Transmission date: 12 November 2005
It is with a heavy heart that I sit down to write this, for this will be our last update on the show. Joel and I have talked it over, and despite our commitment to see the whole sorry charade through to the bitter end, we just cannot face watching this show again after what happened tonight. We're sorry, and we hope you all understand and won't hold this against us, but we've both absolutely had it. [Yup. I suddenly understand why Television Without Pity has to pay its recappers, because there is no way I could continue watching this piece of trash for fun. - Joel]
We get the usual "tonight on The X Factor" intro, and it's very swift this week. I wonder if that's because the show's running time has been cut, AT LAST. Kate comes onto the stage, and for once I don't think she looks like ass on a plate. I am, sadly, to be proved wrong once we get a wider shot of her. She's wearing this strange top with what looks like a large sheet of silk wrapped around her middle. If you're familiar with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode entitled 'This Year's Girl', it looks not unlike that horrible massive-horizontal-banded blouse that they forced poor Amber Benson into that made her look three times her usual size. Similarly, it does Kate no favours.
Kate introduces the judges, and Sharon has apparently come as Austin Powers for the evening. Seriously, what is with all the ruffles and velvet, Sharon? It isn't a flattering look. We're introduced to the contestants, and I could write a bit about this, but really you know who's left, you've seen this bit before, so let's skip ahead.
First up is an act from the 16-24 category. It's odd; I assumed they would make Sharon go first as she's the only one with four acts left. But no, it's Shayne, who Louis informs us, in something of an exclusive revelation, is from Manchester. No! Really? I am very surprised. In his VT intro, there is some talk about Simon's criticism from last week, and Shayne and Louis seem quite angered about it. This just serves to make them both look stupid, because Simon was right. Also making Shayne look stupid? That beanie. Take it off, Shayne. Shayne is nervous because he is going to have to dance this week. There are some new glamour shots at the end, and where they were against a glimmering back blackground before, now the background is white. Shayne is also wearing white, and white on white really suits him. He should take up fencing. He comes onto the stage and stands upstage rather than downstage, which seems unusual. The backing track for 'Cry Me A River' (Justin Timberlake, not Julie London) kicks in, and I sigh with the sheer inevitability of this song choice. I think it's a bad choice because it doesn't do much from a vocal showcase point of view, it's all about the production. Shayne gives it a good shot, but to be honest this song was a mistake. He doesn't do a good job of transposing from the low notes to the high notes, and his high notes are squeaky and off-pitch. Also, he's not much of a dancer, and when he dances with his hands on the hips, he looks quite, quite gay. I also feel compelled to express my disgust at the omission of the second verse, because the "don't act like you don't know it" line is the best part of the entire song, as established by me and my sister back in 2003. The key change is extremely awkward, both in the backing track and in Shayne's singing. [Plus there’s no way to sing this song without it being ‘Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be Justin Timberlake.’ He even had the ‘oh!’ and stuff in the same place. - Joel] Judges' comments: Simon welcomes Shayne back to the 21st century. He says that Shayne has the potential, with the right songs, to be within two to three years one of the most successful male solo artists in this country. While I usually love to agree with Simon, I think this is absolute horseshit. It took Will Young that long to achieve the same thing, and Shayne is Will Young as purchased from TK Maxx. Sharon is pleased to see Shayne acting like a 21-year-old and looking like a 21-year-old. I wasn't aware he'd done anything else. I know Louis picked him a few songs from the dark ages, but it wasn't like Shayne came out in a pair of comfortable slacks and sang them in an armchair whilst listening to the World Service. Now, do you remember the thing that Sharon had for Shayne that was warm? She's brought it in and wants him to see it. The ITV compliance team start biting their nails. Sharon whips it out (steady) and it is, I think, a little wolfhound, although I'm happy for experts on breeds of dog to correct me here. [I think it’s one of her dozens of Pomeranians. - Joel] Basically, all you need to know is that it isn't her minky, thank sweet merciful crap. Louis babbles something supportive that I didn't really care enough to listen to properly, and Shayne tells the judges (in his big gay voice, TM Joel) that he wanted to show people how much he wants it (DRINK!) and that he hopes people vote for him.
