X Factor 2012: James Arthur, Ella Henderson, Union J top our Number 1’s Week Top 8 Chart

by Gerard McGarry

James Arthur on The X Factor

Overall, tonight’s Number 1’s themed X Factor was one of the weaker shows in the series so far. Why? Just a constant stream of bleh, really. There were a couple of performances that were really outstanding, but one of our major niggles with this year’s X Factor is that everything is frustratingly downtempo. Slow songs = sad songs, and that doesn’t leave us feeling wonderful about the show! More fast songs, please!

But…on with the chart! As usual, we’ve crunched the numbers, tested the waters on our Twitter and Facebook pages, and decided who we thought were the best and the worst of tonight’s show. And without any further ado, here’s our Top 8:

  1. James Arthur – Don’t Speak: Possibly one of the most authentic voices on The X Factor this year. James has a self-assurance and consistently high quality of performance, and this is no different. It’s not my favourite performance, but there’s passion and conviction in his voice and it feels like this guy’s a true artist and not someone pretending. Don’t think he needs to invent a rap for every track, but one of my tips for the final.
  2. Ella Henderson – Firework: Giving a haunting, stripped back version of Katy Perry’s Firework was the right decision for Ella. After taking a too-big risk last week, she needed to get back to her sweet spot and reclaim her fanbase. And she probably sang it more in tune that Katy Perry did on X Factor a couple of years ago!
  3. Union J – Love Story: Genius move to play the Taylor Swift megahit AND have Sexy George playing guitar. This was a massive improvement on their previous efforts. The vocals were fantastic and they didn’t overdo the staging, letting the perfectly targeted love song sell itself to a legion of female fans. Well done. Clever Louis.
  4. Jahmene Douglas – Listen: Actually not his best vocal performance. Even we could hear far too many bum notes this week, but it was still a jaw-dropping performance, and one of the best of the night by far. Great song choice.
  5. Christopher Maloney – All By Myself: Possibly the most divisive performance of the night. The dated song choice seemed geared up to rile the rival judges, but the performance itself was strong. There’s never been a problem with Christopher’s singing, but it’s starting to become a bone of contention that the prize up for grabs here is a recording contract, and Christopher’s not singing contemporary, marketable songs. And if he’s now choosing songs on the basis of whether they’ll upset the other judges, then how serious is he about winning?
  6. Kye Sones – You get What You Give: Hmmm. I’m losing my love for Kye. When we first saw him, he was the singer/songwriter-slash-rocker of the show. But in the last couple of weeks he’s given watered down, toothless performances of brilliant songs. There’s simply no bite to what Kye does. The production’s great, and as a singer, I can’t fault him, but I’m baffled as to what sort of recording artist this guy wants to be.
  7. Rylan Clark – Hung Up: Rylan was a blaze of red feathers tonight, and he’s annoying us much less than he has in the past. We loved his shoutout to Lucy Spraggan, who’s sadly had to withdraw from the show. But aside from the nice guy stuff, tonight’s performance wasn’t nearly as exciting as his past ones. This is typically the turning point in The X Factor, where the show subtly tries to turn down the excitement around the joke act. It might take a couple more weeks, but Rylan’s destined to fizzle out.
  8. District 3 – Dynamite: How to describe this performance? It was the opposite of Dynamite. There’s potential with this group, but this entire performance was a joke. Overly busy staging, too much crap going on around the boys. It wouldn’t have mattered if the singing was good, but it plainly wasn’t. Union J are the superior group. Fact.

A few thoughts in wrapping up. James Arthur is perhaps my new favourite, purely for being so musical and giving a different slant on his songs each week. You can tell there’s a real creative force in there and he’s ready to collaborate with and compete against the cream of British talent.

Ella Henderson and Jahmene Douglas are fantastic vocalists and bring epic moments to the show each week. The challenge for both of them is to bring something new to the table. We can’t keep listening to ballads each week, because ultimately it makes them seem dreary and depressing. They’re still two of the biggest highlights each week though!

In the battle of the boybands, Union J are better than District 3. Yeah, yeah, District 3 have the better ‘technical’ vocalists, but Union J have been consistently brilliant since the start. District 3 were a mess tonight, and whoever’s responsible for these ‘throw everything on the stage and hope for the best’ performances needs to stop it. Immediately. But both bands are actually leaps ahead of where One Direction were at this stage of the competition, so there’s hope for them both yet.

Kye Sones and Christopher Maloney. Sorry, guys, but it’s all become a bit bland and tedious. You’re both good singers, but if you want that record contract, you have to prove you can sell records, not make dated elevator musak. Kye should have more of an edge, if he could bring a bit of rock attitude, but everything’s too nice and safe. Christopher is a fantastic singer, but he’s stuck in a time warp. In fact, that might be his next song choice…

Gerard McGarry is a jet-setting, world-renowned Reality TV critic. In real life, Gerard works with web and social media strategy. His personal blog is at GerardMcGarry.com or follow him on Twitter @gerrybot