Sunday, August 28, 2005

Episode The Second

Transmission Date 27th August 2005

We learn that Nokia is the sponsor of the X Factor. Whatever. [Sorry, what was that? I didn’t hear; I was too busy rushing to the shops to buy a Nokia. – Steve]
We get some general ‘oooh, mean judges’ nonsense. This includes that over-used film thing where they zoom in and pan back at the same time to do the funny Swoop In Of Fear. Except it’s on the judges’ table, not on Sean Penn’s face on finding out that there’s a bomb in the UN headquarters. Shots of people crying and the judges being mean. A boy with too much hair cries and says ‘I beg you, please.’ Simon gets up and leaves. Sharon says ‘I didn’t sign up to do this,’ but we don’t find out what it’s in reference to. [Please God don’t let it be a musical Asda commercial. – Steve] Giving the kids a lift to rehab, maybe. Or self-administering her botox. This all takes place to the accompaniment of ‘O Fortuna’ from Carmina Burana, for that extra-obvious ‘ooh, it’s all so scary and evil, it might as well be devil worship’ air.

We’re one again exposed to Kate Thornton’s navel, peeping out from a jacket that she stole from Adam Ant. [The exact same jacket that she was wearing last week, in fact. Stop reusing footage, you cheapskates! It’s only the second episode! – Steve] She laboriously explains, again, how it all works. You know, so I’m not going to tell you. Apparently Simon Cowell has sold 100 million albums. Not artists he manages. Simon Cowell himself. You live and learn. Maybe he’s big in Germany. [Or maybe he has a Saturday job in HMV. – Steve] Also apparently, Sharon Osbourne is the ‘ultimate queen of rock.’ I think Courtney Love, or Grace Slick, or PJ Harvey, or Melissa auf der Maur, or even Stevie fucking Nicks might have something to say about that. [Also, I note that Louis Walsh leaves Bellefire off his list of achievements. What about Bellefire, Louis? – Steve]
With that information under our belts, we’re in London. Again. But I don’t think there were two rounds of auditions in London, so it’s just left over footage from last week that they crammed in. ITV, with these high production values you are spoiling us. A boy named Nicholas tells us that he wants to ‘perform like I’ve never performed before.’ Presumably he means ‘better than I ever have’ but sadly, it turns out to be as if he has literally never sung a song before in his life. He gives a crappy spiel of ‘I admire you all blah blah blah, Sharon how you pulled your family together is amazing blah.’ In fairness, that is quite an achievement. I know if my children were Kelly and Jack Osbourne I’d have shipped them off to a kibbutz years ago. I digress. He sings Santana’s Smooth and is terrible. Simon says, ‘you sound like you’re singing underwater.’ Hee! It’s a ‘no’.
We see the people in the Booth Of Complaints and Bitterness. A boy with two haircuts kvetches about something or other. Seriously. He’s got really long hair on the left side of his head, and short hair on the right, with these little braid things at the back. He looks like an escapee from Waterworld.
A boy band named Fortune are back. [I think it’s actually 4Tune. There are four of them, and no band name is complete without a rubbish play-on-words in this day and age. – Steve] They got to the final 5 of the groups last year. One of them has on a Thundercats t-shirt. They sing Unchained Melody. They all have lovely voices, but I can’t bear to listen to them. They’ve got this horrible glee club close harmony thing going on and it goes through my brain like a dentist’s drill. By which I mean the sound of a dentist’s drill. Not an actual drill in my brain. That’s Mariah Carey. [Also, they totally rip the song to shreds. I’m all for making it your own, but when you’ve removed all sense of rhythm and tone and structure so that the only thing left to signpost the song that you’re singing is the bare bones of the words, you’re trying too hard. – Steve] Simon says, ‘that’s what it’s all about’ and tells Louis he owes them an apology for not taking them further last year. [Indeed. I’m not quite as excited by these guys as Simon seems to be, but really – they put Two To Go through ahead of these guys? Why? Oh, right, one of them was blind. Concept! – Steve][I know. One's blind, one's a girl, neither of them are talented! This one'll run and run! - Joel] They go through, of course. Later, in the Green Room or somewhere, Simon tells Louis that Fortune are very good and Louis says about three times, ‘I ain’t jumping up and down.’ Probably a good idea. People might think you were mad about losing your Lucky Charms.
A montage of people in bad outfits. Then a girl named, it seems, Somali. She has on big white boots and a white dress with buckles on it. She looks like a mouse. [She does. She looks like she’s wandered off the set of The Witches without removing her prosthetics. – Steve] And, scarily, sounds like one. She sings Because You Loved Me, but she basically just speaks it in a vaguely high pitched tone. She says she’s got the image and can work on the voice, to which Sharon says ‘you can’t project, you don’t have a voice to project.’ [But she’s got the all-important image! God doesn’t give with both hands, Sharon. – Steve] They then cast doubt on her image too, saying her boots are too big. It’s a no. She comes out and talks to Kate, saying, ‘they said my boots were too big.’ Kate, hilariously, says ‘Boobs?’ Somali corrects her and End Scene.

