The X Factor 2012: semi-final - as it happened

Every minute of the penultimate Saturday extravaganza, reported in strict chronological order

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The X Factor 2012: semi-final - as it happened
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Jack Seale

7:52 Many hellos to you! This is Jack Seale calling with the results from the Radio Times X Factor Live Blog jury. Tonight it is, of course, the semi-final of this year's championship, with a place in the final at stake for three lucky winners. Who will go? Union J. Obviously. Now we've got that out of the way, let's enjoy the sheer artistic majesty of the performances without spoiling it by getting all competitive. It's two songs each tonight, with the themes "Scott Walker" and "Songs That Remind You Of A Time When You Felt Particularly Low And Hopeless." Should be a classic.

7:58 It's nearly on! I know, because Take Me Out has finished. If you missed it: Brian, an actuary from Hemel Hempstead, won a date with the Nantwich and District English Civil War Re-Enactment Society. See how they get on next week.

Pete: Evening, Jack. I can hardly remember last week's episode at all. Good eh?

7:58 Alright Pete. Er, me neither. Not a sausage in fact. They could do all the same songs again and I wouldn't know.

7:58 Here we go! We've already had some dramatic music and clips from previous episodes. That's put me RIGHT in the mood, I tell you.

8:01 Dermot emerges confidently. I've finally worked out what that swingy, hitty thing he does is: softball! Like baseball, but with a big spongy ball and you can only use one hand. Anyway, he does it a beat too early and nearly makes a mess of his spin as well, not giving it enough oomph and almost stopping 270 degrees round. But it's a brilliant recovery, switching legs to complete the full turn. Audacious. Dermot doesn't know when he's beaten.

Miss G: Evening all. Thought I'd join you again - it was good fun last week.

8:04 Hi Miss G! I don't know if this blog has ever been fun two weeks running, but you never know.

Matthew: Apparently the whole story this week has been whether Tulisa will be good, bad or will even be able to perform on Sunday, and whether it may affect sales. This is one of the judges of the show they're talking about. ONE OF THE JUDGES.

8:04 She's threatened to do a ballad, Matthew. A BALLAD. Lock your pets in a soundproof box now.

8:05 First up, it's CHRISTOPHER MALONEY! His Nan is in the building. Live Nan power. Chrissy does You Raise Me Up in a dreadfully badly cut jacket, but for my money that's his best performance ever by a mile. Oh no. Oh no no no. Oh God.

Dobson Barnet: Oh no, he's the child of Joe Longthorne and Bobby Davro......

Matthew: You Raise Me Up is the first song? Boy this is gonna be a great night.

Liz: My husband has just confessed to rather liking Christopher. So that's who's voting for him. Do divorce lawyers work on Sundays?

James: Maybe now the judges can give him praise so he can stop having the pity vote? Now if we could just sabotage all the phone lines in Manchester...

8:10 Overwhelming praise for Christopher from the judges. This is a new tack. Maybe they're making a late bid to give him an Ella Henderson-style "fans think it's a foregone conclusion so don't vote" problem. I can't see this working. Christopher Maloney fans are at the phones now, eyes bulging, tongues lolling, dribble flowing, concentrating fiercely on dialling the number for their man.

Dobson Barnet: Who has been looking after his nan while he's been doing this, because that's what he did before his audition.

Matthew: I have to admit that James has grown on me a bit, but the show's just a bit bleh now without Rylan...

Miss G: As a Mancunian, I take offense! I'm know setting my sniper rifle up at the front window to take out any of the neighbours who move suspiciously towards the phone while Christopher is on. Shhh, don't tell anyone.

8:14 Yes, I think you might mean Liverpool, James. Pretty sure Christopher is from Liverpool. I'll have to check though.

8:17 Nicole Scherzinger introduces JAHMENE DOUGLAS and oh, lordy. He's doing I Look to You by Whitney Houston, the song that he tried to sing at his brother's funeral, but didn't finish because he broke down in tears. Yay! Let's find the humour in THIS! Big test for us, guys.

Liz: Geez, we've had the abusive father, now the deceased brother. What's he holding back for the final?

Dobson Barnet: It's like X factor does "our tune" that Simon Bates twaddle......

Miss G: Instead can we make fun of Nicole? Easy target there, surely?

