The final can come across as a rather frenetic affair, and tonight was no exception. The evening started with the three contestants trietting on a podium, Sam in the central gold-medallist’s position, and featured the show’s attempts to atone for the lack of a memorable novelty act this year by packing the stage with the all-time greats.
It ended with Luke being announced in third, the result most of us had been expecting before the publication of this morning’s YouGov poll made it seem much more open between the two boys.
Round one involved varying levels of distracting “arena” staging. Nicholas had it worst for ‘Candy’. Nicole made the point that there were too many people on stage whilst Gary noted that the song was completely unsuitable. You could say that. I think he dealt with it admirably, when I could make him out amid the colour vomit that is. The cameras tended to focus on the hoopla that surrounded him.
Sam Bailey didnt look particularly comfortable having to slide down a pole, and there was also some questionable styling and dancing going on. But at least she had a song that showed off her vocals and was in her comfort zone. It was easily the best vocal performance of the first round, but that wasn’t going to be difficult considering the choices given to her two rivals.
‘We Are Young’ was suitable for Luke in terms of his demographic, though not ideal for him vocally. He had a tendency to struggle with his low register in the verses before belting out the choruses. I did feel that he got the best staging of round one, however. He was front and centre on top of the tube train, and there was one particularly effective overhead shot panning into the crowd.
Overall, it didn’t feel like there had been a gamechanger. My feeling was that Sam had won the vocals, Luke had won the visuals and Nick had won the homecoming VTs, with big and enthusiastic crowds and tears aplenty.
The duets are usually more hit than miss. Luke was first up this time with Ellie Goulding. ‘Anything Could Happen’ wasn’t a car crash, and it will have pleased the demographic, Luke and Ellie happily strumming their guitars. Beside that, it did rather wash over me, but then I’m not Goulding’s greatest fan.
Nicky’s duet with Shane Filan never seemed likely to promise a Beyonce-Alexandra moment, and for a while it seemed like they were going to spend the whole song on opposite sides of the stadium. But they eventually came together in front of a backdrop that Jessica wondered might have been a sun or a black hole, and which put commenter Rad in mind of the Hunger Games.
Nick’s now-trademark gold lighting was out in force, though the gold lights seemed to have been turned up a notch for Sam as she belted out ‘And I Am Telling You’ alongside Nicole. Arguably there was a little too much solo action for the latter, but at least that avoided it becoming too much like a battle round from The Voice – which consensus in our comments section was that Sam would have lost.
There’d been a mentor-mentee bonding session in the VT and a Nicole-Sharon love-in in the Dermot interview. Despite the sound of someone talking over the performance, it felt like full-on winner’s staging.
Will Sam be getting the winner’s staging for real tomorrow night, or do you believe Nick can overturn not only the YouGov deficit for second but also the much larger one for first? Do let us know what you made of tonight’s show below.