The X-Factor Week Seven: Rylan Clark gets the better of Gary Barlow in a not so guilty pleasure week

by Matt D

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been complaining that Dermot O’Leary hasn’t been dancing as much as he had at the start of the series, and at the start of tonight’s show, I did the same. Then something glorious happened and he burst into MC Hammer’s classic ‘Can’t Touch This’ routine complete with parachute pants. This of course was to signify that we’d got to Guilty Pleasures week, which Dermot had to explain to Nicole was a musical term, as we saw the final six acts tackle songs that they wouldn’t readily admit to liking.

We kicked off with Union J who were dejected about being in the bottom two last week but, like the excited little boys they are, were excited about their trip to Disneyland Paris. We saw the fun time they had, with George in particular struggling with all those rollercoasters, but they warned us that they were taking the competition seriously this week as they didn’t want to be at risk again.

The song they chose was Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Call me Maybe’ one of the most overplayed songs of the year which was only redeemed slightly when the Cookie Monster presented his own cover version. While Union J couldn’t match the heady heights of what Cookie Monster produced, I felt that this was still a solid pop song as they wore their finest Burton’s Menswear outfits and stood atop the classic X-Factor boxes before inevitably jumping down halfway through.

These boxes provided a bone of contention for Nicole who wanted the boys to shake things up with the choreography as she felt that she’d seen these platform jumps used week after week, but then I’m sure One Direction did the same sort of routine and things worked out fine for them. Elsewhere, Tulisa enjoyed their energy but didn’t like the song choice, while Gary loved it, especially the way they were styled which was probably because they were dressed very similarly to him. I personally didn’t have an issue with the song choice as I feel Union J should be providing catchy pop covers and appealing to their target market however as it wasn’t a memorable performance I still fear they’ll be in the bottom two one again.

Dermot just thought he’d remind us that Ella was the ‘last girl in the competition’ as he introduced a VT of her experiences of the Disneyland trip, which she described as her funnest week yet. We saw her pal around with the boys before performing ‘Firework’ and later was seemingly the only one of the contestants allowed to attend the Twilight premiere, which I think is a little unfair. Ella, who was also on a box, was singing a very stripped-down version of ‘You’re The One that I Want’ from Grease which I felt didn’t rank up there with her best performances, but was still an interesting rendition of the song. While the staging was very minimal, there was an odd video playing on the back screen of Ella’s head spinning around in a kaleidoscope which I found very surreal indeed. Gary told her that she continued to deliver emotionally while Louis thought she had the poe-tential to sell millions of records. Nicole surprised me the most though when she told Ella that sometimes she forgets she’s only 16, which is shocking seeing as that’s the only thing that people constantly say about Ms Henderson.

James Arthur’s VT was fairly amusing as we saw Rylan trying to coax him from his melancholy state by accompanying him round Disneyland, however I don’t think I’ve seen anyone look more uncomfortable wearing a pair of mouse ears than James did. Like Ella, James also performed to the crowds in Paris, but as ever seemed like he’d look more comfortable playing in the small dingy venues in which he used to gig as he appeared very nostalgic about these places. James was apparently singing to all the girls out there with his almost calypso version of ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,’ accompanied by a second guitarist and some dude banging on a box. Unlike those who had come before him, James wasn’t even allowed to stand on a box, however the video screen was buzzing with pictures of him on the TV which again, seemed very creepy. As ever, James received unanimous praise from the judges with Gary admitting he wanted James to win, Tulisa telling him that it was his coolest performance to date and Louis banging on about him deserving a record deal for what seems like the millionth time.

As there’s only six acts left in the competition, Dermot had some padding to do so had a chat with the judges, kicking off with the revelation that Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls was a big Carly Rae Jepsen fan, describing ‘Call Me Maybe’ as the song of 2012. The bigger discovery for Nicole though was that there was a politician with the surname Balls, which in turn led to her giggling like a twelve year old schoolgirl and shouting out ‘vote for balls!’ Someone else who she wanted people to vote for was The X-Factor’s own guilty pleasure Rylan, who also performed in Paris but thankfully, we were spared actually listening to what he sung. Rylan performed another  of his beloved mash-ups, this time of Girls on Film and When Will I Be Famous, while the staging was a zany as ever, initially looking like a strip club from a sci-fi movie, it later turned into an extremely private members gym when topless men starting jumping around on treadmills. Louis and Tulisa were a little more down on Rylan than they had been in the past, but then I suppose ‘Girls on Film’ is a slightly sensitive subject for Tulisa at the moment. The talking point once again though was the war of the words between Rylan and Gary, with the latter knocking the Essex boy down telling him to give it a few months and people will have forgotten about him, while also advising him to mime. Dermot then aired a video of a young Rylan performing a Take That number as part of a tribute band, and when asked by Gary who he played, Rylan responded that it wasn’t Barlow as he was too skinny for that. This comeback resulted in one of the best moments of the series when Gary looked genuinely upset, rising from his seat to attack Rylan telling him that ‘I’m coming for you’ however the other judges found it absolutely hilarious.

Someone who I find absolutely hilarious, but for all the wrong reasons, is Christopher Maloney who found that this week’s theme was right up his alley as he’d been performing guilty pleasure hits since week one. This week’s cabaret classic was Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Total Eclipse of The Heart’ which Christopher performed in his own cruise ship style while the video screened aired Maloney’s face in all of its evil glory. As Gary had mentioned that the negative comments from the judges had helped him, their feedback this week was surprisingly positive, and my feeling was that they were trying to get him out of the contest. Nicole told him he sounded really nice, Louis complimented him for hitting all the notes, and Tulisa told him she enjoyed the song as she thought criticising Chris was now pointless. I’ve personally got my fingers crossed that these comments do lead to Cruise Ship Chris in the Bottom Two as he’s incredibly annoying, and I’ve got a feeling that he’s also a nightmare backstage.

Finally we had Jahmene, who seemed to be growing in confidence, believing that he delivered his best performance last week however, as the majority of you know, I’ve never been his biggest supporter as I really just don’t ‘get’ him. However, this week I turned a corner as I rather enjoyed Jahmene’s performance of ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’ mainly because for once, he seemed to be enjoying it as well. Though his vocals were praised by all of the judges, the staging caused controversy when Louis noted that Jahmene was standing on a box too, however Nicole retorted that he hadn’t done it as many times as Union J. Elsewhere, Tulisa noted the change in Jahmene as a performer, and Gary liked the way he always came back to deliver a great performance however he wasn’t crazy about his ad libs.

Guilty Pleasures Week on The X-Factor was another enjoyable experience, partly down to the fact that the show is a lot shorter now, despite the fact there is an advert break after almost every act, plus things seem to be a bit more playful. The standout moments for me tonight were Gary and Rylan’s scrap and Nicole’s Ed Balls discovery, but I did find that people were getting a bit too worked up about boxes. I think the psychic that Rylan visited will be proved right as I think Week Seven is his time to go, and the only way he could possibly be saved is if Christopher’s in the Bottom Two as well, though I don’t think this will happen. I feel that Rylan’s exit will appease everyone who criticised his presence in the latter stages of the contest, and I’d be happy to watch an actual singing competition for the last few weeks of the show. There’s no denying that Rylan has provided the lion’s share of the entertainment throughout this year’s series, however I think there’d be no better time for him to go than on Guilty Pleasures Night.

Who was the best act tonight? Who do you think is in the bottom two? Leave your comments below and don’t forget to check out our Week 7 charts by clicking here.