Monday, September 01, 2014

The Ex (Bitch) Factor?

Auditions week 1 – 30-31st August

I’ll level with you, dear reader; we were a bit concerned about whether we would want to watch the X Factor again this series. To be honest, the thought of the return of Simon and Cheryl as some kind of Saviours of realty television, NAY, MUSIC! was frankly insulting and made us feel a little bit sick. Not fully nauseous, just a bit like when you read for too long on the back of a bumpy bus and start to feel a little green.

Well, it turns out we were right. It was awful and we definitely won’t be watching this series*. Here’s why:

The opening pre-credits sequence. Sweet Nicole Scherzinger, the pre-credits sequence. From the suggestion that Simon has a red carpet in front of his house, to the hint that Cheryl lives in Somerset House, to the fact that Louis Walsh seems to live in an Aftershave advert and Mel B shouts FISHPASTE in the back of a helicopter. (We think that’s what she’s saying). For people that seem to spend half their lives on television they are so incredibly wooden that they seem to be carved from the furniture in my house. I actually have to check if my bed is still there. I also resent the accusation that Cheryl and Simon have had to come back to save music. Music really didn’t need them, thanks.


Mel B. I mean, REALLY? I really don’t want to do her down, but I will. She seems to have actually become her Bo Selecta character. Either that or I just want so badly it’s happened.

Cheryl’s back. They talk about her decade of hits and show only her solo parade of awful.

Oh lovely, they’ve kept both the room and studio auditions so even if we were recapping, half of the audition recaps would be tedious.

Cheryl makes sex eyes at Simon within the first 2 seconds of them being in the same room. YAWN.

Blonde Electric. Blonde Electric are equal parts of Katie Waissel and the bad parts of Kitty Brucknell wrapped up in a bundle of Fauxmerican bad blondeness. They make it worse by singing Jessie J. Just... No. Simon pretends to hate them because it says so in the script. They sing Jessie J and manage to make it more vocally affected. Just... No.

They’ve got adverts after the first audition. I’m sensing this will be a theme.

They’ve got a screen up in the holding room which makes for even more holding room reaction shots. Cos that’s what everyone wants.

The camera work, which consists of using just three (bad) angles in the audition room only and is super-distracting, especially when you can see the crew in most of the shots.  And the 'fader' man stock footage they're using on 50% of the auditions.  Clearly all the budget has gone straight to Simon and Cheryl's bank accounts.

Ok. Let’s pause here. Remember a couple of years ago when Simon was all of the damps over the Lazy Decorator because he could play guitar? Well this time, it’s different. Simon hates guitars now.  Apparently, now we’re actually actively discouraging young people from playing their own instruments. I mean, Sam Callaghan’s guitar playing would be enough to put anyone off musicianship but perspective, please. Simon symbolically smashes a guitar.  He even checks with Reece Bibby whom they love if he’ll be playing his guitar all the time.

Reece Bibby’s dad looks my age and probably is. Fuck that shit.

Simon’s face looks like its melting. Like it’s actually sliding off his face. It’s freaking me out, so No.

Charlie Jones ballids a Wand Erection song. Balliding is still a thing. Depressing.

Chloe O’Gorman’s eyebrows. Nuff said.

They’re doing that thing of loving songs from musicals in the auditions but they’ll no doubt chuck someone of at the live shows for being too musical theatre like the bunch of absolute hypocrites they are.

Too. Much. Cheryl. They even drag out a boy called Finn Quinlan who loves her. Finn Quinlan doesn’t seem entirely well and he can’t sing but what’s more important is that he’s slightly obsessed with Cheryl and is willing to sing That’s My Goal in her face for our entertainment.

An entire minute of prime time television dedicated to selfies.

An entire minute of Mel B shouting FOOK OFF at people saying that Cheryl is beautiful over her.

A not entirely mentally well woman in a Cheryl costume.

OH THE RETURNING HERO IS A RETURNING THING. Amy Connolly had a dead dad then messed up at judges houses. She’s back and she doesn’t manage to get through the song but they still put her through because EVERYONE LOVES A TRIER. So bloody bored of this.

Shaden Willis is made to sing several songs despite clearly not being very good. It goes on for far longer than it needs to. I think what this show needs to do is establish the difference between what is bad and funny and what is actually sad.  Shaden falls into the latter category and it’s just not entertaining. It’s actually painful. And unnecessary. Same goes for the lady with the Chinese food and anyone wearing a Tina Turner wig.

Everything about Chloe Jasmine. To her insistence that “England” is an answer to “Where are you from” in England. She doesn’t listen to herself sing and she clearly doesn’t listen to herself at all because she is without a single ounce of self awareness. I had to check really hard  that I wasn’t just having a half northern half Scottish working class chip on my shoulder about her then she says “perhaps you could define a baby’s cry as an aria” then I realise that she’s just a godawful human that needs to be stopped at all costs. She can’t even sing that well, but she’ll clearly be good telly so she’s through.

The Cheryl and Simon pretend arguments. No need, no fun, no joy.

Saturday’s show ends with a fit man with a cute baby singing well. The structure of the show has told us that we know he’s going to be good which makes the last 10 minutes pointless. He’s ONE OF THE BRAVE LADS SERVING OUR MAJESTY too, if everything else wasn’t enough. At least he’s fit though.

That’s enough of Saturday. I watched Sunday just to make sure that we definitely don’t need to watch it any more. I also found several reasons why we won’t be watching the X Factor any more.

Firstly, they’re allowing Chris Brown songs. They’re Chris Brown songs sung by the criminally and hilariously bad GCB but they’re still Chris Brown songs. Chris Brown hits women, anyone that found this blog by searching Chris Brown.

Next reason not to watch is Stevie Richie who is an Essex boy that’s allergic to looking at the camera. He’s the kind of guy that looks like he uses the word “banter” without irony. Again, no. He looks like Russell Kane’s Ghost Of Christmas Future. He’s singing an Olly Murs song, just to ice the cake.

As an aside, Timehop (that thing where you get your Facebook posts from a few years ago) reminded me that I saw Olly Murs filming a video in Deptford once and I didn’t take him out. I can only apologise.

ANYWAY. Stevie “Shane” Richie forgets the words and does a lot of dancing and brazening it out. They like him for his personality and kind eyes, which is code for “you’ll make a humongous tit of yourself in the arena” and they put him through. THEY PUT HIM THROUGH. WHAT EVEN IS THIS SHIT?

OH GOOD A GROUPS SECTION. I suppose one reason you might like to watch is the look of utter shade Mel B throws Cheryl when she compares Girls Aloud and Spice Girls. Mel B also says that Cheryl is most like Posh which is some of the more sophisticated shit slinging that I’ve ever seen. There’s a montage of shit groups but they stop for the good one, who are genuinely best friends. Allegedly. One of them has an acoustic guitar but apparently today that’s ok. They look like an Urban Outfitters trolley dash and everything I want to punch. They are called Only the Young. I’m assuming they’re referring to their demographic.

Simon says he’d like to make a new Steps but with good people. 1. Lol. 2. Don’t make me like you.

Genuine friendship seems to be a theme, because FRIENDSHIP NEVER ENDS. DULL.

Kitten and Hip are the creepiest duo that ever happened. Kitten is 28 and Hip is 53 (which is 'nearly 60' according to the panel.  MEOW.  Also, if he looks familiar, it's because he's the singer from Freak Power.  Thanks, the internet!). They’re lovers and it’s weird. Louis thinks they’re father and daughter to a frosty reception. OF COURSE they are all kinds of hot mess. In every sense of the word. Kitten even says the words “It’s not awkward” when it clearly is. The judges succeed in splitting them up. Breaking homes, friendship and marriages for 11 series!

There’s a VT with a French girl and a boy that seems absolutely fascinated with the concept of France.

The least said about the actual French girl the better.

The fact that the bit with the French girl is extended into a  “lol, forrins” section.

(The Italian in the pug jumper though).

We’re still pretending Cheryl and Simon hate each other. YAWN.

The Sam Bailey Memorial Section For Women in Their 30s Having Their Last Shot As Long As Their Makeover Doesn’t Reignite The Sexual Spark In Their Relationship and They Get Pregnant and Ruin Everything.

I don’t like being reminded of Girl Thing.
I also have no desire to see the dreams of their former members crushed.

So that’s it.  Probably.  We’ll let you know if we change our mind and come back next week/next year. For now though, it’s a comma, but not a full stop. Thanks for reading and commenting - we wouldn't have even made it this far without you!

(And as this show is now merely a rehash of a rehash of itself, feel free to reread our old recaps - they will probably tell you everything that's going to happen in this series anyway!)

We'll still be recapping the new series of The Apprentice and Strictly Come Dancing when they start but our souls can't take much more of The X Factor - it's become way more cynical than we are - and who knew such a thing was possible?!

*Where 'definitely' equals we're unlikely to be doing long recaps here but may actually still watch and then feel skeevy about ourselves, and if we do, you can find us on Twitter: Helen Rad Steve Tellybitching.  And possibly we may comment about this series on our own blogs from time to time, which can be found here: Steve Rad 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Scot and Bailey

Last night! Two hours of bloat, a patented Nicole Scherzinger duet steal, a disappointing lack of face pizza, the discovery of 'haggis pakora' and the end of Luke Friend.

Tonight!  Two more hours of bloat, because we're worth it, apparently, before Sam Bailey wins as well all knew she would from about week three or so.  Gosh this whole series has just felt so valid, hasn't it?  Foolishly, I watched this whole thing live on Sunday, but I was eating takeaway and drinking wine and didn't think it was the best time to recap it.  Now the thought of wasting another two hours on this thing is making me seriously reconsider my life choices.

And also Katy Who? and SrEltonJohn duetting with fucking Funsponge.  KILL ME NOW.

Oh Giant X, I do love your gold glittery costume tonight.  If I could vote for you, I probably would.

Dermot enters, sans dancing girls, in a tux with another of those annoying scoop waistcoat things.  He introduces our judges, making reference to 'GB, Gary Barlow' which I am totally taking as a shout-out to this, so hooray for pissy, slightly-rogue Dermot.  (He was in cracking pissed and uncorporate form on the Xtra Factor - why can't you always be like that Dermot, instead of being a soulless stooge?)

The judges enter to 'Two Tribes'.  Sharon's wearing red lace, Nicole some sort of scaly thing compiled from silver foil put through the shredder (I can only assume Sophie Ellis Bextor is stopping Brendan having ideas), Louis tartan trousers.  Funsponge is wearing an outfit that's as BORING AS BARLOW.

Time for the annual 'which contestant didn't come back for the group song' competition - this year it isn't, perhaps surprisingly, the heavily pregnant SeSe from Missed Dynamix, but Lorna.  And Tamera's skirt.  Oh, and Sam C sounds even more like arse than he did when he was on the show.  They're doing 'Roar' and it's at least more tuneful than that 'thing' Katy Who?  will do later.  Rough Copy appear to have favoured cotton over leather tonight,  I guess they're still raw from the chafing.  Wee Nic and Sam then arrive looking ever more like a mother and son.  And then they stand around for ages before the camera remembers to find Dermot.  SO PROFESSIONAL.

