Programme 2: 26th August 2006
Sorry for the lateness of this one, folks. Joel and I are obviously VERY busy people and we found it difficult to hack time out of our busy bank holiday weekends to write the update. Plus, I was totally watching How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? on Saturday night instead, so it was a while before I even saw this one. Right, that's the housekeeping out of the way - on with the show! (Sorry you were subjected to this again, sweetie. I’ll write one eventually, promise. Kisses.-Joel)
Last week: All this shit happened. We were there. We're not telling you about it again. Tonight: more of the same. We know the drill by now. Cue cheap-looking titles! More guff about the number of applicants and an explanation of how the show works from Kate. You don't need to know that. But you do need to know we're in Bristol. Just FYI, Sean, Jonathan and The Unconventionals are used as the good examples of each category from last week. Simon is optimistic today, so I think we all know it's going to start horribly. Cue 57-year-old David, who is thoroughly convinced he's going to win. Well, that's all right then, shall we all pack up and go home? Just give him the prize and have done. Please? No? Oh, all right. David says, "if [the Beatles] had had me as frontman, who knows how well they'd have done?" Hmm. I'm uncomfortable when hubris does my job for me. Interestingly, as David walks in, he greets the panel by saying "Good afternoon." Either they start these auditions very late, or the show is lying to us when they say he's the first one in. Sigh. I really didn't expect the timeline to get massacred so early in the episode, but heck, they're always looking for new ways to surprise and delight me, right? Sharon tells us that they're looking for someone unique, with charisma, the voice, the look, and the ability to entertain. A sound cue ticks all of these off for David, which is kind of funny. David sings a song called 'Sexy Lady'. (Was it his own song? Cos I didn’t recognise it and sounded like something even Chris de Burgh would reject as a bit obvious and creepy.-Joel) It's every bit as awful as you'd expect. Sharon is barely able to speak through her laughter. Simon declares it "as bad as I've ever heard". David starts talking about how he should have been in the Beatles again, and I'm bored now. Can we move on? The editors flash back to Simon's comment about feeling optimistic, and yes, we got that he was setting himself up for a fall the first time you showed us. And even if you didn't, IT WAS UNDER FIVE MINUTES AGO. Credit us with the intelligence to join the dots without your help, please. It's a unanimous no, and the theme from The Magic Roundabout plays, which is awesome. (If confusing.-Joel) Cue montage of losers, and isn't this exactly how last week's show went? Come on, mix it up a little. A woman who looks like she got rained on hollers 'You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman' badly, someone with bad teeth shrills 'Unchained Melody' and so on. Cue backstage footage of the judges feeling depressed. Can someone call Beyoncé, because I'm getting a déjà vu.
Next up is 20-year-old Ashley, who has an awesome ‘fro. Kate runs her hands through it, the little minx. He's very skinny, as well. Sharon calls him stylish, and he sings 'A Ribbon In The Sky' by Stevie Wonder. I'm...not sure what to make of it, personally. For some reason, it sounds fine technically, but it sounds a little...off, for reasons I can't quite put my finger on. However, I am not on the judging panel, and Simon declares it "brilliant", although he does admit the "vocals were a bit all over the place", but he sees potential in Ashley. Sharon applauds his style again, and Louis calls him original. Ashley's through to the next round, and the judges are happy. (He had a lovely tone. And was fit. And seemed sweet. Bravo.-Joel) I think Sharon's going to have something warm and wet for him later. Ashley's mum is also pleased. Now we get a montage of people who were good, but we don't get to see most of them sing, because...well, why would we need to? Among the songs being sung are 'You Raise Me Up' (AAAARGH) by a clean-cut looking chap, and 'Son Of A Preacher Man' by a bottle-blonde lady, who appears to be here with her hen party.
We're off to the next city, but not before the ads after which someone will be fey, someone will be swing, and someone will not put herself through. Shocker! Since the adverts are reminding us, we would like to urge you to go and see Snakes on a Plane, since it's the best motherfuckin' film we've seen in ages. We wouldn't recommend you get your broadband from BT however - nothing to do with their professional reputation, but mainly because we want Kris Marshall to die horribly with the rest of his smug TV family. (’I’m a serious artiste and above such trash as ‘My Family.’ Oooh, an advert!’ Tosser.-Joel) Also, why does the trail for Sharon's chatshow use the music from Smack the Pony?
