Great British Songbook week. A nice, broad theme which allows contestants to be themselves. And as the VT is beginning to reveal as the weeks go by, it seems that the finalists are mostly choosing their own songs, rather than reluctantly going along with what they're given. Interesting then that this series has been criticised for dated songs and too many ballads. Whatever happened to the creative mash-ups of series 7 (Matt Cardle's year)? Come back Wagner's 'Loaf Shack', all is forgiven.
Anyway, I enjoyed tonight because apart from Sam Callahan, we are getting down to the real talent of the series now that all the deadwood has been rooted out. Here's my verdict on tonight's performances:
Hannah 'Banana' Barrett -
I've been harsh on Hannah up until now, but this was a really solid performance from her. No growling, no oversinging, just a good Tina Turner-esque spin on 'Satisfaction', with a nice bit of audience participation thrown in. She gets a lot of stick on various forums for looking miserable all the time, but because this was a light-hearted, upbeat number, she seemed to relax and enjoy herself. I hope she gets through, I much prefer her over Tamera 'Dead Eyes' Foster.
Luke Friend -
After a shaky performance last week, Lukey really redeemed himself this week, despite what Sir Alan Sugar thinks:
But this is a man who picks a young female bit of totty to be his apprentice winner every year, so he's hardly the best person to judge someone on their actual merits. This was a beautiful performance from Luke, I might actually download this one.
Sam Bailey -
Not my favourite performance of Sam's so far. I agree with Nicole - this is not something I'd like to see on Sam's album, we don't really need to hear George Harrison belting out a power ballad and vice versa. 'Something' should be all about tone and restraint, so it couldn't really showcase what Sam can do. I can't criticise her technical ability though. According to voting leaks in The Sun today, Sam is leading the votes by 35%. I can well believe this.
Rough Copy -
Every week the judges heap praise on these guys and I just don't get it. They were my favourites going through to the final 12 because I was expecting some kind of urban, Blackstreet type of act, but they're just boyband-lite. This was Coldplay boyband-ified. Bonus points for their energy and funky dance moves, but I absolutely loathe their song choices every week (except for Hit The Road Jack).
Sam Callahan -
Do I really have to write about this performance? I don't want to be mean. He's trying, bless him. He needs to take guitar lessons from Luke. He really can't concentrate on playing the guitar and singing at the same time. Surely the Callafans can't save him again this week?
Tamera Foster -
She chose this song herself? Really? Even actual Tamera fans are criticising her for singing too many outdated ballads, and now we find out she is picking them herself! I was pleased when the beat dropped and the urban dancers came out, but even they couldn't save Tamera when she messed up her lyrics halfway through. The mask dropped for a moment when that happened, and we saw the kind of face she probably pulled when she made that poor girl at school lick her shoes. I predict bottom 2 this week, as even her fans don't seem to care enough any more.
Nicholas McDonald -
Everyone's favourite Adele tearjerker teamed with the 'pimp slot' that is the final performance of the evening - this was bound to be good. Little Nicky did a beautiful job of this, I love the way his wee Scottish accent slips out a bit when he's singing. My only criticism is that he didn't seem to be connecting with the lyrics very much (how could he if he's never been in love or had his heart broken?) He compensated for this with some very cliched fist clenching and a pained expression, but nevertheless it was still a first class vocal performance.
I'm predicting a bottom 2 of Tamera and Sam C. this week, but of course the judges will save Tamera. Don't take my word for it though - I was way off last week. Previous X Factor history dictates that my favourite always goes on the weekend closest to my birthday as a particularly cruel twist of fate, but I have no worries about Luke this week. Tune in tomorrow and we shall see! I might have to switch off for Miley Cyrus though, I've seen enough of that tongue to last me a lifetime.