Sunday, September 04, 2005

I sang for Simon Cowell, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt

Transmission date: 3 September 2005

Such is our involvement in the show at this point that, despite not watching it in the same place, Joel and I do often text each other when something alarming happens during the show. Suffice to say that last night, a lot of texting took place, so outraged were we. If Joel will permit me to quote one of his texts, "so much rage for this entire episode. I don't envy you your recap job." Oddly enough, though, I was looking forward to it. I need to write this update just to get some closure on the seething hatred that enveloped me for large sections of this programme. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

"Previously, on The X Factor". Are you kidding me with this? Since when do we need "previously"s? I'm not summarising this bit, you can read the previous two entries if you want to know what happened so far.

Titles. Is it just me, or do they look kinda cheap? [It’s not just you. I think it’s something about the extremely limited colour palette - Joel.]

Kate welcomes us to The X Factor, and has mercifully forsaken that nasty belly-button revealing jacket this week. Some cameramen are clearly feeling our pain and have filmed her in a nice tight shot so that even if she chose to suddenly break out her navel, still we would be spared. We're "treated" to some preview shots, but why should I waste time talking about them now when I'll only have to repeat myself later?

We're in Belfast tonight. Kate explains the categories. Oh, Kate, we've been through this before. Seriously, there is so much filler in this show. I'm sure they could have edited it down to 45 minutes if it weren't such a mammoth exercise in greed. The judges appear. Simon has over 100 million album sales to his name, and probably a number of tight black sweaters not far short of that total. Louis is far more vaguely referred to as "one of the most successful managers in pop". Sharon is "the queen of darkness". Blah blah blah.

At the front of the queue is 36-year-old Londoner Brenda, who came to Belfast with her husband for the weekend and just happened to be staying in the same hotel that is being used for the auditions. It's like a fairytale! "He took me away for a dirty weekend, and it turns out that I'm gonna be singing," confessionalises Brenda. "It can't get better than that, can it?" And then she cackles, Rustie Lee-style. I think I love Brenda. A nervous Brenda enters the audition room. Simon asks Brenda if she lives in Belfast, and Brenda, bouncing off the walls with nervous energy, replies, "no, we came away here for a dirty weekend, and so far it's been quite successful." Brenda to win! "What a romantic," quips Simon. Brenda sings 'River Deep, Mountain High' in a voice that makes up for in melody what it lacks in subtlety. "You do everything with gusto, don't you?" says Simon. What, even the dirty weekend? I wonder if her husband knows that Gusto came along for the ride. "Yes...unfortunately," replies Brenda, and cackles. "You're great fun, and quite an okay singer," says Louis. "I don't think you're a star." Louis, the woman just told 8 million viewers that she's having a very successful dirty weekend with her husband. Heat magazine is going to adore this woman. I know that your experience of stars like Ronan Keating is that boring sells, but seriously - live a little here, 'kay? Sharon loves Brenda's confidence. It's a yes from Sharon, and a no from Louis. Simon agrees with...Sharon! Brenda screams with delight, and launches herself (breasts first) across the table at Simon to kiss him. She kisses Louis as well (you'll want to retract that when you see what he does later, Brenda), and Sharon too before running out into the corridor and almost knocking Kate off her feet. Brenda to win!

Our next hopeful is 24-year-old barmaid Gwen, who kind of looks how I imagine Shirley Manson will look on Garbage's 40th anniversary comeback tour. It's not pretty, people, let's just leave it at that. Gwen starts singing (if you can call it that) in a terrifying rasp that comes from the back of her throat and is clearly a severe case of nodules waiting to happen. "It sounds a bit like the Exorcist voice," muses Sharon. Hee! Gwen assures Sharon that this is her natural singing voice. "What would happen if you sang with Louis, and he chose a Barry Manilow song?" asks Simon. Loving the way he manages to slip a simultaneous burn onto Louis and Gwen at the same time here. This man's clearly a professional. Simon asks Gwen to sing the chorus of 'Can't Smile Without You'. Gwen rasps it back back at him. Simon declares it "hideous". "That's what The X Factor's about, being different," says Gwen. [Though before she completes her sentence it sounds like she means The X Factor is about being hideous. Which: fair point. - Joel] Because Steve Brookstein was such a breath of fresh air? Okay. Louis tells Gwen she has a strange voice. "Thank you!" perks Gwen. It's not a compliment, Louis informs her, but Gwen chooses to take it as one anyway. It's a no from everyone. In the X Factor confessional, Gwen tells us (well, rasps at us) that she's unique, and that there's only one of her. And I think we'll all sleep a little more soundly tonight with that reassurance (those of us who aren't in Belfast, anyway), so cheers Gwen.

