Transmission date: 1 October 2005
So, here we are. I guess we never thought we'd get this far. But we've made it through all the auditions, and we're now at boot camp. What's more, we've got two (two!) episodes tonight, making a total of two hours that I have got to write about. I'm not happy, especially since there is so much bloating and padding and goddamned filler in tonight's show that I'm not at all convinced they couldn't have fitted it into an hour. You bastards. On with the show. [For which my input will be minimal at best, having managed to miss every showing of this episode. - Joel]
Coming up: some stuff I'll get to later, obviously. Assuming they do deign to actually show us all of it, after the midget with engagement ring incident.
Kate welcomes us to boot camp. Having started with 75,000 acts, we are now down to 200. Of which, I suspect, only about 50 are groups. Kate explains that the judges have two days to whittle down their categories to just seven acts, and apparently that is why we have two episodes tonight. Kate? I'm still not convinced at all. Also: please explain that camisole top that you're wearing. It's kind of camouflage-style and the yellow piping around the top makes me think that *shudder* it was actually even more low-cut at some unestablished point in time prior to this and you had to add a bit more material to it to prevent your nipples from appearing on primetime TV.
We get another chance to see the judges being told which groups they've been given. For those of you who didn't watch the show/read the update: Louis has the 16-24s, Sharon has the over-25s, and Simon has the groups. The 16-24s arrive at boot camp. One guy who looks like a sunburnt Jeff Brazier is hoping for Louis. James would like it to be Sharon. Louis, being driven to boot camp, tells us he has no pre-ordained winners in his head, and that the contestants will have to impress him on their performance at boot camp alone if they want to stay. The groups arrive at a manor house in Kent. The Brothers can't make up their mind who they want as their mentor. Addictive Ladies are worried about getting Simon as he was none too complimentary about their audition. Simon drives himself (I know, I couldn't believe it either) to boot camp and doesn't sound too cheerful, predicting "a freakshow". Having heard their cue, Flabba tells us that they would like Sharon to be their judge. The over-25s arrive at the Café de Paris nightclub in London, their own boot camp venue. We see Dorothy step off the coach, looking as frail as ever. Justine hopes for Sharon so "she" can borrow a frock, and the joke is so over by now. Dorothy, bless her, wants Simon, even though he said no at her first audition. Sharon, also being driven to her boot camp, says that she wanted this category for the "interesting people". A comment that I suspect will soon come back to bite her on the ass but good.
The reveals: the 16-24s cheer for Louis. Trevor is pleased. Alexandra "was hoping for Simon, but you guys know what you're doing." Hee. The groups cheer deliriously for Simon - well, most of them do. Flabba look thunderstruck, and I'm sure one of them can be quite clearly seen mouthing "oh shit". Eskimo Blonde are very pleased with the outcome. Sharon appears all Eva Peron on a balcony to whoops and cheers from the over-25s. Chico is glad, because had it been Simon, he "would have been up against it". I take this moment to mourn Simon not being given this group and kicking Chico's ass onto the street in his first act of power.
Bjork's 'Play Dead' is played as Louis's boot camp kicks off. Please note that Kate is still wearing that green camisole, for this will be important later. The contestants take to the stage in groups of ten to perform a song chosen from a list of five chosen by Louis. I'll bet you anything one of them is 'Fields of Gold'. Louis has his very own panel, consisting of stylist Faye and vocal coach Evie. Faye is very jolly-hockey-sticks and suitably gushing; Evie is still and looks quite bored. Shane begins with 'Unchained Melody'. Trevor talks to the camera about how this is his first time away from home on his own, being a sprightly wee thing of sixteen. He then proceeds to disappoint me by not enunciating properly during his song, which really is one of my biggest pet peeves with amateur singers. Blending two or three words into one homogenous sound is really, really unpleasant for someone else to hear. Kate asks Trevor how he thinks it went; Trevor is unsure. I'm struck at this point by how much Trevor reminds me of Antony Cotton.
Alexandra sings 'From This Moment On' as Kate reminds us that competition is fierce, since only a quarter of the contestants will go through to the next stage. James tells us he is just pleased to have got this far, and then sings 'Careless Whisper'. Nicholas sings 'To Love Somebody'. I realise it's a lot harder to be rude about this show when they've weeded out the truly terrible ones. Well, most of them.
