The X Factor jukebox week: who sang best?
Ben Haenow went full Fonz, while Mel B got confused about a higher registrarRead more on The X Factor UK Listen to The X Factor UK on Spotify
There's no double elimination this weekend, so the producers cut back some of the X Factor brutality. Each of the contestants had two songs to sing in the ever-loosening jukebox theme: one chosen by the public and another chosen by chart-topping popstars. So who sang best tonight? It was a pretty one-sided show...
Ben Haenow: 'Come Together'
In the long history of this show, I have never seen a heterosexual male look so awkward around beautiful female dancers. But even though Ben was stiff in places, this Beatles cover was easily his strongest so far. They opted for a more minimalistic arrangement and gave him a chance to show off his voice in a genre that suits him. And we got to see him in a Fonz-like leather jacket. A
Lauren Platt: 'Clarity'
I like Lauren, but her first performance tonight was the biggest cheat of this year's run. The backing track was turned up high enough to mask some pretty terrible high notes. I get that she's sick and struggling with strep throat, but it's unfair to I'm also not a fan of the way they keep wheeling out her dancer brother. C-
Stereo Kicks: 'Just the Way You Are'
2, 4, 6, 8... It's Stereo Kicks! It must have taken Louis Walsh hours of thought to come up with that golden nugget. It was clever marketing (well done, Simon) to have them go through some of their names to try to make some of them stand out. Reece Bibby positioned himself as the band's real star vocalist again with his brief little line. If Simon / Louis have any common sense, they'll split the lead vocals between James and Reece more often. As far as the song goes, it was a boring, by-the-numbers arrangement with limited movement. Simon tried to excuse it by saying their routine was scrapped last minute, but how many times can they keep trotting out that tired old line?
As a side note, I still can't cope with James' constant twitching off to the right when he needs to belt. It looks like someone's putting a wet finger in his ear every time. EVERY. TIME. C
Fleur East: 'A Fool in Love'
Emeli Sandé chose a great Tina Turner song for Fleur tonight. It was a surprise choice for a show that usually opts for the same old songs series after series. It was really all about Fleur's performance here, rather than the strength of her voice. The key didn't suit her or give her much chance to do anything striking, but her performance saved it. She knows how to work an audience and a stage better than anyone else in the final five. She's consistently entertaining and you get the feeling that she's genuinely hungry to have a career making music, rather than just being hungry for celebrity. B-
Andrea Faustini: 'Chandelier'
Okay, so Andrea didn't get off to the swiftest of starts with Sia's biggest hit. But he needed to slow it right down in the beginning so that there was room to build it to a climax. His falsetto is stunning – something we haven't heard much of over the past few weeks – and this was one of those rare moments where he brought some fire to the performance without incinerating it. A
Round one winner: Andrea and Ben
Lauren Platt: 'Don't You Worry, Child'
Lauren saved herself tonight with this Swedish House Mafia cover. I'm not sure if it will be enough to keep her safe, but the audience picked a perfect song for her second attempt. It was her best vocal performance to date, stripping everything back to basics. It does make you realise how weak her Zedd cover was and how much of a cheat it was that they turned her backing track right up. Which they did. (I'm not letting this go.) B+
Ben Haenow: 'Thinking Out Loud'
Ben's a charming guy, isn't he? The way he looks at the camera with those ridiculous Disney prince / Marvel superhero eyes. He's so charming, in fact, that he just hypnotised people across the country into voting for him, which they definitely will do. Does it really matter to the audience that it was a weird cover of a beautiful Ed Sheeran song? Probably not. Does it matter to me that it was slightly weird? A bit, but look at his eyes. B-
Stereo Kicks: 'Run'
Dermot is such a tease. When he said 'Lulu', I genuinely thought Lulu was coming onto the stage. But she wasn't because it was Stereo Kicks' turn to do their second song – a cover of Snow Patrol's 'Run'. It was much better than their first song, mainly because of some strong harmony parts between them, though I still think you could cut four of those boys. I won't say which ones for fear of getting death threats from their fans. B-
Fleur East: 'If I Ain't Got You'
It's hard to take on an Alicia Keys song and do it justice. Heck, even trying to match her crazy range is a challenge in itself. Fleur's not one to back down from a challenge and she stepped up with a good vocal performance. There was little production, just a chance for her to show that she can just stand there rigidly and sing. (Which, according to Cheryl, seems to be part of the popstar formula.) Some of it sounded strong, while some of it sounded strained. And poor Mel B got confused about higher register and a higher registrar. I did love Simon's jab at Jake Quickenden. That was delicious. B+
Andrea Faustini: 'Hero'
It feels like Groundhog Day every single time we hear 'Hero' on The X Factor. We've heard this song sung in so many different ways that I have an almost allergic reaction whenever I hear that melody kick in. There was a lot to like in this performance, especially hearing Andrea sing in Italian at the beginning. To his credit, he sang it better than Mariah Carey has since the late 1990s. A-
Round two winner: Andrea