Hello, boys and girls. I’ve girded my loins and finally the time has come for me to write a full recap, rather than wittily parenthesising Steve’s (and a very fine job you were doing too.-Steve). Be gentle. There are various coming up bits which I can’t be bothered to write down, other than the fact that PAULA ABDUL IS BACK! The rest pales into insignificance. Even though she’s clearly only ‘back’ because they’ve totally messed with the running order throughout the season, I don’t care. I take my Paula fixes where I can.
Credits. We’re in Leeds and Kate looks surprisingly nice in a simple black top and black trousers. Bravo. Leeds. There are three categories. We know. For fuck’s sake. Blah. We see an Elvis impersonator. For fuck’s sake. We’re introduced to the judges again. BLAH. Sharon, in a car, says how it’s a new day and a new city and she’s excited. Given that she doesn’t mention Leeds by name, I’m not convinced that the day and the quote pair up.
First up are three, well, I was going to say girls, but it’s Mum Cheryl, Aunt Siobhan and daughter Debbie. They all look about 16. ‘We are Family’ plays in the background. Danielle likens herself to Alicia Keys, and her mum and aunt to Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone. I think we all know how this is going to turn out, don’t we? They claim that they’re going to be singing ‘Fever’ but it’s not any song by that name that I’ve heard. (Judging by how they sang, I think I was quite glad of that. It’s always better when they ruin a song you’ve never heard before and stand no chance of hearing again, isn’t it?-Steve) It goes, ‘he’s so sweet, he’s so good to me.’ They’re atrocious. Far too high, wispy and with absolutely no control. Simon says, ‘What. The Hell. Was That?’ Sharon says‘A bee, I thought it was a little bee!’ Hee. Louis says it was like ‘cats at night.’ In a surprise to no-one, it’s a no. We then get a montage of no no no. There’s a girl in cat ears. A couple of women who can only be described as broken, so misshapen are their faces. A boy with long hair and a girl’s voice. Simon says ‘I’ve had enough.’ The Funeral March by Chopin kicks in and the images fade to black and white.
We meet so-called Rocking Rick. He’s been a dishwasher and chip-frier at Butlins for 30 years. He is, as you might expect, bequiffed. ‘I wish I could be on the stage not in the kitchen.’ It’s not even funny, it’s so sad. He sings ‘Love Me Tender’ and wobbles all over the place. His eyes closed all the while. It’s a no, of course. I don’t feel that bad for him, really. I mean, at least he’s been on the telly, which is more than the majority of talentless (because, make no mistake, he’s talentless [and fuck you, Word, talentless is totally a word so don’t give me that little red undersquiggle]) Butlin’s dishwashers.
Ooh. Sharon’s had some more surgery. She’s looking softer and plumper. All the better to cultivate the Sharon = contestants’ mother thing, I guess. We see a no. No. No. No. Lots of noes. Empty chairs, black and white, funeral march. Apparently on that day, they put absolutely no-one through to boot camp. At first I think, okay, they finally have an excuse for only showing hopeless no-marks. But then it occurs to me that a) there would have been some mediocre or semi-good ones among the dross, so they could have shown them and b) the producers choose who goes through to the judges, so they are entirely responsible and have engineered a talentless day. Therefore, the X Factor can bite me. Me too. Given that virtually everyone on the entire series has sucked so far, all this has done is make me question whether I want to waste another three months of my life watching this sorry saga play out.-Steve) Louis says, ‘they’re all so unprofessional and amateurish.’ Yes, Louis. This is a contest for amateurs. Do try to keep up.
