices that could’ve been, like Wagner scrubbing up on his RP English accent for ‘Monster Mash’ whilst his infamous booby dancers re-enact the Two Girls One Cup video, or Katie Waissel learning to stand still for once whilst singing Madonna’s ‘Frozen’, and Matt Cardle could send teenage girls on Twitter into a frenzy once more as he whips out his guitar like the pro he is and sings ‘I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight’ by Cutting Crew, and then TreyC could close the show and seal her own fate by trying the rock path once more with The Automatic’s ‘What’s That Coming Over The Hill (Is It A Monster?)’, whilst wearing standard Grim Reaper attire and a Scream mask.

But no, Halloween evening became just as much a joke as Belle Amie’s chances of winning. I felt like ringing up Channel 4 and asking if Noel Edmonds still had a pair of goblin ears or some face paint going from the Deal Or No Deal?’s Halloween special because nothing about the stage gave any impression it was Halloween; no pumpkin or witch hat in sight. In fact, Dermot felt the need to remind the viewers it was Halloween night every time the show returned from an interval, just so we wouldn’t forget.

Whether Judgeland in X Factor has intentionally become more feisty and catty this series is unsure, but the way Louis was constantly trying to swipe at Simon, you’d think they were an old couple fighting over florals. There were a few blunders too, like how Dannii was clearly favouring Aiden by copying his hair and how Cheryl missed her cue to introduce TreyC, which must’ve been very reassuring. None-the-less, TreyC was one of the highlights vocally, and opened the doorway for Simon to yet again prove he is the walking epitome of hypocrisy by saying – “You’re not doing anything amazing or original”. Remind you of anyone – or any six – of your own signed acts, Mr. Cowell? But with The X Factor being all high-class entertainment with morals and a reputation to uphold, the fights were kept to a minimum in comparison to last week, and the poppies were out and pinned to everyone’s chest, even if Dannii did have to go and upstage her’s with an absolute monstrosity of a corsage on her bust.

First on was Tesco Mary, who looked like she’d just popped into Claire’s Accessories to buy her horns and earrings minutes before the show started. She sung ‘Could It Be Magic’ by Barry Manilow and whilst she was good vocally, her bellow-y schtick is beginning to wear off fast, she really needs to perform something like ‘Fire With Fire’, you can just imagine it can’t you? There’s so big notes in that song and I’m sure she’d nail it.

Aiden was on next, and a few days ago, I joked a little about how funny it would be if he performed ‘Thriller’, purely because I knew he simply wouldn’t be able to do it. By the end of his two minutes, he’d half nailed it, but the arrangement was awful: he could’ve sung the lyrics to ‘Yellow Submarine’ to that piano backing and no-one would’ve been the wiser. The performance itself was like watching bread go stale; the dummies looked like they were having more fun than anyone else in the room. But he still promises more prosperity than Belle Amie, who’s latest performance (Bananarama’s ‘Venus’) was certainly more guilty pleasure than Halloween. The vocals, as Dannii said, were all over the place what was most interesting to note was that Simon criticised John Adeleye for his “distracting backing dancers”, yet when Simon allows his act to have backing dancers who look like they’ve just walked off the set of an M rated movie, no-one complains. Biased, Simon?

Highlights were Rebecca and hearing Louis repeat the exact same comments he gave her last week – and the week before – “Liverpool’s finest”, “you’ve got a unique recording voice and that’s what we’re looking for” blah, blah, blah, don’t fall asleep just yet, Wagner’s on next.

But unfortunately, The X Factor is a highly respected, daytime telly show with morals, so any re-enactments of any hit YouTube videos were strictly out of the question for Wagner and his booby dancers (that could be his stage name when he wins! Cheque in the post please, Simon). He performed another medley, this time ‘O Fortuna’ and ‘Bat Out Of Hell’. You could barely hear him but his little pink head was mesmerising to watch. It rather reminded me of a potato in a microwave – wrinkly, and giving the impression it’s about to explode – and you could read his face like a book – he was clearly running “Donn looka ahht dee dancerrs” through his head over and over whilst he was singing.

Matt in the Hat wasn’t that good either, disappointingly. As X Factor is beginning to slowly eat itself, he performed ‘Bleeding Love’, but of course Brian Friedman had to step in and big the song up even more, making little Matt and his Hat even more depressed, and Katie committed the ultimate crime of being just about average, hiring a mime brass band, and not being as good as Rebecca… although her face did make up for all the Halloween-y horror that was missing from the other acts. Paije Richardson improved but was once again utterly forgettable, and he looked like he’d just raided a wardrobe from 1920’s aristocracy.

On to 1Direction, who performed a song that you’d only ever want to hear after spending a week in Las Vegas – Celine Dion’s ‘Total Eclipse Of The Heart’. Naturally, Simon spruced up the production and made it sound freakishly like little Jaw McElderry pet’s ‘Ambitions’, just so he could keep them current once again, even with an old song. They’re beginning… well, not “beginning” to get on my nerves but now it’s clear they’re not as groundbreaking as Simon makes them out, let alone “the most exciting group in Britain right now”. They were out of time, out of tune in places (though the fluctuating volume of the music probably helped to mask that), and the one that looks like the birth-child of Clint Eastwood and Justin Bieber must have an awful bout of crabs in his privates because he couldn’t keep his hands off them.

Star of the show this week was the closing act (seems to be a running trend, dunnit?), Cher Lloyd, who stripped back her theatricality and the “please take me seriously, I can be gangsta”-schtick and provided a truly haunting vocal performance of Shakespeares Sister’s ‘Stay’, complete with real tears at the end. QUICK! SOMEONE GET THE GANGSTA A TISSUE! AN IRON TISSUE CUZ SHE’S WELL ‘ARD! But in all seriousness, I was beginning to get tired with all the groin-grabbing, men’s-underwear flaunting Cher, so this has restored my faith in her.

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