LOUIS Walsh called this week’s bottom two the most shocking he has seen in nine years on the X Factor, yet the warning signs, at least for Ella, have been there for weeks.
In weeks 4 and 5 I began to have doubts over her ‘favourite’ tag, due to increasingly lacklustre performances and poor song choices.
Ella’s elimination is a classic case of peaking too soon – even Ella’s most devoted fans have to admit her best performances were much earlier in the competition.
Her audition performance of her original song coupled with her stunning performance of Cher’s ‘Believe’ earned her the ‘favourite tag’ – her first live show performance of Take That’s ‘Rule the world’ cemented it.
However that was it from Ella, it was a gradual descent to elimination from the very first live show.
James Arthur on the other hand came as a shock as his live show trajectory was the opposite of Ella’s – from some very ropey performances in the first few weeks he has been phenomenal recently.
A worrying aspect is that if the long established precedent that no act in the show’s history who has been in the bottom two has gone on to win, there are only two possible winners left - Christopher and Jahmene.
Jahmene is the more obvious choice, but I struggle to imagine what an album of his would be like.
However, if in a year when the results have been so unpredictable, this may just be the year that precedent is broken.
The anti-Christopher vibe which is clear from all aspects of the show, from judges to presenters, is just now serving to further mobilise his voters.
Quite often the show’s most successful contestants are the ones who don’t win – and Christopher winning would just be another statistic in support of this.
Union J – ‘Call me maybe’
I’ve made no secret of the fact I’ve always thought Union J to be the stronger of the boybands, however I was really underwhelmed this week.
At this stage in the competition this just wasn’t good enough, and being completely honest they should have been in the bottom two with it.
It seemed really regressive, just when it seemed they were carving out their niche in the last few weeks it was back to something bland and predictable.
Vocally it was fine, but Nicole was right when she said the box needs to go – there seemed to be no effort to stage a performance.
The bottom two last week may have scared Louis and the boys into doing something safe – but now isn’t the time to play it safe.
I’m really hoping they pull something much improved and inventive out of the bag next week or they may not make the semi finals. 4/10
Ella Henderson – ‘You’re the one that I want’
Ella was clearly in trouble on Saturday night, despite what the judge’s claimed – this just came across very dull and flat on screen.
Vocally it was actually one of Ella’s more solid performances, with her showing a lot more control of her voice.
The cliché ‘dramatic’ X Factor performance was wheeled out for it, with the miming choir of thousands just a distraction.
There was no ‘wow’ moment in it, it dragged on as a performance and didn’t display any of the amazing tones and quivers that are naturally found Ella’s voice.
Ella’s biggest downfall this year has been poor song choices – Tulisa’s song choices played a huge role in Little Mix winning last year, and a huge role in Ella’s exit this year.
It’s unclear whether Ella can be a Cher Lloyd or Diana Vickers and carve out a successful career after an early exit, especially after peaking way too soon in the live shows. 4/10
James Arthur - ‘Can’t take my eyes off you’
James Arthur has really come on so much in the last few weeks – he’s gotten far more confident on stage and is really putting in far stronger performances because of it.
Vocally this was just fantastic; his voice is one of the most unique to ever compete on the X Factor stage.
He was singing into his cameras, which really added such a greater connection to the viewers at home and made him look a lot more comfortable and less awkward.
There were weeks James could have arguably been in the bottom two, but this definitely wasn’t one of them.
However I almost feel it would have been better for James to have left the competition now – Syco don’t have a good record managing anything slightly different from the classic pop star, and even then they struggle.
James’ best bet for a successful future is not in winning this show and being tied into a record deal with Syco, who would more likely mismanage him.
He should be safe next week thanks to the bottom two bounce, but it would be in his long term best interests to exit the competition soon. 8/10
Rylan Clark – ‘Girls on Film/When will I be famous’
Rylan is really living on borrowed time on this show – however this performance added a much needed touch of fun to what was otherwise quite a dull show.
However, for the theme of the week this wasn’t up to the standards of Rylan’s previous cheesy performances.
This would be like Christopher Maloney performing badly in a week themed ‘singing songs about your granny’s kitten and wearing coats’.
I was expecting more from Rylan, I wanted the Macarena, I wanted the Ketchup song, maybe even the Tellytubbies.
However ignoring the missed opportunity to go completely over the top, it was vocally as good as Rylan gets and was a pretty amusing stage show.
I’d be amazed if he gets through next week, unless he finds himself in the bottom two with Christopher he’ll probably go. 6/10
Christopher Maloney – ‘Total eclipse of the heart’
We’ve had Rylan. We’ve had Jedward. We’ve even had Wagner – however this was hands down the most hilarious performance I’ve ever seen on this show.
The beams of light coming out of the eyes of the projected image of Christopher’s face after he sang ‘bright eyes’ was straight out of the Fr Ted ‘Eurosong’ staging hand book.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, as he sang ‘sound of my tears’ he stroked his eyes – lest we be in any doubt where tears come from.
I really thought Christopher was a goner this week. Then, five minutes before lines closed on Sunday, he mentioned his nan. Crap.
I knew that his grey army of bingo hall grannys were instantly called into action, securing his place for another week.
Let’s just be thankful they don’t allow vote by telegraph or he’d be a sure fire winner.
Look Christopher, let’s cut the Maloney Baloney that you want to be a credible singer.
Just pop on a nice granny knitted jumper, stroke a puppy and make a cup of tea next week as your performance.
Then sing your own original song about ‘the sparkle in my nan’s eyes’ or ‘happy birthday aunty Helen’.
This show set out to find the next One Direction, the next Rihanna or Justin Bieber. Well it’s found the next Daniel O’Donnell. Hurrah. 3/10
Jahmene Douglas – ‘Don’t leave me this way’
Jahmene is right up there with James Arthur for how much he has improved his stage presence.
He looked so much more comfortable this week than a few weeks ago, and vocally he was just about perfect.
Taking the precedent that a bottom two act has never one, Jahmene is the only contestant other than Maloney who could win now.
I struggle to imagine what a Jahmene album would sound like – however that may be down to my own limited imagination rather anything else.
I’m still waiting for the ‘goose bump’ moment from Jahmene, but I really feel we’re getting close to it.
Motown week next week will suit him to the ground, however I’m intrigued to see which Abba song he will take on.
I’m still waiting for him to take it to the next level, but I’m increasingly confident he can do it. 7/10