Leanne Jarvis v Carla and Barbara
“Hero. It’s, like, thebomb.com.” This moving tribute to Alexandra Burke introduced the second squirt of battles, as will.i.am justified choosing Mariah’s karaoke virus for blonde belter Leanne and Monsoon store-card wielders Carla & Barbara. C and B struggled in rehearsals to turn the song into an aria – it was almost as if having an operatic duo on a pop-singing contest is a silly waste of time. On the night, Leanne sang rather impressively while Carla & Barbara did some opera stuff that bore little obvious relation to the song in question, not least because it was partly in foreign. This did, however, provoke a good judgey smackdown as Danny O’Donoghue said not singing in English would ensure opera remained a mystery to the masses, and will.i.am replied by observing that this doesn’t globally seem to be a huge problem. Anyway, Leanne won and is a big dark horse.
Elise Evans v Cherelle Basquine
A dud, as tiny Welsh soul bullet Elise seemed nervous and couldn’t recapture the promise of her audition, perhaps because the song was All about Tonight by Pixie Lott and not something off Atlantic Soul Classics. It was still a surprise, though, when Tom Jones selected the wobbly, breathless Cherelle to go through.
De’Vide v Danny County
“It’s like a big glove, and I’m an extra-small hand,” said the rapping one from Ipswich rap-and-warble duo De’Vide, as he struggled to adapt to the slow jam vibe of Best I Ever Had by Drake. Up against them was reggae-tinged rookie Danny, in a battle that had all the professionalism and swagger of inmates being forced to perform by rogue screws. The warbling one from De’Vide probably ensured their exit with a distressed late falsetto. Danny continued on Team Jessie but surely won’t go any further.
CJ Edwards v Leah McFall
The first heavyweight contest, with CJ having been majorly touted in his audition show and again here in rehearsals, only for him to be knocked out. The Way You Make Me Feel by the long-lost father of pop, Michael Jackson, boiled down to Leah’s soul-gulping versus CJ’s showy flatness and sudden balls-in-a-door falsetto section. Will.i.am preferred Leah and nobody was outraged enough to steal CJ and save him.
Lovelle Hill v Nate James
Mentor Jessie J promised this would be “either insanely amazing or a piece of toast with nothing on it”. It turned out to be a fairly hot Breville cheeser with a slightly disappointing chutney, as Lovelle and Nate shared No Air. Nate is very likeable but doesn’t really have any vocal power, while Lovelle might be slightly too cocky to win the whole thing but has sexy star quality and lungs to go with it. Lovelle gradually blew Nate off the stage.
Conor Scott v Smith & Jones
Tension spread through the country at the return of singing duo and romantic couple Smith & Jones, who are repeatedly described as “loved up” but are evidently already at the “angrily slamming spoons into the cutlery drawer” stage. In the pre-performance VT, Jones kept saying the wrong thing, which means saying anything at all, although his assertion that he and Conor were both “musicians” because they had guitars was simply suicidal. On stage, however, Smith & Jones not only put aside their evident issues – they also failed to find any conflict with young busker Conor, causing will.i.am to jest about Conor, Smith & Jones releasing an album with the title Jolly. On The X Factor they’d have been made into a trio then and there. As it was, Danny plumped for Conor, so Smith & Jones were condemned to a long, recriminatory journey home.