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13 December, 2014 3:34 PM
Published by Kevin Mc Stravock
Would you believe we're nearly there? It's the ninth live show and there are just four acts remaining. Only one more act is going to miss out on the final next week. Tonight they'll all be singing Christmas songs (why could they not have saved that for the final?) and a song to get them to the final? Who will miss out, Cheryl's girl Lauren, Mel's boy Andrea or one of Simon's overs, Ben and Fleur?
Recap and videos after the JUMP...
Round 1 - Christmas Songs
'All I Want For Christmas Is You' by Mariah Carey - 8.5/10 - Giving Fleur a song by Mariah Carey seems like a big ask but I think she's the only act remaining with the performance ability to pull a song as iconic as this off. Vocally, she obviously sings it very differently to Mariah, not having the same belting ability (although if recent appearances are anything to go by, Mariah can't either). I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I was expecting to, okay it's not going to go down as her best performance but it's still pretty great, I actually think her vocals are steadily improving week on week. She pulled off some very nice notes and I continue to enjoy her falsetto voice. Aside from a little vocal strain in the second verse, it was pretty great. A strong start for Fleur. She gives the judges presents, nice way to butter them up there Fleur.
'Stay Another Day' by East 17 - 9/10 - This is such a stunning song choice for Lauren, the recent Live Lounge cover of it by Rae Morris has reignited my love for the song and this arrangement is just beautiful. I know Lauren can at times be a bit dull but I just love her tone. There's definitely some bum notes in this song but this is easily the most emotion I have seen her convey throughout the competition. I think it's beautiful, it would have been higher had her voice not cracked at the high note near the end. I expect Lauren will probably be leaving us tomorrow night unless one of the other three cracks but I think it's a shame as this was a really beautiful performance, so passionate. I disagreed with the lukewarm judges' comments.
'Please Come Home For Christmas' by The Eagles - 8/10 - This was a really boring song choice for Ben, I really like that raspy tone of his and the first 30 seconds or so if it was great. Whilst it was overall good, I think he was badly served by a dull song. The track doesn't really go anywhere and the chorus in particular actually makes his voice sound a little nasally. I like Ben and I like the performance but I wouldn't say I love it. I think if he had been given a song with a little more impact it would have been even better but the standard so far tonight has been pretty good and Ben did continue that.
'O Holy Night' by Josh Groban/Mariah Carey - 7.5/10 - It's so frustrating listening to Andrea because there's no denying his talent but he really doesn't use his voice right. This could have been perfect if he had just known the beauty in simplicity. There was way too much vibrato going on and to be honest it ruined what would have been an otherwise fantastic performance. The Mariah Carey vibe is certainly there because she's someone else who vastly overuses vibrato in songs. It shows his voice off, sure but it just detracts from the overall performance because it makes it sound like vocal gymnastics. Nobody, at this stage has put in a bad performance but this could have been a lot better with a little less warbling.
Round 2 - Get Me To The Final
'Story Of My Life' by One Direction - 7/10 - Aah, this is so frustrating, just when she could have had a big moment, she's given a really dull One Direction song. I know Cheryl was probably hoping to appeal to One Direction fans with this but I thought this was a massive step down from the first performance. The whole thing just sort of passed by me, there was no real impact. Vocally, it was good but I didn't get any sort of feeling from it, it was a really bland song choice for Lauren and not the right track to get her to the final. I think she'll most definitely be in the bottom two tomorrow night but I wouldn't be annoyed if she made the final as she definitely has talent, I just don't think this song was great for showcasing it.
'Uptown Funk' by Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars - 10/10 - This has been a dramatic week for Fleur after a last minute song change was made upon Simon stumbling across this song. It hasn't even been released yet but he felt so strongly about it that he urged Fleur to change her song from 'Superbass' by Nicki Minaj to this meaning she had just over 24 hours to learn a whole new routine and song. If this is what she's capable of doing in just a day, I can't begin to think of how incredible it would have been if she had all week to rehearse it. Aside from the odd backstage scene where she answered a phonecall from her 'mum', this was easily the best performance of the entire series...by a mile. The whole thing is just fantastic, it flows perfectly, her voice sounds great, I'm actually getting a bit of an MJ vibe from the whole thing, it felt like it had the energy and impact of a Michael Jackson song. I don't know how he did it but Simon absolutely hit the target with this performance, it was perfect for her, not really vocally challenging that it would be compromised by a big dance routine but it still impressed me vocally as well as performance wise. Simon calls it one of the best performances he has ever seen on any talent show. It's certainly up there with the great performances The X Factor live shows has had. If Fleur doesn't make the final, it'll be a crying shame.
'Wrecking Ball' by Miley Cyrus - 8.5/10 - I wasn't sure about this song for Andrea as his lower range isn't what he's known for and the first part of the song is all about being able to sing comfortably in your lower range. I'm actually surprised how well he handles it and unsurprisingly, as soon as it goes into the power notes, he's in his element. This is actually a considerably more enjoyable performance than the first song, he feels a lot stronger in this track and for once I feel that he delivers emotion. Sometimes Andrea can be a bit of a closed door when it comes to conveying the emotion of the songs but I'm really impressed by this. It's rather outstanding. Bar a bit of dodgy intonation towards the end, this is a strong performance by Andrea. I do think he'll join Lauren in the sing-off though as I just can't see Ben or Fleur being there.
'Hallelujah' by Leonard Cohen - 8/10 - This should be an outstanding song choice for Ben that suits him down to the ground but I don't think it's as flawless as I was expecting. In fairness to him, the emotion is great, he's an act I feel has bottled it up a little and hasn't really connected with the audience when he has been singing but for once I actually feel some emotion coming from him and for that I have to give him credit. The actual performance, is vocally a bit shaky if I'm being honest. The first verse aside, there are a number of wobbly notes and the last part feels slightly off key but I do really like Ben and think he has a great voice. He connected with the song and I think his tone was perfect, it wasn't vocally the best he has given but it was a pretty great performance.
1. Fleur East
2. Ben Haenow
=3. Andrea Faustini
=3. Lauren Platt
Lauren sings 'There You'll Be' by Faith Hill, this is another strong sing-off performance for her. Lauren always seems to pull it out of the bag in the sing-off which makes me think that song choice has let her down in the actual performances. This isn't quite as magical as last week's sing for survival but it's still an outstanding performance, I doubt she'll be staying tonight but it has put her in strong stead regardless.
Andrea takes on 'Who You Are' by Jessie J for his place in the final. Maybe this is the reason why he doesn't often do contemporary songs and tends to go more for the classic ballads. From the build-up to the chorus it becomes a shouty mess rather than being all about the emotion. I know Jessie J is known for belting but she at least shows some subtlety in her performances, this is way too screechy, it's what I don't like about Andrea, when his range takes over and he just proceeds to scream most of the song. Lauren definitely won that sing-off.
Mel B backs her own act but praises Lauren, telling her that she has had her 'peak moment' but promptly sends Lauren Platt home. Cheryl is also right behind her act and sends Andrea Faustini home. Louis says that they're both great singers but backs the one he has championed more which is obviously Andrea, sending Lauren Platt home. Finally, to Simon, who acknowledges that Lauren was better in the sing off but says he's saving the act who he thinks has been more consistent throughout the competition, he chooses to send Lauren Platt home meaning Andrea joins Ben and Fleur in the final.