Now we are in Birmingham. A massive horde of people salute Big Brother. Apparently the judges all went to a party at Elton John’s house last night. Simon and Sharon are late, but Louis has turned up. He’s justifiably angry and says, ‘it’s called being professional.’ I find myself agreeing with Louis Walsh, and the Devil phones me up all annoyed, because he’d just got Hell’s thermostat all nice and toasty, then I made it freeze over. Simon turns up. He’s very late, and I’m mad at him because I don’t like when he does things I don’t agree with. (Or when he forgets our anniversary.) Sharon turns up much much later, giggling at her own complete lack of professionalism or respect for the contestants that have travelled for god knows how many miles to be there. ‘I didn’t get to bed til 7!’ she titters, as if that’s somehow amusing. If it’s 7 in the morning and the auditions start at, well, I can’t imagine it would be any later than 10, just stay awake. [I thought she was supposed to be a rock legend? Sleep is not for rock legends, it’s for southern softies and homosexuals. And Coldplay. – Steve] Drink some Red Bull, have a McMuffin and suck it up. God.
An old woman who is presumably named Althea Gaye (it says it on her jacket) is dressed as a Pearly Queen and sings some music hall number. It’s hideous, and she’s sent packing. A boy responds to Simon saying ‘you have no talent’ with the cutting rejoinder of ‘you’re mean.’ An 82 year old named Dorothy comes in, wheeling her shopping trolley and walking with a cane. She’s half deaf and has very poor eyesight. She sings Unchained Melody and I honestly can’t tell you if it’s good or bad because the whole situation is so weird. [It’s a little of both, really. She’s not as bad as I thought she would be, but damn if she doesn’t trill those high notes. Half woman, half budgie. – Steve] It’s high-pitched, anyway. Sharon and Louis put her through. Simon thinks they shouldn’t because she’s old and frail. And kind of rubbish. He helps her out the door with her wheelie bag. What a gent. [Swoon. – Steve] Later, the judges argue, Louis’s justification being that she made a lot of effort, ‘coming up all those stairs.’ Tit. [That would be this week’s version of the “but he/she really wants this!” argument, then. Let’s disregard the fact that this woman would be in no way able to cope with the sort of hectic schedule the winner is likely to have. I must reiterate your point about Louis and Sharon being idiots and getting people’s hopes up only to be dashed later. Cretins. – Steve] He then calls Simon a ‘friend of Dorothy’ which was actually pretty funny, and makes Simon giggle. A boy named Daniel allegedly looks like David Beckham (read: has a blonde fin haircut). He has a strong voice and goes through, despite Sharon’s protest that he sounds old (read: good). Montage of three women going through.