A parade of nobodies tell us their dreams through the medium of the pod. One says that his dream is to a concert at Knebworth in front of 125,000 people. I can't imagine where he got an idea like that from. A plea to the producers: please automatically eliminate anyone who aspires to be Robbie Williams. One is more than enough. For the purposes of seguing, our final confessor is 17-year-old Aaron, who shall henceforth be known as Spongebob Squareface. He looks a bit like the bastard lovechild of Will Young and David Sneddon, and I hope I never have to use that phrase again, because I've already had three cold showers since thinking it and I still don't feel clean. Spongebob sings 'Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay' in an annoying, Will Young-impersonator type voice. It sounds so unnatural and affected that already I kind of hate him. He also appears to have stolen a lot of Will Young's performance mannerisms. Spongebob, a tip: it didn't work for Sam Nixon, and it won't work for you. Louis calls it "pleasant" and "nice", because he is an idiot. Sharon says it was "okay", but she wasn't "crazy about it", and I think she's being rather generous there. It's a no from Sharon, and Aaron (lazy of me, but it's quicker to type than "Spongebob") starts to cry, because he's so thoroughly prepared for the lifetime of struggle and rejection that is the life of an entertainer. It's a yes from Louis - see above re: idiot. Aaron begs Simon to say yes, saying that he will really try hard. Simon says no. "Please can I have another go?" asks Aaron. Again, Simon says no. Why would you ever want to give Simon Cowell a second opportunity to reject you? It's hard enough the first time. He won't return my calls and he doesn't sing me love songs, so I speak from experience here. Aaron, a skilled manipulator under his naive exterior, turns his focus to Sharon and begs for a reprieve. "Please don't say that", says the alleged queen of darkness, and I begin to think that the queen is dead. Long live the queen! Aaron continues to beg, and we segue into a montage of people who thought that begging shamelessly for a second chance was a good strategy. I hate them, uniformly. We return to Aaron, still begging Sharon to put him through. "Ask Simon, don't ask me!" says a frustrated Sharon. Oh, Sharon, he won't do that. I'm afraid he's an emotional rapist, because he believes that when you, as a woman, said no, you clearly wanted to say yes. True to form, Aaron does not beg Simon but continues to harass Sharon. Just fuck off, Aaron. "Sharon, can you not say yes?" he continues. Since when was stalking a crime? I'm yours, and you're not mine. I'm gonna be with you all the time! Since when was stalking a crime? "Why me?" squeals Sharon. An excellent question, Sharon. Like I said, because you're seen as the soft touch, and we're about to see why. "Sharon?" "Please, Aaron, don't say my name again!" begs Sharon, because saying Sharon five times in quick succession will raise the body of Den Watts from the grave and we all know what a disaster it was last time that happened. [Good thing her name’s not Candyman, really. - Joel] Aaron breaks down. "Please say yes and go home!" says Sharon, somewhat nonsensically. "Please say yes," begs Aaron, the stuck record. "I've said yes, now go home!" yells Sharon. Well, you did say yes, but you said it in the sort of context that made it impossible to understand what you were saying, Sharon. Not that I blame you, because I imagine that being stuck in a room with Aaron begging you to say yes will rob you of your verbal dexterity far sooner than the drugs that got Ozzy. "You're through!" says happy-yet-still-idiotic Louis. "Go away, Aaron, go away! Go on, yes, go home!" says Sharon, now not so much the queen of darkness as Good Witch Glenda. [It’s actually Glinda. God I’m gay. –Joel] I'm so disappointed in you, Sharon. You're not a badass. You're fired, and I'm replacing you with Janice Dickinson. She wouldn't take this kind of shit, she'd just throw his heart medication out of the window and have done with it. An emotional Aaron kisses Sharon goodbye, while a frustrated Simon bangs his fist on the desk. Sharon tugs at her hair and wails "why is it me? Why does everybody always beg me?" Er, because you're the one who changes her mind and lets people through because you're a total soft touch? [I hate Aaron. Especially because he probably had a decent voice if he’d sung normally rather than being Not Will Young. Plus he was doing that thing I really hate, where people sing in a lower register than they are comfortable with in the mistaken belief that the low notes are easier than the high ones. HATE. – Joel]

