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X Factor: Brian Friedman’s top five moments from week three

© Darren Black

Week three of the live shows — Divas week.

Celebrity choreographer and creative Brian Friedman dishes the backstage goss and reveals his top five moments from this week’s episode of The X Factor.

5. Sam Lavery — Earth Song by Michael Jackson

I loved her commitment and I loved the power that she brought to it. I thought she’d struggle with this song and she ended up pulling it off.

This is one in rehearsal that I wasn’t loving and it wasn’t until the show day that I started to see it all click. It can be easy a song that gets so big and is so iconic you can be swallowed up into the production and become overshadowed with what you expected to hear almost. I really did think she owned it and she looked gorgeous!

It was really nice to see Sam dressed in a different way, in a heel and showing off her body as she’s got a great body! That gave me hope that we can go somewhere else with her and it’s not going to be the same Sam in a pair of jeans on stage standing there rocking out.

4. Emily Middlemas — How Will I Know by Whitney Houston

Emily could have been number one in my eyes if they [The Judges] could give her something that’s not stripped back and do these ballads after ballads after ballads — I really think Emily has star quality and potential to do so much more. Simon knows the direction he knows the direction he wants her to go and is now creating for that direction.

This is one that Simon went back to the drawing board on and the original creative that we had for this he wanted to rework and rethink it. This is one that was created overnight and I loved where we went with it. It was an evolution of the original creative that we did but restructured. We found more unique ways to use the screens and she handled it really well. We did a shoot with her that went up into the screens and brought on a cellist.

I would have loved for her vocals to have gone somewhere and a big build towards the end but I think with it as it was, she still did have a moment. I do agree with Nicole that she would have loved a little bit more of what she’s capable of vocally but it was still beautiful.

3. Honey G — Ice, Ice Baby! by Vanilla Ice

She’s my favourite because of everything that’s going on. I smile when she’s on stage and it’s entertaining. I’m never bored when she’s on stage and oddly enough, she’s getting better every time she steps on that stage. Her lyrics are getting better, she’s not making mistakes with them and she’s having more fun out there.

I know from a production point and how much I put into the performance for her, she remembered her choreography which is something she hasn’t done before. Her first performance, she was actually forgetting where she was suppose to walk and at what time, but now she’s getting there.

In terms of progress, she’s really making progress. In terms of entertainment, I love that song as it has a soft place with me. As a kid, I used to do dance competitions to that song so it’s something that I liked already which helps. But, I loved that set piece and I love the way the screens worked and the dancers. Overall, I think it’s a really fun performance.

2. Gifty — Lay me Down by Sam Smith

I think it’s a new side of Gifty and I don’t think many people knew she was capable of doing a vocal like that. I think it was a shock to everyone and many people. Creatively, I loved what we had and that’s what we created in about five minutes the day before the show.

The original plan that we had was much more big ballad type on the stage. She was in a tight gold gown and mic stand which didn’t feel right when we heard her sing it. We decided to strip it all back and get some choir in the audience and just let her sit down and sing. I think it was a really smart decision as in the end it was all about her.

1. Saara Aalto —It’s Oh So Quiet by Björk

That was one of those moments where everything comes together perfectly and it always starts with song choice. You get that song and it inspires you to create when you’ve got a singer that you can give anything to and they’re going to be able to achieve it

From the day we started rehearsals with her, we knew it was going to come across well as she understood everything I wanted to do. She didn’t shy at all and we were able to do a little shoot to put her into the screens at the beginning. Any time we can do things like that to tie all of the different visual worlds together, it always enhances the performance.

You put some of the contestants on that stage with a shoot and sometimes they step up to the plate, sometimes they aren’t as strong. She just really excelled in front of the camera that day so it was a win. The wardrobe, the hair and makeup and the art direction on stage and screen. With the lighting, everything came together perfectly and I think when it came to show time, she smashed it.

The audience went crazy, the response from the public has been really strong on that one and for the first time ever she’s made it through without having to sing for her life. What that tells me is that we got it right!

On judge Nicole Scherzinger opening the show with her own diva medley…

Nicole wins. [Laughs] You can bump everyone down this list as Nicole wins. That’s the real way a diva performs, down to the mic drop at the end.


The X Factor is live on Saturday night at 8pm on ITV. itv.com/xfactor

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