Programme 5: 16th September 2006
Just to set the scene before I get going, I am writing this update on a laptop with several broken keys that doesn't give me any warning when the battery's about to die, in a poorly-lit house that has recently suffered a spider infestation (the poor standard of lighting serving only to convince me that I'm seeing effing spiders everywhere). I am not in the best of humours, so this show had better bloody entertain me. Also of note: I am writing this between instalments of How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?, which once again I chose to watch live instead of this pile of reheated cat vomit, because it's actually managed to be entertaining, fun, and revelatory - three things I've found sorely lacking in this series. Siobhan has just come third, by the way, and has been asked to meet a major record label to discuss signing an equally major deal. Third place, folks. And she's still a far better singer than every single person I've seen on The X Factor so far this series. Maybe she tried out for the wrong show: she was never going to beat Connie, but I can't help thinking she could have sleepwalked her way through to the top spot on this tired old format.
Anyway. Tonight on The X Factor: Having utterly failed to find any true stars so far this series, the producers choose to tease with a mass of terrible auditions, a handful of good ones, some complaints about the failure of talent to emerge, and an emergency at Casa Osbourne. Oh, goody. Roll the cheap credits!
Kate runs through the examples of good and not-so-good talent from the show. It speaks volumes for the sheer averageness of the contestants this series that I can't put names to half of them, and I've been watching the show intently for the purposes of recapping almost every week. (Who ARE they? Where did you FIND them?-Joel) So yes, good luck uncovering star quality in this lot, bitches. We're in Dublin, home town of Louis Walsh, and unsurprisingly Louis is convinced this is where the talent's at. I note with interest that he refers to finding "this person, this megastar" in the singular, thereby implying that even having a groups category is a waste of everybody's time. Great. Kate links through to a 21-year-old factory worker whose name I can't hear clearly and feel certain I can't spell, but his name sounds like Cole, and anything that makes me think of Julian McMahon instead of this pile of dreck is an improvement, so Cole he shall be. Cole loves Shayne Ward. Like, stalker-level amounts of loves him, it would seem. He gets all misty talking about Shayne, and I'm an emotional wreck at the best of times, but seriously fella: grow a pair already. Simon asks Cole who he'd compare himself to, and of course Cole says Shayne Ward. Cole sings a wavering version of 'That's My Goal', and Simon stops him mid-chorus because he's laughing. "Who did you sing this song to before you got here today?" Simon asks him. "My family," replies Cole nervously, conveniently omitting "the production team of this show, who see all applicants before deciding who the judges get to see, though the viewers at home aren't meant to think that." It's three nos for Cole, and he shimmers out to look for Phoebe Halliwell, or whatever.
Next up are a duo called Mission, who are apparently on a mission from God to spread a message to the world. Sharon displays note-perfect comic timing with her response of "...okay." Mission sing, and sound more like minions of Satan. More losers, because this show loves to kick off by showcasing the utterly hopeless. Next up is 24-year-old waitress (and again I'm guessing how to spell this - please, for the love of all that is good and pure in this world, can we have some FUCKING name astons please?) Cutlowana. She considers herself beautiful and confident, and she has a really cool necklace on (that's my opinion, not hers). Cutlowana sings Roxette's 'Listen To Your Heart', sounding rather like Alvin and the Chipmunks. Simon tells her she sounds like a sheep, not like a human. It's three nos for poor Cutlowana and her awesome necklace.
Yet another sequence of the judges lamenting the lack of talent they've managed to unearth. You know what? We don't need to see these any more. We seem to be getting them every week, and we don't need them. Watching the show is proof enough that whatever hidden talents are out there, they want to remain hidden. Can't we all just pack up and go home? Please? If I promise to watch Sharon's terrible chat show, will you make it happen?