Newcastle. They all salute Big Brother. Orwell turns in his grave some more, having just stopped revolving from what Kinga did with the wine bottle. A 4 year old boy named Kenzi turns up. Sharon’s all ‘awwww’ and Simon just says ‘for god’s sake.’ He sings Westlife and is told he’ll be through if he comes back in 12 years time. Simon says he likes that he’s that cocky at only 4. Louis says that Simon was like that. Simon looks all wistful and says that he was. Sharon says ‘Shut up and listen. You will never be a rock star,’ and makes a boy cry. And they’re still billing Simon as the mean one?
A lady named Lorraine turns up. She was the backing vocalist on Meatloaf’s …Anything For Love… but her voice seems to have weakened with time. [And she says she was replaced by a model for the video because she wasn’t pretty enough, so she’s already halfway to being Michelle McManus. – Steve] She’s through nonetheless. A supermarket supervisor named Tony is next. You can learn all you need to know about Tony from the fact that he’s wearing a piano key tie. His singing partner Barbara is there, not to sing, but to offer moral support. [Sing ’em a song, Barbara! – Steve] ‘I don’t crave attention,’ Tony says. ‘He craves attention,’ says Barbara. Anyway. They go in and Tony sings. He has a surprisingly lovely voice. He is, however, the lounge singer that entertains you while your sins are burnt away in Purgatory. [Louis’ll be seeing him again, then. – Steve] All finger clicks and smugness. Louis says yes. Sharon says no. Simon says no, because of the ‘horrendous outfit’ that is ‘wrong, wrong, wrong.’ Tony pleads some more but eventually clears off. Cut to outside the audition room. Tony rants at Simon, all ‘you’re wrong!’ Simon distractedly says, ‘Trust me, I’ve never been more right in my life. Where’s the loo?’ Hee! Tony asks why Simon won’t give people a chance. Your audition is your chance, idiot. However, Simon doesn’t say this, he says, ‘Because I don’t want to patronise them.’ Which I think is exactly right. To be all ‘well done, you tried’, like Sharon and Louis are, gives a false sense of success to the people they put through and, well, belittles them. It’s like Louis in the first series saying of Two To Go ‘This poor guy’s blind’ as though that were any way relevant to his ability as a singer, or lack thereof. [ARRRGH! Sorry, I’d repressed my memories of that comment, and suddenly here they are again. HATE. – Steve]

A montage of nervous people leads us to Sheila, who sings all the time instead of speaking because she’s less nervous when she sings. She explains this to Kate, who’s like, ‘okay…’ In the audition, Sharon asks Sheila if she ever gives herself a headache. Sheila sings Marble Halls, in a voice that sounds like someone playing a saw. You know, that weird alien noise you get when you play a saw with a violin bow. Like that. Unsurprisingly, it’s a no. Also receiving a ‘no’ is Beulah. She’s 59 but looks about 40 and is the spit of Tina Turner, as the judges mention. Her voice isn’t that strong though, but she seems really surprised to hear that she’s not through. Louis gives her a ‘yes’, so Simon gives Beulah Louis’s phone number. [If I turn up to audition for the next series, will they give me Simon’s phone number? Yeah, I said it. – Steve] Beulah stalks him for the rest of the episode, basically.
Addictive Ladies! That’s their name. Four teenage girls. They come in singing their own theme song, (‘A-D-D to the ICT’, that sort of thing) and it’s totally awesome. [It really is. I’ve so got to write myself a theme song so I can make entrances like that. – S to the T to the E to the V to the E] Then they sing a song they wrote themselves, and they’re suddenly not awesome at all. Their harmonies are crashingly off. Sharon and Louis put them through, on Sharon’s logic that they’ve got ‘the bare bones’ of talent. High praise indeed. I do reckon they could be good with coaching though, which is more than can be said for some people that go through. [Plus there’s still kind of a Mis-Teeq shaped hole in the market right now. – Steve]
James is 16. Kate tells him, ‘You are so cute. You are delicious, I could eat you.’ He’s not, so much. If there were a black lesbian interpretative dance student in Fame, she would look like James. [He looked more to me like the young Michael Jackson had hopped forward in time for this audition. I fear for James’s future. – Steve] He sings If I Ever (which East 17 covered with Gabrielle as If You Ever) and he’s really quite good, though I fear for his voice once he finally enters puberty. Simon and Louis say yes. Sharon will only put him through if he gives her a kiss, and gets this horrible glint in her eye. Maybe James has special pheromones, given the overwhelming desire women seem to have to devour him whole.

Coming soon: a scary blonde woman growls ‘Doctor Doctor’, a soprano, a midget with an engagement ring and Sharon throwing water on Louis. [Yay! – Steve] [I only said that last week as a joke. Woo, I can see the future. – Joel] I can hardly wait.

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