Sunday, October 30, 2005

Ding dong, the twitch is dead!

Transmission date: 29th October 2005

Performance show

We began, as usual, with some darkened studio pre-show guff from Kate. I should point out here that I watched the first five minutes or so of tonight's show in my bedroom, where the TV reception is generally appalling at best, especially on ITV1. The picture jumps, twitches and frazzles out (much like Phillip) and the sound only stays on for about two seconds out of every ten. You might think that this is in fact an ideal situation to be watching The X Factor in, and on one level I'd be inclined to agree with you, but it's not so great when people are relying on you to provide a detailed commentary. Suffice to say I gave up and went to watch it on the properly-connected TV downstairs midway through the first performance, but if the commentary prior to that point is somewhat sketchy, that would be why.

Kate Thornton Fashion-Sense-O-Meter: set to perilous this week. She was wearing a hideous, shapeless purple dress that makes her resemble a giant Quality Street, and prompted more than one person watching the show with me to enquire if she's pregnant. To the best of my knowledge Kate is not pregnant, and so she really, really needs some assistance in outfit choice. I think Joel and I would happily offer our collective service at this point. [And what the HELL was the giant X-Factor X dangling round her neck? Dear god. Next week, I would like to see Kate in a cream suit, with a dark blue silk roundneck t-shirt underneath it. She can chose her own shoes. - Joel] We're both gay, so we're extremely well qualified. Kate tells us that we're down to our final ten acts. Katy looks utterly distraught and asks me if that means we've still got another nine shows to watch. I confirm this fact, and do a bit of mental arithmetic, realising that, including tonight's, I will have five episodes left to write up, while Joel only has four. Swizz! Anyway, Kate introduces the contestants are "your X Factor finalists", to which I say "don't pin the blame on me for these losers, I'd've given most of them the boot the second they walked in." Kate introduces the judges: Simon is looking suave as ever in a nicely tailored suit, Sharon is wearing a white suit that gives her the appearance of just having walked off the stage in a touring performance of A Few Good Men, and her hair has kind of collapsed this week and isn't looking so great. Louis is wearing another suit (or possibly the same one) that appears to have been pulled out of the back of the wardrobe (insert your own "dragged kicking and screaming out of the closet" joke here, I'm not going to cheapen myself) for one of the very few occasions each year when he actually needs formalwear, not especially caring that it doesn't fit him particularly well.

Kate thanks the audience for nominating them for a National Television Award. She then also singles Sharon out for having won the "Favourite TV Expert" award, and I can't believe that anyone was sufficiently coked-up to come up with such an asinine category. Does being a judge on The X Factor really qualify you as an expert? We're talking about the woman who brought Chico through to the finals here, let's not forget. Anyway, lots of back-slapping goes on.

The first act of the night is Phillip. I am far more pleased to see him than usual, because as a general rule, being one of the first people to perform is likely to land you in the bottom two because people will have forgotten all about you by the time they actually come to vote. Phillip's VT features lots of references to last week where he says that he wasn't comfortable with the song, and that it really wasn't him. Louis waxes lyrical about how much of a find Phillip is, and how Louis let Phillip choose his own song this week. Those of you who watched last week's show will remember Phillip saying that he wanted to do a bit of rock 'n' roll, so Phillip gets down with his badass muthaphukkin self and sings...'Johnny B. Goode'. It wasn't really what I had in mind when he said he wanted to do rock 'n' roll last week; I assumed his emphasis was on the 'rock' element, not that he actually wanted to be Buddy Holly. Then again, if I were his manager, I wouldn't have given him anything too taxing. 'Come Clean' by Hilary Duff would have been my choice, since I suspect that's a vocal range he could just about handle. Mind you, Hilary Duff probably makes the more convincing badass of the two. And seriously here: did somebody here have an aneurysm for breakfast? How is 'Johnny B. Goode' relevant in any way to the modern commercial music market? Tell me, please, exactly who would consider actually releasing this song and expect to have a hit with it (not including, obviously, "ironic" cover versions such as might be done by the White Stripes). Because I for one am perplexed here. Rock 'n' roll of the clean-cut 1950s variety hasn't shifted units for a long time. Phillip looks about as comfortable in his performance as I suspect he would look on Mastermind - the twitching is back in full force, and can somebody please increase his dosage? Or possibly lower it. He slides across the floor during the axe solo, and it's just terrible. The boy can't dance, he can't particularly sing, and he's really having trouble getting the words out. What's worse is that since we now have two fewer acts than we started with, and yet the same duration of live show, the songs are longer than before, so the pain is almost doubled. I think it's a relief for everyone when it's over. Sharon gets all cackly and calls Phillip a closet rocker. Well, actually she makes an ill-advised comment about him "coming out of the closet" tonight, and on the basis of his dancing (in)ability, I'm still fairly certain he's heterosexual. Kate throws to Simon, and Simon is decidedly less than complimentary, likening the performance to Shakin' Stevens at a dodgy wedding. Louis calls across that Shakin' Stevens sold a lot of records. Yes, yes he did. IN THE 80S, YOU MORON. 20 years down the line, I'm really not sure that's relevant. He might have won Hit Me Baby One More Time this year, but the amount of record sales he got off the back of it was negligable at best. Philip says Shakin' Stevens is "the man", because Phillip really doesn't understand either. Louis makes a ridiculous comment about how he works with his acts and doesn't tell them what to sing, to which I say bullshit. This week, perhaps, but considering that was only a knee-jerk reaction to having been CAUGHT OUT ON LIVE TV last week saying you choose the songs alongside your contestants when that's actually a blatant lie, I really don't know what kind of credo Louis is expecting to get from that. Kate talks to Phillip, who says that it's a compliment to be compared to Shakin' Stevens, and that he enjoyed himself this week, and I really think he's beyond help by this point. Wave bye-bye to Phillip, children. [I eagerly await his appearance in Neighbours as Toady’s new best friend, following the honorable tradition of Lance and Connor. - Joel]

Next up is Brenda, and I breathe a sigh of relief because I might be slightly less inclined to kill myself whilst watching Brenda. Tonight she's singing 'Midnight Train To Georgia' and wow. I cannot describe how awesome it is to hear Brenda singing a song that doesn't require her to bellow it, but requires subtlety, empathy and passion, and to hear her knock it out of the park all the same. [Also, she looked hot in her pin-stripes. - Joel] It's also interesting to hear her singing this song after Louis compared her to Gladys Knight last week. For my money, this is exactly the sort of song that Brenda needs to be doing; I think she looks so comfortable on stage and she's never sounded better. I also like the fact that she sings "oooh oooh" rather than doing a trainlike "whoo whoo!", which is something I've never heard someone do in this song before. She gets the thumbs-up from Louis, who says that this is one of his favourite songs, and that she sang it beautifully. And as much as I hate to disagree with Louis, I think it must be almost impossible to dislike this song, so this is an excellent choice of song, although I don't know whether Brenda or Sharon gets the credit for that one. Simon is similarly full of praise for Brenda, saying that it was a great performance, and that the best thing he can say about it is that it didn't feel like she was singing somebody else's song, and again I really agree with him on that one. Sharon calls Brenda "spectacular", and tells her how much she admires her for living out her dreams. Brenda thanks the judges for their comments, and says that this is the first week she's had positive feedback from all three of them, and how proud she feels for having achieved that, and how she hopes to still be back next week to "rock it". I would advise Brenda to be cautious with language like that after what we just saw from Phillip. Kate asks Brenda if she feels unstoppable, and Brenda says that she's learning something new every week. I would like to note here that Katy, John and Dave are all wearing "awww" expressions on their faces, in direct contrast to their "oh, fuck off" looks throughout Phillip's performance. Despite being in the danger zone at the very beginning of the show, I don't think Brenda's in any danger this week.

We cut to the adverts, but not before Kate promises us Shayne and Chico after the break. I am momentarily "wtf?" wondering why we haven't got any groups on yet, until I realise that Simon only has two acts left, thanks to Louis, and that it was probably decided that putting them towards the end of the running order would give them more of a chance.

Coming back from the break, Louis introduces Shayne. Louis really isn't good at the introductions, by the way, since for everyone he just seems to say where they're from and how he thinks they've "got it". Shayne's VT is not very interesting; he talks [In his big gay voice. - Joel] about how he thought he'd be selling shoes in Manchester forever, but now his life has changed and he doesn't want it to end. Shayne's song for this week is 'Summer of '69' by Bryan Adams, or rather 'Shummer of '69', as Shayne sings it. Maybe turning the 's' sounds into 'sh' is Shayne's way of branding his songs, Chico-style. I'm quite disappointed, in all honesty. He was so good singing 'If You're Not The One' last week, but there's very little about this performance that's compelling in any way. He's quite nasal again, and I can't help wondering if maybe this might have been a better song to give to Phillip this week. This style of song just isn't Shayne's niche at all, he should be singing charming songs and making your mum fall in love with him. Also, I take issue with his personal grooming this week: he either needs to have a shave or grow his hair a little bit, because when his stubble is the same length as his hair, he goes from adorably-unkempt to sort-it-out-scruffy and I don't approve. The camera cuts to Louis bobbing his head in time with the music, and Katy giggles. The final note is a little iffy, and generally I think Shayne looks uncomfortable here, although I will credit him by saying he's trying very hard to look as though that isn't true. Kate asks Sharon for her comments, and Sharon is momentarily lost for words. Then she tells Shayne, "I've got something to give you. It's warm, it smells nice and it feels good. When can I give it to you?" Sharon needs to stop reacting quite so rabidly every time she sees Shayne, and Shayne needs to file a restraining order post haste. Anyway, Shayne's answer to her question is "right now" and they both start doing that testicle-grabbing gesture from last week. There's a silence, and then Simon goes "but what is it?" Hee. Louis asks if it's a cup of tea. Hee, again. Louis, stop making me like you, albeit momentarily. "Okay, well it is Hallowe'en," says Simon, rolling his eyes. HA! Sharon declares the performance "fabulous", while Simon is not quite as moved. He says that last week he felt that it was a one-person competition, whereas this week it was merely okay. He doesn't think Shayne has enough "grit" in his voice to carry this song. Shayne starts spouting off about how you don't need gravel in your voice to sing this song, about how he really likes the song, and was really feeling it, and loved performing it, and how that's all that matters. Except that none of those points really justify why you don't need a gravelly snarl to pull this song off (which you totally do, Simon's right as usual). I've said it before, Shayne: be quiet and look pretty. Sharon says that Shayne can get away with singing whatever he wants, and that he could get away with singing naked. Unless I misunderstood, and she actually wants him to sing 'Naked' by Louise, which might be fun.