8:20 You're terrible, terrible people. Jahmene does the business: I hesitate to say that he did fewer trills and flourishes there and that made it sound better, but there we are.

Katie: No humour to be found. Stunning. Simply stunning.

8:22 Ooh, I think Nicole might have overcooked it by saying in all seriousness that "the baby Jesus" personally assisted with that performance. Surely a few thousand people with phones in their hand put them down again there. Still, Jahms is certainly in the jahnal, so it doesn't matter.

Miss G: I like him when he just sings and doesn't slap me around the face with a hundred runs and twiddly bits.

8:25 Now it's Corey, Blaine, Fump and Larry, aka UNION J! After Jahmene sang the song he did at his brother's funeral, Union J talk about how their song choice draws on the fact that they've all, at some point, been "picked on". Yeah! Take that, Douglas! Union J can do tragedy, stop saying they can't.

8:26 One or two of Union J do Beneath Your Beautiful by Labrinth. The others stand there and look polite, as usual. Adjectives from the judges: "mature", "calm", "cool", "blended". They're still going.

Miss G: Are they seriously covering a song that has only just been released by the original artists? What a con!

8:29 "We've worked so hard on the blend," says one of Union J. Could replacing their microphones with handheld food processors help, perhaps? It's worth a go. Ad break!

8:35 Nicole Scherzinger has stopped crying and now introduces JAMES ARTHUR without noticeable incident. James is dedicating One by U2 to his siblings. He's Skyped them on a tablet computer which may have been supplied for free by the manufacturer in exchange for blatant placement. Can't remember who it was now. Aiwa? Alba? Grundig? One of the big ones.

Liz: Best sob story that James can conjure up is that his sisters are clever and he's a bit dim. Not exactly a vote winner, that

8:37 Everyone's trailing in Jahmene's wake, sob story-wise, to be fair. Nobody else can compete. Good week to bury a weak sob story.

8:38 Surprised James didn't mention Mary J Blige in the build-up as this is clearly her version, so everyone who thought he was lying about liking her the other week because she was available for an inspirational phone call looks pretty bloody silly now.

8:38 On the other hand, that was his worst performance for as long as I can remember.

8:39 "This time next year, you're going to have three or four albums," says Louis, bizarrely. Indeed: James has a talent that could earn him up to £40 per annum.

Miss G: Erm, I actually quite liked that. Don't know what to say.

Katie: I like James, but that was a bit meh.

Corinne: Oh i get it now... Sisters and Brothers... clever.

lizzie!: besides this blog james is the only reason i watch X-Factor.

Liz: 2 words: meh

8:40 "All you people Up North, vote for James Arthur!" says Nicole, valiantly trying to turn the entire north of England into a voting bloc to rival the Scousers. This won't work, Scherzy. People who live 100 yards away from James cannot understand his dialect, hate him and fought a long war against his ancestors in the 15th century.

8:47 Now the theme is Songs To Get You To The Final. Well, yes.

8:48 JAHMENE DOUGLAS is back, and he's doing his audition song, At Last. Such a long time ago, wasn't it? Remember when all those extra notes seemed charming?

8:49 Footage of Nicole on Popstars US. I didn't know she'd done that. I thought she was the result of a Weird Science-style experiment.

8:50 Come to think of it I didn't know there WAS a Popstars US. Anyway.

Corinne: I didn't know nicole was on popstars. My mind = Blown!

Katie: I genuinely didn't know that's how Nicole started. Look at it this way, can you imagine Christopher on the panel of Xfactor USA??

8:51 The famed X Factor vocal coaches gain another victory there, as Jahmene recreates the performance he delivered when he was an Asda shelf-stacker practising in his bedroom - and does it slightly less well.

Miss G: This is the only song Jahmene has ever sung really well.

Dobson Barnet: He's starting to get the Leona Lewis quivering jaw....

Miss G: But, not singing it well this time. Oh well.

8:52 Fantastic attempted slang-coining from La Scherze there, trying to introduce "dot dot dot" to represent an ellipsis brought on by being speechless at how good something is. Watch out for BBMing teens saying that on the bus on Monday morning.

8:55 Back once again, it's the renegade master CHRISTOPHER MALONEY! Oh, he's just so good. I love him. Proper singing. Proper music. Not all that shouting.

Katie: Christopher Maloney. More fake tan than all on Strictly combined...