After the break, Kate welcomes us back to Belfast, and we're quickly introduced to sisters Sharon, Sinead, Marie and Laura, otherwise known as the Conway Sisters. They sing 'River Deep, Mountain High' in the queue. Was there a set list of songs to choose from or something? I thought they did away with that idea after the first series of Popstars when all the judges swore that they'd go on a killing spree the next time they heard '...Baby One More Time'. By the way, you know who these people are? They're the girls in the preview from the first episode whom I've been watching out for for ages, and had almost given up hope of seeing. I'm easily swayed, I know, but they sing Kylie Minogue's 'In Your Eyes' and I love that song. They sing, and while they harmonise well, it doesn't sound quite as good as it did in the short segment we saw in the first episode, so I'm kind of disappointed. Simon singles out Marie, who seems to be the lead singer in as much as one can ever be the lead singer in a vocal harmony group (and there's a phrase no one's used since One True Voice bit the big one, I'm sure). Louis thinks they have potential, but that they need grooming. And it's true, they do kind of look like B*Witched's younger sisters at this point, but there's hope for them. The Conway Sisters are put through, on the proviso that they think of a better name, I hope. A parade of winners, and once again we're not actually shown their auditions, which I'm sure pissed Joel off. [Ohhhh yes. – Joel]

21-year-old Philip, who is ruggedly handsome, [So hot. – Joel] sings 'Your Cheatin' Heart', which is a very interesting choice of song that doesn't go with his projected image at all. Simon loves it. Louis agrees with Simon and is pleasantly surprised. It's a yes from Simon and Louis. Sharon cackles and says that it's a "no" from her and that she just "didn't get it", but that it doesn't matter because he's through anyway. And I just want to take a second here to appreciate how gracious Sharon is in defeat, in comparison to Louis later on. HATE. Sorry, I'm getting ahead of myself again. In the judge's break room (presumably), Louis says "if you're looking for a singer to make an album, he can do that". And not that I want to spend yet more of my valuable time pointing out just how much of an idiot Louis is, but of course that's what they're looking for, you bonehead. Like, seriously, what were you doing during all the strategy meetings during your time in the music industry? Singles make virtually no money. Oy. I despair. "I hope he's not in your category", Louis bitches at Sharon. Well, God help anyone who's in yours, Louis. What have you done for me lately?

Next? Is 19-year-old chef Thomas, who is wearing a T-shirt that says "Everyone is entitled to be stupid but you are abusing the privilege", because he wants everyone to know that he's witty enough to buy amusing T-shirts. I'm suddenly reminded of the "witty T-shirt" sketch from Smack the Pony, and it occurs to me that Thomas might be better suited to the "I'm a complete fucking twat" T-shirt from that sketch. Thomas sings 'A Whole New World' from Aladdin, and believe me when I say that he is all nasally up in his nasal. He's like the poster boy for adenoids. Simon informs Thomas with characteristic bluntness that Thomas can't sing. It's a no from all the judges, and Thomas looks rather nauseated suddenly. Outside, hilariously, Thomas stands prissily with his arms folded and pouts "they told me that I can't sing, and that I should stick to cooking". No harm, no foul, surely? I mean, they were right. As ever, the brunt of Thomas's anger is focused on Simon, despite the fact that, as Joel has pointed out on numerous occasions, if Simon is the only one who says no to you, you still get through, so if you're angry and rejected, it's the responsibility of Louis and/or Sharon as well. Going for the money shot, Thomas turns to the camera and says "Simon Cowell, read this top (and here he holds up the slogan) and *beep*ing weep. Whatever!" and makes the "whatever" gesture just to ram the point home. See? His T-shirt told us he was witty! [Fucking prissy queen. – Joel]

A montage of Simon chastising insane losers. Marry me, Simon! Montages are my friend, since they require almost no more effort than this.

