One month into the live shows proceedings and we’ve already got a contestant quitting, a substitute judge called in at the eleventh hour, and a name change to deal with! Mother England’s X Factor never fails to keep the presses jumpin’.
This week’s Halloween-themed show was a nightmare for Kelly Rowland‘s girls who failed to raise the bar without their mentor’s guidance. Sophie Habibis, Janet Devlin and even the usually unflappable Misha B all took to the back burner while the competition’s more mature contenders – Johnny Robinson and Kitty Brucknell – snatched wigs.
Louis Walsh came surprisingly on-point this week with his Over 25s acts. Where last year’s Halloween-episode yielded surprise show stoppers that became a turning point for then-unpopular acts like Cher Lloyd, I feel like the same voodoo has returned to redeem Kitty Brucknell this year.
Gary Barlow isn’t sending any hearts racing with his predictable song assignments this week. Marcus Collins was made to turn out ‘Superstitious’, Craig Collins given another dramatic Adele jam, and Frankie Cocozza stomped about with some punk track, looking like he hadn’t washed all week. Hit ‘skip’.
By now, Tulisa‘s groups category should be no strangers to line-up changes and sudden shuffles but really, at this stage of the game? One of the members of her last standing boy band – The Risk – quit the show because he felt like being part of a pop group was not in his destiny. So in a line up change that went down quicker than you can say “Sugababes 4.0” – it was out with Ashley John-Baptiste and in with Ashford Campbell from Nu Vibe, the boy band that was voted out of the competition two weeks ago. Meanwhile, Rhythmix rebranded themselves as Little Mix to avoid further hassles from a charity organisation already using the name.
Check out this week’s X Factor trick and treats – and which Power Bottom Two act’s vanishing behind the screen:
1) Johnny Robinson: you’ve cast a spell on us all.
What the fuck just happened? I am throwing side glances galore here while Johnny Robinson delivers his first legitimate performance on the X Factor. One month into the live shows and he’s already a mile away from that first performance where we saw him maim a Cher classic with campsticks galore.
In terms of song choice, Johnny flaunting them mega falsettos last week with a Darkness single was just the tip of the iceberg. Y’all ain’t seen shit. This week’s velvety jazz performance is pure class, completely deserving of that congratulatory hug from Gazza Bear.
Watch Johnny Robinson performing ‘That Ole Devil Called Love’. Something I imagine would go down a treat on a Paul O’Grady Halloween special like this.
2) Alexandra Burke: apprentice judge du jour.
It’s kinda like watching the work experience kid take a whirl in the CEO’s chair, innit? Alexandra Burke – winner of the X Factor three years ago – sat in for Kelly Rowland this week while the Destiny’s Child diva recovers from a “throat infection” that has prevented her from flying out of LA.
Y’guys need to cut Alex some slack. The girl gave good constructive feedback in an acceptable length of time, pulled some interested/concerned faces and served great energy all around. I’ve always found her to be very likable, and as a substitute judge on the panel this week, it’s safe to say that she brought some much needed respite after weeks of conflict between Kelendria and Louis. A+ for Alexandra, shantay you stay.
3) Little Mix: that performance was out of this world.
These young divas are breaking balls like no other. This is the first time we’re seeing
Rhythmix Little Mix pull back on their high energy antics and just give a straight-faced and focused vocal performance. Thankfully under Tulisa‘s guidance, that didn’t automatically mean a trip to cheesy ballad central – a common downfall when typically fun entertainers decide they want to be taken seriously in this competition.
Watch the teen girl band turn out Katy Perry‘s ‘E.T.’ with some severely on-point harmonies and vocal arrangements that flaunts the right singer for the right parts:
4) Louis Walsh’s Kelendriasms.
You know what they say, “when the cat’s away…” Louis Walsh was absolutely living this week in Kelendria‘s absence. The veteran judge didn’t hesitate to borrow some of Kelly‘s sassy, grown woman sayings when reviewing her contestants’ performances – brandishing Misha B with “you put it down, baby girl” and Janet Devlin with “you got it goin’ on babe!”. It was – needless to say – slightly less cringe than the redundant verdicts he usually comes up with on his own.
5) Kitty Brucknell: sweet dream or a beautiful nightmare?
