With the semi-final looming this weekend, it’s worth looking at the speculation that has surrounded possible celebrity duets in the final and giving producers some of our own ideas. After all, we mentioned dismissively last year the off-the-wall concept that the finalists could duet with their mentors. Here’s hoping.
Celebrity duets are a crucial consideration in both pimping acts for the win and bolstering their credibility towards a post-show career. A celebrity can overshadow an act, as Xtina did with Rebecca Ferguson; cement an act’s brand, as Will.I.Am did for Cher Lloyd; or even help an act to steal the win over the bookies’ favourite – see this overwhelming moment of television gold.
There are certain ways of picking out possible candidates for duets. Firstly, it’s worth considering acts that have duetted on the show before. Robbie Williams sang with Olly Murs in 2009 and then again with One Direction in 2010. Having been a guest already this series, he seems pretty easy to wheel out when necessary. Whether he makes a good fit for any of the remaining finalists is debatable.
Rihanna did a great job of showing Matt Cardle up as awkward and sexless in 2010 and she’s appeared on the show on more occasions than half of its judges, most recently performing her newest hit Diamonds in a rain room surely inspired by the Barbican.
Having already been a guest on the current series is the second basis for suggesting potential duets. This avenue of speculation leaves us with a wide base of acts including Leona Lewis, Taylor Swift, Labrinth, JLS, Rita Ora, Little Mix and Alicia Keys. Confirmed for the coming two weeks but yet to perform are Tulisa, Pink, Emeli Sande, Leona (again) and One Direction.
Many of the acts mentioned in the above paragraphs are also, by no coincidence, signed at least partially to Syco. Many of these are X Factor alumni but Labrinth also happens to be under the label and has already duetted with James Arthur.
Based on stories such as these in the press, Emeli Sunday Hat looks very likely to warble alongside James in the Manchester Arena. Should Union J make the final, One Direction now seem to be the favourite pairing for the boys, over the previously suggested Little Mix. Christopher Maloney was temporarily attached to Jane McDonald in the press but new rumours suggest he will now sing with Gary – either seems a dangerous choice if producers wish to calm the demographic.
With the above in mind, we present to you our preferred suggestions for celebrity duets as well as our picks for the actual outcome.
What he should do: With emotional strumming to rival Ed Sheeran and the soulful rapper duality of Plan B, James should perform between both acts, creating a sort of musical representation of The Evolution of Man. In terms of height order, it would probably work well, Sheeran being the shortest and most twee on the left and Plan B standing the tallest and angriest on the right. The trio would sing a middle class faux-folk ditty that erupted into a soul classic and ended in everyone going fucking mental and shouting at each other. There would be cannons and sirens.
What he will do: Probably something along the lines of Read All About It Pt XVI with Emeli Sunday Hat.
What he should do: Having already forged a connection with Jane McDonald, Ol’ Shaky should burst on stage singing Bright Eyes from Watership Down. McDozza should appear on the first chorus in a rabbit fur dress. There would be dead rabbits suspended by their feet all around the studio and Chris would wear special contact lenses that flared neon green and shot lasers each time he sang the words ‘Bright Eyes.’ The total number of key changes would be eighteen.
What he will do: A dreary ballad with Borelow.
What he should do: To fulfil the dual functions of raising awareness on the issue of abuse and burning Maloney, Jahmene should duet with the cruise ship cabaret singer who reportedly felt the demon grip of Christopher’s hands. The pair would sing a gospel interpretation of Tina Turner’s What’s Love Got To Do With It, as around them sexy devils strangled angels through the medium of interpretive dance. Friedman would come back for this one.
What he will do: Ascend to heaven with the assistance of Leona Lewis.
What they should do: Rather than pairing the boys mechanically with another group, producers should book four separate stars to be romantically connected with each member. These performers would be Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Carly Rae Jepsen and Justin Bieber. Jaymi would obviously declare his love to the Bieber through song as the other three would to the ladies. This would be a television first. The gang would be singing a mash-up of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get It On’ and Enrique Iglesias’ ‘Tonight I’m Fucking You’ – everyone would end up kissing in a giant hot tub and Louis Walsh would go into cardiac arrest.
What they will do: Probably flunk in the semi.
So realistically, we’re expecting Emeli Sande, Leona Lewis and Gary Barlow to be present for the celebrity duets. One Direction will be on hand should Union J make it into the final and Robbie Williams will wait eagerly in the wings in case Ella is magically reinstated. Louis will bang his hands on the table and grin like a lobotomised buffoon, Tulisa will talk about her days on the mean streets, Gary will turn side on and smugly call people ‘son’ and The Scherz will be Shamazing.
In terms of star power, Sande and Lewis are reasonably well matched, with the former carrying more current credibility and the latter having a more sentimental place in the nation’s heart as an ITV darling. If producers can keep Shaky Maloney from the top spot it will be a fierce battle between James, Jahmene and their warbling ladies. It looks too close to call at the moment but come next Saturday you’ll find me in the corner, begrudgingly rooting for the only artist with any real charisma, James Arthur.
What are your thoughts on the duets? How likely are they to affect the outcome and how appropriate are the rumoured choices? As ever, get commenting.