by Marc Ridley – EQ's resident X Factor blogger
Another X Factor episode, another Scott Mills soundbite. Excellent.
The weekly introductory montage of auditoonees making their way to the audition centre is present again, and it's a nice touch. It's setting us up for a pretty emotional episode; even in the preview clips two of the judges are in tears. This is obviously good news.
First on stage, it's 42-year-old David Wilder, who basically looks like Iggy Pop on those insurance adverts. He's come to London to make his fortune, and has so far failed. If he wins, he plans to get more attention from the ladies. When asked who he wants to be as good as, he answered with himself. That shouldn't be difficult.
After belting out Bowie's "Life on Mars" (a strange choice of song, really) and invading the audience, he'd somehow managed to garner the support of the arena. Gary didn't seem to happy with it all, but ended up deciding 'it was so wrong it was so good'. And if there's one thing we've learned from the series so far, it's that you can't argue with Gary. Four yesses.
The second part brought us some of the show's youngest auditionees. Max Mackay won his place in boot camp with a bit of John Legend?, and Lizzie Colbourne warbled and giggled her way into the judges' hearts to get herself through to the next round.
Another 16-year-old, Luke Lucas, had a strange attraction to Tulisa: 'I WANT TO TOUCH HER FACE'. He got what he wanted too; Tulisa treated him to a peck or two. Singing 'Who's Loving You' by Michael Jackson, he brought the audience to its feet and himself through to boot camp.
Next it was the return of an old face: Michael Lewis, who performed last year dressed as Michael Jackson, then blamed the audience on its negative attitude for his bad performance. But he's back and he's escaped from behind the mask: this is the new Michael.
We preferred the old one. At least he chose a decent song last year: his latest performance was as disturbing as it was out of tune. After a peculiar stand-off with the judges, Michael was unfortunately packed off with a definite 'No'. He then tried to mount a one-man sit-in on the stage, only to attract more boos from the audience.
And now a group; and about time too. Unfortunately, three-piece Angel, aged 18-23, weren't up to scratch. They sang Willow Smith's famous 2010 hit, but ended having the audience tearing their hair out rather than whipping it back and forth. But at least they provided us with some AMAZING Kelly Rowland action: the judge launched a righteous speech against the girls after they insulted Tulisa.
Jade Richards, student, 21, had brought her nan along to the auditions. Now we're not usually ones to fall for cynical sob stories, but Jade's nan used to be a singer and now hoped that Jade could achieve what her nan never had the chance to. And after hearing her performance of Adele's "Someone Like You", we hope so too.
By the end of her song, no fewer than three of the four judges were wiping tears from their eyes. Even Louis was choking up, and he's the happiest man alive. When Louis is moved to tears, you know it's special.
And with that emotional performance, Jade brought to an end perhaps the best episode of the series so far. The music was great, the drama was real, and the emotion for once wasn't forced. And as for Kelly Rowland… She's a full-on star.