A few people on Twitter and Digital Spy are calling this the best episode of the series, which is high praise indeed from the cynical dwellers of the internet. You know what? I'm inclined to agree. The jukebox idea is genius and the public got it right for almost everyone with their choices. Some real knockout performances tonight and I lost count of how many times the judges said "You have to be in that final!" They do realise there's only 4 places, don't they?
Here's my verdict:
Nicholas McDonald -
Just The Way You Are: Interesting how Little Nicky has been given the death slot 2 weeks in a row. Perhaps Simon fears another Leon Jackson-style winner and is pulling out all the stops to sabotage that ultra-powerful Scottish vote? As much as I like Little Nicky and as much as his personality cracks me up, this song was a bit "meh". Sharon said he needed to become a lion in the first of many animal analogies this week, meaning he needed to come alive and move around the stage more. I know what she means. Last week Gary kept banging on about how Nicky needs to find his own identity, and suggested he does that by watching other performers. Anyone else see how completely contradictory that is?
Greatest Day: I hate this song, it's my least favourite Take That number, and we were warned multiple times what a difficult song it is to sing, flipping between falsetto and regular vocals. For the first time we saw a weakness in Prince Nicky - his high notes are a little weak. Can the Scottish/Granny vote take him through at this stage in the competition??
Sam Bailey -
How Will I Know: Hooray for uptempo Sam! I really think this gal could sell records you know, she's a lot more than a Mothers Day one trick pony. I won't dwell on Sam for too long because she's so many leagues above everybody else that I just don't know what else I can say.
Clown: She took the judges from dancing to crying this week. The styling here was a little 'Stars In Their Eyes Adele' but it was a beautiful performance. Just in case our heart strings weren't jerked enough, we were treated to a lovely VT of Sam talking to her daughter on Skype, while the tinkly John Lewis advert music played in the background. Ooh, those manipulative producers pulling out all the stops to get the Mum vote! I really don't think she needs it though, she's so gotta win this.
Tamera Foster -
We Found Love: Stars In Their Eyes Rhianna - she even dressed exactly like her, just with an extra colourful jacket, which reminded me of something out the film The Fifth Element. She remembered all the words! All 7 of them! Hooray for Tamera! A good performance plus mild/lukewarm praise from the judges may lull Tamera fans into a false sense of security, but who knows?
First Time Ever I Saw Your Face - This was actually quite good. Tamera's apparently been having hypnotherapy sessions this week to control her nerves. One thing it has done is put a smile on her face during her performances, which makes her look a lot less bitchy. I can't really criticise her this week. The only thing I do know is she definitely won't win as there's already too much hate and the British public don't forgive and forget that easily.
Luke Friend -
Skinny Love: Luke in his comfort zone is a beautiful thing to watch and both his songs this week were exactly that. How on earth can Alan Sugar say this lad can't sing? (For those who haven't noticed, Alan irrationally slags Luke off every single week on Twitter). The judges are loving him this week too. If he's bottom 2 I definitely think Sharon is saving him, and possibly Gary unless it's against Rough Copy or Tamera.
I Will Wait: The crowd pleaser of the night, and some are saying the performance of the series! (They are, honest, I saw some tweets!). This is such a feel good song, I loved it. He's such a confident, individual, edgy performer, I just love him.
Rough Copy -
She's Got That Vibe/Every Little Step: The first mash up of the series! And it's two of my favourite songs! And at last Rough Copy are doing exactly the kind of material I wanted them to do! I was literally up on my feet busting out some Bobby Brown dance moves to this. They have the energy, the moves and the personality for sure, but it's just such a shame that their individual vocals are so weak. Joey really carries this group vocally. It's nothing a bit of studio production can't fix if they get a record deal, however.
I Believe I Can Fly - Ugh. This is the one public song choice that I didn't agree with this week, it's been done to death and is so cheesy. BUT. When Rough Copy aren't dancing, they can actually SING! Who knew? This was actually really good.
So overall: I would love to see a Sam/Luke/Rough Copy final but I really can't see it happening. This is such a tough week to call because of so many factors: Tamera remembered her words, Rough Copy are getting a bounceback from bottom 2...my gut tells me Luke is bottom 2 this week because his teenage fan base will assume he's safe. He's certainly the bookies favourite to go. Possibly Tamera and Luke bottom 2? With the first deadlock of the series because Sharon and Louis will vote Luke and Nicole and Gary will vote Tamera.
Nevertheless, stunning performances all round (mostly). This was true X Factor glory days fodder. Good job Simon (assuming he was involved), looking forward to having you back next year!