Shots of Dubliners in good spirits. Next up is 23-year-old shop assistant Morgan, who looks like a porcelain doll version of Cheryl Tweedy. She tells us that she wants to be a great songwriter and entertainer, and these little pieces to camera are cute and everything, but which of the contestants doesn't want that? Porcelain Cheryl sings Whitney Houston's 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody', and sounds nice but is kind of offputting because she moves so much above the neck and so little beneath it. Three yesses for Porcelain Cheryl. Montage of good people, because having just shown us that you've lost confidence in finding a star, why on earth would you bother showing reasons for that faith to return? That would just be crazy. Someone with a dodgy fringe goes through, as does a blonde girl, and four girls who look like they should live in a windmill in Denmark. (They were fun. I liked their matchy-not-matchy outfits.-Joel)
The judges break for lunch, but oh noes, there is a disaster. We see tabloid headlines telling us about the fire at Sharon's house that we all heard about in the news ages ago, and Sharon asks if she can leave. (I liked how it was edited to seem like it was in the papers when they found out. Like, Sharon looks at the front page, and is all, 'Shit! I should go home!'-Joel) Simon offers to get her a flight, and he and Louis kiss her goodbye. Still to come: some idiot bitches about there not being three judges. Just shut up, idiot. I hate you already.
Back from the ads, the newly-tuned in and the chronically forgetful are informed of Sharon's absence. Next up is 18-year-old Latvian singing champ Elena, whose motivational speech is punctuated by an eerie acoustic version of Coldplay's 'Clocks'. Elena starts to sing, and I start to wonder if Shakira is her less-insane sister. Seriously, there is growling and bellowing and dramatic sinking-to-the-knees. It's fairly well sung, but it's kind of...well, scary. (I'm going to assume that she was singing the Latvian folk tradition, perhaps, where emotion and bellowing is required. I liked her and wished she could have toned it down.-Joel) Simon pronounces her OTT, and Elena gets two nos. Montage of new BFFs Simon and Louis getting the giggles, especially when somebody manages to stand on the X and face the wrong way. WTF? I don't even understand how you can get into that room and not see the enormous table of judges opposite you. Lots more bad people. I wonder if suicide really is painless, because if so it has to be preferable to this.
News of Sharon's absence has filtered through to the holding room, Kate's voiceover tells us. The contestants are now anxious that they need two out of two yeses to get through. So what happens if one says yes and the other says no? Couldn't they have brought back Paula for this bit? Or called me? I'm sure I was available, and I could have mothered those contestants just like Sharon. The idiot from before the break is the aptly-named 19-year-old Rudy. (Though it's probably spelt Rhoidaigh or something.-Joel) (Until this show gives me MOTHERFUCKING NAME ASTONS, I officially absolve myself of all responsibility for correctly spelling people's names.-Steve) I'm not going to recount what Rudy's piece to camera tell us because it's boring and we've heard it all before. Rudy sings 'In The Air Tonight' for the judges. It's not bad. Simon doesn't get it. Louis thought he was okay. "Yeah, that's what I mean - okay," says Simon. Louis reiterates several times that Rudy is okay, and Rudy asks Simon what he wants to hear. Simon starts getting tetchy at this point and informs Rudy curtly that this is not a request service. "You delivered nothing," Simon informs him. "I've seen you be wrong with people in the past," Rudy replies, to which Simon responds that it hasn't happened often. It's a yes from Louis on potential, and a no from Simon, which appears to be the final word. Rudy pouts and says it's not fair because Sharon isn't there. Simon tells him to send a letter of complaint, then. Heh. "Sharon would've said yes," said Louis, but Simon disagrees. I happen to be of the opinion that Sharon probably would have put this guy through, but because he's acting like such a petulant child, I think Simon's right to say no regardless. Rudy leaves, and Simon and Louis bicker a little bit. (He wasn't bad, but Louis's yes clearly came from the fact he fancied Rudy.-Joel)
