Guest: Hello Jack!
8:13 Hello! Don't forget to put your name in the little box there. It doesn't have to be your real name. In fact over the years we've had a number of incidents where real names proved to be a big mistake.
8:17 Before I go a centimetre further I contractually must thank Claire Webb, whose Strictly Come Dancing live blog this evening has, yet again, been as exciting as the programme itself, if not more so. If SCD's your cup of tea, you must join her next week.
8:17 Take Me Out has finished. If you missed it: Irvine, an Angus from just outside Fife, won a date with Clarissa, a milking shorthorn from Hampshire. See how they get on next week.
8:18 As you may know, there's been massive drama already today. Lucy Spraggan, the drinking woman's Pam Ayres, will not be gracing us tonight with what surely would have been a tremendous version of Umbrella by Rihanna, only acoustic and with an extra verse about kebabs or buses or something. She's left the competition! This was due to illness, and not, as unkind people speculated, that she kept arguing with the producers who are sick of her whimsical comedy stylings. So there are only eight performers, unless there's to be a shock reprieve for that girl who did the Pink cover and then called everyone a c-word.
8:21 It's on! It's started! For God's sake, concentrate!
8:21 Dermot! No dance, but the spin is spectacular: three quarters of the way round with one leg out horizontally, then a sort of Northern Soul scissor dance to cover up that he nearly fell over. Probably the Dermot Spin of the series so far. Here are the judges!
Dana: I think they should take this opportunity to bring back Gamu.
8:24 Dana, my preferred option would be cancelling the final and bringing back Gamu and Jade Richards. Two-hour sing-off. Winner takes all.
8:25 Confirmation that Lucy has left. Tulisa stares into the middle distance and talks about Lucy as if she's dead. Oh no wait, this isn't the last we'll see of her, apparently. There's still room for An Audience With Lucy Spraggan in the Xmas schedules. Are Celia Imrie and Julie Walters available?
8:27 First to sing this evening, RYLAN CLARK! Straight in with Rylan. No messing. Full Rylan, right in our faces with no warm-up. Harsh.
8:28 Rylan takes Nicole to Essex to meet Amy off of TOWIE. Is it Amy? I don't watch it. Nicole watches as Rylan has a browazzle, a tanazzle and a nailazzle.
8:30 Rylan is in a red suit with a small florist on each shoulder. He promised to strip everything back and just sing this week, and the first few lines of Hung Up by Madonna mashed up innit with Gimme Gimme Gimme by Abba are indeed just Rylan, a piano and his new, restrained beard. After that it goes a bit dancey like the record without the full, gushing Rylan camp. So-so.
Pete: No chance of a vocazzle then?
8:34 Gary predicts that that will be Rylan's last performance on The X Factor. Normally they get told to say that to make people vote, I reckon, but Gaz plays by his own rules. Rylan says he lives every performance as if it could be his last. Two philosophers with two different outlooks on life, equally strong, equally eloquent. Rylan Clark and Gary Barlow. I hope it never ends. Dermot calls Rylan "Ryan" and ushers us into the first ad break.
8:38 Rylan is my favourite so far. Anyone agree?
Dana: Actually, Lucy is simply by virtue of her not singing at all.
8:39 Trailer for Surprise Surprise with Holly Willoughby. No news yet on when it will be broadcast, or on which channel.
8:40 Second to be on the stage for a while, it's Greg, Meg, Jedward, Brian and Chthlog The Avenger, better known as UNION J! They were in the bottom two last week so they're listing their home towns in the hope that people from Windsor etc will get all patriotic and vote. What will they do this week? "Let loose!" says George. I thought it was number ones week? Let Loose never had a number one, I'm sure of it.
Caz: It's Another Direction...no, wait.
Jude: Union J gaze sorrowfully as they contemplate their awfulness last week ...
8:43 This isn't Let Loose at all, it's clearly Love Story by Taylor Swift, the billion-selling popstrel it's OK to like cause she writes her own songs and isn't a complete div in interviews. The Nionj are up on a long plinth - I say plinth, but really it's more of a series of trestle tables - with George on his guitar, plenty of sweeping strings and boy band key changes, and some acceptable vocals. Probably their best effort to date. Safe.