We get another flashback of Janae (I'm going to spell it that way, even though I suspect it's wrong, until someone tells me for definite how it should be spelt) realising why boot camp involves the word "boot" when Sharon send her home last year. She tells us that she's nervous because she's only got one performance to show Louis what she can do. Well, yes, but that was also true of your first audition. And will also be true of the next round, if you get that far. I'm just sayin'. She sings 'Unchained Melody', and to be perfectly honest, that song is not doing anybody any favours so far. [If I were the judges I’d have put an embargo on it by now. 'Oh, my dear…' 'No! Stop it. You’re not good enough to sing that. Choose something else.' - Joel] Outside she tells Kate that she doesn't expect to come back tomorrow. In a very sparse-looking dressing room, Louis and his panel discuss the goings so far. Louis is sure they have the winner in their group.
In what proves to be the first of many nerves-related montages this evening, one girl sings the first line (a line which involves a mere two words, people) of 'Beautiful' before drying up. Danny from McFly (okay, it's not really him, but if he ever decides to leave the band, this guy can be the spare) does likewise with a different song. Someone cries to Kate in the corridor. Montage, montage, montage. There's not a lot I can say about this people, especially since I don't remember a lot of them. Seriously, why on earth should I care if they fail or succeed if you spent more time showing me the hopeless contestants in the early rounds than you did showing me the ones who actually made it through? Richard starts to go horribly wrong after the first line of 'To Love Somebody' and apologises, telling Kate later that his mind was "wandering into another tune". Daniel tells us that there was no doubt in his mind that he should be singing 'Beautiful', and I guess I can see his reasons for that. Although again, this is another song that isn't doing anyone any favours; not because it's especially difficult to sing, but just because it's so strongly identified with Christina Aguilera that it's extremely difficult to put your own stamp on it. [Alex Parks managed it. Maybe you need to be a Cornish lesbian to fully interpret this song. - Joel]
Up on a balcony high above Louis, Faye and Evie, Kate stage-whispers that only 21 people will make it through to tomorrow. The judges deliberate. The contestants sweat. Trevor thinks he might be going home. We hear odd comments, which the editors line up with particular bits of VT to make us think that the contestant being shown is the one being discussed, but I suspect this is a fake-out. The hopefuls are brought back in groups of five. Notable dismissals include: Danny from McFly and Spongebob Squareface (yay!). Notable callbacks include: Alexandra (yay!), Trevor, Nicholas, Richard (who kisses Louis's cheek afterwards, and just watching that makes me want to wipe my own lips with Dettol), Michelle, James, Janae, Daniel and Shane. Daniel sinks to the floor immediately upon hearing the news, and if he can incorporate that slick move into his act, I think he'll go far.
It's now Day 1 at Simon's boot camp. Kate, by the way, is still wearing the green camisole. The boot camp venues are, I suspect, much too far apart for her to have flitted between them throughout the day, so I suspect they took place at different times. Why the same outfit? Why the sudden half-arsed attempt at continuity when you paid us no such courtesy during the audition process? A question that will, I suspect, remain unanswered. Simon's boot camp process is different from Louis's: each group will need to perform one uptempo song and one ballad, and the uptempo song must be accompanied by a dance routine. This sounds like fun! A montage of people rehearsing their dances, and it's pretty amusing. On Simon's panel is a man whose name I don't remember being given, and the legendary Sinitta, who is wearing a fetching cowboy hat. Simon begins to watch the dancing (something that I suspect is alien to him when it is not happening on his lap) and despairs, begging to be allowed to call his mum at one point. Seriously, can we get Mrs Cowell on the show? That would be awesome. The appallingness of Flabba drives Simon to attempt to snap a biro in half. A girl group then, to my extreme astonisment, sing Girls Aloud's 'Graffiti My Soul'. How incredible is that? They make a mess of it, mind, but I truly never thought I'd see that song being used as an audition piece on TV, so I doff my cap to this show for that little touch. If you don't know that song, by the way, I strongly suggest you track it down. It's on the What Will The Neighbours Say? album, and it's one of the greatest pop songs of recent years in my humble opinion. A group of about eight people who appear to be singing an instrumental (just don't ask) audition, and I wonder who the hell put these idiots throught. Louis? Sharon? I'm looking at you. Simon tells the camera that he is beginning to panic, and I really do not blame him. In a field, he tells Sinitta that he doesn't think he can turn it around. He heads upstairs to tell the remaining groups that the current showing has been "abysmal". He admonishes them for lack of adequate rehearsal, and sends them out into the grounds to work on their acts.
