This week’s disco-themed X Factor, contrary to PM’s prediction, concluded with Daniel Evans still a participant in the competition. His version of Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes’ Don’t Leave Me This Way (above) could have been an excellent choice of song – considerably more upbeat than his previous song choices, and possessive of far less gravitas than the manipulative performance of Josh Groban’s To Where You Are that wrongly triumphed over the judges’ common sense in last week’s sing-off. Evans appears so vastly divorced from his fellow contestants – his constant grinning and assurances that he’s just ‘an average bloke with a chance’ are out of step with the comparative professionalism and verve of many of his rivals.
The opening lines of the song highlight immediately Evans’ major foible – he pays utterly no attention to the words he’s singing. “Don’t leave me this way, I can’t survive, can’t stay alive without your love,” they go, at any stretch a weighty statement. The protagonist has lost their love, and they will die before they give up getting them back. So, with cheery demeanour, a wink and a smile, Evans sets about destroying the potent sentiment given to him in the aspect of the song that requires some of the most attention. A convincing counter-argument would state that the upbeat, almost euphoric musical accompaniment excuses Evans’ joyous opening, but there’s plenty of evidence (particularly in disco music) to suggest otherwise. How many disco classics have those melodramatic lyrics juxtaposed with pulsing rhythms and danceable tempi? A great many. The difference is that the performances are so often straight-faced – indefatigably determined to maintain the veneer of drama. This is what gives the songs such emotional impact. Think of Diana Ross’ I Will Survive – scarcely does anything more than a scowl come forth.
Evans’ performance continues in unsuitably high spirits. He jollies with dancers and wanders around as much as his portly frame will allow without breaking a sweat, and the attention again turns to the continual manipulation of the audience into thinking of the emotional back-story to Evans’ X Factor journey. Though not as overt as previous performances, the presiding message of the song is loss and loneliness – something that his sympathisers will undoubtedly have taken into account when picking up the phone to vote. And the pathetic Louis Armstrong growl on the words “in my soul” must have been gleaned from viewing the Ricky Gervais/David Brent spoof of If You Don’t Know Me By Now.
Next week’s bottom two prediction: Eoghan and Daniel – Daniel to go.