What time is it? Tool time! Oh, sorry: Chico time! Well, you say potato. The VT shows us the moment last week when Kate revealed that the public had voted to save Chico. "Wow," says Katy. "When he throws his head back like that, he really looks like Nigel Havers." Hee. Sharon tells us that Chico's been working really hard to stay in the contest. Chico walks onto the stage and has four girls in red dresses as his backing singers. For one horrible moment I think he's going to sing 'Lady in Red'. I also wonder just how soul-destroying it must be to be Chico's backing singer. Anyway, the music for 'Livin' La Vida Loca' starts up, and Chico mugs along. He's speak-singing again, and really, isn't the joke over now? Can we not let this guy go home with what little dignity he has left? I really don't know what percentage of people are laughing with him as opposed to at him, but the whole thing is leaving a bad taste in my mouth. He really is a one-trick pony, and he's not doing a good job on this song; he fluffs his words several times, and on the occasions where he does actually try to sing, it's painfully evident that he has a week voice. I guess that he can't do such a number on this performance when you don't have the very exciting possibility that he'll be electrocuted at any given moment. In one of the instrumental breaks, he stagedives into the audience and dances with a conveniently-placed cute toddler, in a manner that is no way staged or contrived. He then proceeds back onto the stage and makes some alarming masturbation-esque gestures. [With a cut right back to said toddler, in a horribly paedo-friendly fashion. - Joel] I would try to argue that this is a family show, but I think Sharon's testicle-obsession killed that concept some time ago. If pushed to say something complimentary about this performance, I could mention the fact that I didn't notice any abortive runs or references to Sharon, which is a mild improvement, I suppose. Louis says that it was great fun and a great performance, and that Chico looked like he was enjoying himself. Chico says that he really enjoyed himself for the first time this week, and why does everyone insist on saying that all the goddamned time? If we're going to create an X Factor drinking game, I suggest you drink everytime someone says that. You'll be shitfaced before the programme is halfway over, and I'm sure it'll be far more enjoyable that way. Simon mentions Chico's entertainment value again, but compares the performance to "the Armenian entrant for the 1973 Eurovision Song Contest". Hee. "Did they win?" asks Louis. "No, they got nil points," replies Simon. Louis tells Simon that the public must like Chico because they're voting for him. Yes, but only one week out of two, you dimwit. He's only still here because your pathetic vendetta against Simon saved his ass in the first live show. Simon comments that the contestants are getting lippy this series. They are, and what's more Simon, they are doing themselves no favours, let me tell you. Sharon says that this song was written for Chico. I'd like to see documentary evidence of that, please. Kate asks Chico what he would like to say to the judges, and Chico wants it to be known that he loves Simon. Yawn. He then says that Madonna is no Aretha Franklin, Ricky Martin is no Stevie Wonder, and that Chico is no Michael Jackson. To which I respond that Madonna is extremely talented at writing, producing, controlling her own image and setting precedents for future music trends [but her voice still sucks - Joel], and that Ricky Martin brought a fantastic ass and lots of speculation regarding his sexuality [-but his voice still sucks - Joel]. What exactly would be Chico's lasting contribution to popular culture ? [A voice that sucks. - Joel] Chico starts to wander off the stage and Kate calls him back because she hasn't read out the voting numbers yet. Kate, if you need the person on stage in order to give out the numbers, you really should have just let Chico go, since by encouraging people to vote for him you are wasting your time and mine.

After the ads, and another opportunity to win a sample of the X Factor lifestyle we're back to the show, and finally it's Simon's turn. The Conway Sisters are up, and in their VT they say that they felt the competition had only just started last week. Well, it had: it was only the second live show, girls. They admit to feeling vulnerable because two groups have already been ousted. Simon understands their sense of vulnerability and admits to being incredibly nervous himself. The girls come on the stage and sing 'Total Eclipse of the Heart'. Like a lot of their performances, the first few notes are slightly shaky. I think they really need to realise that they should spend as little time as possible getting one of them to sing solo, because their performances only come alive when the multi-layered harmonies kick in, for they are a thing of beauty. Notably, this time Marie is not the only one who gets to sing solo lines, and the various verse lines are distributed quite evenly among the sisters. Sinead actually gets the lion's share this week, I think. They sing the final refrain a few too many times, but on the whole it was a nice performance. Not great, but nice. Louis plays the Irish card as usual, because the man is obsessed, calls it "a brave song to take on" and says that he thinks Marie has a great commercial voice. Sharon says that this song is a very difficult song to do four-part harmonies on, but that they did it justice. What follows is interesting: Simon is their mentor, but is actually less complimentary than the other judges. He says that there were good parts of the song, but that the middle was iffy. He wonders if he picked a too difficult song for them, and prays the audience will give them another chance. This is refreshing, especially after Louis's constant inane assertions that Phillip is wonderful just because he's too insecure to criticise any of his own acts. The Conway Sisters love having Simon as their mentor, because they find his honesty useful. They say that they're taking the judges' comments on board, and that they're learning and developing each week (another strong candidate for DRINK!). Louis interrupts Kate to call them "the new Nolan sisters". Can we also add a DRINK! for every unnecessary and outdated reference to a successful-a-long-time-ago act that Louis makes?

Louis introduces a girl who we nearly lost last week; "her name is Chin Eye". Er, no, Louis, her name is Chenai. She is not named after facial features, nor is she Chinese. In her VT, Chenai says that she was in the bottom two last week and doesn't want to be there again. She pulls a massive sob story out regarding her family, who apparently live in the ghetto, [A ghetto of detached houses with blond wood flooring. - Joel] and how she wants a better life for them. I remain entirely unmoved, because it's all far too low-budget ITV1 9pm pseudo-documentary for my tastes. She says she's going to give it 200% this week, and I really wish people would learn that it is not possible to give more than 100%. Hyperbole is so annoying. Her outfit is better this week. She sings Mariah Carey's 'Hero', and Joel warned me that she was going to do this. It's a very difficult song to take on, and Chenai isn't doing it justice. The tone of her voice is all wrong - it's too deep, and not fragile enough. Mariah Carey sang this with just the right amount of voice-breaking emotion, and Chenai's performance is lifeless in comparison. She also has a massive mouth, which I hadn't noticed until tonight. [I think it was the make-up job. Dear make-up people, when your artist has lips like two piping bags filled with sausage meat, do not slather on the lipgloss. - Joel] Her phrasing is awkward and mealy-mouthed, and it just feels as though she's fighting against the song rather than working with it. Sharon says that it takes a lot of guts to take on a song like that, and thinks she did well. Does the Queen of Darkness ever really criticise anyone? Simon says that it's difficult to judge Chenai, because he can't help but like her. Which is weird, because during her performance, Katy and I were having a similar conversation about how it's hard to judge Chenai because neither of us like her. We just find her attitude and reliance on sob stories really uninspiring. Anyway, Simon says that the performance was "brave" and "passionate", but that he's not going to patronise Chenai; he thinks the other two girls in the competition are better singers. I assume he means Maria and Brenda rather than any of the Conways. Chenai's response is "yeah, well, they're 15 years older than me!", which goes a long way to explain why Katy and I just don't like her. Take it on board, Chenai, use it and learn from it. Don't just shrug and go "yeah, well, there's nothing I can do about it!" Maria and Brenda are both far better singers than you, and you don't just have to compete with them; you'll be competing against singers of all ages in the unlikely event that you ever release a record, and no one will accept your age as a reason why you don't sing as well as your competitors. I'm wondering if some of Andy's smugness has infected Chenai. Louis goes for the burn: "I know it's Hallowe'en, but does Simon have to be such a witch?" He looks around and appeals to the audience for a laugh, which doesn't follow. It's truly awesome.

Another advert break. I cannot believe this show is STILL ON.

Sharon's turn. "This man has a heart as big as his voice." Yeah, and an ego to match: it's Andy. In the VT, Sharon takes responsibility for the song choice last week. Andy is more humble in the VT than he was on the show last week; I wonder if someone had a quiet word in his ear. He comes on stage wearing a dinner jacket, and there is a stool waiting to be sat on. This bodes ill. He sings 'Unforgettable', and Jesus wept, is this "sing songs that no one in their right mind would dream of releasing in this day and age" week? We're looking for people with x-factor, not lounge lizard factor. I'm already incredibly bored by this performance and we're not even at the end of the first verse. This week has been such a mess, it really has. With the exception of Brenda, I'm this close to washing my hands of everyone who's performed so far. I will admit that Andy has a lovely tone to his voice, but that still doesn't counteract the sheer boringness of the overall performance. He gets off the stool, despite the lack of a noticeable key change [but the audience has this awesome Pavlovian reaction and cheers anyway, simply for the act of moving to a standing position. - Joel]. He hits a long note which I'm fairly sure is sharp, and the look on Andy's face suggests that he notices this too. At the end of his performance, someone in the audience makes this bizarre "beeeewwwwwwwwwwwww beeeeewwwwwwwwwwww beeewwwwwwwwwwww" noise, which sounds uncannily like a missile being primed. Aim it at me, please? I can't take much more of this. Simon says that last week Andy took the criticism like a man and didn't sulk. Really? That's not at all what it looked like to me. He also calls it the best performance of the night? Again, really? Wow, evidently I wasn't kidding when I said what a mess the show has been this week. Simon says that this is the direction that Andy's recording career should take, and I hope I speak for all of us when I say PLEASE GOD NO. Louis agrees with Simon all the way and is typically hyperbolic. Sharon pronounces Andy "unforgettable", and can we can it with the trite puns already? My brain has already switched itself off and gone on dirty protest here. Sharon says she is blessed to have him in her group. Andy is all "no, no, I'm the blessed one", and vomit. Sharon pronounces Andy dignified. Second verse, same as the first: really? Sharon then takes this opportunity to tell the viewing audience that Simon and Louis are not bullying her, and that you shouldn't believe what you read in "those nasty papers". Simon promptly snogs Sharon's face off. Hee! Louis looks jealous. Of Sharon. Andy tells the judges that he takes their criticism on board and learns from it (drink!). He's definitely had a few humility classes since last week. [I have to say I thought he was awesome this week. I still want to smash him in his smug face, but I really really rated his performance. - Joel]

