Monday, October 30, 2006

They can take that away from you, apparently

Performance Show 3: 28th October 2006

So, is everybody ready for the SHOCK TWIST they've been warning us about all week? Because there's a SHOCK TWIST happening in tonight's show. And it's a SHOCK TWIST they were planning all along, and it's not the kind of SHOCK TWIST that they're suddenly invoking to drum up more interest because the show's a big pile of shit this year. (Or because they realised they'd fucked up the schedules and wouldn't end in time to release the single for Christmas if they did one a week?-Joel) And we all know how much the SHOCK TWISTS improved Big Brother, don't we? Sigh. Kate reminds us about the SHOCK TWIST, which the finalists are about to learn about live on stage. Thornton Dresswatch: a feminine black tuxedo-looking thing with a scoop-neck top underneath and a white belt/cummerbund hybrid, which is surprisingly flattering. Well done, Kate!

Kate warns the finalists that there's a SHOCK TWIST: two acts are leaving the competition tonight. She doesn't explain exactly how it's going down, so I shall save my rant on the sheer idiocy of the way they're executing this for later in the recap, because I'd quite like to postpone the coronary of indignation for as long as possible. Kate introduces us to the live band for Big Band night, otherwise known as Ray Is Your Pre-Ordained Winner, Bitches night. Tonight's musical guest is Tony Bennett, and my hope is that being juxtaposed with an actual good swing singer will make everyone realise how much Ray needs to be voted out of the competition, but we'll see, I suppose. Kate asks Tony if Big Band music is difficult to tackle, and Tony says no. (But isn't it challenging with the band? No. Suck it up Kate, Tony Bennett is not for prompting.-Joel) So basically if anybody gets it wrong tonight, it's because they suck. Heh. Tony says that he remembers being in the same position as the contestants, because he and Rosemary Clooney were the first American Idols. I think Tony's slightly confused about what show he's on.

First up singing 'Ain't That A Kick In The Head' is Ray. Nope, that joke's too easy. Croony McSmugpants smugs that this is his week, that it's the week he wanted from the start. Again, you'll notice that he's talking about the show, not the music. Ray meets Tony in rehearsals and smugs all over him. Weirdly, there's a piece from Louis in Ray's VT where he says that Ray needs to do a lot more this week than just stand there and smile, which is immediately followed by Simon wanting to know how you can criticise an eighteen-year-old for smiling when he's having the time of his life? Oh just kiss already, you two. Tony VTs that Ray is terrific. Ray VTs that this is what he wanted, and it's finally here. So, all the more reason to send him home afterwards, if he's fulfilled his dreams, right? Ray mumbles his way flatly through the song. He has a huge plastic smile all across his face, and now I see what Louis was getting at. It's like watching the school play, with that kid who used to just look so pleased with himself for being onstage, no matter how shit he actually was. Seriously, if this was supposed to be Ray's week, he's really fumbling the pass here. His stage presence is even more awkward than Dionne's, and he needs to FUCKING ENUNCIATE. Jesus. At the end of it, Croony McSmugpants smugs more than he's ever smugged before. Louis kicks off the X Factor drinking game by invoking a likeness to a young Michael Bublé and Robbie Williams (because they invented swing music, didn't they?), saying Ray owned the stage (lie), and attempts to show some actual purpose as a judge by asking Ray what he does besides swing, although his head is too far up Ray's ass by this point to make much difference. Sharon says Ray really shocked her tonight, because she didn't know he could dance like that. That was dancing? Ooo-kay. Ray excelled himself, she thinks. Simon says it was a fantastic start, and points out that you can only sing this music well if you love this music, which sounds rather like bullshit to me. I'm no great fan of swing music, but I do a pretty mean rendition of 'I've Got You Under My Skin'. Er, not that this is about me. Simon calls back to Louis's part and says that it's better to be good at one specific thing rather than a jack of all trades, which...basically makes a mockery of the theme weeks, and gives Ray licence to do a bastardised swing version of whatever the theme is each week. Thanks a lot, SIMON. Croony McSmugpants smugs to Kate that he hasn't got the praise he wanted in the previous weeks, but now this is what he wanted. Great. Because we're all here to enable your frickin' fantasies, you little prick.

Sharon introduces Dionne, and let me quote: "Simon will be very happy because now we can relieve all that anger that's been building up all week inside of him, and he can give a real abuse attack on Dionne." Yes, because constructive criticism and abuse are entirely the same thing, you hateful useless lump of cartilage. Simon's all "WTF?" and Sharon's all "you heard!", and...I hate Sharon, you guys. I really, really hate her. I think I actually hate her more than I hate Louis. She's completely useless and unprofessional. (Her saying that was a far more vicious swipe at Dionne's Achilles tendon with a butcher-knife than anything Simon could manage.-Joel) Dionne will be singing 'For Once In My Life'. Dionne VTs that she was very happy with her performance last week. Sharon VTs that Simon sees Dionne as big competition. Given that she gave one of the best performances in the first week, and was still in the bottom two after the public vote, Sharon, I really doubt that. And really, we're all adults here. Can't we rise above the "Ur jus jelus!!!11!!!!one!!" school of retaliation? Simon then makes this exact point himself in the VT, although his comment of "you're only threatened by people the public like" seems a little harsh. Sharon sticks her hand up the back of Louis's shirt and speaks through him without moving her lips: "I think Simon's threatened by Dionne, blah blah blah." You're not fooling anyone, Sharon. Dionne wants to prove she's more than a backing singer, and good for her. Tony VTs that he disagrees with the critics saying she should be a backup singer, and FOR FUCK'S SAKE. (I loved that he said to her, 'I hope you win.' If I were Dionne, I'd be like 'screw you, bitches, Tony Bennett hopes I win.'-Joel) That is not what Simon was saying, at all. He said she was like a backing singer in her performance last week, not that that's all she was good for. This show is so fucking stupid. Dionne says that Simon's criticism is good motivation, and again good for her for being THE ONLY PERSON IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, apparently, who understood why he was saying that to her. GOD. Dionne's too smart for this show, I think. She also looks really pretty tonight, with a flower in her hair. Unfortunately, somebody on the production staff hates Dionne, because this arrangement of the song is fucking horrendous. Dionne does her best to make a silk purse of a sow's testicles, but I think it's a losing battle. Again, she deserves better than this, and it sucks, but I've already made my peace with the fact that she's this year's Maria, and too good to make it very far in this celebration of mediocrity. It's a good vocal on an otherwise horrible song, and Dionne deserves the credit for that. Louis tells her she looks more comfortable this week, and tells Dionne's she's a versatile singer of both soul and jazz. Simon comments that all the personal stuff is rubbish, and that he thinks Dionne is a good singer, but "has all the grace of a boxer", prompting the usual "WHAT?"s and boos, and he kind of trundles down an avenue that I don't really follow, but the crux of the matter is that he doesn't think Dionne has a chance of winning. Dionne looks kind of affronted by this, but at least her response is fairly gracious: she tells Simon that she's disappointed because she worked really hard on this performance, and she hopes she can change his mind. So that makes her too smart, too good AND too classy for this show? Yep, Dionne's doomed. I'm not going to recap Sharon's comments, because she hasn't earned it, so screw you, lady. Sharon does, however, blather on so much that there's no time for Kate to talk to Dionne. Stellar management there, Mrs O. I hope Dionne punches you in the face when she gets eliminated, because God knows I would.(I don't think Sharon would notice. Seriously, she's been overdosing on the Botox. The only parts of her face that move anymore are her eyelids and jaw. She's like a ventriliquist's dummy. Gottle of geer, Sharon?-Joel)

Since Louis has only two acts left, we're back with Simon and Nikitta. She talks about her comments from last week and says that they don't hurt her. Louis VTs that Simon's management is hurting Nikitta, blah blah. Simon VTs that Louis has criticised Simon's song choices for Nikitta for two weeks straight, and for two weeks straight Louis has lost an act. Because, lest we forget, this contest is all about the contestants, not the judges. Oy veh. Nikitta VTs that she's having trouble singing and dancing at the same time, which I'm sure is so horrible, and not at all something she should be expected to do as a pop singer. She does, however, score points with me for not mentioning her Dead Mother once. Nikitta sings 'Sway', and her movement actually isn't that bad. She's not noticeably more gracious than Dionne, but she looks more comfortable in it which helps her. Vocally, it's okay, but kind of nasal for my tastes. I do really like this song, though, and she's doing a fairly good number on it. Totally spontaneously, a guy comes out of the audience to dance with her. Hmm, this is the second week Simon's brought out a gimmick for Nikitta. I shall ponder the relevance of that. She sounds a little strained on some of the high notes. Louis says he thinks that she's a good singer, but that judging her on tonight he thought she struggled. Nikitta, sounding thoroughly pissed off (heh), asks Louis what sort of song he thinks she should be doing. I'm no great fan of Nikitta, but the fact that she just publicly called Louis on his bullshit is awesome. Simon's all, "yeah, LOUIS" and Louis can only respond "not that one! I wouldn't have picked that one!" Louis also says "Simon, don't shout me down, it's my turn." Can we all make a note of this for when Simon comments on Louis's acts? Good. Louis tells Nikitta she's a great singer, but he didn't like her performance and she could be going home. Nikitta's all "whatever, assface". Heh. Sharon says that Nikitta was way out of her comfort zone, and implies that Nikitta can only sing songs written since she was born, and...what? I don't get it. Sharon thinks the dancing affected Nikitta's vocals, and Nikitta says that's what she was worried about. We know, we saw the VT. Sharon's all "I bet you've never heard that song before, have you?", utterly ignoring the fact that there was a dance remix of it floating around about three years ago, or the fact that whoever wins this show will have to record an album containing songs they've never heard before, so whatever, Sharon. (Getting ahead of myself, I wrote "'You've probably never heard that song before, have you?' Bullfish! It's an extremely famous song, in its original state, in the dance version and the Pussycat Dolls cover. You patronising bitch." so yeah.-Joel) Simon tells Nikitta that the song doesn't matter, that she got it together by the second half, that it wasn't a winning performance, but the main problem was that her dancer was too short. Nikitta's entirely nonplussed by this, and somehow I doubt she chose the dancer herself, so I'm not sure how that feedback's meant to be of use to her. Eventually Nikitta gets what Simon's on about and laughs, but once again there's no time for Kate to talk to her.

Ben is up next, and Sharon says that those of us who considered him to be just a rock singer will be surprised by this performance. The VT flashes back to last week where Simon and Louis predicted Ben will be in the final. Simon admits on VT that he is fearful of Ben (and yet he gives him positive feedback, SHARON) and that he considers Ben to be the main obstacle to one of his artists winning the show this year. Ben feels under pressure now because everyone expects such big things of him. Ben is kind of pretty, I'm just starting to notice. Ben's very excited to meet Tony Bennett, and says that the experience has made him realise that this is what he wants. The piano's out for him again. He will be singing 'Smile', off the oven chips advert. The Big Band don't appear to be doing much so far, which seems a little suspect. He's toning down the rawk affectations for this, and his voice is kind of nice, but again, I'm getting a sense of him trying to sidestep this week's theme. Oh, wait, the band kicks in for an instrumental in the middle eight, briefly. Ben then hits the rocker vocal for a few lines just to remind us why he's there, and this performance was not unpleasant, but it was really, really dull, and really didn't fit the Big Band theme at all. Simon says that in any situation that was outstanding: believable, and the best performance of the night "by a mile". Louis: "The show is called The X Factor, it's about finding somebody who's going to record and sell millions and millions of records." Um, thanks for that? Also, I love that by omission there, Louis has basically said that this is not a talent contest, just a contest to see who's most marketable. Heh. Again, Louis says he sees Ben in the final. Sharon tells Ben he could've been softer with some of his notes (and I agree, so fair play to Sharon on that one) but that it was still a nice contrast to his usual rocker schtick (her words, not mine). There's a bit of chat with Kate wherein Ben admits he wasn't expecting such lovely feedback, and had a comeback all ready, but it wasn't needed.

Louis introduces the MacDonald Brothers, whose names are apparently Craig and Brian. I have no idea which is which. He does his usual patter of telling us where they're from, points out that Sharon and Simon hate them, but the public love them. One of them VTs that it's hard for them to take Simon's criticism. Louis points out that they've not been in the bottom two yet, so they obviously have a fanbase. The "unlike the rest of my acts" is unspoken. They're nervous about tackling swing. Tony Bennett liked their harmonies, and the look in their eyes when they looked at each other. See, he spots the creepy incest vibes too! I swear, between this show and Supernatural, my perception of what a healthy fraternal relationship entails is so off these days. The dark-haired one really is very pretty. They're singing 'Can't Take My Eyes Off You'. In the grand tradition of their performances on this show, it's quite sweetly sung but inutterably dull. The cute dark-haired one clearly has no idea what to do with his non-microphone-holding hand, either. There are some quite nice harmonies in there, but still: dull dull dull. Simon thought the song was fantastic, the band was amazing, and the guys were okay. He does call it all a bit karaoke at Pontin's, and I find it interesting how he spots that this year when he failed to notice it when they entered as Journey South last year and were in his category. He says it lacked star quality, but he thinks the song will carry them through. Sharon says that she feels guilty having a go at them because they're so nice. This from the alleged Queen of Darkness? She does think it was their best performance so far, though. Simon asks them if they think they can win, and they do the whole "given time, given a lot more practice, yadda yadda" stuff that everyone does when they don't want to appear too cocky. Louis, of course, does the whole "I don't care what Simon thinks, the public likes them, and Tony Bennett likes them, and besides, Simon gave us Robson and Jerome, LOLZ!!!!!" thing, and the look on Simon's face suggests that this comment was met with all the derision it merited. The fair-haired one says that they're hoping to make Simon like them, Louis shouts that there's no point, and they hightail it out of there.