First of all, you gotta give snaps for that slice of Manila Luzon realness right there with the blonde and black wig. But then comes the proper A-level performance of Eurythmics‘ ‘Sweet Dreams’, which instantly becomes the most “contemporary” song choice we’ve ever heard Kitty do in the live shows.
There was such conviction in her voice when she growled, “keep your head up! Moving on!” – you almost get a sense that Kitty‘s really fighting back after being in the bottom two last week. This is the first time I’ve felt Kitty really connect with the lyrics she’s singing rather than simply forging some kind of emotional pantomime.
As always, the former Britney impersonator makes full use of the show’s mega budget and pulls some noteworthy stage spectacle – this week, she showed up strapped to a spinning wheel with sparks flying off it. Where some contestants only require for you to check in on them every couple of weeks, Kitty Brucknell makes for mandatory viewing and it’s all credit to the showmanship she has consistently demonstrated on the X Factor.
It’s good to hear that people are starting to anticipate Kitty‘s stage extravaganzas and react more indifferently to her deluded antics. I feel like the tide is slowly turning for her. You’re not gonna spark a revolution overnight, but you can continue to put in the hard work and lift your game every week, and hope that your art will one day speak volumes for you.
Watch Kitty Brucknell‘s dynamite performance of ‘Sweet Dreams’:
6) Sophie Habibis: gurl, put some bass in your work.
Would it kill Sophie Habibis to put a little neck and back into it? This week’s assignment of Nancy Sinatra‘s ‘Bang Bang’ (a stunning Halloween choice no doubt inspired by That Boy James’ spooky playlist) could’ve been the girl’s ticket out of snoresville had she switched it up to the Audiobully‘s club remake half way through the song.
Every single jam Sophie has been handed, she has turned into a down-lit and poignantly “soulful” performance. Fuck, not even ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ stood a chance against her dulling powers. Even though I enjoyed the London barmaid’s visual vixenry this week, I can’t see that being a viable incentive to keep watching this space.
‘Bang Bang’ – watch Sophie shoot us down with tranquilisers in yet another pulseless performance:
7) Craig Colton: there are some good points presented here.
Given that it’s the third time this year I’m hearing ‘Set Fire to The Rain’ belted on a talent show, I am not exactly moist with anticipation to see this. Especially when it’s set to the vocal cords of dutiful balladeer Craig Colton.
The man can’t be faulted for sticking to his strengths and at this stage of the game with all the legions of fans he has won off the back of ‘Jar of Hearts’, it would be crazy to bend him over with some uptempo feel-good track. He’s not the kind of act you’d expect to take risks and pull it off neatly.
Well seeing as you’re already here, if the Adele song choice isn’t incentive enough to watch Craig, at least treat yourself to the stage spectacle provided?
8) Raccoon Watch.
Nope, Marcus Collins, I don’t see a resemblance. Happy Halloween!
This week’s Power Bottom Two: Sophie Habibis and Misha B.
What a sore irony for two of Kelendria‘s acts who face being “put down” for real after weeks of hearing that phrase paid as a compliment by their mentor.
The British public had once again led the vocally inferior Frankie Cocozza to safety while polished singers like Sophie and Misha are left standing awkwardly as if they were both fighting for the last seat in a game of musical chairs. Both girls present vastly different performance styles and demographic appeal, however, in terms of entertainment value and artistic relevance – there’s no way anyone would have picked Sophie Habibis over Misha B.
In the same amount of time it has taken for contestants like Johnny Robinson and Kitty Brucknell to turn the tide for themselves, Sophie hasn’t done nearly enough to justify her place in the competition.
It was a soul crushing moment for the London barmaid – who has always struggled to standout like her stablemates – but to stand her next to an infallible budding artist like Misha has gotta hurt. Imagine singing for survival and facing the judges knowing that not a single soul behind that panel would save your ass. Even Kelly – who, by the way, pulled the best “sickie” voice I’ve ever heard on the phone – had to turn this bitch loose.
That in itself was actually hard for me to hear because we’ve seen how fervently Kelendria has fought for Sophie. Think about it: Ms Rowland had “controversially” dismissed more memorable acts like Jade Richards at Judges’ Homes and Amelia Lily in the first week just so this girl can grow in the competition. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink, boo. Ultimately it was Sophie‘s comparatively weaker hunger to succeed that forced Kelly to eliminate her over Misha.