Dermot recaps last night and that was long enough, plus Steve already went to the trouble of recapping it, so that's one for the fast forward button.

Ads!  What is that KFC thing about?  Is it trying and failing to be Lucy Spraggan?  At least the girl has the good grace to look distinctly embarrassed and apologetic at the end.

Dermot welcomes us back by reminding us that one act from this show has had genuine, legitimate, worldwide success - yes, it's another Wand Erection performance because the guest book really has run dry (see also Katy Who?).  Now, I have a bit of a soft spot for Wand Erection these days, but this song is just arse.  It's some sort of 'rock' thing that sounds like a McFly B-side crossed with Joan Jett crossed with Def Leppard and then shoved into some sort of Borelowing blender of bland.  AND they let Louis sing, which is never good.

Dermot calls Harry Harold, asks him if he's having Christmas off and if he's cooking turkey.  Yes, he's having Christmas Day off, eating turkey, but he won't be cooking it.  So now you know.  Dermot then asks if they'll be spending Christmas together, because of course your work colleagues are the people you want around you on your day off.  Resentful says no, they all hate each other.  Dermot laughs awkwardly at this whilst Resentful remains stony-faced.  Dermot asks what presents they get each other for Christmas and Resentful just looks at him like he's something he scraped off his shoe.  Resentful Direction - you just made my evening, bless you. [Resentful Direction gives me hope in a hopeless universe. I love him - Helen]

Dermot heads over to the judges where Sharon and Louis are talking and Dermot tells them off.  They say they were discussing which of them will win and they both think Sharon.  Louis says Shane's duet with Wee Nic was the best bit of last night because Shane didn't pinch the song like Nicole did.  Sharon and Funsponge said Nicole and Sam's duet was the best bit.  Dermot says that no-one thought Wagner was.  I think Stuart Heritage at the Guardian might have [Cosign - Helen], Dermot.  Incidentally, Stuart Heritage's live blog brought to my attention the existence of this photo, which is the very epitome of WE IZ SO HAPPEE HONEST and possibly my new favourite thing ever:

Louis says he hopes if he doesn't win, that Sharon will.  Their names are Wee Nic and Sam, Louis.  Everyone else wants Sam to win, obviously.  You can just see the ghosts of X Factor boy winners past lurking around the place, can't you?

Half an hour in, you say?  Maybe it's time for a song?  Possibly?  Wee Nic talks about wanting to do his favourite songs - which seem to be the ones from the weeks he topped the public vote.  Louis suggests this isn't a great idea as Sam needs to win, so he can sing 'Angel' instead.  Wee Nic says this is his mum's favourite song so he's happy with it.  His performance is perfectly nice, with some random contemporary chair wafting and violinists as distractions.

Sharon reminds us that he is SEVENTEEN (anyone notice that their deramping of him began around the time he was no longer SIXTEEN?).  Funsponge says he has a 'pretty good chance'.  Nicole wants to buy the song on iTunes and curl up to it.  She calls him an Angel with 'butter wings' - slippery and messy?  Louis thanks him for his hard work and pleads for votes.

Wee Nic says it was an amazing moment and he thanks everyone who's supported him and he gives a little wave to his family.  D'awww.


Louis shows us that Louis is wearing ill-fitting Tartan trousers - with that, his bow tie and velvet jacket, he reminds me of a young Second Doctor.

Sharon says it's the last time she'll introduce Sam (apart from the second song, obviously) and she has the 'best voice we've ever heard'.  Oh Sharon, Nicole sang her off stage yesterday.  Best voice of the twelve contestants you cobbled together this year, maybe, but even then Tamera, Hannah and Wee Nic when they're on form would have some claim to that title.  Anyway, Sam Bailey is doing 'The Power of Love' for all the mams and she says it reminds her of being a kid because her mum liked it - and it's nice to remember that she's actually only my age (well a couple of years older) because the show does this weird thing to the over-25s where it automatically makes them all seem middle-aged.  The FUNCTIONAL AND ATTRACTIVE PRODUCT PLACEMENT TABLET reminds Sam of her journey (drrrrrink!).

She's dressed in a dress that's very reminiscent of Sharon's.  With that and Wee Nic looking like a Little Louis Walsh I think the mentor emulation has gone a bit too far this year.  The song is very Sam, volume=good, nice tone, the people on Gogglebox will no doubt love it.  The audience go mental.

Funsponge says she could have sung anything because she's awesome and people need to vote for her, not assume that she's won.  Nicole loves her, Sharon calls her her 'friend forever'.  How are Tabby and Andy Abraham these days, Mrs O?  Sam feels at home on the stage.  KILL THE CONFIDENT MONSTER.  She thanks everyone for voting.

You know what this final needs?  Another recap.  Sharon calls it the tenth "anniversary" series.  That midddle word isn't really accurate, dear.  We then get a SHARON IS FABULOUS montage - to be fair, audition Sharon is quite fun, even if live shows Sharon can be awful.  Funsponge's highlight?  Fil and that time he threw a mug.  Louis highlight?  Melanie McCabe coming back and making him cry.  Sharon's?  Steph coming back and making her cry.  Nicole cried, laughed, danced and says the yodeller 'brought me to life'.  We then see Nicole calling Funsponge a grumpy old fart, but all the judges love each other.  Apart from Nicole, who scha-loves them.  Well, that was sweet and all, but can we have some content already?

Dermot reminds us that Funsponge is leaving which gets a huge clap.  I'm giving it a standing ovation right now, Dermot.  Funsponge says his highlight will be singing with his 'lifelong hero' Elton John.  ALL ABOUT THE CONTESTANTS.

Ads!  Oh look, JLS are still here.  I'm thinking they're the musical equivalent of the Boy Who Cried Wolf.  One day you really will split up, boys, and no-one will care, and then you'll be sorry.

Time for another 'special' guest!  Despite the fact that she's on here about as often as the actual contestants (and more than, say, Lorna)  It's Steve's nemesis Katy Who?  She arrives in a cage, dressed as a bird - which I want to say is a tribute to someone, because surely a Kitty or Katie Weasel or Gaga did that once?  She's performing 'Unconditionally' and it is bad - her live vocals are never great, but this is particularly ropey.  Still, with Louis Direction, her and Funsponge performing, at least Wee Nic and Sam Bailey look like the best singers the world's ever heard in comparison.  Dermot thanks her for coming and gets her to shill her tour and he does a 'we're gonna see you to-our' which is about as tuneful as she was just then.

Dermot asks Sam and Wee Nic how they feel.  Sam says she's blessed.  Wee Nic mumbles something because either his mic has cut out, or he's gone full Leon Jackson.  Sam, in an anti-Scherzinger move, offers him her mic to thank everyone again.

Well, I think that's enough content, don't you?  Ad time!  Never mind, Abi Alton, next year that John Lewis ad could be yours.

Dermot introduces the finalists again as if we'd forgotten who they were and we see their journeys.  Nerves, overcoming nerves, losing weight, being ORDINARY, loving their families.  OK, there isn't much story for either of them, but it's kind of refreshing that this series has avoided 'My dad WHO IS DEAD' (even though Sam's is) and 'I hate my job' stories.

Wee Nic's song is called 'Superman' by Five For Fighting. I've never heard it before although it does suit his voice.  Poor Wee Nic though, for all his 'I want to sing something current' - this sounds like something Funsponge would think is credible.   It has the obligatory lyrics about inspiration and a patented Louis Walsh act key change.  He acquits himself perfectly well, but can people take him singing 'I'm only a man' seriously given he's always called a little boy who is SIXTEEN then SEVENTEEN?

The judges give him a standing ovation, aoart from Boring Funsponge Tightpants Borelow, despite this being RIGHT UP HIS STREET.  Weirdo.  Sharon says he came into the show as a little boy and now he's a young man.  What a birthday can do for you, huh?  Funsponge says he's transformed a lot and he needs to take his experience and move forward.  He congratulates him, because this basically is the 'you're done now, this is as far as you go' pat on the back.  Nicole says he's defined himself as an artist and that's the kind of song he'll be singing.  But Nicole!  He don't wanna be Nic the boy who croons old songs no more!  Wee Nic thanks the judges and his supporters.  Caroline is with his mum who cries and reminds us he's SEVENTEEN and then Wee Nic thanks them all again and we see a video of his family and friends telling him they love him.

Sam's song is Demi Lovato's 'Skyscraper' which sounds like a more traditional winner's song insofar as it has a quiet bit that builds to lots of VOLUME=EMOTION.  (Cue Nicole crying)  It's overblown of course, but it's standard X Factor fare and as these things go, it's perfectly fine, and good on Sam for being the first female over winner, I guess.  I mean, if she wins, obviously.  May she enjoy a long run as Mama Morton as her career path demands and never have to wear an unflattering jumpsuit again.

She gets a standing ovation.  Funsopnge tells her the nation loves her and she's had a massive 'second chance' (at this show, after her audition in 2007?).  Nicole cries (a bit) and says she is 'the voice'.  But I thought that was Andrea thingy that made Abi look redundant.  Louis says that will be a number one record.  Sharon is melting out of happiness that, unlike Funsponge, she's now finally won a series (well, almost).  Sam has GROWN on her journey and says Sharon has been inspirational.  Caroline is with Sam's husband and cute kids.  Her husband uses the son as a puppet to say 'mummy's going to win'.  Her mu m cries and her brother tries to hog the camera some, and then we get a video from her friends and family as well.

We haven't had a recap for a while, so how about another one?  Of last night AND tonight?  Such spoils.

Ads!  How does Nicole magically get a shower on an aeroplane AND come out dry?  No wonder they all want to know her secret.

Next!  Our special guest!  Elton John!  (They've dispensed with the Sir for some reason, disrespectful beings).  Oh and Funsponge.  They're doing some boring thing on duelling pianos and although I quite like some of Elton's stuff, there's no way I need to re-listen to this or give Funsponge any more publicity - other than to say that his smugface here is worse than Andre Rieu's.  (Oh, and Elton's mic is way down and Funsponge's vocal is weak as piss).  Dermot thanks Elton for finally deigning the show with his presence, even though he did a whole guest mentoring thing on Pop Idol 2.  Elton's accent has gone very weird but he's had fun doing the shar and meeting the finalists on the shar and he takes another opportunity to praise Funsponge.  What on earth did he have written into his contract to get all this praise? [He didn't bloody blink. At all - Helen]

And finally!  Dermot closes the phone lines.  So that's the cue for yet more ads!  Why must Olly Murs be in all these ad breaks?