Next up is Leona. Leona doesn't have much of interest to say in her VT because no one's been especially mean to her yet. She does say that she wants to be the first female to win the show, which is interesting. Simon thinks he's chosen a good song for her, and Tony Bennett tells her to keep it simple, which I suspect means "can the melisma there, horsey". Leona's hair is curly again, and I really prefer it straight, not that that's especially important. Leona is singing 'Summertime' from Porgy and Bess. It's a very Aguilera-esque take on it, but I would posit that Leona probably has one of the strongest voices (if not the strongest) in the competition, so while I'm not a massive fan of how she's singing this, at least she has the chops for it. She goes for a massive held note near the end, and pretty much pulls it off. Okay, I'm offering her performance of the night for that one, for showmanship if not necessarily for technical excellence. (It was fucking amazing. She managed to not warble and really made me believe it. Performance of the night for sure. Probably performance of the series so far. Though that's not saying much.-Joel) (Indeed. I’ve totally come around on Leona since writing the first draft of this, and in hindsight I think she was awesome.-Steve) Louis is all "beautiful girl, beautiful song, brilliant performance". He says that this music is all about class, and that Leona has a lot of class. Sharon says that she likes how Leona doesn't know how good she is, and it's so endearing to find someone that has such a huge voice as her, and Sharon's cut off her as Simon grabs her and gives her a full-on snog on the lips. Hee! Sharon's momentarily nonplussed, and then pulls Simon back in for another. Heh. Louis looks a little upset at being left out. Sharon thrusts her tits in Simon's face, and completely forgets what she was going to say. Simon thinks Leona is the best contestant he's ever had across any of "these" shows (presumably just meaning The X Factor, since he doesn't mentor anyone on Idol), and that it was an amazing performance. Leona's left speechless by the judges comments, tears up, and wants to thank her mum and dad. WHO ARE DEAD. Whoops, sorry, wrong contestant. I think Leona might just manage to fly under the "who does she think she is?" radar by virtue of her comparative lack of confidence. If it's genuine, which I think it is, kind of. I hope that she's the act of Simon's that makes it to the final, anyway. Rather her than Nikitta, or Ashley, or (shudder) Ray. Kate wishes Simon luck meeting Ozzy in the corridor (hee), and we cut to the ads.

Sharon introduces Kerry, who's going to show us what she's got inside. Kerry VTs that her comments last week were fair. Simon mentions that Kerry's voice is good, but not distinct and kind of boring. Kerry feels this song is her more than any of the others she's had to sing so far. I'm not sure that swing week is going to do much to change Kerry's perceived "lounge singer" factor. Simon says she came into the show as one of the favourites, but after her first two performances, not any more. Harsh but fair, I think. He says she's got to raise her game. Kerry's singing 'They Can't Take That Away From Me'. I think she's a little flat when she sings the line "the way you sing off-key", which is kind of funny. It's...okay, I guess. I don't see any real game-raising going on here. Her voice just isn't strong enough. (She sounds like she's got problems with her adenoids. Really stuffy phrasing.-Joel) There are a couple of opportunities to make the song really big, and she shies away from them. I don't know if that's a lack of confidence or an actual lack of ability. Simon says that the genre definitely suits her, but calls it "Hilton hotel, Luton, with a bowl of peanuts". He calls it "competent, but very predictable - I've heard this type of performance a lot, and I'm always in a bar with a gherkin or a pickled onion or a peanut - on my own, yes - I can't say more than that." Hee. Louis says that it was Kerry's best performance so far, but he doesn't know if he'll remember it tomorrow. There are better girls in the competition, he thinks. At least he didn't call the performance "forgetful", so we should be grateful for small mercies. Sharon says that Kerry belongs in a Hilton hotel in Las Vegas, which as rejoinders go is craptacular. Sorry Sharon, but you can say that Elvis used to play there, it still doesn't make that good feedback. Kate asks Kerry how she feels about the hotel comments, and Kerry unwisely picks up on Sharon's track, saying that people like Barbra Streisand play in some of the best hotels and if that's who she's being compared to, then great. not really what Simon was getting at, and he interjects here to tell her (politely) that that's fantasy on her part. Kerry then babbles on about not picking the song herself and knowing she can do better, and really she's running out of excuses now. If she can do better, she should be doing better and not being all stagnant. She says that she wants to stay in the competition, but I can't help feeling there's something a little entitled about Kerry these days, and it doesn't sit well with me. I don't really think she's trying hard enough.

Simon introduces the insufferable Ashley. Sorry, the "incredible" Ashley. Well, in the sense of being hard to believe, I can get behind that. Louis and Sharon give Ashley props in his VT, but Louis warns him to avoid being too cocky. Simon tries to say that Ashley isn't cocky or disrespectful, and nobody believes him. Ashley asks Tony Bennett for help with his nerves, and Tony tells him that the audience will support him if he's nervous. Ashley likes that Tony is laid-back without being cocky, and he wants to be like that. Ashley sings something which may be called 'Moondance', and I can't take his helium-voice seriously at all. He's kind of monotonous and flat to me. (I really like his voice and I don't understand why. It's metallic and weird. I think it's just a relief to hear someone that sounds halfway distinctive in the dross.-Joel) Halfway through the song he totally fluffs his words and doesn't cover it well at all. We should probably all consider ourselves lucky he didn't swear. Seriously, fluffing a couple of words is understandable, but Ashley screwed up pretty much half a verse. That ain't good. Louis, of course, isn't going to judge him on that, because why on earth would a judge factor something like a complete screw-up into their comments? That would just be crazy! Louis tells Ashley that Robert and Ben are better singers (Robert? Really?) but that Ashley is a great performer. I’m dismayed that this would be Louis’s chance to use the word “forgetful” correctly for the first time in three weeks, but he chooses to pass it up. Bah. Sharon likes Ashley, and tells us as much, and is also going to ignore Ashley fluffing his words because "the biggest artists in the world do it". Not that awkwardly, they don't. Simon asks him what went wrong, and Ashley digs out the capital-a Attitude, saying that it's not his kind of music, (Scott and I decided country must be his music, because it's about the only genre he hasn't dismissed.-Joel) the words are too choppy and it's very hard to sing. Cry me a freaking river already. Simon follows the trend of ignoring the fluff and says that the last 30 seconds made up for it. Kate says that the judges have been very kind to Ashley, and asks what he would like to say back. Ashley responds "they ain't got a choice - no, I'm joking!", except he totally isn't, and everyone laughs when they should be punching him in the face. Seriously, this show really lacks some face-punching. There's a SHOCK TWIST I'd be all in favour of. Ashley goes on about how the audience have to appreciate how hard it is for him to go out there and sing these songs. Oh, diddums. Also: cram it. Ashley also thanks "the Lord, for blessing me and putting me in this position". I'm sure the Lord cares so much. Kate asks Ashley if having the band there threw him, because we must all make excuses for Ashley! He's good! It's not his fault he screwed up! He mustn't learn any lessons from this! Ashley says no, and credits the band with being "good" in a really dismissive tone that I don't care for at all. Sharon tells him to quit while he's ahead. Heh.

Sharon promises a whole new side to Robert. A good one? Robert says he was gutted to be in the bottom two last week. Simon thinks that Sharon needs to get Robert to sit still and sing. Sharon says she doesn't want to squash Robert, but he needs to learn when to use that energy and when to slow it down. Tony Bennett thinks Robert is terrific. Oh, what do you know? Simon thinks Robert has a great voice, but none of us have had a chance to listen to it yet. Well, that's certainly true. Robert is singing 'Mr Bojangles'. It's a more sedate performance this week, but it doesn't mask the fact that all of this praise that's been heaped on Robert seems utterly unwarranted, since he's every bit the standard of average hotel performer that Kerry is. Maybe they should retitle this show The H Factor next year? They could have H from Steps as a guest judge, that would be good. Robert's dancing makes Dionne look like Darcy Bussell, by the way. The song ends, and I'm almost in a coma. That's one of Simon's favourite songs of all time, and thinks it should have been a disaster, but it wasn't. Simon says that whatever happens to Robert, he can say that at one point in the show he sang his heart out. Louis calls it the best performance of the night, which: not, (If I were Leona I'd have punched him in the gut right there.-Joel) and says he doesn't know why Robert was in the bottom two last week. Because he was shit and deserved to be there? It's a maverick theory I hold. Sharon calls it "smooth" and "a class performance". Robert lets out all the energy that he was holding in during the song when Kate asks him to appeal to the audience, and by "energy" I mean "assholishness". Kate asks Robert why the audience should vote for him, despite the fact that he just did that, and Robert says he needs our votes to support his unborn child. (Go the fuck home, look after your heavily-pregnant wife, and hold down a fucking job, rather than gambling on a contest you'll never win, you bag of shit.-Joel) Oh, please.

Closing the show are Eton Road. They got good feedback last week despite not really being very good. Louis thinks their transformation so far has been unbelievable. Simon really likes them and thinks they have a tough song, but hopes they pull it off. One of them says that swing is not an average genre for a boyband to do, which means he didn't buy that Westlife album either. Good move. Tony thinks they have fantastic potential. They're going to put an "Eton Road twist" on 'Mack The Knife', and I smell a disaster in the offing. They get off to a good start, but I think they fluff the words too at one point. When they start to put in the harmonies and stuff, it gets really messy. Then Anthony throws in another of his ill-advised high notes that misses the mark completely, and the rest of them all try to harmonise around him, but don't really get it right. It really is kind of a car crash, and I'm kind of over Eton Road. Sharon loves them. She thinks they make everything fun, and they can fit into any genre. She thought they were really great tonight. Simon likes them a lot, but calls it "a complete and utter mess". He says it was "squeaking and this and that - it was just ridiculous". Sharon makes a comment about them actually remembering the words, and Louis jeers. Simon tries to make another point, but Louis starts yelling "shut up, shut up" and won't let him finish, and remember Louis's comment from earlier about Simon needing to be quiet when it's Louis's turn to speak? Good to see that sentiment works both ways. Sharon and Louis get all self-congratulatory over their slam on Simon, and they are just such colossal morons it's ridiculous. I hate this show. Simon doesn't think they worked out the vocals properly, but he hopes the public gives them a second chance because something went wrong this week. Louis tells them not to listen to him. Simon asks Louis if he honestly thinks it was a good performance, and Louis says it was. Anthony says that they respect Simon's judgement on the matter, but that Simon always says they're odd (which he didn't this week) and that they tried to put their own spin on it. And then Anthony completely loses what little goodwill I had left for him by huffing "and that wasn't a squeaky note, that was a top D." Whatever it was, child, it was squeaky and it was off, so cram it. A lot.

Video recap. Ray was smug. Dionne was better than her arrangement. Nikitta had a short dancer. Ben had a piano instead of a band. The MacDonald Brothers had the love of the public, apparently. Leona was awesome. Kerry distracted Simon from his bar snacks. Ashley forgot his words (but the VT hides that bit). Robert was restrained, and dull. Eton Road were a hot fried mess. Kate reminds us about tonight's SHOCK TWIST of a double elimination and it's Thornton out.

Results show

Earlier tonight, it was revealed that in a SHOCK TWIST there would be a double elimination tonight. The contestants learned this while wearing outfits from last week and the week before, apparently. We're back with Kate, who tells us the vote is incredibly tight, as she always does. Video recap from earlier. Kate tells us that we can see the finalists live on tour next year, and I'd love to go, but I'm meant to be throwing myself under a train that night. We're "treated" to a performance of 'The Best Is Yet To Come' from Tony Bennett, and it's dreadful. I thought the star performers were meant to show up the contestants? This is just bad. He then segues into 'For Once In My Life', getting the good arrangement that Dionne ought to have had earlier. Sabotage!

