Well, it had to happen eventually. After missing countless opportunities to get this floundering show back on track, the right decision was finally made. But I’m concerned that it might be a case of too little, too late. The tabloids have been going nuts this week with stories of leaked voter results that suggest that Christopher has an unassailable lead on the other contestants. If you believe everything you read, Simon is already scrutinizing the small print of the winner’s contract, to see if he can drop them before the blood has even dried.
For all the blather about wanting the right act to triumph, Simon’s concerns boil down to one simple fact – if Christopher wins, the X-Factor is finished. Whatever point the people who are voting for him think they’re making, they’re ultimately signing the death warrant for their favourite show. The funny thing is, all those alternative campaigns to beat Cowell to the Christmas number one spot missed a trick. The best way to bring his empire down was to do it from the inside, and in the end, all it took was a quivering cabaret singer with a penchant for power ballads.
With all of this in mind, tonight’s results show took on a curiously downbeat mood, as if everyone in the studio knew that the outcome could determine the future of the show. Everyone wore their best game face, but it all just seemed a little lacking in commitment. Nicole was the only one who seemed to be making any effort at all, probably because we’re at the quarter-final stage and she’s still got all three of her acts. Spoiler warning: this is going to change within the hour. Still, she made an effort in a spectacular white hourglass gown that gave everyone an eyeful of her bra-less side-boob. Next to her, Tulisa looks like a mardy teenager applying for a job in Claire’s Accessories.
The group song is Viva La Vida, and once again acts as compelling proof of how poorly the contestants’ voices blend. It doesn’t help matters that Rylan comes in prematurely. Not to worry, it happens to everyone. Strangely, when the Union J boys join in, it’s clear that Jaymi has the best voice of anyone left in the competition, so it’s a shame that he’s stuck in a group.
The backstage action is equally uneventful. Louis is still wandering the corridors, lamenting the fate that befell “poor Fernando”. I can only assume that the lyrics touched a nerve – maybe he’s mourning a hairless houseboy who was recently deported. Christopher, meanwhile, says he doesn’t want to leave because he’s having the time of his life, which contradicts pretty much everything he’s been telling the press about the incessant bullying.
The first of tonight’s special guests is Bruno Mars, who’s singing his tuneless new mash up of Crying At The Discoteque and countless Police album tracks. The vocals sound impressive, but the echo effects make me wonder just how much of it is being performed live. Twitter exploded with people comparing him to Erik Estrada and Yoko Ono, but my vote goes to John Leguizamo. Dermot’s mind is clearly on other things, maybe the Jobs & Auditions pages in The Stage, because he asks Bruno when his new album comes out, right after he’s already bellowed the date in his ear.
After the break, he stops by for a quick catch up with the judges, but warns them that he hasn’t got much time. Which is a bit rich, considering how much of the show is repetitive filler. Louis gives Sharon Osbourne a shout-out, Tulisa thinks Christopher was creepy, Gary reckons Rylan’s in trouble and Nicole reminds us that James is ‘butter.’ From now on, I won’t be able to look at the angsty crooner without thinking of Douglas, the tromboning Lurpak mascot.
Fresh from her airborne hostage-taking adventure, during which she held a hundred journalists to ransom while Obama failed to scramble the NORAD jets, here’s Rihanna with the latest of her 69 number one singles. She’s wearing a tightly fitted negligee and singing in the rain. Diamonds is fairly inoffensive, but it’s more of a backing track than a fully-fledged song in its own right. As the song builds to, well, a whole lot of middle, the rain closes in. Suddenly, I’m less impressed by the staging and more concerned about the volts running through her soaking wet microphone. After churning out seven albums in as many years, this could be a cry for help. Three months in an ICU could offer just the break she needs.
Time for the results now, as the judges and their acts come out on stage. Meanwhile, poor old Tulisa is left sitting alone at the judges table. She’s probably kicking herself for not using the time to nip out for a fag, or pop down to the Esso garage to pick up some breath mints. James is first through and does his over zealous ‘Come On!!’ yelling. Christopher is also safe, which leaves Louis pulling a face that looks as if he accidentally swallowed his dentures. Thankfully, Jahmene is also safe, which means Rylan is in the bottom two. The nation breathes a collective sigh of relief, since the outcome of the impending sing-off is a forgone conclusion. Then again, even a potted palm would be feeling pretty confident right now if it was up against the Essex boy.
Nicole seems to know what’s about to happen, as she introduces her act by saying “He’s done amazing to get this far. Show him some love.” With his hair slicked back and that neatly sculpted beard, I’m not sure whether he’s going to sing or command us to “Kneel before Zod.” Louis grins his way through the introduction to Union J, and even sings along with them as they belt their way through Run. Over the last few weeks they’ve developed into a pretty competent boyband, and you can take that as the faint praise it was intended to be.
Nicole saves her act, and Louis does the same, after stopping just short of asking Rylan out on a date. Gary tells Union J that they are the band that everyone is going to want to sign in this competition, seemingly forgetting that they’re the only band left in the show. As for Tulisa, she still thinks the guy’s name is Ryland, even though she’s had several months to learn it, before voting to send him home. For all his awfulness, the recap of Rylan’s journey reminds us why the producers have kept him in for so long. The Dubai shawl, the emotional breakdown, and poking Dermot’s eye out with a dangerously sharp epaulette. These aren’t moments we’ll be forgetting in a hurry.