For ten years, one man has lurked in the shadows of The X-Factor and has been known by his voice alone. But tonight ‘X-Factor voice man’ Peter Dickson broke his anonymity and was placed front and centre during the introductions of the return of the show’s ‘Big Band Week’. The last time we saw the big band theme was back in 2009 where Jedward essentially killed it off when they performed a Ricky Martin song. But tonight was a fairly traditional evening where even Nicole Scherzinger kept the noise down despite promising a Sch-winging energy.
Nicole’s girls started the evening with Abi Alton adding her own unique twist to That’s Life. Obviously, due to the fact that she was accompanied by an orchestra, Abi couldn’t simply sit down at her piano and present a stripped down version of a Sinatra song. So instead she whipped off the glasses and gave her most vibrant performance to date with a rendition of ‘That’s Life’. I personally think that the performance seemed heartfelt and Abi did really try her best but Louis wasn’t impressed feeling that she could do much better. However, Gary disagreed with Louis and told her that he felt she looked really comfortable as she was a musician amongst musicians. I have to say that I was surprised about Abi’s connection with the song and I’m hoping that the naysayers finally realise there’s more to this girl than just downbeat piano ballads. If anybody was going to excel at big band week it was Sam Bailey so predictably her version of ‘New York, New York’ really saw her display even more vocal dexterity. Oddly though, in her pre-performance VT, we saw that Sam had had a visit from American music legend Michael Bolton. It seemed as if the two had been sending each other tweets and this culminated in him popping over so she could sing at him and the whole thing could be filmed for the show. I’m guessing this is the production team doing some long-term planning as they are hoping Bolton will turn up for the final if Sam progresses that far. For now though she’ll have to put up with glowing accolades from the judges even if Gary is running out of positive things to say.
I half expected Nicholas McDonald to be researching big band music on Wikipedia but instead it seemed that The X-Factor had finally provided him with a genre that he was familiar with. In fact Louis told us that this was the type of music that he would put on Nicholas’ CD, so the expectations were high. What we got was the typical Nicholas performance as he gave a sincere but rather dull rendition of ‘Dream a Little Dream of Me’ which isn’t strictly a big band number. Sharon was so taken with Nicholas’ singing that she spent all of her time commenting on his hair rather than anything that he’d done on stage. Meanwhile, Gary described Nicholas as consistent which I took to mean that he thought he was as dull now as he has been since the start of the contest. Louis’ next boy, Luke Friend, didn’t fare as well despite being hailed by his mentor as ‘a serious contender.’ The problem with Luke’s performance was that he really didn’t know where to pitch his voice in order for him to co-ordinate with the band. His rocky voice didn’t really work on ‘Moondance’ and it didn’t help that he had to perform a routine in which he was tasked with chasing round a number of girls dressed in flapper outfits. Luke’s problems didn’t go unnoticed as Gary told the youngster that he was disappointed and added that Luke was ahead of the beat. While Luke’s energy was definitely there I do feel that he struggled with theme, but then it isn’t one which really benefits his style.
Somebody who was going to be a natural at belting out a number with a full orchestra was Hannah Barrett. Coming out on stage looking like a detective from a film noir, Hannah put on a captivating display with her rendition of ‘This is a Man’s World’. As always Hannah’s comments from the judges were positive as Louis complemented her voice while Gary told her that her voice had grown in confidence throughout the contest. While there’s no debate on Hanah’s vocal ability, I feel that her performances aren’t always that memorable and that’s probably why she ended up in the bottom two a couple of weeks ago. One act who always delivers memorable performances are Rough Copy, who gave arguably their best showing with their rendition of ‘Hit the Road Jack’. The trio’s staging had a hint of the recent Great Gatsby film while the boys themselves were kitted out in smoking jackets but still retained their leather ensemble. Rough Copy interacted with the band, the audience and performed an energetic routine involving canes; but crucially they never once sounded out of tune. The judges picked up on Rough Copy’s stellar work with the majority of them predicting that the group would end up in the final and for once I’d have to agree with them.
After landing in the bottom two last week, Tamera gave us a very classy performance of ‘Cry Me a River’. Though she didn’t belt out the vocals I found this to be an assured turn from a young lady who wants to be seen as more than just your average karaoke diva. For some reason Sharon’s comments came across quite negative as she accused Tamera of holding back, something I’d disagree with massively. Luckily Gary seemed like he was on her side and urged the viewers to vote for her adding that he felt the judge had taken her for granted as she was such an accomplished singer. Somebody who Gary has never accused of being an accomplished singer is Sam Callahan, who ended the show tonight. To be fair to Sam it does seem like he works incredibly hard and his rendition of ‘Ain’t That a Kick in The Head’ was probably his most complete performance to date. Accompanied by a bevy of beauties holding large feathers, Sam didn’t attempt any big notes and instead tried to act like a showman. When it came to the judges’ comments, it appears as if the quartet had been asked not to give Sam any negative feedback, probably in an attempt to stop the audience from voting for him. Even the normally critical Gary Barlow was oddly muted and just told Sam that he’d done a good job. Despite him giving an impressive turn here, I do feel that Sam has to go now and I feel that it will be he and Abi in the bottom two tonight.
Overall, I feel that tonight’s performance of The X-Factor was pretty underwhelming. Despite the classy feel that the big band provided, there still isn’t one performer who I truly look forward to seeing every week. In fact, when the highlight of a show is seeing the voice-over man you know you’re in trouble but, having said that, it was great that Peter Dickson finally got his dues after being one of the unsung heroes of The X-Factor.
What did you think to tonight’s X-Factor? Who gave the best performance?
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