When Cheryl announced Ghanaian double act Reggie N Bollie were through to this year’s X Factor live shows, the shock was evident. It had seemed the battle for her final place – alongside Alien Uncovered and 4th Impact – was very much between vocal choir groups Melody Stone (previously known as Silvertone) and BEKLN Mile (formerly BEKLN). After all, what could be better for a reality show than a brother and sister in competing bands, one poised to proceed to the live shows, the other to be sent packing? Slow-mo black and white images at the ready, gang.
But it wasn’t to be. Grinning Reggie N Bollie – who leap about like excitable kids who’ve been allowed to stay up late – were on their way to the live shows. Journalists (myself included) were left scrabbling to change copy. Now, a month on, we’re asking ourselves, perhaps they can go all the way..?
Reggie, 31, and Bollie, 29, – who originally entered the competition as Menn on Point – hadn’t actually been seen all that much coming into this year’s live shows. We saw Simon Cowell and co agonise over Melody Stone’s song choices and ask for second auditions. We watched along as BEKLN Mile sat nervously backstage and worried as they faced the ‘you’re not, not through’ line-ups after their second round of auditions. Yet Reggie N Bollie weren’t shown at all during Boot Camp, the group challenge or solo performances. They hadn’t made Olly Murs cry. They hadn’t left Caroline Flack lost for words. The edit team clearly hadn’t expected them to go all that far in the competition.
But here they are, storming through the live shows, a firm favourite among the final five. They don’t belt out big tracks. In fact, they all but mock the themes, opening with a bit of Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On only to switch to Who Let The Dogs Out from Rugrats In Paris because the people want to “party, not listen to slow songs”.
Evidently it is what the people want. They’ve not appeared in a single sing-off, after all. Cowell aside, the judges can’t sit still while they perform. When they covered One Direction’s What Makes You Beautiful even Liam Payne – who was handily sat in the crowd – gave them the 1D seal of approval. Meanwhile the YouTube clip of that week two performance boasts more than a million views, compared with Ché Chesterman’s effort from the same night which has clocked up less than half their numbers.
Backstage, not a word is spoken against them. The acts love them, the crew seems to love them, former host Dermot O’Leary watched one episode and threw his support behind them. Cowell, as usual, hit the nail on the head after their very first audition: their vocals aren’t the best, but it’s always a sunny day when they’re around. And goddammit we need some sunshine, right?
Their mentor Cheryl, of course, has a lot to do with their popularity. She’s sat on the panel many a time now and knows that a good singer only holds interest for so long. While we don’t want to listen to nails on a chalkboard, we do want a bit of quirkiness on a Saturday night. It’s why the Wagners, Jedwards and Stevie Richies of previous years are still discussed. It’s why another one of our biggest reality contests has been won by a dog on more than one occasion.
I’m all for a soul-shaking vocal. I’ve listened to Adele’s Hello more than is probably healthy. But take a moment to imagine if this year’s winner’s single really is Bob Dylan’s Forever Young and it’s given a Reggie N Bollie twist. A Merry Christmas indeed.
Put simply, a Reggie N Bollie win might have seemed like a bonkers thing to predict back at Six Chairs but now, as the competition nears its final weeks, it’s definitely within touching distance. Maybe they’ll even succeed in getting Simon Cowell on his feet?
The X Factor continues Saturday and Sunday at 8:00pm on ITV