Next up is Maria, and I'm starting to cry a little just thinking about it. Don't ask me why, but I had a horrible feeling that this wasn't going to be a good week for Maria. I think I may be psychic, but more on that later. Sharon says that this week's song choice is "from the left field" and Maria says it's a tough rock song. She also states that she's had a lot of trouble learning it and that the lyrics don't stay in her head which, well, that isn't good. Couldn't she have just done 'Since U Been Gone' if she wanted to go rocky for this week? She already knows the words to that one. Maria's song for this week is 'Brown Sugar', [Making me very glad that’s Sharon’s intro about a big cup of brown sugar wasn’t just some horrible race-pimping. - Joel] and while she's giving it 100% as always, it's simply totally the wrong song for her. She's struggling to be heard over the backing, and I think another big mistake that Maria made tonight was wearing trousers and thus hiding her awesome legs. It's not her best performance, but it's still a good performance because it's Maria and she's incapable of delivering anything but [And she was still as sexy as hell. - Joel]. Louis says that she reminds him of Tina Turner, and that it wasn't an obvious choice of song for her but that she gave a great performance and deserves to be here (DRINK!) I'm going to buy Louis a word-a-day calendar for Christmas, in the hope that he might extend his vocabulary if there's a third series. And as well as the calendar I will also buy him a pitbull trained to sic people called Louis Walsh, for reasons that will become clear later. Actually, I wonder if Backup is available for hire? Simon disagrees totally with Louis, and says that last week Maria stole the show, where this week she was brought down to the level of a singer at a New Year's Eve party. A good New Year's Eve party, he qualifies, but a New Year's Eve party nonetheless. Ah, New Year. When the thoroughly-deserving winner of this show will be freshly crowned, and there will be much rejoicing in the streets, except from those of us, like Joel and me, who no longer give a tiny rat's ass. Simon says that you have to be dirty to sing that song, and Maria is not. Sharon: "You'd like to know if she is." Hee! Simon protests that Maria is a married woman, and her husband is a lucky man (and judging by tonight's edition of The Xtra Factor, a really cool and sweet man, so a big aww to that). Sharon says that she pushes Maria each week to rise above people's expectations, and that Maria delivers and that she's proud of her. Excuse me, I have something in my eye. Sniff. Maria thanks the judges, and talks about how she's still developing and learning and finding her niche. She thanks Sharon and Mark (Sharon's musical director or nearest equivalent thereof, I believe) for pushing her, and urges people to vote for her. Sniff.
After the break: the Conway Sisters, Andy, Journey South and Chico. My excitement here is tangible, obviously.
Back from the break, and Simon does an unusually sarcasm-free introduction for the Conway Sisters, who in their VT discuss how betrayed they felt by Simon's critique from last week, and that they don't believe they fell apart in the middle. In the nicest possible way, suck it up and get over it, because what you're doing right now is not going to make you better performers. [Exactly. They were all ‘We were wounded, wounded by Simon’s words!’ and it’s like, well, stop being shit, then he might say something nice about you. - Joel] Wondering if Simon might have a point, and doing something about it? Yeah, that might. They say how they chose their own song this week, and I'm pleasantly surprised to discover that it's En Vogue's 'Hold On' (which is not so much by En Vogue as it is by Wilson Phillips, an embarrassing mistake to have made, and my thanks to the kind-yet-anonymous commenter who pointed this out), a song that I love. Laura is playing the piano for this performance, and well done to them for playing an instrument that isn't a goddamned guitar. I am pleased to report that this is their best performance on the live show by a long shot - the harmonies are nicely judged and they keep it together much better than usual. Even Holly enjoyed it, and she hates this show (good news, Hol, you'll never have to watch it again after this week if you don't want to). Louis is a fan of the girls, he says, and this performance was much better than last week, even though it was a hard song (DRINK!), they did well. They're good Irish girls (CHUG!) and he wants them to fight. Presumably not each other [OMG that would be awesome. Wrestling in mud. Or potatoes. Did you know they’re Irish? - Joel], but rather to stay in the competition. Sharon takes issue with Louis's comment that the girls have "more talent than a lot of people here", by which Louis cheerfully admits he means Chico. He adds "not in my category", and yeah, Shayne and Nicholas are real finds, you jackass. Totally unique, and not in any way poor copies of Will Young and Craig David. Sharon tells the "King of Pop" to shut up, and seriously Sharon, don't feed that man's ego. Louis Walsh has done nothing for pop except deliver a few swift kicks to its rapidly decaying corpse with each successive Westlife album. Simon enjoys the bitchfight, as well he might. Sharon loves the song and loved the performance, which is all very nice. Simon wants to clear up that he doesn't think he picked the wrong song last week, and that he'd pick it again. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that there is no love lost between Simon and the Conway Sisters. Just a crazy theory of mine that came out of the left field. He thinks that they made the right decision in choosing this song and wishes them luck which, while all positive stuff, is still very cold when you think about it. Compare it to how he talks to Journey South and see what I mean. The girls thank the judges for giving them the chance to sing a song of their own choice.