Manchester! Aieee. Weren't we in Manchester last week? Yes, we were. So now the show wants us to think it went off to Bristol for a bit, and then back to Manchester? Where precisely did Sean's five minute breather for a glass of water fit into this? Is a little bit of timeline continuity too much to ask for? Apparently no one believes they've got the X factor more than 20-year-old Performing Arts student Warren. Was this established through a series of psychometric testing? I'm just curious. Warren has a dodgy fringe, but wants every kid in the land to be dancing around the living room to his songs. Just the kids? I guess we've found this year's Chico, then. Warren sings 'This Time I Know It's For Real' nasally, complete with dance routine. It's kind of girly, and that's all I'm saying. Also, I think I choreographed this exact routine for my A level Theatre Studies project. Creative theft! Plagiarism! I'm calling my lawyer. And possibly Beyoncé again, just for the heck of it. Warren ends on the splits. The judges are, shall we say, not impressed. Warren protests: "I'm a singer, and a dancer, and I have got something in me." Simon's face suggests he's thinking of the same joke here that I am, but I'll let it go in case it prejudices my dance theft case. It's a no from Louis. It's a yes from Sharon. Oh, Sharon, don't make me come down there. Seriously, I am not above slapping a lady. (We will cut a bitch.-Joel) Warren says he just needs to get through because it's all he's wanted to do, but since Sharon's partner in crime Louis has already said no, it seems unlikely. To whit, Simon says no. Warren tries to convince Simon to put him through, but because Simon is not a pushover, Sharon. Simon calls security, and I'm starting to think Tony from security should get his own show. In the confessional, Warren lays into Simon: "He knows as much about pop music as I know about football, which is not very much." Leaving aside the obvious jokes here, there's an interesting point to be made. I don't think Simon does know a lot about pop music, and I doubt he cares. But he does have a canny knack for spotting who's marketable and who isn't, which is why he's here. Because let's face it, most modern pop music is 95% marketing and 5% music. So, in short: go away, Warren. (Go and be a dancer, reedy boy.-Joel)
Montage o' dancing - some more successful than others. It includes the polka dot dress woman who flashed Louis in last week's previews, just FYI. Some guy "sings" and "dances" a literal interpretation of 'From Paris To Berlin'. I think he didn't go far enough - he should have actually been running between the two cities while singing. Heck, I'd have put him through on the strength of that. Classically-trained Paris is next. She looks very tired. Sharon declares her name "fabulous". Paris is 16. She's going to sing 'Time To Say Goodbye'. "So you want to be an opera singer?" says Simon, sounding surprised. Paris does indeed. "Good for you!" replies Simon, and Sharon and Louis make noises of agreement. And...I'm kind of surprised by that to be honest. I thought they'd rip into her for not aspiring to release anaemic covers of Westlife songs, but there you go. I'm not a fan of operatic singing, but Paris sounds fairly good for a 16-year-old. (She’s not, so much. She is good for a 16-year-old, but she’s not that good in absolute terms at all.-Joel)The judges like that she's different. "It's such a change, a young girl coming in here not singing 'Hero'," says Sharon. BAHAHAHA! Awesome. Simon thinks she's good but doesn't think she's ready yet. "She's only 16," says Louis, which appears to be his only comments, just with slight differences of inflection. Simon is aware of that, but is concerned that Paris may break from the pressure. It's three yesses. "But can I just tell you something?" says Paris. "I can't go through." It would be a lot more dramatic if the previews hadn't already shown us this bit. Why can't Paris go through? She's only 14. And kudos to her for admitting it at this stage, I think. Mentioning no names, Nadine Coyle. The judges are dumbstruck. Sharon clicks into mother hen mode: "Oh darling, come over here. Now how did this happen?" Hee! I love it when Sharon mothers the contestants. She's just got this lovely, sensible air about her that implies she can solve anything by straightening your tie and giving you a hug. Paris just wanted Simon to hear her voice. The judges all agree that she's very talented, and if she were the right age they would have put her through - which we know, because we just saw it. They invite her to come back in two years, and Paris leaves. Awww. I have to say, I thought that was handled rather well by all parties. I wouldn't be surprised if someone signs her up before she hits 16, though, which I suspect was her plan all along.