We're treated to a boyband-centric segment, two of which (4Tune and The Brothers) we've seen before, and one (Fourth Base) I don't recall. They look a lot like O-Town, though, if that helps. Eminem's 'Lose Yourself' plays on the soundtrack, and the line "do not miss this chance to blow" strikes me as particularly potent, since a lot of people will indeed not miss their chance to blow during their auditions in this episode. 4Tune's audition routine is horrendous - they start doing a cheesy rendition of 'Stand By Me' with a lame dance routine, before one of them steps forward all "guys, this isn't working" in what is clearly a staged moment, and then they break into All4One's 'I Swear'. Simon looks as unimpressed as I feel by that hokum, and declares it "over-rehearsed" and "a bit cabaret". Fourth Base then do something else that is a pet peeve of mine, and mistake completely changing the tone, notes and rhythm of a song for making it one's own, such is the horror of their rendition of 'Careless Whisper'. Simon likes the sound, but hates the image. They sing the Backstreet Boys' 'I'll Never Break Your Heart' and are vocally the best of the three. One of them does, unfortunately, look a bit retarded when he sings. And they have two members whom I can never tell apart, as they are always in white shirts and always have identical haircuts and bad facial hair. Sinitta loves them, and kisses Noel's picture to prove it. Outside, the two identical ones from The Brothers do a bit of huggin' and kissin' in the first of many HoYay!-filled moments in tonight's episodes.
We flashback to the disastrous first audition of Addictive Ladies, and they say that they are keen to dispel that memory from Simon's mind. They sing the Spice Girls' 'Holler', and it's still kind of messy, but there is some sense of improvement. The panel are split. Outside they do their little "Addictive Ladies" breakdown which, to be honest, is the only thing that got them this far, and is still the only time they've been in harmony thus far. One of them mugs shamelessly to the camera. The Conway Sisters perform a song I don't recognise. Two twins sing 'When I Need You', and Lesley points out that they look like pizza delivery boys. She also, somewhat less charitably, comments that they look "a bit thick". I can, however, totally see them joining the cast of Hollyoaks in the near future. Eskimo Blonde sing 'Emotion' and look nervous, one remarking that she feels more sick post-audition than she did before she went in. Journey South sing 'Wherever You Will Go', and Simon asks who chose the song. They decide that they both did (surely one of them must have suggested it first? They're brothers, not telepathically-bonded twins) and Simon says "Not good". Outside, they reason that his comment was about the song and not their performance, which...yeah, I guess I can give them that one. I wouldn't get too complacent, mind.
It's decision time again. The contestants sweat it out in the waiting room. We get the same fake-out matching of comments to visuals that we had during Louis's selection, and which will happen throughout the evening. The groups are called in one by one. The pizza delivery twins are called, we learn, the Chapman Brothers. We are not given their first names, so Katy suggested we call them Mario and Luigi. Simon tells them that they let themselves down, and Mario agrees. [But which is the ugly one? I don’t understand how identical twins have an ugly one and a not-ugly one, but they always do. - Joel] But they're through to tomorrow's round! Scottish boyband Whitestar are rejected. Journey South are given a redemption. The bizarre instrumental people are kicked to the kerb, yo. Addictive Ladies are told that they have problems getting Fleur and Vivian (the lead singers) to sing together, but they are also invited back. Flabba are sent home. 4Tune are chastised for their holiday camp skit of earlier, but get to come back. Simon was disappointed with The Brothers, who lost their coolness today, but they are given a second chance. Simon tells Fourth Base he has a problem with their image, but chooses vocal talent over their image and puts them through. Only 14 groups are selected in total, as opposed to Louis's 21 solo artists.