Next up, Simon and the groups. He wants to give a shout-out to The X Factor's biggest fan, Captain Ken Kelwin, who is 95 years old today. If this is what I have to look forward to in my old age, I'm cancelling my pension and going skydiving on my fiftieth birthday with no parachute. Journey South is next; Simon introduces them as his "second and only group". I beg your pardon? How does that even work? And I bet the Conway Sisters feel loved right now. In their VT Andy talks about how they're "almost celebrities" now. Yeah, you're almost a lot of things. He says that it hasn't affected them: "we keep our feet on the ground because we're northerners." Oh fuck off, and take your antiquated regional stereotypes with you. Simon refers to the song he's chosen for them as a massive challenge. Oh God; they walk onstage and Carl's superfluous guitar is back with us [And now it’s electric! - Joel]. They sing 'Angel of Harlem', and a few high notes aside, I fail to see how this song is any kind of challenge for them. It's still pub rock. I'm also willing to bet you that Andy's electric guitar is plugged into absolutely nothing. We're "treated" to a close-up of Carl's gnashers, and I'd recommend he books an appointment with the dentist at his earliest convenience. I went this week, so I can recommend a good one. Louis loves the guys, but isn't crazy about the song. He then proceeds to remind Simon which is which, because that joke isn't old at all. Andy is indignant: "Simon knows our names." Sharon disagrees with Louis: she didn't like this song before, but she loves their rendition of it. Simon turns to Louis: "You do know it's an Irish song, don't you?" ZING! Simon thinks that we have more talent in this competition than in any other competition he's ever been a part of. Whatever, Simon. Then Simon makes this bizarre comment about how he was sitting with them six months ago when they were depressed and wondering where their career was going, and...did he know them before the competition? If not, how long has this damned show been in production? Merciful deity. Carl starts talking about "what's right for Journey South". Stop talking about your band in the third person, you pretentious idiot. Louis says he doesn't see them making a rock album; Carl says he'll be happy with any album at all. Great! Can they make an electropop album? I might care then.

Adverts. You guys, I think there might be a new channel launching called ITV4. I'm not sure, though. If only someone had thought to trail it repeatedly...

The last of Louis's acts: Nicholas. He babbles incoherently in his VT, as per usual. I really find him ever so ineloquent. I'm also fed up of them padding out the VTs with footage of the contestants wandering down the street in big coats looking moody. Nicholas comes onto the stage, and interesting yellow jacket there. He sings 'Let's Stay Together', and I have to admit that I really don't like this song. Katy thinks that Nicholas sounds out of tune. I really don't get the appeal of Nicholas - I just find all of his performances to be dull and lifeless. There's no connection when he looks into the camera, and I get the distinct impression that he's tuned out mentally for the most part, already wondering what sort of bling he can afford with the winner's contract. He's wearing that fugly rhinestone belt with his name on it again, too. He namechecks Sharon at one point, and stop that right now. Do you really consider Chico a good role model? Because right now I'm severely tempted to vote for everyone else in the competition once just so that it counts as a negative vote against you, kiddo. If you want to be in the bottom two that much, it's all yours. And don't say "thank you" in the middle of the song either. The performance goes on forever and ever and everzzzzzzzzzzzz. Simon pronounces the performance "good" and says that Nicholas is growing on him. While he thought last week's performance was "sensational", however, this week's was "lazy" and "predictable". He thinks Nicholas is someone who needs to be tested every week so that he doesn't get complacent. Judging by the song choices he's made, I think Louis thinks the audience's patience is what needs to be tested each week. Sharon's comment: "Move over Craig David." Yes please, move over Craig David. Over there, a long long way. Unless it means that Nicholas is mean to replace you, in which case come back Craig David, and UHU your feet to the floor. Louis says that he doesn't know of anyone else that could go up on stage each week and sing Al Green and Marvin Gaye songs in the way that Nicholas has. I see no reason why Trevor or James couldn't have done precisely that. Kate asks Nicholas what he thinks, and Nicholas attempts to sass Simon. There's an awesome shot of Simon doing a facepalm. Word, Simon. Nicholas disagrees with the claims that he needs to be tested, and says that there's no point giving his best now because that leaves him nowhere to go later. Assuming you'll still be here later, you arrogant nitwit; now kindly leave the stage and take your enormous sense of entitlement with you.

This week's final contestant, and I swear to God they put her at the end because they know it's the only reason that will keep me from turning this shit off and watching Strictly Come Dancing instead: Maria. Sharon quotes West Side Story in her introduction, which would be cute if I hadn't been planning to do that at some point in the future. Curses. In her VT, Maria says that she's "stepping outside of [her] comfort zone" with this new song, and that it's a huge risk, but reiterates how much she loves being in the competition. The song in question is '(Take A Little) Piece of my Heart', and for once I actually see the risk in choosing this song. I needn't be worried, because Maria is awesome, as usual. I love the control she has over her voice. Like Brenda, she's making the song her own and I love her for it. She rocks the key change, and throws in a couple of runs just because she can. Hear it and weep, Chico. It's a fantastic end to a pisspoor show, I think. My only problem is that going last this week means she's very likely to be in or near The Spot of Doom next week, and I hope she survives. The audience goes absolutely nuts when she finishes. Simon nods appreciatively and tells Maria that it was a great song and "fantastically sang" (sic) and that Maria, like most of the over-25s, shows a very strong desire to win the competition. He adds that she's fighting for her votes and that she gave it 1000% (sigh), but that he'd like to see her sing some contemporary songs and show how she fits into today's market, rather than singing standards all the time. And while I get that this is important for all new artists, I have a massive problem with that comment being made here for the following reasons:

1. This entire show has been filled with "old standards". If you want to hear how people will sound in the current musical climate, then give them more recent songs to sing.
2. Many acts have been singing old standards every week, not just Maria. Andy, Brenda, Nicholas, Chenai and Phillip are also repeat offenders.
3. At which point precisely did Steve Brookstein demonstrate an ability to sing modern, envelope-pushing music? Likewise G4.
4. It's such a ridiculous double-standard to say that Maria needs to sing more modern material when less than half an hour ago you said that Andy's recording career should consist entirely of Nat King Cole songs.

And breathe. He suggests that Maria sing a more contemporary song last week. And the thing is, there are loads of songs from the last year or so that Maria would do a brilliant job of: 'Since U Been Gone' by Kelly Clarkson (if Chico can repeat the songs he performed at boot camp, I see no reason why Maria can't), 'Dip It Low' by Christina Milian, 'Caught in a Moment' by Sugababes, 'No Good Advice' by Girls Aloud, 'Some Girls' by Rachel why do I get the horrible feeling that Maria's inevitable "contemporary" song next week will be 'Angels' or 'Flying Without Wings' or some other pile of MOR, overplayed, schmaltzy turd? Dear Sharon, please, please, please let Maria do 'Since U Been Gone' next week. Louis thinks it was a "powerhouse" performance, and one of his "top three" performances tonight, and sweet God above, if he's ranking her below Nicholas I am going to kick his ass so fucking hard. He does, however, add that she deserves a record deal and that he wants to see her here next week. Sharon thought Maria was great anyway, but that she was unbelievably good tonight, and reiterates that Maria needs to be here next week. Maria thanks the judges for their comments, and says that she does fit in to the modern music scene because she can write her own songs, and I don't really see how that's relevant to the projected career of the winner of this show, nor do I like being reminded of Arrogant Michelle but I love Maria so I'll let it slide. Maria gives a gushing speech that wouldn't look out of place in the hands of an Oscar winner, but again, she's so darned cute that you can't help but forgive it. She says that she's doing everything she can every week to show what she's got. An interesting concept there, huh Nicholas?

A montage of tonight's performances. I think the editors hate the Conway Sisters, judging by the clip that they chose. Maria doesn't do very well out of it either.

Results show

I miss the beginning of the show due to a last-minute toilet dash. There's professionalism for you. We're treated to the montage all over again, and very few people come out of it well. This really was a poor week by most people's standards. Brenda was by far the best of the night, I think. Maria did a good job, but I expect that of Maria anyway. Ed, who arrived somewhere near the end of the episode of Peep Show that we were watching before the break, asks me to explain what the categories are. Dave then makes us all suicidal by pointing out that we're all either in or almost in the upper age group. [That bastard. - Joel] Kate welcomes back the contestants and judges, and it's alarming how much they all look like they're about to be thrown into a volcano. Even Chico looks depressed. Who's safe this week? Chenai. Maria. Nicholas. Andy. Shayne. Journey South. Brenda. "The final act coming back next week is..." Oooh, the Conway Sisters! No, Phillip! No, Chico! The second half of that sentence couldn't possibly be "...going to find out after the break", because they've done that the past two weeks and this show is never predictable! Oh, wait: "...going to find out after the break." Well, colour me shocked.

Adverts. We return, and Kate thanks us for casting over a million votes tonight. Not that impressive when you consider that's like one in seven people who watched this show actually bothered to vote, and that's not even bringing into account people who voted more than once. Somewhat shamefully, I admit to voting three times: once for Maria, once for Brenda and once for the Conway Sisters. The final act coming back next week is...the Conway Sisters. Hurrah! It doesn't matter who goes, we're all winners! Yay! Phillip and Chico are the bottom two, in case anyone wasn't paying attention. Phillip starts to wander off stage; Kate has to call him back. Sharon asks Louis and Sharon to give their contestants some advice, which they do in a roundabout, not-really-helpful sort of way. Kate asks Simon for his advice, and he says that he can't really offer any, but that what he promises to do is make his decision based on who has performed the best tonight. What a novel concept, Louis.