Andy is next, or as Sharon puts it, "the SECOND of my FOUR acts". If I may quote from my notes, "One of hers is so going this week". I just wish I'd been proven wrong now. Andy in his VT: "I had a chat with Sharon and she thinks I need to raise my bar even more." Hee, because I'm 12. His song this week is one written for a four-part harmony, so we all know at this point that he'll be doing something by Boyz II Men, and sure enough, he goes for the very interesting choice of 'I'll Make Love To You'. He does an okay job on it, but he suffers from comparison to the layered harmonies of the original and his rendition sounds very thin by comparison, although he does kick ass a little bit when he starts ad libbing at the end. [Can I just say that I really didn’t enjoy this, purely because I really, really do not want Andy to make love to me, and that overshadowed vocal quality etc. - Joel] Louis says that Andy is a terrific singer, and that this was a hard song (DRINK!) because four people normally sing it. I really hope that they invent one of those pocket Louis Walshes on a keychain - you press a button and he tells you one of eight things that you already know. Fun for all the family! He does add that he prefers Andy doing Nat King Cole songs. Yes, Louis, but there is a chance that Andy might run out of famous Nat King Cole songs to sing, so do you not think it might be a good idea for him to have a Plan B? Simon admits he "thought Madame had gone nuts" when he heard this was to be Andy's song for this week, and suddenly I think how awesome Sharon would be in the lead role of Mother Clap's Molly House. He thinks Andy appealed to his target audience and gave them what they want. I hate how everything on this show is geared towards flogging your wares to the lowest common denominator, but the audience holler and stamp their feet dementedly in apparent support of this comment, so Simon doesn't finish his comment other than to say he thought it was great, and I bash my head against a supporting wall. Sharon just wants to let Andy's voice do the talking for him. Well, yes, Sharon, that is how most people operate, the deaf-mutes aside. "Give him a rock song to sing, that'll screw him!" pipes up Katy, and knowing what I know now, I cannot find enough word in the world to express my feelings here.
Kate, to the audience: "You're a rowdy mob tonight." Hee. Still to come, Journey South, Chico, Nicholas and Brenda. Brenda can't be on my screen soon enough, let me tell you.
An advert for a new variety of horse perfume. Oh, my mistake; it's Sarah Jessica Parker. She's called her new fragrance 'Lovely', so she's clearly as inventive as she is beautiful. A trailer for the Take That documentary, which is an excellent way of reminding me how much most of these losers suck.
Back from the ads, and Simon introduces Journey South, whom he refers to as "a group that you can just push push push". Yes, off a cliff cliff cliff. Just kidding. They're unsure about their song for this week. Isn't everyone? Apparently this was the first time they'd disagreed with Simon about the song choice, and he had to "have words". I wonder idly if thumbscrews were involved somewhere. Carl looks good in the new glamour shot; like Shayne, white is his colour. Um, except for the white jacket that he wears when he walks onto the stage, which looks like it spent its previous life restricting the movements of asylum inmates. [Seriously. White leather with a mandarin collar is not a look you want to be sporting unless you’re a villain in seventies sci-fi. - Joel] The flipping guitar is still there, electric again this time, and a mealy-mouthed rendition of 'Living on a Prayer' follows. Shock confession time: I actually quite enjoyed this performance. I mean, I still don't see anything in these guys that resembles the so-called X Factor, but I liked seeing them do something uptempo and singalong rather than more worthy acoustic crap. [Heh. Horses for courses – they completely lost all the goodwill they’d gained from me last week by this piece of bellowing nonsense. - Joel] The audience sings along, which is quite cool. Sharon liked the song and the performances, but points out that Carl (I think) looked uncomfortable on stage. She tells him to enjoy it because it's rock and roll, and I think she's channeling Gene Simmons here. Louis says something inconsequential. Simon spouts out yet more stuff about how much you can push Journey South and how they're willing to take risks, and how this risk paid off. Yeah, you're a hero, Simon, no doubt about that. I'll commission that commemorative plaque in your honour first thing in the morning. Andy says that he enjoyed himself, that this was their "most toughest" (sic) week yet, and that they hope to be back next week.
