(Crossposted to Tumblr)

This week – “Love and Heartache” – or as I anticipated DAWN OF THE BALLADOSAURUS. But was I correct? Well, not entirely…

NUVIBE: I have now learned Nuvibe is one word – though perhaps it is NuVibe? A question soon to be moot I’d imagine. I missed their discoish take on “With Or Without You”, the ten seconds of hightlights at the end suggested no need to catch up. They might survive another week, they might not – their main problem is that there’s a much better boyband on the show, which isn’t a good hand to play.

SAMI: It’s coming up on Popular, so I’ve listened to “I Will Always Love You” a fair bit recently. Sami gave it the full gale force 10 treatment – competent but a bit lacking in dynamics or personality. Harmless enough. This week the judges’ bitching was all about song choice – Gary, daring maverick that he is, had a go at Louis for his conservatism.

CRAIG: Craig’s odd, haunting voice seems to have lost all its idiosyncrasy under the mentorship of Barlow – this week he sang “Best Thing I Never Had” (cue much tutting from Kelly) with way too much mid-Atlantic rawk inflection, though also with a bit of genuine vengefulness and spite. Disappointing nonetheless.

JANET: Grab-bag of mannerisms on full display, of which the most annoying this week was her Bjorkian pronunciation of “Fall-Ling”. Tremulous stuff, nailing down her favourite status even more. Xmas is the twee-est time of the year, and post-Halloween it’ll be impossible to tell where the John Lewis Christmas advert ends and Janet begins.

FRANKIE: Much criticism of Gary’s song choice for Frankie – Coldplay’s “The Scientist” – which on the one hand, fair play, it’s a terrible song, but what can you do with Frankie? The song has a really truncated range and its phrasing is already See-Spot-Run so it was as safe a choice as you can get. “We know you can do better” said the other judges – there is zero evidence of this, so what they mean is “We know you’re not getting voted off but for god’s sake pull yr finger out”.

JOHNNY: Flashes of something intriguing amidst an overload of lazy camp – touches of Marc Almond this week. He’s a likeable performer, making the best of things – the falsetto on “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” defeated him a bit – but you have to hope some of his torchiness can come through. It would be less “fun” but more interesting – fingers crossed.

MARCUS: So you have a contestant who’s chirpy, young, moves well, has a great smile – what better track for him than “Russian Roulette”? You’d almost think Gary was trying to get rid of him. He didn’t sing it badly but it’s barely coverable and he wasn’t engaged with the song at all (and why should he be). Baffling.

RHYTHMIX: This week’s biggest surprise for me, a go at “I’m Like A Bird” which seemed to play to the girls’ strengths – they sounded up for it, gave it some oomph on the chorus, the arrangement gave them plenty to do… a good time had by all. Probably as much Tulisa’s credit as the band’s, but they suddenly seem a lot less like dead weight.

MISHA: Very bold version of Charles And Eddie’s “Would I Lie To You?” which Misha took imperious hold of. Two weeks in and her performances are the biggest event of the show – she looks amazing, commands the stage, and brings out the best in the arrangers and designers. The only problem here was this particular arrangement faded a little post-chorus, leaving Misha not very much to do but strut around repeating the title until her two minutes were up.

THE RISK: Took an oily song – Bruno Mars’ “Just The Way You Are” – and did amazingly well with it. Again, because they’re talented, the arrangers can give them much harder things to do and the bet tends to pay off – some lovely harmonies here, a lot of intersecting parts. I only hope they sing a song I actually like sometime soon.

SOPHIE: Exactly what I feared from Love And Heartache Week – a passable slog through a dreadful ballad (The Calling’s “Wherever You Will Go”). Given her lugubrious performance last week, is looking very much like a one-trick pony.

KITTY: Somewhat of a division of opinions in the Ewing household over this – Isabel thought it was the best of the week, I just thought it was a lot better than I feared it was going to be. A version of “It’s Oh So Quiet” but – mercifully – stripped of most of the Bjork phrasing and turned into lung-busting glam rock, which seems to suit Kitty. She might be turfed out, but unlike Katie last year she actually deserves to stick around a bit.

PREDICTIONS! I think it’s between Sophie, Kitty and NuVibe – maybe Marcus’ song choice will put him down there too. Can’t see the judges losing Kitty if she’s in the bottom two, though. I’ll say NuVibe.