X Factor 2010: American Anthems night, liveblogged!

Evenin’ all! I’ve decided to do a liveblog of tonight’s show, and I’m inviting all of you to join in, slagging, critiquing and picking apart every performance.

The judges come out, and Dannii Minogue is wearing a bizarre bow thingy on her dress. Cheryl Cole’s got something strange and black on her head (I wonder if she knows it’s there?) but her diagonal-cut dress is quite sexy. Simon surveys the audience as if he’s imagining pound signs where their heads should be. Just like every other week, then.

Cher Lloyd sings Empire State Of Mind 

After closing the show last week, Cher (and the dark lords who want her to be a front-runner) is brave enough to open this week’s show. I’m still freaked out by her eyebrows, which, if she wins this, will be the most severe eyebrows in pop.

Tonight Cher’s decided she’s good enough to take on an Alicia Keys vocal. Stop laughing, readers. She’s only a teenager. And it shows, her vocals are bad high school production quality. She plays both parts – Jay-Z and Alicia and while the staging’s quite funky with skateboarders and stuff, I’m holding with my comments: I don’t get why Simon Cowell’s making such a fuss about her.

Cowell tells her that this time round, he’s disappointed. Could that be because people have been accusing him of having a bizarre bias toward her?

Mary Byrne sings There You’ll Be

Here comes Tesco Mary and a modern song – Faith Hill’s beautiful There You’ll Be. SHOCKER! She’s not wearing black this week. OMFG! Mary can’t get the key right! This is a bit of a disaster, because the shine’s been going off Mary in the last few weeks. Instead of the fantastic belter we’ve been used to, her performances have become increasingly lackluster. This is the worst one yet.

She seems to know it went wrong, because she was covering her eyes at the end. I’d kind of hoped that Mary would be a classier rival to Susan Boyle, but she’s losing her confidence as the competition goes on. She tells Dermot O’Leary that she’s been feeling low and lonely for her daughter.

Katie Waissel performs Don’t Speak

After weeks of being compared to Gwen Stefani, Katie’s taking her opportunity to be a bit copycat by singing No Doubt’s Don’t Speak. It’s a passable vocal, but she’s actually being upstaged by the video in the background of her writhing around on a bed with mascara/blood pouring down her face. This wouldn’t have been out of place on Halloween week!

And scratch what I said about the vocal – Katie goes off key quite a few times. Make no mistake, this is not her best performance. If she was in the bottom two last week with a fun, tuneful performance, she’s screwed this week. Dannii Minogue is offering this theory that everybody’s under some kind of magical new pressure this week and it’s all nerves.

Aiden Grimshaw sings Nothing Compares 2U

After a few weeks of criticism about Aiden’s “intense performances” (a phrase which always makes me imagine orgasm faces), he’s coming out with a fun song, right? WRONG! It’s Sinead O’Baldy’s Nothing Compares 2U. Like many of the contestants tonight, Aiden tests the limits of tunefulness with his rendition. His voice is unusually wavery and he looks like he’s literally shaking with nerves.

Louis still manages to rave about this and he drops his “perfect popstar” comment yet again. I’m not convinced. Aiden impressed me back at Mad World, and I thought he had more diversity than he’s shown so far. Every performance is the same. I’m getting bored now. The only thing that’ll shake him out of this repetitive performance syndrome is if he ends up in the bottom two.

Cowell does explain that he got his song late, so he didn’t have much time to rehearse. Not that it matters.

Paije Richardson sings I’m A Believer/Hey Ya

Perhaps one of the better notions – mixing up an old classic with the brilliant Outkast song – Paije shows a bit of life in his performance tonight. He struggles a bit in the transition between songs, but brings it back in time for the ending. The judges rave about it, and rightly so because Paije finally managed an entertaining performance. Louis drops a classic gaffe when he compares Paije to Lenny Henry – why, coz he’s black?

Is it enough to redeem him though? Can you see this guy winning the series?

Rebecca Ferguson sings Make You Feel My Love

Beautiful – it’s Rebecca singing Adele’s version of the Bob Dylan song Make You Feel My Love, in the style of Norah Jones. What could go wrong? Comparisons with Leona Lewis are certainly warranted, because this girl can draw out the goosebumps unlike anybody else in the competition this year. 

Simon decides to go for an overblown “you would be a brilliant ambassador for this country” kind of comment. It’s a variation on Louis’ “all of Liverpool is voting for you”, but on a national basis. Clearly he wants to funnel a few votes in that direction.

Wagner Carrilho does a double Elvis performance

“Elvis is back with a moosetache and a funny foreign accent” says Wagner just before he hits the stage in the classic rhinestone jumpsuit. He kicks off with Viva Las Vegas with a chorus line of sexy dancers. It segues into The Wonder Of You eventually and it’s a bit of a mess to be honest, but we all see Wagner as a bit of harmless fun, don’t we?

The performance went on for ages though, longer than your average song on X Factor. Cheryl Cole pours cold water on his performance, but Simon comes back to say that he’s a guilty pleasure. The act should be getting old by now, but with so many boring acts in the competition this year, he’s actually a welcome distraction.

Matt Cardle performs an old boot camp song

Let’s get this out of the way – I’m tired of hearing how Matt was a painter/decorator/odd job man while pursuing fame. He was a slacker who didn’t want to do anything else, let’s be honest about it. Lazy bum.

But the uneducated buffoon can sure sing. He reprises his bootcamp song choice, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, and sings it flawlessly. I hate the way he stands when he sings, hunched over like that. It creeps me out. But I’m certain someone backstage is telling him to keep that gimmick because it makes him seem vulnerable.

I still think he’s got a lot of potential though, and he’s definitely one of the front-runners in tonight’s show. Even Cowell calls it “the Matt and Rebecca show” in his comments.

Treyc Cohen covers Aerosmith’s Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing 

I’ve been going off the boil on Treyc this last few weeks. So I was not prepared for that beautiful soulful vocal that she started this with. She doesn’t attempt a Steven Tyler vocal, but gives it a big, diva-style performance instead. And it works. 

Plus, she looks hot and elegant at the same time in that white dress. Dannii commends her for getting her spark back, while Cowell complains that she doesn’t have the killer instinct that she needs to win. Treyc herself says that her ‘thread’ is that she’s “a little woman with a big voice”.

One Direction close the show with an American anthem

We discover that the One Direction boys call their mentor “Uncle Simon”. That’s not creepy at all, is it readers? Their song tonight is the brilliant Kids In America. Harry’s doing his mic-punch thing again.

It’s not their best vocal, but as my couch companion points out, it doesn’t need to be. It’s no surprise either that they’re closing the show tonight – Cowell will be taking no chances with his last remaining act. And no wonder – they’re perhaps the best pure boyband to grace the show.

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