The X Factor's double whammy

JUDGING PANEL: Daniel Bedingfield, Mel Blatt, Ruby Frost and Stan Walker
JUDGING PANEL: Daniel Bedingfield, Mel Blatt, Ruby Frost and Stan Walker

Last night's The X Factor semi final was a show full of double-whammys. The four remaining acts got to demonstrate their talent and to change their clothes not only once a week but twice in one day.

We also learned young people don't know s**t about rock music, were told a bit of a heartbreaking story and heard some heartbreaking performances, with a constant exhortation to "vote, vote, vote."

Host Dominic Bowden informed us the two categories tonight would be Love and Heartbreak, and the Best of Rock.

First up was Jackie Thomas with Sarah McLachlan's Angel (her mum's all-time favourite).

Big blue beams apeared to grow from her body and she was accompanied by a choir whose faces were illuminated seemingly by torches. Like when you have a power cut and tell ghost stories to scare your little sister.

Speaking of spooky. Did anybody see Bedingfield's facial expression?

Stan Walker told her she looked beautiful (never a good omen if that's the first thing that springs to mind in a singing competition), Ruby Frost warned her she might end up a one-trick-pony

Melanie Blatt told her she looked and sang like an angel but the song wasn't exciting and it was time to grow some balls.

And her mentor Bedingfield? He was spellbound and revealed that when she sang the song for the first time in the dressing room he cried. And now he cried again.

Now it was time for Palmy's Benny Tipene performing his original song Boxes.

When Tipene is done Bedingfield can't stop himself singing along.

Blatt tells Tipene that her relationship with him was not unlike a romantic comedy: "At first we hit it off, then we had this bad patch and tonight I fell in love all over again" and went on to describe him as a "very good looking Ed Sheeran".

Next up where the SBW's Moorhouse.

They were placed around a piano with some ancient black and white movie kisses in the background. Very cute, but vocally not always spot on.

Frost thought it was a great song for the guys to sing, she just wanted to feel a little bit more pain.

Walker loved the song, but told Marley off for his sloppy diction - "You slurred a few words" - but he knew "youse are better than this".

Bedingfield who apparently rediscovered the magic of his own voice at last week's performance of his own song, had a hard time to keep his inner and outer voice separated.

He showed his "appreciation" of their performance by singing Tipene's song, but still said it was his favouite performance of the guys.

Last in the heartbreak section was Whenua Patuwai who took on one of judge Bedingfield's own songs.

Patuwai clearly gave his all, but being emotional doesn't just mean to close your eyes and squeeze your face.

Walker thought it was tender, soft and awesome, while Bedingfield looked like he was trying hard to find something nice to say.

"Kia Ora for singing my song and I appreciate it," he finally said.

"You're gonna be fine, but you've got a long way to go - but you didn't screw it up."

Blatt said it was "too little too late" and predicted that his X Factor journey would be over by the end of this week.

Then, after so much heartbreak it was time for those about to rock - not really our contestants' field of expertise.

Blatt's Morehouse chose Kings of Leon's Use Somebody and they had a bittersweet story to share. Brock's mum died when he was a kid and it took a while before he could open up and talk to somebody, and realised that he could use his father in his life.

Still, their performance was a bit wooden, like a school band cover gig.

Bedingfield told them they were "out-charismaed" by the band, Frost thought it all seemed a bit put-on, Walker told them that he actually really didn't like it but still hoped people would vote for them because "youse are not rock artists, youse are pop artists".

Patuwai, who a couple of episodes earlier confessed that he had never heard of the Beatles, thought Frost's decision to let him sing Janis Joplin's Piece of my Heart was a "pretty extreme idea", given that he had never heard of Joplin either

He bounced up and down the stage and vocally did OK, but doing a rock song doesn't mean you have to roar and press your voice all the time.

Blatt thought the audience went crazy just because Patuwai hadn't been any good before, Walker said it was wicked and Bedingfield said that he felt he was in a sort of political position: "You're a great voice in the making, but so far in none of your performances have I cried nor have they changed my life."

Then it was Thomas' time to rock. One would have thought hanging out with rocker-boy Tom Batchelor had introduced her a bit to the genre.

But, no.

Her mentor told us she didn't know any rock songs and in the end they settled on Oasis' Wonderwall - a song that's synonymous with Britpop, not Britrock.

Over the years Wonderwall has become so much of a favourite karaoke-drunk singalong song that I am having problems seeing it in a serious singing competition. But that might just be me.

Frost thought it fell a bit flat, Walker also wasn't all that sure about the song but Bedingfield was amazed.

Closing the show was Tipene, getting out the big guns - Guns 'n' Roses' Sweet Child Of Mine, that is.

And there he showed again that he is actually a musician, not just a singer of songs.

We're still not talking world-class, stadium-filling rock star yet, but he's a charming young man with a lot of potential who showed that he loved what he was doing.

For that he received standing ovation from all four judges.

Bedingfield had no idea where we were - semis, finals already? Whatever. He liked it, and all babbled a bit about how much he totally had so X-Factor.

But in the end it's everybody's game. Right?