Back to Sharon and "oh dear, oh dear, those three little words again: it's Chico time". I really hate the expression on Chico's face when he hears that he's safe, as shown in the VT. He can't do anything subtly? Stupid question. Chico feels the slate is wiped clean now that Simon apologised, and that he's got as much chance as anyone to win. Sure, as much as anyone who's been in the bottom two twice. He says that he wants to prove to the country that he can sing, and that with this song it will be all about the vocal. By rights, this ought to have been his ticket home right here. Chico walks out in an open shirt and a vest that's tucked into his trousers and looks so much like a girl that I can't really do it justice. His song this week is Enrique Iglesias's 'Hero', and I am severely spooked because I had a premonition of this very moment earlier on today. Not knowing what anyone was singing this week, I was crossing the road in Ealing Broadway and halfway across I was suddenly struck with the knowledge that Chico would sing 'Hero' this week. It kind of sucks, because as I've made it clear on several occasions, if I'm to be given the powers of one of the Charmed ones, I want Prue's, not Phoebe's. Much as you'd expect, Chico's vocal is thin and wobbly and not at all suitable for a performance in the final eight of a talent contest. [It wasn’t quite as unbelievably hideous as I thought it would be though. It wasn’t Hollyoaks acting bad. - Joel] There's an awesome shot of the judges and Sharon's head is in her hands, like, tell it sister. Chico does a little twirl because he is a ponce and can't contain himself. There is a smoke machine which is totally overkill, and I fantasise briefly of a parallel universe where Chico chokes. Louis thinks that he thought Chico was crazy to do a ballad because the dancing is what sells him. I wouldn't even say that, I'd say it's the ego that sells him. Simon says, "Chico, we're friends now, so we can be honest with each other. You doing that ballad is like casting Ricky Gervais as Rambo." Heh. He says that Chico is an entertainer (and seriously, who in this day and age makes their living as an "entertainer" outside of a holiday camp?) and that he'd keep Chico in for another week so that he can go back to what he does best. Sheep farming? My mistake. Oh yes, do let's prolong the agony. I also have a full set of teeth that you may pull out with rusty pliers if you wish. Sharon says that Chico restrained himself; "I only saw one twirl." Hee. Chico thanks the judges for their candour, and does another twirl, standing on Kate's foot in the process. Hee, again.
Louis: "He's young, cool dude. It's Nicholas." I add Louis Walsh to my list of people who need to be reminded that the phrase "cool dude" is over, and has been since the mid-1990s. Nicholas talks in his weird robotic voice about the travesty that was his appearance in the bottom two last week [It was letting his family down. Woe! - Joel] and rubs the bridge of his nose to get the sympathy vote. It was a nightmare decision for Louis, and he went with Nicholas because he's a boy. Whoops, because "he can do a lot better on the show". Silly me, got that waxy buildup in my ears again. Nicholas VTs that he's picked a good song this week and has to step up and deliver. For a weird moment I want him to do well, and I have no idea why, since I don't care for the guy. He sings R Kelly's 'I Believe I Can Fly'. Coincidentally, whenever this record comes on, I too am convinced that life is nothing but an awful song. Funny that. He's better this week, but I still find him a boring and cold performer. I still feel like he's holding back, although on a technical level there's nothing specifically wrong with his performance. His run at the end is off, and ends abruptly and uncomfortably. I'm not sold, but I bet the judges and public will be. Sharon calls him "Nickeh" in a way that makes her sound like every single person I went to grammar school with. She approved of the song choice this week and likes his new, preppier look. He'd ditched the rhinestone belt, THANK GOD. Simon says, "it was good". He likens the performance to dinner with Louis Walsh: pleasant but forgettable. I thought he was going to go with brief and uncomfortable, but there you go. Simon says that there was no effort put into the song choice, that it was boring and had been done before. Louis tells Simon to shut up because he's "boring now". I miss the next bit, because all I can hear is the sound of a pot calling a kettle black emanating from my kitchen. Louis tells Nicholas that he sang like a star, and that Simon is just jealous. Oh good, we've officially reduced ourselves to the "you're just jealous" level of maturity. I'm so glad that happened. I must be very jealous of all these people, because I think this show sucks like and that everyone responsible for it ought to be executed without trial. Nicholas robots that he's glad he impressed Sharon and that he hopes to come back "one more time" and impress Simon, by which I really hope he means "once, in the results show, after which I will be voted off", except I know that's not how it goes.
