Finally we're at the end of the auditions. I should probably be feeling more excited, and yet I'm entirely bored at this stage. I really hope they're going to show us some actual good people at boot camp or I'm going to get horrendously bored for the rest of the series. Indeed, I think my video is equally bored of this show because it decided to start midway through the show. (And I forgot it was on entirely! Gosh, this show is gripping.-Joel) I don't think I missed much, but I will endeavour to catch a repeat to check for you. I'm nothing if not thorough. (And true to my word, I did check the Sunday night repeat on ITV2. All I missed was the usual blather about the categories and the location, so it's all good.)
Anyway, it's a new day...somewhere, and Simon is feeling confident. The judges talk to the waiting crowds. Oh, we're in Birmingham, apparently. First up is 20-year-old shop assistant Leonna, who's brought her family along for support. Her entire family, that is. I'm surprised no one popped to the graveyard to dig up the deceased members of Team Leonna just for a bit of extra support. They're all wearing 'Go Leonna' t-shirts with Xs on the front, which is kind of cute. Although I kind of feel that ought to be a pun of some kind, like "Go Leonna or go home!" Leonna's family are very confident, which is nice for them. She enters the judging room to whoops and applause - from her family, not the judges. Louis asks her who she aspires to be, and Leonna says Christina Aguilera. Leonna sings 'Son Of A Preacher Man', and sounds a bit like a cross between the aforementioned Christina and Amy Winehouse. She sounds fine, but it's nothing you wouldn't hear at a karaoke session. Simon likes part of her voice, but thought the top end was "iffy", but with work she could show promise. Sharon thought she was trying to be too Christina-esque. Louis thinks she needs more work than she realises. It's a yes from Sharon. It's a no from Louis. 'The Voice Within' kicks in on the soundtrack and we all know Simon is going to say yes. Which he does, and outside Leonna's family quickly go mental before realising that they're not sure if she got through or not. It's quite cute. Then Leonna joins them, and there is much celebrating.
Segue to montage of yesses. One chap sings a song about "the way you stole my heart, you must be a crook", or something, which is...nice? One girl sings En Vogue's 'Don't Let Go (Love)', which is a song I love and she does it as well as can be expected, so I have no beef with her. A redheaded girl sings 'I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair)', and consequently makes me want to punch her in the face. Nothing personal against her, but THAT SONG. Jee-zus.
Next up is 46-year-old David, who looks like Ming the Merciless. And he's got a guitar, which he wears on a strap so ludicrously high that it looks more like a banjo. (Next year, I am so turning up with a banjo. Or even a ukelele.-Joel) Louis asks David why he's here today, and David says that it's because he wants enormous bags of cash. I can't fault his honesty, I suppose. Sharon tells him he has an air of anger. "Just wait until I start rapping," David replies, which is hilarious. David begins, and I don't know what on earth it is that he's reciting - I suspect someone will be able to tell me - but he instantly reminds me of the annoying Scouse evangelist on Oxford Street. Simon tries to stop David, with some difficulty, and admits that he's thoroughly confused. "You're not singing; this is a singing contest," Sharon reminds him. "It isn't, actually," David retorts, and this would be the perfect moment for a scatching deconstruction on the show citing the cult of personality and the way the show frequently implores us not to listen to the quality of someone's voice, but to focus on their tragic life story or bland but pretty face. That's what I would have said, but David rather impotently follows up his comment with "this is my special approach". Boo! Wasted opportunity, table for one. Simon likens the performance to someone entering a cat for Crufts. Louis says that no one would vote for David. David disagrees, and so do I, to be honest. But it's three nos for David, and a quick "up yours!" from the safety of the X Factor pod.
