Monday, October 03, 2005

These boots are made for bootin', part two

Transmission date: 1 October 2005

The second of two episodes, and if I'd known there would be double bills, I might not have started this website in the first place. The things I do for you people...

I’ve learnt a few things courtesy of the X Factor official website. 4Tune are actually called Fortune, and I’m surprised by this. Fourth Base are actually called 4th Ba5e, and I am not remotely surprised by this. And Janae is called Chenai, so I will be spelling that correctly from here onwards. I cannot, however, be fagged to back through all of the previous recaps and amend them. Plus that’d be meddling with history, and I really can’t be down with that.

Kate welcomes us back, and has thankfully changed out of the green camisole to let us know that this is a brand-new day. Unfortunately, the top she has changed into is similarly unflattering. She recaps what happened earlier tonight, but I've already done that and I ain't repeatin' myself, I say, I ain't repeatin' myself.

Just before we start, I have a brief stylistic point to make: I will only be providing links to help identify contestants if they were not mentioned in the earlier programme. If there is not a link and you don't know who I'm talking about, I'm afraid you'll just have to click the link above and look through that entry to find a link to that act's first appearance in there [And you should have been paying more attention. - Joel]. Sorry kids, but I'll be here all night otherwise.

The judges all have a new challenge for their contestants. Sharon gives her contestants a list of five songs, which they must choose one of to learn inside out. That sounds a lot like the challenge Louis used yesterday, Sharon. Get with the programme. Louis separates the 16-24s into three groups, each with a different song to learn overnight (so presumably this happened last night - the continuity fairy has deserted her post [She’s probably drunk - Joel] [Did she go out with the groups then? – Steve] and he tells them he wants "star quality" this time. Well, I'd like star quality continuity, but we can't have everything. Simon sends his groups out to get wankered at his expense. Hurrah! Also: that'll be good for their vocals! I sense a trick. The solo acts, meanwhile, are busy rehearsing. Chico is rehearsing 'Walk On By', and tells us he can make a song up on the spot. Remember that, kids. James, in a natty yellow string vest, can't describe how he would feel if he got through tomorrow. The groups are getting shitfaced. It's all very dull thus far, isn't it?

We're back in Louis's boot camp. Kate tells us that the contestants have only one shot at getting it right today. First up is Michelle - and since there have been three Michelles over the course of tonight, I will clarify that this is the 21-year-old Michelle who failed her initial audition last year, and looks like Kelly Clarkson. She sings 'I'll Be There', and rewrites the tune in the process. Evie says that Michelle has passion, and that "she took risks...they didn't always pay off, but she took risks because she knew she had to give it everything, and I like that." Nicholas (I think), sings 'The End of the Road', and is severely let down by the honky-tonk piano that's serving as his backing. Montage, montage, montage. Alexandra also sings 'The End of the Road', and knocks it out of the park. Daniel talks about his many rejections, and how he's born to stand out in a positive way. He sings 'Always On My Mind', and I really don't hear enough of it to comment on the quality. Trevor sings 'I'll Be There', and with his white t-shirt and gold chain, he kind of looks like he ought to be the good angel on Eminem's shoulder. James sings the same song, and I'm really not sure that singing a song by the Jacksons is the best course of action for him. Also, I can't shake this feeling that if he were to win this, we'd see James on clipshows in twenty years time, no taller than he is now, but paler and quite possibly coked off his tits. It worries me, that's all, in a too-much-too-young kind of way. He's so very young. [I know what you mean. He’s the same age as Trevor and Alexandra, but they don’t seem nearly as foetus-like. - Joel]

Chenai looks incredibly nervous. Her version of 'Always On My Mind' is impressive in that she makes it her own without utterly ruining it, although the last note is perhaps questionable. Faye thought it was excellent, Evie criticises Chenai for not communicating, "the same as yesterday".

Just like earlier, we're treated to a montage of what happens when the pressure gets to people. Basically, they fall apart and forget the words to old standards, which really ought to be impossible. Richard, you might remember, fell apart in his audition yesterday, something which Kate tells us has never happened in his seven years of performing on the Welsh club circuit. In an attempt to prevent a reprise, he's been up all night learning the song. It seems like a good idea, but I can't help thinking that a good night's sleep might have been more effective, because he looks rough and exhausted. He stumbles on the second line and asks to start again. Louis says that he's been given too many chances, so I assume the answer is no. Outside, he looks tearful and tells us how hard he's been trying, and it's kind of hard not to feel sorry for him, but I'm just about managing it.