O Fortuna plays as we welcome back Wee Nic, Sam, Louis and Sharon.  The winner is......... Sam, because, duh.  She got over one million votes - given that she got over 50%, it means less than two million votes were cast in the final.  I'm not sure what they usually get, but that doesn't sound like a lot.  Sharon cackles that victory is at last hers.  Sam says she loves 'that boy to pieces, Nicky Macdonald, and he needs to get an album deal'.  Aww.  He says Sam was a hard one to beat and thanks everyone again.  He's like the king of thankful, bless him.  Dermot shows Sam the CD single because apparently they still exist, even when Andi Peters isn't watching them being made and she says she looks thin.

She sings her winner's song again and gets mobbed by the other finalists (except Lorna).  Sadly, despite being in the vicinity, Harry Styles doesn't appear to tell her about all the pussy she'll get.

And so the show can now congratulate itself on overcoming two of its biggest curses: girl bands and over-25s women.  What might they redeem in 2014?  My money's on the most maligned of all the contestant types: the boy/girl duo.  (You may mock, but 'Sing em a song Della' and 'the poor boy's blind, Simon' remain my two favourite ever X Factor quotes.  And don't deny it - you liked that time that Same Difference rollerskated.  Also, boy/girl duets are totally where it's at - I mean: Starship, Roxette, Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes, Rene and Renata, Kylie Minogue and Nick Cave, Paula Abdul and MC Skat Cat...)

So - X Factor 2013 then. The general lack of inter-judge bickering is welcome.  Bringing back the room auditions was a good idea, retaining the live ones notsomuch, the chair thing at boot camp definitely not, forcing Melanie McCabe to audition again absolutely not.  The lack of fun in the live shows needs addressing: more novelty acts, or acts with personality, at any rate.  Better theme weeks.  The return of NotLouis.  And whoever replaces Gary and Sharon to not be AutoPilotSimon or Cheryl (who has become more likeable again since leaving this show, just as she was more likeable before she joined it) and definitely not Olly Murs thnxpls.

To everyone who's been with us this year and suffered alongside, thank you from myself, Steve, and especially poor Helen who got lumbered with those dreadful live auditions [I give and I give - Helen] - and (assuming Olly Murs doesn't get a judging role, because ain't no way in hell I am watching that) we'll see you next year!  

Monday, December 16, 2013

Funeral for a Friend

Final: Part 1 - 14th December 2013

"Five months ago, I was stood on the street busking," intones Luke as the sweet, sweet montage takes us into this year's final. "All I wanted was for someone to notice me." Does this sound like it's going to be the Very Special Story of his descent into prostitution to anyone else? Sam voices over that she's spent her life singing in half-empty social clubs, dreaming that one day she'd get a standing ovation that wasn't just Old Jim Scribbs getting up to empty his bladder. Wee Nick, meanwhile, simply used to sit in his classroom and daydream about being in The X Factor final. Considering that this show was created by Simon Cowell and has Gary Barlow as its head judge, I expect the occasional right wing sentiment to drift through, but are they really trying to paint Luke and Sam as strivers versus Wee Nick the skiver? Didn't we already get the story from Wee Nick about how his family have given up everything for him to run around Scotland singing for anyone who'll have him in the hope of getting his big break? [It's all part of the Scotland Can Eff Off Because They're All On Benefits Even The Kids agenda. Makes me a bit sick to be honest. Either that or they just don't want another identikit male brunette winner - Helen]

Anyway, let's not get sidetracked quite so early on: tonight we're LIVE from Wembley Arena for The X Factor 2013 final. We're reminded that a lot of hopeless people auditioned, in the hope that it will make those who got through to the Top 12 somehow look more impressive by comparison. Then the story of the three finalists flashes by with almost indecent haste, as do the respective fates of this year's finalists and future Pointless answers Lorna, Shelley, Missed Dynamix, Dalston Kingsland, Boy Sam, Joan Lewis, Hannah, Tamera and Rough Copy. Tonight, the final three will go head to head in front of a crowd of 10,000. I won't make any jokes about that being larger than the audience viewing at home, because there comes a point when kicking a show while it's down just becomes unsportsmanlike. Those still standing, in case we weren't aware, are Wee Nick, Sam Bailey and Luke Friend. It's Time! To Face! The Real World!

Giant X calls its agent and asks what the chances are of getting on the list for Strictly Come Dancing next year. It just wants to be loved again - really, is that so wrong?

At Wembley Arena, which as Dermot made a point of telling us last week is ALL THE WAY OVER THE ROAD from where the show is usually conducted, a group of dancing girls in gold tops and black PVC trousers throw themselves around to the strains of Van Halen's 'Jump' as Dermot gets lowered in from the ceiling on something that is wonky and unstable but extremely shiny. It's as good a metaphor for the series these days as any I can think of. Dermot's in a cut-too-small tuxedo this week, and commands the women surrounding him to "begone!", which suggests that the show only admires them for their decorative properties and not for their intellect or personality. Boo!

Dermot explains that the finalists will have to excel "time and time again" on this stage to earn your votes, which is a nice idea but the lines are going to be opened any second now, so the thought that they have to do anything at all to earn our votes is a bit of a pipe dream. Dermot adds that it's a big stage, but they've got big stars to fill it: One Direction, Katy Perry (OH CHRIST NOT AGAIN), Tom Odell, The Killers, Gary Barlow (OH JUST KILL ME NOW AND SAVE ME THE TORMENT) and also Sir Elton John, making his X Factor début about three years too late, but never mind eh?

The judges enter, accompanied by Europe's 'The Final Countdown' (oh how novel): Gary's in a black three-piece suit with another annoyingly skinny tie, Nicole's in a red sequinned dress, Sharon is all 80s hair and naked shoulders with a tight black dress, and Louis is in his trademark black brocade jacket with a black tie, presumably in pre-emptive mourning for his chances of winning up against the Sam Bailey train.

Dermot informs us that the theme this weekend is simple: "winning". I hope this means they have to do covers of songs by Charlie Sheen. The lines are declared officially open, so all pretence that any of tonight's performances really mean anything goes right out of the window.

Seven minutes into the show, so it's probably about time to get the contestants out here, isn't it? But before we can see them on stage, we must see them in video form as they stride along backlit corridors singing 'Lifted' by Naughty Boy featuring Emily Sunday. They've all been clad in metallic tones, with the effect that Wee Nick now looks like a junior boxing promoter, Luke looks like if Blazin' Squad had a sudden lotto win, and Sam looks like that thing that Vera turns into at the end of Superman III. Of course, once we get to the chorus the trio emerge from behind the giant screens to sing together on the stage, surrounded by dancers and people hanging upside down from hoops in the air with fireworks coming out of their ankles. Also, all three of them attempt a dramatic air-punch to signal the end of the song, but Sam's is the only one that lands: Wee Nick's arm barely even mores and Luke just looks more like the Artful Dodger about to invite us all to consider ourselves at home.

Dermot refers to them as "the cream of Devon, the pride of Leicester and the bonny prince of Glasgow". Ever get the feeling that they got as far as "the cream of Devon" and realised they didn't really have suitable analogies for the other two? Personally I would've gone for "the Walkers Crisps of Leicester and the whisky of Glasgow." Dermot asks them all how it feels to be here, and Wee Nick giggles that he's had the time of his life and he can't really believe it. Sam says that she's "buzzing", and Luke says that the crowd is amazing and he can't wait to sing more songs to them. Thrilling stuff.

Right, so remember how last week was Elton John vs Beyoncé week? You might have thought that was a nonsense at the time but it turns out that the show HAD A PLAN UP ITS SLEEVE ALL ALONG (/has just negotiated a convenient asspull at the last minute). Obviously Elton John makes sense because he'll be here later, but what of Beyoncé? Well, last night the contestants were gathered in rehearsals for a special message involving an "unbelievable prize", as Beyoncé appears on screen to tell them that this year's winner gets to be her support act on the UK leg of her Mrs Carter tour next year. She's smiling, but it does have a faint whiff of "I heartily endorse this event or product" about it, to the point where I wonder if they had to use CGI to remove the person holding the gun to her head. Still, Sam, Nick and Luke are excited about this great opportunity for Sam. Er, "the winner". The winner. Back at the Arena, Sam mumbles that she's probably going to have to learn how to dance. Oh my god, she thinks she's going to win! GET BACK WITH YOUR FOUL CONFIDENCE, YOU WITCH!

Ad break. The ads at this time of year always make my abject failure to put any Christmas decorations up in my flat feel especially shaming. [I have a tree-shaped 'decoration stand' from Ikea. It will do - Helen]

When we return, Dermot mumbles something about eight million tweets and seven-and-a-half million followers on Facebook have made the show the most talked-about in the UK. The X Factor really is a bit sad when it doesn't have mammoth viewing figures to crow about, isn't it? Dermot suggests that we might want to download the app if we want to continue interacting in a social media style, even though he's just told us how many millions of people are doing it in an app-free fashion.

Then it's over to Louis, who would like to remind us that "I have two acts in the final, Gary, Nicole." Oh, Louis. Those aren't the names of your acts. Up first tonight is Wee Nick, who got helicoptered back tae Motherwell this week for his home visit. First on the itinerary was a return to St Aiden's High School, where everyone was clapping and cheering for him, apparently. I kind of wish we'd got to see the stoner kids sitting by the trees all "who's back from where now?" but I guess that doesn't really fit the story they want to tell here. Nicholas thanks everyone at school for their support, but appears not to sing for them. Then he goes back to see his parents and the assembled mob outside their house, with Louis in hot pursuit. Louis, Wee Nick and Wee Nick's parents sit together on their giant red sofa, and Wee Nick gets all emotional about how much his parents have given him over the years. His mum insists that he doesn't owe them anything, because he's the best son ever. D'awww. Finally, he went to Motherwell Concert Hall to do a big gig, where he calls his little sister up on stage and dedicates 'Someone Like You' to her, which is no less creepy than the last time he did it.

Finally, at 22 minutes into the show, we get our first competitive performance of the evening: Wee Nick singing 'Candy' by Robbie Williams. He descends onto the stage in a giant candy-striped hot air balloon, and is immediately surrounded by a gymnastic troupe all dressed in pastel-coloured outfits doing tricks all around him. Wee Nick looks slightly baffled by everything that's going on around him, to be perfectly honest, and also seems to have trouble locating the camera at various points during the song. Still, it sounded all right.

Sharon opens for the judges saying the performance was "just like a giant Willy Wonka factory". She adds that the final is "no time to critique" (so why are you here then?) but she just wants to tell him well done. Gary thinks that the final is all about playing to one's strengths, and he thinks Wee Nick didn't do that tonight because that song (co-written by Gary Barlow, incidentally, who could've voiced his objections when the song was being cleared but probably didn't because he likes sitting on that big pile of tax-free money) didn't showcase his voice. He understands that Wee Nick wants to be versatile, but THIS IS NOT THE TIME FOR SUCH FRIPPERY! Drunkole slurs that she thinks "Nicky Blue Eyes" can sing ANYTHING, and that watching that performance was quite a trippy experience. And she should know. She loves that her "little Scottish lamb" has grown into a Scottish lion. Okay. Louis says that Gary has never given Wee Nick any credit from day one (I mean, I'm all for piling on to Borelow at any available opportunity, but this seems like revisionist history at its most spurious). He says that Wee Nick is a dream contestant and a great role model, and he hopes that Scotland votes for him.

