The X Factor column: week seven

The X FactorThe X Factor has now been on our screens for a decade and this weekend saw ITV1 in celebratory mood with the show featuring songs that have been hits for past winners and runners-up, says Russell Iliffe.

Guest mentors included former champions Leona Lewis, Little Mix, Joe McElderry, Alexandra Burke and Shayne Ward as well as hugely successful 2009 runner-up Olly Murs.

Global phenomenon One Direction are the most famous act to never win The X Factor, placing third in 2010, so naturally one of their songs was on the menu.

Unfortunately Devon busker Luke Friend’s stripped back acoustic treatment of their hit What Makes You Beautiful turned the perky pop hit into a bit of a dirge.  But the judges seemed to love it, and Luke advanced to next week.

You can’t help but think that the old trick of slowing down a big pop hit until it becomes a ballad is becoming a bit of a tired formula on the show now.

Once again, the performance of the night came from Sam Bailey who now looks so far ahead of the other acts that surely only an asteroid hitting the earth can stop her from being crowned this year’s X Factor queen.

Olly MursThe 35-year-old’s performance of Bleeding Love made her sound more like a modern day pop diva than a Broadway belter.  The song, written by One Republic’s Ryan Tedder and American singer Jesse McCartney, was of course a global smash for Leona Lewis in 2007.

And it was a happy 17th birthday for Nicholas McDonald who breezed through The Climb, the power ballad that was originally a hit for Miley Cyrus before she discovered twerking.

It notoriously denied Joe McElderry the festive number one slot in 2009, thanks to a successful campaign that took Rage Against the Machine to the summit, but the song proved luckier for the young Scot last Saturday.

However, disaster struck again for 16-year-old Tamera Foster who suffered another lyric malfunction during her performance of the James Arthur hit Impossible.

After forgetting the words mid-song for the second week running, Gary Barlow described the performance as ‘excruciating’, ‘really difficult to watch’ and finally slated it as ‘a car crash’.

The Take That front man also noted that the song had been in the wrong key for Tamera’s voice but despite all these issues she escaped the bottom two.

tamera-foster-x-factorIn a twist demonstrating the randomness of this year’s voting, this week’s acts facing elimination – Hannah Barrett and Rough Copy – had both performed well and received rave reviews.

Hannah had taken on Hallelujah, the Leonard Cohen classic which gave Alexandra Burke a seasonal chart-topper in 2008.

Meanwhile, Rough Copy had chosen En Vogue’s 1996 single Don’t Let Go (Love) which Little Mix had performed when competing on the show two years ago.

The sing-off, which saw Rough Copy’s version of the Oasis hit Stop Crying Your Heart Out  pitched against Hannah’s rendition of Etta James’ I’d Rather Go Blind, resulted in the latter being given her marching orders.

With some very erratic voting going on, exactly who will be making a sharp exit next week is anyone’s guess!

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