A slow-mo shot of the judges leaving the audition room is accompanied by Prokofiev's 'Romeo and Juliet', and for a second I wonder where they're going with this. I mean, I know that melody is moody and atmospheric, but it also kind of makes me think that they're going off for some tension-breaking sex, and I really don't want to think about that. Ever. [Though it is the ‘Dance of the Knights’ (I think it’s called that) which is all combative. Oooh! And it was used on an advert for Chanel’s Egoiste years ago ‘Egoiste! Egoiste! You’re SUCH an egoiste!’ so maybe they’re digging at Simon. – Joel]Simon is moody because they have been deluged by crap contestants and he feels that his time is being wasted. Yes, Simon, but you're being paid handsomely for it, so pipe down. You wasted our time with all that filler at the start of the show and we didn't get any kind of recompense for that, did we?

The next contestant is 32-year-old Spaniard Penelope Gomez, who is clearly modelling herself on Penelope Cruz. Penotlope Cruz enters the room and tells the judges that she is from "Barthelona", which Sharon takes great joy in repeating in Louis's ear. Ew. Penotlope sings 'Over The Rainbow' in a thick Spanish accent and is barely three words in before Louis turns an unattractive shade of beetroot and starts laughing, which sets Sharon off as well. "What's the problem?" asks Simon. Louis takes a few seconds to collect himself and asks Penotlope (who, to her credit, is taking the whole thing very well and laughing along with them, and could clearly teach the other contestants a few things about humility, Aaron) to begin again. This time, she barely gets a syllable into the song before Sharon collapses in a fit of giggles. Simon (who is keeping his shit together, but I suspect just barely) tells Penotlope to sing to him and to ignore the others. She can't, however, because Sharon is bent double laughing and is actually clinging to Louis for support. Sharon gets it together, and they tell Penotlope to start again. "It's a sad song!" chastises Simon of Sharon. This time, however, it's Simon who cracks first, a record-breaking three lines in. Sharon cackles, and then descends into this bizarre kind of laugh that sounds a bit like someone punching a huge ball of plasticine in a confined space. Seriously, it's so hard to describe to someone who hasn't witnessed it. Louis, in a desperate attempt to save the situation, asks Penotlope if she has another song that she can sing, and she opts for 'Fields of Gold', one of Louis's favourites (as anyone who saw Nadine sing it in Popstars: The Rivals will already be aware of). Sharon, however, can't stop laughing and ends up under the table, protesting classily "I'm going to pee myself in a minute!" Hee. Penotlope almost makes it to the end of the first verse before Sharon's off again, and to be fair to everyone involved, she does have a nice voice, but the strength of her accent really does make the songs sound kind of odd. Simon decides that enough is enough, and asks Sharon for a verdict. Sharon is almost crying at this point and can't answer, so Simon hops to Louis, who immediately answers "yes!" "What?" says an incredulous Simon. "It's different," explains Louis. "I was entertained." Oh, Louis. You really don't understand the point of this show, do you? I'm totally having your job next series. It's going to be such an awesome line-up of judges: me, Simon and Janice Dickinson. Book your tickets early, kids! It's a yes from Sharon. The hell? "Oh, for goodness' sake," says Simon. He decides to escort Penotlope from the room before anything else totally lacking in sense can happen. Meanwhile, Sharon laughs in a manner reminiscent of the now-legendary "Sing 'em a song, Della!" moment. Simon returns to the desk and there's this awesome "uh oh, daddy's home" look on Sharon's face. "You can't put her through to the next round! Did nobody explain what the rules of the competition are this year?" Ooh, I know! Simon! Pick me! Kate told us them at the beginning of the episode. Do I get a prize? Outside, Penotlope explains to Kate, "Louis and Sharon, they couldn't stop laugh, (something I couldn't make out), they have great fun, but I don't know is good or bad!" Kate doesn't understand a word of it, but hugs her anyway. I'm starting to like Kate Thornton. This is so, so wrong. Back in the audition room, Simon and Louis go for a break, and a member of the production staff hands Sharon a tissue. Munching on a pastry, Simon chuckles, "I'm resigning."