Back from the ads, and two acts are about to leave the show in a SHOCK TWIST. Kate welcomes the finalists back onto the stage. Kate explains what's going to happen: the act who polled the lowest with the public will leave immediately, then the two acts with the second- and third-lowest number of votes will compete in the showdown as usual. And that is so dumb. If you're going to do away with this bullshit judges' decision showdown nonsense, do it for everyone, not just one person randomly in the middle of the show. That's just so stupid. They should either have just eliminated the two acts with the lowest number of votes regardless, or put the bottom three into the showdown, and then got the judges to decide which one gets a reprieve. Dumb, dumb, dumb. I hate this show. In no particular order, the first act coming back next week is: Robert. Also safe are: Leona, Eton Road, Ben, Ray, the MacDonald Brothers and Nikitta. One of Ashley, Dionne and Kerry has polled the lowest number of votes and will definitely be leaving. That act is: Dionne. Dionne looks like she was expecting this. We get her highlights package, and it sucks that she doesn't get much focus on her exit because everyone's too busy worrying about Kerry and Ashley. Dionne is very disappointed, but she did her best, and thanks Mark Hudson for believing in her when others doubted her. Kate wants Sharon to state that Dionne leaves with her head high and her confidence boosted. Yes, nothing boosts one's confidence like finishing in tenth place. (Ha! Though tell that to the 99,990 other bitches.-Joel) Sharon says that Dionne ain't no backing singer, and Dionne exits and we're immediately expected to stop caring about her. Poor Dionne. She didn't deserve that. (Poor Dionne. I still love you and the flower in your hair was awesome. Go and headbutt Sharon. We'll all feel a lot better.-Joel)

But move on we must, and Kerry's singing for the judges' vote. It's perhaps marginally bigger than her earlier performance, but I still see no evidence of all this extra stuff that she has to give. And if she can't bring it out when her place in the contest is at stake, when exactly will she be bringing it? I remain unmoved. Ashley returns, and might even remember his words this time. We watch the performance in silence, until Dave rather quietly says "Is it just me, or is this really shit?" No Dave, it's not just you. The voting public agrees, thankfully. He does appear to at least remember his words this time. Kerry comes back onto the stage, and it's time for the judges' votes. The audience appears to be supporting Ashley. Sharon wants to send Ashley home. Simon says he thinks Ashley learnt his lesson tonight, and that the public won't support a second-rate performance. Hmm, they seem to have supported a lot of them, though. Simon says it's an easy decision, and votes to send home Kerry. Kate makes a big show of how Louis is the only judge without an act of his own in the showdown, and that's probably because he's only got two left so the odds were in his favour. Louis says it's not an easy decision, and that Ashley was very unprofessional tonight and really messed up, and should have given it a lot more tonight. He thinks Kerry is a great singer who's very professional and always delivers, but he thinks she's peaked. A nice contrast with the constant "I've got a lot more to give!", I feel. He bases his decision on it being a talent contest, and votes to send home Kerry. Kate asks Kerry if she's shocked, and Kerry is, because she was supposed to win, although she says that she kind of knew it was coming when she heard the judges' comments. Kerry looked a lot prettier in her audition than she did tonight (Her first audition was also her best vocal. Oh, Kerry.-Joel) - somebody should fire her make-up artist. During her highlights package, Kerry looks kind of pissed off. Sharon comes on and hugs her. Kerry says that it's meant the world to her, and says that hopefully she's proved to people out there that if you go for your dreams, you may achieve somewhere close to it, if not your dreams. I think I know what she was going for there, but that was rather clumsily worded. "You too can live your dreams of coming ninth in a televised singing contest!" was not, I feel, quite what she was going for. Kate tells Kerry she's done her mother proud, and Sharon says that it's given her the opportunity to shine, and that she will go on to bigger and better things.

Next week is Abba week, and I can't wait for Ray to deliver his swing version of 'The Winner Takes It All'. Shoot me now. Please?

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Performance Show

I’m watching this in repeat, because on Saturday night I was at Tobias and the Angel at the Young Vic. It was rather wonderful and the singing was so beautiful it moved me to tears. Of course, X Factor voices also move to me to tears sometimes, but for a different reason, Ray. So, yeah. Given that I spent a night watching absurdly beautiful singing, I might give this bunch of losers even shorter shrift than usual. (Ditto. I was watching Strictly Come Dancing instead, which was way better, and watched this all on video. And since I didn’t have to watch it in recap-worthy detail, I will give some performances the Steve FF-ometer reading, for how far into the performance I got before fast-forwarding to the end.-Steve)

Thank god it’s the performance shows. These are so much easier to recap - the same thing happens for three or four minutes. It’s a lot less demanding. Voice-over man says ‘Just 11 acts remain.’ Just?! Sit through it and then tell me that 11 acts isn’t a lot, assface. They actually start Carmina Burana from the beginning for once, I think, though it’s hard to tell over the insanely cheering crowd. Judges and their contestants are introduced. Kate’s got a jade-green belted dress on, which is fine. The slash to the waist exposing gaping cleavage? Not so much. Tonight’s special guest is Rod Stewart. 140 million albums. 40 million singles. Big successful etc etc etc. Oh, Rod! No. He’s wearing a white dress shirt and a black jacket. But the jacket is spangly. It looks like it’s made of wet tarmac. It is Not A Good Look. Rod thinks the judges have picked good songs for the finalists. Rod says it’s all up to the Great British Public and Kate agrees that it is. Except for the part where it’s totally not because the judges have final say in who goes.

Simon says we’re kicking off with a bang, with ‘the amazing Leona.’ Simon, ever averse to the adverb, says she did ‘brilliant’ last week. Leona is shy. Blah blah. Rod came into rehearsals and tells her he can’t sing in front of small groups and couldn’t sing in the studio as well as Leona just did. Leona is wearing a shiny leopard-print dress. Hmm. She’s singing ‘The First Cut Is The Deepest.’ Not, as most people believe, sung originally by Rod Stewart, but by the goddess-like PP Arnold. PP Arnold’s version is incredible, every one since then is a mess. Especially Sheryl Crow’s. Leona’s fine. She’s hitting the notes but she doesn’t really put any passion into it - there’s no sense of the heartbreak this song should have. Oh dear! She does a hiccup-note at the end and it goes all over the place. (Steve FF-ometer: I watched the whole thing, but largely in a state of ‘oh dear, what is Leona doing to one of my favourite songs?’-Steve) The audience cheer very loudly. Louis says it was great and that as the competition goes on she’s ‘definitely going to be safe.’ Until she gets booted, presumably. Sharon says it was great and Leona will only get better as time goes on. Simon says, ‘I didn’t like it…I loved it.’ He says that every show needs someone like her. Leona was worried being first up but is thrilled with the judges’ comments. At Kate’s prompting, Leona says what an all-round brilliant person Rod Stewart is.

Next up is Sharon and ‘the unstoppable Kerry.’ Unless you stick a broom-handle in her spokes! Ha! Hell for me, yes, I know. (Bad Joel! Bad!-Steve) Kerry was upset that Simon said she was a bar singer last week. She goes on and on about it. Then, in the studio, goes on about it even more to Rod. Oh, boo-hoo, did Simon burst our little bubble of self-belief? Kerry wants to make Scotland proud, just like Rod Stewart. She’s sat on a stool. I didn’t notice how she got there. There are little dishes of fire about the stage. She sings ‘I Don’t Wanna Talk About It.’ Again, vocally perfectly nice and hitting the notes, but it sounds like she’s concentrating so much on that she’s forgotten to put any real personality into it. (Yep. I kept comparing her unfavourably to Susanne on Pop Idol 2, and thinking how Kerry’s completely lacking the raw, gravelly emotion of Susanne’s version. She only got an ‘until the start of the second verse’ on the Steve FF-ometer.-Steve) Singing really is about more than hitting the notes. Louis says that she raised the bar on last week, which was a little bit bland. Even though he didn’t say that last week. Sharon also says she was better than last week, and thanks Simon, who chose the song. Simon says it was better but thinks she can do even better and that she’s ‘better than she knows.’ He think it sounds like she meant it, which, see above for my complete disagreement. Kerry agrees and says that ‘I know I’ve got so much more to give.’


Back after the break, there seems to be booing among the cheers. I think the audience are confused. Louis introduces the McDonald Brothers, promptly getting their name wrong by saying, ‘the McDonalds!’ Rod Stewart tells them to worry about singing first and stage presence will come later. Hmm. Oh dear god. They’re in red t-shirts and black kilts. Tartanless kilts (because there’s no McDonald tartan? Give me a break) kind of just look like pleated skirts. They should be playing hockey. They sing ‘We Are Sailing.’ The dark one is cute. (I’m glad it wasn’t just me thinking that. Also, Steve FF-ometer reading: end of the first verse.-Steve) They kind of suck. The dark one gives a little electric guitar solo. There is an invisible choir of backing singers. The boys aren’t harmonising with each other or with the BVs. It’s a little chaotic. Louis says they have personality and he doesn’t care if Simon doesn’t like them. Sharon likes their sporrans and in a completely scripted bit, they lift their kilts to reveal, well, the second layer of the kilt. Sexy! Sharon thinks they were a lot better than last week and that personality will come. Simon says they’re nice guys but that it was ‘absolutely terrible’ and ‘verging on insane.’ There were ‘all these weird key changes.’ Simon says ‘there is not a cat in hell’s chance of you winning this competition.’ The audience boo half-heartedly, because they know Simon is right. Louis, hopeless as ever, says they’re young and trying hard and all that other shit that doesn’t matter. The boys are quite gracious in receiving the comments.

Next up is Ashley. He gets arsey again about not liking the songs. But to be fair he’s talking about Rod Stewart, which is fair enough because Rod Stewart is shit. Rod loves singers ‘who close their eyes when they sing.’ Ashley is…dressed kinda like a girl. He’s singing…something. Oh! ‘I Would Rather Go Blind.’ They mentioned it not being a well-known Rod Stewart song. I think the version I know is Freda Payne’s. Ashley is rather good, in my opinion. He divides people, but I think his voice is lovely. Soulful - he actually puts something into the song rather than just hitting the notes. Louis says ‘praise be to God’ Ashley is in the competition. Sharon says he’s great and ‘will be a handful’ and then gets the giggles about her own innuendo. Simon says ‘lesson one in who to stay away from.’ Simon says that Ashley still has a long way to go but the performance was ‘mesmerising.’ (Not for me: I didn’t even get to the end of the first verse before fast-forwarding. Also: Ashley sounds like Madeleine Peyroux. I don’t mean that as a compliment.-Steve) (Shut up! You’ve ruined it now!-Joel)


Sharon introduces ‘The Big D, Dionne.’ Dionne was devastated to be in the bottom two and it was a blow to her confidence. Sharon says it was a blessing in disguise because it may have made Dionne realise you need more than just a voice. Rod Stewart says that Dionne is good and that it’s ‘in the lap of the gods.’ Dionne is looking forward to proving she can do it. She’s wearing an indigo dress, which is rather pretty, and singing ‘Tonight’s The Night.’ She’s sounding a bit like Tina Turner, kind of brassy. She’s also moving a bit like Tina Turner, clomping about the stage. She doesn’t have the beginning nerves that she did last week and is good the whole way through - coping with loud bits and quiet bits and not batting an eyelid at the key change. Louis says he doesn’t know why she was bottom two last week and says he reminds her of Tina Turner. Nooooo!! I’m agreeing with Louis! Sharon says that Dionne ‘owned the stage’ (no) and has ‘a great, soulful voice’ (yes). Simon says that he was very surprised to see Dionne in the bottom two because she has a ‘very, very good voice’ but lots of backing singers have very, very good voices. He says she doesn’t need to practice on the voice and should spend the next week getting into performing. Sharon goes absolutely psycho at this, saying , ‘just admit that you want her out!’ Louis dives in as well. Given that Sharon rejected Dionne at the first audition, saying she had nothing original, and it was Simon and Louis who put her through, I think Ms Osbourne could afford to be a wee bit less precious about this. Simon says he’s trying to help Dionne (which I think he is, because he’s right - she’s a bit lumpen on stage) but Sharon keeps screeching and jabbing at him with hatpins, crying ‘you’re trying to get rid of her!’ (I apologise for hijacking the recap, but this is the point where I wanted to reach into the TV set, grab Sharon by the lapels, dunk her into a vat of water and shove her headfirst into the nearest electrical socket. How dare you, Sharon. How fucking DARE you put your stupid, petty rivalry with Simon and your asinine attempts at manufacturing drama above Dionne learning a lesson that someone desperately needs to teach her. Simon was not being rude, he was telling Dionne that for her own good, because God knows you weren’t going to. I don’t know how on earth you command so much money to appear on this show, but I do know why you never win: because you are about as adept at artist management as I am at speaking Swahili, you stupid, shrewish, immature, stupid, hateful woman.-Steve)

We’re introduced to ‘four cool guys from the Midlands.‘ Stop with the origins Louis. 4 Sure, apparently, had ‘butterflies in their stomach’ last week. They have a collective stomach? They talk about how they can’t be doing with a Rod Stewart song because it’s not R’n’B. They come on stage in black suits. One woman in the audience screams like she’s dying. They sit on stools. Oh, Louis. I don’t know this song but I think it’s called ‘You’re In My Soul.’ It’s dreadful and twee. They’re almost worse. Their harmonies are just not on. They get off the stools. Oh, Louis. It’s not good at all and I’m glad when it’s over. (I got as far as the first line of the chorus, but by this point I’d already seen it twice on the results show. Spoiler!-Steve) Louis says they did a good job but will have to do more to stay in the competition. Sharon asks who did the arrangement and says it was good. Which it wasn’t. The arrangement was the problem - it was all over the place. Sharon says she knows it wasn’t a song they’d pick. It wasn’t a song anyone would pick. I’ve heard it about four times now and within five minutes I can’t remember how it went. Bad, Louis! Bad! Simon says the arrangement was bad and that if you heard it on the radio it would sound like ‘four 80-year olds.’ Sharon gets all smug and says, ‘but they won’t be singing it on the radio will they?’ Simon laughs and says, ‘No! They won’t!’ clearly meaning ‘because they’re too shit’ but Sharon completely misses the point and settles back into her smug, all ‘that’s right. They won’t.’ Simon says it was rubbish. Kate, rehashing Simon’s comments, turns to 4 Sure and says ‘wet, ploddy, not for him. What do you say to that?’ Ouch. A little tact goes a long way, Kate. They say the normal take it on board stuff.