Seriously, what is the point of that laptop on the judges' table?
Sharon introduces Brenda thus: "apart from singing great (sic), I should publish her diet because she looks fabulous". Heh. She really does, too. Brenda does the typical Brenda cackle at the end of her VT, and I'm getting a little bit bored of that now, but she looks stunning in the new glamour shots, so I'll forgive her. She sings Dionne Warwick's 'Heartbreaker' [Heh. I know it as Dolly Parton’s ‘Heartbreaker’, but it suddenly makes a lot more sense being sung by Brenda. - Joel], which is one of my favourite songs, and she does it justice. She's a little bit screechy in a few places, notably the "suddenly everything I ever wanted" line, but I can overlook that. Simon calls Brenda the most improved contestant since the contest began, and says that Louis would love her. I think we all know what he means by that, so I shall move on. Simon's only problem is that he thinks she will get work in the West End, but he's not sure if she's a recording artist. Sharon: "Why?" Simon: "Gut feeling." Sharon: "Gut feeling of what?" Simon: "Gut feeling." Sharon makes a long speech which basically boils down to: why did you create the only TV show in the world with no age limit (really? I know some people aged 15 and under who have a bone to pick with that theory) if you're going to say that Brenda is too old to succeed. Simon says that it's not a matter of age, and that he thinks Andy will sell records, because Andy has been preordained as the winner of this show and needs to be plugged on a regular basis. Brenda thanks Louis and Sharon, and invites Simon to put her in a studio once the show's finished so that she can prove herself as a recording artist. Classy comeback there, I think. [Seemed kind of petulant to me, but I guess there’s nothing you can say when Simon’s just said that. - Joel]
Kate reminds us that we're voting for our favourite. I think we got that by this point, Kate. Kate urges us all to vote, yada yada yada.
Earlier tonight! 8 acts sang live for your votes! For Louis, Shayne and Nicholas! For Sharon, Maria, Andy, Chico and Brenda! For Simon, the Conway Sisters and Journey South! But tonight one act must leave the competition for good! Well, that was a massive surprise. Thank you, Voice Over Man.
For the last hour we've been voting and apparently we're "painfully close" between the bottom three. Kate can't stress enough that this is our last chance to vote if we don't want to see our favourite in the bottom two. I've already voted, but still feel disturbingly nervous for Maria. The montage, and why are they still putting text vote up on the aston when that voting method is closed at this stage in the game?
One minute to go, and Kate announces that there have been over one million votes tonight. I don't remember her saying this last week, so I wonder if last week's vote tally was lower than usual. The lines close and Kate reveals the vote, in no particular order. The audience start shouting, because they are dimwits. Nicholas. Louis is overheard saying "bloody hell, fantastic". Hee. Brenda. Andy. Maria looks devastated at this point, and I think she knows what's coming. Shayne. Chico. "What time is it?" he yells. Fuck off and die time, you talentless buffoon. The one other act definitely coming back next week is going to find out after the break.
Most unwelcome ad break ever. I truly fear for Maria at this point.