The exhausted auditionees lie on the floor while Louis and the panel come to a decision. James, in a cute shot, listens to his iPod. They are called in one by one, and some people whom I don't recognise are told they have to leave. Richard, too, is sent home. Josh Groban's 'You Raise Me Up' plays, so it doesn't take a genius to work out that something life-changing is about to happen to Daniel. Louis tells him that Daniel is the one they've been talking about the most, but sadly it's not enough, for his dream ends here too. Louis tries to emote sympathy, but we are not fooled. Outside, Daniel looks devastated. Louis expresses worries about Trevor's body and James's voice, but they both make it to the final seven. In an almost callously abrupt meeting, Louis tells Michelle "You really should be proud of yourself; you've achieved so much. You're going home, I'm sorry." Ouch. Michelle, however, smiles and takes it on the chin. At least until she gets outside and can cry on Kate's shoulder. Nicholas makes the top seven, as does Alexandra. Shane (I think) also makes the final seven. [Shane makes me laugh because he looks all tough, then talks in a big gay gay gay voice. - Joel] Chenai, Louis says, has "probably had the longest journey of anybody here today". But she's in the final seven! By my reckoning, that makes six people, so one person got through whom we didn't see. Who could it be?

After the break, an extreme close-up of Kate in Simon's Kent countryside manor serves to highlight the alarming similarity between the chandelier and her earrings. Having had a night off down the boozer, they are given their task: they have one hour to learn a song. The impression we're given at this point, incidentally, is that it will be an unfamiliar song, so I thought perhaps they'd had a song written for them, or that Simon had picked something especially obscure. A montage of the final 14 rehearsing, all looking pressured but cheerful, which I find rather charming. Simon drives himself to work again. Fortune stop rehearsing after only half an hour. 4th Ba5e are having some last-minute tuning problems, and it is quite funny to watch them adding lots of unnecessary notes into the proceedings. Simon pulls up outside in his Rolls Royce with a blurred-out numberplate (I wonder if that's an optional extra?). A cutaway shows the Rolls Royce emblem sliding into the bonnet as he walks off, presumably as a theft-prevention measure, which makes me giggle. Simon greets the troops and tells them that they have to impress him. "No excuses today; you've got good songs."

The Conway Sisters are the first group in, and it's a bit of an unholy mess. I don't recognise the song, but I'm not sure if that's the song itself or their interpretation of it. [I knew it. I know I knew it. I’ve also forgotten it. - Joel]This, again, makes me think that the groups are being given deliberately obscure songs to see how well they can learn them in a short time. Simon is disappointed at their failure to live up to his expectations, but he blames the pressure and it sounds as though he still believes they have potential. Outside, the girls tell Kate that they think they're done for. Then, however, a duo (another I don't recognise) perform for Simon singing Mariah Carey's 'Hero', which really isn't that obscure. I'm fairly certain I could go into an audition and sing that song cold if it was thrown at me unexpectedly. Probably not well, mind, but I'd know the words and the tune. So at this point I begin to wonder exactly how much learning was involved in the one hour that all the groups had, and whether some had an advantage considering that they might well have already known the song they were given. Simon pronounces the duo "charming" after they leave, and it's true that one of them has a definite twinkle in his eyes.

Mario and Luigi return, promising a nerves-free performance, and they sing 'Every Breath You Take', which I'm sure everybody over the age of ten has a reasonably decent working knowledge of. Journey South are given 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For', which, you might remember, THEY ONLY FUCKING WELL SANG AT THEIR FIRST AUDITION. How is that "having to learn a song in one hour"? Shenanigans! I call shenanigans! Grrr. It's a terrible performance as well, all scrunched-up eyes and constipated faces which just scream "sub-par pub band" at you. They look like they should be singing this at the end of a football match or something. The bloke on Simon's panel (whose name I still do not know) thinks he caught "a moment of magic", but Simon thinks they've been in the clubs too long to become credible recording artists. With all due respect, I doubt credibility is going to trouble the winner of this show, whomever it happens to be. [But that’s not going to stop Journey South being as credible as their little hearts can take by singing U2 all the time! I mean, U2! They have guitars and everything. - Joel]