Nikitta, whose mum is dead, talks about how she knew she had the support of her mum, who is dead, and that her mum, who is dead, was there because she felt confident like she did when she was with her mum, who is dead. Simon says she’s having fun, which is great and what you want for a 17-year-old. Nikitta says the same thing - she’s loving it and having the time of her life. She’s singing ‘Bring It On Home To Me.’ She looks kinda foxy in a black dress and one black leather glove. They must be worried because Simon’s already played the gospel choir card. Seems a bit early for that, Si-Si. (Isn’t this the sort of thing he clearly identified as a gimmick last series? I guess Simon doesn’t have that much confidence in Dead Mother Girl after all.-Steve) She’s perfectly good. She does a big showstoppy bit toward the end. I just don’t have much to say about it, but it’s fine. The choir drown her out a bit Louis says the song is rubbish and blames Simon, but it really does seem like sour grapes. Sharon says the same, Simon’s ruined you blah. She makes a completely inappropriate OJ Simpson joke about the glove. Louis tells Simon the dress is wrong. Simon says ‘what do you know about fashion?’ Louis responds, ‘more than you! I don’t wear my trousers up here’ and spins his head in little circles because he’s SO pleased with himself. (Ooh, a height-of-trousers joke! How very current!-Steve) Simon just cuts him down with ‘you’re hardly Giorgio Armani, darling, are you?’ and carries on to say Nikitta dressed herself anyway. Sharon and Louis harp on and on ‘we love you, Simon is awful, he’s ruining you.’

Robert. Sharon introduces him by saying that ‘he’s very shy’ and you can hear Simon mutter disgustedly, ‘no he’s not.’ Hee! We’re treated to a rehash of the complete lie that Robert was good last week. He knows he can’t afford to be complacent. He wouldn’t normally sing Rod Stewart. He’s in a burgundy suit, sat on a step, singing ‘Try A Little Tenderness.’ It’s better than last week. He’s not honking so much. Oh! I take it all back. He just said ‘Come on, let’s party!’ and has made it a disco version. Fuck me it’s dreadful. I don’t care if it’s like Rod Stewart’s version, which I doubt anyway. He drops to his knees and spazzes around. ‘Sock it to me sock it to me sock it me!’ ‘Love! Hug! URGH! Tenderness!’ What the fuck was that? That’s one of the worst things I have ever ever seen on one of these shows. (I fast-forwarded through the whole wretched thing, having already seen it on the results. Whoops! I’m just dropping spoilers everywhere today.-Steve) Louis calls it the best performance so far tonight, which it wasn’t. Sharon says he shouldn’t be so shy and Robert does a little jig. Twat. Sharon tells him to watch his tuning when he’s running around. Simon says Sharon is right. The audience loves him, but there’s ‘a slight desperation’ to his performance. He says it’s like a Chippendales show, with all the running around, and, anticipating Louis’s stupid ‘have you seen them?’ joke, says ‘Louis’ll know. You’ve got a season pass, Louis!’ HA!


We’re introduced to ‘four young boys from Liverpool’ because Louis is obsessed with contestants’ towns of origin. Eton Road never expected to be in the competition. They think being different is what they need to focus on and Anthony says meeting Rod has made them believe ‘being different will always go in your favour’ and it’s ‘opened eyes to how different can be.’ Oh, and by different they clearly mean bad. Their harmonies aren’t great. It’s ‘This Old Heart’ I think but I don‘t know the song. (I know it, and I really like it, and as much as I think Eton Road are as cute as a selection of bugs’ ears, this was a horrible, horrible performance. Much like with Leona, the only thing that kept me watching the entire thing was a sense of dumbstruck horror.-Steve) Anthony stops dancing to do some lead vocals but you can’t hear him over the other boys. Anthony does some waily bits while the rest of them do the fade-out and ends on a falsetto note. The audience go insane. Louis says they’ve improved 100% in one week and calls it fantastic. No. I love them, but this wasn’t good. Sharon says everyone thinks boy bands are passe, but they show that it can still be good. She loves Anthony and apparently Kelly Osbourne has already proposed. Oh dear god. Run, Anthony. Run and never look back. She may be a hippo in a wig, but hippos can get up quite a clip when they put their mind to it. (Just when I was about to mention how Anthony is slowly turning into Sharon Osbourne, looks-wise. Cree. Pee.-Steve) Simon says there were some tuning problems, but it didn’t matter. They’re finally gelling and they remind him of an early Take That, which Louis also said. Simon says ‘the irony is that the only decent group Louis has got is the one he didn’t put through!’ Louis tries to protest but can’t really, because Simon is right.

Simon says ‘my last artist, because I do have four, is Ray.’ I can’t believe Ray is getting the pimp slot. Oh, he’s not! I keep thinking it’s the last one and it’s not. So many people. Ray loved it last week. He say he doesn’t want it to end and talks about the audience and the cameras and once again doesn’t actually mention singing. Little shit. Obeying the letter, if not the spirit, of the theme, Ray is singing ‘What A Wonderful World.’ I mean Rod Stewart’s done 4 American Songbook albums now - you’re going to find something to fit Ray’s shtick in there. Oh my god. I hate this song. I mean really really hate. And I really really hate Ray. But this is actually quite good. I’m managing to listen to it without wanting to destroy things and he’s not disgustingly out of tune. That’s actually one of the best performances of the night. Ew. (Meh. This was the first performance I saw when I switched over after Strictly, and I thought it was so dreadful I couldn’t bring myself to watch any more and switched the TV off. Sorry!-Steve) (I guess it’s just because my expectations were as low as the Marianna Trench, I was pleasantly surprised.-Joel) Louis says it was better than last week and ‘if it was a smiling contest, you’d win.’ He likens him to a young Robbie Williams and says ‘the song was a bit boring.’ Sharon says it’s hard for him to be young and be in that style. She doesn’t think it’s a bad thing, but it’s weird. Simon very astutely points out that at his first audition, Ray sang a Dean Martin song, which was 50 years old and they both said they’d want Ray in their category, so he’s just putting Ray back in his comfort zone. Simon says Ray’s got the confidence and style to pull off those songs. Ray thanks them for their comments. Kate prompts Ray to say how awesome Rod Stewart is.


Ben was stunning, says Sharon. We see Louis saying Ben is like ‘a young Rod Stewart.’ Ben meets Rod and calls it an honour. Ben has a bad feeling and doesn’t want to be seen as a Rod Stewart impersonator. Ooh, he’s got a piano. He’s singing ‘Maggie May’ and at the beginning is keeping the gruffness under control and is just singing very well. He gets up from the piano, the band kicks in, oh, there you go, growly growly. Because this song is so associated with Rod Stewart and because Ben does have a fairly similar voice it’s hard to think he’s doing anything different. He does the stupid wander around the back of the judges’ table. The audience do that incredibly annoying thing of clapping on and off the beat so it just sounds like co-ordinated applause. Louis says Ben owned the stage an is brilliant. Ben gave Robert a run for his money in terms of performance of the night. Louis says Ben will make the final ‘with probably one of my acts.’ Sharon says ‘not that I’m biased’ but it was fantastic. Simon says what I did, that Ben’s in a difficult position - singing Rod Stewart’s most famous song. And that he should have done the whole thing as he did at the beginning, sat at the piano. Simon says it would be ‘a miracle’ if Ben wasn’t in the final. Ben says he loves it and was overwhelmed by Rod and is generally very sweet.

Kate: Vote! Vote! Vote you worthless scum! Clips: Leona doesn’t sound very good. Kerry is all right. The McDonald Brothers (or is it MacDonald? I don’t care) are chaotic. Ashley is great. Dionne sounds even better than I remember. 4 Sure are awful. Nikitta gets drowned out by her own gimmick. Robert is a complete twat. They cut a little snip of Eton Road where they actually sound quite good. Ray temporarily makes my loathing abate. Ben undoes his own good work within thirty seconds.

Simon says two stand-out performances were Ashley and Ben. Sharon says there’s something for everyone. Kate doesn’t even bother talking to Louis, unless I dozed off.


We’re reminded, once again, who the contestants are. Then a recap of the performances and the numbers. Rod sings ‘It’s A Heartache.’ He’s wearing a red military jacket, but not like a Pete-Doherty-in-the-Libertines one. More like a pantomime prince once. I’m not wasting keystrokes on this. Kate says, ‘wow, Rod Stewart!’ and then congratulates him on having the number one album in the US. Kate flirts outrageously and they touch each other. Rod says he was proud of ‘the Scottish contingent’ but names no names about who he liked. (I have seen no evidence whatsoever that any of the special guests actually watch the show. You know damn well Rod Stewart was in the bar, or possibly on the phone firing his agent.-Steve)


More Carmina Burana. Judges and finalists are reintroduced. Anthony waves hello very camply, flapping his fingers down to his palm and up again, rather than moving his hand side-to-side. 15 minutes before they announce they results! First back is Dionne. Hooray! She goes crazy. Next are the MacDonald Brothers. I really should have got that from the big marquee lights above the stage. MACDonald. Next is Ray. Ben. Kerry. Kate is waiting about 20 seconds between ‘is’ and the name. It’s dumb. Ashley. Nikitta. Simon says ‘well done, baby.’ Eton Road. Leona. She looks completely overwhelmed. Oh my. Hang on. This means that the two shittest acts are in the bottom two. The public…got it right? *shudder* I don’t think I can cope with that.
Robert’s not surprised but is nervous. Sharon doesn’t know what’s happening, and wishes she has a ‘bloody crystal ball.’ Kate asks what he needs to do to get Louis and Simon’s votes, completely forgoing any pretence that Sharon might vote against her own singer. 4 Sure don’t want to go. Kate says ‘Simon Cowell could well have the casting vote.’ Of course he fucking will! (Hee! I love that Kate at least made a pretence of suggesting that Louis and Sharon wouldn’t blindly vote for their own acts.-Steve) 4 Sure sing again. They’re a lot better this time and seem to have more control over their harmonies. People cheer. Robert sings again. He’s taken his jacket off. He says something about ‘all love, cool’ and pats his chest. The beginning is quite nice and understated. Then it gets all disco and shitter than last time. The music is drowning him out and he’s not enunciating at all. The audience love it because they are drugged up-cattle who only react when the studio managers release the appropriate hormones into the air-conditioning.

Sharon is sending home 4 Sure. Louis is sending home Robert. 4 Sure should stay, on the strength of the two performances just gone. Simon has the casting vote. ‘This may surprise you, but the artist…I…am…going…to…send…home…is…4 Sure.’ We get to see 4 Sure’s best bits. There’s really nothing there to speak of. 4 Sure cry and cry. One of them acts a spokesman and says ‘it’s not the end of us.’ Kate rubs it in that Louis’s lost two acts in the first two weeks. Louis says they’ll still have a career. Kate prompts 4 Sure to thank Louis. Kate tells us that Tony Bennett will be in next week. God, they’re really greasing the wheel for Ray aren’t they? And then we’re done. What a satisfying episode!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Neverending Bore-y

Performance Show 1: 14th October 2006

Kate stands in a black room, hand-on-hip all sassy-like. She tells us that 12 acts remain out of the 100,000 who applied. They'll be singing live for our votes tonight, and our Saturday night starts here, apparently. I was expecting "it's The X Factor!" at the end of that, accompanied by cheers and whoops, but we just go straight to the titles. Presumably that means the audience is as unenthused by this series as I am.

Speaking of which: new titles! They look marginally less cheap than the old ones, but they're still shit. The studio's also been completely re-kitted out (presumably at the very least because the one they used for the previous two series was definitely not wheelchair-accessible) and looks bigger and more stadium-like. An echoey voiceover person welcomes the judges and their finalists: Simon and the 16-24s (who are Nikitta, Ray, Ashley and Leona, in case you've forgotten), Louis and the groups (Eton Road, The McDonald Brothers, The Unconventionals and 4Sure) and Sharon and the 25 and overs, who have a ramp where the others had steps (Robert, Ben, Dionne and Kerry). Kate points out that amongst these 12 acts is the winner of this year's contest, and frankly that's enough to make me want to switch off right now, but I shall soldier on.

Kate informs us that there's a format change this year, and some of the greatest acts in the world (her words, not mine) will be gracing the stage to establish the theme for that week's performances. In other words, they're finally free to do the live shows the way they intended all along now that Simon Fuller and the Pop Idol team have dropped their lawsuit against the show for format theft. That said, I do think theme weeks are a good idea, because it creates a more level playing field for the contestants and we won't get singing binmen sleepwalking their way to the finals by doing a Nat King Cole cover every week. At least, I hope not. Anyway, the theme this week is Motown, and the guest is Lionel Richie, whose face is looking a little bizarrely stretched these days. Bad facelift? I have no idea, but I'm sure he didn't always look like that. Lionel tells us that the contestants will be celebrating "great music, great artistry and of course the stepping the step into the steps of the Marvin Gayes, the Supremes..." Well, I feel enlightened. Kate? Hi, I've got a question. Is this kind of pointless filler the reason why this show is going to be TWO HOURS long? Because if so I'm going to need to take a percocet right about now. Lionel advises the contestants to love it, enjoy it, and appreciate it tonight. Kate mentions that Lionel will be watching the show backstage, and I am so sure. If I were him, I'd be all "unless you actually put me out front with the judges and let me comment on the performances, I'm not watching this shit. I'll be sipping Cristal in the greenroom and trying to get Nicole to eat a sandwich."