Montage of bad auditions from hopeless losers, including a man singing 'You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman', and one man called Alan attempting to sing both parts of 'You're The One That I Want'. Next up is 16-year-old Jamie, who looks like Mickey from Doctor Who, and has apparently been singing from the actual moment he was born. I'd like a large side order of "hmmmmm" to go with that statement, please. (Not quite sure what's going on with all the restaurant metaphors here today, sorry.) Jamie talks to the camera about how much he wants to win, and I'm totally not repeating it because we've heard it all before. Jamie sings Stevie Wonder's 'Knocks Me Off My Feet' for the judges. I'm...not sure about the performance. There are nice moments, but there are also very wobbly and off-key moments too. And perhaps I've been spoilt by Elliott Yamin's performance of this on American Idol, which was several leagues above this. Louis thinks Jamie could be good, in a year or two with a lot of work. Sharon likes Jamie's look and personality, but he doesn't have a great voice. Simon thought everything was great until Jamie started singing. It's a no from Louis. And a no from Sharon. Jamie tells the judges that he's very disappointed, but thanks them and leaves. He's polite, I'll say that for him. He goes outside and wells up, and I get a bit misty too. Then: weirdness. He goes over to his parents, and buries his face in his dad's shoulder and everyone else in the holding room...applauds? Dear God, why? That was just really, really random. And I doubt it made Jamie feel any better, either. (Yay! You failed! Maybe it just means they fancy their chances now there's one person fewer to compete with.-Joel)
Still to come: somebody effortless who can sing the phonebook, somebody rude and petulant who gets a snot-on with the judges, and the judges find out who they're mentoring this year.
The auditions have moved on (or back?) to London. 23-year-old receptionist Gemma is first (next?) in. Gemma sings Ella Fitzgerald's 'Summertime', and wow, she has a nice voice. Still not sure if this is the contestant to validate this entire series for me, but that was lovely. Sharon says how nice it was to hear someone not do an impersonation. "Absolutely effortless," declares Simon. "You could sing the phone book." Louis like her personality and warmth, and Simon thinks they're just scratching the surface at this point. Sharon asks Simon for his vote, and Simon votes no. Gemma, bless her heart, genuinely thinks he's serious for a second and then does a total facepalm when Simon corrects his vote to a yes. Hee. I like Gemma. It's a yes from Sharon, and a round of applause from the judges. After Gemma leaves, the judges squee about her in private for a bit. (Someone good and I miss it. Typical.-Joel)
Next up is 26-year-old music student Dennis (Denis?), from Russia, or "Rocha", if we're to believe Kate's pronunciation. Dennis greets the judges: "I'm so happy to see you in real life and not just in museum of Madame Tussaud's, you know?" HA! That ruled. Dennis will sing 'Escape' by Enrique Iglesias for the judges. There is some scary, scary dancing going on here. He rubs his thighs a lot, and let's just leave it at that. Sharon calls his performance "very camp"; Dennis argues that he's trying to make people happy. He didn't make Simon happy. Louis pronounces it "different". Simon calls him a horrible singer, and it's three nos for Dennis. Dennis leans out of the exit door and vows "Next time!".
Montage of foreign auditionees, including Alicia from France, who gets trois nons, Katya from Poland, who doesn't get through either, and somebody whose name I didn't catch, but who's from Brazil, and he doesn't get through either. This competition? Xenophobic? Surely not. Next up is Debra, who's 47 and from San Antonio, Texas. Ooh, I wonder if she knows Jared Padalecki. What? Okay, never mind. Debra macks somewhat grossly with her husband David in the queue, and then tells us that they met on a Christian internet chatroom. They got engaged before they'd even met, and now they're married. Debra puts everything down to her voice, saying that "
Sob story alert! Roxanne, in attendance with her husband David, is looking to regain the singing confidence she lost 33 years ago. She was involved in a bomb explosion at the age of 14 and put a lot of her life on hold as a result, including her singing career. She's got a fear of crowds but being at the auditions is proving to her that she can do it. And as much as the sob stories this series have irritated me beyond belief, I can understand how difficult that must be for her. Doesn't necessarily mean I'm going to go easy on her audition, but I thought I'd just say that, at least. Roxanne says she's looking to see if it was meant to be or not, and I can understand that mentality. She tells the judges her story, and Simon calls her a brave lady. Roxanne sings 'Show Me Heaven', and it's...not bad. Again, not exactly a showstopper, but not bad. And this series has really left me running out of synonyms for "okay". Sharon tells Roxanne she looks amazing for 47. Simon says it was hard to judge her properly because she was so nervous. It's a yes from Louis, but a no from Simon, who doesn't think she can cope with the stress. Sharon looks thoughtful. They can draw this out all they want, but the fact that they're already playing 'Show Me Heaven' on the soundtrack makes it totally obvious that Sharon's going to put Roxanne through. This show? So predictable. Roxanne gets a hug from her husband outside and wells up. I think I'm pleased for her. I hope that her voice is stronger when she's worked through her nerves, I think.
