On a night that will live in the memory for the amusing sight of lasers shining madly from a creepily pixellated version of Chris Maloney’s face, the mystery of Maloney continues. Are they merely trying to drag him off the top of the votes, or do they think they have a chance of getting him into the singoff? Frankly, search us.
They reprised their judges’ houses song, when they were Triple J plus George and we enjoyed the irony of “I just met you and this is crazy”. The performance was monochrome, both visually – with black-and-white lighting and shades of grey – and, more damningly, metaphorically. Judges’ comments felt lukewarm.
It wasn’t a performance that felt to us as if producers have a great deal of interest left in them. Did it indicate that Chris is safe and they are hoping to get the boys down in the singoff with Rylan, protecting their top three?
Ella was introduced by Tulisa as a “little star” and the VT reinforced the concept, showing her on stage and walking the red carpet, with stars on her necklace. However, there were once again mixed messages about Ella – for a summary of mixed messages in previous weeks, see JScouser’s comprehensive comment posted on the last thread.
Readers who read our article on stage lighting earlier this week will have noted the mixed messages in the staging, as Help! noted in the comments, with spotlights not shining on Ella. She got gold lights and a starry backdrop, but she was on a plinth. The mixed messages continued from the judges, with the usual “recording voice”, “only 16” boxes being ticked and Gary calling it her performance of the series. But Nicole criticised the song choice and the audience reaction felt muted. Twitter seemed to like it, though.
While R saw lots of positivity, Donald noted that Ella didn’t look too happy afterwards, and it didn’t feel to us like this was the breakout performance we’d been wondering if we might get from Ella. It might just have been from James, though.
If you’d told us after audition show 2 that come week 7 of the lives our two favourite acts by a long distance would be James Arthur and Rylan Clark, we’d never have believed it. It showed a softer side to James to see the bromance between them depicted in his VT, having been described in this rather lovely interview with Rylan in The Sun (check out his hilarious faint praise for Chris).
This felt to us like James’s most accessible, crowd-pleasing performance yet – almost Cardle-esque. He got plenty of close-ups and the shots of his face on myriad television screens behind him reinforced our sense of him as a natural presence in the corner of our living rooms.
Intriguingly, after a hint last week that Gary’s opening answer to Dermot’s softball might have been unexpected, we got another suspected off-script comment from Barlow who noted he “probably shouldn’t say” that he wanted James to win it – Dermot noting he’d opened himself up to a “world of pain”.
As Daniel noted in his preview article, debate before the show in the Sofabet comments had covered whether Ella or James would be the most likely of the big three to fall into the bottom two if Maloney is safe and Union J bounce. On this evidence, it looks like Ella is the more vulnerable.
Next up, Rylan Style went international in another endearing VT. There was a hint of the “journey over” in the VT, and the performance wasn’t great – but what followed it was fascinating.
Rylan had already told The Sun he couldn’t believe he’d got this far and was fully expecting to go home this week. We can’t remember any previous act so cheerfully embracing the idea of their imminent demise, and it will be interesting to see if it motivates any votes. The self-deprecation continued in an unusually lengthy post-performance VT, Gary saying Rylan would be forgotten in “a couple of months” and Rylan happily shooting back with “a couple of weeks”.
We then had some further entertaining banter with Gary, including a weight reference that was surely scripted but managed to feel enjoyably unforced. It all felt like it might have been an attempt to motivate some votes for the likeable Essex lad.
Chris’s VT took us back to Paris, which might – not coincidentally – have been getting boring for viewers by then. Again, he wasn’t nobbled by a demo-alienating modern song choice – although, having earlier sung ‘Alone’ and ‘All By Myself’, Chris was sent out with the opening line “Every now and then I get a little bit lonely.” Do you think he might be unpopular with producers or something?
The staging was a delight for those of us who enjoy such things, as confirmed by the flurry of comments immediately afterwards from the likes of JScouser, Nicky, R, annie and Eddy, and there’ll be plenty to enjoy on second viewing – red and black, a cage of light, and above all a creepy pixellated version of Chris’s face with mad staring laser eyes. It felt like an even more blatant takedown production-wise than Janet Devlin’s face going up in flames last year. We also had some lovely cutaway shots to Louis and Tulisa looking suitably unimpressed.
For the second week in a row, they followed Chris with Jahmene. This seems like a very granny-specific targeting of the memory hole tactic. Jahmene got an inspirational and heartwarming VT, delivered a performance that should have pleased his fans, and got pimping that befits the term pimp slot. He was high up on a plinth, something we have speculated may have a distancing effect from the audience – but then, in Jahmene’s case, perhaps it was merely to signify that he is closer to the angels than us mere mortals.
We stand by our view that it’s Home Maloney as soon as they get him above the trapdoor. But if the stories are right to suggest he’s polling well enough to be safe and if none of the big three fall, then who would win a Battle of the Damaged Goods between Rylan and Union J? With two singoff saves already to each act’s name, it wouldn’t be difficult to take it to deadlock credibly if they wanted to. Cheerio to Rylan still seems the most likely scenario, but at odds of 6/1 there might be a bit of value about Union J.