The first act will be from the 25 and overs, and Sharon says that Robert has the hardest job of the night in opening the show. VT tells us that Robert has been waiting for this opportunity all his life (y'all have a nice selection of alcohol lined up to drink at this point, right?), and Sharon tells us that she picked him because of his fantastic voice and his wonderful personality that just makes you smile. I must have missed that in every show up to this point, but now that I know, I shall be on the lookout from here on in. Robert glares blankly into the camera in his VT and then in "real" "life" bounces onto the stage doing a bit of a twirl. "Let's clap people, yeah?" he opens, and the music appears to be drowning him out. I'm quite pleased about this. He's singing 'All Night Long', and I think he's flat for most of it. His attempts at melisma are wobbly because they're too low for his vocal range. I also have to talk about his dancing here: I would have thought that if you were musically talented enough to get this far in the competition, you'd have some degree of rhythm. Not so, apparently. The song kind of ends abruptly, and Robert shouts flatly. (He really did. Like 'FINISHED NOW!'-Joel) To my mind, that was a terrible performance - lifeless, tuneless, pointless. But Robert's very pleased with himself and jumps for joy and yells thank yous at the audience. "What a fantastic opening to the show!" says Louis. "Robert, you're what The X Factor is all about." Well if he means lavishing praise upon utterly mediocre performances, then I'm in agreement. Louis blathers again about Robert having the hardest spot on the show and hopes people won't forget him. He adds that Lionel will love him. Well, sure: that performance just reminded everyone what a talented performer Lionel Richie is in comparison after Robert stank up the place. Sharon says that he did her proud, and...that's it. Simon says that he doesn't remember Robert from the auditions. "That was a very hard song to sing," and then he non-sequiturs: "You talk like Frank Bruno, don't you?" Robert responds: "Y'know what I mean, 'Arry?" because of course. Sigh. Simon declares the performance "absolutely fantastic", and then bizarrely "one of the best we've had", which I can only assume means across all three series, seeing as that was the ONLY ONE we've had this series. And...really? Because I wouldn't even have included that among the best performances of this series, because it was shit. Is that really the standard we should expect from this series? Have I really got to sit through another nine weeks of people telling me that shit like that is exemplary of this country's undiscovered talent? Because I'm not sure I can afford the requisite amount of alcohol, or the subsequent therapy bills. Robert thanks the judges for giving him the opportunity, and fucking cries. Of course. Kate talks to Robert about how much this means to him, and he can't answer because he's so fucking tearful, and the audience cheers, because it's a Pavlovian reaction and they're idiots. Robert jumps up and down some more and twirls while Kate reads out the numbers.

Next up is Louis and the groups, with Eton Road. The show recaps their bumpy journey and their near-elimination. Louis says "I've given these guys a lifeline because I know they've got something special and I know they're going to prove me right." Translation: I had an empty slot that needed filling and I wanted to fill it with the closest possible act to the one I'd lost. I'm just sayin'. The boys want to prove they belong in the competition. Drink! Back in the studio, Kateus the Slack-Jawed Yokel introduces "Eshun Road". Diction, diction, diction, Kate. They're singing 'My Girl', and Anthony's style of dress is veering from "cutely androgynous" to "woman hosting the Oscars". (Step away from the blusher Anthony.-Joel) But at least he doesn't look like he's dying of smallpox this week. They're actually pretty sharp (in the slick sense, I don't mean their singing is sharp) and they really look like they're enjoying themselves. They've messed with the song a bit, but not disastrously so. Anthony's hands should probably be an act all on their own; they're so animated. Actually, looking at the group as a whole, their styling already has a touch of the Westlife about it. Bad Louis! Step away from the wardrobe! Louis is ecstatic with their performance and points out that they had the least time to prepare of anyone, but calls them a "modern day boyband, this is what the UK needs". He singles out Anthony's lead vocal for praise, and then says "I hope people vote for you in Liverpool". Drink! Also: what? Why is getting votes from Liverpool more important than getting votes from anywhere else? Is this some kind of regional contest, and should we be adopting Eurovision-style bloc voting? I don't understand Louis's brain. Sharon tries to point-score by saying that they would have been in her first selection for finalists anyway. She likes their quirkiness and their individuality, and she loves Anthony. Aw, we all love Anthony. At some point I'm going to have to learn the rest of the group's names, though. Simon agrees with Sharon and says that Louis "cocked it up" by not putting them through the first time. Hee hee hee. Jokes about Louis's utter incompetence are always good with me. Simon has some words of caution, though: "What I liked about you in the audition was that you weren't like a normal boyband. You've got to remember: Louis Walsh is 65 years old." Hee! Louis protests they're the same age. Whatever, Granddad. Simon tells Eton Road to steer clear of the clichéd boyband stuff, and he doesn't like all that weird dancing that Louis makes them do. I'm not going to make the joke there. If you want to make it and get sued, do it on your own webspace. Simon's not finished, turning to Anthony: "Particularly you, because you're quite odd. What's your name?" Ha! Poor Anthony. Simon tries to spin this as a compliment, but I think I'd be a little hurt in his position. He sums it up as "pretty good" overall, and Louis has to trump it with "it was great, Simon." Drink! Eton Road thank the judges for their comments, and head over to see Kate, who asks Anthony how he feels about Simon calling him odd. Anthony takes it on the chin, pointing out that Simon said that in his first audition, and if it makes him stand out then it's good. He urges the viewers at home to vote for them, and if I were voting for anyone, I'd be voting for these guys, just because I do actually find them immensely likeable. John joins me at this point and asks me if Kate's pregnant. I think we went through this conversation several times last year. Kate: sack your stylist.

Kate welcomes us back, and we cross over to the 16-24s and Simon, whose first act is Nikitta, whose mother is dead. Simon says it's rare for a contestant to come in and touch the judges with her story, of her mother, who is dead. (Oh Simon. She literally touched the judges with her story? Had she written it on a bit of paper? Did she roll it up and poke you, saying 'Vote for me. My mum's dead.'?-Joel) Nikitta says that her family have been so supportive, except for her mother who is dead. She knows that when she comes to perform her friends and family will all be there, and her mother will be nearby too. In spectral form, because she's dead. We're all up to speed on why we should vote for Nikitta? Jolly good. Nikitta starts to sing, and the sound engineer for this show needs to be fired, because once again I can barely hear her over the backing music. I don't even know what song it is that she's singing. Turn down the backing vocalists' microphones, turn down the backing track, and we might actually her what she sounds like. Or is this officially not a singing competition anymore? I think the song might be called 'Heaven In Your Arms', but that's a wild guess. Louis absolutely loves Nikitta's story, and he loves her. ('I love that your mum is dead! It's great!'-Joel) But he thinks Simon picked a really rubbish song for her: "it's a forgetful song". Really? So it often pops down the shops, but then can't remember what it went down there to buy? Or do you mean it's a "forgettable" song? Louis thinks Nikitta is much better than this. And also: her mum's dead. Louis tells Simon that Nikitta is an amazing singer and that he may have cost her her career tonight. The audience half cheers and half boos, because nobody has trained them how to respond to that comment. Sharon tries to speak, and Louis keeps bleating "she's an amazing singer!" and Sharon says something to the effect of "come on, she's 17, this is new to her" and right now I want to bang both their fat heads together: Louis because he won't shut up, and Sharon because if you're going to let anyone above the age of 16 enter this competition, you can't give them special dispensation for being a bit young. You can't ring up the company who compile the charts and say "I know Nikitta only sold 10,000 singles as opposed to Razorlight selling 15,000 this week, but can't we put her at number one anyway? She's 17, this is all new to her!" Jesus. Sharon tells Nikitta she has a great pureness about her, and tells her not to be swayed by what the judges tell her. Oy - yes, Sharon, tell her not to listen to anyone of the comments the judges give her, that's a smart strategy. Simon calls Louis a "nasty vicious little" and the audience cheers, cutting off his final word, but I really hope it was "cunt". He continues: "Unlike you, Louis, I don't want to turn 17-year-olds into 70-year-olds." Simon points out that it was an uptempo song, to balance out the neverending selection of ballads she's been forced to sing in the show so far, and Louis keeps trying to interrupt because that's who Louis is, and Simon tells Nikita not to listen to Louis and that she "did terrific". Gah. I'd forgotten about Simon's complete inability to use adverbs. Nikitta promises to let everything all three of them have said sink in. Nikitta tells Kate that she liked her song choice, basically repeating what Simon said, because there's nothing worse than an autonomous popstar.

Back to the 25 and overs, and Sharon's next contestant "defined the rawness of rock and roll: Ben". Oh, do me a frigging favour. Sharon VTs that she wanted Ben in her final four all along, and she thinks he's amazing. And also: someone had to fulfil the clichéd "I'm too punk rock for this" slot this series. Ben's voice, which Sharon claims speaks for itself, appears to be on a sponsored silence during his performance of 'Take A Good Look At My Face' ('The Tracks Of My Tears' I think...-Joel) or whatever it's called, because the lower notes are continually dropping out on him. But then he gravels his way through the higher notes and manages to get it slightly back on track. It's still not a great performance, but by the standards of this show, it's okay. Louis calls it a great performance and says he didn't think there was anyone like that in the UK any more, because Louis apparently walks around with his eyes shut and his ears stuffed with newspaper. He likens Ben to a young Rod Stewart or Joe Cocker (outdated reference - drink!). Louis congratulates Sharon, because he has no petty rivalry with her. Sharon congratulates Ben because it was his first time performing without a guitar or a piano, "and I know you feel awkward." Oh, fucking spare me. He's so legit it hurts, I'm so sure. Sharon thought he was great, obviously. Simon says that Ben's potentially one of the best contestants on the show, and says that Louis was on the money with Rod Stewart and Joe Cocker (too late, we already drank for it) and says that we need a singer like Ben in this country. And that's what the indie/alternative scene is for, and they're full of singers like Ben, and most of them are selling lots of records without having to go on The X Factor. If I wanted to see Johnny Borrell, I'd...well, I'd never want to see Johnny Borrell, but you know where I'm going with this. (Well, I'd see him. He can just shut up and look pretty.-Joel) Ben gayvoices that he likes Simon more every time he speaks to him. I think Louis tells Ben there's a "big opening for you here", and again, I'm not touching that one with a 70-foot pole. "Does it get better than that?" Kate asks. "It doesn't get better than that, and that's one of my favourite sayings!" Ben replies. Um...okay. He's very pleased, and that's all we need to know. (He seems lovely. I am just tiring quickly of his quiet bit-loud bit-growl-schtick.-Joel)

After the adverts, Kate tells us that everyone's been really good so far. Um, Kate? Those of us who've seen them know you're lying. Next up are the MacDonald Brothers, aka Journey South Redux. Louis VTs that everyone will love them, the boys VT that they love the song and will be dedicating it to their mum. Who isn't dead, as far as we know, so you probably shouldn't vote for these guys. You should vote for someone whose mum is dead. Like Nikitta. They're singing 'Three Times A Lady', and listening to the lyrics, it's a little creepy to dedicate this one to your mum. Anyway, Louis has Westlifed their wardrobe again, (Who told them dressing the dark one like a croupier was a good idea?-Joel) and their harmonies are a little shaky, and they're incredibly boring, but they're also sort of sweet. Their performance is entirely soporific and there are definitely some flat notes in there. It ends, as everything does eventually. Louis tells them they sang it like they meant it, "and I know you dedicated it to your mum and stuff". Hee. He calls it a no-frills performance, and in the sense that Kwik Save had a no-frills range, I'd agree with that. It was definitely a no-thrills performance. Sharon tells them they have nice, pleasant voices, but the competition is so hard that they'll need more than that. She didn't see stage presence or personality. "They're only 17! They're only babies!" Louis whines, and I think he's mocking Sharon here, but given that this is the kind of pisspoor defence Louis uses himself all the time, it's quite hard to tell. I'm so glad my Louis-hate has returned, I was beginning to worry. Sharon reiterates that the competition is tough this year, and in the sense that it's hard to distinguish yourself against all that mediocrity, I'd agree. Simon tells them that they've obviously spent a lot of time with Louis, because it was boring, dull and predictable. Simon takes it all a bit too far by saying it was like some ghastly lunch party where the children get up and sing, which: not so much, and also, what? I've never heard of a party like that. There was a lot wrong with this performance, but it wasn't that. Louis tries the I'm-rubber-and-you're-glue approach by pointing out that Simon mentored Journey South last year, and they were brothers, and wow this is a good argument. And then Louis says they're better than Journey South, and Simon says they're not, and Louis says they are, and Simon says they're not, and boys, boys, can't we just agree that they're both terrible, ghastly, MOR piles of tripe? It goes on for ages, and I'm not recapping it because it's stupid and it demeans both of them. Blonde MacDonald says that it's new to them (drink!) and that they'll try to improve next week. Their attempt at defence with Kate is that they enjoyed it. Well, that's nice.

