Saturday, December 12, 2015

Louisa Johnson and Reggie 'N' Bollie in the X Factor 2015 final, Ché Chesterman out plus 6 things we've learned

Isabel Mohan on all the talking points from the X Factor 2015 semi-final

6 things we learned on Saturday

1) Rita Ora can sing

Wow! Rita Ora has been a somewhat irritating presence during much of X Factor, but, during her duet with Louisa Johnson, she showed why she's here - she can literally, literally, literally sing.
Jennifer Hudson's And I'm Telling You is a song that's been done to death on shows like these, but their version was quite something, and screamed "winner".

2) They blatantly blew the budget on Rod

Ben Haenow singing with Leona Lewis? Fleur East teaming up with Little Mix? Sure, these performances were all absolutely fine to watch, but it was all a little bit too, well, X Factor, no?
Funnily enough, though, the arguably most high-profile booking of the night - Rod Stewart, who duetted with Ché Chesterman - was the most forgettable. And when Rod performed alone towards the end of show while the votes were being totted up, he looked and sounded hopelessly dated. X Factor isn't cool, but it's cooler than Rod. Is he the reason Ché didn't make it any further?
We do have Adele and Coldplay to send us to sleep look forward to tomorrow, of course.

3) It was the boink that did it for Reggie 'N' Bollie

So, Rita Ora can sing - but Craig David can rap. The UK garage star delighted many a noughties yoot by joining Reggie 'N' Bollie on stage to perform his most well known (and most mocked...) song Re-Rewind (The Crowd Say Bo Selecta). He was the perfect fit for Reggie 'N' Bollie... even though Craig was kind of acting like they weren't there.

4) Ché had runner-up written all over him

Ché Chesterman had one of the strongest voices in the competition but he just wasn't charismatic enough to go further. Still, X Factor runners-up often have a habit of doing pretty well... One Direction, JLS, OLLY FLIPPING MURS.
X Factor losers all say "this won't be the last you see of me!" but in Ché's case, we hope it's true. We also think he doesn't need to be quite as middle of the road as X Factor have forced him to be. Stay away from Rod and you'll be fine, Ché.

5) Simon Cowell was on good form

We enjoy Simon Cowell's strange turns of phrase, and he pulled out a good one tonight, telling Reggie 'N' Bollie that their first, characteristically bonkers performance was "like having a strawberry and liver milkshake".
We also liked it when he came on stage with some Stormtroopers. Apparently there's a new Star Wars film, who knew?

6) Olly Murs thought everything was "amazing"

We lost count of how many times Olly declared various things "amazing" when really the only amazing thing was that he's been allowed to present the show at all. It's not that we don't want him to be happy, but it was yet another example of what an uninspiring presenting pair he and Caroline Flack (in yet another little black dress) have been throughout .
X Factor might be back next year, but we highly doubt they will be.

As it happened

The second act through to tomorrow night is...

Reggie 'N' Bollie! Yeessssssssss!
So, it's goodbye Ché. He was great but he wasn't FUN. We needed fun to offset Louisa's lovely but teary earnestness.

The first act through to tomorrow night is...

Louisa Johnson! Well, duh.

Finally! It's time for the result

Who will go home tonight and who will make it through to tomorrow night's final-final? We're about to find out. Don't mess up Olly don't mess up Olly don't mess up Olly don't mess up Olly don't mess up Olly don't mess up Olly don't mess up Olly don't mess up Olly don't mess up Olly don't mess up Olly don't mess up Olly don't mess up Olly don't mess up Olly don't mess up Olly don't mess up Olly don't mess up Olly.

Time to make a cuppa - Rod Stewart's providing some hold music

Sure, Rod Stewart seems like a fun guy, but his performance feels decidedly naff. Still, someone has to provide some filler while they tot up the votes...

Someone messed up - and it wasn't Olly Murs!

Someone in the production suite just pressed the wrong button (maybe they're playing our drinking game too?) and it was all a bit awkward. Luckily no winners - or losers - were prematurely revealed though, just the wrong highlights footage.
Now some more X Factor old-timers are performing - Little Mix and Fleur East - and they're not wearing many clothes.
It's not long now until we find out who's come third. Please let it be Ché, we haven't had enough Reggie 'N' Bollie yet.

Louisa and Rita are singing an X Factor favourite

X Factor wannabes love singing Jennifer Hudson's And I'm Telling You. It's the perfect opportunity for aspiring warblers to show off their tonsils.
We already know that Louisa can sing live, but it turns out Rita Ora's pretty good too. And this song doesn't haven't the word "literally" in it so it's pretty bearable.
Oh. Her post-song speech does though. "I'm literally... I'm literally about to start crying".
Still, that felt like a winning performance.

Reggie 'N' Bollie have got more than one showbiz pal

They've started their duet with Fuse ODG (ask your nephew), but now here comes Craig David, who's mainly performing as if they're not there, to be honest.
Craig's actually pretty good, but we're that age... which means we're as embarrassing as Caroline Flack who just giggled "I love you by the way!" while interviewing him, seemingly adding the crucial Reggie 'N' Bollie voting information as an afterthought.

"Ladies and gentlemen... MISTER ROD STEWART!"

Has Ché dreamed of saying those words all his life? He does look genuinely quite chuffed to be performing The First Cut Is The Deepest with Rod, who's probably mainly here to audition Louisa Johnson as his next wife.
It's not especially good, but then these duets rarely are. "We only rehearsed this afternoon once," says Rod by way of explanation. Even Olly Murs neglected to call it amazing.