After the break, we're in Birmingham. Sharon's dogs join the audition panel. Our first auditionee is Keith, who makes tractors. His voice makes Sharon's dogs howl, and that's really all I need to say about Keith. We then get a montage of people who make the dogs howl. Hee! Can I suggest that they make Sharon's dogs the preliminary judging panel next year? They'd save themselves a lot of time. I'm sure they wouldn't have let Chico through. The dogs are sent away. Boo! The next contestant is 46-year-old vicar Tony, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Tony Blair. Has he returned, incognito, after his brush with the cameras in Manchester? The prime minister tells us that singing is as important to him as breathing. He sings 'Time To Say Goodbye' (or 'Con Te Partiro', if you prefer) in a deep, operatic voice. Louis says yes, complete with hallelujah sound effect. Simon says no. Sharon says "I think you could convert me." Hee! I would dearly pay to see Sharon and Ozzy in church - almost as much as I would pay to see Kelly and Jack safely ensconced in Hell. It's a "yes" from Sharon. [Simon said no on the grounds that Tony was a good amateur. I’m sure if I knew enough about opera I could criticise Tony’s voice into next week, but in terms of selling albums to women in twin-sets from Godalming, they might have struck gold here. – Joel] [I think Simon wasn't bothered because he's probably not going to get the '25 and Over' group a second time, and he's already got someone who fills that niche rather nicely in our friend Mr Brookstein. - Steve]

29-year-old cab driver Aaron is next (another Aaron! And, spookily, he kind of looks how Aaron from poor-defunct-and-so-very-gay boyband V might look in ten years' time). He's here to provide a better future for his family. [He has exactly the same haircut as his wife. Its scares me. – Joel] He informs us ungrammatically that this is what he "dream[s] of aspiring to". That's a tautology, Aaron. See me after class. He sings Enrique Iglesias's 'Hero', a song which I do not care for, but he sings it well, if a little too close to the original for my liking. Sharon does not like his jeans. Aaron is put through to the next round, and at this point I wonder what happens to all the people who go through. You never see them being told when or where the next round is taking place, do you? I'm guessing some poor sod has to ring them all at a later date. Rather them than me. Aaron drives his family home in his cab. Awww. [Louis talks about giving Aaron a makeover, and says ‘short blond hair, smart suit.’ Well I think it’s a makeover – he might be telling the gang about the rent boy he’s got lined up for the evening. – Joel]

Our final contestant in Birmingham today is 43-year-old dinner lady Laurie, whose childhood dreams of stardom were put on hold by a crippling form of arthritis (she's totally Verity, everyone!) but is back for another shot. She tells the camera tearfully that it's been a struggle, and she will regret this later. She tells her story to the judges and thanks them for giving the "oldies" another go. She sings 'Unbreak My Heart', and it's kind of rough around the edges, but there is potential there, and far worse people have been put through. [Though her breathing technique is absolutely horrible. Huge gasping intakes of breath before every line. – Joel] Judging by her vocal, Louis would have to say no. Sharon likes Laurie, and says yes. Simon thinks nerves got the better of Laurie, who protests "don't say no, I've got through worse than this". Oh don't hate the player, Laurie, hate the game! Simon judges purely on what he heard...and it's a yes! Laurie is ecstatic. Laurie is released into the bosom of her family, who congratulate her. "You went for the sob story!" says Louis back in the audition room. I will come back to this. Kate voices over that Sharon and Louis are leaving to go home, and that Louis can't resist a final word: he announces to Laurie's family that "this is a talent show. We love her. Her voice let her down." Oh. No. He. Didn't! There is a totally awesome silence as everyone struggles to digest the sheer malice of such a remark. Louis, loving his little moment of limelight at other people's expense because he has no redeeming features whatsoever, continues, "they love a sob story!" This from the man of "This is his dream! I'm not going to take that away from him!" Physician? Heal thyself. "That's not fair!" rebukes Sharon. "But it's true!" says Louis, aiming for 'charming' but missing the slip road and taking a detour via 'odious'. Laurie, clearly angry at being humiliated in front of her family, but handling herself with dignity (unlike Louis), replies "I have to prove then that it's not about the sob story." Bravo! Sharon continues, "Louis, I love you, but that's out of order" and walks off, shaking her head. Louis continues his quest to ensure that the public hates him (as if inflicting Westlife on us weren't enough to guarantee that for a lifetime) by oozing "Sharon, are you not my friend anymore?" as he waddles after her. HATE.