Dermot picks up on Gary's issues with the song choice, and he and Louis remember that Gary wrote it at the exact same time. Borelow acknowledges this, but drones that Wee Nick is a ballideer at heart. Quite what use anybody has for a 17-year-old crooner in this day and age is anyone's guess. I mean, that was Ray Quinn's USP and nobody was interested in that back then either, and it's not like Wee Nick even has Dancing On Ice to fall back on any more. Wee Nick says that opening the final is an honour, and he wanted to have fun, so that's why he wanted to do that song - to show that he's not too serious. [Or, alternatively, because the show wanted to bus him hard - Rad]

Now for everyone's favourite part of the final - looking at weird shit with the contestants' faces on it! Caroline Flack is in the audience with Wee Nick's supporters. One man has a giant pyramid of "Nicky's favourite, Scottish haggis pakora", [*wipes away a tear of Nationalistic pride - Helen] while someone else has brought a cake that required its own seat on the plane apparently, and Wee Nick's friends are there to yet again suggest that the entirety of Scotland is behind Wee Nick. Caroline fluffs the obvious joke by saying "is it true about guys wearing kilts?" Yes, Caroline, it is true, there are two of them right next to you. She eventually remembers to ask what's underneath, and the friends obligingly flash their pants with "Vote Nicky" written across their arses. Dermot asks Wee Nick what a haggis pakora is, and Wee Nick says he's not sure, because he's never had. Dermot splutters that the Obviously Credible Man in the audience just said that it was Wee Nick's favourite, and Wee Nick says he's only ever had normal haggis. Well, he's young, there's still plenty of time to broaden his horizons. Dermot sends Wee Nick on his way, and only then remembers to thank the dancers, the Unity Allstar Black Cheerleaders.

Over to Sharon next, who promises that the next performance is "no gimmicks...all about the voice". Which does pose the question: would Sam Bailey have got anywhere on The Voice UK? I think at best she might have got on to Team Tom, but I imagine she would've been too in-the-club-style for anyone else to turn around. Anyway, Sam's VT sees her also heading home, to Leicester in her case, where her adoring public and adorable kids are waiting. Sam's Devoted Husband says that he has a very special message for her from someone she hasn't seen: Sam's nan Rita who appears on the TV to tell her that she's sorry she can't be there, but she loves her very much and knows that Sam's grandfather would be bursting with pride if he could see her now. This is all very moving but I'm stunned that it is happening on a medium that is not a Product Placement Tablet. How very off-message. It's not even a Samsung TV, for crying out loud. Anyway, Rita gets all teary, as does Sam. Having just taken Sam back to the bosom of her family, the show promptly whiskes her away again to Eyres Monsell Social Club, where she used to sing, and where another crowd of people are waiting to lose their shit the minute she arrives. Then Sharon Osbourne turns up, pulls a pint for Sam's husband, and Sharon and Sam do 'The Shoop Shoop Song' on the karaoke. Honestly, if this is all we're getting of Mentor Duets this year, I am going to KICK. OFF. I will settle for nothing less than Louis and Luke performing a rousing cover of Westlife's 'Bop Bop Baby'. [if Louis and Sharon had done mentor duets, I GUARANTEE the show would have had higher ratings, more YouTube hits, tweets and everything else they need to feel like their existence is valid.  Such a waste. - Rad] Sharon tells the crowd that Sam is going to put Leicester on the map. Then Sam is taken off to perform her homecoming gig at Athena Leicester, which Google informs me is a "wedding, dinner and conference venue" (showbiz!) and Sam invites the crowd "to have a bit of a sing-song". Continuing the evening's trend of bizarre and inappropriate dedications, she gets her kids up on stage and sings Emily Sunday's 'Clown' to them. Sam vows that she's ready to win this competition - for her family, of course.

Back at Wembley, Sam takes to the stage in a blue jumpsuit to sing Lady Gaga's 'The Edge Of Glory', surrounded by (I shit you not) a makeshift prison and dancers dressed as sexy leather-clad convicts. Well, I guess they haven't actually reminded us that she used to be a prison warder so far this evening, so I suppose I can give them this one. It is really bizarre to watch, though, and really does nothing to dispel my inclination that this whole series is just Sam's extended audition for the part of Mama Morton. There's a gratuitous key change that pushes the song just out of Sam's range, but no one seems to mind terribly much. [She's on the Meaty Minge trajectory alright - Helen]

Gary tells Sam that she used everything she had in her toolbox, "and you hit us all with it". He says that he can't think of any more good things to say about Sam, and that this is her weekend. Drunkole screams that Sam sung the pants off of that song, and calls her "Samazing". I can't believe Nicole actually dropped the "sha" out of her bag of catchphrases - she really must be impressed. She calls Sam "a beast and a force to be reckoned with". Louis calls her "a class act" with "a world-class recording voice", and then plays for the feminist vote by saying that she and Sharon are "two strong women together". I guess he figured there wasn't really much feminist vote-grabbing to be done for Luke or Wee Nick, so he could afford to lose that particular demographic. Sharon picks up the baton and runs with the idea of "Woman Power", and says that hard work has got Sam here, and she hopes that her fans back her for one more week to get her that victory.

Dermot arrives and asks Sam if her "light entertainment prison" is like that. If anyone's qualified to recognise light entertainment prison when he sees it, I think Dermot must be by this point. He asks Sam to cuff him because he wants in, and Sam says she'd rather cuff Gary. Poor Dermot - he'll never get to be Top Dog at this rate. Sam says that this feels like what she was born to do, and that she put every ounce of energy into that song.

From there we throw to Caroline, who's up in the nosebleed seats with some of Leicester City Football Team. I don't follow the sports so I have no idea specifically which ones they are, but to be fair, the guy who speaks seems like he has no idea who Sam Bailey is either, and has the general air of someone who is here solely due to contractual obligations. Then, in a moment that was clearly meant to be awesome and heartwarming and turns out to be anything but, Caroline reveals that Sam's nan Rita, who said she wasn't going to be able to be here tonight, HAS BEEN HERE ALL ALONG. The trouble is that Rita appears to be on the verge of a panic attack at having cameras shoved in her face, and says very tearfully "I'm sorry I look so old and I don't want to embarrass you" ("YOU LOOK BEAUTIFUL!" Caroline hoots), going on to say in an increasingly emotional voice that she loves to hear Sam sing and could listen to her "forever and a day". Nobody is quite prepared for how upset Rita sounds, least of all Caroline, who looks fairly terrified at having to wrap this segment up. Still, that's what ITV get for dragging a frail pensioner onto a live television event and a high pressured environment just to generate some cheap sentiment, because I'd imagine a lot of people weren't so much moved by Rita's admittedly lovely words as they were wondering whether Rita should be here at all rather than in the comfort and safety of her own home where Caroline Flack would not be pestering her for soundbites. Sam tells Rita that she loves her to pieces, and she knows that her grandfather would've loved to be here tonight. Dermot patronises Rita further: "You're hot! You don't look old!" Good grief.

Ads. I'm very excited about the Vicious Christmas special, and I don't care who knows it.

When we return, Dermot is thrusting a microphone into the face of a child of the corn in the audience, who tells us that her favourite is Sam Daley. Oops. Still, we haven't time to dwell on misspeakings as it's time to head to Teignmouth for Luke's home visit. As we know by now, there are people outside his house (not that many, it has to be said). Luke greets his brother and sister, both of whom seem to wash their hair like normal people. Luke thanks his parents for their general awesomeness, and then goes off to Lemon Jelli, which is the café where he used to do gigs. There are substantially more people here, and Louis arrives as well. Then it's off to the Great Hall at Exeter University, where Luke's fans are waiting for him to do his homecoming gig. Louis trots onto the stage and asks if Luke can win The X Factor. The crowd, surprisingly, do not scream "LOL NO". Luke plays for the crowd and declares it the best day of his life, and says that this has given him an idea of what it would be like to win the competition.

Luke arrives on stage in black and red, singing 'We Are Young' by the Fundots. For some reason he's performing on top of a giant fake Underground carriage. Is it because he's a busker? Because we don't usually let them get on the actual trains, and we definitely don't let them climb onto the roof. Safety first, and all that. We don't want buskers getting decapitated in the tunnels, it'd make the Northern Line even slower than it already is. Anyway, I like that the staging includes a couple of "commuters" who are doing their best to ignore the idiot on the roof and the dancing twits all around them. Finally I feel like there's someone on the stage who I can identify with.

Sharon tells Luke that she hopes tonight is the actual best day of his life, and he's come a long way. Gary says that he was sad to lose Rough Copy last week, but it was more bearable knowing that Luke would be taking their place. (I'd get angry about Gary trying to grab a slot in the final by association, but come on, we all know that Luke's finishing third.) Gary opines that the verses were a bit too low for Luke, but he really felt the choruses came alive, so he hopes people vote on the choruses and not the verses. Nicole likes that he has "a small nation of dancers" and thinks that he brings "a whole 'nother cool factor" to the show, adding that the people love him. Just not over the last couple of weeks. Louis says that Luke has potential to sell records worldwide, but Devon needs to vote for him otherwise he might not be here tomorrow night.

Dermot arrives and tells Louis to stop screaming for support: "You should run for an MP or something." That's an excellent idea: I'm going to go on a sprint tomorrow and dedicate it to Stella Creasy. Dermot tells Luke that he's "the least commercial in the classic sense" of everyone here, which I think is a polite way of saying "you are not getting many votes and you can kiss goodbye to any chance of post-show stardom". Luke says it's amazing to be in the final and to play to the crowd, and he wants to do this for the rest of his life.

Up in the roof again, we have Caroline who hands Luke's dad Steve some tissues, and Steve says that it's out of this world to see Luke singing in this arena. (Also, seriously, what is with sticking all the family members in the cheap seats?) Caroline draws our attention to someone who hasn't washed his hair for five months "in honour of Luke" (yeah, sure), and then someone has brought Luke's lucky lobster all the way up from Teignmouth. "It really smells," remarks Caroline. Well, this year's round of Shit With The Finalists' Faces On has been deeply disappointing. Not a single pizza with Luke's dreadlocks made of anchovies or anything. It's like nobody gives a toss any more, isn't it? Dermot has learned no lessons from the Haggis Pakora incident and asks Luke if he's a lobster guy, and Luke's all "...sure?"

Ad break. Mmm, Waitrose.

