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 Stevens...so 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]

1 comment:

ruthie said...

My faith in the voting public is (partially) restored.

I think you're right that it was unfair of Simon to pick on Maria for doing standard songs, but it would be good to see her doing something contemporary. My personal choice would be Kylie's 'Confide In Me', but hope Sharon picks her something good.