Now Simon and the 16-24s, and Ray. Simon VTs that Ray represents this category better than anyone else: great smile, bundles of charm and energy. You'll note that he doesn't mention his voice. In his VT, Ray's crooning into an old-fashioned microphone. Haaaate. Ray's singing Michael Jackson's 'Ben' (is that even Motown?) and it's weakass and shit, and he can't croon his way through this one. He mumbles the lyrics and I can't even hear what he's singing half the time. I quite want to punch him in the face. Again, this is the kind of performance you could see in a pub near you on a Saturday night. This show is rendering itself so, so pointless. (This has no redeeming features. He mumbled, was nasal, hit maybe 5% of the notes. Just godawful.-Joel) Louis likens him to a young Donny Osmond (drink!) and says that the mums will love him. He tells Ray that he hasn't got the best voice in the competition (and Ray sheepishly agrees), and the audience boos, because how dare anyone say anything remotely negative about these people! They just selflessly want to entertain us! That is so MEAN! Sharon says that Ray is confident and has an infectious smile, and calls him a very nice young boy who the mums will love. Simon says he won't patronise Ray and say it was a great vocal because it wasn't, "especially when you hear people like Robert and Ben", and Jesus, on what planet was Robert's a good vocal? It was awful! Simon says that the good thing was that it was believable, and that Ray has the likeability factory. Um, see above re: haaaate. He says that they'll have to work on Ray's vocals. Ray blathers that it's a wonderful opportunity. Cram it, croon-boy. He tells Kate that he'll take the comments on board because he wants to have a better voice, although "I think it's all right". Cocky little shit.

Back from the break, Sharon's next contestant is Dionne, "a diva in the making". Sharon VTs that Dionne will shock people because she hasn't had a lot of confidence so far, and people will be surprised by what they see. Dionne looks really pretty in her VT, by the way. And she comes onto the stage in a pink dress and her boobs look quite big, so that's nice. (I knew she'd benefit from the makeover!-Joel) Dionne sings 'I'm Gonna Make You Love Me', and she has the same problem that most people seem to have tonight: most of her low notes are getting lost. Again, she's being drowned out by her backing vocalists, but she suddenly comes to life in the chorus and she's actually pretty good. Already this is the performance I've enjoyed most tonight, so I take back what I said earlier about not seeing what she had to offer. (I was nervous at the beginning but once she got into her stride she was awesome.-Joel) Dionne vamps a little bit, and it's awesome. Her gait is a bit awkward though; she needs to learn to stand a bit less like a man. I'm sure Anthony can help her with that. Kidding! We love you really, Anthony. Louis tells Dionne she was fantastic and she should have confidence because she was great. He calls it the best performance so far tonight, and I'm inclined to agree. Sharon's all "who knew that was inside you?" Simon says it wasn't the best performance we've seen so far, and he thought she was stiff and nervous, but vocally she was incredible. He tells her that if she'd been born in America, she wouldn't have had to enter this competition. No, she would have had to enter American Idol, and you can't tell me that there aren't great soul vocalists who are reduced to entering American Idol, because you would be a liar. Kate tells Dionne she's blossoming on the show, and Dionne is a bit nervous in her response.

Groups! The Unconventionals. Drew VTs that Louis has lots of faith in them, but they're worried about whether the public will take to them. Tonight Matthew, they will be singing 'Dancing In The Street', and I know that being kooky is their thing, but they still look like they formed at a bus stop. Could they at least give them some kind of coherent look? It's quite messy, vocally. I think there are too many of them all competing for the limelight, and it's working against them. And some of them aren't strong enough vocally to do solos. John tells me that "they are very strange, and it doesn't work on any level". As much as I don't want to, I think I'm going to have to agree, because the performance is a hot mess, and there are parts where the whole thing gets lost because no one seems to know what they're doing. (I think the phrase 'the song got away from you' was written for this moment.-Joel) Louis is glad he took a risk on them, because they're different. He thought it was a great wall of sound, and next week they'll do something more acapella if they get the vote, and don't listen to what Simon's going to say. Oh good, it's going to be another one of those. Sharon says that they're used to "acapello" (Simon corrects her in the background), Sharon says it was too much, and that there were too many of them singing in different keys, and she got confused. But she thinks they're great performers, but she's not sure that Motown was right for them. Simon calls back to their audition, a very cute vocal harmony with Drew on lead vocals. He didn't like what they did tonight at all, and thinks basically everyone who isn't Drew should be on backing vocals because Drew is the obvious frontman. He calls Louis out for allowing them to perform this mess. Louis's response? "It's Motown week." Way to miss the point there, you moron. Simon tells them that they did what a third-rate hotel cabaret act would do. "Of course you're going to entertain the studio audience," and HA! Love that subtle burn on the audience. Simon doesn't think they'll entertain the viewers at home. Louis says that next week if they get the votes, they'll do an acapella song. "Why didn't you do it this week?" asks Simon. "Are there no slow Motown songs?" Hee. Drew thanks the judges for their comments, and slings a rather weak barb at Simon. He says they wanted to establish everyone and that it was a mistake. Simon also points out the wardrobe catastrophe, and a producer yells into Kate's ear to get her to wrap it up before there's bloodshed. Liz tells Kate that they know they're different, and they think they bring a lot of uniqueness (can you only bring a little bit of uniqueness? I'm just curious) and fun to the show. Coming up: Ashley and Kerry.

After the break, it's Ashley. Simon VTs that he's a "thank God" contestant, and says that Ashley is better than he knows he is. I doubt that very much. Ashley bitches about the song he was given in Miami again. Shut up, Ashley. Ashley will be singing 'Easy', and I really don't like his voice. I think it's weak as hell, and I think it's going to get really old really soon. (I really like it. It's not at all perfect but I like the tone of it a lot. I don't know why.-Joel) He goes for a key change at the end, and he needs to stop FUCKING MUMBLING. The last thing we need is a male Corinne Bailey Rae. Louis is glad Simon picked Ashley for the finals, "because he did took a chance". Sigh. He says that Ashley made the song his own, and didn't just do a karaoke version. Interesting, because I thought it was very karaoke, in the sense that most people I know when they do karaoke do the song as written and just add a couple of their own flourishes, which is what Ashley just did. Just because he sings everything in that ridiculous key of his, are we going to get told that he made the song his own every week? Sharon compliments Ashley's wardrobe, (She says that only he could take a woman's cardigan and some pearls and make it work. Anthony cries softly to himself.-Joel) and praises his individuality, blah blah blah. Simon says it wasn't a perfect vocal, but it was good enough, and does the whole "you made it your own thing again", which: NO. Praise the Lord for Ashley! Hallelujah! Somebody kill me now. Some loser in the audience squeals "I LOVE YOU!" as Ashley talks to Kate. I use "talks" in the loosest possible sense, because all of Ashley's alleged "star quality" and "charisma" vanishes when he's required to do a 30-second interview. That bodes well, doesn't it?

Next up is Kerry, your pre-determined winner. Oh come on, don't tell me you weren't thinking it too. Sharon VTs that Kerry is there purely because of talent, and Kerry VTs that she wants people to see beyond the chair and see her spirit. Kerry sings 'You Are The Sunshine Of My Life', and she looks really pretty tonight. It's an okay performance, which I would put somewhere squarely in the middle of tonight's ranking. Not as good as Dionne, not as bad as Robert or the Unconventionals. I hadn't realised until now how boring this song is, and I'm not sure if that's the song's fault or Kerry's. But she acquits herself fairly well, I think. Certainly by the low standards of this series, it's a good performance. Louis likens her to Karen Carpenter, and says that the song was a bit safe and he wants to hear her sing something more vocally challenging. Sharon agrees with Louis and says that she'll give Kerry a more challenging song next week. Simon likes Kerry - however: it was a 1970s hotel bar performance. He says that judging it on vocals alone, it was forgettable - he was disappointed based on Kerry's potential, and thinks the arrangement didn't help. The audience boos, because constructive criticism is EVIL. (It's not a song you can sing well. It's inherently dull and well, hotel wine-bar, like Simon said.-Joel) Kerry gets all feisty with Simon, and Simon tells that that everyone loves her. In her chat with Kate, Kerry says that she sort of agrees with Simon - she enjoyed the song and felt comfortable, but she can be challenged. I suspect Kerry's in no danger. Is this the end? No, still two more. Jeepers. (I honestly thought it was over at this point. Dear Lord-Joel) (I think it's because we all expected Kerry to get the showcase spot at the end of the show. And possibly to come out wearing a sash saying 'Pre-Ordained Winner, Bitches'. - Steve)

Adverts. The Marie Antoinette movie "contains moderate sex". I know all about moderate sex - I've had quite a lot of it.

The final group is 4Sure. They VT that they were all about to give up, and this is their last chance. They don't say much else of interest, so I'll skip over it because I've already been here for TWENTY SIX YEARS and I need to trim my long, white beard in a minute. 4Sure are singing 'What Becomes of the Brokenhearted' and again, the levels are all wrong. They do really well on the bits where they all sing together, but the solo bits are pretty weak. They've totally been Westlifed as well, by the way. I wonder if the fact that The Unconventionals were the only ones in Louis's category not to get Westlifed by the wardrobe department is a portent of doom? These guys need some choreographing, I think. It's all a bit messy to look at, but probably one of the better-sounding of the evening's performances. Louis says that they had teething troubles with the song, but they delivered in the end. Sharon says it's nice to see a vocal group instead of a boyband. Somewhere, One True Voice are all "just you wait, bitches. Just you wait." Sharon singles out lead singer Chris for looking terrified, and personally I think she should single him out for his weakass solo vocals, but nobody cares what I think. She tells them to enjoy it more. Simon said there were some tuning issues, but he likes them. He likes them, he likes them, he likes them, and he's feeling so bohemian like them. He tells them they'll have to work hard to stay in the competition, but he hopes the voters keep them in. 4Sure thank the judges and promise to work hard. Again, somebody squawks from the audience, and that's just embarrassing. Chris tells Kate that being there was overwhelming, and he wells up, because we love people who cry.

Kate asks, "Simon, who's closing the show?" The fact that you've forgotten her is not a good sign, Kate. It's Leona, of course. Simon VTs that she's potentially one of the best singers we've seen in this country for a long time. Goldfrapp's 'Number One' starts playing in the background as Leona says how ready she is to go. Leona looks really pretty, but her shoes don't match her dress. She's singing 'I'll Be There', and her vocal is probably the most controlled of the evening, if not the strongest. She sounds pretty good, actually. If I could be bothered to vote for any of these losers, I'd probably vote for her. (Steve, so fickle!-Joel) Leona goes for a walk into the audience, and gets a bit carried away because she holds the microphone too far away and I can't hear her. The platform behind the judges' table is another rip off from the Idol franchise, by the way. Louis tells her it was an amazing way to end the show, but warns her not to oversing. Maybe with the amount of undersinging on tonight's show, she was trying to balance it out? Just a theory. Sharon asks how old Leona is (she's 21), and tells her to act more 21 and not like an old person. Simon tells Leona that everything she's heard from Sharon and Louis is irrelevant. Oh good. He says how rare it is for someone like her to come along, and that she's special. Simon tells Louis he's in no position to be offering advice on vocals tonight, and Sharon calls Simon "smug". Leona says she was nervous to be the last one on, and thanks everyone for their comments just before Kate interrupts her - there's no time to talk to Leona because the judges bickered for too long and the show's running over. That's professionalism for you.

Reminder of tonight's performances: Robert gave the best bad vocal of the night. Eton Road were pretty good. Nikitta's mother is dead. Ben was a rocker. The MacDonald Brothers were cute but snoozeworthy. Ray was smug and needed a punch in the face, as well as some vocal training. Dionne was awesome. The Unconventionals were a shambles (the point of the performance chosen for the recap is such a deliberate sandbag, by the way), Ashley sang in a key only dogs can hear, and got praised for his non-karaoke karaoke performance. Kerry was safe but loved. 4Sure gave good chorus. Leona was actually good. Voting lines open. Kate signs off.

Results show

Earlier tonight! Lots of people were thoroughly mediocre, and some were a little bit better than that! Cue new, not-all-that-improved titles!