Jude: Is it me or do all Union J look the same?
JB: They actually sound good! I'm shocked, frankly.
Caz: Pointless key change, there. They can sing slightly higher - skilful.
8:46 Lovely insight as JJ reveals he was a jockey until the age of 21. He is the tallest member of Union J.
8:48 Matchsticks in eyes, everyone! Inject me with ProPlus, douse me with icewater and get ready with the electric paddles: it's KYE SONES!
8:50 Kye goes back home to surprise his brother, who is amazed to see him despite the camera crew already being there. Kye does some chimney sweeping, has a full English and tells his brother how much better his life is now he isn't a chimney sweep. His brother doesn't look too offended. Got a big job on next month with Kye's name on it.
8:51 Kye, in guyliner and a roadkill wig, does You Get What You Give by the New Radicals. Did this get to number one? I can't be bothered to Wiki it.
Liz: He can't even shout in tune
Caz: For a singer, he makes a good chimney sweep.
Jude: He HAS got lovely eyes though.
8:53 They've tried to edit this down but it's completely random, like you're listening to the CD but it's scratched and bits keep getting skipped over. They kept all the falsetto bits and possibly added some extra ones. Kye livened things up halfway by pointlessly wandering round behind the judges, then high-fiving them all in a dangerous display of charisma. I am NOT in a deep, potentially life-threatening coma, so that's good.
Matt: tuning issues would be putting it kindly
Liz: Nicole had a 'wtf am I doing here' moment there and completely zoned out
Caz: Was Nicole not listening?
8:55 Yes, Nicole - who I think has been surprisingly good so far in the live shows - couldn't think of anything to say there. She dried up when judging Union J as well, rambling about it being a "solid and sweet" performance. Where's the baby oil and the huge balls? Come on Scherzy.
8:56 Ad break! Time to open that third bottle of cooking sherry.
Dana: Nicole has been watching Britney Spears on X Factor USA and taking pointers on how to give absolutely nothing useful to contestants.
Liz: I'm keeping a tally of the number of Christmas themed ads shown during the X-Factor breaks. I'm up to 53,748 so far
9:01 JAMES ARTHUR! He remembers his audition, when he "just turned up without doing my hair or anything". Wait. He does his hair now? James meets Gwen Stefani from No Doubt, and a man who was also in No Doubt. He sings Don't Speak at them quite angrily, but they've been through a lot and can cope with it.
JB: Huh? He gets a No Doubt masterclass?
Caz: I admit - I'm looking forward to this.
9:04 Rap interlude! Possibly a paean to his warring parents, who got a mention in the intro VT. Plan F.
9:06 Very James Arthur-y, that, which is fair enough I suppose. Prowling, vexed, screaming a bit at the end. Louis says making every song sound the same is "a real talent". Westlife had it. Boyzone had it. Does James have it? Yes. Tulisa also thinks all James's performances are the same, but that this is OK because it was like it was an album track off the James Arthur album. Possibly the album will be 49 minutes long and we'll all miss that one off to get it onto one side of a C90.
9:14 And now, ELLA HENDERSON! She admits she wasn't very good last week or the week before. She's going back to her roots. Right back to the classic sound of the mid-2000s. Ella has also qualified for the No Doubt masterclass. The man who I think was also in No Doubt says Firework by Katy Perry is a good choice, so Ella's confident.
9:17 Ah. Back to being better than everyone else by an embarrassing distance. Stretching a bit in places but still way ahead.
Caz: Bum notes, breathy where it should have been strong. Not for me.
Liz: I'm a huge Ella fan but am finding this a bit shouty and, dare I say, pitchy?
9:20 "I saw fireworks everywhere, I saw them in your eyes..." Is Nicole all right?
9:21 Next up, it's Craig, Brian, Bryan, Ryan and Emma Thompson, collectively known as DISTRICT3!
Dingo: They remind me of a young Rod, Jane and Freddie.
9:24 Dynamite by Taio Cruz, lots of dancers, some people singing a bit in the middle. They could have been anyone. You could have put me in there and nobody would have noticed.
Caz: They're outta here. Well, they should be. Or Rylan. I can't decide,
Jude: Bungle, Zippy and George more like...
