For the past several weeks, Sam Bailey has been considered the frontrunner to win "The X Factor" U.K. in 2013. British tabloids have reported that she's been the top vote getter. She's also consistently gotten the best reviews from the show's judges (Gary Barlow, Sharon Osbourne, Louis Walsh and Nicole Scherzinger). And in the episode that ITV televised on Dec. 7, 2013, Bailey once again got the highest praise from the judges.
Meanwhile, Nicholas McDonald, who has probably come in second place to Bailey when it comes to getting high praise from the judges, hit a major stumbling block when he gave his most out-of-tune "X Factor" performance so far. He was so obviously mortified and embarrassed at hitting so many wrong notes that he began to cry at the end of the performance. Will this off-key performance ruin his chances of making it to the finals? We'll find out on Dec. 8, 2013, when a contestant will be eliminated.
In this episode, the remaining contestants did two songs each: one song originally performed by Beyoncé or her former group Destiny's Child; the other song originally performed by Elton John.
Here are the remaining Top 4 "X Factor" U.K. contestant acts of 2013:
Boys (male solo singers ages 16 to 24), mentored by Louis Walsh
- Luke Friend
- Nicholas McDonald
Overs (solo singers ages 25 and over), mentored by Sharon Osbourne
- Sam Bailey
Groups, mentored by Gary Barlow
- Rough Copy
Here is a recap of the episode:
Luke Friend sang Beyoncé's "Best Thing I Never Had" and Elton John's "Something About the Way You Look Tonight." On "Halo," he got mixed-to-positive reactions from the judges. Barlow said, "Luke, remember that many moons ago when the series started, you were the first on our screens. The progression between now and then is unbelievable. You have come on the most. Your performance has outgrown this TV studio, I would love to see you on stage in Wembley, rocking out. Good job!" Osbourne added, "Luke, darling, my darling little hair ball. I am good after seeing that performance. I am not crazy about that song; however, your performance was so much better than that song. You have turned into a great performer." Scherzinger commented, "For me it was a little One Direction and Mumford and Sons got together to do Beyoncé. I like that you took a risk though, and I can tell how hungry you are for it." Walsh stated, 'You took a risk but it paid off. You are a dream contestant! I want you in the final!"
Friend got better reviews from the judges for "Something About the Way You Look Tonight." Barlow said, "Another great performance from you. What’s interesting is the you get your song and think, 'How am I going to change this?' I love that you are individual. Your artistry, you always put it first and never go chasing for votes." Scherzinger added, "What is so special about you is your really big heartYou stripped it back. You are authentic and real, and you deserve to be in the final." Osbourne commented, "Luke, that was a very different song for you to sing, and I like to see that you push yourself out of your comfort zone. You were there all on your own and you should be proud of yourself. It was a very emotional performance and you sang it well." Walsh exclaimed, "You want to be in the music game. You are not in it for the fame. You deserve to be in the final, so people of Devon, lift your phones!"
Nicholas McDonald sang Beyoncé's "Halo" and Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me." On "Halo," some of the judges were more sympathetic than others when McDonald broke down and cried. Barlow said, "Nicholas, we are blessed with two songs tonight. That wasn’t like you. There was lots of pitching; there were one or two cracks. I am looking forward to the next song. Pick your confidence up off the floor and move forward." Osbourne added, "Nicholas, Nicholas McDonald, tell the mother everything. Why are you crying? It was a very emotional performance, but your tears made your voice crack, little one." Scherzinger commented "It is a very hard song to sing. There were some weak numbers in there. You got emotional and messed up a little bit, but I liked that I saw the tiger in you finally. I saw you switch. Stay focused; go with the emotion." Walsh stated, "It was a big song, but stop crying, Scotland are behind you, and they’ll get you into the final."
McDonald got better reviews from the judges for his performance of "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me." Barlow commented: "Your earlier song was very disappointing, but you have saved it with this one. This was everything you needed, you are a great little singer and this is what we want if you want to be in the final." Osbourne said, "That is what we want from you. You were really confident and you sang really well. You carried on like true professional. Really well done, good boy." Scherzinger added, "You got back in the saddle and back in the race with that song. You focused and you pulled it together. You knocked it out of the park!" Walsh exclaimed, "You have got something amazing: It’s called a voice, a recording voice. Scotland, don’t let me down. We want him in the final!"
Sam Bailey performed Beyoncé's "If I Were a Boy" and Elton John's "Candle in the Wind." As previously mentioned, she got the best reviews from the judges. For "If I Were a Boy," Scherzinger commented, "You took it back to the Sam Bailey roots that I love about you. When I first saw you, you had this look in your eye, and you really connected with the song. Don’t lose that, let go even more. Exceptional job." Barlow said, "Good job, Sam. Another strong performance, These songs are so difficult. Beyoncé has an enormous vocal range. These songs go from the very low to the very high, and you coped beautifully tonight. Well done." Walsh raved, "You never let us down. This competition is yours to lose. You could win it for Mrs O. You tick every box. I love the makeover, the clothes and the hair ... everything!" Osbourne said, "You chose the song tonight, and you look stunning. Well done!"
For "Candle in the Wind." Barlow commented, "Sam, beautiful, effortless, really gorgeous. It almost showed another side of you. This isn’t an easy song, and yet you took it and made it into a big singer's song. That’s what you do. I thought it was great, really great." Walsh exclaimed, "You are the most constant, you have never let us down, you are a dream to work with, and you are the people’s choice. You are sailing through to the final!" Scherzinger gushed, "You didn’t over-sing it and when I listen to your voice. Mrs. O., I take my lashes off to you in the beautiful job you have done with Sam. I can’t wait to see you in the final, where you belong." Osbourne stated: "I loved that so much. I do love you, missus."
Rough Copy performed Destiny's Child's "Survivor" and Elton John's "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word." For "Survivor," Rough Copy got great reactions from the judges except for Osbourne. Scherzinger said, "Wow, wow, wow, this competition have finally begun. Thank you for that. You guys, you bring the excitement, the tempo, the life, there energy to the show. This is what we need. You are going to survive all the way to the final!" Walsh added, "There is nobody that works harder than Rough Copy. The energy and tone was brilliant. I would have toned it down a little bit. It was a little too much. Sharon and I am on the same page." Osbourne commented, "Perfect song for you, but it’s all overload for me. The skipping, the hopping, the bopping, it’s like I am on brain overload. Pull the reigns in a bit." Barlow stated, "This is not the time to pull the reigns in. This is the semi-final. That was electric! The vibe in this room suddenly went up 10 gears. Well done!"
Rough Copy got much better reviews for "Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word." Scherzinger commented, "Boys, you pack your backpack because you deserve to be in the final. It was beautiful and understated, and together you have the chemistry and the fire. That was beautiful." Osbourne added, "You three men were naked, no backpacks, no caps and you nailed it! It was elegant. It was like I thought you were Boyz II Men. I loved it." Louis Walsh commented, "I loved this song, the harmonies. It was a brilliant song choice. It was slick. I hope you make it through to the final. On that, you deserve to." Barlow concluded, "Boys, it is an important week for us, the groups that get to the final go on to do incredibly well. One Direction, Little Mix, JLS. I would be so proud to see you guys have a journey like that. I hope people vote!"