The X Factor 2016: Fright Night as it happened

Hell is empty, and all of the X Factor finalists are here


12.00 Midnight


10.13 And with that, good night. Please…don’t have nightmares.



10.03 OK, prepare for the dump of all tonight’s performances, thanks to the X Factor’s terrifyingly efficient social media team.


9.50 Middle-mas is way out in front for me (wow punditry is easy), and as for weakest…probably Sam Lavery, due to a poor song choice. But I have been wrong 100% of the time thus far, so don’t bet the house on it.

9.43 Well that was actually brilliant, would definitely listen to a full version. Still, brave to end a singing competition with “I don’t belong here…”

9.40 Emily ‘the other Scottish one’ Middlemas up now, with Creep. Looking forward to this. But first, a video of her getting berated by her parents. The X Factor is a deeply strange show.

9.33 Yet again, the judges are unanimous in their praise. Fright Night has turned out to be the nicest night of all!

9.25 Up next, Four After Midnight Four of Diamonds with Ghost from Ella Henderson who is (whisper it now) another Cowell act. The group seem to have come dressed as ‘a girl band’.

9.18 “I could have done without the coffin-piano” – Nicole Scherzinger

[Does anyone know how to get quotes listed on IMDB? I would very much enjoy if that quote ended up on Nicole’s IMDB page.]

9.17 I love Lady Gaga so much that I’m enjoying this just for reminding me that Lady Gaga exists.

9.15 Saara Alto now, who has managed to break free of her Scando-typecasting from previous weeks into Lady Gaga, who might be from Venus.

9.07: Simon: “I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t think I did well enough for you this week. Listening to it back, it wasn’t different enough.” [Other judges all rush to defend Sam]

Simon seems to be the only judge who knows how to rhetorical judo his acts through. I suppose he’s done it for longer, but still, nicely done Prince of Darkness.


9.02  Sam Lavery (who sounds like a Treehouse of Horror gag that hasn’t quite come together) with Total Eclipse of the Heart. Which is not, in any way, a frightening song.

Unless, I don’t know, there was a knock on your door, and you looked through your peep hole, and there was a stranger in an Elvis Mask singing Bonnie Tyler through your letterbox. That would be pretty scary.

9.00 As a fellow Scottish guy, I want to congratulate Ryan on the healthy glow he has picked up down south.


8.58  Ryan with Backstreet’s Back, a song that’s only scary if you are an enemy of the Backstreet Boys.


8.46 After admitting he initially “hated” her shtick, Simon is now talking about a potential Honey G concert, claims “after tonight the G stands for greatest.”

Ted Cruz would sympathise. 


8.40 Honey G now with Men in Black, as was foretold by Nostradamus.

8.35 BTW, if you’re wondering about the tune they keep playing under Dermot, it’s Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield. Made famous in The Exorcist, but the full hour long modern-prog concept album is worth a listen. It has a glockenspiel solo!

8.30 Peter Dickson standing in for Vincent Price on Thriller there, completely stealing the show from 5 After Midnight. Which is lucky, because that show was not good.



8.20 Dermot’s Addams Family snapping fingers gag is fun. It’s a shame Vine is dead, it would have made a great Vine.


8.18 Well that was…yeah, but the judges thought it was great, so what do I know?

8.15 Now Matt Terry with I Put a Spell on You. The bumf that was distributed beforehand all said this was originally by Nina Simone. It wasn’t. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins did a kookier version of it before Miss Simone turned it into the single greatest song in the history of mankind. IMCO.*

*In My Correct Opinion.

8.11 Nicely done Simon – “it wasn’t a risk, it was doing something different.” I’m not sure how it was either, but it’s a good strategy to shuffle Gifty into the middle of the pack and out of danger.

8.10 A solid showing from Gifty, but it will take some real rhetorical footwork from Simon Cowell to keep her in.

8.07 First up is Gifty, who just so happens to be covering another Fifth Harmony song. It’s almost like they’re owned by Simon Cowell.

Remember kids: brand synergy is the scariest monster of all.


8.01 And here we go. one thing you notice as a new viewer – why can’t they play more than five seconds of a song in a montage? I’ve caught these in the last 30 seconds, but I’m sure there were more.



However, surely we can all agree on this, from former contestant Ryan Ruckledge?

“I would love to see Honey G just **** the stage up and on live TV, change her mind last minute and get them to stop the music then say ‘I’m not going to rap, I’m going to sing’. Then she’ll belt out I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston for a laugh.”

We would all love that, former contestant Ryan Ruckledge. It’s a beautiful dream.