After the break, we're still in Birmingham, and we're treated to a brief montage of yeses. [Was this where we saw the three girls in matching polka dot dresses? Cos they must have had some awesome voices on them given that Simon, rightly, likes to reject people on image. - Joel] Brothers Andy and Carl, also known as Journey South (change the name, change the name, change the name) [Word. It sounds like an oral sex roadtrip porno. – Joel] sing 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' quite nicely, I think - not my cup of tea. Simon singles out Carl for praise, but reminds them that there is supposed to be fun in what they do and that they need to lighten up a bit. Louis likes Carl's image, possibly because Carl is the spit of Bryan McFadden in the early days of Westlife. The judges are all impressed, however, and put them through. "I think you did good," says Simon. No, Simon, they did well. Oooh, grammar causes divorce! Best friends Shaz and Az are the next duo to face the judges, and without wishing to start rumours, I think this is one boy-girl friendship where it's clear that the prospect of sex has never been an issue likely to interfere. I'm just sayin'. They sing 'Day By Day', from some musical which I will have to look up later (which turned out to be Godspell, which is what I thought. I know! A gay who knows his musicals - would you credit it?). It's evident from this that Az is the luggage, because Shaz has a nice voice and Az...not so much. Az starts the begging, and Louis responds "you are really, really bad. Have you ever listened to yourself back?" Sharon is outraged: "Louis, don't you start too!" Louis says, "you have no talent". "He's got a nice personality!" says Sharon, which...well, yes, but not the same thing, is it? "He hasn't got any talent!" protests Louis, and I'd be willing to agree with him if he hadn't been so unjustifiably horrendous in front of Laurie earlier. "What were you drinking last night?" demands Sharon. "Too much," mutters Simon. Hee! Oh Simon, let me take you away from all this. Some more begging. "As a group, it's a 100%, categoric no" says Simon. Shaz should totally audition on her own, though, is the subtext here. After they leave, Sharon takes Louis to task, but he just chuckles in his gnomelike way.

Kate introduces a montage where "the loveable Louis Walsh" turns bad. Since when was he "loveable"? I mean, he's not normally this much of a pain in the ass, I grant you, but on my list of loveable people, Louis Walsh features some way below Margaret Thatcher, Ann Widdecombe and Kelly Osbourne. Montage, montage, montage, cunt, cunt, cunt. You can try to convince me that he's a badass as much as you want, but I ain't falling for it. Badasses are intelligent and witty. Louis is just a poisonous little toad.