Phillip's twitchy rendition of 'Johnny B. Goode' is first, and really hasn't improved at all. Chico performs 'Livin' La Vida Loca' again, and the staged dancing-with-toddler moment is gone (perhaps it was past her bedtime) but little else has changed. Kate joins the boys on stage and goes to the judges for their votes, emphasising, due to the confusion of recent weeks, that the judges must specify the contestant they wish to send home. Sharon opts to send Phillip home, and Louis opts for Chico, so no real surprises there. It's up to Simon to cast the deciding vote, and it must be good for him to be in this position at long last. I'm not in any doubt that he is well aware of who he wants to send home, but he takes some time to mention that seeing these two performances back to back has been a "bizarre" experience of the night, and that he believes the right people were in the bottom two tonight. Judging by the absence of a pantomimic "boooooo!!!", I suspect the audience agrees. Simon has made his decision based on who he thinks the public would like to see back next week, and I think it speaks volumes for Phillip's appeal when everyone in my living room was begging Simon to keep Chico. Simon opts to send Phillip home, and it's all very sad, except for those who, like me, neither like Phillip nor care about his fate. We see his X Factor journey, including his cute first audition and subsequent rapid plunge into crapness. Louis joins Phillip on stage to say that "it's not the end" and that Phillip will be the new Shakey. Louis, the final appearance on this show is generally the end for the act that wins the damn thing, so I'm fairly certain this is the end for Phillip. Smell ya later, Twitchy! [Hooray! Phuck off back to the Phifties, Phillip! - Joel]

Sunday, October 23, 2005

What. The. Hell. Was. That?

Kate comes onto the stage. She looks dreadful. She’s wearing an emerald green blouse which is ruffled in the bodice, has gauze sleeves and solid cuffs with brass buttons that go halfway up to her elbow. Her black trousers have an unfortunate puckering at the front, so she looks like she has a penis. Or a shenis, if you will. She introduces the contestants and the judges and the audience screams. Sharon’s blouse has big dangly cuffs like a witch. Simon’s suit is really well cut and fits him perfectly. Louis’s is not and makes him look even podgier than he is.
First up are the 25+s. Sharon has on some enormous earrings that looks like diamond-studded Quavers. It’s Andy first. We have some to-camera stuff about how he takes confidence from the judges’ nice comments, and how it means a lot that his wife and kids are proud. He sings ‘You To Me Are Everything.’ It’s note-perfect and completely effortless, of course. At one point his mic fucks up and the sound level drops totally. He gets to sing a lot more than one verse, one chorus but given that this show is lasting about thirty-seven hours tonight, I guess it’s not that surprising. Simon says that he hated the song, and that last week Andy was fantastic but this week it was a bit karaoke. Louis agrees, saying that he’s wasted on the song. Sharon, missing the point entirely, says ‘He’s trying to intimidate you!’, even though they’re saying that Andy is great and that the song is far too easy for him. Which it totally is. Kate asks what Andy thinks and he straps his smug on and says ‘I’ve done tremendously well!’, which is entirely beside the point. He makes dialling motions as Kate feeds us the numbers. I’m starting to dislike Andy a bit. [Me too. The dialling motions are kind of ironic, because he was phoning it in this week, big time. – Steve]
Next up is Chenai. Louis introduces her by saying ‘She didn’t get through last year, Sharon.’ Which: we know, Louis. Shut up. Chenai says it’s overwhelming to be there and she’s worked really hard for it. Her outfit is much better, a black top and jeans, though there’s a big glittery patch on the thigh. It looks like the Tin Man came on her. Also, her boobs are kind of hanging out. I take it back, it’s not a good outfit. I say ‘her tits are hanging out,’ and my viewing-mate Kali says ‘so they should be.’ She sings ‘Young Hearts, Run Free.’ Louis is a dick and can’t choose songs. [This song is getting a really poor rap on talent shows. I remember Susanne destroying it on Pop Idol 2. I mean, I loved Susanne but even she knows she sucked that week. And Chenai isn’t doing much better. – Steve] Chenai sounds panicky and rushed. Her phrasing is awful, all hiccupy. She hits several bum notes and kind of runs out of breath. The last note is lovely and flawless, however. Sharon says that Chenai looks great and has come a long way in a week. Simon says she seemed nervous and desperate. Chenai said that up there was the most confidence she’s ever had, which is kind of sad. Louis, of course, says ‘she wants this so bad’ and ‘I hope everyone in Bradford votes for you.’ I like Chenai a lot but Louis is doing her NO favours with these totally trite and irrelevant comments and abysmal song choices. [Enough about Bradford, why should the rest of the country vote for her? Is Bradford the Florida/Ohio of the UK or something? - Steve]
4tune are up. Simon says that Louis will have to eat his words. They’re all in jeans and white shirts. The lead guy (I think it was Michael) was singing very high, but wasn’t up in his nasal. The vocal arrangements are extremely clever, and it sounds like there are dozens of them there. I just noticed that I’ve been switching tenses in this recap. Oh well, just call it breaking the boundaries or something. Anyway. Sharon says that they looked relaxed and that she loved it. Louis says he still noticed some tuning problems and that ‘I don’t think anyone’s going to make a fortune on 4tune,’ to which Simon responds, ‘that wasn’t rehearsed at all, was it Louis?’ Burn! (There’ll be more of those later.) Simon says that the competition is better for having them in it. Then Louis gets Simon to name the 4tune boys, which it seems he can’t do. If he can’t, that’s really piss-poor of him, but it’s also completely irrelevant to the standard of their performance and only matters in Louis’s little world of point-scoring. [Also, one year on from the first series, you just try to find me someone who knows which member of G4 is which, and who doesn’t refer to them as the fat one, the gay-looking one, and the other two. – Steve]
Sharon says that next contestant is ‘the black sheep of the show but he’s really not that baaad.’ Oh Sharon. [That was the joke? I didn’t even realise she’d said it like that. Sharon, your comic timing is wretched. Sorry. – Steve] Chico, for it is he, feels low and says ‘I am not a joke,’ and just wants Simon to say ‘that wasn’t bad.’ And so, how does Chico prove he’s not a one-trick pony? He stands and sings a flawless rendition of ‘Somewhere’ from West Side Story. HA! Not really. He confirms everything we think about him by singing ‘Play That Funky Music White Boy’; doing the splits; playing with the mic stand; doing growls; saying ‘check this out!’; trying to do runs that he really cannot pull off, vocally; and ending the song by saying ‘It’s Chico Time.’ Dick dick dick dick DICK. Louis says that Chico’s a great entertainer, and lots of people in the chart can’t sing. Simon interjects, saying ‘I disagree Louis, I think Girls Aloud can sing.’ Burn! Though I’m not sure who on. [I didn’t think that burn worked at all. For one, as I pointed out last week, Louis has about as much involvement with Girls Aloud on a day-to-day basis as I do with the Danish pharmaceutical industry. For another, Girls Aloud were put together by a public vote on a televised talent show not entirely unlike The X Factor, so to use them as an example of unimpressive popstars completely discredits this entire show. Speaking of which, back to Chico. – Steve] Simon says that Chico is a nice guy, he takes it seriously and that the competition would possibly be dull without him. Sharon cackles with glee, all ‘Yay! I love Chico’s cock!’ Being remarkably humble, Chico says that he’s going to work, give it his ‘bestest’ and that he really appreciated Simon’s comments. He’s still an insane loser who can’t sing, but at least his attitude was decent there.
Next up is Nicholas who says how weird it is to be there, and talks about how a few weeks ago no-one looked at him in the street and now they’re voting for him. Non-sequitur but never mind. He’s wearing a belt that says NICHOLAS in rhinestones. It’s hideous. He sings Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get It On’ and is awesome. He has a lot of energy, and has clearly been reading this blog because he only falsettos for a couple of notes. [Someone from the show is totally reading this blog. How else do you explain Kate and Simon specifying that you don’t get Ozzy and Kelly as part of Sharon’s lifestyle earlier on? – Steve] Simon calls it the best performance of the night, and says that he takes some credit for making Louis chose a decent song. Sharon and Louis agree that he was great. [I just couldn’t agree with this at all. I find Nicholas alarmingly cold as a performer, and I remain unmoved by his performances so far. – Steve]
The Conway Sisters are next. Simon names them as they come out, in a complete ‘Suck it, Louis’ moment. He admits that the song choice was wrong last week. The lead vocalist (Marie) is in a red dress, and the rest are in the same River-Islandy get up as last week. I can see what they were aiming for, but the division between lead and backing singers doesn’t work, style-wise. They sing Josh Groban’s ‘You Raise Me Up’, which is soon to be Westlife’s You Raise Me Up, which explains the hideous pimping of it on this show. They sit on stools, the better to get off them in the key change, which they duly do. They’re really very good. They go from singing with immense power to singing very softly in one breath, which is not an easy thing to do. Louis says they were much better than last week, Sharon says they sang beautifully, Simon apologises for letting them down last week and says he thinks they were fantastic. It may have been here that he said ‘you performed fantastic.’ The entire judging panel, and indeed all the contestants, has immense trouble with adverbs. [Fucking hell, yes. That annoys me even more than Louis, believe it or not. – Steve]
Maria’s next. Yay, Maria! She was very excited to get votes, she interviews. She’s wearing knee high boots and a silver mini-dress that’s got this Peter Pan-style thing going on at bottom, it’s all pointy. She looks as hot as ever. She sings ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ by Michael Jackon and is pretty great. I wasn’t blown away, but she really does have awesome stage presence. I honestly could not look away while she was on stage. And it occurred to me afterwards that no-one else in the contest could even have got close to pulling off this song, (I think even Nicholas, the obvious candidate, would have had trouble with it) so kudos for that. Simon says ‘I love you, you are one hell of a talented girl. Loved it.’ Louis simply says ‘You are a star.’ Sharon congratulates her for coming back after not making it last year and doing so well. Maria says that ‘coming from such significant people’ the comments mean a lot to her, and she thanks the judges (and the audience) for the opportunity.
Apparently, Phillip has no confidence, which is why he’s so terrible. [He also says in the intro VT that he wants to be “a star”, and that “that’s all it’s down to”, which, especially when coming directly after Maria’s comment that all she wants to be is a singer, really doesn’t do him any favours in my book. – Steve] He sings ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ and, well, ow. It’s awful. He’s still all hunched up and jerky shoulders. [Totally. He’s got a twitching habit that puts Rose McGowan to shame. – Steve] His voice is really deep and sounds American. He hits some truly horrendous notes, missing the target by a country mile. His phrasing is awful too – he keeps singing ‘I can fly higher than an Igor,’ which gives me brilliant images of sewn-together hunchbacks flapping through the sky saying ‘Yeth, mathter.’ There are a couple of moments where you can see that he’s capable of an excellent performance, but in a contest like this ‘good in parts’ is nowhere near good enough. Simon says it was ‘as flat as a pancake’ and when the audience boos he says ‘don’t boo me, I’m not the one who was singing!’ Burn! Simon’s really on form tonight. Simon goes on to say that Louis can claim Phillip’s nervous, but so is everyone else and it’s not a good enough excuse. Louis says that it’s different because Phillip’s REALLY nervous, and that ‘you weren’t in his dressing room, I was.’ Simon deadpans ‘I’d be nervous if you were in my dressing room!’ BURN! I told you Simon was on form. [At which point I started absent-mindedly doodling Steve Heart Simon on the back of my hand. – Steve] The entire audience cheers. Louis makes some stuttering comeback about having to get through the make-up artists, but it’s dumb and pointless. Sharon says that she doesn’t know about flat, but the song was far too big for Phillip. Simon agrees. Louis says they chose it together. Simon then totally sticks the dagger into Louis by saying ‘If he was my artist, what would you be saying?’ and Louis really has no way to respond to that so he faffles on about nervousness some more. Sharon then asks Phillip what he thought of the song and he says ‘I didn’t particularly chose that song,’ and that Louis suggested it and Phillip didn’t disagree. Thus the complete sham that is Louis’s managerial style is totally exposed and it’s kind of hilarious. God, he’s vile. [And I like to think that this backs up my comment from last week about how this was also true of Nicholas but that he’s too much of a pussy to admit it on TV. – Steve] Phillip would like to sing rock and roll, is the upshot of all that.
One of Journey South has a baby that he’s leaving at home to be there. Simon says they’re special because they’re so close. They come out on stage and one has a guitar. I still don’t know, or particularly care, which member of this particular shitshow is which. They sing ‘Desperado’ and while it’s much better than when they sang it at Simon’s villa, with some clever vocal layering where they join in mid-line and stuff, I still don’t like them. [And halfway through I realise that I’m fairly sure this is the song The Conway Sisters sang at boot camp that I didn’t recognise at the time. Journey South? Meh. – Steve] They mistake volume for vocal quality. Sharon says they’re natural and appeal to everyone. Not me! Louis says they deserve their break, and that they’re better than Robson and Jerome, who Simon had a lot of success with. Well yeah, they are, but that’s kind of like saying they’re better than the sound of a rusty tin can being fed into a waste disposal. It’s not exactly high praise. Simon says they have no gimmicks [except the entirely surplus-to-requirements guitar that they had tonight – Steve] and no chips on their shoulders. They do seem like nice guys, but musically, they can still bite me.
Brenda got a taste of being on stage and ‘I have to say I quite like it!’ (cackle). She sings Fontella Bass’s ‘Rescue Me.’ She starts off very low-key and doesn’t really go from there. It’s flawless, in terms of hitting the notes, phrasing and good breathing technique, all that. But it’s kind of boring to my mind, which is very weird for a version of ‘Rescue Me.’ Didn’t make sit up and take notice, at all. Simon says that Brenda sums up ‘the reason we were right to let older contestants in.’ He says she’s infectious and a great performer, but ‘I don’t think you’ll win.’ Sharon: ‘OI!’ Simon: ‘I’m normally right.’ They get into a big fight about what Simon said (which is totally right, I would be stunned if Brenda won this contest, and I do really like her) and Simon, for the idiots in the audience and at home, has to reiterate that he thinks Brenda is ‘very, very good.’ Louis says Brenda reminds him of Gladys Knight, because that’s the only black woman he can think of and as far as Louis is concerned they’re all the same. Seriously – ‘Midnight Train to Georgia’ compared to Brenda belting out ‘Son Of A Preacher Man’ and ‘Rescue Me.’ Not that similar. They talk about how Brenda’s left her kids and she says ‘I’m missing my babies a lot…but Mummy doesn’t want to come home!’ which was kind of great.
Last up is Shayne. Getting through last week was the best day of his life. He gives a little wink and a wave as he comes onto the stage. (Not like that! Ew.) He sings ‘If You’re Not The One’ by Bedingfield (Male) and is really rather good. He nails the high notes. He’s a wee bit nasal, maybe, and perhaps sings a bit too softly, but he does really well. [I have to admit something here: I really, really hate this song. I just find it cloying and emotionally manipulative in the worst possible way; it’s the musical equivalent of crocodile tears. I had a massive argument about that with my sister once when she tried to put her new Daniel Bedingfield CD on on Christmas Day – not one of my finest moments. So yes, I hate this song. And yet Shayne made it bearable, which is high praise indeed. Also, as much as this shames me to admit, I’ve developed something of a boycrush on Shayne. He reminds me of Will Young in his Idol days. Contented sigh! – Steve] Sharon asks him to do the high notes again, ‘so that I can hold your private parts.’ Strange woman. He obliges (with the notes, not the parts-holding) and manages it totally acapella. Sharon tells him to change his shirt next week because she doesn’t like the one he’s wearing, and Shayne says ‘shall I take it off?’ There’s a very strange bit where the crowd is screaming ‘Off! Off! Off!’, but he doesn’t. Simon says ‘Shayne, young man, that was outstanding,’ and gives credit to Louis for a good song choice. (Which it really was, much as it pains me to admit it. Two out of four this week, Louis. You’re getting there!) For some reason I really don’t understand, Shayne gets really aggressive and says stuff about how he knows he won’t always get good comments, and the negative comments, when he receives them, will only make him stronger. It was bolshy and weird, and not what you’d call good grace. [Yep. I can only assume this was a pre-rehearsed speech devised when he was expecting to get bad feedback, and to unleash it here was bizarre. Just be quiet and look pretty, Shayne. – Steve]

