Stuart Bak
12/12/2011 16:21 | By Stuart Bak, columnist, MSN TV

Review: X Factor 2011 final

Reviewed: Little Mix make history as the first girl group to win The X Factor, but Simon Cowell is the bigger winner.

Little Mix (© Rex)

Little Mix

X Factor 2011 final

Summary: Four hours, 23 live performances and enough tears to fill several Olympic swimming pools, and The X Factor is over for another year.

To Little Mix, the spoils: a Christmas number one (probably) and, dare I predict, the potential to be bigger than any X Factor winner since Alexandra "" Burke.

Because - let's face it - we've probably seen the last of Matt Cardle and Joe McElderry in terms of serious pop star credentials.

2011's excruciatingly extended denouement contained everything we've come to expect from an X Factor Final: toe-curling duets; close-ups of Louis Walsh looking like a bewildered bloodhound; and the obligatory rendering of the finalists' faces in toast and pizza.

However, for a series so mired in controversy (freefalling ratings, accusations of backstage bullying, Frankie Cocozza) The X Factor Final was a somewhat pedestrian affair, lifted purely by the fact that - for the first time in years - it really was impossible to predict the winner.

Highlights: Little Mix's tear-soaked victory was a triumph of feisty girl-pop over sub-Bruno Mars soul pastiche shtick.

Lowlights: The duets were a bit 'supermarket own-brand': Kelly, Tulisa and Gary as opposed to, say, Beyoncé, Dappy and Robbie Williams.

Full review:

Whichever bright spark came up with the idea of hosting The X Factor Final at Wembley Arena should be taken outside and whipped with a damp tea-towel.

"Whichever bright spark came up with the idea of hosting The X Factor Final..."

Sure, you can pull off arena gigs if you're a seasoned stadium band. The Rolling Stones could do it. Coldplay just about managed it on Sunday's show.

But stick amateur performers on a stage that size and they're liable to be swallowed up. This is precisely what happened to poor Marcus Collins at the weekend. And no amount of air hostesses or jumbo jets could conceal the fact that the wee laddie was breathtakingly out of his depth.

Amelia Lily fared little better, covering Christina Aguilera and Tina Turner on the kind of platform at which even those arena veterans might balk.

The combined forces of JLS and One Direction (all nine of them) failed to make much impact either.

Together we fall

"The much-hyped mentor duets were damp squibs too"

The much-hyped mentor duets were damp squibs too.

Or maybe I'm just bitter at being robbed of the opportunity to see Kitty Brucknell purring Baby It's Cold Outside at a terrified Louis Walsh.

Marcus drew the shortest straw in Gary Barlow, who did little to alter his nice-but-dull reputation by foisting a po-faced Billy Joel ballad on his young protégé.

Kelly and Amelia pulled off a passable version of River Deep Mountain High.

This public show of mutual respect was marred only when, nanoseconds after Amelia and her candy floss barnet were voted off, Kelly hightailed it across London to watch Misha B at G-A-Y.

I'm pretty sure Louis Walsh wasn't the only one to express surprise that - whisper it - Tulisa can actually sing, as evidenced by her duet with Little Mix. It was at this point that the girls' victory began to look more assured.

Tulisa's little muffins

As winners of The X Factor 2011, Little Mix become the most successful X Factor girl group of all time. The only group, indeed - male, female or Jedward - ever to have won the show.

"Little Mix become the most successful X Factor girl group of all time"

They survived a name-change and laughed (and cried) in the face of The X Factor's girl group curse.

They proved outstanding all-rounders, swinging from high-energy disco (You Got The Love) to modern R&B (Empire State of Mind) to glacial Christmas carol (Silent Night) to drippy winners' song (Cannonball), without batting a heavily-lashed eyelid.

As a result, these little muffins look all set to become an all-conquering girl-powered colossus in the vein of Girls Aloud or the Spice Girls. If they can keep their tear ducts in check, that is.

Say what you like about Tulisa; she may have never heard Think by Aretha Franklin, but her plan to bestow personalities on Little Mix paid off.

It individualised and allowed them to connect with The X Factor's young female audience by singing about inner beauty, discussing their body image issues and crying more frequently than guests of Piers Morgan's Life Stories.

The result? A colourful and potentially interesting act has finally triumphed over The X Factor's bland male balladeer production line. More power to the ladies, I say.

  • Rating: Long-winded, crammed with disappointing guest acts and held in way too big a venue, The X Factor Final was everything a fan could have wished for, and more. Five stars out of five.

    Sofa grade

TV quotes of the week

"I know your dad's incredibly passionate about you." - Dermot's words are cold comfort for Amelia Lily during Saturday night's live X Factor Final.

"I didn't know Tulisa could sing so well." - You and me both Louis, you and me both.

"This isn't the last of Amelia Lily." - I suspect it is, Amelia, especially if you don't stop referring to yourself in the third person.

"Gary, where would I be without you mate?" - Erm... cutting hair for a living perhaps, Marcus?

"Four little pop princesses have just been born." - Little Mix are young, Louis, but they're not that young.

The views in this article are those of the author alone and not of MSN or Microsoft

More on MSN TV
In photos: How Little Mix won X Factor

Interview: Amy Childs: "I am not like Katie Price"

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