Sharon's boot camp. Kate's still in the green camisole. The set-up for the audition is a bit like an aquarium, with all the other acts around the sides watching the auditionee of the moment. Sharon and her panel look, to be perfectly honest, like you'd have to cross their palms with silver before they talk to you. It's all very last-tent-in-the-fairground. Michelle the Misunderstood Glamour Model sings Whitney Houston's 'Run To You'. She's quite shrill, and is another one who doesn't enunciate. A montage of okay-but-not-awesome auditions. Maria, we are told, has been trying to organise her wedding, which is in two days, at the same time as preparing for boot camp. She tells of squeezing in a quick singing practice between phoning florists, caterers and photographers, but really, shouldn't she have sorted those out months ago? She sings 'All The Man I Need' and punctuates each line with a very loud grunt which kind of ruins an otherwise okay voice. I wonder whether her microphone is even connected to anything, as she waves it all around while she sings without actually affecting her volume at all. Dorothy totters onto the stage with her walking stick and sings 'Close To You' quite poorly. Sharon looks rather touched by it all. Meg sings a song which I don't recognise, but which contains the line "Well I hope you die quick and I hope you die clean". Eek. Poor, poor Penotlope sings a heavily-accented version of 'Unbreak My Heart', and once again Sharon starts to laugh, leading Penotlope to corpse as well. And she really does take it very well, but that's got to be bad for your self-confidence, hasn't it? Although I have to admit to laughing when I realised that with Penotlope's accent, the song sounds like it's called 'Hombre My Heart'. Hee! Fucking "Justine" sings 'Wind Beneath My Wings' and clears his throat noisily after the first line, thus earning him a quick boot, surely. Sharon thinks she can pick the winner from her group. That's odd, so does Louis. However will that one be solved? [I quite like that Sharon’s having to deal with the trio above. Sharon, Karma. Karma, Sharon. - Joel]
Next up, Sam. Yay! He's still totally adorable. Unfortunately, he also has a bad case of nerves which has robbed him of any stage presence. He finishes singing and then asks "do you want me to carry on?" in a meek voice. Oh, Sam. This doesn't look good. You're too nice to be messed up in all of this, anyway. Sharon wasn't blown away. Outside, Sam tells Kate that this means he gets to make his daughter breakfast tomorrow, and not even a million-pound record deal compares to that. Hearts melt across the country, including mine. [Okay, it’s probably a good thing I missed this episode. I don’t think TV screens stand up very well to people trying to dive into them. - Joel] If he ever considers flirting with bisexuality, he needs to call me. From the sublime to the ridiculous, Chico. In the waiting room, he turns to the camera and says "Yo, what time is it? Chico time." and clicks his tongue. Lesley forcibly restrains me from punching the TV set. He sings (if you can call it that) 'Kiss', and rips his shirt off. Sharon laps it up. I vomit. Kate asks Chico if he can win the show for Sharon; Chico promises to kick Simon's ass if Sharon chooses him.
Then a short montage of Brenda, Tony Blair, and Haifa performing, and none of them deserve to be playing second-fiddle to Fucking Chico, so the editors are officially off my Christmas card list. The montage finishes with arrogant Geri Halliwell-lookalike Michelle singing, I think, 'Some Kind Of Wonderful', and choosing to end her audition by saying "Sharon, you told us to give it our best shot. I want you to imagine me now walking over to that piano, playing one of my own compositions with a really great hook, a totally different big shot, so maybe you'll give me the chance to show you that sometime." And, really. I don't have to add anything to that, do I, because not a soul in the country is rooting for her after that. Sharon looks suitably unimpressed. All of Sharon's 89 contestants have sung, and Kate tells us that Sharon's panel "are deciding who's going through to the next stage of the competition, and more importantly, who's going home tonight." Except who's going home is in no way more important than who stays, you utter moron. [In that it’s two ways of saying exactly the same thing. Today, I’m deciding what trousers to wear and, more importantly, what trousers NOT to wear. - Joel] Christ on a bike. The contestants sweat it out, and we know the drill by now. Sharon says she's no longer looking for perfection, which is probably just as well. Sharon is also only keeping 14 acts, so three quarters of them will be going-home. She dismisses Justine, thankfully. Maria and Aaron the cab driver are staying. Sam is sent home, and smiles as he hears this. We all cry. Brenda, Andy and Glamour Michelle get called back. Arrogant Michelle is sent home, and looks utterly crestfallen by this. Champage corks pop across the land. The other four losers standing next to her applaud Sharon graciously, but Michelle does not join in. Rather than leaving, she walks up to Sharon's table and says "at least consider me as a maybe. I can't believe you won't consider me for the next stage; I truly believe that I have what you're looking for." Well, that solves that then, doesn't it? "Do you really think you were the best person here today?" asks Sharon. "Do you know what? Yes," snits Michelle. "Do you know what? All my life, I have never had the breaks, like many of us here I have had to fight tooth and claw for everything." Wa-wa-waaaaaaaah. I so don't care. "You're angry," Sharon tells her. "You're very angry. You're hostile, and that is not a likeable quality." She continues, telling Michelle that hostility never got anybody anywhere, that it's better to be nice, that Michelle is not gracious, and that she would like Michelle to leave. Sharon then calls security. Hurrah! Michelle's response? "I will challenge you on not being likeable." HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Breathe. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That is quite possibly the funniest thing I have ever heard. When I watched this the first time, I laughed so hard I expected to have a seizure. And also, Michelle? I challenge your challenge, because Joel said that you weren't likeable just last week before we even saw that. Penotlope and Dorothy are sent home. Tony Blair, Haifa and Fucking Chico are invited back.
And that's the end of that. Except it isn't, because I've got a whole 'nother episode to write about. Sniff.