X Factor week eight live blog: thank ABBA for the music as we massacre Motown

Will there be something in the air tonight, Fernando? Or will our finalists be heading for a Motown massacre?

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Posted 24th November 2012 in Features & Reviews, The X Factor UK
X Factor week eight live blog: thank ABBA for the music as we massacre Motown

Ella Henderson has left the building in one of the biggest upsets of the series so far. Judging by last Sunday's Twitter explosion, you'd think someone had executed a unicorn live on ITV and feasted on the remains. Tonight's a new night as our finalists reach the quarter finals and we'll be live-blogging every crazy moment.

We're back with another X Factor live show tonight and our contestants are taking on ABBA and Motown. Expect disco fever from Christopher Maloney, who is sure to unleash all manner of Satanic stilton on the viewers; and whatever your feelings on Rylan, everyone is waiting to see him set the stage alight with a glitzy disco number.

The ABBA theme has potential for disaster and triumph, but it'll suit Rylan and Union J best. As for Motown, James Arthur and Jahmene could deliver some soulful, show-stopping performances.

Will James come back fighting after last week's upset? Will ABBA sue the show for destroying their legacy? Will our disco queen, Louis Walsh, finally deliver an insightful critique? Only time will tell.

21:44: Gary says he's feeling uncomfortable with the judges' criticism of Christopher every week, but the same could be said of his one-note Rylan critique through each week.

Well, that's another X Factor theme week done and dusted. Tonight's show was like eating a box full of Krispy Kremes to yourself. You feel wonderful as you're picking out your favourites and scoffing them down, but then you get that overwhelming wave of guilt, shame, nausea and the inevitable sugar-induced diarrhoea.

I'm trying hard to enjoy this series even though it's becoming increasingly difficult to do so. I'm going to mull tonight's show over a stiff drink and put some coherent thoughts down later.

21:39: Louis says it was like being in Benidorm. Nicole says he's the equivalent of having one Corn Flake with skimmed milk. I'd say he's more like having a bowl of Corn Pops with fondue.

21:36: 'Dancing on the Ceiling'. I can't even begin to describe the shudder that went down my spine upon hearing him say he'd be singing Lionel's cheesiest song. All jokes aside now, who is going to buy his album? If someone answers, I'll start to lay off him. But at this point, I can't imagine anyone would.

21:30: I wasn't expecting 'Tracks of My Tears' from Jahmene. I thought he'd make us relive the trauma of Thomas J's death by singing 'My Girl'.

"His glasses... He can't see without his glasses."

It's an almost sexual pleasure to hear both Gary and Tulisa tell Louis Walsh to shut up. He's on another level of annoying this evening. I would agree with Tulisa that this wasn't an exceptional performance from Little Jahmene, but it was pleasant enough despite some duff notes.

21:18: James Arthur's singing 'Let's Get It On', which was telegraphed given the tone of his voice. Well done to the backing band for miming their instruments so appallingly. They can't even move in time with the music.

Louis: "You're a real singer, a real person." Did Louis think he was imaginary before tonight? I swear that man lives in some alternate dimension where logic and sense evaporate.

21:17: Maloney's nan is there. She's bloody there. I can't get through one show without his nan appearing / being mentioned.

So let's get this straight: Olly and Caroline get iPads on The Xtra Factor, but the judges get Samsung tablets?

21:13: I'm not sure if I'm just being snarky this evening, but Rylan and James are the only ones to actually entertain me. The rest of the performances have all felt a bit too vanilla for this stage in the competition. In a selfish and devilish way, it's fun watching the rage in Tulisa's face when Christopher comes onto the stage.

21:09: Gary's not enjoying having Rylan twice a night, though he does love the creativity of his staging. Nicole says he's the "reem dream" of the competition. You've got to admire a judge who's willing to learn the lingo. This is why we didn't want Kelly Rowland back.

21:05: Rylan next with a Supremes medley, dancing down the stairs with the backing singers. The staging, the dancers, the giant Teletext Rylan animation... It's all going f-ing mental on The X Factor.

20:59: Girls are going to get excited over this, but I have to admit I'm bored by the song choice. It's too obvious and they're wearing those coats/blazers again. Those boys must have huge walk-in wardrobes.

Tulisa says it's their best night; is she right? Gary's giving a good critique of Union J's performance because they didn't do anything different with the theme. The other judges seem to be drunk on the boys' testosterone. Or their pretty coats.

