TV review: The X Factor

Maloney got the boot, James got the title and Rylan got a sleigh pulled by half-naked men – welcome to the X Factor final 2012.

A humbled James Arthur is crowned X Factor champion
A humbled James Arthur is crowned X Factor champion

But it seems Gary Barlow and the gang struggled to capture the imagination of the public, who turned off in their droves for this year’s two-night grand final.

The first night of the final had its worst audience for seven years on Saturday night – trailing Strictly Come Dancing by 1.3 million viewers. X Factor could only muster an average of just 9.5 million viewers, its worst showing since 2005 when Shayne Ward triumphed in the show.

Not exactly the lucky omen that Jahmene Douglas, James Arthur and Christopher Maloney were hoping for, I’m sure.

But enough with the negativity. This is X factor and we know what we are letting ourselves in for by now. An indoor fireworks display Guy Fawkes would have been proud of, a host of tearful films showing us each contestant’s journey and the same old clichés from Louis “You deserve to be in the final” Walsh.

All three sung their hearts out for our votes on Saturday but and it didn’t all go smoothly.

Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger’s microphone failed when dueting with 21-year-old Jahmene. But she didn’t let the mishap put her off her stride – only adding to the general consensus that she has been the most energetic and watchable judge, regularly jumping around and dancing as each of her charges sing their tracks much to the amusement of a quizzical looking Mr Barlow.

The US star had been the main highpoint in what has been a pretty tawdry series. Her typically American cheerleading was at least entertaining and in tune with the show’s brash qualities as opposed to Tulisa’s non-existent contributions.

Back to the final, and Liverpudlian Christopher finally bowed out at the end of Saturday’s programme – ending a tough few weeks for the singer who had been branded as dated and too cabaret to win the talent contest.

Last night’s grand finale shaped up between this year’s two best acts; Jahmene with his smooth soul vocals and James with his powerhouse of a voice.

The nation could also breathe a sigh of relief that this year’s novelty act Rylan Clarke didn’t make the final three. However I suppose the night wouldn’t have been complete without Rylan bounding on stage with the rest of this year’s failed finalists for a Christmas medley.

No Maloney though – who had apparently flounced back off to Liverpool, which is exactly where Louis Walsh said he’d never go back to.

Then it was time to reveal the duo’s choice of debut single, should they win. Jahmene warbled through Let It Be by The Beatles while James hit all the high notes of his track Impossible, originally by the not-so-legendary R&B singer Shontelle.

Padding out the show were X Factor residents One Direction and Rihanna making her umpteenth appearance. And it was good to see those LED lights from the stands at the Olympic Stadium being reused as Rihanna sung chart-topper We Found Love at the final in Manchester.

But finally, after more than four months of television (and another four hours over the weekend) we had reached the final curtain in front of the 10,000-strong crowd.

Dermot gave it the big build-up before announcing James Arthur as the winner to slightly underwhelming but cool celebrations from the Middlesbrough lad.

Overall, it was a year that never really hit the heights of its predecessors, desperately missing a certain Simon Cowell. But it still manages to be the most talked-about show in the country every week. There’s only a few short months until X Factor 2013.

Andrew Turton

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