73-year-old Dot shows Kate her packed lunch. Heee! I love Dot already. She tells Louis she's 74 next week. Louis tells her she doesn't look it, because Louis always charms the old ladies. Dot will be singing 'I've Got You Under My Skin'. I'm sad to say it's not the powerhouse performance I was hoping for, because after that intro I really wanted Dot to be this amazing singer on top of everything. The judges stop her after a few lines, and Dot starts to walk to the exit. Bless! Sharon tells her to stop. Simon thought she was "okay" and "nice". Louis likes her, but doesn't think her voice is strong enough for the competition, so it's a no. "Pardon?" says Dot. "I'm going to have to say no," repeats Louis. "I don't mind!" says Dot, with this expression on her face that implies the very concept of wanting the judges to put her through is absolutely insane. I sincerely, truly love Dot. Dot to win! Sharon pronounces Dot lovely, and the judges send her cheerily on her way. Dot tells us in the confessional that it would have been nice to go through, but she has her holidays booked for the 19th; she's going to Turkey. Ladies and gentlemen: Dot. The best X Factor winner we'll never have. (They really should have Dot replaying on giant screens in the holding areas as a lesson in ‘How To Take Rejection Well, You Ravenous Fame-Whores’-Joel)
Next up is 17-year-old Raymond from Liverpool. He's the swinger from the previews. Wait, that sounds dirty. Raymond enjoys a bit of banter with the judges, during which we establish that he wants to be big, and he loves Elvis and Dean Martin. Jolly good. Raymond sings 'Ain't That A Kick In The Head'. Sharon loves him. Simon thinks that 17-year-old boys doing swing can often be precocious, but didn't think this was bad at all. Louis sees great potential. "But," says Simon, "if you're going to sing those songs, you've got to be really good. At the moment, you're good." Which I think is fair. Sharon calls him "a natural". It's three times yes. Well, actually it's two yesses, and an "oh God, I hope you're in my category" from Sharon. (I hate Ray. I hate Swing. He’s a one-trick pony who will fall horribly short later in the competition.-Joel)
Coming up: someone who runs a Louis Walsh fansite, and someone who has been lead down the wrong path. Adverts.
We're now in Birmingham. First up is 62-year-old factory worker George, who can barely speak clearly, so things do not look good. Seriously, I don't understand a word he says, and I suspect that's meant to be the joke. The first line of George's song is "when no one else can understand me". Oh, teh lulz. It's 'The Wonder Of You'. Sharon politely tries to tell him that he has a problem with his diction, but Simon cuts across first and makes the point rather more bluntly. It's a no for George. Somebody outside is wearing X Factor contact lenses. Creepiest fuckin' thing I've seen in a while. I could swear I just saw Barbara Windsor in the queue. Next up is vocal harmony group 4Sure (I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume they spell it like that). (Not a doubt.-Joel) One of them is a social worker during the day. One is an IT consultant. One is a day-centre officer for learning disabilities. And one is an "entertainer". They sing a harmonised version of 'If You're Not The One'. To be honest, I'm not keen. "It's good, other than the fact they weren't singing the melody," says Simon. I suspect that was my problem with it. Call me old fashioned, but I do like some semblance of melody in my pop music somewhere. It's a unanimous yes for 4Sure. (Fucking close harmony barbershop bullshit. If there are so many of you, sing some bloody counterpoint.-Joel) Lots of groups get through, which is nice. I really hope there are lots of groups this year, because last year's lot I found rather lacking. A girl group sings 'Harder To Breathe', and a boy group sings a slightly atonal rendition of 'More Than Words'. They both get through. A girl group sings Britney's '(You Drive Me) Crazy' and proceeds to squeal loudly when they get through, freaking the fuck out of both Sharon and Kate.
Next up is 17-year-old Kylie, whom I suspect is the "led down the wrong path" girl already. She has brought her "entourage" (like ITV isn't plugging that show heavily as it is) and her number one fan is her mum. Kylie says her name is Kylie Knowles, "but you can call me K-Star". And what are the odds of someone who shares a name with two popstars being completely wrong for this? Let's find out. Kylie is very confident of having a No.1 single and a massive album. Kylie sings a song that I recognise but can't place. Simon tells Kylie "you will never ever make a career in pop music. It's hard when you're good. It's impossible when you're okay." That should be the mantra for this show. Sharon tells Kylie this is not for her. Kylie tearfully states that she isn't going to give up on her dreams. Simon tells her to "forget it". It's a unanimous no. Kylie's entourage burst into the audition room. There are harsh words, and Simon tells Mama Kylie that she is giving her daughter false hopes. Mama Kylie disagrees, unsurprisingly. And here we go: "You have led her down the wrong path here, she will never be a pop star." Kylie leaves, vowing to prove them wrong. Outside, Kylie's mum rants, and claims that Simon said he wouldn't patronise Kylie, but he patronises himself all the time. Um...okay? I don't really get where she's going with that one, but there's no fruit in pursuing it. (I…don’t think she knows what that word means. And putting her through on ‘you’re poor and fat’ sympathy vote would definitely have been patronising.-Joel)Montage of embittered people in the confessional.