16-year-old performing arts student Charlotte is convinced she has what it takes. "You're the Whitney Houston diva, aren't you?" asks the woman who I can only assume is Charlotte's mum. "Do you sing a lot for your mum and dad?" asks Kate. Charlotte gets as far as a "yes" before she's interrupted by "she goes to stage school". And I think we've just found our pushy mother of the week. [Year. – Joel] Charlotte's dream is to be a singer. "She is the X Factor! She's not just got it, she is the X Factor!" says her proud mum. And...we'll just see how that goes, shall we? Charlotte sings 'One Moment In Time' for the judges, and it's squeaky and tuneless and awful and wobbly. Bad, bad, bad. Louis starts laughing, and Simon stops her. "Behave," warns Sharon. "No, it was painful!" smugs Louis. Simon explains, tactfully I might add, to Charlotte that to sing a Whitney Houston song sets a high standard to live up to, and just makes it all the more obvious that she doesn't have a good singing voice. Sharon tries to cushion the blow: "You've got a very delicate little voice. You sound like a kitten." "Being strangled," adds Louis. Lalalala. I've decided that I'm going to ignore Louis, in the hope that it will eventually make him fade out of existence. "It was painful!" gloats Louis. "Ohhh, stop it!" says a clearly displeased Sharon. "Sharon, I've got to say he's right," says Simon. Who's right, Simon? There are only two judges, aren't there? Charlotte tries to explain herself, breaking down: "I've been...I just...wanted it so badly." [I really don’t get it all. How can people with such terrible, terrible singing voices have this desperate burning desire to be a singer? Much as I want to be ghetto fabulous – I really, really do, y’all – I’m self-aware enough to realise that I’m never going to be a gangsta rapper. – Joel] Sharon's maternal instincts kick in and she gets up from her seat and puts her arm around Charlotte. "Don't take this abuse, because you don't have to, missus." And I'm kind of liking Sharon here. I don't always agree with her, and she lost a lot of points in the Aaron and Penotlope incidents, and indeed Charlotte shouldn't have been there in the first place, but frankly I'll take anyone's side if it means I'm disagreeing with Louis. Sharon escorts Charlotte from the room, and shoots Louis a Look. At the door, Sharon passes Charlotte back to her mother with a "take care". Simon looks embarrassed and unhappy with the whole situation. Charlotte cries to the camera about the fact that the judges laughed in her face, and to be honest, the blame here I suspect lies with Pushy Stage Mother. Pushy SMother for short. Sharon returns to the audition room, and Louis smirks "have I lost a friend, Sharon?" for the second time this episode because he's too stupid to think of anything else to say in this situation. "Don't even say that word, 'friend'," fumes Sharon. "She's sixteen." "And she's out of tune," replies Louis. Outside, Pushy SMother makes things worse by saying "Charlotte, you can sing, you know you can sing." Quiet, Pushy SMother! Sharon remonstrates with Louis: "I don't like doing this with you like that! It's uncomfortable for me!" Sharon: "She's sixteen." Louis: "She's deluded." Sharon: "Deluded?! Why?" Louis: "Because she's dreadful!" And then, there's this truly, truly awesome moment where Louis totally sets himself up for what happens next, and I am so happy about it. Sharon reaches out for a glass of Coke and goes to drink it. Her hand is halfway up to her mouth when Louis squeals "Don't! Don't throw it at me, don't!" It makes me wonder exactly what kind of torture Sharon has exacted on Louis in the past, since that was awfully jumpy of him, considering that her arm was moving in entirely the wrong direction to throw it at him. Sharon pauses with the drink halfway to her lips, the idea forming in her head. "I like this shirt!" protests Louis. It's fugly, Louis, and you know it. "Don't do that!" Louis begs, and it looks like Sharon's had enough of begging, because with a quick flick of her wrist, she throws the Coke all over Louis. My video of this is a little worn, since I had to watch that over and over and over again. Can this happen every episode? Maybe even after every audition? [Can the beaker contain sulphuric acid? – Joel] Sharon goes out for some air. "What is wrong with her?" asks Louis. Sharon goes out to look for Charlotte, who is already leaving. In the judge's room after the auditions, Sharon vents: "Everybody's pushing it, pushing it!" They're pushing it real good! "These are people. I'm serious!" An unrepentant Louis says "that girl was so, so bad." Sharon: "So what? So what? She deserves to go home,'ve destroyed her. I didn't sign up for this." As an X Factor judge, or as the Queen of Darkness? "He gets away with it," Louis shouts, bringing Simon into the argument. "That's his schtick," replies Sharon. "He's Simon, you're Louis." And also, Simon knows when to hit out and when to pull back. Louis hasn't mastered that yet, not by a long shot. "Did he apologise?" asks Simon later, sitting with Sharon some distance from Louis. "No. What's happened?" asks Sharon. "It's like you've gone Mr Nice and he's gone Mr Mean." Clearly Simon and Louis were having an argument the night before, and were both touching some kind of magic artefact when they screamed "I wish I could change places with you!" and then look what happened. Be careful with artefacts, kids. [You see? This season is ALL about the contestants, and not at all about the judges and their infighting, just like they promised. Gah. – Joel]

Coming soon: more losers who I hope will be Joel's responsibility. [Including the girl from the ‘bad’ section of Kate’s explanation of the 16-24 category, so we already know how that one turns out. Someone teach the editing team how to do teasers. – Joel] See you next week!


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""Next? Is 19-year-old chef Thomas, who is wearing a T-shirt that says "Everyone is entitled to be stupid but you are abusing the privilege", because he wants everyone to know that he's witty enough to buy amusing T-shirts. I'm suddenly reminded of the "witty T-shirt" sketch from Smack the Pony, and it occurs to me that Thomas might be better suited to the "I'm a complete fucking twat" T-shirt from that sketch. Thomas sings 'A Whole New World' from Aladdin, and believe me when I say that he is all nasally up in his nasal. He's like the poster boy for adenoids. Simon informs Thomas with characteristic bluntness that Thomas can't sing. It's a no from all the judges, and Thomas looks rather nauseated suddenly. Outside, hilariously, Thomas stands prissily with his arms folded and pouts "they told me that I can't sing, and that I should stick to cooking". No harm, no foul, surely? I mean, they were right. As ever, the brunt of Thomas's anger is focused on Simon, despite the fact that, as Joel has pointed out on numerous occasions, if Simon is the only one who says no to you, you still get through, so if you're angry and rejected, it's the responsibility of Louis and/or Sharon as well. Going for the money shot, Thomas turns to the camera and says "Simon Cowell, read this top (and here he holds up the slogan) and *beep*ing weep. Whatever!" and makes the "whatever" gesture just to ram the point home. See? His T-shirt told us he was witty! [Fucking prissy queen. – Joel]""