Montage of people who miss Sharon, soundtracked by The Knack's 'My Sharona'. Remember last year when I had a premonition that Chico would sing Ricky Martin? I had a premonition today that this show would use this song to accompany a Sharon-themed montage. I hate how I'm psychic when it comes to this show. I'd rather have a precognitive gift that I could use to fight evil, but beggars can't be choosers. Some of the people in the montage are sympathetic. Some are not. Rudy is in there again, glowering and pouting some more, determined to stretch out his fifteen minutes. 16-year-old trainee hairdresser Wayne is neck. (Was that just a particularly fortuituous typo? He was a bit thick-set.-Joel) (Hee! Yes it was. I'm going to blame my dodgy laptop for that one. Honest.-Steve) He has brought along his entire family for support, and looks a bit like a thinner version of Damien from Mean Girls. If he mated with Wayne Rooney, anyway. Ew. Can somebody pass the brain bleach? Thanks. His parents seem relatively normal, which is hopefully a good sign. He sings R Kelly's 'The World's Greatest', and sounds quite nice. (Dreadful song, but there was something very attractive about his voice.-Joel) Simon umms and ahhs about whether Wayne has the x factor (which Simon enunciates really weirdly, putting the emphasis on the "fac" instead of the "x"), noting Wayne's nerves. Louis breaks out one of his trademark "he's sixteen!"s. It's a yes from Louis. Simon purses his lips and thinks, while Louis cajoles him. I nearly wrote "cagoules" there. Eventually, it's another yes for Wayne (and we learn now that the rule in Sharon's absence is that you need two yeses, so presumably if Simon said yes to someone and Louis said no, they wouldn't get through either. Interesting). Montage of successful auditionees whom we have not seen audition, because why?
Adverts. The Mail on Sunday is giving away a free Wet Wet Wet CD. It's nice to see a convergence of the world's primary sources of evil, I suppose.
We've left Dublin behind, and headed to Birmingham. Again. Kate tells us that following the fire at home, Sharon has rejoined the judges. Or, y'know, all this was filmed before the fire and you're just taking continuity roughly up the arse without a condom once more. More people get put through, despite us only getting to see the merest snapshot of their auditions. One woman is very pretty (I'm such a sucker for lustrous red hair on a lady, I really am) and sings Faith Hill's 'There You'll Be'. Simon says she looks like "an attractive Geri Halliwell", and we learn that her name is Alexandra. She gets through to the next round. I hope she fares better than last year's Alexandra. A girl group sings 'Let It Be', and gets through. Next up is 21-year-old student AJ who has loved music all his life, but never had an appropriate showcase. Sense of impending doom. He sings Alicia Keys's 'If I Ain't Got You' in a falsetto, and sucks. That's right, folks - we've had all these montages that ushered the good ones through with indecent haste, but this talent vacuum gets a whole sequence. This show blows. The judges' feedback is predictably negative, and AJ is adamant that he can sing. It's a shame he's so talentless and deluded, because he's actually very attractive. But hey ho. Also, his talking voice is very similar to Will Young's, so it's a shame he didn't manage to get the singing voice to accompany it. Sharon tells him that he's "raised the bar on bad", and babyvoices "No, Abraham." Hee.
Some wannabe groups sing for the camera. Don't waste your time, folks! Louis thinks you're all thoroughly negligable! Next up are a male-female duo (and what did we learn about those last year?) called Dramatics, who manage to sing like Daleks even before they've entered the room. The fey-sounding male says that they take songs and harmonise them differently, which is what will give them their edge. Wouldn't harmonising imply harmony? And wouldn't that, in turn, imply a pleasant sound? You're barking up the wrong tree, dude. The female one blathers on about how she's a singing teacher and can ensure all the technicalities are correct, like them having the right starting note, and I'm sensing a little bit of hubris here. Just chalk it up to my psychic abilities again. They are going to sing 'What I Did For Love' from A Chorus Line, and there are bum notes aplenty. Simon cuts them off and Louis is lost for words. He calls them "different", which female auditionee agrees with, and one-ups with "unique". Louis pronounces them "a very odd couple". Simon says that he can imagine them outside his house at Christmas, singing 'Silent Night'. "And not getting any money," adds Louis. Ha! It's weird, I was just thinking how I don't really feel the hate for Louis this series. I frequently disagree with his comments and decisions, but the hate is just not there. Perhaps I'm just so tuned out of this show that I can't even get my dander up anymore. Either that, or my hatred for the entire predictable format has given Louis a Get Out Of Jail Free card. Sharon calls them "Dickensian" (hee!) and it's a unanimous no for Dramatics, who don't seem that upset about it. (If my kid got singing lessons from that talentess wretch, I'd be demanding my money back.-Joel)
