X Factor UK 2016 was a disappointment on almost every account. Sorry, it just was. That didn't mean that there weren't some bright spots! The live shows managed to churn quite a few spectacular performances. Below is a (very biased, sorry) list of (what I consider to be) the top ten best performances of the season!
10. SAARA AALTO (OVERS)
"The Winner Takes It All" // Top 5
I wasn't a big fan of hers coming into the live shows, but she turned everything around for me. Saara's the definition of an underdog. This performance was every bit as captivating as anything she's done before, but she showed she didn't need a huge production-filled spectacle to create a lovely moment for herself. Her vocals were lovely and the emotion displayed on her voice to the performance to a whole new level.
09. SAARA AALTO (OVERS)
"My Heart Will Go On" // Top 6
Beautiful staging, haunting vocals, stellar rendition.
08. GIFTY LOUISE (GIRLS)
"Lay Me Down" // Top 10
Three words. Gifty was robbed. We all knew she had a good voice but she'd been holding back on us until this week. Much like Saara, we were used to seeing her on a bright stage, up-tempo with a bunch of production surrounding her. All Gifty needed was a mic and a stool to create a moment for herself that felt real.
07. 5 AFTER MIDNIGHT (GROUPS)
"Get Ready/Reach Out I'll Be There" // Top 11
This was everything I love about 5 After Midnight just sandwiched into one stellar three minute performance. Good lord. They've already probed that they're extremely current but this style of music worked just as well as them. How was Louis blessed with something so absolutely brilliant? The mix of old school and new school fire was fantastic and this week they reminded us that they can actually sing.
06. MATT TERRY (BOYS)
"Writings on the Wall" // Top 6
Sometimes I forget just how good of a singer and how compelling Matt can be. The control he displayed in his voice was absolutely exquisite. His falsetto was there for a lot of the performance, but it felt less obnoxious as it had been the entire competition. Instead of doing a bunch of runs for the hell of it, it felt like the song was taking him there. This was probably the most connected I'd ever seen him to a song and it made for a much more believable and pleasant viewing experience for me.
05. EMILY MIDDLESMAS (GIRLS)
"Creep" // Top 9
Stunning. This was every bit as moody and haunting as Emily had ever been but everything came together for her. The limited staging felt necessary, her tone is perfect for the song and it felt like her shinning moment on the show.
04. RELLEY C (OVERS)
"Shackles (Praise You)" // Top 12
Speaking of robbed... While the performance was far from vocally perfect, every thing else came together. I'd never considered her to be a contender for the title until this performance. It was fun, it was most definitely something different (that rap, baby?! that key change, baby?!) and shed a whole new light on her in the competition. Unfortunately her early elimination forced this to be her peak in the competition but if we saw more of her I doubt she would have only gotten better.
03. MATT TERRY (BOYS)
"You Don't Own Me" // Top 12
Look at Matt living up to his potential! After a few shaky performances in the middle stages, he came back full force at the start of the live shows! He seemed really connected to the material and it made the performance much more believable. And that voice? He had a near perfect vocal. The beginning was fine but once the chorus hit there was this strange power to his voice that lifted the performance from good to amazing. His tone is crystal clear and the transition to his falsetto was seamless. I had the performance stuck in my head the whole night. Side note: Sharon covering Nicole's chest at the end was just...superb.03.
02. SAARA AALTO (OVERS)
"Oh So Quiet" // Top 10
Be real: we were all a little bit iffy on Saara from the beginning. She was a bit kooky and didn't seem serious but this performance was just kooky enough to turn me into a fan. She brought a good amount of crazy, brilliant vocals and an extremely energetic stage presence that turned her into a front runner.
01. 5 AFTER MIDNIGHT (GROUPS)
"Say You'll Be There" // Top 8
Nicole said it best: they took a Spice Girls song and made it sound like Stevie Wonder! Arrangement aside, the sheer charisma of the three guys just oozed out of them this entire performance. Their vocals were on point, they didn't do a bunch of back flips and cartwheels that restricted their performance. It was a blast to watch and it's a blast to just listen to, even without watching the performance. One of the more creative choices of the season!