Kate welcomes us back, and I think the audience have been drinking during the break because they're a bit raucous. We get the same recap we had at the end of the earlier show. Lionel Richie comes back to perform his new single, and you don't really want me to say anything about this, do you? It's R&B-lite and Lionel Richie may have had some dodgy botox. Can't we get Nicole Richie to come on and sing 'Dandelion' next week? That would be cool. Fast-forward. At the end Lionel jokes about how relieved he is to have had a good reception from the judges. Kate asks Lionel what he thought of the performances, and Lionel totally has a cue card with his notes on. Hee! He reminds us that we're dealing with artists who are just getting started, and "the word I like to use is 'potential'." We all like to use that word, Lionel, because that's the right word. Lionel's feedback on everyone seems to be "they killed it" or "amazing". How informative. (So we now have theme weeks, and celebrity guest performances. What's the difference between this and the 'Idol' franchise any longer? Oh, that's right, the totally aritificial loyalty for certain acts forced upon the judges that results in tactical voting and good people leaving early. Awesome!-Joel)

After the ads, Kate gives us the one-minute warning for the lines closing, and calls all the acts back onto the stage. It takes much longer than one minute, let me tell you. Kate announces the acts in no particular order who are coming back next week: Leona. Eton Road. They don't make out this time, sadly. Robert, who runs around like a twat upon hearing his name. Nikitta. Ben. Kerry. Sharon tells her to do a wheelie, which strikes me as marginally insensitive. 4Sure. As one of them runs around stage, you can see Sharon consoling a nervous-looking Dionne. Ray. The MacDonald Brothers. Who's the tenth act definitely safe? Ashley. Kate congratulates Simon, since all of his acts are through. Dionne and The Unconventionals join Kate at centre-stage. I can't believe Dionne's in the bottom two already, after giving one of the best vocals of the night. Once again, I fail to comprehend the public's insatiable thirst for mediocrity. The crowd are cheering for Dionne. I can't imagine this is doing much for her nerves. (Poor thing. 'I want to prove I'm capable of this...oh, no-one likes me.' I love you Dionne!-Joel) Dionne gives the song another good go, and there's something faintly ironic about singing 'I'm Gonna Make You Love Me' when you've just polled in the bottom two. Again, she starts off a bit wobbly but hits her stride in the chorus. I feel so bad for her, because she did not deserve to poll so low so soon, although I think Joel predicted something like this last week, because the public don't seem to like black female contestants in the 25 and overs all that much.

The Unconventionals return to the stage for their second performance. It's still pretty messy, but I'm not really sure what they could have done to fix it in such a short space of time. One of them really looks alarmingly like Kate Thornton. Drew loses one of the high notes, I think. I think it's over for these guys at this point, but they're valiantly keeping up the pretence. We go to the judges. It's a hard decision for Louis, who can't vote off his own act, so he votes to send Dionne home. The audience boos. Sharon votes to send home The Unconventionals. Simon has the casting vote, and thanks the public for their taste. Simon didn't remember Dionne's first audition, but liked her tonight. He liked The Unconventionals' first audition, but thought they were diabolical tonight, so he's sending them home. Dionne, bless her, looks a bit lost and Kate and Drew have to shoo her off to join the others. Kate says "let's take a look at your best moments" and...nothing happens. Ouch, that's gotta hurt. We go for another try and we see their X Factor journey, including a good first audition, Drew flubbing his lines at boot camp, Drew crying when they get through. It's a pretty short package, obviously. "It seems almost too cruel to be sending you out on the first week," says Kate, although she does remind them that they finished 12th out of 100,000 acts, so it was a good placing all things considered. Drew wasn't shocked to be voted out, and he thanks the judges for putting them through. Next week we'll be joined by Rod Stewart, and that's the end of that.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

You're mean in London! (And Ireland. And Miami.)

Part one.

Hello children. Given that this was, to all intents and purposes, one long (long, long) episode, you are going to get one long recap. Sans Ant and Dec in the middle. It’s like literary Tivo. Well. ‘Literary.’
Carmina Burana plays in the background, as per usual. Ridiculous overkill, as per usual. Sorry, producers, X Factor really isn’t that dramatic. And certainly not at the very beginning of the episode when nothing has actually happened. We’re treated to flashes of the contestants. We see people squeal when Simon says they’re going to Miami while others look totally underwhelmed when Sharon says they’re going to the Dorchester in London. Well, you would be, wouldn’t you? ‘Ooooh, London!’
Cheap-ass credits. Kate in a turquoise muu-muu in Miami. It is Not A Good Look. She tells us that the contestants get to go to Miami for Simon, a castle in Ireland for Louis, and the aforementioned Dorchester for Sharon, where she’s living since the fire in her house. Most people would go to a B and B, but I guess Sharon Osbourne isn’t most people. (I also loved how the show implied at this point that it took longer to bus the 25 and overs to Sharon at the Dorchester than it did to fly the 16-24s to Simon in Miami. I know traffic in London is terrible, but let's get real here.-Steve)
There’s a whole lot of stuff that doesn’t matter at all and isn’t remotely informative. Simon has got to find four people, and find the winner out of the four. He is ‘cautiously optimistic.’ People talk shit about being eager. The groups are in Ireland. Avenue dance up the stairs. People, again, are eager. One of Avenue says it ‘could’ changes their lives. Well it will, one way or the other. I think crushing disappointment probably does change your life. 25+s. Sharon advertises the Dorchester for a bit, saying how wonderful and opulent, yet homely and comforting it is. The 25+s, too, are all eager. How terribly exciting. I’m glad we could get this piercing insight into their psyches. BLAH. We’re reminded that Katie is Nikita’s aunt. (And once again, we get to the first ad break without ANYTHING ACTUALLY HAPPENING. Jesus.-Steve)
Kate is at the Dorchester in a cute belted red dress. For once she looks good. Sharon has vocal coach Mark, (that twat with the multi-coloured beard) and a record executive called Adrian, who is bald. Sharon says, ‘I don’t care about before,’ and that these performances matter a lot. She chose songs for the contestants and they only have one shot. We get to Ben, the 26-year-old marquee erector. We know, amazingly. Given that this series has devoted itself almost entirely to hopeless no-marks embarrassing themselves and being told to fuck off, it’s always astonishing to actually recognise someone. He sings ‘A Little Help From My Friends.’ Sharon’s face is completely rigid, with a vague smirk. This does not change throughout the auditions, so it’s impossible to tell whether or not she’s pleased. Perhaps Botox helps you get over your house catching fire. I don’t like Ben very much. It’s like, dude, you can sing in a raspy voice. We get it, tone it down. And also hit the notes. (Totally. This performance was absolutely dreadful. The world already has one Chris Daughtry, and that is one too many.-Steve) For someone who sings so gruff, he talks quite camp. He’s a sweet enough guy.
Katie had no confidence and didn’t think she belonged there. She’s grateful to Sharon for bringing her so far. ‘I just to sing and make an honest living,’ she says, which is a nice change from the fame whores and fortune whores. She sings ‘Anyone who had a heart‘ and completely loses her timing and her words, though it‘s nice when she‘s actually on. She has a very Scottish singing accent. Sharon has rigid-face. Katie says, ‘I wouldn’t have put me through’ and takes responsibility for her own nerves.
Jonathan, he of the sick mother, is next. He’s still quite cute and thinks his mum will be proud whatever happens. He sings Maroon 5’s ‘This Love’ and sucks, really. Nothing special at all. He’s a sweet boy and would get far if he were in the final 12, because of the fitness, but his voice isn’t remarkable. He will be devastated if he doesn’t get through.
Next is Robert, not Robber, as Kate would have you believe. Enunciate, damn you. He’s the hospital worker with the enormous pregnant wife. Robert thought he was going after boot camp but sadly he was wrong. He claims that, ‘today I’m gonna rock’ and promptly proves himself wrong when he sings Gnarls Barkley‘s ‘Crazy.’ He has nothing on Cee-Lo and sounds like he’s singing down a kitchen roll tube. No! He sounds like, you know when people get all deep and loud and pretend, like ‘Listen to me siiiing!’? Like Geri Halliwell in ’Look At Me’ with the ’My little white lies…’ bit? He sounds like that, ie, shit. (I did like Sharon's obvious attempt to pick a song that it would be impossible for him to forget the words to, though.-Steve)
Tiwa is next. Not Tina! We really wouldn’t have this trouble if they just put the fucking names up on the screen. Maybe their budget doesn’t stretch to, like, an Acme Text-o-Matic. She wants to make them think ‘she has to be in the final four.’ Sings Hero, and melismas all over the place. Warble warble warble. I liked her in Boot Camp when she just held a note for ages and didn’t waver. I didn’t like this so much, but she’s still got a good voice. She cries (Drink!) and says it ‘wasn’t as good as the other times.’
Lynne is 62 (and looks bloody amazing on it.). Only singing for eight years. She says that ‘vocally I believe I can do this’ and that her succeeding would be a shot in the arm for OAPs. She sings ‘Downtown‘ and is kind of awesome. Petula Clark wouldn’t be offended. And believe me, you don’t want to offend Petula Clark. Petula Clark will cut a bitch. Rigid Sharon.
Dionne. She says that it’s ‘one big rollercoaster’ and‘I really believe that I can do it.’ Oh sweetie. You’re a black girl. You’ve no hope. I would love love love to be proven wrong, but I maintain that a black woman will never win one of these contests. Unless she’s an overweight lesbian in a wheelchair for the sympathy-vote triple whammy. She gets all flustered and her warm-up notes are the best bit of the performance. Sharon lets her come back when she‘s composed herself. Adrian is disappointed. Sharon says it was fear. Mark asks if she can come back from it.
Wheelchair-bound Kerry is determined ‘as much for herself as for her family.’ Other way round Kate, unless you‘re implying she‘s more determined for family than for her own sake. Her mum ‘has been her backbone.’ Not a very good one then! Thank you, I’m here supporting Jim Davidson all week. Try the fish. (I don't know you.-Steve) Kerry talks about her mum and cries (Drink!). She sings ‘You’ve Got a Friend’ and is fine but nothing special at all. Pleasant at best.
Dionne is back. She sings ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It.’ It’s not the best but is still kind of awesome. Steve disagrees, I think, but I love Dionne. I really enjoy her performances, even if the vocals could improve. (It's not that I don't like Dionne, it's just that I don't see anything special there. I am, of course, entirely open to being proved wrong.-Steve)
People are happy with themselves. Want to go through. Blah blah blah. Make up some quotes yourselves, I’m sure they’d be just as informative. A big montage of the judges pointing at photos and choosing ‘this one.’ How mysterious and suspenseful! (I bet they were ordering pizza.-Steve)


We‘re in a castle in Ireland. Some Oirish music plays, so that you know where we are. ‘Hooray!’ say the contestants. ‘We are in Ireland, and are auditioning for the X Factor. What could be finer?’ Louis claims that he’s ‘only gonna pick the best four acts.’ Yuh-huh. He has vocal coach Evie and Kian from Westlife. (According to the Radio Times, her name is actually spelt Yvie, but how the hell were we supposed to know that, eh?-Steve)
The reduced-in-size Brothers sing Tony Rich’s ‘Nobody Knows’ and absolutely fucking maul it, so much do they change the tune. Not good.
The McDonald Brothers don’t want to be wedding singers for ever. Singing with your brother means you get more support that singing with a friend. They sing ‘All I Have To Do Is Dream’ because now and then Louis suffers from the delusion that it’s still the ‘50s. Louis says they have ‘great harmonies’ (Drink!)
Pure Liberty, three sisters, who are also all mothers (I care because why?) sing Beyonce’s ‘Crazy In Love’ and, well, aren’t very good. I think these are the ones I compared to En Vogue waaay back. I take it back. (I got angry at them because they made such a stupid mistake. Rather than all three of them trying to do all of the layers of the original track at the same time and flail around trying to keep up, why not arrange it so one of them does the melody and the other two fill in the rest? Stupid, rookie mistake, ladies. I'm sorry, but it was.-Steve)
‘No-one wants it more’ (Drink!), says Kate, than the Dolly Rockers. The editors chose to show the girls talking over their own singing for Louis, which doesn’t exactly bode well. One of them acknowledges that they are ‘not the strongest’ vocally. When we finally get to hear, they’re singing Sugababes’ ‘Round Round.’ I love them, but they suck. (And they got the words wrong.-Steve)
The Unconventionals. Lead singer Drew messed up at Boot Camp and we see him crying. (Drink!) They sing ‘Dedicated to the One I Love’ and have changed it a LOT. And I get that changing arrangements is their whole bag, but it was too much. And they won’t ever compare to the Shirelles. Also, they need to learn to dress. I get that they’re ‘unconventional’ but seriously. There’s not even the vaguest sense of co-ordination of their clothes. Not in cut, not in colour, not at all. It’s distracting. They look like they were waiting for a bus and just decided to set up a vocal group.
Kate introduces ‘vocal harmony group’ (oh, Kate) For Sure. Though it’s almost certainly Four Sure or 4 Sure, because what’s an X-Factor band without a bad number-related pun? They sing ‘I Swear.’ I don’t like them. One of them has a very deep bass voice. They end on an atrocious high note. One of them claims it’s an ‘opportunity for record labels to see us.’ Hmm. Surely your eyes should be on the prize, not just aiming for a publicity stunt?
Boy-band Avenue, who include former Pop Idol contestant and Pop! member Jamie Tinkler (and why did they not acknowledge this? Surely Simon would know who he was?), sing Take That’s ‘Back For Good.’ It’s pleasant enough. Louis doesn’t know if they’re special.
Eton Road are the funny rabble of boys who were awesome in audition and fucked up royally at Boot Camp. The only one I care about is Anthony, who’s the funny skinny one who wears, like, a cardigan and rosary beads, who screwed up so badly at Boot Camp. Today, Anthony is dressed like when they visit a planet in Star Trek - all waistcoat and earth tones. They sing The Beach Boys’ ‘God Only Knows’ and change it up, but I quite like it. It was ‘too much’ for Kian.
Kate’s wearing a hideous blouse with an enormous bow at the collar. Phew! Normal service is resumed. The same old crap. People are excited. The judges pick ‘that one.’ Evie asks ‘will they be huge recording stars?’ and I think that David Sneddon, Alex Parks, Michelle McManus, One True Voice and Steve Brookstein will all attest that that’s not necessarily a pre-requisite (post-requisite?) to winning one of these shows.


