Tuesday 23 January 2018

Last night’s TV: The X Factor

In which Gary Barlow acts very manly, Louis cries, Kelly talks female solidarity and Tulisa gets a kiss. This was telly gold, writes Claire O’Mahony

David Wilder, one of the contestants
David Wilder, one of the contestants
David Wilder

Claire O’Mahony

Anyone who thinks that X Factor doesn’t get going properly until Bootcamp was proved very wrong with last night’s show.

There were tears – buckets of! There were slagging matches! There was an oddball contestant who lay down on the stage and refused to leave until Gary stepped in and escorted him off! And Kelly wore a really lovely pussycat bow blouse! Truly, this was an embarrassment of riches.

Proceedings got off to a kooky start with 42-year-old David Wilder, who’s in it for the money, the fame and the chicks, but mainly, it’s all about the music. The singer (who makes Iggy Pop look positively fresh faced) confused and amused the judges and audience in equal measures, with his spray-on jeans, unshakeable confidence and general bucklepping around the auditorium. “I don’t know what’s going on but I actually really enjoyed it,” a bewildered Tulisa said before giving him the thumbs up. The new Wagner? Possibly.

But in terms of demographic, the Wild Man was the anomaly of the night, which was all about the 16-year-olds, as we were treated to a series of cherubic, young things with very grown up voices. There was Lem Knights, Max Mackay and Lizzie Colbourne. “They’re so young!” marveled Kelly and Gary to each other while 23-year-old Tulisa wisely kept her counsel on this one. The stand out teenager was cuter-than-cute Luke Lucas - Gary and Dermot got lots of mileage out of his name - performing a stunning version of the Michal Jackson song, ‘Who’s Loving You’. He has a massive crush on Tulisa, who gave him a kiss, leading the 16-year-old to quip, “I think this might lead to a proposal.” Four yesses later, and the likeable young lad was off to Bootcamp.

Despite rumours that there’s a rift in the judges camp with Louis and Tulisa banding together against Kelly and Gary, last night was one big show of solidarity. When girlband Angel got catty with Tulisa, Kelly was quick to leap to her defence with a nice little spiel about female solidarity. But this week’s award for Best X Factor judge undoubtedly goes to Mr Barlow. Enter Michael Lewis, a 27-year-old who failed to impress anyone with his Michael Jackson channeling last year. This year, he informed us, it was going to be different. He was going to be ‘himself’. Unfortunately, this turned out to be the strangling of a Geri Halliwell song with some very dodgy pelvic thrusts. When told in no uncertain terms that his future did not lie with X Factor he lay down on the stage and told the judges and audience they were shallow, sentimental and judgmental (well, they are judges…). A lesser mortal might have waited for security to step in, but not Gary. Masterfully, he walked up to the prostrate Michael, picked up his jacket and told him firmly but gently to be off. Swoon.

But the night really belonged to Jade Richards, a 21-year-old from Fife in Scotland, who won’t have endeared herself to her neighbours, after describing it as a ‘bit of a dive’. Accompanied by her wheelchair-bound grandmother, she sang Adele’s ‘Some Like You’ and made it her own, not an easy thing to do considering how brilliant the original is. She was very, very good and made both Kelly and Louis cry. “That performance is going to change your life,” said an approving Gary. He could be right but surely it’s far too early in the game to have already found the winner.

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