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.