I sometimes don’t notice the product placement concealed within The X-Factor, which is alluded to by that ‘P’ sign popping up at the beginning of the show, however in tonight’s final it was apparent that the show had been paid an awful lot of money by Virgin Trains to advertise their services. So in tonight’s programme we saw finalists James, Christopher and Jahmene travelling from their hometowns to Manchester, where this year’s final was being held, while they later used the trains to see their local fans. Whether these clips were enough to convince anybody to by a return ticket from London to Manchester is unsure but it certainly delivered all of the contestants in one piece to tonight’s event.
Somebody else who was on fire tonight was Dermot O’Leary, as he started off tonight’s show on an entertaining note when when we saw him perform an awesome extended dance routine which saw him waltz into the Rover’s Return, where Nicole was working behind the bar, while later he caught Louis in his dressing room with glamour model auditionee Lorna Bliss…
The routine climaxed with Dermot on stage dancing with a multitude of pretty girls, who he later called harlots, before getting into a slightly more professional presenting mode. The judges had also done themselves up for the final with Louis wearing his Professor Yaffle bowtie and Tulisa looking awfully uncomfortable in a bodice and massive heels.
We then saw the traditional group sing-song with all the eliminated acts, apart from MK1 who were singing in a hotel in Jersey, which kicked off with another entertaining rendition of ‘Gangnam Style’ from the one and only Rylan. This was followed by Union J arriving on scooters and Lucy Spraggan, who seems to have recovered from that cold, belting out ‘Titanium’ accompanied by some of the other less memorable contestants finally we saw the three finalists arrive to belt out a few choruses of ‘Read All About It.’
We kicked off tonight’s show with Jahmene, who has graduated from Nicole’s lamb chop into her lamb shank, as we saw him journey back to Swindon and more importantly to his old workplace of Asda. Here, we saw lots of fake hugs from staff members who barely knew Jahmene, before he introduced Nicole to Carmella the Deli Manager, who actually used some slick sales patter to convince Nicole to buy some meatballs. Ironically, Nicole’s ‘you’ve changed your life forever’ speech was conducted in front of the reduced to clear shelf, which is where Jahmene’s album will most likely be stocked a year from now.
Jahmene also went back to his local church to meet the pastor and so Nicole could inevitably take centre stage once more and join his gospel choir for a couple of quick hallelujahs. Jahmene’s first song of the evening was ‘Move On Up’ a number that he seemed to enjoy singing but one that really didn’t feel like it belonged in the final. It appears as The X-Factor has finally got a budget for staging once again as Jahmene was accompanied by bacofoil-clad dancers and a really poorly constructed model of Big Ben, for no apparent reason. Of course, everybody was mad about Jahmene’s performance, with Louis dragging out his annual Luther Vandross comparison before telling Jahmene he has a lot of sole, however I think that’s only on the days he’s allowed to man the Asda fish counter. Tulisa wished Jahmene the best of luck, while Gary complemented him as a brilliant singer added that he shines as a vocalist.
There were more Virgin Trains for Christopher Maloney as he travelled into Liverpool to meet his former employees and, more importantly, ‘me nan’ in a very emotional and in no way forced reunion. Christopher first went back to the call centre office in which he once worked, where his former colleagues had made cakes with his face on,presumably so they could eat away that smug smile he always seems to wear. As Chris and the rest of the team enjoyed a mini-party, I had to wonder who was actually manning the phones, however it wasn’t long before Maloney had to leave so that the rest of the office could slag him off behind his back.
As Christopher journeyed back to his nan’s house, a gaggle of OAPs was waiting to greet him, and they all told us how much they enjoy hearing him sing which finally proves the theory that Maloney’s major audience is made up of senior citizens. The most bizarre thing about this entire opening VT wasn’t the fact that Gary Barlow was having tea in his nan’s living room, but rather was the fact that during this conversation, the cheesy cabaret singer was wearing an LL Cool J T-Shirt. Thankfully there was no hip hop medley from Maloney, but just more pure 1980s cheese as he came out of a ghetto blaster to perform the title track from ‘Flashdance’ but sadly he didn’t preface his rendition with any welding, which lost him some points in my view. As the performance carried on, Maloney was accompanied by more and more dancers who were both on roller skates or using skipping ropes, and I was sure at one point I was watching a pilot for Maloney’s 2013 workout DVD.