9:28 "I don't know who you are any more," says Gary as part of probably the most negative judging comments of the series so far. Oh God, next week if they survive District3 are going to "strip it down"! Stop stripping it down, everyone! It's not Later with Jools. Unsmilingly, District3 slope off, only vaguely consoled by the 12 girls in the front row waiting to touch them as they pass. Ad break!
Dana: Is "stripping down to the vocals" the new tactic to beg for votes? It worked for Rylan last week. Sadly, that's the way to NOT make me vote for you.
9:34 We're back, and it's time for JAHMENE DOUGLAS! Harrowing footage of him a few months ago, when he was not only working in Asda, but sporting a tragic moustache. And now Jahmene and Nicole are back in Asda! She's in the green and black fleece, wielding a stock-taking gun and getting on the in-store mic, but they leave before she can do a sexy RnB version of Come And Get Your Black Bin Bags. I hope they picked up some Asda value Cava before they went, though. Three quid a bottle. Indistinguishable from Veuve Clique. Trust me.
9:39 Jahmene, on a small plinth, does Listen by Beyonce. Increasingly I feel listening to him is like being hit in the face repeatedly with a bat, but what do I know? Louis says it's "the vocal performance of the night by a mile". Tulisa is speechless. Maybe they were impressed by the final note, which outlasted the backing track by five or six seconds. Everyone loves it! Gary and Nicole pile in as well. "You're lighting the torch for all the other people," says Nicole. What, in the world? Steady on. Not in that shirt, for a start.
JB: No likey, no lighty *switches light off*
Dana: Let's go ahead and give the win to Ella and spend upcoming weeks watching "Nicole Becomes British." Next week - Nicole goes to Newcastle. Hijinks ensue.
9:43 Marks off for Nicole there, not working in "Asdamazing" into her comments. That lorry load of complimentary mini scotch eggs, frozen mince and Smart Price toilet cleaner does a U-ey and returns to the depot.
Jude: Oh what fun this blog is ! thank you, thank you , thank you !
9:45 Thanks Jude, that's amazing coming from you as you are one of my all-time idols. Next week, though, I'm going to strip it right down. Reem.
Pete: I get stage fright every time i submit a comment, Jude
9:46 Don't be afraid, people! Just go out there and be yourselves. New visitors! Let's hear you! Not wishing to creep you out, but I know you're there. I get a number in the corner of the screen.
9:47 Next, singing for Liverpool, it's the quaking fondue CHRISTOPHER MALONEY! His mentor Gary openly acknowledges that he is giving Chris horrible songs to annoy everyone. Christopher meets No Doubt. "We really like you a lot," says Gwen Stefani. Her acting career never really got going, did it?
9:49 Chris does All By Myself by Eric Carmen. He's not angry, he's just disappointed.
Jude: He's got his coat on - must be ready to go.
9:51 Not very cheesy or loud at all for a long time, then at the end Chris jabbed himself with a fork twice to try to bring it round. Oh and there's some fuel for the conspiracy theorists who reckon Chris is putting on the tears and the nerves - after an underwhelming performance, suddenly it's tears and shaking. Hmmm.
9:53 Basically everyone except Gary thought that was varying degrees of horrible. Gaz says it will appeal to Christopher's public. A terrifying concept, but if things get hairy perhaps we can force them all onto the Isle of Man.
9:56 That's it! No more singing! Bad luck, singing fans.
9:56 Having perused the recap, I'm saying District3 and Kye in the bottom two. Yourselves?
julie: district3 & rylan for bottom 2 ..get rylan out!!!
Liz: Christopher & Rylan
JB: District3 for sure, hopefully Christopher
Dana: If Rylan doesn't finally go this week I despair for UK culture.
Jude: Maybe Christopher and District 3?
Dingo: Gonna be bold and predict Ella to join Kye in bottom 2.
Dana: I fully expect them to decide not to send anyone home, which should make the people paying to vote really happy.
10:02 I think you've hit on why they can't do that, Dana. My money's on a late wild card a la Amelia Lily, or just finishing a week early and going on holiday. Anyway, it's over! Thanks a thousand for all your comments, and I will see you (not literally, we're still rigging up the cameras in your lounges) next week! I love you! Bye!