American songstress Mary J. Blige passed on tips to James Arthur ahead of his X Factor performance and it was clear the advice paid off with his faultless rendition of No More Drama.
Dressed casually in a black jacket and blue shirt, James kicked off the performance with just a spotlight on the stage. Blue lights and backing from a gospel choir helped him build up to an emotionally charged climax.
The 24-year-old stunned the judges with the rendition of the American singer’s classic love songs.
Louis declared it was “powerful and emotional”. He added: “James Arthur, you are real artist with real talent.
“That could be a hit again. You have to get a record deal after this.”
Tulisa Contostavlos said: “You’ve got a pain in your voice, especially when you’re singing a song like that. It was like all the negative in your life building up and letting it out.”
She admitted: “You are my favourite boy by far.”
Gary Barlow was equally complimentary. He said: “My God, you can really, really sing but the great thing is you have a lot of technique and you pair that with emotion.”
And the Over 28s singer joked: “I’m so relieved you got rid of the quiff and the guy liner this week.”
James’ mentor Nicole Scherzinger added: “James you are on a whole other level.
“I mean like Tulisa said, every single word you say is singing the truth and I know you would make Mary J Blige proud tonight.”
During the week Nicole had spent time with James getting to know his life and, most importantly, his local pub.
When Dermot jokingly asked the former Pussycat Dolls singer about the experience, she quipped: “If he sings like that every week, I’ll eat those pork scratchings any day.”
American icon Mary J. Blige had phoned James during the week and said: “Sing the song like you want something to change in your life, like you really, really wanna change something and that’s it.”
Thrilled James was obviously delighted with this advice after criticism from Judge Gary last week.
The Take That star told him he was risking his integrity with the song choice, saying: “You came to this competition with bags of integrity and I already see some of that being rubbed off. Just say no and do your own thing.”
James, who has carved a niche for himself in the competition by combining his singing with guitar and rap vocals, is already tipped as one of the favourites. But has he done enough to allay Gary’s fears?
Tune into STV and ITV tomorrow night from 8pm to see if he’ll make it through to next week’s X Factor live shows.
All the contestants’ performances will be available to download from iTunes after the second Live Show tonight (October 13).
James Arthur’s individual performance is also available to download.