The first live episode of the year of "The X Factor" U.K. was televised on Oct. 12, 2013. The show's Top 12 contestant acts performed in this episode, which was the first time that the show introduced "flash votes," in which that night's initial voting results revealed that Shelley Smith was one of the two contestant in the bottom two who then have to sing for survival in the next episode. The theme of the episode was music from the 1980s.
Here are the Top 12 "X Factor" U.K. contestant acts of 2013:
Girls (female solo singers ages 16 to 24), mentored by Nicole Scherzinger
- Abi Alton
- Hannah Barrett
- Tamera Foster
Boys (male solo singers ages 16 to 24), mentored by Louis Walsh
- Sam Callahan
- Luke Friend
- Nicholas McDonald
Overs (solo singers ages 25 and over), mentored by Sharon Osbourne
- Sam Bailey
- Shelley Smith
- Lorna Simpson
Groups, mentored by Gary Barlow
- Kingsland Road
- Rough Copy
- Miss Dynamix
Sam Bailey has been an outstanding favorite of the judges and "X Factor" viewers, ever since her first audition was shown in the show's Season 11 premiere. In this live episode, she earned rave reviews for her pitch-perfect performance of "The Power of Love," a song which was originally recorded by Jennifer Rush in 1984 but was made more famous by Celine Dion in 1993. Naturally, all of the judges praised Bailey's performance.
Shelley Smith has been a controversial singer with viewers, many of whom think that Smith got a spot in the Top 12 that they believe should have gone to eliminated contestant Joseph Whelan. Smith performed Heart's "Alone," a song that proved to be in Smith's overall vocal range, but her version wasn't nearly as good as the original. All of the judges liked the performance except for Barlow, who said that Smith seemed to be stuck in the 80s. By placing in the bottom two this early in the live rounds, Smith should not count on making it to the finals.
Lorna Simpson sang Whitney Houston's "So Emotional," one of the shrieker hits in Houston's repertoire. Simpson started off doing slow, lower-key arrangement of the song. The vocals were good, but it still looked like something you might see on a cruise ship. The judges said that Simpson's vocals were a bit shaky in the beginning, but she was excellent by the end of the song.
Abi Alton has carved out a niche in this year's "X Factor" U.K. by being the "quirky girl" who performs with an instrument: either an acoustic guitar or a piano. Her style is very Lisa Loeb/Sixpence None the Richer. Alton's ballad version of Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" (with Alton playing the piano) got praise from the judges for her unique take on the song.
Hannah Barrett has received criticism for crying during and after her "X Factor" performances up to this point, but she held her emotions together and didn't cry in her performance of Tina Turner's "What's Love Got to Do With It." Maybe it's because the song doesn't have heart-wrenching lyrics. It wasn't the best song choice to showcase Barrett's powerhouse vocals, but she still got positive reviews from the the judges.
Tamera Foster, who has a history on "The X Factor" of pitchy vocals and or forgetting her lyrics and being a Beyonce wannabe, showed vast improvement with her version of Chaka Khan's "Ain't Nobody." In terms of vocal talent, Foster is still inferior to Hannah Barrett, and it's unlikely that Foster will go farther in the competition than Barrett, unless people are going to vote for Foster based on her looks.
Sam Callahan and his "X Factor" mentor Walsh have gotten the wrath of many "X Factor" viewers who think Callahan got a spot in the Top 12 that should have gone to eliminated contestant Paul Akister. Callahan did a very medicore performance of Bryan Adams' "Summer of '69," and he got mixed reviews from the judges for it: Barlow and Scherzinger said that Callahan needs to improve his vocals, while Osbourne and Walsh said that they loved the performance. Aside from fans who think Callahan is cute, he doesn't seems to have the most supporters in this competition, so it's unlikely that he'll make it to the Top 5.
Luke Friend did a sometimes off-key, off-tempo version of the Police's "Every Breath You Take," but the judges said they loved the performance. "X Factor' viewers seem to be talking more about Friend's messy mane of hair than his singing talent. It would be shocking if he outlasted Nicholas McDonald, who is the clear frontrunner in this year's Boys category.
Nicholas McDonald impressed the judges with his version of Spandau Ballet's "True," even though it was far from his best performance and not the best song choice for him. At least he didn't sing off-key, like his rivals in the Boys catgeory. McDonald was also able to hold a high note during the song.
Kingsland Road had a very good song choice with Wham's "I'm Your Man," since it fit the group's pop party vibe. The group's harmonies on the song were pretty tight. The performance earned high praise from all of the judges.
Miss Dynamix did a good version of the Pointer Sisters' "Jump" that hit a humb note, but Mixx Dynamix was far outshone by Kingsland Road, who did a much more energetic performance in this episode. The judges (even Barlow, who is Miss Dynamix's mentor) all said the performance was fine but needed more swagger and energy. The judges did not mention that Miss Dynamix's SeSe Foster is six months pregnant, probably because they don't want to look like they are discriminating against the group because of her pregnancy.
Rough Copy performed Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" got an extremely positive (some would say overrated) review from Scherzinger, who declared that Rough Copy was the best group ever on "The X Factor" U.K. (Fans of One Direction and JLS might beg to differ.)
In the episode airing on Oct. 13, 2013, viewers will find out the other contestant who was in the bottom two with Smith in the votes that were tallied from the previous night. The other contestant and Smith will then have a sing-off, and the judges will decide who gets eliminated. The concept of the flash votes is to reveal which contestant got the lowest number of votes immediately after all the contestants performed. The other contestant is kept a mystery so that supporters of the remaining contestants can be motivated to increase their votes for any contestant whom they believe might be in danger of being eliminated.