20:58: Yep. They're singing 'I'll Be There'.

20:55: It's Motown next, so who's going to sing 'Too Busy Thinkin' About My Baby'? Nicole and Dermot just got awfully cosy in that slow-dance.

Union J are the last boyband standing and they're surprised they're still here. I bet they sing 'I'll Be There'.

20:50: He said 'you know' several times, but he didn't mention his nan. Chalk that up in the WIN column.

20:46: I knew he'd do 'Fernando'. I bloody knew it.

Christopher Maloney: "I am the public choice... No-one works harder than me... People didn't vote for Ella, it's not my fault."

I'm sure he's a nice person, I'm not basing that statement on his VT, but he's a terrible performer. I don't understand his appeal because he makes me feel unsettled. He's the musical equivalent of someone putting a wet finger in your ear.

20:43: I can't watch a Christopher Maloney performance without alcohol to hand. If he mentions his nan or the phrase 'you know' in this VT, I'm going to be reaching for the Captain Morgan's.

20:38: James is sending out his 'SOS' for votes. Rylan and James are the only two to put their stamp on the ABBA songs tonight. It feels a little bit sinister to force James to perform an ABBA cover, but that's The X Factor for you.

Tulisa predicts he'll sell more records than anyone else in the final five. I'd be inclined to agree, though Christopher Maloney could surprise us all with some horrendous cover album that goes to number one.

20:36: Poor James thought he was being given the boot last week. He's coming back fighting tonight because he really wants to win. He borrowed £10 from Mummy Arthur for his audition and now he's at week

20:34: You know it's a slow night when Rylan's disco frenzy has been the most exciting performance. ABBA's all about fun and spectable; where's the glam?

20:30: Gary's right about those ad-libs from Jahmene. The theme doesn't feel natural for his performance style or the timbre of his voice. Motown is a more soulful theme, so he should be able to pull it together on the second performance.

20:28: Louis just compared Jahmene to Lewis Hamilton. Slightly inappropriate.

20:25: This clip package of Jahmene and his mother is starting to feel a bit exploitative. I feel uncomfortable, mostly because they didn't do a 1980s' makeover montage when she went shopping.

Jahmene's singing 'I Had a Dream', which feels like the safest choice possible. I hope it isn't going to go into full choir-mode, but I know he can't restrain himself. Sure enough, there are a couple of flat notes at the top. Much more restrained than we're used to and not a choir in sight. I call that a win, but the theme wasn't right for him.

20:22: Nicole deserves mention as being the most consistent judge on this year's show. She's the only one willing to offer technical critique, which has been lacking from the others. Unanimous praise from all four judges tonight: well done, Union J.

20:18: Union J are up next and giving each other bromance hugs on Jaymi's coming out. Dermot just called Louis his little Chiquitita. Disco version of 'The Winner Takes It All' coming up in 3, 2, 1...

They're still wearing coats in their performances; they're never going to feel the benefit when they go outside.

On a more serious note, George needs to start performing more because he's starting to feel like window-dressing when his voice is on a level with the rest of the boys.

20:15: Aside: I wonder what goes on in Louis Walsh's head when he's not talking. I think it's something like this.

20:09: Too many people are squirting white stuff all over the stage. Slightly inappropriate. Louis is happy with Rylan's performance and he says he isn't a joke act. Tulisa says he's great; she's happy he's still here because he's her kind of cheese. Which gets me thinking [cue Carrie Bradshaw voiceover]: what kind of cheese would Tulisa buy?

Gary and Rylan are officially calling it a truce. I wonder if that's because Gary realises his own hypocrisy criticising Rylan when Christopher is still being voted in by the public.

20:05: Nicole's introducing Rylan, asking the audience to get riled up for his performance. Something tells us they already are...

The boys are cooking Nicole a Thanksgiving feast while Rylan serves dinner as a pilgrim woman. Sensational. Rylan's performing 'Mamma Mia' to start the show with chess pieces dancing around him. I don't understand the symbolism, but I'm going with it.

20:00: We're reliving last week's upset in the VT, including Rylan and Gary's bitchy exchange. It's all going silent for The Destruction of Ella Henderson.

Dermot's showing the quarter finalists on the screen behind him and it's oddly hilarious to see Christopher's happy little face up there.