Welcome to the X Factor 2010 Rock Week liveblog everybody! We’re behind the curve here a little bit, so let’s get right into the performances:
Wagner sings Radiohead’s Creep
You’re not going to believe this, readers – Wagner goes first on tonight’s show. But it’s a two-hour long extravaganza, so he’ll be back on later. However, here’s the shocker – are you sitting down? – Wagner sings this almost completely in tune. It’s a complete turn-around for the singer, who’s been widely reviled for being awful each week.
For once performing without backing dancers, Wagner received his best comments yet from the judges. And we’re all at sea – will this be the reverse psychology that Wagner’s a good singer? Will his singing well result in him getting voted out?
One Direction sing Bryan Adams’ Summer Of ’69
Introduced by Simon Cowell as “no creeps, just One Direction”, the boys take on a classic rock track, Summer Of ’69. There’s an army of teenage dancers backing them up on this and massive staging. However, a criticism – there’s not much of a vocal dynamic here. The boys are chanting in unison, but they’re not playing with harmonies or doing anything complicated.
The mob chorus seems to drown out the vocals, so you can’t really call this a refined performance by any stretch of the imagination. However, the judges loved it, as will millions of easily-pleased teens.
Mary Byrne sings All I Want Is You by U2
Mary delivers a pretty good vocal on her cover of U2’s All I Want Is You. It’s probably not their best song, but all the better for not drawing comparisons. The audience go nuts for it, and rightly so. It’s a proper return to form for the Irish singer.
However, I have to go on record that I’ve kind of lost interest in Mary at this stage. That’s a personal taste kind of thing, but I just don’t see her as being the person who wins this. For that reason, I’ve stopped looking at her as a contender. I mean, it’s not really about the singing anyway, so why should her talents in that area matter?
Cher Lloyd sings Avril Lavigne’s Girlfriend
There’s not much to criticise with Cher’s performance tonight. It’s a fun, uptempo performance and perhaps one of the first times Cher’s really performed a song that suited her age. The extended rap’s a bit wobbly, but to be fair, her vocals are better than usual this week.
It’s raised my opinion of her this week. But Brian Friedman’s staging reeks of being stuck on High School Musical with big gang dance numbers and people acting ‘street’. Boring.
Rebecca Ferguson covers U2
Rebecca gives a subdued, soulful cover of I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by U2. The vocals are absolutely spot on tonight, though the criticism from my couchmate is that she was utterly bored. I think that’s probably valid.
Dannii Minogue and Simon both comment on the stilted performance. However the vocals are beyond reproach.
Matt loves Rock And Roll
Matt Cardle does his second Britney Spears song of the series – but who’s counting? It’s Britney’s cover of Joan Jett’s I Love Rock And Roll. It’s a fine vocal, but yet again marred by the audacious, cheesy backing dancers. On one hand, it was good to see Matt animated on the stage – if he’s going to be a rock singer, he needs to move around more.
Katie Waissel sings Sex On Fire
Probably one of the only acts on the show tonight to sing a bona fide rock song, Katie tackles Kings Of Leon with a smoky vocal. I wasn’t happy that they brought in an invisible choir to lift the chorus because Katie’s voice can’t cut the high points of the song. A good pretend rock performance, but disappointed that she couldn’t carry the vocal on her own.
To be honest, listening to the judge’s comments, they’re more concerned with referencing the tabloid headlines that surround Katie than the actual performance. And I have to point out that Cheyl Cole commented on Katie “really getting into character” for the rock performance, which made it feel even more fake.
Wagner sings Addicted To Love
This is what we call “low hanging fruit” – what allows Wagner to sing a sex-related song surrounded by female dancers? Oh yeah, let’s murder the Robert palmer classic! If he sang well on Creep, Wagner’s back to his heavily accented, terrible vocals.
When the performance is done, the audience boos Wagner horribly. Cowell says it “was like we were making this show in Egypt in 1956”.
For their second song tonight, One Direction take on a Joe Cocker ballad. The bulk of the lead vocals are shared between Harry Styles and Liam Payne – Harry comes off much better, it has to be said. Zayn even gets a line in there. Good vocals though, and a classic track. The same comment from earlier on applies, I don’t think the boys are capable of complex harmonies, and as a boyband, that’s something they need to master.
Mary Byrne sings Brass In My Pocket
This one’s a good vocal, but a slightly half-hearted performance. Like 90% of the performances tonight, it’s dubious whether this can be called rock. However the staging was pretty tasteful instead of Friedman’s usual mess. Eagle-eyed viewers will have spotted Mary gyrating onstage, which was a bit shocking. It’s like watching your mother gyrating on stage.
Dannii called it borderline karaoke, which may well have been fair comment. Simon also called it a bit shouty.
Rebecca Ferguson sings Satisfaction
Flanked by two backing dancers and wearing a sexy black dress, Rebecca covers The Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction. I love how she’s giving it her own unique vocal spin, although it has a few wobbles in there. Also, we were promised Rebecca would be more lively but she wasn’t. She stood rooted to one spot as usual.
Simon plays with her leading her to believe he didn’t like the performance, but instead calling it a return to form, like meeting her again for the first time. He’s not completely off the mark either – last week was a bit of a disappointment for Rebecca fans.
Katie Waissel sings Everybody Hurts
Tackling the REM classic, Cheryl’s words ring in our ears “you’ll see real emotion from Katie tonight”. What, not FAKE emotion? It’s a much better vocal than Sex On Fire, but she ends on an awful, screeched ad-lib ending. Cowell again makes some decent comments about the song not working within the timeframe she had to sing it in.
I remain on the fence about Katie – how do we like someone who’s got more focus on her personal life than on her performances? She’s clearly a good singer. I feel she’s suffering from inconsistent song choices each week. None of the songs she’s given have really suited her voice, and I think Katie’s value to X Factor is in the tabloids and not in her voice.
Matt Cardle sings Nights In White Satin
This is an interesting song choice – really unusual and sadly quite an obscure song these days. But it really brings out Matt’s vocal range and gives him an opportunity to show what drama he can bring to the song. We don’t hear this song enough anymore, and Matt gave a really emotional performance with a classic track tonight. This has got to be his best performance of the series without a doubt.
Cher Lloyd sings Walk This Way
Naturally, the Aerosmith version of this lends itself naturally to rapping (although the RunDMC version had actual rapping). It’s suited to Cher’s style, but it’s also the closest she’s going to get to singing a Girls Aloud song on stage – they recorded a version with Sugababes for Comic Relief.
It’s a bit of a mess, with Cher’s vocal as feeble as usual, but with moments of brilliance where she shows the potential for stronger vocals. The rapping is actually pretty good, although she completely fluffed the lyrics. I doubt anyone will notice though. I’m split – I don’t think she’s strong enough to be here at this advanced stage of the competition – but I also think she’s starting to improve at what she does.
Cheryl makes a good point that X Factor’s never had an artist like her before. It’s fair comment – there’s no precedent for what Cher does. However, that means she much more raw than the other acts on the show. I think the standard of what Cher does is quite low. Give it a couple of years and we might start to see some really polished urban acts hitting The X Factor. And that’s something this show needs.