Addictive Ladies perform 'Never Ever', and again, I'd be very surprised if they didn't already know most, if not all, of the words to this. My suspicions are confirmed by the fact that they appear to have stolen the same dance routine that All Saints used for it. Their performance is messy, and far too fast. The judges, however, are all surprised that they liked the rendition in spite of all that was wrong with it. Eskimo Blonde tell us that they like being the underdogs because that gives them more to achieve in the long run. This way they get to take on board their criticisms and learn from them, I hearing this correctly? It just seems odd behaviour from reality TV contestants. Well done to them. Their song? '...Baby One More Time', and I'm tired of pointing out just how well-known all of these songs are. Their performance is good, although Simon thinks it's a mess. He does like the girl in the middle, however.

Boyband showdown! Fortune point out that they've got a different sound from The Brothers and 4th Ba5e. 4th Ba5e say that people "don't wanna see pretty boys any more", which is something I'm sure they can use to their advantage, hideous ill-styled swamp creatures that they are. The Brothers see their biggest competition as...themselves. Fortune sing 'You Are Not Alone', and they have a similar problem to Conceited Michelle, in that singing makes them all look really unattractive. Also, I'm distracted by the fact that every day they have worn matching clothing, which makes me wonder if they all came away packed with suitcases full of different-yet-matching outfit combinations for each day, in which case they are officially gayer than Joel and I added together and multiplied by Elton John and David Furnish. [Without the unpleasant sexual connotations of that sentence, Steve - Joel] The Brothers go in next, and sing 'Every Breath You Take', and Holly points out that two of them have always got their arms around each other, which is yet more HoYay! to add to this evening's tally. 4th Ba5e get their words all wrong, and one of them asks if they can start again. Simon tells them they won't be able to do this on live TV. Outside, they are convinced it's game over, and one of them points out that it's unlikely Simon will put three boybands through.

Montage of potential popstars on death row (not literally). More fake-out and trickery to entice us to second-guess who will make the final seven. A fake-looking sun sets. The twinkly duo from earlier return, and Simon is all smiles. "You're good singers. I think the girls would love you, and I have made a decision, guys. You haven't made the final seven." WOW. That is harsh. Quite unnecessarily so, I thought. Journey South, however, do make the final seven. Mario and Luigi do not. Simon tells Addictive Ladies he needs to be certain they will cope in a live environment. He obviously is, because they go through. So do Eskimo Blonde, and I am surprised at how glad I am to hear this. Simon tells the Conway Sisters that they fell apart. Marie says apologetically "we just didn't have enough time to rehearse", and Simon firmly tells her that they had as much time as everyone else. Except that isn't strictly true, because they went first, so what was to stop the others practising in the waiting room while the Conway Sisters were auditioning? Anyway, it's a moot point because they make the final seven. So do Fortune. And The Brothers. And, surprisingly, so do 4th Ba5e, and their shock is palpable.

At Sharon's boot camp, Sharon gives all of her hopefuls the opportunity for three minutes one-to-one time with her so that they can get to know each other a little better. How very Tyra Banks of her. Andy is up first. Entering Sharon's "boudoir", Andy comments "bin men don't get this every day". Heh. Sharon advises him not to hold back. Brenda comes in clutching a fan. A montage, and what is the song playing over the top? 'My Sharona'. Hee! Very good, music editors. Gold star. Fucking Chico brings flowers. Sharon: "Oh, Chico, you are such a tart!" WORD. And I don't mean that as nicely as Sharon did. He's wearing a fucking beret, for crying out loud. Haifa is hungry for this, and ready. Brenda promises to bring it. Sharon warns her not to blow it; Brenda promises to blow Sharon's hair off. Brenda to win!

Brenda is the first one up, and we get a quick glimpse of her first audition while she pronounces the experience "mad". She sings 'Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me', from a book of Exceedingly Apt Song Choices. Sharon applauds gaily at the end. Outside, Brenda prays "please, let that be enough". Another guy whose name I don't know sings the same song as Brenda. I want to like this guy, but he looks too much like Peter Brame for my liking. [Oh, him! With the big poached egg eyes. - Joel] Sally, the Lisa Stansfield lookalike, sings 'Walk On By' and it is horrible. She mangles the words thus: "If you see me walking down the street, and I start to cry, deep down in feet". Hee! Interestingly, there follows a montage of people singing 'Walk On By', including Andy, and they seem to be singing it in a variety of different keys, even though the keyboard accompaniment remains the same.