The main on-going story seems to be whether Honey G is ‘ruining’ the X Factor. I’m with editor Tim Glanfield on this – ‘the people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.’

(That wasn’t Tim Glanfield, that was H.L. Mencken.)

I would also say that complaining about joke acts on the X Factor is like complaining that Tommy Cooper gets his magic tricks wrong. There are also thornier issues about whether she is “attacking black culture” that I’ll leave up to Twitter and 50 Cent.


One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about X Factor over the last month has been how the show is incidental to proceedings: the real enjoyment comes from the endless intrigues that play out between the judges and through the newspapers.

If I was more conspiracy minded, I would wonder whether the ‘X Factor’ was a useful story factory kept aloft by hacks desperate for headlines and clicks. Then again, I have a vested interest in keeping the sham going (FULL DISCLOSURE: I am paid for this blog) so let’s not press too much, hmm?

7.30 N.B. You should absolutely ignore my recommendations. Thus far I’ve enjoyed Bratavio (eliminated week 1), Saara Aalto (bottom three two weeks running) and Relley C (gone week 3).

For me, X Factor has been one long realisation that I am not like other people, I do not enjoy the things they do, and I’ll never experience a moment of true human connection.

Pretty scary Fright Night, all told.

7.29 She’s not just got one candle, she’s got two.

7.25 Personally I’m looking forward to Radiohead’s Creep, the only genuinely scary song on the list. At least, it is in a karaoke bar.


That song list is just one of many reasons not to care about the Haunted Coincidental Jukebox. Write all the think pieces you want –spin it into a metaphor for Donald Trump, globalisation, popular distrust in our democratic institutions, whatever– but even in my four weeks watching this show, I’ve learned that the theme has absolutely no bearing on what songs they actually sing. Did you see ‘Diva Week’? It included Michael Jackson’s Earth Song.

So this week you’ve got a spread between songs about scary things (Thriller), songs with scary words in the title (Ghost) and songs with music videos with scary things in them. Like Bad Romance and Total Eclipse of the Heart. Which took place in a scary building.

The Jukebox doesn’t spit out a theme, just the first word in a game of free association.


7.13 5 After Midnight win! 


Matt Terry – I Put a Spell on You (Nina Simone/Screamin’ Jay Hawkins)

Ryan Lawrie – Everybody (Backstreet Boys)

Emily Middlemas – Creep (Radiohead)

Sam Lavery – Total Eclipse of the Heart (Bonnie Tyler)

Gifty Louise – I’m In Love With a Monster (Fifth Harmony)

Honey G – Men in Black (Will Smith)

Saara Aalto – Bad Romance (Lady Gaga)

5 After Midnight – Thriller (Michael Jackson)

Four of Diamonds – Ghost (Ella Henderson)


7.11 Hallowe’en is a very special holiday, because not only do you not get a day off work, but it has produced precisely one (1) listenable song.

Let’s see who lucked out and gets to do Thriller.


DERMOT [in Santa hat]: [sighs] OK, right, let’s see what next week’s theme is.

[The wheel starts spinning, Dermot slumps to the floor. Dermot doesn’t dance anymore. He wouldn’t know how.]

[The chimes of the Jukebox echo in the hall– if there is an audience out there in the darkness, they’ve long since fallen silent. The judges hold hands, not daring to breathe. Louis is weeping quietly.]

[The wheel slows down.]

DERMOT: No. No. It can’t be, it’s not possible…

MUSIC: “I was working in the lab, late one night…”

7.08 Of course, these rumours of a fix will be immediately dispelled when Fright Night is chosen as next week’s theme, and the week after, and every week until, exhausted and beaten by the cruel God of Chance, Simon Cowell pulls the plug on the whole show.

7.05 I understand there’s controversy over this. Some struggle to believe the Jukebox choosing Fright Night the weekend before Hallowe’en was a coincidence. A couple of points:

1. Surely not.

2. If this upsets you or bothers you or causes you to devote any headspace to it whatsoever, even enough to post an update to Twitter or your liveblog, then I want you to take up one new hobby next week. Maybe knitting? People do it on the Tube now! Young people!

(This is mostly directed at my colleague, Huw Fullerton. I’m callin’ you out, buddy boy.)

7.01 This week’s randomly selected theme – Fright Night. 

7.00 Hello and welcome to the X Factor Live Blog, an ongoing experiment to see what happens to an X Factor virgin (me) when exposed to series 13 of the show.


Since the last show, I’ve had a blinding migraine and accidentally dropped “I sweat glitter” into conversation with a person I was trying to impress. Can’t wait to see how I deteriorate tonight!