Time for some X Factor alumni

Leona Lewis, the most successful X Factor winner to date and Ben Haenow, who the jury's still out on, are performing together. Leona looks pretty mortified about the whole thing, to be honest, and appears to have got some glitter stuck in her hair while she was putting her Christmas deccies up. Ben looks handsome, but we've been dabbling with the Olly Murs "amazing" drinking game so you can't trust us.
Caroline Flack is shouting even more than usual on account of being two feet shorter than both of them. They should have just got Olly to do the interview, he could've told them how amazing they were.

Louisa Johnson's R Kelly cover is next up

Louisa's battle bus is wedged into her Essex cul-de-sac in a way which we're sure contravenes parking regulations.
She's gone back to her old school, which she only left about three minutes ago. And it's a primary school.
Her first big performance of the night is R Kelly's I Believe I Can Fly. Her voice sounds a touch more strained than usual, but she has been ill. The people in charge of these things have gone for an ethereal vibe, as they often do with Louisa, who would totally get the role of Angel Gabriel in the school nativity if things don't work out with this whole pop dream.
"I think you're an angel," says Simon. "An angel who's just come to Wembley and sang the roof off."
"It was really astonishing," adds Nick Grimshaw.
Rita Ora just said "literally" so many times that we can no longer hear other words.

Reggie 'N' Bollie are next to perform

In the absence of a direct road link to the duo's native Ghana, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini's dragged them to Newcastle in the battle bus. Wonder if she used it as an opportunity to drop some Christmas pressies at her mam's.
Oh, now they're going to Farnborough, which is where they live with their cute children. Farnborough has never seen so much excitement.
For the first proper performance of the night, they're doing a mash-up of the Spice Girls' Spice Up Your Life and The Outhere Brothers' Boom Boom. Dancehall, dubstep, reggae, pop... it's fair to say they're shoving musical genres into our souls faster than we'll be shoving pigs in blankets into our gobs at the Telegraph Christmas drinks next week.
"It was like having a strawberry and liver milkshake," says Simon Cowell, in scenes reminscent of his "It's like eating a sandwich while swimming" remark from approx 2009.
"That was a bit cruise ship for me," says Rita Ora, who's clearly never been on a cruise ship.

Ché's first proper performance: Valerie

Ah, Valerie, the karaoke favourite that everyone can manage. Ché's performing it pretty effortlessly, with a chaotic 50s diner stage set that looks like something Louis Walsh dreamed up.
The judges are about to say nice things.
Oh, no they're not, Simon Cowell called him "the underdog" and "a bag of nerves".

Like buses? You'll love this

X Factor need to get their money's worth from those massive "battle buses" they've hired to ferry the finalists around all week. So, naturally, Ché's pre-performance VT is total bus porn. Ché goes to his old school, Ché goes to the Royal Albert Hall and, later tonight when he most likely comes third, it can take him home to Essex. Nick Grimshaw won't join him for that ride, he'll be out boozing with Rita Ora.

X Factor drinking game for grown-ups

Have a sip of your wine every time Olly Murs says "amazing" and you'll be blissfully comatose by 9pm.

So far, this is surprisingly faff-free

Already, the first live performance is underway - and it's Ché Chesterman doing Phil Collins' In The Air Tonight. The general chaos of Wembley means he's not as vocally on point as usual, but it doesn't matter - the judges never say anything negative at the final.
Louisa Johnson is next, strutting through the arena belting out Christina Aguilera's Fighter. Will the acts be performing proper versions of these songs or just these mini-versions?
Reggie 'N' Bollie are last to enter the arena, rapping their way through Jump, by Kriss Kross. Their white and gold outfits (or are they blue and black? Vintage spring 2015 joke right there) are pretty slick.

The judges just quietly slipped in

Cheryl had a red carpet, Rita was on a throne with some semi-nude men and Simon had actual Stormtroopers. Nick Grimshaw actually did quietly slip in, so we have nothing to say about that.
"It's definitely going to be the most amazing weekend of music," says Olly Murs, wrongly.

Simon's had a busy week, then

While his three fellow judges have spent the week tirelessly campaigning for their acts to win (OK, they've posted a few emoji-laden tweets), Simon Cowell, who has no acts left in the competition, has had plenty of time on his hands. Which we're pleased about, because otherwise we we'd miss out on pictures like this.

More X Factor news:

One Direction will play live for the last time before they split

Five years since they formed on X Factor, One Direction will be returning to the show that brought them all together, for a performance at tomorrow night's final. It's a fitting goodbye, before the boys take a well-deserved break in 2016. Singer Niall Horan has already been tweeting about his excitement.

Rita Ora's home is burgled

The poor X Factor judges. First we found out that Simon Cowell's house was burgled, now we discover Rita Ora has suffered the same fate. And possible by the same gang of thieves. Read more about it here.

Simon Cowell feels like the cat that got the cream

Simon Cowell says Adele agreeing to perform during the X Factor final is "the best news I've had all year".
Cowell said: "It took me a while to make up my mind whether we really wanted her or not ... are you kidding? When we got the news and I had to keep quiet last weekend! This is the best news I've had all year. She is absolutely going to cap off what I hope is going to be an amazing weekend, and actually it's really the best of British."
Simon Cowell  Photo: Rex Features

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