Kate's voiceover tells us that the day only gets worse, and...what? How? Isn't there supposed to be one point in the programme where you relent from the otherwise endless cavalcade of hopelessness and misery, if only to stop us all from topping ourselves? Oh well, at least I can watch the final of How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? in fifteen minutes. Meanwhile, this godforsaken show presents more losers, and more dumbfounded judges. We see various people outside telling us how much they want to be famous, and wanting to be famous does not mean this show is right for you, for crying out loud. Go on Big Brother instead. If you act sufficiently repellently, you'll get your own show. Speaking of repellent, nobody wants her name in lights more than 16-year-old Chloe, whose musings on fame run thusly: "It's something that everyone wants because it's easy. There are no obstacles. There's no working, you're just in the limelight and wow, everyone wants a piece of you. It's amazing." What's amazing is that nobody's invented Slap-O-Vision yet, because I have a fiery itch to smack this bimbo's idiotic head clean off her shoulders. She's wearing a glittery pink cowboy hat, if you need another reason to hate her. Chloe tells Sharon that her dream is to be a singer on The X Factor, which is clearly a barefaced lie. Sharon asks Chloe to liken her style to somebody. Chloe's response: "Let's go for Motown: a bit of Mariah Carey, a bit of Whitney Houston, a bit of Aretha Franklin, a bit of Alicia Keys". Ah yes, that well known Motown artist Mariah Carey. Christ on a bike. Chloe then proceeds to utterly obliterate 'Killing Me Softly'. Sharon tells Chloe that Chloe has no idea who she is yet, but is heavily influenced by all the divas out there. Simon thinks she was bred in a laboratory as some kind of singing creation that didn't come out right. "Can I try again please?" asks Chloe, and thankfully Simon replies in the negative. "You represent millions of 16-year-old girls in this country today" (and Chloe nods at this point, as if she thinks she's being called a role model or something) "who just want to be famous like that." And Simon snaps his fingers. It's a unanimous no for Chloe, who cries as she leaves and declares that the judges hate her. Which: no. They were actually fairly constructive in their criticism. Sharon just said you weren't ready. Simon apologised and called you "sweetheart". Grow up. After Chloe leaves, Simon calls her "every parent's nightmare". I have no children, and I'm awake. Why have you forced me to deal with her?
38-year-old Ian is hoping to turn around the current dire state of affairs. He's been given a little teddy bear for luck by his four-year-old daughter, and has had so many knockbacks that he's prepared to give up his lifelong dream of singing for a living if he doesn't get through this audition. Isn't that roughly what Lisa Scott-Lee promised to do? So I guess he'd be fulfilling our 'charming everyman who deserves a break' quota this year, yes? Ian sings 'Let's Get It On' for the judges, and has a very nice voice. (I really didn't expect him to be as good as he was.-Joel) Sharon says yes. Simon thinks Ian is a good singer and a very nice person, but doesn't think he has "it", so he's going to say no. The show tries to ramp up the tension, but even people in comas know Louis is going to say yes. 'Up Where We Belong' plays on the soundtrack and everything gets kind of mawkish as Sharon chuckles affectionately and Ian kisses the goodluck bear.
After the break, we're in Glasgow, for like the 95th time this series. 31-year-old civil servant Karen is very convinced of her talents. I'm not convinced by her hairdo or her lipstick, however. Karen sings Kelly Clarkson's 'Because Of You', and it's just a weeny bit out of her range. As it is most people's, in fact, and anyone would sense would choose a different song. Simon declares it "a bit of a struggle", and Karen defiantly responds "I don't think so." Louis didn't like it and calls it a desperate performance. "I was uncomfortable watching you perform," he adds, and Simon chimes in: "I agree with that. You were getting redder and redder and redder, Karen. It was like a kettle boiling over. I thought you were literally going to explode by the end of that song and I didn't like the sound of your voice." So that's a no, then? Karen blames it on a viral infection, but the judges are not swayed, and it's three nos for Karen, who looks crestfallen.