When we're back in the arena, Dermot teases the upcoming celebrity duets, but before of any of that, he wants us all to think about what a series it has been, what with the return of the room auditions (tick, v.g.), the return of "Mrs O" (feh) and "the most dramatic boot camp ever" (oh give me strength). Despite the fact that few people were interested in any of this the first time around, apparently it's necessary for us to watch a black-and-white compilation of highlights from this year while Tom Odell bleats 'Another Love' on the stage. Tom Odell, good god. If they were to wheel out Rebecca Ferguson to duet with him, we'd have half the barnyard right there on the stage--hold on a minute, the phone's ringing. Hello? Oh, Mr Odell, hi. Yes, I did say that your son sounded like a sheep. Yes, I realise that that could be considered hurtful. Yes, I do know that he's got a Brit award. Oh, I'm quite aware that no one really cares what some blogger thinks. No, I won't print a retraction. What do you mean, why not? Because he does sound like a bloody sheep, that's why. Look, I've got a recap to finish, can I call you back later? You can shout at me as much as you want when I've published this. Okay, great, speak to you then.--Sorry about that, everyone. Remind me to go ex-directory in future.

Once that's all over, it's time for the Celebrity Duets round. Since we're not bothering to have any sort of pretense of suspense surrounding this part of the show like we used to, Dermot announces straight-up that the first duet will be Luke and Ellie Goulding. All right then. In his VT, Luke says that Louis has been a brilliant mentor (he leaves out the part about how he would've preferred Sharon) who has supported him and believed in him the whole way through. Louis tells Luke that he's lined up someone who's sold "20 million records all around the world" - Ellie Goulding. "I remember watching Ellie Goulding performing on the live shows a couple of weeks ago," says Luke. Well, yes. I'd be worried if you couldn't. Luke asks Ellie what she wants to do with the song, and Ellie thinks it'd be cool if they both played guitar. WHOA, STEADY ON THERE MS ROCK 'N' ROLL!

They're singing 'Anything Could Happen' [Appen - Rad], which is right up in the uncomfortable end of Luke's range but you can't really hear him that much once Ellie arrives, so that's fine. Anyway, I'm more disturbed by the fact that the camera keeps cutting to a group of women all dressed in black, standing in lines in the aisles and clapping. They look like they belong to a cult.

Dermot asks Ellie what advice she has for Luke, and Ellie says that he doesn't need advice because he's so amazing and cool, and she's really rooting for him. She thinks she needs to take a leaf out of his book, if anything, she declares.

Up next, Wee Nick and Shane Filan. God, we couldn't even stretch to the whole of Westlife? Poor Wee Nick. I'm almost starting to think they're bussing him with all the creative decisions they've made for him tonight. In his VT, Wee Nick thanks Louis for everything he's done for him, and then does a shockingly poor Louis impression that sounds more like Groucho Marx. Louis tells Wee Nick that his duet partner is someone who's believed in him from the start, and Wee Nick is all "'s Shane, isn't it?" Shane remembers that Wee Nick was the one who made him cry at Judges' Houses, and makes him swear that he won't do that again on the night.

They're singing 'Flying Without Wings', of course. (Seriously, though? Why is there never any love for 'Bop Bop Baby'?) For some strange reason, they're nowhere near each other for the vast majority of the duet, which makes it all look rather inelegant. And it's not like we've got a particularly exciting song to listen to in the meantime, is it? Still, eventually they're on stage together and there's a gospel choir in the background and all is right in the X Factor universe.

Dermot appears, and Shane recalls that very special moment when he advised Louis to take Wee Nick through to the live shows, which proved to be a fruitful decision. Especially for Shane, because he needed this gig tonight, what with the bankruptcy and all. Dermot tells Shane "you've sung that song so many times" (HA!) and asks how Wee Nick did with it, and Shane confidently declares that Wee Nick nailed it.

Adverts. Snow, snow, snow, festive things, tralala.

Rounding out the duets round, it's Sam and Nicole Scherzinger. Wow, Sharon must have walked all the way down the corridor to arrange this one! Also, if I were Sam, I would be consulting the tech crew constantly to ensure that Nicole has a working mic, after what happened to poor Jahméne last year. Sharon tells Sam that this has been her best X Factor experience ever (possibly because it's the only one where she stood even the slightest chance of winning), and Sam says that she wanted Sharon as her mentor from the second she got out of the car at Boot Camp. Sharon and Sam do the whole "BFFs for life" thing, and then Nicole can't even wait long enough for Sharon to do the big reveal before walking in. Nicole tells Sam that they'll be singing 'And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going' from Dreamgirls.

So Sam and Nicole...ah, you know what? This stands no chance of being the best reality-show-contestant-duets-with-famous-person-in-the-final version of this song, so let's just ignore Sam and Nicole's version and watch the definitive one:

I mean, come on. Once you've seen Jennifer Holliday attempt to unhook her jaw and swallow Jessica Sanchez whole, any other interpretation can only disappoint.

Dermot asks Nicole how it was to sing with Sam, and Nicole completely ignores the question and instead launches into a monologue about how brilliant Sharon Osbourne is and how this series wouldn't have been the same without her. Honestly, I think you could've substituted Sharon Osbourne for a Leyland cypress and it would have made not a jot of difference to the outcome of this series. I can't imagine that Sam's inevitable victory has much to do with Sharon's mentoring. Anyway, Dermot's all "YES, BUT WHAT ABOUT SAM" and Nicole says that it was an honour to share the stage with her. Sam compliments Nicole on her amazing range and says that this was the highlight of the night for her.

Dermot covers his face with his hand despairingly (dude, I'm right there with you) says that all the finalists can do now is sit and wait (FOR THIRTY EFFING MINUTES) to find out if they'll be continuing through to tomorrow. We get a recap of this evening's six competitive performances. The selected clip of Sam's rendition of 'The Edge Of Glory' makes it sound like she's singing "I'm haring on a Mormon with you". 

So, remember how they used to do those group performances of failed auditionees in the final? Well, it looks like they got fed up of all the comments saying that they were exploiting the mentally ill, and instead they're going to do a group performance from a load of the eccentric acts who actually made the live shows instead. We begin with a VT that hints at some of the people we might get to see: Same Difference, Katie Weasel, Wagner, Jedward, Kitty Brucknell, Diva Fever, 2 Shoes, Johnny Robinson and Rylan. Naturally, Gary tries to rewrite history to pretend their relationship was all matey-matey-jokey-jokey rather than acknowledge the part where he went into a massive sulk for about six weeks and held Rylan personally responsible for the fact that not a single person in the entire country could be persuaded to give the tiniest of shits about Carolynne Poole and her disingenuous quest to be the UK's answer to Carrie Underwood. Also, Nicole calls Rylan "my Sha-Ry". I will be singing that to the tune of 'My Sharona' for the rest of the week.

And here they all are! Well, most of them. Apparently Same Difference were already booked to do something else, and God only knows where Katie Weasel was. But we begin with Kitty Brucknell sailing in from the ceiling on a glitterball singing 'Live And Let Die'. The crane drops her on the ground so that her back is to the camera, which seems fairly inkeeping with the faintly amateurish nature of tonight's proceedings, and apparently Kitty has forgotten the first rule of famewhoring, which is LOOK AT THE CAMERA SO WE CAN SEE WHO YOU ARE. I swear, I thought she was Amelia Lily for a good 10 seconds, until I remembered that while I might class her as a joke act, this show probably doesn't. Then Jedward are lowered onto the stage to sing their mash-up of 'Ice Ice Baby' and 'Under Pressure', and they're starting to look like actual adults now, which makes the whole thing slightly less fun than it used to be. ("I'll take 'sentences that accidentally make you sound like a paedophile' for $100, Alex.") Then, in what feels like some glorious fever dream, Wagner is driven on playing the bongos and singing 'Lob Shack', while Johnny Robinson sits on the judges' desk and Diva Fever leer into the camera. 2 Shoes are there as well, but don't really get much camera time. Then Rylan comes out with his midriff exposed to sing 'Spice Up Your Life' and remind us that he's far more successful than anyone else from his series. (It's baffling to me that Rylan was only on this show a year ago. It feels like decades at this point.) By far the best bit is when it all ends and Lucy from 2 Shoes has this exquisite "right, now just give me the money and let me go" look on her face. I feel you, Lucy. Truly, I feel you. [This was, in all honesty, the best thing to happen on television this year for me. I squee'd through the whole thing and cheered at the end. I am unashamed - Helen]

Dermot releases them by referring to them as "The X Factor's most memorable contestants", which is such a wonderful (if unintended) slam on all those bores who actually won. He gives us a five minute warning before nuclear attack the lines close, and then Olly Murs tells us that if we audition, we can be a famous bellend too, and we go to an ad break, where we learn that Take Me Out is back in the new year. I am all over the Splash!/Take Me Out scheduling double-whammy, baby.

After the break, Dermot informs us that the vote has now officially been frozen, so we shouldn't call for the time being. Well, that's a relief. While the producers count the votes, it's time for another musical guest. OVER 25 MILLION RECORDS SOLD WORLDWIDE! 2 BRITS, 2 MTV AWARDS, 7 NME AWARDS, 2 Q AWARDS! (LOL at the idea of anyone at all caring about Q Awards. I didn't even know they still existed.) 4 UK NUMBER ONE ALBUMS! RUINED FOREVER WHEN DAVID CAMERON SAID HOW MUCH HE LIKED THEM! THE KILLERS! I was pleased to see that most people took this performance as an opportunity to express on Twitter how very much they still "would" Brandon Flowers in a variety of explicit ways. [He looks... odd these days.  Like Ricky Martin gone wrong - Rad] Honestly, my poor, pure, delicate mind is still recovering from the filth I read on Saturday night. I'm fairly certain some of it was physically impossible, and a good chunk of the rest would've left him unable to walk for several weeks afterwards. Poor Brandon. Anyway, they do 'Human' and 'Mr Brightside', and afterwards Dermot slinks up oleaginously to ask Brandon how it feels to have a Greatest Hits album out. "It's great," says Brandon. Dermot asks him how it was to play the final, and Brandon says that he felt good about it. Hmm. Maybe Brandon read what everyone wanted to do to him on Twitter and that's why he's not super-chatty right now. He probably just wants to rush off stage and file several thousand restraining orders. The Killers, everyone!

Ad break. I don't really want to go to McDonald's at Christmas, but thanks for thinking of me.

As we slump exhaustedly into the final leg of tonight's show, Dermot welcomes the finalists back to the stage. In no particular order, the first act through to Sunday's show is...Sam. Well, duh. Thankfully the show resists the urge to have yet another sing-off, though I'm sure they at least considered it at some point, and instead goes straight to telling us who's got the other spot - it's Wee Nick.