The final act definitely coming back next week is Journey South, to no one's surprise. FUCKING HELL. I call my lawyer and officially file to divorce myself from the general public because they are morons. Seriously: Chico is safe and Maria is in the bottom two? WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH ALL OF YOU? Simon tells the Conway Sisters to enjoy themselves. Sharon tells Maria to own it. Louis tells both acts to sing it like they really really mean it. Stellar advice from all three mentors there, except for the “stellar” part. And the “advice” part. Singing for the possibly the last time on this show, Maria. She's really amped up the volume since her first performance, and while she's bringing it, she looks as gutted as I feel that she's here while Chico is enjoying a free ticket to the next show. This was a bad song choice for her. A better song and she would have been absolutely fine. It is a good performance though, and it's much better the second time, I think. [Totally. She gives it absolutely everything. - Joel] She looks thunderstruck at the end, and I don't blame her.
Some people walk behind Kate to set up the stage and it's quite funny. Kate brings our attention to the fact that neither act has been in the bottom two before. I know, and it sucks, because Maria doesn't deserve to be in the bottom two ever, and this is the Conway Sisters' best week so far. One of the Sisters (Sharon, I think) tells the audience that she wants to see them dancing, and Marie hits her lightly on the arm to get her to shut up. Hehehe. I think that they're not quite bringing it for the second time in the same way that Maria did, [Also totally. If this is the best they can do, when their place in the competition is at stake, well, that’s a bit sad, really. - Joel] but that Louis will save them because they're Irish. There is a shot of Chico clapping in the audience and I am filled with seething rage.
The audience start to shout a lot, and it sounds as though they're backing Maria. I'm still not terribly hopeful. Sharon votes to send home the Conway Sisters, unsurprisingly. Simon votes to send home Maria, which again is unsurprising (I think had they been anyone else's act he would never have saved the Conway Sisters, but with only two of his acts left in the competition I respect his decision even if I don't agree with it), but not in any way a popular choice with the audience. Louis shakes his head. Kate asks for the act he's sending home, and the audience shouts "Maria", which makes me think they want her to go home, even though I'm sure that's not what they mean. Louis says that the act he "has" to send home is Maria, and the audience is massively outraged, as am I. There is a mass of booing, and I don't think I've ever seen a reaction this strong on a show like this before. Even Kate is outraged, as she expresses her disbelief that "one of our biggest talents" is leaving the competition. Maria is emotional and so I am. I'm on the verge of tears just writing about it. We see Maria's X Factor journey. They show Maria singing 'You're Beautiful', which is just adding insult to fucking injury as far as I'm concerned. They end with her "goodnight" closing line from 'Emotion', and oh my god I'm crying again. Maria thanks Sharon for getting her that far. Sharon calls it a travesty and rages against the "Irish mafia" and says she's "had it". Kate asks Louis to explain his decision, and he says that he went with his heart. The audience boos him. Kate: "Maria: Louis says he followed his heart, Sharon says he went with his passport. What do you say?" Ha. Maria doesn't have anything bad to say to Louis, because she's awesome. Sharon says that Maria is going nowhere but into a recording studio, and I really hope that's true. What's awesome is that I have never seen so much time spent in shocked disbelief at someone's eviction from a talent show before. [I got the impression they extended the show just to get across more ‘people are disgusted’ footage. - Joel] I think the team behind this show never expected Maria to go so soon, and I’m not surprised. Clearly Kate is outraged, Sharon is outraged, the audience is outraged and everyone is baying for Louis's blood. As much as I hate to say this, he's only partly at fault here. Neither Maria nor the Conway Sisters should have gone this week, the voting was an absolute mess. Well guys, you'll get the winner you deserve with voting tactics like that. I sincerely hope you enjoy the rest of the series, because I am done with this fucking show for good. That's it. No more.
So that's it for us then. We hope you enjoyed reading these updates as much as we had fun ripping the show to shreds. Maria, if you happen upon this page, Joel and I would like to say that you were awesome and that your premature elimination was nothing short of an absolute joke. We wish you every success for the future. [And hope you take some solace from the fact that you got 11,000 text messages of support, and 92% of a poll on Xtra Factor saying Louis was wrong, and the general disbelief of the audience. - Joel] We also wish the best of luck to Brenda, who is about the only act we could stomach winning the thing now. If anyone still wishes to read recaps of the show, as far as we know Talent in a Previous Life will be continuing to do them, and they're funnier than us a lot of the time, so why not take your custom there? [We might be back in future for other stuff. Hopefully shows where we hate all the contestants, so there’s none of this disappointment stuff. - Joel]