‘The X Factor’ UK review: Rylan Clark brings pandas, James Arthur emotion

The moment “The X Factor” started this week, you knew that we were going to see Gary Barlow and Louis Walsh at each others throats. We barley had to wait until Mr. Booming Voice finished “it’s time to face the music,” and then it started. It was an exciting, crazy show this time around. Some of the contestants at the top of our rankings ended up sliding, while some of the artists that we had previously trashed rose a bit to the occasion.

Jahmene Douglas – The first performer of the night, Jahmene came out with something that we have been looking forward to really seeing from him: a song with a little bit more of a fast pace. This guy has the talent, but he really does still need to convince himself to have a little bit more fun on the stage. His stage presence is getting better, but this is still what he has to work on.

Chris Maloney – He’s apparently dropped the “Christopher,”and he’s also loosened up some more on stage. We’re still not sure if he is a superstar so much as a guy just happy to be on the show, but his voice is rather great. We know that his performance of Heart’s “Alone” was cheesy, but we really did not mind since it was so well-sung.

Union J – Ladies love them, but their performance last week felt dated by about 25 years. This time, it couldn’t be more current. We went from really loathing this group to loving them, though we should also mention that Kye Sones had a hand in their song choice here in addition to Louis Walsh.

Ella Henderson – As someone who does not really love the original version of “Loving You,” this was not the sort of song choice that makes us excited. However, we do have to give her some serious credit for actually hitting the impossible notes in this song. We can’t see a week all season long where she could be in trouble, and she could be the same sort of star that this show has already had in Leona Lewis.

James Arthur – This has to be the angriest love song we have ever heard in our lives. “No More Drama” was a shocking song choice for James to make, and in many ways this is why we love him so much as a vocalist; he is not someone who is terrified of taking a big risk on stage, and also showing a rawness that so many other contestants only dream of having.

Lucy Spraggan – It’s been pretty well-reported already, but this was not the easiest week for Lucy. What we admire here, though was how she came on stage and effectively announced that she had no interest in just singing a sappy ballad that would lead to sympathy comments. Instead, she performed something fun in “Gold Digger” that was her first real cover of the season from her that we’ve liked.

District 3 – We know exactly why District 3 hated the song choice of “This I Swear”: it’s the cheesiest thing that they could do. It’s also a boy band song from mid-1990s, and all we thought about during the whole performance was that “Newlyweds” series with Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson.

Jade Ellis – There are slow songs, but then there are really slow songs. If we have to be completely honest here, this was a little boring. There wasn’t enough variation in the song, and as classy as it was to watch, we don’t really know if we are going to remember it down the road.

MK1 – As longtime MK1 supporters, this was close to a disaster. It just felt uncomfortable trying to make “I Want You Back” seem currently along with the cheesiest stage setting of all time. Plus, the poor male member of this duo had pretty much nothing to do during this song other than just say “uh” every few bars. It felt more like a fun uncle trying to be hip rather than actually being hip.

Kye Sones – This was easily the most difficult performance of the night for us, but unlike Louis Walsh, we think we have figured out just what it is about his performance that is causing the judges to be so polarized when it comes to his performance. It’s really not so much of an issue of him not doing anything right, but it’s that most of his songs have been pretty similar thus far. He needs to speed things up, and be a little more than just a great ballad singer. He is one of our favorites from the whole competition, and we want to see him still go far.

Rylan Clark – This was a mess, but it was a fairly entertaining mess. There were people dressed as pandas, “Gangnam Style,” a giant runway, and enough cheese to make the world’s biggest plate of nachos. The truth is that we like Rylan, and we do think that it is valuable to have him around the show. We don’t want to see him staying over someone like James or Lucy, but we wouldn’t mind him staying over some other contestants here who are virtually cannon fodder and have little chance of winning.

Melanie Massone – After listening to Rylan, Gary was thrilled to close the show with a woman who has the greatest rock voice out of anyone on this show. Ever. We do need to see more of an edge from Melanie and less of the pageant hand, but overall, what a way to close the show!

What did you think about this episode, and did you have a favorite vocalist? Be sure to share your thoughts below, and you can also look at our latest contestant rankings over at the link here.

Photo: ITV

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