Next up is Louis's No.1 fan. She runs Louis's unofficial internet fansite. She runs into the audition room, ecstatic to be meeting Louis. Simon, obviously, finds the whole thing hysterically funny. She shows Louis the messagebook from her fansite. "It's quite thin," giggles Simon. She [did we ever get a name?] explains about the fansite. "I presume you're not very busy," zings Simon. Hee. Simon asks if Louis's popular. He is - the fansite has 45 members. Hahaha! Awesome. Louis, to his credit, finds this as funny as Simon does. Simon asks how long the site's been running for, and the answer is "just under a year". "That's four a month," grins Simon, who is clearly having his Best Day Ever. Simon reads a poem from the fanbook to Louis, and I'm not quite sure who's going to die from laughter-related asphyxiation first. Possibly me, if I'm honest. She's going to sing 'My Heart Will Go On' just for Louis, and Simon and Sharon move to the sidelines. Hehehehe. She's actually not terrible - she can carry a tune, but her voice is kind of reedy and lacking strength. They've put worse people through before, put it that way. Vicky! Her name is Vicky. Simon and Sharon tell Louis that it's his decision, and Simon cajoles Louis from the sidelines to vote yes or no. It's an absolute yes from Louis, because flattery does get you everywhere. Vicky gives Louis another hug. "That was ker-lassic!" declares Sharon, sounding completely like the "I ain't told you, 'ave I?" character from The Catherine Tate Show. Backstage, Simon makes fun of Louis again, and Louis confiscates the fanbook to prevent further ribbing. Sharon tells Louis to be flattered, not embarrassed. Simon pretends to be answering phones for the Mad About Louis Club, informing callers that there are "plenty of vacancies". Simon's slightly fey phone-answering persona amuses me. (Best bit of entire episode. Loved. It. And even more for the fact that she was actually quite good.-Joel)
Still to come: possibly the most important part of someone's life.
Next up is 24-year-old Richard, who has interesting, if greasy-looking, hair. Hair is very important in the audition process, y'know. Richard wants to go the right way in life, rather than his dad's way. I'm not quite sure what his dad did wrong, but never mind. Richard has a very nice voice and a cute grin. The judges think he has potential to improve, and it's a yes from everyone, and a hug from Sharon. Another montage of people getting through. I bet you at least one of these people makes it to the finals and we'll be all "why didn't see more of them?" Next up is 32-year-old Steven from Coventry, who wants to get high in the album charts and do a tour. He seems like a nice bloke, but he sings with his eyes closed and his voice is not good. Simon declares Steven's voice one of the weirdest he's ever heard in his life. Sharon says there's no power in his voice. Simon declares him "fabulously awful". It's a no for Steven. A montage of people singing too quietly. Then some people singing very loudly. Next up is Billy, who is slightly deaf. He doesn't get through.
The last person in to see the judges is 26-year-old Sarah, who by rules of deduction must be the girl experiencing the most important part of her life. Unless of course she's a midget with an engagement ring. Sarah's had a run of bad luck, including a car crash and an ectopic pregnancy. She believes she's been kept on the planet for a reason, and that reason is The X Factor. (That made me very sad.-Joel) Sarah is very excited to see the judges. Sarah sings 'From A Distance'. Sarah's voice is nice, but lacking in control in certain parts. Simon says that she took a song he doesn't normally like and made it very soulful and gospelly. Even though her voice is out of control (do Simon and I have a psychic mind link this week?), he liked her. Sharon thought it was great; Louis didn't. Simon has some home truths for Sarah: she will need to start taking care of herself if she's to progress. At present, she doesn't look like a popstar, but like a 26-year-old girl who's out of shape. Sarah endears herself to me by taking this on the chin with a giggle. But Simon sees potential in her. It's a yes from Sharon. It's a no from Louis. Simon agrees...with...Sharon. As if there was any doubt. Sarah's family and friends burst into the audition room to flap around and hug the judges. (She needs lots of vocal training but seems like a nice girl with a nice voice.-Joel)
Next week: lots of screaming, both good and bad. Someone flashing her arse (which reminds me, we didn’t ever get to see the polka dot dress lady flash Louis, did we? Stupid previews). Simon argues with Louis. Girls dressed like cats. Someone cries. Someone begs Sharon to say yes. Beyoncé is now my new best friend.