Stevi Ritchie’s X Factor performances have been anything but straight forward. From hoards of dancers to that epic Queen performance (complete with self-styled Freddie moustache) he’s never just popped on with his microphone. But Saturday night’s Pharoah get up to sing Elton John’s I’m Still Standing was quite the head scratcher.
Decked out in a gold outfit, Stevi was carried in by a crew of muscly women, before eventually being doused in honey and covered in feathers. No explanation given, with a sense of ‘why not?’ about it all.
But as it turns out, the staging was actually meant for another song.
“Do you know what, they wanted to give me Queen of the Night, a Whitney song from The Bodyguard,” Stevi tells RadioTimes.com. “I wasn’t keen on that idea. I was like, it’s alright, but I like Elton, so I said, ‘What about I’m Still Standing?’ I had that on my list and they said OK. So I said, OK game on. The Egyptian theme was meant to be for Queen of the Night, so they just kept the same thing, bless them.
“I think so anyway,” he adds. “I may be completely wrong. I think it worked. I really genuinely do. They kept it in and I was game for that. It was really good, one of my favourite performances, not going to lie.”
The honey, he says, was the creative team’s idea too. “Brian Fiedman [creative director] was very into it. Brian Friedman by the way is an absolute legend, god of everything. I love the guy. It was him and his team that pulled it together. I was game. Bring it on.”
Was this just a case of making Stevi the ‘joke act’ of the competition, pushing the boundaries week after week?
“I think they just want to make a show, because I am a performer, well, I like to think I am a showman and a performer,” Stevi says. “Brian had all these lovely crazy ideas and I just went yeah, I like that idea. The honey drizzled down me and the girls rubbing me like…”
In fact, Stevi admits he gave the creative team free reign from the word go. “I actually said to the whole creative team, ‘I’m up for anything. I don’t care what it is. I don’t care. If I get a laugh and as long as I’m remembered for it, I don’t care.
“Some people are just forgotten. I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to put on something that people go, ‘Oh blimey, that was very memorable’. I wanted to be remembered. What will be will be now. But at least I can look back on the performances and say ‘That was funny, that was funny, oh that was good, that was epic.’”
On whether he should have chosen songs – like his sing-off performance of Donny Osmond’s This Is The Moment – that showed off his vocals, Stevi says:
“I wish I would have done a couple more like that. But I did do Phantom of the Opera, which certainly showed off a serious side and sensitive side to me. In regards to other songs, the fun factor was great. People were like, ‘This bloke’s bloody funny’ I suppose. I think that’s why people thought, ‘Ah he’s hilarious, he’s making the show fun’. I’m happy I did a selection; I showed everything kind of thing.
“If everyone just stood there and sang ballads every week, it’d be a bit boring and bland wouldn’t it? I think I just added some spice to it. Even if there were a lot people saying, ‘He can’t sing’. Well, OK, you try and sing and dance and move and remember your camera actions at the same time and see how far you get because it’s so hard. Especially in front of millions of viewers each week. But I loved it. I don’t regret any of it.”
The X Factor continues Saturday and Sunday on ITV