https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDYIEJDzNNk&showinfo=0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zisYeg_dbY&showinfo=0




Right that animal torture/PoW programme is coming on now so let's rap this up quick. Tonight showed how much Honey G brought to the show – she was awful, but it's got pretty boring without her. Heading into the final Matt, 5 After Midnight and Saara seem sure things, with Saara a possible winner. Emily hasn't shown enough range, she's my pick to be booted.

But as ever, you shouldn't pay any attention to me.

To all a good night!



Oooh, goodie, 5 After Midnight with a Motown classic. Their voices really are perfect for this, shame they've juuuuuust missed the trend by about a year or so.

More like this



Show winning comments from the judges: both Simon and Nicole hint they almost regret letting her through, because she's such a strong competitor. Her mentor Sharon is rendered speechless.


Saara's second song: Chandelier by Sia, the song that won her first X Factor audition.




All of the judges (except Simon, who thinks it was bland) say they "can't wait to see him at the final." They've been saying that for at least two months. There's a real Hillary Clinton air to him.


Christ, Matt singing another winsome ballad. Excuse me while I sigh myself inside out.


That version of Mad World isn't going to shatter Emily's 'boring' image. In some ways it's unfair to say she always does the same thing – she's genuinely great at it – but she does tend to be a low energy moment in the programme.



Oh, apparently that's the end of the Christmas section. Why? Surely they're not worried about their artistic integrity?



Unpopular opinion: All I Want for Christmas is a terrible Christmas song that gets worse every year. Muddy melody, random pitching, terrible dancing. Anyway, Saara did it decently.

Nicole Saltslinger calls it a 'cornucopia of corn', the other judges mostly agree.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDs90j7TYbQ&showinfo=0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r36SWP3YYU0&showinfo=0


A predictably dreary version of So This is Christmas from Emily Middlemas, a pretty dreary song to begin with. (Sharon said it was lyrically the best one ever written.) Simon said it was "S-I-N-C-E-R-E." Louis said it was "S-A-F-E."

Are they taking Emily to the "V-E-T" later?



A solid rendition of Stay Another Day from 5 After Midnight. There's no real doubt they could run the boyband circuit after this.




Terry gives a grandma-pleasing, school-concert-worthy performance of Silent Night. Sharon hints it's inspired a religious conversion in her.



Matt Terry


Saara after being underserved at the beginning of the series, is looking like a surprise winner. Makes sense, her voice is undeniable.





Settle an argument: is Stay Another Day by East 17 a Christmas song? (We say it's a pop song with bells.) #xfactor https://t.co/PNTcEs6lKQ

— Radio Times (@RadioTimes) December 3, 2016


The main Backstage Nonsense™ this week is the news that more young people are watching Planet Earth 2 than the X Factor. A lot of commentators are using this to bloviate about television underestimating young folk, simultaneously making the same snobby point about X Factor being for idiots as always. As ever, this is just a way to assure their readers that, don’t worry, you really are much better than the masses.

I have a slightly different view – just because it’s made by smart people doesn’t make Planet Earth’s audience smart. Nature documentaries are the easiest watch imaginable. With no story to follow and precious few facts to keep track of, they’re perfect moving wallpaper. For many they are pretty pictures that help sell televisions, porn for the whole family. There’s a reason DVDs of the original Planet Earth were stacked next to the bongs at my university’s corner shop.

If you really want to watch grim nature, red in tooth and claw, switch over to ITV.


I’m so worked up about these Fake Christmas Songs™ I’ve come up with my own, much better line-up. Why not switch off the television and imagine these for the next hour?

Matt Terry

Must be Santa Claus by Bob Dylan and Back Door Santa by Clarence Carter

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8qE6WQmNus&showinfo=0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0NoalRsk5w&showinfo=0

Emily Middlemas

Zat You Santa Claus? by Louis Armstrong and Don’t Shoot Me Santa by The Killers

5 After Midnight

I Saw Three Ships (as covered by Sting) and Ukrainian Bell Carol

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhSWQ2AhXOg&showinfo=0 ”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBDFMD5kLvc&showinfo=0”

Saara Aalto

A Spaceman Came Travelling by Chris de Burgh and Merry *********** Christmas by Eazy-E


A few notes:

  • I don’t think Matt Terry is actually singing the Simon and Garfunkel version of Silent Night (although maybe Dermot could play the gloomy newsreader!) I just like it.
  • X Factor continues to cover covers, rather than the original song. Mad World was originally an upbeat Tears for Fears track, before Gary Jules slowed it down for idiot teens.
  • Speaking of, Mad World is not a Christmas track. I know it was a Christmas number one, I remember that interminable year, but that doesn’t make it a Christmas song. It doesn’t mention Christmas. It’s not about Jesus or Santa Claus or presents or huddling together for warmth. It’s about isolation, when Christmas is about the precise opposite. Plus, it’s rubbish.
  • Not to be a Christmas snob (this is a lie, there is nothing I love more) but the song choices are full of Fake Christmas Songs™. I’m not talking about Sia or any of that, but tracks that crop up every year on Christmas Disco albums that have no right being there. Stay Another Day is a great tune with a tragic backstory, but chucking some bells onto it and dressing Brian Harvey up as Nanook of the North does not make it a Christmas song.


Matt Terry

Silent Night and Say You Love Me by Jessie Ware

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgYFXCUEL4Y&showinfo=0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAMM8JVbr8g&showinfo=0

Emily Middlemas

Happy Xmas (War Is Over) by John Lennon and Mad World by Gary Jules

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yN4Uu0OlmTg&showinfo=0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Az2BvTcshg&showinfo=0

5 After Midnight

Stay Another Day by East 17 and Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours) by Stevie Wonder

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mg7ok8dmDU&showinfo=0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvRwR-hZDVY&showinfo=0

Saara Aalto

All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey and Chandelier by Sia

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXQViqx6GMY&showinfo=0 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2vjPBrBU-TM&showinfo=0


Tonight should be an enjoyable theme: Christmas. Let’s see what Louis has in his sack for us.


Hello, I’m Jonathan Holmes, and welcome to the X Factor 2016 semi-finals. We’re almost there: that light you see is either the end of the tunnel or an oncoming train, and I’m OK with it either way.


You know that bit in the Lord of the Rings where Frodo can’t take it anymore, so Sam carries him up Mount Doom on his back? That’s me. X Factor has beaten me and it’s only your wonderful, compassionate clicks (hit up a few advert while you’re here!) that keep me going to the end.

Catch up with our coverage

Week 8: Attack of the Trolls

Week 7: "Every year is the worst year of the X Factor"

Week 6: "We're all trapped in a Tom Stoppard play"

Week 5: Furious X Factor fans send SNAKES to judges!

Week 4: Fright Night Fakery and the X Factor Tabloid Factory

Week 3: "Honey G is the Donald Trump of contestants"

Week 2: Enter Robbie Williams

Week 1: "It's less a TV programme than a migraine, isn't it?"

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