Results or What The FUCK Was That?

Right. I’m going to rattle through this. The ones that are definitely, in no particular order are: Chico (what the FUCK, part 1), Shayne, Maria (yay!), Journey South (boo!), Brenda, Nicholas, The Conway Sisters and Andy. Andy gets this awful smug ‘well, of course,’ look on his face and I become more convinced that I’m starting to dislike him. So adverts before we find out who the final safe one is. We come back and it’s Phillip (who was dreadful this week and dreadful last week), Chenai (who was kinda crappy this week and good last week) and 4Tune (who were great both weeks). The voting public being what it is, of course it’s Phillip who is safe (what the FUCK, part 2). [And I lost respect for the voting public at this precise moment. Phillip sucks so hard I’m surprised he hasn’t turned inside out. – Steve]
Louis says that all Chenai can do in the sing-off is do her best. Simon is really surprised that 4tune are there and thinks that they just need to do what they did before. Chenai is weeping away at this stage. I worry for her – if this is her reaction just to being towards the bottom of the votes I really don’t think she’s going to be able to make it in this contest. Anyway. She sings ‘Young Hearts, Run Free’ again and is SO much better. For some reason, now is the time she sings with confidence and enjoyment. Her volume is better, her phrasing is clearer, she’s in much better control of her voice, and she just looks like she’s loving it. [Really? I thought she was absolutely horrendous the second time around. She sounded like she was being strangled the entire time, to my ears. – Steve] [How odd. I did only hear it once. I maintain she seemed to be less nervous, if nothing else.-Joel] 4tune come out and sing exactly the same as they did before, but that’s mainly because they didn’t really have much room for improvement.

Simon says that it’s not personal, but he’s sending home Chenai. Louis says it’s not personal, but he’s sending home 4tune. Of course and of course. Can’t really fault either of them. It’s down to Sharon’s choice and she’s super-distraught. ‘Do I break one person’s heart or four people’s?’ Louis says ‘I did it last week’ and Sharon wails ‘you stuck up for me, you kept my act in.’ The audience hollers and wails and is generally insane. Sharon says ‘Chenai, we have a history.’ Louis says something about Chico, and Simon says ‘Shut up Louis.’ Louis says ‘Chico, I kept you last week.’ My notes say ‘grinning cunt.’ Simon says, ‘Shut up Louis, it’s got nothing to do with it.’ Louis starts saying ‘Keep Chenai’ over and over and over again. Simon says, ‘Louis! Sharon, just do it.’ Kate threatens to go to a public vote unless Sharon makes a decision. Louis is still chanting ‘keep Chenai.’ Simon says ‘say the name’ to Sharon, and it’s really obvious from his tone that he doesn’t have any hope for 4tune. Sharon goes on to prove him right by saying Chenai, which leads to confusion, just like last week, because this programme’s format is dumb and it’s much more instinctive to say who you want to keep than who you want to send away. 4tune are distraught, Chenai is ecstatic. We see the judges and Sharon and Simon are both turned away from the stage, hunched and looking totally devastated. Louis is smiling and clapping and looks like nothing so much as toddler that’s proud of himself because he’s just done his first big boy poo on the grown-up toilet. Fuckingsmugcuntbastardcocknasty. [Seriously. How did this man get so successful? Katy and I were discussing just how, in a professional environment, we would have absolutely no respect for a man who behaved like that. It’s utterly insane. – Steve] We see 4tune’s ‘X Factor journey’, and Simon approaches them on stage and says ‘I’m really sorry.’ I was so excited last week, because I thought for once the public weren’t going to be insane losers, given that Chico was in the bottom two. But given that he’s safe, and that Phillip got through on a horrible performance, and that it came down to Chenai and 4tune SO early in the competition, that idea’s gone. This series is going to be as much of a joke as the last one. Thus I predict the final three: Chico, Phillip and Journey South. You people had better prove me wrong.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Ten Things I Hate About Louis

Transmission date: 15th October 2005


Live shows, everybody. Kind of the unfortunate anticlimax, where there aren't any really pathetic wannabes left to make fun of (except Chico) and the whole thing isn't as interesting anymore. But this is no fairweather blog, and we're sticking with it to the bitter end. Even through the 90-minute opening show and the 30-minute results show. That's 120 minutes of The X Factor I've sat through with a notepad for you guys, videoing the whole godforsaken thing. I'm just too nice for my own damned good.

New! Glamourous! Montage! Everyone's been glamoured up to the nines, everyone looking far more attractive than any of the contestants on Britain's Next Top Model (except Chico), and interspersed with the same old shots of the judges. Call me cruel, but I enjoyed the unfortunate juxtaposition of Louis's beautiful acts and Louis's own pug face. I'm inclined to think half of the production budget of this show was spent on this montage. Which is a shame, since it's only getting one paragraph of update regardless.