The judges take their seats for the final auditions. Hooray! Waiting to see them is "self-confessed karaoke addict Frankie", wearing an outfit that is a crime against humanity. Frankie tells the judges that people keep telling him he's too professional to sing karaoke. Simon asks which people, Frankie replies "all my friends, three, four thousand fans all across London." What. Ever. Frankie sings DJ Otzi's 'Hey Baby', and it's every bit as atrocious as you'd expect. It's a never from Simon, an "I don't get it from Sharon", and a no from Louis. "Frankie doesn't go to Hollywood," quips Simon. (Ooh, it's like an 'American Idol' joke! This is where I came in.-Joel) Next up is male four-piece band Eton Road, who have only been together five days. This bodes well, doesn't it? For their part, they joke about the unprofessionalism of it, and Simon is goodnatured about it, pointing out that everybody has to start somewhere. They sing something from a film, which again I didn't catch the title of. (It was 'Leap of Faith' I think. That one with Steve Martin as a fake preacher. Weird.-Joel) One of them has a bizarre Mohawk and keeps wincing every time he sings like he's just screwed up massively, even though he hasn't noticeably. (He was funny! He had a cardigan and rosary beads on.-Joel) Simon loves the song, and likes their look. Crazy Mohawk Dude looks like he's about to lose his lunch. Sharon likes their youth and individuality. Louis was surprised, because when they walked in he thought "oh my God, four hairdressers." Hee! Man, I can't believe I'm laughing at something Louis said. At least, something he intended to be funny, anyway. Simon thinks they're one of the best groups he's seen, and it's a unanimous yes for Eton Road. (They were a LOT better than I expected.-Joel)
Montage of Yes. A mature lady with lots of bows on the strap of her dress sings 'Cry Me A River' (Julie London, not Justin Timberlake), a not-very-attractive boyband sings 'Yesterday' and a cute, excitable, but slightly shambolic-sounding girlband sings 'Say You'll Be There'.
Part-time warehouse worker Steve is next. Guess what? He's wanted to be a singer since he was a kid. This story is a REVELATION. He's going to sing 'Sleeping With The Light On' by Busted, except I don't recognise this tune at all. Simon cannot think of a single positive thing to say about the performance. Steve has been trained by professional vocal teachers, he tells us. Louis calls it "Mission Impossible", which is our next music cue for a montage of losers. It's dull, notable only for the fact that Louis says "it's Mission Impossible" to someone else, and Simon asking Louis if he had sour milk on his cornflakes this morning. It's the last audition, and it's been a disappointing afternoon for the judges, but it's hopeful that 18-year-old Debbie could turn that around. Except she's the one who we've seen in the previews getting a gob on in the audition, so I doubt it somehow. Thank you for teasing all the surprise out of this, guys. Debbie tells us she's brilliant and has stage presence, etc etc etc. Debbie sings Whitney and Mariah's 'When You Believe'. It's not awful, but it's rather over breathy and affected. Sharon tells her that she has no star quality or charisma, and Simon calls her a pub singer. Louis tells her that she's not very good. "You know what? You were the one person I didn't wanna see today because I really wanna slap you now," Debbie replies, wagging a finger at Louis. And while I'm normally all in favour of violence against Louis, if you don't want to see him, don't audition for The X Factor. It's dat simple, yo. Debbie rants. "That's why I've been a singer since I was six years old, and everyone I've ever met, people who don't even like me, have told me I've got an amazing voice. You can't bloody sing, mate." "I don't want to be a singer," Louis replies. And, well...yes. This is a really stupid line of criticism to take with the judges. I can't build a digital camera; it doesn't mean I haven't got the right to