So Luke finishes third, Louis wanders offstage because apparently he's done now, and we look at Luke's best bits. They mostly revolve around dirty hair and Barlow-appeal, neither of which do a lot for me if I'm honest. When we return to the arena, Louis has somehow made his way back onto the stage. Dermot reminds Luke that he was the first auditionee we saw (so he was). Luke says that he knows he was the underdog, but he made it here and he's going to keep writing music for all of us. Don't rush on my account, dude. Louis says that Luke's going to have an amazing career. Luke says that Louis has been a great mentor. Dermot asks Luke what he's looking forward to now, and he replies "getting out there and gigging" like the archetypal young muso we all knew he was. Louis sticks his head in to say that the tour is going to be amazing, and everybody's on it. (Apart from Lorna. And Shelley. And Missed Dynamics. And Dalston Kingsland. But everybody apart from them.) Dermot tells Luke that he's a gentleman, a scholar and an acrobat, and that's it for Luke.

Dermot summons Sam and Wee Nick back out and informs us that the phone lines are now open again for us to continue voting for Sam, and also that other guy who's there next to her, although we shouldn't feel too compelled to do that. Dermot asks Wee Nick how it feels to be in the final two, and Wee Nick laughs in his face. Sam says she's overwhelmed, because it's all been the last chance saloon for her (I'm not sure why - there's no upper age limit on this show and it's going to be on for at least another three years).

Dermot encourages us to tune in tomorrow for the final final, featuring Katy Perry, One Direction, Gary Barlow and Sir Elton John, with occasional glimpses of Wee Nick and Sam. Thankfully I don't have to sit through that a second time because Rad will be recapping all of that. I wish her the very best of British luck.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Rough cop-out

Top Four Results – 8th December 2013

Hello and welcome back to my last results recap of the series! I began my recap of LAST NIGHT by saying that this series was boring as ARSE and Steve rightly pointed out that this sullied the good name of arse so I have to sully a name that is already muck with all of us. This series has been as boring as BARLOW. You heard me. I went there. Oh yes, I totally went there. I say the unsayable. It’s like they let him be the boss or something. Anyway, I’ve heard rumours that this is his last series. Let’s hope he goes out on a high. (SPOILER ALERT – AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHA *breathes* AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA)

So anyway, we begin with a serious looking Durrobot in a blue suit with a checked hankie and a SRS FASS telling us that one of the acts will get the boot before the final. So one act goes a week? I didn’t understand that before now, what a fool I’ve been.

LAST NIGHT the semi finals kicked off apparently? Really? I thought it was boring as Barlow. We see some bits of last night’s show which we watched last night but that doesn’t matter because they’re attempting to throw a stick into the spokes of the unstoppable Nicholas juggernaut because they seem to have decided that its Sambailey’s for the taking. Let’s see how subtle we are over the final weekend, eh? Anyway, it’s BOOBLAY’S IN THE FRIDGE and LEONA BARLOW on tonight. Nicole thinks it’s it. Louis is smugging over Nicole losing and Funsponge and Nicole argue over the pronunciation of huge. [Everyone knows the answer is "yooge". - Steve] IT’S TIME TO FACE THE MUSIC.

Apparently we’ve to welcome Dermot as our host. I think Durrbot needs to welcome himself and get some self respect, innit. He better check himself and I’m gonna allow it and various other street tings.  He reminds us that BOOBLAY’S IN THE FRIDGE and Leona are on tonight because it’s been 20 seconds since it was last mentioned. He remarks on the fact that the judges haven’t fought this series. That’s because it didn’t work last series. Louis is in black brocade. Sharon is in a black version of last night’s silver dress. Nicole is missing a skirt and Funsponge is in black velvet. The camera moves before we can see Nicole stumble into her seat again. NUMBERS!

So apparently the finalists love singing, so that’s what they’re going to do. They’re singing a too slow version of Signed, Sealed, Delivered. Tonight’s theme colour is blue. They make Rough Copy stand at the back whilst the other three stand in front of them. It’s almost as if they want to separate them from the rest. The camera is mainly on Sambailey. If I didn’t know that they were pushing her so hard now I would suspect that the person on camera had a bit of a crush on her. Anyway, Rough Copy do the legs for the mams but they’re probably doomed, even though they’re the only ones that can sing this with any conviction.

So we’ve not had any form of recap for a while, so Durrbot leads us into one. He takes the piss out of Funsponge’s technical talk and Louis’ obsession with seventeen. He also makes reference to Sharon’s backpack hate and Nicole’s Shiitake Mushrooms. But first, the story of last night. Luke enjoyed his performance and had fun. Sharon thinks he’s become a good entertainer. Nicholas wants to nail his next performance. Louis thinks he’ll come out fighting. Sambailey is glad she got through it without messing up the words. Rough Copy would rather go all out than half cocked. SECOND PERFORMANCE – Louis thinks Nicholas did indeed nail the second song, as did Nicholas. Luke has done everything he can and he’s hoping and praying to get into the final. Rough Copy think it’s all about the vocals, the passion and the moment and Sambailey tried to put her own spin on it and she’s glad they liked it. Funsponge thinks she’ll be hard to beat.

BUT IF THAT WASN’T EXCITING ENOUGH, HERE’S LEONA! She’s sold over 20 MILLION RECORDS and has been NUMBER ONE IN 30 COUNTRIES and is THE MOST SUCCESSFUL X FACTOR WINNER EVER. Yet, despite all this she is still as boring as BARLOW. [Although I do think she comes across as surprisingly fun in this interview. - Steve]Leona is singing a Christmas song and has let a five year old hyped up on Chupa Chups design her set. She’s got fairy wings behind her and a gigantic skirt that gives way to dancing trees and presents. The song is called One More Sleep and I wish I was making that up. It’s like some kind of Disney Princess fever dream. She’s blates had a nose job too. Oh Leona. WHAT DID THEY DO TO YOU? Durrbot refers to the travesty as an extravaganza and wonders if Nicole enjoyed her Santa. She says Merry ShaChristmas. I don’t know if Nicole will be allowed to speak much in the final.  APPARENTLY Leona has a whole Christmas album! Who wouldn’t want that? Um, I dunno, people with EARS? Durrbot wants to know what advice she’s got for the contestants. She says that they’ve got to top their last performances and put their best feet forward. Durrbot presses her to say who her favourite is. She’s obviously uncomfortable answering the question so he pushes it some more and she eventually says she and Sambailey have been messaging on Twitter so her. Leona is also happy to see Sharon. FIVE MINUTE WARNING!


When we return it’s time for BOOBLAY’S IN THE FRIDGE. Durrbot says that his mum loves him and in a parallel universe he could be his stepdad. Um, Durrbot, any shit can happen in a parallel universe because they are MADE UP. So here he is, for the Mams.  He’s won 3 GRAMMY AWARDS and has sold 40 MILLION ALBUMS WORLDWIDE and has had 7 PLATINUM ALBUMS. So BOOBLAY is wearing a sparkly jacket and singing ‘You Make Me Feel So Young’. It’s nondescript until he serenades Louis and it’s a bit beautiful. It feels like a slight to Robbie Williams’ disastrous Palladium concert and it probably is by virtue of it not being ABSOLUTE TORTURE. It seems BOOBLAY has the same thing that Tom Chaplin from Keane has - no matter how skinny his body his face still seems pinchable. It’s no bad thing, just an observation. He’s like the anti James Arthur. BOOBAY thanks Durrbot for seeing him which makes me like him. [Michael Bublé is one of those people who is GREAT as a guest on a chatshow or doing banter on a results show, even though I can't stomach his music at all. - Steve] Durrbot makes a joke about BOOBLAY singing at him. Durrbot wants to know when he’s on tour. He doesn’t know except Durrbot does. It’s all a bit embarrassing.

But first, we’re told to audition by Olly Murs which wouldn’t encourage anyone in any way. [I dunno, I'm sure all the bellends in the audience found it most inspiring. - Steve] MOAR ADVERTS.

When we return there’s a film about Together for ShortLives, the recipient of the money from this year’s winners single. I’m not going to recap it, because I feel that it would be in bad taste but it’s clearly an excellent cause and I hope this show can play a significant part in allowing them to continue their work.  You can find out more about the single on all the various regional ITV websites and the government have waived VAT on the single so more money can be raised. [Yeah, I'll say one thing in this show's defence - in the year of MattRebeccaWandErection I had friends who needed the support of a Children's Hospice and the finalists all came to visit and were apparently very lovely and had photos with anyone who wanted them.  The show has supported this charity, which I believe is an umbrella trust for several hospices and charities, for several series running now (and one of WandErection is the patron of this particular hospice) so hurrah for consistency of being nice.  Here endeth my one nice thing to say about X Factor this series - Rad] [See? We all have human feelings deep down, honest. - Steve]

Back to business though, we’re going to find out who is in the final.  First act going straight through is... Sambailey! Next through is... Nicholas! Leaving us with a Rough Copy/Luke sing off. Rough Copy look like dead men walking. They hug it out though. WIN STUFF FROM JLS BEFORE THE NEXT ADVERTS! That Sainsbury’s one with the dad coming home... I can’t even.

So who’s getting the third place? It’s between Luke and Rough Copy as we’ve already discussed. Luke is up first and is introduced as a talented nice guy. He’s singing Somewhere Only We Know from off of the adverts. THIS COULD BE THE END OF EVERYTHING OH GOD MY HEARTSTRINGS. It’s a bit shouty but everyone seems to love it. Nicholas is crying. Luke seems defeated; he does a Waisell style “oh sod it” and gets down on his knees. Rough Copy cheer him on. Luke is so lost in the music that he remembers to give the camera big puppy dog eyes at the end. 

Funsponge is proud of Rough Copy. Their cut from Now That’s What I Call Emotional Blackmail is End of The Road by Boyz 2 Men. They sing it brilliantly [No they don't.  Although I hate this song anyway - Rad] and Luke is now crying. They’re giving it their all. There’s a key change and everything. They go out in the audience to recapture that Rough Copy spirit someone made up a couple of weeks ago whilst trying to bus them.

So who is it to be? Durrbot thinks it was quite the sing off and does his usual thing of stopping anyone from hugging because HE IS IN CHARGE. We’re down to the judges but am I right in thinking that the semis are usually pure public vote? Oh it’s likely to be deadlock anyway, let’s face it. Funsponge thinks that the choice between the act that’s his act and the one that isn’t is a hard one because they are so different. Sterling gives him the stink eye. He’s heard both acts sing better but of course he’s going for his own. Louis cuts the bullshit and votes Luke. Over to Nicole. Durrbot is very careful to tell her to say who she wants to save. Luke sang one of her favourite songs and is genuine and he’s a diamond in the rough but she’s saving Rough Copy. It’s all on Sharon. Rough Copy are crying. Sharon can’t make her mind up so takes it to Deadlock. Durrbot clearly doesn’t like this, but it’s not about him. So who’s going through?