Credits! Same old shit. Kate walks onto the newly-blue live studio set, which looks bigger and more impressive than last year's, although I think this is just a trompe l'oeil and it's exactly the same except for the colours. I'm relieved to be finally saying this: Kate looks good. She's wearing a nice understated black dress [The straps made her look very broad in the shoulders, though. - Joel] and has her hair tied neatly back in a faintly schoolmarmish way. She introduces the contestants and the judges and holy hell, what happened to Sharon's hair? It's gone all blonde and floppy, and dare I say it, but she looks good too. Younger, I think. And a bit mumsy. After a lot of old guff about how exciting it is to be here and a lot of stuff we've heard paraphrased versions of all the way through the series (no way, I'm not writing about it, this is going to take me long enough as it is) we get to the good stuff. Kate announces that we're going to start with the groups, which initially makes me think that all of the groups are going to go first, putting Simon at a massive disadvantage, but that wasn't how it actually worked out in the end.

The first act to perform live on the show this year (which must make them incredibly nervous) is the Addictiv Ladies. I don't envy them having this slot; it must be almost impossible to make such an impression in the first slot that people still remember you as their favourite act. They sing 'Superstar' by Jamelia, or Christine Milton if you're that way inclined. Lead singer Fleur is rather wobbly on the vocal front, and I'm not sure if this is a genuine vocal problem or just nerves. Surprisingly, the other girls have sorted out their harmonies and are sounding much better. Not particularly great, but better. They've got a bit of a dance routine going on, and it's all quite nice, if not entirely in time with each other. The whole performance isn't anything to blow you away and has the faint whiff of karaoke, but is better than I expected. [It still wasn’t great, but at least they were all flat in the same way this time, instead of different variations of flat. - Joel] I'm disappointed when it ends, not exactly because I was enjoying it, but more because I felt that it never really had a chance to get going. A song like 'Superstar' really lets you let rip when you get to the middle eight, but when you have 12 acts to squeeze into a 95-minute slot, that's never really going to be possible, especially when you want to fit in as much pathetic infighting between the judges as you can.

Kate throws to Sharon for comments, and Sharon talks about how much she likes the girls and how they make her smile. She also gives them credit for looking like 17-year-olds, which they are; in other words, she admires them for not trying to look older than they really are. [I kinda thought they were dressed like croupiers. - Joel] Louis is next, and less complimentary: he thinks they looked like they were performing in a school hall for a bit of fun, calling them "amateurish" and saying that they need a lot of vocal training. All of these things are true, but that doesn't mean I have to like or respect him, right? Largely because I'm sure that if they were one of his acts he would have said they were great and if any other judge had tried to say that, he would have made snide comments. Simon admits to having had sleepless nights about putting them through, but thinks they "did fantastic". I'm sending Simon a book on the deployment of adverbs for his birthday. He also comments that Louis hasn't been to a school in 50 years (I was going to make an obscene comment about Louis's possible reasons for returning to school here, [Ha! That’s exactly where I went too. - Joel] but my lawyer has advised me against it), and in the first of many pathetic responses tonight, Louis crows "I went to your school play." Not funny or cutting, Louis. If you can't say anything intelligent, please be quiet. In fact, could someone gag him? Thanks. Kate asks the girls for their comments, and Vivienne (I think) thanks Louis for his words, and saying that they will take it on board and be even better next time. Kate comments that it was a mature response for a 17-year-old, and I agree. Louis could learn something from these girls. Instead he nods his head and makes some comment which looks like "good, I hope so" but is drowned out by the audience cheering. Simon shouts "you were brilliant!" which is quite cute. Kate gives out the voting numbers and the multitude of ways in which you can vote, and an unfortunate slip of the tongue makes it sound like she's telling us that sex costs 35p. Hee. Insert "cheap skanky ho" joke here.

Next up is Shayne, who's looking good in his made-over shots against the black background. He comes onto stage looking decidedly less glamourous, and sings Richard Marx's 'Right Here Waiting'. His vocal is quite good, and definitely stronger than the Addictiv Ladies, but his voice is nasal and boring to listen to. Also, he has an extremely irritating and distracting way of pronouncing his rs, making more of an "urrrr" sound with them. "Whurrrrevurrrr you go, whatevurrrrr you do, I will be right heurrrrr waiting furrrrr you". I really really hope he doesn't do that next week. Also, his rendition of the song isn't a patch on Cheryl's on Popstars: The Rivals. Simon declares Shayne "one to watch", correctly pointing out that some of his phrasing is off, making him sound like a pub singer, and that he needs better songs (word, Simon) but that he sees him at the end of the competition. Sharon says that she thinks he's insecure, and Simon interjects that he needs to be singing a younger song, which Sharon agrees with. Louis completely misses the point of Simon's pub singer comment by saying that all the great singers started in pubs [All the great singers, from Tom Jones to Engelbert Humperdink, he said. Because that’s really a broad church. Idiot. - Joel] (yes, Louis, and an awful lot of singers never get beyond pubs, which is the point that Simon was making, you cretin). Kate invites Shayne to talk, and oh dear me, this boy does not respond to well to being asked to talk spontaneously on live television. He wibbles various banalities, and Kate asks him why the audience should vote for him. Shayne says that we should vote for him because he really wants it. Oh well, that will set him apart from the others, furrrr suurrrrrre. [He should have said he’d get his knob out. - Joel] [And ruin Chico's act for next week? - Steve] Still to come, Kate tells us, are Journey South, Phillip and Chico. If that isn't an invitation to switch off now and never come back, I don't know what is.

Back from the back, Kate throws to Sharon to represent the over-25s, and Sharon wonders what time it is? Time for an intravenous infusion of vodka? Oh no, it's Chico time, apparently. Aarg. Chico talks in VT about how we've not seen the best of him yet. The scary thing is that I truly believe we have. He comes out and does a stagey leap onto the - well, the stage - and kind of stumbles as he lands, which is deeply satisfying to watch. Never one to be labelled a one-trick pony, Chico performs 'Do Ya Think I'm Sexy' and changes the lyrics so they're about Sharon. YAWN. Notice how I said "performs" and not "sings", because he doesn't sing. Like, at all. He yells, and he talks, and he grunts, but at no point does he sing. He takes his jacket off and then Chico's Tits take over for the rest of the song. It's an absolute car crash, especially when he tries a bit of Mariah-style warbling at the end. [I think my exact words were ‘don’t do runs. People who can SING struggle with them’. - Joel] GET OFF MY TV, CHICO'S TITS. Louis says that Chico's Tits were "born to boogie" and that he "owned the stage". Oh please. He wasn't even subletting the stage. He calls Chico's Tits "a born entertainer...not a great singer - it doesn't matter!" Oh really? Since when? I was under the impression that the winner of this show got a recording contract. Simon's turn, and he calls Chico's Tits "a nice guy, but what. The Hell. Was that?" And if either of us is ill at any point, I think Simon just secured himself the role of guest writer for this blog, right Joel? [That would be the best thing evah. - Joel] Simon says it was "like being at a Chippendales concert". Has he been to one? Chico's Tits make the "shushy shushy" gesture and reply "Simon, you wouldn't know a superstar if it hit you on the nose!" Apparently I missed the opening of the Louis Walsh School Of Non-Witty Rejoinders, even if Chico's Tits didn't. Simon looks stumped, not because that was a clever comeback but just because how do you solve a problem like Chico's Tits? You just can't. Chico's Tits claim to be speaking for the nation. Simon begs to differ. Sharon interjects and tells Simon that Chico's Tits are "a fabulous entertainer. All-round entertainer. And it's up to the public to decide." You heard her. Please don't let me down. Incidentally, Chico's Tits stand there throughout this holding a red jacket. Indicator of future career, anyone? [I did like it when Kate asked Chico’s Tits how they were going to convert Simon and they said ‘He’s already converted. He’s just pretending.’ But they will not make me buy a Chico’s Tits album. And that’s the point – ‘entertainer’ he may be, but no-one will buy his records. He can’t sing, and on a CD, you don’t get to look at his oily tits. - Joel]

Simon's eyebrows of irony say "that will be a hard one to follow" and he declares it time "to reintroduce the singers to the competition". Yay! Oh, wait, he means Journey South. Boo. After the introductory montage which says nothing of interest, they sing 'Something About The Way You Look Tonight' by Elton John, and it's really not impressive. It's flat in quite a few places, and reeks of desperation. Perhaps Chico's Tits permanently polluted the stage? Also, remember how Joel described the band name as sounding "like an oral sex roadtrip porno"? Take a look at this picture and tell me if the position of Carl's head in relation to Andy, considering the band's name, does not totally squick you out. EW. Anyway, Andy looks more and more like early Bryan McFadden every single day, and they're still a rubbish pub band when all's said and done. Also, is it just me, or are these guys what Sam and Mark will be in ten years' time? Louis says that he's liked them since day one, that they picked a good song (hmm, funny how when the song is good the band gets the credit for it, and when it's bad it's all the mentor's fault) and that they have a great image (ha! ha!). Sharon likes how they're "genuine" and "vulnerable". Simon, of course, sings their praises, citing their lack of attitude, their having earnt the right to be here with all those years in the clubs, yadda yadda yadda. The boys are humble and thank the judges for their kind comments. All very nice, but can someone throw a glass of liquid over Louis already? I'm bored.

