Halloween makes a welcome return to X Factor this weekend. Here’s another reminder of our previous analysis of the particular spooky staging to watch out for. There’s been a lively debate in our comments section since the song choices were revealed yesterday, but context will be all. To prove the point here are three examples of how tonight’s songs have been used both positively and negatively.
Firstly, take Sam Lavery’s choice of 80s classic ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’. It was 1 Direction’s Halloween song in 2010, with a building guitar arrangement that gave it an upbeat, American feel that fitted in with their early sound. Compare it with the dirge of a version given to Jake Quickenden in 2014, when the knives were out as early as week 2. It includes the “death knell” beat at 2:17, 2:25 and 2:34 which I’ve heard accompany quite a few X Factor kills. Arrangements aside, it was also the song used for the greatest X Factor staging moment of all time.
Emily Middlemas’s choice of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ is also iconic for the students of X Factor kills. We wondered how the show would halt the apparent Wagner juggernaut in 2010, and the staging provided just the ticket. However, as Amy Beth has pointed out in the comments section, it has recently been used more positively for Simon Cowell’s pleasure, and there are numerous popular YouTube versions such as this one that if followed, may suit the Scottish lass.
5 After Midnight attempt to bounce back from last week’s sharp criticism by singing ‘Thriller’. It was part of the concerted effort to pimp Fleur in 2014, though it kept her polling around halfway down the field at that point. On the other hand, The Risk’s polling went backwards when covering it in 2011, but in a week when they changed a band member and producers enthusiasm for them seemed to run out for good. Aidan Grimshaw’s vote stayed steady after his rendition.
The second point to make about tonight’s show is that there are three acts who have been treated as utterly disposable in two of the previous three weeks. Ryan Lawrie and Saara Aalto polled in the bottom three on two occasions after poor treatment that seemed intended to put them there. Four Of Diamonds were given a very lukewarm return in week 2, and similar treatment in week 3 put them in the singoff.
Saara was given a reprieve last week, with the pimp slot, a massive production, and high praise. It saw her avoid the bottom three for the first time. Producers may decide she’s worth a few more weeks of that for entertainment value, or that one week of kindness was enough. If she polled very well last week, that may be one reason to bring back the “weird foreigner” narrative that dominated her treatment in the first two live shows. Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’ can easily go one of two ways.
The knives have been out for Ryan over the last two weeks, but maintaining the Sunday flash vote has seen him saved before the singoff on each occasion. We’ve always thought he was better off in a boyband, as was briefly the case at the 6CC. Producers may be making that point by giving him Backstreet Boys’ ‘Everybody’, which was given to Stereo Kicks in 2014. Despite positive treatment, it saw the eight-piece bounce back down into that week’s singoff. Ryan’s best hope could be the Sunday flash vote again and/or the knowledge that if he goes this weekend, producers are left with only two male acts in the final eight.
Four of Diamonds have promised to strip things back for Ella Henderson’s ‘Ghost’. Paul Akister managed an impressive week 1 third place from the opening spot with the song back in 2013. We’ll have to see how well it’s handled by a group. The kindest thing that’s been said a few times about them so far is that they have “potential”, a word that’s also been applied to Sam Lavery. In X Factor terms, where we’re looking out for hyperbole such as “world-class”, or at least “recording artist”, I’m not sure how useful that is. Does it imply, in a non-motivational way, that they’re currently not very good?
Those we haven’t mentioned yet include Gifty, with her second little-known Fifth Harmony song ‘I’m in Love With A Monster’. Her treatment has been nothing but positive so far, and we’d be a little surprised if that changed. The same can be said for Matt Terry who has ‘I Put a Spell on You’, and Honey G with ‘Men In Black’. The latter song helped Mason Noise bounce in week 3 last year.
Let us know your continued thoughts before and during tonight’s show. The first 20 minutes will take place under the Strictly overlap.
Photos via ©ITV / @ThePixelFactor