Oh, GOD. You are fucking kidding me. Rudy is back to audition again, because he wants to know what Sharon would've said. Rudy, you can hear what I'm going to say instead: IT DOESN'T MATTER. YOU WERE REJECTED. DEAL WITH IT. PEOPLE WHO WANT TO GET INTO SHOWBUSINESS ARE REJECTED AT AUDITIONS EVERY DAY, AND THEY LEARN TO COPE. All you are doing now is just shedding what little dignity you have left. Of course, now I expect Sharon will put him through, because the universe hates me. Rudy goes in to see the judges; Louis recognises him rightaway, Simon takes a little while longer to cotton on. Rudy explains that he's there to see Sharon, and that he didn't know at the time the reason why Sharon was absent, and if he had known, he wouldn't have been so argumentative. I note with interest that he falls short of actually apologising for being a snotty little child about it, but I suppose we can't expect miracles. I'm not sure what Rudy sings, but a train is involved somewhere. Sharon notes that it must mean an awful lot to him to travel all this way. Louis likes that he's passionate, and that he came all the way from Dublin for a second audition. I think Louis just likes the fact that Rudy's from Dublin, to be honest. No doubt we can look forward to Rudy being kept in at the expense of someone more deserving when Louis gets the casting vote in one of the live shows, eh? Simon is less impressed: "Oh, okay. So all you have to do is get on a plane and everything comes your way?" Louis denies this, but applauds Rudy's "try try again" attitude. Rudy's definitely trying, that much I agree with. Very fucking trying. It's another no from Simon. After a Pinteresque pause, Sharon agrees with Louis. FOR FUCK'S SAKE. Louis hopes Rudy is not in Simon's category. I hope he is, and gets canned on his entitled, obstinate arse at the earliest opportunity. Louis claims that Simon's ego is out of control today. Simon's ego is out of control most days, why should this be any different? It doesn't make him any less right, anyway. I'll admit that Rudy has one of the better voices we've heard on today's show, but I still don't consider him anything above average, and I have a seething hatred for him on a personal level to boot. I cannot make that clear enough. If he wins this competition, I'll...I'll...I'll do something really fucking bad, I tell you. (I liked his cardigan.-Joel) (So did I, if I'm honest. But damned if I'm saying anything positive about that whining crybaby.-Steve)
Another montage of good singers that we haven't got time for a proper introduction to, because that would have cut into all the precious Rudywank time. Fuck's sake. When we get to boot camp, I will have absolutely NO FUCKING IDEA who these people are. This programme is going to give me a cardiac arrest. We do get a bit more time with Brian and Craig, aka the imaginatively-named McDonald Brothers. They sing a Beach Boys song which I suspect may be called 'Don't Worry Baby'. They are dressed in matching black t-shirts and pinstripe trousers. The dark-haired one is cute. They get put through to boot camp. The last person in to see the judges is 31-year-old full-time mum Kerry. Kerry broke her back at the age of 13 and now uses a wheelchair. She has very shiny hair and is very pretty, and I like her. Sharon asks Kerry about the wheelchair, and Kerry tells Sharon what she told us about five seconds ago. Quite why the editors felt the need to include this information twice, I'm not sure. Kerry sings Maria McKee's 'Show Me Heaven', and sounds pretty good. Louis likes that she sang it like she meant it. Sharon likes her voice and her face. Simon likes her voice too. It's yeses all round for Kerry, and Simon opens the door for her on the way out, which may be very polite or very non-PC, I'm never quite sure. Kerry's parting words are "it can only get better from here". I predict Louis saying something incredibly patronising about her being a wheelchair user if she makes it to the live shows. (She's very pretty, and is pleasant, and sings nicely. Finally someone who'd have got through, even without sob-story. Or perhaps 'triumph over adversity' story.-Joel)
Next week: the auditions draw to a close. Finally! Louis has a waterfight with a contestant. And the judges find out which category they'll be mentoring. Woo, and indeed, hoo.