Now, remember how Chico said he could make up a song on the spur of the moment? Here it is: "You know I'm a superstar / And I'll travel so far / I've done all that I can do / You've got to put me through / Sharon, don't let me slip by, baby / Ohhh / [Spoken] Now put me through." So shameless. HATE. Sharon cackles. "Not one word!" she says, referring to the fact that Chico was meant to be singing 'Walk On By', as we saw earlier. As one judge concludes: "he can't dance. He can't sing. He can't even remember." Heh.

Haifa's up next, and she tells the camera what she just told Sharon. They play more Josh (sic) Stone as she talks, and GIVE IT A FUCKING REST ALREADY. She's meant to be singing 'I Only Want To Be With You', but manages to fluff almost every single line, then she dries completely. Sharon is "on the fence" about this, and I have to say, to wreck your performance that much and still leave the judges "on the fence" about whether you should go home is one hell of an achievement in my book. Another freaking montage of nerves. Michelle doesn't cover her fluff well (heh); "just a glamour model trying to sing" says the snide judge to Sharon's right. [I think she did better than the other people who forgot the words – at least she carried on and made a go of it. – Joel] The judge with the multicoloured beard points out, as I said earlier, that these are well-known songs, and should as such be almost impossible to forget the words to. Maria goes in last, and has the added pressure of her wedding tomorrow. She sings 'I'm Gonna Make You Love Me', and is less breathy this time around. Katy points out here that the big difference between Maria and Brenda and everyone else is that Maria and Brenda have energy and look like they're having fun, whereas everyone else almost looks a bit embarrassed. [It was at this point that I realised that Maria is jaw-droppingly beautiful and remember that in the split second we saw of her audition I assumed she was about 20, when she is in fact 30. She’s stunning. - Joel]

Final waiting room. Final set of judges' comments. Hurry up! Enough of the filler! Bloated, this show is. Michelle feels like she's messed it up, and that she's "always been so unlucky". Oh yeah, having long blonde hair and massive breasts is so unfortunate. No one will look at you! Michelle goes in to see Sharon, all tearful. Sharon sends Michelle home. We started tonight with three Michelles; and then there were none. Kate asks Michelle what she'll do next, Michelle hasn't a clue. [I’m actually glad about this. I was directed to something of Michelle’s on the internet, and let’s just say she’s done a lot more than page three modelling. And if she’d got to, say, the final 6, this would eventually have come out and the press would have absolutely destroyed this poor woman’s life. At least she gets to go home dignity intact this way. - Joel] Andy goes through. A girl with a northern accent whom I don't remember from the preliminaries is given "one more chance" despite getting her song wrong earlier. Through tears of joy, she says that she "can't get to get some tissue and a brew." Heh. Tony, Aaron and Sally all get sent home. The monkey-faced Peter Brame lookalike from earlier is called Richie, and makes the top seven. He genuinely can't believe it, and it's quite sweet. Maria impressed Sharon, and makes the top seven. Chico walks in, and Sharon asks him what he did. "Chico, I'm really really sorry," Sharon says. "I understand," says Chico, clearly expecting the same thing that we all are. "I know I am going to end up kicking myself but I am going to put you through to my top seven," says Sharon. I'm sorry: THE HELL? I mean, I know this competition is a big joke, but don't ask me to suspend my disbelief that much. Holy hell. Brenda is next, and if she doesn't go through after all that I will hunt Sharon down. Fortunately, Brenda is in the top seven and screams with bug-eyed joy. Haifa let herself down, according to Sharon. She promised herself she'd be strong, but then breaks down when Sharon won't tell her. Haifa is in the top seven. Again, we only saw six. Who are we not being told about? [I cannot express my loathing for Sharon at this point. Haifa, who messed up the words? Northern Girl and Richie, who messed up the words AND the notes? CHICO?! What is WRONG with this woman? - Joel]

Coming up next week: another double bill (you'll find out how it feels, Joel). The contestants go to the judges' "homes". Louis takes the 16-24s to Dublin. Simon takes the groups to Spain. Sharon takes the over-25s to her home in Beverley Hills. No disrespect to Dublin, but one lot got a raw deal, didn't they? There will be one final challenge. One final decision. Chico will sing ankle-deep in water into what I can only hope is a live microphone. Mmm...toasty! The final four will be revealed. Tension!

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