Adverts. We’re in London. Apparently with Simon, Sharon and Gluey. Enunciate, Kate. And who else is there? PAULA! Yeah baby. Apparently she’s sold 50million albums. Wow. I mean, even if she only made a dollar from each one, that’s some money, right there. First up 38-yearold receptionist Linda. She’s a black lady with black hair, but a massive extension of blonde curls in a pony tail. It is Not A Good Look. She comes in, cackling away, and greets each judge personally with a handshake and a kiss. She says she’s ‘going to ATTEMPT to sing’ Alicia Keys’s Fallin’ and I like her a little bit. She’s not bad at all. There’s one note that’s painfully off, but she’s great. All the judges say basically the same thing: okay voice, going through on personality. Ladies and gentleman, I think we’ve found our Brenda. (Meh. I don’t like her. She’s totally Brenda Redux, and I thought her singing sucked.-Steve)
Sharon fans herself with a red fan. Montage of people going through. (One of them totally looked like Steve Brookstein’s kid brother, I thought.-Steve) Of course we don’t see them sing. What do you think this is, a singing contest? A really bad trio of girls go through. Now, it’s either another day, or Paula keeps changing her outfit, because she’s wearing something different. A boy goes through because Louis and Paula want to fuck him. A girl called Kim goes through. Next up is 26-year-old Dionne. She has, of course, brought her whole family along. (‘Say a little prayer’ plays in the background. For some reason.) She’s pretty enough, but either has bad hair or a bad wig, and has a massive gap in her front teeth. She’d benefit from the later-stages makeover, certainly. She sings ‘Natural Woman’. She’s a little bit mannered, perhaps, singing how she thinks it should be sung rather than how she wants to, but is totally awesome. (Really? Oh God, I hated her too. I thought she was disguising some terrible singing with clichéd vocal affectations. It sounded like there was a good voice in there somewhere, but I didn’t think she was using it.-Steve) Powerful and clear. Sharon says no because her voice is good, but unoriginal. Or rather, I think Sharon says that she’s on the fence, because Dionne’s unoriginal, and then doesn’t make a decision. Louis and Paula say yes. Simon says that if Dionne had sung James Blunt’s ‘You’re Beautiful’, Sharon would have been raving about her because it would have sounded so different, and gives her a yes. Hooray! Although I’ve a feeling that Dionne will be my Maria for this season, where I become so disgusted when she leaves early that I can’t put up with the show any longer. (Heh. Such is my total apathy to the contestants this year that I can’t see anyone’s ouster causing me to quit in disgust. Whether I can find anyone to spur me to care enough to actually make it to the finals is another matter.-Steve)
Paula’s in another outfit. Factory worker David thought if Shayne can do it, he’ll give it a try. Simon tries not to laugh. I didn’t take many more notes, but what do you need to know? He was deluded and shit. Plus ça change. Now Paula has the fan. David storms out, but redeems himself a little by saying, ‘they know more than I do, so what can I say?’ A girl called Linda just honks. A dude in a shiny shirt and fake tan (or a skin condition) sings ‘Old Before I Die’ and is rubbish. A girl who looks like Big Brother winner Nadia, but squished in a vice, sings ‘I will survive’ and is rubbish and waily Paula says ‘never in my life have I seen anything like it.’
Next up is 26-year old Ben, who’s a marquee erector. However, that ‘just keeps me alive’ and he loves singing most in the world. He has long hair and is wearing a suit jacket. He’s cute, if you’re the kind of person that would find him cute. Paula is wearing another outfit. Ben sings ‘Bring it on Home to Me’ and all the judges cream themselves. Somewhere in America, Michael Bolton is struck dumb halfway through ordering sashimi because his voice is currently coming out of Ben’s mouth. Husky and raw, but still quite pleasant. Simon says ‘it sounded like the real thing!’ and that it’s rare to find a white man, especially an English white man, who can sing soul. (Poor Steve Brookstein. How quickly they forget.) Ben is really sweet. He says ‘Oh stop it!’ and gets all nervous when the judges compliment him. Ben and Dionne for the final, please.
We’re still in London. Kate says that ‘everyone’s excited about seeing the judges,’ which is a shame, given that most of them won’t. 56-year old Janet broke her spine by falling down the stairs by tripping over a ‘large dog’ that was there. She doesn’t say ‘my dog’ but ‘a dog’ as though one just appeared. Maybe her house is haunted. Anyway, she’s rather posh. The theme from Romeo & Juliet, the sad ‘Our Tune’ plays, in order for us to better understand that it’s sad that she broke her spine. Which it is. But the fact she made a full recovery and is now walking and talking (and soon to be singing and dancing) rather makes it a little less poignant. (And the fact that we’ve had sob stories of all shapes and sizes rammed down our throats this year has entirely desensitised me to the various woes of the contestants. They could wheel in a guy on his deathbed and I wouldn’t give a shit at this stage. In fact, I fully expect them to do just that next week.-Steve) She sings, of all things, ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head.’ Scott: ‘Jesus Christ! She bumped her head on the way down.’ She’s dancing too. After a fashion. She’s wafting about like one of Pan’s People, if she were struck by a fit of indecision about whether to buy focaccia or ciabatta that today Paula’s totally into it. She’s really not very good. Simon says ‘I absolutely adore you Janet’ but it’s a no. Paula says yes. As do Sharon and Louis. Just in case we’d forgotten that Simon the only sane one. (At this point I began to wonder if they’re actively trying to make the show lose what little credibility it has. I mean, for fuck’s sake.-Steve) Janet thanks them and leaves. Simon asks what they’re on. ‘Do you know what we did that?’, asks Sharon. Then goes, ‘Da-da-da, da-da-da-da’ and she, Louis and Paula sway in unison. That was pretty funny. An old man sings ‘Moonlight Becomes You,’ fairly well, and goes through. Sharon has her glasses on and an old woman in polka-dot silk flashing her legs gets a yes.