Phillip is the next contestant to grace the stage. I'm only going to bother mentioning what people do in their introductions if they say anything interesting, and since very few of them do, that's why this update may seem a little stop-starty. There's something very awkward about his stance on the stage - I can't decide whether he's got a very unnatural posture for singing or whether the mic stand is just a little bit too low for him, but he kind of sings side-on and leaning over, which is all a bit too Notre Dame for my liking. He sings 'Amazed' by Lonestar, and it's one of those songs that I'm sat there for ages going "I know this one, what is it?" before eventually realising, and going "Oh. That one." John and Holly join me at this point before heading out for the evening (lucky bastards) and John remarks that Phillip's "legs look stumpy". Holly points out that he's trying too hard, and has absolutely no charisma. Steve points out that Phillip has massively overactive eyebrows. John remarks that "he looks like every other 16-year-old out on the pull. He should be wearing a bright green shirt or something." And there we have it - that sums Phillip up exactly. He's so generic-looking and so thoroughly lacking in star quality that I wonder what the hell he's doing here when James, Trevor and Alexandra are all at home watching this and weeping with their families. And therapists. What's also depressing is that I'm sure there are messageboards all over the internet that, even as I speak, are filling up with "OMGWTFBBQ he iz lush n gorge!!!!1!!" Maybe Phillip might not be heading for the early departure I anticipated. Anyway, the song is dull and so is he. [And he was doing an Elvis impression the whole time, so twangy were his vocals. - Joel]Sharon comments that Phillip is a dark horse, citing how nervous and insecure he looked at yesterday's sound check and how he surprised her with tonight's performance. Simon: "It was okay. Louis had a lot of people to choose from." HAHAHA! Ohhh, BURN! See, Louis? That is how it's done. "For me it was like someone leaving a boyband - who wasn't very good - and doing their first single - which wasn't very good." The audience boos, even though Simon is right on the money with that one. Louis says that Phillip doesn't have the experience of the other acts, but that he has the talent. "The fact that Simon is unimpressed I think is a good sign." Yes, except for the fact that Simon's production company makes this show. Louis then adds "I hope everybody in Northern Ireland lifts their phones (?) and votes for Phillip." Ahhh, suddenly everything becomes clear. Trust Louis to play the Irish card. [If you don’t vote for Phillip, you don’t feel guilty about the Potato Famine! - Joel] Kate turns to Phillip for his comments, and Phillip is every bit as inarticulate as everyone who went before him. He's so dull! Next!

An ad break, but not before Kate invites us to enter a competition that will allow us to win "a slice of Sharon's lifestyle". Hey, as long as it doesn't involve being married to Ozzy or mother to Kelly, count me in.

After the break, it's Brenda. Hurrah! Sadly, even the lovely Brenda's intro is dull as polyester, but I will point out how gorgeous she looks in her photoshoot. Brenda walks onto the stage, looking fabulous, and sings 'Son Of A Preacher Man' and it's easily the best vocal performance of the night so far. [It’s way too fast though. Not her fault, but the band/backing track (?) has gained half a beat, which gave her trouble with her phrasing. - Joel] She's the only one who looks like she's having fun, and she actually is owning the stage. My only reservation is that this is probably the sort of song that Brenda could do in her sleep and I'd like to see her do something a little more challenging in future. Simon comments that he doesn't recognise Brenda as the woman he saw at the audition any more, and that her transformation is remarkable. His main reservation is that up until tonight he thought she saw the competition as a bit of a joke (and if she does, she's absolutely right) but now he thinks she's in it to win it. His question is: is Brenda a good club singer, or does she have the X factor? "X Factor!" screams the audience as one. Louis is less complimentary: he thinks there's something missing. Hmmm. A hilarious speech impediment? A penis? A mentor by the name of Louis Walsh? [Steve. That’s not fair. He likes blind people as well. - Joel] As far as I understand it, that's pretty much what you need in this show to get Louis's vote, so I think Brenda's doing just fine without those. Louis doesn't see her selling a million records, and calls Brenda "a good backup singer". Sharon compliments Brenda, and informs Simon that the clubs in which Brenda will be playing are "huge clubs, where people will pay hundreds of pounds to come and see [her]." Aw. Brenda, absolutely reeking of class at this point, says that she took the judges' comments on board in Belfast and that she will take tonight's comments on board as well and do better next week. She urges the viewers to vote for her, saying how much she wants to stay on the stage. It's so nice to see someone so articulate on that stage at last.

Next up, the Conway Sisters. Simon tells us in the VT that he's got a lot of confidence in them because they're very good singers. See, Louis? It does matter. I'm struck by how greasy their skin looks in their interview. They come onto the stage looking very boho [It looks like they walked past an exploding River Island on their way to the studio. - Joel] and sing Abba's 'S.O.S.' Some of the notes are a little too low for lead singer Marie, but the harmonies are awesome and are what, if anything, will keep the girls in this competition. Sharon wasn't overly impressed - she calls the girls "too nice" and says that she wants more passion from the performance, which is a fair comment, although I question exactly how much passion you can inject into this particular song. Louis likes the girls because they're Irish (of course). However, he thinks Simon picked the wrong song for them. He snots "I'm surprised you didn't pick 'Dancing Queen', Simon." Simon deadpans, "They'll play that at your wedding, Louis." BURN! Multiple burn there, I think. Third-degree burn. "You'll dance to it," replies Louis, which shows again just how terrible he is at coming up with witty and quick responses. Simon agrees that he chose the wrong song for them, apologises to the girls, and says that if the viewers vote to keep them in, he promises to pick a much better song for them next week. And let's just reflect on Simon's class here, in comparison to every single thing that Louis says during the show. The girls meekly interview that they had fun with the song, promising to bring back some oomph for Sharon next week if they get through. "Give them another chance!" Simon shouts. Aw, again.

Back from the adverts, and Kate introduces the next contestant with her back to the judges. In the background you can see Simon whispering something into Sharon's ear. I wonder what that could have been? Do we think he discovered the thing that Louis doesn't want Simon or Sharon to know about? Great for him if he has, since the viewers certainly never found out what it was. Anyway, the next contestant is Nicholas, and Louis introduces him as a great soul singer. Nicholas mentions in his VT package that getting this far is such an achievement that the hard work has already paid off. Not so much, kiddo; you've got a maximum of ten more weeks before that happens. Now, if you've got a great male soul singer on your hands, what song might you pick for him to sing? 'Stand By Me', perhaps? 'I Don't Want To Talk About It'? No, Louis has decided that the perfect song for Nicholas to show off his mad soul singin' skillz is 'On The Wings Of Love', because Louis is a complete idiot. Nicholas struggles with the song a lot, and doesn't quite seem to be able to find the right key. [He does that thing again where he keeps falsettoing on and on, rather than just showing it off on a couple of notes. - Joel] In general, his performance is awful, but he can't really take the blame, since it's clear he's doing the best he can with the shitty hand he was dealt and it's not his fault that Louis hasn't bought any new records since 1984. Simon says this slightly more politely in his comments, and fingers Louis (ewww, not like that) for picking an inappropriate song. Louis is unwilling to take the blame, of course, and blathers on about how it's a classic, before making a vague comment about how Simon cocked up with 'S.O.S.' so he's allowed to make a mistake too. The difference being, of course, that Simon learnt from that mistake and I doubt Louis will. Louis then proceeds to talk all over Sharon, and where exactly is the Queen of Darkness now? Punch him, Sharon, for all of our sakes. Kate asks Nicholas what he thought of the song, and Nicholas robotically says that Louis didn't force him to do that song, that he wanted to do it too, that they chose it and worked on it together, and if all that is true, MechaNick, why did you stare at your shoes for the entirety of that speech? Phillip's the shy one, but even he managed to look at the camera, for fuck's sake. I suspect that Louis has Nicholas well and truly whipped, and that Nicholas daren't criticise in case he really does end up singing 'Dancing Queen' next week.

Maria! Hooray! I know that Joel and I haven't exactly been subtle about singing her praises, but she really does look absolutely gorgeous in her VT package. It's no wonder that when we first saw her we genuinely thought she was in the 16-24 category. Sharon talks in the VT about what a refreshing discovery Maria is, and how wonderful it will be to have "our own Beyoncé". It's a nice theory, Sharon, but the last person to express a desire to be the British Beyoncé was Rachel Stevens, and look what happened to her. It's not that I don't love the Rachel, but the closest she got to Beyoncé was the way that everybody who bought her album complained that nothing on it held a candle to the lead single. But I digress. Maria sings 'Emotion' à la Destiny's Child, and you might want to dial down the Beyoncé comparisons before they come back to bite you in the ass, Sharon. It's a fantastic performance, though, and the level of control she has over her voice is astounding. Maria is absolutely in a class of her own compared to everyone who's gone before. [My one reservation is that that song relies heavily on backing vocals and she got a little bit lost at points. She needs to do a completely solo number. - Joel] Louis thinks that Maria is fantastic. Simon thought that she was nervous, but that she delivered and that she's the one who can be relied on to bring a shock to the competition. I think he means that she can be relied on to step outside of her comfort zone and sing challenging songs, rather than to sweat so much she short-circuits the microphone. Sharon is extremely vocal in her praise, and mentions Maria's "body to die for". And it's true, as Joel texted me to point out that Maria does have massive tits. Maria tears up a little and begs the audience to vote for her. She's extremely awed by the situation and the praise, and it's completely adorable.

Up next (dear God, is it not over?) are 4Tune, and Simon takes great pleasure in crowing about how Louis didn't put them through to the finals last year. They sing 'I Want It That Way' by the Backstreet Boys, a song that is most familiar to me for the fact that the title is very similar to a line that appeared in a Deidre's Photo Casebook on the subject of male bisexuality round about the time of its release, so it will always be known to me as 'I Like It Both Ways'. Phil, I think, looks so cheerful throughout the whole thing that he does come off looking a teensy bit queer. Sorry, Phil. [Ssh! We love lovely Smiley Phil. He looks like a cartoon. - Joel] Their rendition is largely by-numbers until they get to the key change, where they step out from behind their microphones (oh well, at least they didn't get up off their stools) and start ad-libbing, which is much, much better. I was going to refer to it as "freestyling", but I think free styling is what happened to their outfits this evening, since I'd swear that get-up was donated by Burtons for no charge. [I said ‘It looks like someone shook a Gap catalogue until the boys fell out’, so much the same thinking there. - Joel] I think they looked better before, and that's not much of a compliment. Louis admits that he didn't put them through last year, and that he's not sorry because he didn't think they were ready, and he still doesn't. What, and Two To Go were set for the big time? Pull the other one. Also, note Louis's attitude again here, for we shall refer to it later. Sharon asks them what their names are, and an entire viewing audience screams "thank you!" as one since we no longer have to refer to them as "the one in the mauve t-shirt". She singles out Phil for looking relaxed and cheerful (if that's what the kids are calling it these days) and suggests that the others take a leaf out of his book. Mike, by the way, has tits that rival Maria's, size-wise. Simon thinks they did well. And if I may quote verbatim from my notes at this point: "Louis horrible smug face want to punch it AND KILL HIM."

