Notes On The X Factor #5

It seems futile to continually harp on about how Rachel Hylton was literally incapable of delivering a thoughtful and appropriate performance of any of her songs, so these notes will ignore her from now on. She’s gone anyway, so we can all breathe out a little bit. News that she intends to fully capitalise on the boost in profile The X Factor means that we will have to revisit her at some point, but until then may she work hard and prove herself capable of more than one dynamic level.

Instead, we can now focus on possibly the best performer remaining in the competition, Alexandra Burke. Her interpretation of Take That’s Relight My Fire (above) was charged with rare energy and vigour and – importantly – none of it was contrived. If taken in the context of a song in the disco genre (and we should, it sounds like one), then the performance yields interesting results under analysis. The balance between ad-libbing and pure grit has always provided the perfect disco vocal aesthetic, and Burke shows with this performance that she is capable of perfecting it. 

Roy Shuker states that disco is fundamentally a genre led by the beat and the following of it for dancing. This explains the relatively small number of disco stars in the world that aren’t producers or ‘hit-makers’ in comparison to other genres with an emphasis on self-authorship. Because Alexandra Burke was able in her performance to add such virtuosity, such an emotional connection (in the gritty sense mentioned above), the performance becomes much more than an excuse to dance. Palpable drama, albeit heightened by a camp routine, is the product of all the greatest disco performances, and this one contains all the basic hallmarks.

Elsewhere, Eoghan Quigg (or, as Louis Walsh creepily dubbed him, The Quigglet) showed a slightly clueless shade when he was challenged with entertaining the crowd, Live Aid style, towards the end of his performance of Never Forget (above). Aside from his ‘narrow eyes equals emotion’ stances and terribly 5ive-esque bobbing dance, his interaction with the studio audience during the breakdown section was a little embarrassing. His voice has improved considerably as his songs have gotten bigger, but the queasy We Will Rock You handclaps and ad-libbed vocalisations made the stage seem terribly empty. However, the positive comments and continued hyperactive support from a nation of biddies will keep him in.

Predictions for next week: Ruth and JLS in the bottom two, Ruth to go.


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