We meet 31-year old security guard Trevor. It’s a given that he won’t be as good as The Lovely Trevor from last year. Speaking of whom, why hasn’t he re-auditioned? Sad face. He sings ‘Let Me Entertain You’ in a dreary, toneless fashion and please can we have a complete embargo on Robbie Williams? Not his songs in auditions. Just a complete embargo on Robbie Williams. Simon says it ‘possibly the most inappropriate song’ given that it was in no way entertaining . Paula, of course, is totally into it, bobbing along. Paula Outfit Update: another one, a dusky pink blouse with a bow at the collar. Noes all around.
Now Paula’s in a fuchsia blouse. She’s bobbing along to some other loser. Sharon has the fan again. A montage of losers and I seriously can’t be bothered to provide any more detail than that.
Paula is now in a mint dress, with polka dot cummerbund, for the benefit of 37-year-old hospital worker, Richard. I heard 37, but he must be 27 by the look of him. Which is to say, Craig David but a little darker, and to quote Scott, ‘his cheeks are full of nuts.’ He has a dead sister and a dead dad. Can you hear the tiny violins? When he sings his problems are at bay. His girlfriend’s pregnant, also. The tiny violas join in. His main reason for entering the competition is to provide a better life for his family. No. That is not a good reason. You could do that by working hard, getting promoted at work and earning a steady wage. Plus that wouldn’t subject you to the vagaries of fame and take you away from your newborn child that you’re claiming to do it for. Grrr. He sings Stevie Wonder’s ‘Lately.’ I like the song, but he does nothing for me. It’s not as good as Melissa McGhee’s from this year’s American Idol. And when you consider that she totally fucked up the words, it’s not good to be worse than that. (I hope my recognition nishes too!-Steve) The judges love him and he’s through unanimously. I can foresee that my hatred for him will swell throughout the series. He shakes the judges’ hands sand says ‘thank you very much.’ That’s something at least. Outside we see his fiancée. Scott: ‘Oh Jesus fucking Christ he’s a chubby-chaser. Look at that mountain!’ She is, indeed, on the large side. Of a hippo.
Adverts. In come some boyband boys. They get one of the little introductory movies so they’re clearly important. They’ve been at the straighteners, especially one blond one who has this creepy fixed grin. They’re not great, but they’re not awful. I like the fact that while the main boy is singing his bit, the rest of them are doing ‘bah-bah-bah’s rather than all just singing the same lyrics. If you’ve got several voices at your disposal, do something interesting with them. (But the harmonisers need to learn how to not drown out the person who’s singing the melody, otherwise it’s just a mess.-Steve) ‘I don’t get it’ says Simon and gives them a no. They do seem to be a boyband in the Boyzone mould, and as we all know, that’s completely dead these days, so he’s not wrong. Louis and Sharon say yes and Avenue go through. Avenue! I think I saw them on the cover of the paper, but I didn’t pay any attention. They were put together by a management company, for the purpose of auditioning, and didn’t declare it. Simon, he is angry. We’ll see if anything comes of that later.