It was clear to me that the judges had been instructed to give vague praise to Maloney about nothing in particular, so Nicole told Christopher to enjoy himself, Louis said that he always delivered and Tulisa described him as thick-skinned but I reckon that’s just the make-up he wears.
Finally we had James Arthur, who journeyed to the small Northern town of Saltburn-by-the-sea to discuss the depression he was going through while seeking a living playing small gigs in The Victoria Pub. As James took Nicole to the bedsit he once lived in, he talked about some of his dark days and how he was living through hell, which is just what you want to hear on a Saturday night entertainment show. Like the other two contestants, James also played for his local audience at The Victoria Pub, however I have a suspicion that was just so Nicole could down more pints of bitter as I think she now has an addiction following James introducing her to the substance some weeks ago.
James’ performance was also similar to what we’ve seen from him before, although I really don’t mind that much as his rendition of ‘Feelin’ Good’ combined the same earnest vocals and slightly contemporary edge that we’ve come to know from him. As James was accompanied by flashing lasers and a backdrop of a futuristic city, I couldn’t helped but be drawn to Louis Walsh who scribbling on his pad, however I’m not sure what he could possibly be writing. It certainly wasn’t any constructive feedback as Louis told James he was incredible, adding that he was someone that needs a break while Tulisa added that she hoped that he’d be in tomorrow’s final, and Gary told him that he’d just delivered the performance of the series, which I think was a big lie. James’ friends and family were also present as Caroline Flack introduced the Mayor of Saltburn as well as one woman who’d constructed a very juvenile pizza with James’ face on, which I’m sure Gary Barlow devoured during one of the breaks.
As the majority of this year’s X-Factor budget has been spent on Rylan’s performances, there was no money left to hire big name stars to duet with the finalists – that or no-one wanted to commit career suicide and sing with Maloney – so instead, the acts’ mentors stepped up to sing alongside them. This meant that Nicole had to play double duty, kicking off with a performance of ‘The Greatest Love of All’ accompanied Jahmene, which will be remembered for only one thing; namely the microphone disaster. This happened after Nicole sauntered onto the stage and realised her mic wasn’t working, so she and Jahmene then had to share one between them which created some great comic moments where the pair both had to lean over to sing into the mic at the same time. Thankfully Nicole didn’t have any problems with her James duet on ‘Make You Feel My Love’, although the chairs they were perched on what looked like toilets, which gave an odd visual of this romantic serenade being sung by two performers who were simultaneously relieving themselves. Sandwiched in between these two duets was the collaboration between Gary and Christopher on ‘Rule the World’ the highlight of this was seeing Louis and Tulisa mucking about at the judges’ table, essentially not bothered at all about who ultimately will win the final.
As the country was parted with their money as they voted in their droves, we saw a couple of performances from established artists starting with Rita Ora, who was doing a tribute to Simon Cowell by wearing his trousers. Kylie meanwhile was hawking her new CD ‘Live from Abbey Road’ as she performed a stripped-down version of ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’ accompanied bt a strings section. Following Kylie’s performance, she and Dermot leaned on two rather uncomfortable looking male dancers before finally putting the poor lads out of their misery. Talking of putting people out of their misery tonight, saw the back of cruise ship Christopher as thankfully the people got it right for once and James and Jahmene made the final.
My theory here is that Christopher gets a lot of votes from the pensioners on Sunday afternoons, however as the voting was frozen halfway through tonight’s show, they didn’t have time to show their support for him. James and Jahmene looked completely ecstatic, to the extent that the latter was carrying the former round on his shoulders, and tomorrow night will see them set off on a journey to crown a new X-Factor winner, and presumably on that journey, they’ll use Virgin Trains all the way.
What did you think to tonight’s result? Who’s winning tonight’s final? Leave your comments below and in the meantime, here’s a reminder of last night’s show and that whole microphone debacle…
And you can check out our Rated & Slated X Factor final chart by clicking here!