The X Factor is, I am afraid to confess, one of my favourite shows. Brilliantly edited, borderline insane and always attention-grabbing. Until this year anyway. There are several things to blame for this years show being a dud. The judges lack chemistry, and the arguments appear visibly brutal, as opposed to the more panto-style bickering from before. The hatred between Walsh and Barlow in particular seems genuine and deep in a way the relationship between Walsh and Cowell wasn’t. More shockingly, I’m actually missing Dannii Minogue, even though she contributed nothing to the show over the years.

But it is not just the judges who are to blame. The contestants seem to be broadly uninteresting and/or unappealing. If programmes like this are never meant to be about the judges, but about the competitors, than this seems a more dangerous problem. The solution? Axe two of the acts, hopefully getting rid of the biggest dullards in the process. Except that didn’t happen. Before I go any further, let’s recap the Saturday performances.

The theme was designed to be ‘clubland classics’, although at various points in the night Dermot called it ‘disco night’, ‘dance floor classics’ and at least one other variation, suggesting that the actual theme was ‘anything-up-tempo-because-no-one-pays-attention-bar Louis-anyway’. Johnny Robinson opened the show, riding the crest of the wave that was a pretty damn good performance last week, as Louis finally allowed ‘the people’s diva’ to get his voice round a jazz ballad. Sadly, Louis reverted to his original plan for Johnny this week,  a camp mega-mix of ‘Hung Up’ and ‘You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)’. It was sang ok, but for the first time I felt worried that we were laughing at Johnny rather than with him. Still, I was praying for him to stay in the hope that Louis would realise the error of his ways and give him a proper song next week. Johnny was followed by Janet Devlin, who forgot the words to ‘Want You Back’ and  was told by Gary and Tulisa to stick with the slow Irish thing she did, despite it being them who probably forced her to try that song to begin with.

Craig cheesily, but capably, got through his number ‘Heaven’, before The Risk performed. Given ‘A Night to Remember’ they appeared dated and slightly flat, but compared to what came before, and what followed, seemed relatively safe. Speaking of dated, Marcus Collins turned himself into some 1950’s spiv for ‘Reet Petite’. While it was well sung (one of the night’s best vocals in fact) and well danced (a given from Marcus) it did make me wonder what clubs Gary Barlow frequents. Time-travel was involved somewhere. Kitty followed up with a patch performance of ‘Like A Prayer’, which was a double let-down when her performance merely consisted of her ripping off a nun’s habit, especially when you bear in mind last week she was strapped to a Catherine wheel and then entrapped by her dancer’s ropes.

Then came Frankie Cocozza. I was actually coming round to him. ‘Ok he can’t sing’ I thought, ‘but then how many of the great rockers do have that great a range? I mean Liam Gallagher’s hardly Maria Callas is he?’. But Frankie’s performance of ‘I Got A Feeling’ was a car crash. Shambling about the stage, barely breathing the words out of his mouth. There are issues with tuning and then there’s not even approaching to getting the tune. Louis got all flappy and berated him in a slightly too harsh way, which may have just garnered some much-needed sympathy from the public. Thankfully Mischa B came to save the day. ‘Proud Mary’ wasn’t her finest hour (too much time channeling Tina Turner, if you ask me) but at least the vocals were strong and she seemed to be able to co-ordinate her limbs, so fair play to her. Little Mix closed the show with an epilepsy inducing performance of ‘Please Don’t Stop the Music’, and again provided something almost resembling music, which considering the quality of the rest of the night guaranteed them safety.

Results night was even more painful. Besides being forced to sit through JLS, an agony in itself, the vote seemed to have been done by deranged people. Both Frankie and Janet were spared, despite being the two candidates most deserving of the chop. Meanwhile, The Risk were automatically eliminated, which seemed harsh considering their worst crime was being lumbered with a track that would have made 911 or Blue grimace back in 2000. The crowd already riled, Johnny and Kitty were forced into the sing-off. Both performed well, although I felt less moved by Kitty’s attempt. Unsurprisingly though, the judges backed her, claiming she was more exciting and more able to get a record contract in the real world.

The conclusion? Two half-decent acts went, two stayed, and the show remains cursed with the same problem this double elimination was designed to remove. The show doesn’t need a shot in the arm from Cowell or Cole, it needs a full resuscitation kit. At this rate, its last rites will be read come December.

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