A tiny little gay with a pierced eyebrow sings Patti Smith’s ‘Because the Night’ and goes through. If I recall correctly, my exact words were: ‘Awesome! Awesome awesome awesome!’ (Mine too! I hope he wins!-Steve) A fat chick says ‘I am the X factor. Definitely.’ I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve screamed at the screen that X factor is something you have, not something you are. It’s like someone saying ‘I’ll win this competition because I am talent.’ It makes no sense. (Ich bin ein X Factor.-Steve) 20-year old petrol attendant Anthony wants to be the new Shayne Ward, but better. What? At least he knows X factor is something you have. Though not something he has. He’s a little mole-like and has a big widow’s peak. His glass are all cloudy. He says ‘I see myself…’ and Scott interjects ‘as a young Minnie Driver.’ After a massive pause, Anthony says, ‘I see myself abroad.’ What? He sings ‘Angels.’ Embargo, people. Embargo. He sucks arse. Simon cuts in with, ‘Thank you Anthony. I think we’ve got the measure of you. You couldn’t win this competition if you were the only one it.’ Ouch. But fair. He doesn’t go through. Round about here there was a split-second flash of red on the screen. Subliminal advertising? Maybe. Steve recorded it, so can do a frame-by-frame check if he can be bothered. (I did record it, but if you think I’m watching this pile of crap a second time, you’ve got another think coming, missy.-Steve) Anthony says that the judges have ‘broken my heart, literally.’ Oh, and he was doing so well with knowing what words mean.
Oooh!! Harry from last year’s group Eskimo Blonde is back by herself. Eskimo Blonde were three girls, who got to the final cut when seven went down to four for the live shows, but didn’t make the final hurdle. At the time, Simon said he liked Harry but the other girls let her down. They split after the contest last year and ‘haven’t seen or spoken to each other since.’ Oooh. Of course, Eskimo Blonde are there with a new member, sat just across the room from Harry. (And this is entirely coincidental and not remotely contrived by the producers, OF COURSE.-Steve) The Spice Girls’ ‘Goodbye’ plays. Harry says it was a hard decision to leave the band. And so on. She sings. Mariah Carey’s ‘Sweetheart’ and is, to be honest, not good at all. She’s very nasally up in her nasal. I’m not sure she was even hitting the notes. I really didn’t understand the appeal, or why she got three yeses. Sharon tells Harry that she doesn’t like r’n’b and Harry should sing country. Harry comes out and tells Kate, ‘I’m now a country singer, apparently.’ Kate asks a country singer who’s going to bootcamp? and Harry says ‘oh, yes,’ very matter-of-factly. Eskimo Blonde stare daggers at her. (Bitches. Although I still like them more than I like the Conway Sisters.-Steve) Their audition is up. They sing Spice Girls’ ‘Viva Forever’ and I actually prefer it to Harry. Again, they’re not all barbershop and are actually making some attempt at counterpoint to the main vocals. They’re not brilliant, but they’re as good as Harry and certainly better than the likes of Janet. Simon says they see it a thousand times a day, which is not fair at all. He basically tells them that they’re nothing without Harry. Louis says yes, Simon no. Sharon also says no. So one of them unfolds a picture of Sharon’s face that she’s been carrying in her pocket. I don’t understand under what possible circumstances that would be looked upon as a good idea. ‘Hi Sharon! I’m a tiny bit creepy and keep your face in my pocket. Please let’s spend more time together. Oh, do let’s!’ (If they were the webmasters of her official fansite, however...-Steve) The girls all wail and moan and beg Sharon to let them through. Simon and Louis walk off, saying they’ll leave Sharon to it. ‘Please, PLEASE!’ go the girls. Sharon tells them that ‘the standard this year is so high,’ which is absolute bullfish. (Word. At least find a convincing excuse, Sharon.-Steve) This is spliced with scenes of Louis and Simon making themselves a cup of tea, and one for Sharon, and basically giggling like children. More crying and they’re eventually escorted out. It’s silly, because why do you think that begging and pleading is a good idea? If you have to wail and rend your garments just to get to the next round, they’re going to cut you at the earliest opportunity. Harry is sat right outside as they go out. Ooh, they’ll cut a bitch. etc. Confession booth of the Eskimo Blonde girls saying they’re disappointed, and Harry saying she’s happy for herself but gutted for the girls. Sharon tears a strip off Simon, saying he shouldn’t have left her alone to make the choice. He’s the one who has a relationship with them and ‘I don’t know who they are.’ I can actually see her point, Simon should have asserted himself a bit more, but she brought it on herself by being such a soft touch for crying people other times. Sharon leaves, without even taking the proffered cup of tea. Louis and Simon pause. And then burst out laughing some more.
Next week. MORE AUDITIONS. Bootcamp? Please? A girl in a wheelchair, who clearly has her sob-story built in, but seems to have a nice voice too. Some sort of crisis at the Casa Osbourne means Sharon has to fly away. Ozzy probably got turned around and locked himself in the linen cupboard or something.