It’s Luke. There’s lots of tearful hugging and Durrbot realises he’s never going to extract them all without looking like a dick so we look at their journey.  Their journey is basically from three to two to three to leggings and backpacks. Aww, the final is going to be as boring as Barlow. Can we just take a moment to appreciate this please? Three years ago Funsponge came rolling in like some kind of imaginary saviour stroke Cowell replacement and immediately set himself up as the no nonsense father of the judges. He has failed miserably on all three series. As an ardent member of both Team Robbie and Team Fun I could not be happier about his failure. He may be a brilliant songwriter and band member but he’s a shit popstar and even more shit at telly. I can’t put all the blame on him for the boring as BARLOW last series but I’m going to apportion him a large chunk of it. HA IN YOUR CHISELED DESIGNER STUBBLED FACE. [Also, assuming Sambailey wins, Sharon will be howling with glee that Funsponge Borelow has taken the crown of WORST MENTOR EVER from her - Rad] [Well, not quite. Sharon went four years without a winner before quitting in umbrage, Gary's only managed three, even though it feels like decades. - Steve]

So yeah, back to an emotional Rough Copy. Durrbot wants to know their highlight. Sterling says it’s about just being here and they want to thank Funsponge. Then Kaz grabs the mic and wants us to make some noise if we believe in god. One suspects that this may have been an agenda that the RC crowd may have wanted to push and this is the true Waissel “oh sod it” moment.  Durrbot actually handles it like a pro though, cutting quickly to the finalists. Sambailey, Luke and Nicholas. That’s it.

So yeah, I don’t care who wins again. I don’t even think I hate any of them enough to want them to lose. Join Steve and Rad for the star studded final that includes SIR ELTON JOHN.

If my opinion means anything, next year they can lose either the room or the stadium auditions and bring back the novelty acts please. Cheers, it’s been a pleasure. See you next year!

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Be-yonce

Top Four Performances – 7th December 2013

Hello, and welcome to what is blessedly my final performance recap of the series! It must nearly be Christmas. I feel this in a way that no amount of chocolate candles prised out of plastic behind cardboard doors could ever make me feel. It’s been a boring as ARSE series this one, hasn’t it? [I think you are sullying the good name of arse with that comparison. - Steve]

Anyway, to business. LAST WEEK! Rad talked you through the jukebox fun and this is shown by our X Factor gods as LAST WEEKEND, the final five sang for their place and we see how much they were trying to keep Tamera in as people would at least tune in for the car crash of her possibly forgetting her words and having a strop. But it wasn’t to be and Nicole is the first judge with full marching orders and Louis is finally recognised to the chagrin of the others as the true hero of this show.

TONIGHT however, is the SEMI FINAL and as tradition dictates I cannot let the occasion pass without saying HURR SEMI. [Me neither. "Semi". Tee hee hee. - Steve] Who’s going to be in the final? Well it’s Rough Copy who are coming out blazing tonight and will be stepping it up because they have to be in the final. Luke Friend who has been working toward this for the whole of his short life and he’s not giving up now. His performances mean everything. Nicolas McDonald can’t believe he’s made it this far and the pressure has been on. He really doesn’t want to go home this week. Finally, it’s SamBailey who is so nervous about singing well known songs and there’s no room to make a mistake like Tamera. OH NOES I HOPE SHE DOESN’T FUCK IT UP. BETTER STAY TUNED TO MAKE SURE.

We’ve gone a full two minutes without hearing from the judges so let’s get back to them. Even though she has no acts, Nicole will be paying close attention. Funsponge reminds us that it’s going to be shit to go home in the semi final but it has to happen. That was a bit of a Louis Walsh observation, was it not? Sharon reminds us that you are only as good as your last performance. IT’S TIME TO FACE THE MUSIC!! GIANT X!!!

Oh here comes Durrbot. He walks on to “I’m Still Standing” which surely is a reference to his continued employment. Do I have to tell you about the suit? It’s shit. It’s an abomination on the level of Robbie Williams’ Palladium performance only it contains copious amounts of filler from a single Muppet. I love Robbie and this week has been the first time I’ve been ashamed of that fact. Durrbot reminds us all how close we are to the final and how there’s two performances between the acts and the final. BUT, a singer is not a singer unless they’re being told which popstar they’re like a sub standard version of so here are your judges!

Louis awkwardly dances out in a lovely black number, Sharon is in a silver statuesque number. Nicole is in something black and “directional” which looks like it’s been pulled out of a background shot of Ugly Betty and Funsponge is in a black velvet smoking jacket which is probably to remind us all of the dope and pie years.

Once this bit of business is taken care of, it’s announced that it is Elton vs Beyonce week. I don’t know. Is that even a thing? How have we taken those two artists and come up with a theme? I’ll never understand this show. Even when I watch it so closely and break it down for you guys so often it still throws up the odd surprise. I suppose the only explanation is that they were fully expecting Tamera to still be here at this point. As he’s talking Nicole blows some kisses into the crowd and nearly falls over. It’s joyous. [Drunk again. Oh, Nicole. - Steve]

So, first to Louis, the undisputed king of the show and the only judge to be guaranteed an act in the final. He goes for broke when introducing Luke, making reference to both his age and his national identity, but here he is, it’s Luke! Luke’s VT is about how he was brilliant on the Saturday but came crashing down on the Sunday when the GBP didn’t vote for him. He’s not sure why nobody is voting for him but he’s grateful still to be here. He tells us that he’s doing Best Thing I Never Had by Beyonce. Louis then trolls him a bit by saying that Beyonce is one of the biggest and best acts in the world and it’s going to be a big challenge. He’s a bit worried but he’s doing a very Lukified version of it so that makes him feel better. At choreography, Cisco Gomez (EXCELLENT NAME) [otherwise known as Not That Sisco. - Steve] tells Luke that he’s not going to be doing any Beyonce style athletic moves. Well no shit, Cisco, it’s a BALLID.  We watch Beyonce do some moves on a SAMSUNG GALAXY TABLET to see what he’s talking about. Because Luke can’t nick her moves he’s got to look at her performance skills and channel his inner diva to get votes. He’s well up for the challenge. He’s fighting for his place tonight.  Let’s see.

Luke does a Luke performance which is basically Mumfording the shit out of the song with no socks on. It’s a niche talent but Luke has cornered it. He’s wearing a Kingsland Road Memorial Shirt of Awful too. God bless him. You know what, even though it’s a slight diss to the goddess Knowles and it’s got a touch of banjo wankery about it I can’t help but like it. [You're fired. Again. - Steve] He’s enthusiastic and at least he’s put a bit of effort into making the song his own. [And it's better than what comes next at any rate - Rad]

Sharon calls him a darling hairball. She doesn’t like the song but his performance was better than the song. He’s turned into a great performer. Funsponge reminds us that he was the first performer and he’s come on a journey. He feels he’s outgrown the stage and has done a good job. Nicole thinks its Wand Erection vs Mumford [vs Beyonce.  And she gets booed for this, even though THAT'S WHAT IT WAS AND THAT WASN'T EVEN AN INSULT- Rad] but likes that he’s taken a risk. I LOVE NO CONSEQUENCES NICOLE. Louis thinks the risk paid off. He’s an excellent contestant, a real musician and a great person and he wants him in the final. Everyone needs to vote.

Durrbot then asks Luke three questions at once as usual but chooses to end on one about him having a little walk around stage with the guitar on his back. Luke says he enjoyed the performance and he knew it was a risk but was glad people liked it. He then goes on to ask about Funsponge’s comment about him growing as a performer. Luke says that he enjoys taking risks and that  he feels he changed the Wand Erection song better than this one but he still likes trying different things.

AFTER THE BREAK – Nicholas and Sam. ADVERTS.

When we return Durrbot reminds us of how the competition works before Louis reminds us all that Nicolas is from Scotland. Nicholas never in his wildest dreams thought he would make it this far in the competition. They look back over his X Factor career on his GALAXY TAB and he feels that his confidence is growing week on week with his performance, singing and dancing skills.  He’s singing Halo this week which is a massive song. Nicholas is distilling the essence of Beyonce by singing to everyone in the world when he sings. Cisco reminds him that this is what he needs to do in the EASYGYM.  Nicholas seems to think that this involves making sex faces which makes the whole world uncomfortable. Nicholas reminds us that he’s never even been in love so singing songs about heartbreak is quite difficult for him. He doesn’t want to fall at the last hurdle and Louis tells him to give it everything. We’ll see.

He starts weak. It doesn’t really get better. He’s wearing tartan because he’s, yannow, Scotch. A key change can’t even save this. It’s also been chopped a bit so you don’t really know where it’s going. Oh god he’s fluffed a note. He looks broken. Oh no. Make it stop. He sounds like he’s crying which actually injects a bit of personality into the song but dear god make it stop. Louis knows. He knows. Everyone is a bit broken. Oh no. This is just sad.

Sharon wants to know why he’s crying. [Well she actually demands TELL THE MOTHER EVERYTHING which is somewhat creepy and weird - Rad] He’s not crying. He wants to go all the way. Sharon thinks he wants to go away. She corrects him. Sharon wants him to get rid of the tears. Funsponge reminds him that he’s got another performance to catch up with. He needs to pick his confidence up. For once we agree, the song was too big for him. He needs to move forward. Nicole reminds him it’s a hard song to sing because of the range and she knows he messed up but messing up brought out the tiger in him and she likes that. She wants him to stay focused and go with the emotions. Louis says it was a big song for a LITTLE GUY FROM GLASGOW but Scotland are behind him and his god given talent. I am Scottish but I can honestly say that I’ve never voted for someone purely on that basis but I know that some of my fellow countrypeople are nationalistic so you go for it Louis. [Question: if the Scots vote for independence, do they get their own X Factor? - Steve] Louis wants him to stop smiling and he wants tears of joy.

Durrbot wonders what went wrong but Nicholas just thanks everyone for voting for him. Durrbot says something useless about the pressure and Nicholas goes off backstage. GET THE APP.

It’s time for Sharon and her final over 25. Could this be her year to win? Probably. Sambailey can’t believe she’s in the semi finals. She was the most nervous ever last week when it hit her that it was the quarter final. The pressure is on for her and she wants to be in the final. Sharon says that the pressure has been on this week so Sharon took her back to her house in the country. Sambailey arrives at Sharon’s door and Sharon calls her Sambailey. Sambailey remarks that Sharon’s house is like Santa’s Grotto. Sambailey can’t believe she’s there. She’s enjoying getting away from it all on a swing and looking at deer. Sharon wants her to have time to focus because everything depends on the next performance. NO PRESSURE THEN.

Sambailey is singing If I Were A Boy in St Jesy Memorial Leggings [And some horrible dress/shirt THING on top.  She looked AWFUL.  She basically only suits big flowing dresses, I think - Rad]. This song has been forever ruined for me by Unique the gender confused teenager on Glee doing a very, very emotional rendition of it and making me cry. Nobody can do it like she can. Sam Bailey gives it a good go, she even sticks in a key change, but there’s no personality in it as usual. Bellowed. Competently, but bellowed none the less.

