Yes, I know that this week’s X Factor is the penultimate week and that next week would be the final showdown between the top three so I’m kinda late to the review bandwagon (although I’ve been following this season almost from the start of the live shows) but better late than never right?
Originally wanted to do a review for last week’s performances (before that I was too tied up with exam studying to do any writing) but by the time my last exam ended, the results were already released and I didn’t think it would be timely anymore.
Now, this is probably just my own opinion but I’ve always felt that the X Factor series contestants, other than Leona Lewis, are usually not as vocally-talented as the American Idol participants. However, they generally have much more stage presence and are great at other aspects of performing other than the actual singing. Plus, the production values on this show are so high! Each performance looks like it costs more than an entire season of Idol combined. So, keeping that in mind, all the scores that I’m giving the performers would be in relation to the standards of this show.
Also, I’d just like to reiterate that all opinions expressed in this review are just that – my opinions. So, don’t go hatin’ on me if you disagree with any of it. To each their own yeah?
Anyway, on to the actual review (and I applaud you if you’re still reading up till now). This week, the final four performed two songs each – a Michael Jackson tribute and a song of the contestant’s choice. First up:
Can You Feel It (original: MJ): I felt that this song choice exposed the fact that Olly’s the worst technical singer of the final four. His voice felt strained, thin and several lower notes were shaky. However, vocals have never been the huge selling point of Olly’s performances. Despite the weak vocals (to me), he still commanded the stage with the usual confidence and pluck that he’s known for. Still, the performance was nothing special and was probably the weakest of the night. C+
We Can Work It Out (original: The Beatles): This song choice was much better for him, in that it fit his vocal styling and range, without exposing too much of his limitations. The dance moves were kinda icky and over the top for me but overall, the performance was smoothly executed and it can’t be said that he doesn’t put his stamp all over the song. B
She’s Out of My Life (original: MJ): Last week, I felt that Joe finally transformed from just an excellent technical singer to a confident performer who commanded the stage and this week he only improved. This song, while soft and understated, was beautifully sung, with an amazing amount of control and emotion from someone so young. Plus, he showed that he doesn’t need to hit the huge notes he’s known for to knock it out of the park. Best performance of the night. A
Open Arms (original: Journey): This song has always had potential to be an overwrought, dramatic cheese-fest and, while the arrangement and the platform he had to stand on made it slightly camp, it thankfully didn’t approach the level of cheese that Clay had when he did this song all those years ago during the American Idol 2 semi-finals. While not one of Joe’s best, it was still one of the best vocals of the night. And hello Simon, since when is Open Arms an unknown song? B+
The Way You Make Me Feel (original: MJ): I think Simon put it perfectly last week when he said something to the effect that Stacey’s strong point wasn’t in being Leona-lite because her vocals just don’t match up. While they are pretty solid, she definitely does have a ceiling on her range and power, a limit that I feel had been exposed by the big-ballad song choices Dannii gave her in the past few weeks. This performance, though, was much better. She pulled back the vocals and injected personality and pizazz into the song, making it a performance instead of just a karaoke clip. The key change kinda spoiled the moment and the arrangement was a bit limp but overall, one of her better performances to me. Not as boring as usual. B
Somewhere (original: Westside Story): Despite what I said in the previous song about her vocal limitations and the fact that big ballads seem to show where the limits of her voice are by pushing her right to it, this one (one of the biggest ballads of all) was surprisingly within her limits. She actually sounded powerful here but controlled and not strained. Her glory notes sound much better this time and she doesn’t sound overwhelmed by the music and song (like in Rule The World). The bum note at the end kinda messed it again (although none of the judges mentioned her flubs tonight) but definitely her best performance to me. And she totally channeled Leona with that hairdo! B+
Man in the Mirror (original: MJ): Started a bit too low for his range and his delivery was (as usual) really nasal. But still, pretty good in terms of stage presence and energy. Contrary to popular opinion, I actually think he needs semi-fast songs like this that let him sing strongly (like he did in the second half of the song) and inject some personality without having to hit huge glory notes (which his voice doesn’t fit). B+
I Have Nothing (original: Whitney Houston): I’ve always found Danyl’s vocals to be thin, underwhelming (especially considering his propensity for choosing diva wail-outs) and highly overrated and this performance was no difference. Other than his usual nose-first style of singing, the song lacked the vocal oomph that, unless it’s a radical re-arrangement of the song (which this wasn’t), is kinda compulsory for any rendition of it (just check out the original or J-Hud’s dramatic cover). Decent effort for this show but definitely won’t work outside of it. B-
Who should go this week? If you had asked me before tonight, I would have said Stacey for sure. Although her ditzy personality is super endearing, I’ve found her really boring up till now. Tonight, however, she was surprisingly good (despite the occasional bum note). Plus, Olly seems to be doing the same ol’ and not pulling it out for me and I still find Danyl overrated. So, I’ll just say, who should go this week should be anyone who isn’t Joe McElderry.
Who will go this week? I think it could be either Danyl (since he hasn’t been popular with the UK population at all) or Stacey (although she hasn’t been in the bottom two yet). Probably Stacey, cause the other three guys are just so highly rated (overrated, in some cases).