X Factor's Saara Aalto, Brian Friedman brush off cultural appropriation claim after geisha performance

Published Monday, Nov 7 2016, 14:36 GMT  |  By  |  Add comment
X Factor's Saara Aalto and Brian Friedman have brushed off claims of cultural appropriation after giving Girls Aloud's 'Sound of the Underground' a Japanese twist.

X Factor's Saara Aalto performs Sound of the Underground


Saara performing Sound of the Underground.

Saara performed the pop classic on Saturday night's Girlbands vs Boybands live show, but was hit with accusations of cultural appropriation because of her geisha costume.

Speaking on ITV's Good Morning Britain, Saara, 29, said: "I love Japanese culture and have studied Japanese for many years. We had a party in Tokyo in that song.

"I wanted to bring something new to the song, it was my idea to bring something Asian to do. Mainly the intro of the song that I sag in an Asian way, then the costume and staging was very produced. I loved it."

X Factor's creative director Brian Friedman, meanwhile, took to Instagram to defend the performance and share his love for Japan.

"Really shocked that people are questioning our cultural appropriateness for @saaraaalto performance on @thexfactor tonight," he wrote. "I am obsessed with Japanese culture, have spent much of my life there and speak Japanese! If you took this wrong, your head was in the wrong place... only love!"

He also pointed out many other celebrities have embraced Japanese culture for photoshoots, namechecking Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Katy Perry among them.

Saara's lavish production wasn't enough to save her from the bottom three this week: she landed there alongside Sam Lavery and Four of Diamonds. Sam was saved by the public flash vote leaving Saara to face Four of Diamonds in the sing off.

The judges chose to send girlband Four of Diamonds home, pointing to Saara's ability to reinvent herself each week and her powerful vocals.

X Factor continues Saturday at 8pm on ITV with Disco Week.



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