ring up Kodak and complain if mine doesn't work. "I don't care what you think. You can't sing, you have no talent, get out," Debbie finishes. It's a no from Louis, surprisingly enough, who tells Debbie she'll never be a star in the music business. "I'm already a star, sweetheart," Debbie snots. Then why are you on this show, Debbie. Your words, they ring hollow. Sharon escorts Debbie from the room, but Debbie announces that she wants to throw Sharon's water all over Louis and stomps back in. (Interestingly, Sharon makes no attempt to restrain Debbie, or if she does, it's incredibly half-arsed. Heh.) Awesomely, Louis sees what's coming and throws his water over Debbie before she can get in first. I never thought I'd back Louis in a fight, but that was ace. Debbie does get to throw her water on Louis afterwards, but the moment's rather lost. "I'd throw the glass at yer, but it's not mine," Debbie pouts. Wow, she is the worst badass ever. Advantage: Louis. Simon thinks it's hilarious that Louis threw water over a contestant. "You're not supposed to do that," he says in awe.
Coming up: who's mentoring whom? I can barely contain myself.
The auditions are over, and we see lots of people we've already seen, and I'm not going to recount this bit. You can read the old entries if you're that botherd. Wow, this goes on for ages. Still, less work for me, so yay!
The judges leave the auditions. Ozzy's there to meet Sharon, which is sweet. Simon really wants the 16-24s this year. So does Sharon. Louis doesn't want the groups. "Some of the groups we've put through this year, they just don't have the X factor." Then why did you put them through, you enormous fool? "I think Simon should get the groups," Louis finishes. Yes, because it's not like he had them last series AND in the celebrity edition or anything, is it? Give the man a break. Sharon thinks she'll get the groups because it's her turn. Simon wants Louis to get the groups because he knows it would make him unhappy, and he was so smug last year. Hee! Louis says that he's had the groups and the under-25s (stop calling them that! They're the 16-24s!) but he hasn't had the over-25s yet. Except during The X Factor: Battle Of The Stars, which apparently no one must mention. The judges await their calls: Louis and Simon in their offices, Sharon at her hotel. Simon's narky because the call is late. Simon's call is first: he's got the 16-24s. "No! Are you sure?" Simon asks. The producers confirm this. "I'm going to say goodbye before you change your mind," grins Simon. Hooray! Let's hope this means Rudy's out on his arse ASAP. Wanker. "If I can't win with this lot, I can't do my job, it's as simple as that," says Simon. I'll remember that come the finals. Sharon gets a call on the Blurphone. Guess the sponsors weren't happy that she doesn't use a Nokia, eh? She's got the 25 and overs again, and is equally gleeful: "I can't believe it! I'm going to get out of bed now!" Louis gets the call, and obviously Louis has the groups. His face falls (albeit goodnaturedly) when he hears. The producer making the phone call says Louis is the best man for the job. We'll see. Simon rings Louis, and laughs uproariously when he hears the news. Louis tells Simon not to mess up the 16-24s. Simon sincerely wishes Louis the best of luck. Louis hangs up, and declares Simon "so obnoxious". Hee. Simon calls Sharon and they cackle like the little coven that they are. Sharon signs off with "let the battle begin". (She didn't get out of bed though. Filthy slattern.-Joel)
Next week: two programmes? Holy mother of God. It's boot camp. The 16-24s are excited to see Simon, the 25 and overs are excited to see Sharon, and Louis gets a mixed reaction from the groups. There are cheers and there are tears. And Simon utters the classic line: "I think we've got the weakest category, Sinitta. I think we've got the short straw." Hee! I have to say, I'm not really sure why everyone was clamouring for the 16-24s anyway. I didn't really see much there to get excited about.