Funsponge says it’s another strong performance and notes that Beyonce writes songs for her amazing range and Sambailey coped with it beautifully. Nicole thinks she took the performance back to the Sambailey balls. She says balls a few more times because basically she’s a goddess in human form or the female Will.I.Am depending on the way you want to look at it. She thinks she connected with the song and she can let go more because it’s in her. Louis says that she never lets anyone down vocally because he’s the master of stealth shade. He even says that the competition is hers to lose, but quickly corrects it by saying that she could win it for Mrs O because she ticks all the boxes and looks like a popstar. Sharon reminds us that she chose the song. Sharon thinks she looks stunning.

Sambailey says she chose the song to show off her vocal range and she’s glad she got through it. That’s all she’s allowed to say. ADVERTS.

When we return Durrbot must’ve taken some obnoxious pills in the adverts because he introduces Funsponge then shouts PHOTOBOMB and ducks into the frame with him. OH DEAR. Funsponge welcomes Rough Copy. Rough Copy are very excited to be in the semi finals. They talk about their favourite performance which was their first one and Nicole saying that they were the best band on the show ever. Funsponge jokes that he had to pay her to say that. I’m not convinced he’s wholly joking. They talk about how their dancing and harmonies have improved over the weeks and how hard they work on each performance. This week is no different. They’re doing Survivor by Destiny’s Child. They think the song illustrates their struggle in the competition and Funsponge agrees that it’s perfect. They’re going to sing their hearts out and fight for their place in the competition.

Rough Copy are still trying to make leggings and backpacks a thing. They’re also dressed like Rodney in that episode of Only Fools And Horses where Rodney has to pretend to be a teenager. To be fair it’s quite a good performance. I enjoy it until it all goes a bit substep but at least they seem like they’re having fun.

Nicole finds it hard to form words but eventually says that the semi finals have finally begun. They bring the fun and the tempo which is true. I’m all ballided out tonight already to be honest. She says it’s their song because they are survivors. It’s their song and the song of many drunken people in Yates. She wants them in the finals. Louis agrees that they bring the energy and nobody works harder than them but they could’ve toned it down a bit. Nicole schools him a bit for this comment as the crowd shout ‘arsey’ again. Sharon thinks they bring the spirit but the rucksacks and the dancers humping the floor was a bit much. They’ve got a point. Funsponge doesn’t think it’s time to pull the reigns in, they need to keep bringing the vibe.

Durrbot has a go at Louis and Louis’ only defence is that Sharon said the same. Rough Copy answer back and say that the song is their anthem for being in the bottom two once and they’re going to keep on surviving. VOTE PLZ.

After a recap and some adverts Durrbot is in the audience with the eff and effs. We’ve had the Beyonce so now it’s logically time for some Elton. We go to Louis who is apparently no stranger to a tantrum and a tiara. It’s Nicholas who, in case we have forgotten, is from Scotland. Louis remarks how far he’s come in eight weeks. Nicholas agrees. He’s even learned how to work a washing machine and even shows us how he does it. Louis wonders if he misses Scotland. He does, but he wants to be here more than anything. Louis thinks he’s come on leaps and bounds and has lost the shy, Scottish thing. EVERYONE, NICHOLAS IS FROM SCOTLAND. VOTE FOR HIM BECAUSE HE’S SCOTTISH. YOU SHOULD VOTE FOR HIM TO REUNITE BRITAIN AND STOP SCOTLAND WANTING TO BE INDEPENDENT. FIX BROKEN BRITAIN, VOTE NICHOLAS. He’s having an incredible experience but he’s missing his mum  and dad but they fly down every weekend and video call him on his SAMSUNG GALAXY TAB to support him and tell him how proud they are.  He’s singing Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me. He’s dedicating it to his family. D’aww. He can’t believe he’s only one song (and a public vote) away from the final and he’s scared because he doesn’t want to go home. He’s got a (Scottish) fire in his heart to go all the way. GO SCOTTISH NICHOLAS!

Nicholas is on the NotLouis memorial staircase to nowhere  wearing a shirt with semicircles on it which seems designed to annoy anyone who’s even a little bit OCD. There are some interpretive dancers on stage who only add to any irritation you may be feeling at his shirt. He sings it a lot better than the Beyonce number which isn’t hard. It doesn’t really go anywhere though. The judges are going to love it though. [His uncomfortable wiggling about was a bit distracting as well - Rad]

Sharon starts the love in. She says he sang well despite everyone throwing themselves on the floor. Funsponge thinks he saved it from his earlier disastrous performance and says some singing words. This is the type of song to sing if he wants to be in the final. Nicole thinks he’s back in the race and did a good job. He focused and pulled himself together. Louis agrees that the first song was pants because he was EMOTIONAL AND ONLY SEVENTEEN but he pulled it together and now he’s a role model for ALL OF SCOTLAND because he’s worked hard and he’s got a recording voice.

Durrbot says that we can’t forget he’s seventeen because Louis keeps banging on about it. Louis replies that he is indeed seventeen. Durrbot then calls out Funsponge on his fancy music talk. Nicholas just says that his tears took over on the first performance but he wants to make the final. Durrbot wants to know how it feels to be on the brink. Nicholas feels like he could grab it and he’s doing that through song.

AFTER THE BREAK – Luke and Rough Copy’s backpack. WIN SOME MONEY FROM JLS.

To Louis again and its Devon’s finest, Luke Friend! He tells us that everyone knows they could win it so they’re all working hard. Louis urges him to look at his SAMSUNG GALAXY TAB to see his first performance. Luke remarks on his nerves and feels that he’s got a lot more vocal control since then. He feels his turning point was the third week, when he felt in control of the stage. He’s doing Something About The Way You Look Tonight, that famous b side of Candle in the Wind.

So how is it? The shirt is still there. I can’t remark on the socks because he’s standing in smoke. He’s combed his hair a bit though, which is nice. Nice is the word I think. Nice. That’s all I can say. 

Sharon thinks it’s a hard song for him and it’s a song out of his comfort zone in that it hasn’t been Mumforded to fuck. He was alone without his guitar and he should be proud of himself for his well sung, emotional performance. Funsponge thinks it’s a good performance and he admires that he likes to change his songs. He also loves that he puts his uniqueness and artistry first and never chases votes. *cough* bitch *cough*.  Nicole dittos Funsponges comments but adds in that he’s got a gigantic heart and he  put it out for everyone to see. He’s authentic and real and he deserves to be in the final. Louis loves that Luke is in the X Factor for the music and not the fame. He stands out from the crowd so all of Devon better vote for him.

Durrbot remarks on his jacket and wonders how the performance was for him. Luke says he wanted to show his versatility across the two performances and he wants and deserves to be in the final. Durrbot wants to know how it feels to be so close. He thinks it’s amazing that he’s here and he’s not going home yet. VOTE

Caroline is backstage with Alexandra Burke, who is inspired by everyone but mostly Sam who she thinks is incredible. She’s also backing Luke who has something. Sambailey’s next performance is going to be emotional, but first it’s Funsponge and Rough Copy.

Funsponge reminds Rough Copy that Elton is his hero. The “so you better not fuck it up” remains silent. They’re singing Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word which is Funsponge’s favourite, so no pressure. They say that Elton is one of the best songwriters in Britain and he wears big glasses. Yeah, that about sums it up. They remark that what he does as an artist is different to them. They say that group singing is all about the harmonies but they’re singing a song meant for a solo artist. They’re solving this by each getting a bit to themselves. They’re scared because there’s no hiding place. Funsponge takes them to Wembley Arena so they can get a bit psyched out. Funsponge remembers playing there in 93 and talks about how fantastic it was. They’re going to rip up the stage this week because they need to be on the Wembley stage next week.

They’re singing the song in the style of the boy band Blue. They’ve got stools and everything. There are sadly no backpacks but the leggings are present. It goes a bit substep in the middle and there’s some vocal acrobatics but it doesn’t really seem like them. They’re a bouncy group. This ballid shit feels a bit forced and not really them. [So far I think the score is Beyonce 2-1 Elton - Rad]

Nicole loves it though, and says they should pack their backpacks because they deserve to be in the finals. She thinks it was beautiful, understated and they all had a chance to shine but they have chemistry together. Louis loved this song better than the other and it was slick and there’s a gap in the market for them. They deserve to be in the final. Sharon says that they were NAKED on stage and they nailed it. Funsponge thinks they have to get to the final because all the other groups in the final have done so well and he wants that for them.

Durrbot would like to know how they’re feeling. They said that they like relating to the lyrics and they want everyone to love them. They apologise for their nakedness. Apparently they auditioned last year too so Durrbot would like to know how it feels to be here. They say that they are happy to be there together then get a bit flustered so Durrbot has a rare moment of professionalism and cuts them off.


When we return it’s time for Sharon and Sambailey who’s singing a song you might know. Sharon is urging us to vote already. Sambailey can’t believe she’s come so far. She watches her performances on a SAMSUNG GALAXY TAB and remarks on how far she’s come, hitting notes that she couldn’t believe she could hit. She feels like she belongs on stage and is loving getting good feedback.  She’s loving the support she’s getting from Gary Lineker and all of Leicester. She’s worried about her one piece of bad feedback but she’s dealing with it.

Let’s take a second here. Sambailey will be singing Candle in The Wind. REALLY? This is straight out of that Peter Kay spoof, right? She’s singing Candle in the Wind for the Princess of all our hearts  so that theoretically a vote against Sambailey is a vote against the windy candle of all our hearts? Oh ffs X Factor. I really, really thought that you’d lowered the bar so much that it was impossible to see but it turns out there’s further to sink. Ugh. Shame on you. 

Sharon reminds her that everyone is fighting for the final. She hopes that the song touches everyone like it touches her. BLECH.

Oh well, at least she’s doing the original version which is only slightly better because they made it sound like she was doing the Diana version. She’s singing it on the Rebecca Ferguson memorial plinth. [And wearing a curtain - Rad] [And sounding like Jane McDonald. - Steve] That’s the most interesting thing about it.

Funsponge kicks off the feedback. It was beautiful and thinks that she saw another side to her. She took a story song and turned it into a singer’s song. Nicole says she didn’t oversing it and shiitake mushrooms at her voice. Nicole is taking her lashes off to Sharon for a mentoring job well done. Louis thinks she’s the most consistent contestant. Consistant? She never lets them down and she’s the people’s princess. She’s going through to the final. Sharon thanks her and says she loves her.

Durrbot thanks Nicole for ‘take mushrooms’. Sambailey is happy because whatever happens she’ll see her babies soon and wants to be in the final for anyone who ever had a dream. OH FUCK OFF.

So that’s it. Someone’s got to go. Numbers, Recap and a reminder to watch tomorrow for Leona Lewis and the finalists. Yay!