Don B: Chris to go home please dot dot dot

8:56 Having bragged about doing something "current", Malones whaps out Just Haven't Met You Yet by Bubble.

James: The Bublemeister. So current, so relevant.

Liz: This is when we realise we actually prefer Christopher doing 80s ballads

8:57 Having been forced to admit that Christopher's first perf was good if you like that sort of thing, there's no such danger here because that was bad. Rather like Mr Kipling's Black Forest Whirls, it was somehow greasy and powdery at the same time. No seriously, try them. Greasy AND powdery. Amazing. Shouldn't be possible.

James: This is even worse in execution than it is in theory. Just horrible.

Ruth: Well Chris hasn't disappointed - awful as ever!

Corinne: I have to say, this was probably a good song choice. Objectively speaking, and i hate to say it, but i'd be surprised if he goes home this week. That wasn't completely awful. (i really do hate him though)

9:00 I don't think Chris will go home either, Corinne. Union J are nailed on but I wouldn't be surprised if Chris is ahead of James, or even winning. Lots of talk there from the judges about that being the wrong song and I think maybe it was, but not for the reason they think: it was Buble, but I suspect Chris's fans might not even know a recent Buble song. In Maloneyworld that was dangerously avant garde.

jane: the thought that I could have just seen a lovely performance from Ella instead of THAT really bugs me. oh the disadvantages of "reality" tv.

Corinne: Ok i'm obviously in the minority thinking that was a good choice. I think the grans will have loved it.

Katie: I have to agree with Corinne. He isn't actually bad, just nothing special.

Jess: What a shame Christopher wasn't entering singing competitions a decade or so ago - he would have trounced Michelle McManus on Pop Idol and then could have seen his first album retreat into the bargain bins in Wollworths.

Dobson Barnet: Nobody does the phone sign anymore, a la Steve Brookstein

9:05 We're back from the advertisements! It's time once again for A, B, C and D - known collectively as UNION J! Love these guys.

9:08 Union J perform Westlife's moving sexual dysfunction anthem, I'm Already There.

stevieg: oh please how bad can it get

9:09 There's no sing-offs now, so for what will surely be their farewell performance, Union J stand in a line wearing the Next autumn range and do a Westlife song. Boo. Get off. Riddance.

Pete: This song NEEDS plinths

9:11 Nicole wrongfoots everyone as usual by saying that was great and Louis is shamazing. I think there's a few side bets going on here between her and the crew. It's the only explanation.

James: Someone's put Nicole in the wrong gear.

Alan: Sorry to admit it but this show is missing Rylan.

Dobson Barnet: Nicole is like a fish on a bike, chuffing mad.....

mandy: Rylan is truly missed. :(

9:18 "Ladies and gentlemen," says Nicole, "it's the real JAMES ARTHUR!" Actually, the Australian James Arthur is almost better than the original. Saw him the other week. Totally dedicated, he is.

9:19 Lawks, it's The Power of Love by Frosty the Snowman.

9:20 When I rule Britain as a brutal dictator, that song will be Christmas number one every year by law, so he had me on side from the start, but that was really good I thought. Admittedly, people I previously thought were really good include Aiden Grimshaw and Craig Colton, so perhaps this means James is now in trouble.

Marianne: It's like those snowmen NEVER WERE.

Miss G: Ok, I'm officially throwing in my lot with James. Best of a lacklustre bunch

9:23 Tulisa says she wants to hear James announced as the series winner; Gary says that was "the performance of the series". They're going all out, but can James overtake Christopher and/or Jahmene? I dunno.

Pete: Isn't it funny how this show does that: makes you support the least mediocre

9:25 So, it still seems enormously obvious, but let's do it anyway: who's going? Prediction time.

Ruth: Surely it has to be Christopher to go!!!

Miss G: Bye bye Union J.

Katie: Wagner to win.

Dobson Barnet: Christopher Gohomey

Corinne: Union J, but i wish it was Christopher

Katie: Union Dull to go.

9:30 It's finished! Celebrity Eating now on ITV1. People, you were tremendous this evening, I really enjoyed your company. See you next Saturday and Sunday for the final push. Have a good week. Love ya! Mmmmmm kissy kissy. No, that's too much. Get off me. You've ruined it. I'm going now. Bye!

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