You know you’ve not been living and breathing X Factor this year when you don’t have a clear idea who’s in tonight’s semi-final. For once, I was really glad of the recap at the start of the episode.
And proving that the eagle-eyed get more out of this show, you may have spotted Simon and Cheryl’s ongoing ‘salute war’. Cheryl opened with one salute, so Cowell countered with three and as they walked toward their seats, he flicked the V at her. Oooh, catty.
Rebecca opens the show with Show Me Love. After weeks of mellow, slow tracks, this is just brilliant. No, there’s no movement from her on stage. She doesn’t dance. I’m sure at this stage that she can’t dance, but the vocal is almost perfect. She struggles on the high notes, sounding a bit strangled at times, but otherwise it works well for her.
She looks sensational – kudos to the styling team. And it’s the first time I can recall where such a dancey track has been used on X Factor. Score: 8/10
Mary’s chosen track tonight is Never Can Say Goodbye. Great disco tune. She starts out a little lacklustre, and is bizarrely helped down the steps by two dancers, but the vocals definitely improve. She fluffs her timing late in the song. As with Rebecca’s performance, the stage is flooded out with dancers – I worry that this is meant to distract us from a lack of charisma in the singer.
Passable performance, but I’m bored of Mary now. Score: 6/10
With a suitable “Matt’s been sick this week, so cut him some slack
because he’s under-rehearsed” warning, Matt appears on stage with a version of You’ve Got The Love. The warning wasn’t necessary though, because the vocal from Matt was exceptional. He seemed remarkably good with his camera cues, didn’t he?
Great version, given a bit of an indie rock vibe. Score: 8/10
Cher’s first song tonight is BoB’s Nothin’ On You, which is a perfect perfect hip-hop song. Remarkably, she pulls off her best rapping yet. I wasn’t expecting that. But she knew the material and it worked well for her. If you’re a Cher fan, at this point you should realise that her singing voice is woefully weak. However, in terms of confidence and performance, she rocked it.
Score: 7/10 (Marked down for weaker vocals than Matt or Rebecca)
We were less than enthralled by One Direction last week. Tonight, they’re doing a version of Rihanna’s Only Girl (In The World). The vocals aren’t brilliant, but I think I can hear them trying to harmonise. At least they’re putting on a performance though, and I like the synth-y backing track that makes this sound a little different to the currently-in-the-charts original.
Right, coming back with a second round of performances…
She’s Always A Woman is Matt’s second song. Not one I’m familiar with. You? Yet again, I’m noting the much simpler stage set for Matt. A stunning vocal. I’m more and more convinced that this year’s final is between Matt and Rebecca Ferguson. Matt’s performance on this song was just stunning.
Remarkably, Simon Cowell gives him some pretty harsh commentary which Dannii Minogue debunks as ‘tactics’. Weirdly, Matt agrees with Simon that it wasn’t his best performance. What the hell Matt? Score: 8/10
Louis and Mary have agreed on the narrative that “she’s coming out fighting” this week. Which means we may have been right when we noted that her performances recently have been half-hearted. If you expected Mary to come out and blow us all away, think again. She chooses to murder and mutilate The Way We Were. She splits her time on this track between being out of tune and overextending her range. Terrible. Don’t know what the judges were talking about – their comments ignored her terrible singing, but sounded like a consolation prize. She’s going home this week.
Daring performance from Cher, taking on Eminem and Rihanna’s Love The Way You Lie. It’s a good bit better than One Direction’s Rihanna song, but I was a little bit bored by it. Then again, I’m not that fond of the original version. I’m not sure Dannii Minogue’s comments about being compared to the original artists are valid. Still, a good performance – Cher’s definitely gone up in my estimation this week.
I let out an audible groan as Rebecca launched into Amazing Grace. Yes, a showcase for Rebecca’s voice. But what a dull, boring, cliched showcase. Yet another excuse to stand like a statue on stage and belt out another song. Sorry, but no marks for the Liverpool Leona on that one. The judges predictably big the performance up, but I wanted to be entertained, not sedated.
Chasing Cars??? Are you serious, Simon Cowell? He’s got a cheek to talk about lazy song choices from the other judges. Another Snow Patrol number? That’s disappointing.
To be fair to One Direction, they sing it beautifully. And again, less cheesy dance routines going on around the boys and more singing! A big improvement on their earlier song choice.
So, that’s yer lot folks – what did you think of tonight’s show? Following on from OddOne’s scoring mechanism, here’s a few random stats for the evening:
- Best performance: Matt Cardle
- Worst performance: Mary Byrne
- Most improved: Cher Lloyd