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Michael Jackson v Queen on X Factor

The nine remaining X Factor acts took on two titans of the pop world when they served up a Michael Jackson v Queen extravaganza.

But while some contestants had the judges doing the fandango, other performances were very, very frightening.

And they had to deal with a stage invader midway through a performance by eight-piece Stereo Kicks as they tackled Jackson's You Are Not Alone.

The song took on a literal meaning as an unofficial ninth member joined them on the stage mid-song.

The judges gave the male vocalists, who emerged from last week's sing-off, praise for dealing with the "idiot" and keeping their composure.

Show supremo Simon Cowell said: "These things happen on live TV, but the important thing is you bounced back from last week."

Comedian Simon Brodkin appeared to confirm he was the stage invader when he tweeted from the account of his alter ego Lee Nelson: "Stereo Kicks were top lads. Still think they'd be better off with 9. I'd vote for them but Cowell's got my phone."

Paul Akister opened the show with Queen's 1979 top ten hit Don't Stop Me Now, set to a drum and bass beat.

Cowell said: "You have sung incredibly well. Last week you were like one of those things in the Harry Potter movies - the Dementors, that suck all the energy out. If you're miserable, we're miserable. If you're happy, we're happy. And we're happy."

The first of Cowell's acts, Jay James, took on Queen's The Show Must Go On. And the song had extra poignancy after the Welshman suffered a throat injury in training.

Louis Walsh was impressed. He said: "Cheer up, I know you had a really tough week but you picked yourself up and you've had a really good week. Consistent and amazing."

But former Spice Girl Mel B was not: "I wasn't feeling it," she said. "I can see you were uncomfortable and stressed out. I felt you had put yourself under so much pressure. Put on some showmanship. You look like you're going down the pub."

Although it was officially Michael Jackson v Queen week, Lauren Platt's effort was actually a Jackson 5 number.

The only act left in the girls category and among the favourites to win the series, the 17-year-old looked emotionless as she delivered a slightly wobbly rendition.

But it did not deter the judges. Mel B said: "You performed that song like you had been performing all your life."

Cowell said: "I thought the track was good, I thought the last 20 seconds was fantastic."

Mixed-sex group Only The Young, favourites for the X Factor chop, tackled Jackson's Blame It On The Boogie.

Their boundless enthusiasm to seemingly sing at every possible moment was starting to grate on the fellow contestants.

But they won praise from the panel. Pop star Cheryl Fernandez-Versini said: "The chemistry between you is so genuine. You are finding your niche."

Cowell added: "Since last week and including this week, you are back in the competition. There is a gap in the market for you."

Former rock band singer Ben Haenow initially offered a stripped-back rendition of Jackson's Man In The Mirror before he was joined by a gospel choir.

Fernandez-Versini said: "It was a massive, brave thing to stand there and sing Man In The Mirror a cappella."

Cowell added: "It takes real guts to sing a minute of that song with nearly nothing. I believe this is the moment where we see a star potentially being born."

Stevi Ritchie, the "overs" wildcard entry and former call centre operator, again divided critics with his version of the quintessential Queen song Bohemian Rhapsody.

Cowell, his mentor, described him as a "rock god".

In a slightly backhanded compliment, Walsh said: " I think you're turning into the David Brent of The X Factor, in a good way."

However, Mel B said she felt like she had taken acid. Not in a good way.

The night's penultimate act Fleur East tackled the lesser-known Jackson track Will You Be There, complete with four key changes.

Walsh said the vocalist - previously in the competition with series two act Addictive Ladies - had "star quality".

Mel B added: "You have to stay in this competition, we need you."

Bringing the curtain down on the show was Andrea Faustini, dubbed the Roman emperor, who wowed the judges with Queen's Somebody To Love.

Fernandez-Versini said: "T here's never anything less than 100% with you. Can we find somebody to love you? The whole of Britain loves you."

Cowell described Faustini, who returned to Italy to see his family in the week, as "a brilliant, brilliant singer".

Homegrown boyband One Direction are due to perform on tonight's results show.


From Belfast Telegraph