Penultimately we have Chenai. Louis doesn't have an original bone in his body, so he decides to introduce Chenai by pointing out that Sharon didn't put her through last year. Déjà vu, anyone? Awesomely, we cut to VT but not before Sharon's mic is faded and we can hear her screeching "cheap shot!" over the footage. The intro is dull. Chenai comes onto the stage, and what the hell is she wearing? Seriously, it looks like she was stuck in a walk-in wardrobe during a powercut and just walked into the rails until she felt her body was covered and then went out dressed like that. My notes say "Fugly ensemble, Chenai." Then they also say "AARG" rather a lot, because Chenai sings 'The Closest Thing To Crazy' by Katie Melua, a song I absolutely detest, in no small part owing to the wretchedness of Melua herself, but also because it's just so sickeningly banal. I attempted to take notes, but they read thus: "Chenai sings Melua's 'Closest Thing To Crazy' and I just cannot AAARG make it stop I hate this song. Good vocal but I just CAN'T LIKE IT." Like Nicholas, the song is not Chenai's fault and she does the best she can with what she's given, but at least this song is in the same ballpark as Chenai's type of song so she does a number on it and comes out of the whole thing with a bunch of Radio 2-loving fans, I'm sure. Sharon: "Chenai! I know how to say your name. Your mentor doesn't, but Mrs O does!" And she cackles. And little things like that are the reason why I would quite like Sharon as my mentor if I were on this show. Sharon is graceful in her comments and says how happy she is to see Chenai in the finals, which is exactly what Louis should have said about 4Tune but of course he's too much of an utter wanker to think of a little thing like courtesy. Again, my notes say, à propos of nothing: "Louis is so petty and so fkn hateful. Can't bear the little pug shit." Simon says the song is too old for her, to which Louis crows that it came out in 2003, and implies that Simon doesn't have his finger on the pulse. Uhh, Louis? What Simon meant is that it's a song for an older person than Chenai to sing, in much the same way that 'All By Myself' was a completely inappropriate song for Cassie to sing last year. Interestingly, Chenai is 19 and Katie Melua was 19 when this song was released. You might think that makes it fine, but the song includes the line "feeling 22, acting 17". It was stupid when Melua sang it, not least because the difference in most people's behaviour between the ages of 17 and 22 is barely perceptible, but also because she hadn't even reached the older age yet. Kate asks Chenai if she thought the song was wrong for her, and Chenai admits it's not what she would normally choose to sing. Since there are no flies on Sharon, she immediately asks what Chenai would have chosen to sing herself, and Chenai attempts to save Louis by saying "Whitney, Aretha, but everyone chooses that!", but I think it's clear that Louis is trying to market Chenai to a demographic entirely different to the one she's suited to. I've found all of Louis's song choices to be pisspoor at best this evening, and I'm convinced that he's determined to make his acts as boring and MOR as humanly possible. Conclusive proof, I think you'll find, that he is Girls Aloud's manager in name only, since otherwise they'd be sitting on stools and doing U2 covers like Bellefire by now. Or serving shots off their bellies in Stoke nightclubs.

The last act! Finally! The best slot to get because all the audience will remember you, and I can't help feeling that it's slightly wasteful to give it to Andy, since no one was likely to forget about him anyway. Sharon refers to him as "the coolest man in the UK". I'm not sure we've seen much evidence of that. The fact that Andy is a binman is mentioned several times, everyone mentioning distastefully how the tabloids picked that up and ran with it, and if you really don't want the "singing binman" label to stick then STOP MENTIONING IT. Andy sings 'The Greatest Love Of All', and his mic level is too low, which is a problem that's beset several people this evening. Because he's Andy, though, it matters not one bit, and he brings it on home without even breaking a sweat. Wasn't this one of Steve's songs from last year? Is Andy basically just Brookstein 2.0? Because if he is, why don't we just give him the prize already so we can all go home? I'd love an Andy/Maria final, but I'm not sure how possible that is. I'm sure that even if the votes went that way, the producers wouldn't let one judge have two acts in the final, it would be ludicrous. And at this point I realised that Maria will never win. Sniff. But as long as none of Louis's acts win, I don't care, and I will throw every last piece of my support behind Andy if it means Louis loses for a second year in a row. Louis can't believe Andy is unsigned. Simon wishes Andy were in his group. Basically it's a big Andy love-in, and deservedly so. Barring natural disasters and acts of God, this guy's a shoo-in for the final.

Kate tells us we have one hour to vote, and recaps the numbers. Who's your favourite? She tells us that they'll be back at 8:35pm, and signs off. Would that I could. [I’m loving the judges’ pictures by the phone numbers, because Louis looks so spectacularly like an old woman that it’s hilarious. He should be in a Clover advert, making boiled egg and soldiers for his grandchildren. - Joel]

Results Show

And we're back! Does it mean anything that Andy's face is the last one we see in the pre-show montage? I can't remember if that happened the first time around, but maybe the deification of Andy starts here. Kate thanks us all for our votes, and says the response is "massive". Interestingly, we're not given any actual figures so I wonder if we're down on last year. I also wonder how many votes are being cast in this compared to Strictly Come Dancing over on BBC One. I wish I were writing about that show. The text and interactive votes are closed, but we have three minutes to land a final vote in. I've already cast my vote, thanks Kate. We get a visual recap of tonight's performances, on the off-chance that anyone who didn't see the show might be insane enough to want to vote anyway. I won't say any more about this, because it's all above this. You were there. I was there. Remember? We had cake. Ahhh, good times. The voting closes, and apparently they're being tallied exactly as they come in, because there isn't even a pause before Kate announces the names of the acts who are definitely through to next week's show. They are, in no particular order: Phillip (they'd better be in no particular order, because if he got the most votes I'm impaling myself on a sharp metal object right now). Andy. Brenda. Journey South. Be thankful that I'm not leaving pauses as big as Kate's, because this is ridiculous. Just make the results show shorter already, you cunts. Maria. Yay! 4Tune. Shayne. Nicholas. Chenai. So Louis has a free pass to next week, and I'm pissed off. The mood "heightens" as Kate announces dramatically, "the tenth act coming back is ... (positively Pinteresque pause) ... gonna find out after the break." Behind her, an Addictiv Lady burst into tears. Nice one, Kate.

Adverts. I love Kerry Katona's Iceland commercials. They're as classy as she is.

And we're back. The tenth act coming back is... The Conway Sisters! Hurrah, the public don't like Chico. Just to clarify, this leaves Chico's Tits and Addictiv Ladies to perform a second time for the judges. Kate asks Simon if he has any advice for the girls, and Simon's tells them "you don't need any advice, just do it exactly like you did before." Sharon just makes another comment about it being Chico time, and if that saying catches on, I will kill someone. Addictiv Ladies come back for their second performance, and suddenly I realise something and rush to text Joel my prediction. Simon will save Addictiv Ladies, obviously. Sharon will save Chico's Tits, obviously. And Louis will vote to save Chico, because he'll be thinking about his petty little game of one-upmanship with Simon, and suddenly a vein cracks in my skull at the thought of Chico's Tits on my screen for another week. I pray for Chico's Tits to be in the bottom two with one of Louis's acts next week. Anyway, the Addictiv Ladies sound less nervous the second time round. They're still not good, but they're better. I wonder if they were trying harder because of what Louis said to them? If anything, Chico's Tits are worse the second time around. It's positively embarrassing, and he does all the stupid tricks in exactly the same place as before, which makes the whole thing so utterly calculated and empty that I could vomit. There's a brilliant cut during the performance where we see Sharon looking on with what can only be described as mortified despair, which is much the same as I imagine her to look when Kelly announces she wants to record a new album. Kate asks Simon which act he wants to send home, and either she mumbles or they've changed how they did this since last year, because Simon says "Addictiv Ladies". Kate says, to clarify, "Simon, you want to send your own act home?" Simon instantly corrects himself and says he wants to send Chico's Tits home, and adds "I'll pay for the flight." Kate, quick as lightning, replies "London to London, how will that work, Simon?" Heh. Kate is much more of a worthy adversary for Simon than Louis is.

Sharon votes to save Chico's Tits, which I don't blame her for. Whatever her feelings on either act, she's got a stake in this competition and wants as many chances to win as possible, so she had no choice. She shouldn't have put Chico through in the first place, but that's for another time. Louis smugs, "the act that I'm going to send home are" and then pauses to build the suspense, because he doesn't trust the audience with the intelligence to realise that he wouldn't say "the act are Chico['s Tits]". [I know! Number-verb agreement, Louis! - Joel]To his left, Simon is saying "Louis. Louis. Louis" because he knows as well as I do what Louis is thinking, since the horrible smug grin on Louis's face can be seen from space. Louis finishes "Addictiv Ladies", and there are more Addictiv Tears. Kate shows the girls their X Factor journey. Kate asks them if to get so far and then fall at the first hurdle is "bittersweet", like, no, it's like all their Christmases come at once, dimwit. Simon goes up on stage to console the girls, tells them that they were amazing, and then grabs Kate's microphone and says "Louis Walsh, you are a joke." There is a cheer, I think. Louis waves his arms around and begs for attention, but in a move that endears her to me for evermore, Kate ignores him and focuses on the girls before bidding us goodbye. And there really are no words to express how much of an unfair decision that was. I'm not especially attached to the Addictiv Ladies, and they were never going to win. But they didn't deserve to go out before Chico, and if Louis wants to allow the chip on his shoulder to make all of his decisions, then he should be sacked and replaced with another judge. [Possibly just by a potato chip. It could sit there, quietly going mouldy, and would have about as much useful input as Louis does. - Joel] Neither of the two potential evictees stood any chance of winning, but who stood more chance of developing over the coming weeks: the girls who promised to take their criticism on board, or the former goatherder who already thinks he knows everything? Gah. I've go to stop this before my blood pressure starts resembling pi without the decimal point. So, Chico's Tits live to survive another week, and I hope that a freak voting accident in next week's show leaves all of Louis's acts facing elimination. They don't deserve it, of course, but he does. [Just have to add: if you were to ask him afterwards, Louis would not be able to see that there was anything wrong with what he did, at all. I credit the Ladies with enough sense to realise the decision wasn’t about them, but about Simon, but that’s no excuse for the smug relish with which Walsh delivered their rejection. And he really would have no idea why it was such a terrible thing to do. - Joel]