‘The X Factor’ UK review: Did James Arthur, Union J do enough to make final?

The X Factor JudgesThe final four on “The X Factor” UK were really told one thing for Saturday’s performance show: try to find a way to up their game. This is not an easy task in any sense of the word, given that you need to not only show off your talent, but prove to the voting public that you are worth getting behind as a deserving winner of the grand prize.

The good news here is that every single artist left in the show had at least one strong performance. The bad news? Not everyone could carry the momentum from the first round into the second.

Christopher Maloney

First performance – If Christopher had performed songs like “You Raise Me Up” all season long, we really don’t think everyone would hate him being in the top four so much. While there is still work here that needs to be done when it comes to feeling the performance, this version of Josh Groban / Westlife / whatever you want to call it was the best Gary Barlow’s only remaining contestant has done all season long. This is a huge song, and he tackled every note with great pitch, power, and no cheese whatsoever.

Second performance – Then, Christopher followed it up with a terribly misguided cover of Michael Buble’s “I Just Haven’t Met You Yet.” He’s not a crooner, and the song just didn’t work. It felt choppy, and while it was not necessarily cheesy, it was totally the sort of song we would see him rocking out late one night at a karaoke bar in Liverpool wtih a couple of beers in him.

Jahmene Douglas

First performance – If you could not be emotionally affected by this performance, we have a feeling that you may not have a soul. This was in a word stellar, as Jahmene sang in honor of his late brother. Singers on the American version of the show really need to take notice: this is how you perform something from the heart without crying midway through, and it is much more powerful when you keep it together and let the song stand on its own.

Second performance – Since this round was all about the song meant to get you through to the final, it was no shock to see Jahmene take on Etta James’ “At Last.” This is a song that made the man into a star back during his first audition, since he can show off the full extent of his range. You may as well punch a ticket to the final with this.

Union J

First performance – Just like with both Christopher and Jahmene, the boys really upped their game. It felt like a genuine performance from a band, and not just four guys hoping to win a talent competition. It was smart to pick a song via Emile Sande that is so current, and the harmonies and the arrangement put together here with help from Louis Walsh made this feel like an entirely different, exciting song that could be a hit.

Second performance – Like this Christopher, this was a letdown. “I’m Already There” was not necessarily a bad performance vocally, but it was something that was a tad boring, a tad hokey, and it sapped away the modern flair and commercial appeal of the group. They would have been better suited to so something upbeat rather than a pair of ballads.

James Arthur

First performance – Out of all four acts, James singing U2’s “One” was the most surprising … mostly because the producers got U2 to clear the song. The difficult part for James here is that his version of the song had a little bit less of a melody than the other three semifinalists, and we’re not sure it was the best we’ve seen from him since it was so hard to understand the second half of the song in between the backing band and the choir.

Second performance -Unlike Union J and Christopher, James did end his second performance with a bang and the right kind of emotion. The whole night was as a whole ballad-heavy, but the raspy-voiced singer made himself very clear that he should be in the final.

Who did you like the most, the least, and who do you think is going to be sent home during Sunday night’s show? Be sure to vote in our poll below, and you can also read some of our “X Factor” UK pre-show rankings over at the link here.

Photo: ITV

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