Today I am releasing my inner Jamie Redknapp, a sartorially gifted gent with a love of package holidays and hanging out the back of it, because it’s half time on this year’s X Factor. So grab some orange wedges and brush up on Nicole Sherzinger’s dead balls, as we analyse the season so far for these top, top, top players.
Belting Barrett started the show as Misha B without the kerazy eyes, but has since become a bit of a Treyc Cohen, ending up in the bottom two twice. The vagueness of her sob story (randomly dead relative, randomly poor home life) has perhaps alienated the public, while her boisterous singing is sometimes so much like an exorcism that you half expect Hannah to throw up pea soup on the judges while pissing on the shiny floor.
She was the one to beat, they said. She’d walk to the final, they said. She’s a shoe-in for a record deal, they said. What ‘they’ didn’t say is that Tamera is only sixteen, and her inexperience has showed in every Live Show. She has tackled some big songs decently, but has nothing like the natural pop-star confidence seen in, for example, Cher Lloyd. Tamera lacks personality so much that one of her ‘stories’ on the show has been about getting blonde hair, but after forgetting the lyrics to ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ (a song she probably thought was by Kanye West), Tamera is proof that blondes don’t have very much fun at all.
Who’d have thunk it? Stig of the Dump has only gone and become this year’s sleeper hit, a horse so dark that it would suit the Nazgûl. Luke has fashioned himself into a croaky crooner, and his performance of ‘Kiss From a Rose’ remains one of the highlights of the series. Like an inverse (and less jihadi) Samson, Luke had his hair cut and grew in strength, and is now surely challenging for a place in the Top 3. Just don’t chain him to any pillars.
It’s difficult to say too much about SEXTEEN YER AULD Nicholas, because he might be The X Factor‘s first test-tube contestant: young, competent and likeable. The Baby Bublé is pulling in both the Scottish vote and the Granny vote (and the Scottish Granny vote) and will certainly make it to the final. He won’t sell any records, but he will be a big name on the charity fundraiser circuit in 2014. Book early to avoid disappointment.
Sam Callahan is the worst contestant ever to grace The X Factor live shows. It’s bad enough that he can’t sing and can’t dance, but he also shares a first name with the singer who is going to win the whole thing, making him look even more bumhole-clenchingly awful than he already is. Sam isn’t funny-bad like Rylan or Jedward, he just makes the audience feel uncomfortable, like they are watching a kid fluff his way through a holiday camp talent show, and then have to applaud politely as he shuffles off stage. With contoured eyebrows to rival Rikki Loney’s, Sam has forged himself as a ‘fighter’, but he really needs to just lie down and stay down, like a disheartened movie henchman.
The urban trio call their mentor ‘Uncle Gary’, but it would be more apt to call him ‘Uncle Tom’. It’s no secret that, back in the day, it didn’t pay to be black in the music biz, but you would hope that we had moved on a bit. Instead, Uncle Tom has turned cool, exciting Rough Copy into three Nat King Coles, crooning out honky hits (Bryan Adams?!) and forgetting about the tight harmonies that got the group into the Lives in the first place. I’m not suggesting that Rough Copy should be confined to rapping and body-popping, but they are a can of relaxer away from screwing up their chances. Gary has done such a terrible job with Rough Copy that I actually miss The Female Boss.
The X Factor has made a big deal this year of going back to basics, but nothing is more retro than the prospect of an older woman winning the show. The Susan Boyle comparisons aren’t just unfair, they are plain wrong, because Sam is Britain’s answer to Barbra Streisand: glamorous and humble, with a killer voice. Not only has Sam produced note-perfect renditions of massive pop songs, she is the only contestant who can ‘perform’ a song without looking over directed. Her version of ‘(No More Tears) Enough Is Enough’ was powerful, and the best performance of the series so far. In another time Sam could have been one of the biggest stars on the planet, and I sincerely hope that she gets all the success she deserves post-show.