The highly-anticipated anniversary celebration of a much-loved television institution started with
the Doctor’s assistant, Clara a guest performance by Olly Murs. Nothing says “look how much we’ve achieved in ten years” more than Olly Murs singing out of tune.
After that it was time for
Matt Smith Nicholas McDonald to come face to face with the actor who played his character in an earlier series, David Tennant Joe McElderry. Our feeling was that Joe schooling Nick in ‘The Climb’ made the latter come across as a bit of a pale imitation. We’d also got a honking of the Scottish klaxon in the VT, Nick wearing tartan and singing at Hampden.
Staging aficionados will have enjoyed the mixed messages of the gold (good) plinth (bad). Comments were fairly muted, Sharon praising his reliability, Gary asking for more individuality, and Nicole saying something about him moving his hands around. He got a rousing birthday cheer, though. Think of it – Wee Nick is no longer 16! It’s like Luke getting a Shayne Ward haircut.
Overall this felt like it was intended as a gentle de-ramp for Nick after last week’s pimp slot. He’ll most probably be safe this week, but it wasn’t an encouraging night for his propects of the win.
Lyrically, Hannah went from last week’s Mick Jagger lament about sexual frustration to Leonard Cohen’s bittersweet paean to sexual ecstasy, although we suspect that’s probably not what Alexandra had in mind when she told Hannah to think about the meaning or the judges when they praised her for having done so. At least Hannah’s mentoring VT didn’t show Alexandra doing a better version of the same line.
Stephen Muckle and EM pointed out in the comments that Hannah was dressed and styled as Alexandra was when singing this as her winner’s song. Staging-wise, the choir was more discreet than for Nick and she got lovely halo lighting at the end. Comments could hardly have been more positive, either, with Louis calling it her best performance of the series, and Gary praising her for being real and getting better and better.
Hannah remains by far the most obvious candidate to hit the bottom two this week, coming down off her second bounce. Running order was unhelpful and the comments arguably had a valedictory feel, but overall this has given her a fighting chance.
While Hannah’s due a comedown, Luke is due a bounce. His VT started by reminding us about his sadness at being in the singoff last week, and ensured everyone knew about Adele tweeting her support. Poor old Shayne Ward became the first mentor of the night to advise an act on how to sing a more famous artist’s song.
The acoustic take on One Direction could have gone either way in viewers’ minds – we weren’t wild on the arrangement, but the judges certainly set out to frame it positively. Sharon returned to the “dark horse” epithet from week 4 and there were references aplenty to the final and to albums. Louis spoiled the effect somewhat by wheeling out “busker from Devon” again, but at least he put it in the past tense this time.
The sympathy bounce has been working like clockwork this year and Luke has been given every chance of benefitting.
Rough Copy got the now-obligatory Gary bonding VT, and the meeting with Little Mix reminded us that this was a song that had propelled them to victory. It was wise to pair them with the only group winners, not inviting direct comparisons as would have been the case with JLS.
Gary made sure we knew that they brought an “urban flavour” to the stage, one which Nicole tasted as caramel following last week’s vanilla – as well as pointing out that one of them was rather ludicrously dressed for the ski slopes. Whether it will tickle the palate of the Middle England voting audience remains to be seen; for the first time, this felt like a performance with more of an eye on post-show positioning than safety-first electioneering.
JLS, James Arthur and Olly Murs all benefited from a singoff save at this stage of the competition. Perhaps this departure from the formula that’s kept them safe so far is an indication that producers wouldn’t be averse to them following a similar trajectory?
If they are sanguine about Rough Copy falling into the bottom two, however, we assume they’d rather it not be with Tamera. It’ll be no accident that she was introduced just as Doctor Who viewers will have been turning over. The VT recalled last week’s lyrics flub and had Olly Murs obligingly teeing her up for the much anticipated “moment”. The staging did, too, with gold and a shower of fireworks at the end.
Unfortunately, it looks like it was all too much pressure for Tamera, who we should recall is only 16 – now even younger than Wee Nick. She mumbled – as Gary pointed out, the verse was too low. She barely managed to walk down the stairs. And she twice flubbed her lyrics. After a brief moment of disconnect when it seemed like Louis was going to plough on with the “global megastar” script, reality returned with Gary pointing out it was “excruciating” and a “car crash”.
Tamera’s elimination odds understandably plummeted, and in this initial quick reaction post we’re unsure what to make of this situation. Will she get sympathy, after she presumably relied on sympathy to keep her safe last time? Logic says no, although on the other hand we felt genuinely sorry for her this week, whereas last week we’d been too busy wondering if the flub was staged (this week’s clearly genuine flub obviously casts a new light on that).
If she hits the singoff, will producers now consider she’s a lost cause, or will they work on the basis that everyone will be tuning in next week in guilty fascination to see if she can get through a song? It’s a “dark side of the moon” situation, which requires further reflection.
Sam Bailey capped off a fascinating, eventful show with a pimp slot performance of ‘Bleeding Love’ that left us underwhelmed staging-wise but had the panel gushing and Sharon alluding to last week’s Sun story, claiming she was walking it, as she explicitly pleaded for votes.
Sam is the only act we’d be shocked to see in the singoff tomorrow night. What were your thoughts? Do let us know below.