Last Halloween witnessed the surprise breakout of Little Mix and heralded the dawning of a brutal spate of assassinations that ran almost to the series’ grim finale. Expecting such similar revelations this year, I had to make do instead with Nicole Sherzinger dressed as the love child of Cher and Beowulf.
Opening the show was that Kye fellow and Gary took the opportunity to share with us his emotional inadequacies in relation to his crippling jealousy towards Robbie Williams.
By highlighting the daunting risk that tackling a Robbie classic entails, Gary simply reminded us that Kye is a poor-man’s, well, anyone. A poor man’s Kye even. Let Me Entertain You was the song that stuck Rachel Adedeji into her first sing off in 2009 and it hasn’t been approached since.
‘The problem is you popping on TV,’ Kye was told in his VT. Then, dressed as a joke-shop chimney sweep he threw himself into a literally interpreted Halloween extravaganza of camp. ‘You’ve tried everything – I hope it’s enough,’ said Louis.
The producer message wasn’t great but then of course Kye hopes to become part of the 80% of contenstants who receive a sympathy bounce after their first appearance in the bottom two. It’s a hard one to call. I would be tempted to say that odds of around 7/1 to be eliminated look like fairly good value but I’m not sure it’s worth the flutter in a week that saw more minor nobbles than a bag of twiglets.
Union J’s early slot didn’t look particularly favourable, especially directly preceding a Halloween edition Rylan. Having said that, their VT was very kind; focusing on hard work, hard play, hordes of fans and first times on red carpets. The boys didn’t interact much with Robbie Williams but then neither did Gary Barlow for several years and he turned out just fine (oh, wait).
Sweet Dreams was a clever song selection and the boys were on a vocal high (with the help of a very One Direction-esque backing track to atone for their sins). All in all, it was a good idea with average execution.
The only real spanner in the works was Gary who not only gave Jaymi the Ashford Campbell/Perrie Edwards ‘main man’ treatment but also criticised the overproduction of the track. Most intriguing was his triple utterance of, “safe, safe, safe,” to describe ‘Sweet Dreams’ just before a request for the boys to bring something different next week. If I didn’t think that they looked safe as houses, I would be wondering about the subliminally vote-suppressing purpose of such a rant. Perhaps it even worked on my cynical mind.
Rylan was once again surprisingly unremarkable in another ideal themed week and I’m starting to believe that the panto queen is out of steam. The VTs seemed to suggest that anti-Rylan sentiments are waning and without his polarising potential I don’t fully comprehend the point of Rylan’s place in the contest. Gary smiled and laughed throughout the set and offered an embrace (‘without touching’ – lolophobia!) although the promise of a radical shift in style next week (should Rylan survive) was indicative of classic vote-boosting tactics. At 6.2 to go, the Essex entertainer and ‘young Jean-Paul Gaultier’ is far from bookies’ favourite for the boot.
Frankella was up next, introduced by Tulisa as her ‘little cupcake,’ presumably to rival Little Mix’s ‘muffins.’ We were profusely reminded that ELLA IS SIXTEEN and a picture of her in what looked like a primary school uniform was used to reinforce her youth and vigour.
A casual fourth live week was never going to pose much of a challenge to the series’ front runner and Ella expectedly took her set in her stride, neither disappointing nor blowing shit out of the water. She does have a few issues with tuning in her limited range and can, on occasion, remind me of a wailing animal. All in all, however, Ella is looking as much like a warbling finalist as she ever has.
Shakey Maloney’s VT served to remind us YET AGAIN that he suffers from nerves but after the previous VT banging on about the fact that ELLA IS ONLY SIXTEEN, the seasoned cruise-ship headliner just seemed like a banker moaning in a dole queue. There was nothing new to add to Chris’s story – no long lost children or secret addictions – just good ol’ Shakey ready to give it his all in the biggest karaoke bar in town.
‘I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight’ can’t offer a great message, lyrically speaking. The whole segment rehashed everything we already know about the Liverpudlian with an attempted sense of finality. However, an obvious appeal for the regional vote plus all those dubious rumours about vote-topping mean I wouldn’t be too shocked to see Chris clear the bottom two again tomorrow evening.
The only saving grace may be the uncomfortable and unscripted exchange between Gary and Tulisa over her ‘fag-breath’ – a rather nasty move on Borelow’s part but a welcome distraction from Christopher Maloney.
The implication – even as a joke – that District 3 might ‘need a George Shelley’ might have been taken as an admission of weakness by the trio. They did achieve a brief ‘LADS!’ moment with Robbie Williams but their VT was followed by a performance so badly staged and styled that it felt like nothing other than deliberate sabotage.
Mixed comments for District 3 have helped to make them firm favourites to go. I can’t imagine them being saved over many beyond ol’ Shakey. Whether they did badly enough to fall into the danger zone I’m not sure.
Dermot reminded us that, ‘all the acts are in terrible danger,’ perhaps referring to the genuine possibility that the newly quintifocal District 3 might take inspiration from their awful costumes and incite a riot of ultraviolence in rebellion towards their designated place as beta group.
Penultimately, Jahmene turned up to do his awful ‘thing’ that he does where he pretends to be all cute and awkward and fluffy until, like a wet Gremlin, he morphs into funky-Davros and tries to manipulate the space-time continuum using only his vocal chords. Technically, he’s very problematic and commercially he’s not viable. My feeling is that the show’s producers must know this and are currently biding their time until they can decide what to do with him. Either way, we believe Jahmene is more than safe for a couple of weeks yet.
We tipped Jade in our pre-lives elimination post and after tonight’s show we think we were wise to do so. Lucy’s absence plus a late slot might not have hurt the London lass but her flat performance did that all by itself. Jade’s VT was sweet but very much a case of ‘same old, same old,’ whilst her set seemed to be missing dancers for a lot longer than felt natural. It is an awful shame because ‘Freak Like Me’ was a great choice for Jade’s voice. I have to agree with Nicole on the set as a whole though. It wasn’t right – it wasn’t Jade. At time of writing, she is a close second favourite to go tomorrow.
Closing live show 4 – as I playfully guessed he would a few weeks ago – was prodigal son James Arthur. After a gradual ascension in weeks 1 through 3, tonight launched James as the stratospheric ‘artist’ and ‘recording star’ that the show (along with Labrinth and Emeli Sande) clearly sees in him.
And not without good cause. After weeks of kicking and screaming I’m about ready to be honest with myself and say that James sticks out like a good thumb on a sore hand in this contest. Along with Ella he is one of the only contestants that can already handle the stage like a pro. Betfair now has him at a close 3rd place FTW behind Jahmene.
With Kye, Rylan, Chris, District 3 and Jade all offering mediocre slots it isn’t immediately obvious who we are likely to lose tomorrow night. It still seems fair to say that Rylan would be saved over most. With Kye due for a potential bounce and Shakey having avoided the drop so far, we could well be looking at a bottom two of Jade and District 3. The market agrees. Between the two, we’re on the fence. As ever, do let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.