We started tonight with Ben Haenow and ‘Come Together’. His VT took him back home where the streets seemed rather empty at times, especially at the local bus stop with one friend talking to an anonymous car driver, although we did get to honk the Nan klaxon too. Ben received plenty of fire in his staging, including the sparks from the angle grinders used by the sexually suggestive backing dancers. Judges’ comments were positive though not motivating.
Lauren’s first VT was very ‘This Is Your Life’ with the emotional backstory of her parents’ split eliciting some dignified tears from the 17-year-old. The staging for ‘Clarity’ involved some of her friends plus her brother throwing shapes around her. Mel said she looked uncomfortable with the distracting dancers, a theme Dermot returned to. Cheryl reminded viewers how ill her charge had been just yesterday. Overall some mixed messages then, with off-putting staging and another early slot offset by reasons to be sympathetic.
Stereo Kicks’ VT reiterated the nicknames given to them last week mixed in with some Mum bonding. They didn’t start off in a line for ‘Just The Way You Are’ though ended up stood in one for the second part of the song. Mel felt that the track “overpowered” them, and Cheryl pointed out the shortcomings of the routine. Simon claimed it was another last-minute change in staging, criticising this particular song choice instead and teeing up a moment for their second number.
Fleur’s first VT featured childhood reminiscences with her sister, the local vicar, and another supportive, anonymous car driver. She received fabulous staging with a fan motif for ‘A Fool In Love’, which allowed her to work the stage with confidence. Louis joined Simon in a standing ovation, though Mel and Cheryl criticised the song choice for not being well known enough.
There wasn’t any cake in Andrea’s first VT. Indeed, he was in a Union Jack onesie with his entourage of parents and mentor. The production was golden for ‘Chandelier’ and felt helpful enough. Judges comments were flattering too, although Simon chose to give the first half to Ben instead. Louis and Mel agreed after the break. It didn’t feel as clearcut to us.
Lauren was at the posh Langham Hotel with Cheryl in her second VT before returning to school in scenes usually reserved for the final. A cosmic backdrop, white outfit and some nice swirly camera shots featured in a pleasant production for ‘Don’t You Worry Child’. “Little popstar,” said Louis; although Simon repeated the reverse psychology approach he used on Only The Young last week by claiming that this performance may have saved her.
Ben’s fans revealed themselves in his second VT, and he had a much better production for ‘Thinking Out Loud’. Louis said: “You’re the one to beat in this competition.” Mel and Cheryl then controversially pigeonholed him as a rock singer, which was the same script as weeks 6-7, before Simon explicitly called for his fans to vote.
Stereo Kicks’ second VT featured a little bit of the fan hysteria that Cheryl had suggested was lacking back in the day. Exemplary golden, starry staging tried to tee up a big moment for the boys, which Mel suggested happened for ‘Run’. It was amusing to hear that her 15-year-old daughter had switched back her allegiance.
Fleur continued on her trip down memory lane with a return to her former school in her second VT. Looking striking again in a peacock dress as she tackled Alicia Keys, Mel was the only one to strike a negative note, suggesting Fleur “strained” in the higher register. The rest of the judges told us how much she deserved to go further in the competition and generally appealed for votes.
Andrea rounded off the show with another VT that didn’t prominently feature his Italian-ness nor cake (though we were reminded of the “diva” label). To compensate for this, Andrea chose to sing the first verse of ‘Hero’ in Italian whilst trapped in a cage of light. To be fair, there was some nice golden lighting, the cage opened up and he got a three-judge standing ovation. The general sense was that producers had decided to work with the bounce.
Was that how you read the show? Lauren is now the odds-on favourite for elimination. Do you expect her to be eliminated if she does land in the bottom two, and who is most likely to join her if she is there? Do keep your thoughts coming below.