Six acts will become just three this weekend as X Factor rushes in a most ungainly way towards its end. It is almost as if the producers really don't want to be here any longer. Anything to cut down the number of days' performance fees for the panel and various acts and musicians. Next years maybe they'll negotiate fixed fees with everyone and then it doesn't matter how long the series lasts and we can a somewhat less desperate ending.
What makes this crazy truncation so annoying is the sheer quality this year of the contestants we have at this stage. Any one of the six could make it. I can imagine any one of them, even Matt, standing there with the storm of silver snow swirling around as he struggles with the final few lines of the winner's single.
Matt is, though, by quite a long way the least likely to survive of the six but in another year he would have made the final. There is such talent, and a big spread as to the people that talent might appeal to, that it is difficult to know who will win. It is all down to who is watching the programme and who amongst them can be bothered to vote. All of the acts can be regarded as winners in the sense that they'll get a contract, I'm pretty sure, from SYCO and a lot of promotion next year to get them on their way. Those that don't actually take the prize are still going to get lots of good opportunities to make records and get known amongst an audience that doesn't watch X Factor.
Another new song. They seem to be coming alive now. Always seeming to take second place to Rak-Su but nevertheless coming out with great performances. This one does seem a little messier than some they have done before but it is still very good work. With a standing ovation from all four judges they must be satisfied at a good job done.
One of my favourite tracks as well as his, Gimme Shelter, is an unusual song to hear on X Factor. It could be a good move as he must know that he is one of the most vulnerable to leaving now. Unfortunately, it all starts far too weakly and doesn't have the urgency that the song needs. Then he rushes far too quickly into the familiar chorus, probably constrained by some 2 minute rule for the whole thing. Much depends on the backing on this track and here it is good but unexceptional and the drums are just plain annoying. Good in parts but I suspect that's the end of Matt's run.
Not an original tonight but David Bowie's Life On Mars. I have a vision of this girl writing for other artists and being extremely successful in that field. She is brilliant as a writer and can also sing very well and express her lyrics but I am not sure how well she'll go down in public after the initial gloss has worn off. It's a nice version of the Bowie song and certainly gets attention and she deserved the Standing ovation that she also gets.
I thought this was another original but it seems that it wasn't. Sweet Female Attitude is not a track I'm familiar with but it suits them and they present their usual extremely professional performance. The track lacks something, though, and i don't think it's up to their previous standards but seems pretty popular still with the audience who love them. I am sure they remain favourites to win the whole thing and they'll take some beating.
It is strange to see him as the #1 boy this year. He does seem out of place too. There is some odd booing as Louis announces that Lloyd has been unwell and had serious voice troubles. But he will still perform. I don't know what the audience reaction was all about at all. Perhaps I missed something else. Anyway, Lloyd's first line shows how much he is suffering but you have to admire how he strives to complete the performance and really ends up doing pretty damn well. He is good at George Michael numbers and that helps him have appeal to potential voters. There is much appreciation for what he does and that could make a difference to whether he or Matt stay.
Kevin does Come Together, the Beatles' classic. He has the look and sound of a real rock star. A super performance - all spot-on and in tune, of course. I do wonder quite what the public will make of this, though. Quite a change from his previous performances but really, really good. I think this chap is the real star of the series. I would like to see him win. Really hope he makes it through.
Sure enough, in the first vote it is Matt who makes 6th place.
Dermot tells us that two will go on Sunday. That seems to be the first that most people know about that.
In the second part of the weekend's show on Sunday it is now a serious matter of five acts being cut to three after just a single track. I think this is mad but that's the way it seems to have to be.
He does a cover of Coldplay's Fix You. Beautifully sung but is this 2017-8 material or an oldies collection for mums at Christmas? I admire this chap's abilities but I do believe that this is as far as he goes.
They reprise I'm Feeling You', their own number which looks like it will turn into a big hit for them. They are certainly current and a complete contrast to Lloyd. On past votes I imagine that they'll get through with no problem.
Show Me Love is not that well-known but they put on a super performance. Very professional and they deserve to do well. Relaxed, confident but I just feel they won't get enough votes with only three going through. If they were to make it then it would be in place of Grace or Kevin, however, which just isn't going to happen.
He is playing the Jimi Hendrix track Voodoo Chile. Wow. A marvellous performance. Really, really impressive and just... wow! But... despite that being one of the best ever performances on X Factor in all time will the people who watch and vote like it as much as I do? It actually put both groups in the shade, strangely, as one guy totally took over the show for a couple of minutes.
Unbelievably, this girl comes out with another original song. Surely that has to be a big, big risk at this stage, especially with Rak-Su retreating to known territory of a tried and tested own song. Wolves is quite different from her previous stuff and is excellent and, as always, well-written. Much faster and quite commercial too, showing Grace as more of a performer than just the writer who sings her own songs. It may not have the endearing quality that her previous sadder songs have had but it is very good, none the less. The question is: is that enough? She needs to edge out Lloyd or the Cutkelvins to reach the final.
I think she will and predict the final three as:
Rak-Su | Grace | Kevin
I got that right. So next week it will all be over.