Miami. Ray is up first. Horrible little shit. Swing-singing Scouse-talking cheeky-chappy smug-faced little shit. (Hateful, hateful, hateful. I vocally object to the Cullumification of perfectly good songs, and if that‘s the kind of direction Ray’s career is going to take, then I for one fully intend to hire a sniper and finish the job now.-Steve) I like his trousers though. Simon said no at Boot Camp and then changed his mind. We know. Sinitta is in a swimsuit and holds a parasol. She’s so fucking awesome. Simon only has Sinitta to help him decide, but when you’ve got Sinitta with a parasol, you don’t need anyone else. (Hell yes. Sinitta's parasol cracked my shit up throughout this entire sequence.-Steve) Ray sings ‘Smile’ and sets my teeth on edge. Clicks his fingers, all bop-a-doo-bah-ZOW!. Hate. HATE. Simon says he’s ‘back in the race again.’
22-year old Stacey. Got criticised for her appearance by Simon, so she kept changing it. We get a little montage of her different looks. For some reason she settled on an awful bleached straggly bob. (She looks like the girl from Lazytown.-Steve) She sings ‘I Don’t Wanna Talk About It.’ It’s nice enough. Sinitta looks on the verge of tears.
Ashley got George Michael’s ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me.’ He says ‘I HATE that song. I don’t know, it just does my head in’ and gets a bit pissy about it being a hard song. It’s not exactly a shining example of a can-do attitude. (And here’s where I lost whatever goodwill I held towards Ashley. The winner of this contest is going to have absolutely no control over his/her/their career anyway, so suck it up and do as you’re told, Hair Bear Bunch.-Steve) Simon tells him off and to get a grip. He sings. His voice is weird, kind of bleaty and alien, but I really like it. It’s very well suited to wine-bar soul. I expect him to sing some Sade or Omar before the competition is out.
Sean wants to prove he deserves to be there. He sings something I don’t quite recognise, but it talks about having ‘a friend like me.’ Or, given his vocals, like May, whoever she may be. He’s a sweet kid but he’s totally out of his depth. (The song was Michael Jackson's 'Ben', but I think he kept getting the words wrong. Or maybe I just remembered it wrong. Either way: nice kid, needs to enunciate more.-Steve) Simon calls him ‘the weakest singer by far’ but says you want to root for him.
Gemma is 24 and some sort of business manager. I’m not sure we’ve ever seen her before at all. (This was the reason I liked her. I have no time for people on reality TV shows who pretend they're not interested in winning. Why else would you be there?-Steve) She’s very confident and doesn’t quite topple into arrogance, but it’s close. She sings Syreeta and Billy Preston’s ‘With You I’m Born Again,’ which is one of my favourite songs in the whole of ever, so it’s high praise when I say she’s quite good.
Leona wants to make her family and herself proud. She sings ‘Without You.’ Sinitta looks on the verge of tears. (Oh! Drink!) She’s very good and avoids warbling, which is beyond most people who attempt this song. Simon says ‘when she’s on it, she’s fantastic.’
Carlo’s a student, training to be a PE teacher. I think we saw him for about three seconds, without a name, at Boot Camp. I quite like him. He sings ‘Your Song’ and ends it by going ‘you’re in the worldthankyou’ and running off. Simon says ‘there’s something really good there, but the lights are off.’
Nikitta is seventeen. Her mum is dead, her mum is dead and, oh yes, her mum is dead. Oh, and her mum’s dead. She sings ‘Angels,’ thankfully the Sarah McLachlan one and not the Robbie Williams. It’s rather lovely. Sinitta is almost crying. (Drink!)
Normal comments about excitement and nerves and blah blah blah. Gemma says ‘I definitely think I deserve a place in the final four’ and seals her fate (SPOILER!) because no-one likes a confident girl. Simon is going to sleep on it.
LATER!!! Twelve dreams will be shattered! Well that’s a nice way of putting it you vicious vulture-bastards.
I really don’t like the new Asda food-porn. The M&S ones are bad enough, but this is food-porn plus glossy lips and twisty hair and children singing and it’s just disgusting.

Second episode
Kate’s in a leopard-print top with a black sash, fully embracing her return to ugly clothing. She tells us absolutely nothing we don’t already know and even says ‘earlier on you saw…’ completely acknowledging that this is pointless filler. People sang, judges had to choose. (I was boiling with rage that they took an hour just telling us who was in the final. Twenty minutes tops, that should have taken. And Saturday's results show is 35 minutes long. Jesus wept.-Steve)
Adverts. After three minutes. Yes, seriously. It’s pathetic. By the by, why do the Nokia sponsorship things have Shabba Ranks playing? I don’t get it. (Shabba!-Steve)
London first. Sharon says it was ‘blatantly obvious’ who should go and stay, which is nice for the ones who went home. Comforting. Tiwa holds a bible and cries (Drink!). It’s the hardest thing Katie has ever done and she can sometimes picture winning, but it’s ‘only a dream.’ Lynne says ‘I can’t believe I’ve reached where 100,000 people haven’t,’ which is a good attitude. Dionne says that if she succeeds, she will ‘definitely show Sharon, Mark and Adrian why they put me through.’ Another good attitude. Kerry talks about her mum and cries. (Drink!) Robert compares fathering a child to doing well on the X Factor. Nice. ‘Daddy, how much do you love me?’
‘Almost as much as doing moderately well on a TV show!.’ Ass. He also says there are ‘so much more songs I wanna sing.’ Ass. Kate says that their X-Factor journeys began months ago. So there’s no excuse for not showing the successful people!!
Katie goes home. She says ‘that’s fine’ and is going home ‘with a bit of pride and confidence.’ Robert’s in. And cries. Ben is through, of course. Lynne goes home and says ‘that’s okay, really.’ Sharon calls Tiwa ‘a beautiful woman [with an] amazing voice’ but sends her home. Sharon calls her ‘sweet girl’ and hugs her. Tiwa sobs and sobs (Drink!) and collapses on the floor. It’s hard to watch. (I would have kept her over Dionne, but then I would have sent Shayne home at this stage last year, so what do I know? Clearly I am not up to speed with the public's current taste in mediocrity.-Steve) Sharon says ‘How do I tell you Dionne? You’re going to have to stay with me.’ Dionne yelps and falls on the floor. Jonathan is going home, surprisingly. I mean, he’s fit and has a sick mum. That’s X Factor gold. Sharon tells Kerry that the decision has ‘nothing to do with your disability at all,’ which is utter bullshit. Kerry’s voice is nice, but it’s not enough without the sob-story. It simply isn’t.
Then it’s time for Grief Porn! Jonathan, in a car, is fairly stoic and says ‘it’s not meant to be.’ His sick mum will be devastated if he doesn’t go through. So presumably is devastated. Ben’s mum’s happy. I think Tiwa’s must have been pretty dreadful because we see a split second of her crying and a voiceover saying ‘music is everything, everything to me.’ Robert kisses his ginormo-wife. Lynne’s family are all very nice. Katie says ‘No. Sorry.’ which I find kind of touching - as if she needs to apologise! (I'm really going to miss Katie. I liked her lots and lots.-Steve) Dionne’s granddad (?) toasts the camera and says ‘Thank you X Factor!’
Ireland. Blah blah blah we’re all confident but also nervous. How terribly exciting.
4 sure are through because of their ‘great harmonies.’ (Drink!) Pure Liberty are going home, but are fairly positive, saying they need to ‘get back out there.’ The Brothers fall at the last hurdle for the second time in two years, and are going home. Poor things. One says ‘I cannot go through this again.’ The McDonald Brothers have ‘great harmonies’ (Drink!) too and are going through. The Unconventionals make every song their own (Drink!) but have a serious image problem. They’re through. Drew cries. (Drink!) Louis likes the Dolly Rockers but asks if they can perform on the live shows. The answer is obviously no and they’re going home. (Aww. I mean, they were way out of their depth by this point, but they were so cute!-Steve) It’s down to Avenue and Eton Road, and there’s some fairly rapid editing between the two, so it’s not clear which one Louis is talking to. It’s eventually revealed that Avenue are through. Eton Road aren’t and Anthony, because he’s lovely, makes a point of shaking Louis’s hand.
Grief Porn: the Unconventionals pretend to be sad, then go all ‘WOOO!’ Drew cries. Again. Some more. (Drink!) Hugs and tears for the Dolly Rockers. Pure Liberty claim to be gutted, but give it a ‘nah, we’re not through’ with a very ‘Oh well!’ air. The McDonald Brothers and 4 Sure are all ‘woo!’ The Brothers say the hardest part is telling their family again. Avenue are ‘in it to win it’ and go WOOOO!
As we all already knew, Avenue had a manager, ‘a music manager who has involved with the last series of X Factor but is no longer associated with the show,’ Kate Miss-Jean-Brodies. Seriously, she suddenly gets incredibly prim. Louis talks to Avenue and says ‘you broke the rules’ and ‘you lied to me.’ (I thought he was choosing the songs for Cathy Dennis week.-Steve) They’re disqualified and are upset. Obviously. Interestingly, Jamie Tinkler says ‘we were told to keep our mouths shut’ and another one says ‘it’s not X Factor’s fault.’ I have a sneaking feeling they knew all along and only turned on Avenue once they got caught. They would have known Jamie, and the ‘we were told to keep our mouths shut’ could easily refer to the producers as opposed to their manager. CONSPIRACY! Jamie shakes Louis’s hand, because he’s lovely. Poor Jamie. He’s been trying so hard to be a singer. I hope he gets a nice job in musical theatre. (I know! Poor Jamie. He was much nicer than the other one out of Pop!, who once pushed me out of the way at the launch of Britney's Greatest Hits, but that's a story for another time.-Steve)
Louis therefore decides to give Eton Road a second chance. Eton Road were better anyway. He goes to their house. (Apparently, they told them they were filming an ex-X-Factor documentary then sprang it on them.) Anthony has no make up and floppy hair and looks about fifteen times cuter but twelve years younger. They are, obviously, very excited. The boys hug and it looks like Anthony and another one almost make out with each other then remember where they are and pull away. By the way, the email fucked up and Steve didn’t get the full recap, and still wrote entirely independently of me: (Also, Anthony was totally about to kiss the guy sat next to him when they got told they were going through. You just watch where his head goes until the very last minute. Hee.-Steve) So therefore it is totally true. A jury of their peers have decided.

Simon can’t decide. Leona doesn’t want to go home. Carlo has grown in confidence and going home would be devastating.. Stacey says ‘it’s not just a game…it’s people’s lives.’ And…yeah. I actually found this episode really hard to watch. I ended up in tears because of all the miserable people. Ashley has had ups and downs. Gemma is confident. I’m not sure if you knew, but Nikitta’s mum is dead. (If I hear that one more time, I swear to God I will cut myself.-Steve) Ray, who, by the way, already has wrinkles at seventeen is hungry ‘to be a star.’ And there you have it. Little shit doesn’t want to sing, he just wants to be famous. Sean says if he does his best and doesn’t get though no-one will be disappointed. He always feels like he’s letting people down. Crying. Wants to show the best of his ability. ‘Keep thinking ‘I’m ready I’m ready and go out and screw it all up and it’s so hard.’ Crying crying crying. Again, hard to watch.

Carlo doesn’t want it all taken away so close. He’s going home, of course. He cries with Kate. ‘One moment in time’ plays. ‘Leona, you’ve made the final four sweetheart.’ Of course. Stacey thinks she did better than previous auditions. Not better enough, sadly as she hasn’t made the final four. Of course.
‘Ashley Ashley Ashley’ says Simon. ‘Can I be honest?’ ‘Course you can!’ The honesty? Is that Ashley is through. Simon tells Nikitta ‘all of us loved you’ and ‘I am not…going to disappoint you! You’ve made the final four. Your mum would be very proud of you.’ That’s a mean way of telling her Simon!
Gemma had ‘personality issues’ (See? No-one likes a confident girl) but was very very consistent. ‘I think I could rely on you.’ But apparently not, because she‘s not through. BOOO! She was good. It’s Sean versus Ray for the final slot. For FUCK’S sake. Neither of them are good enough. Gemma should be there, and if he was desperate for a boy, Carlo was better. Simon asks Sean, ‘Do you genuinely believe you could sing week after week?’ to which he replies, ‘I always still have doubts’ Ray is all swaggery. It’s a no to Sean. Simon gives him a hug and says ‘You were great. Great.’ Below are my notes, unedited:

Grief Porn. Dionne Warwick’s ‘That’s What Friends Are For‘ plays. Stacey is very stoic and says ‘four people have to go.’ Her family are nice. Carlo is ‘gutted’ but equally stoic. Ray’s grandma says ‘he’s always been a star in my eyes.’ His dad jumps into Ray’s arms. BLECH. (That…was weird and creepy. And possibly bordering on child abuse. Also, I was very disappointed that Ray's mum isn't really Bernie Nolan. Must TV keep lying to me?-Steve) For Leona there is much leaping and wailing. Gemma won’t give up and says ‘didn’t get through’ with a shrug. Ashley’s mum? Sister? Will be proud, anyway. He squirts champagne. Sean’s parents are like ‘he’s just our little boy’ and say ‘someone like Simon Cowell believing in him has done him the world of good,’ which is sweet.
Auntie Katie is all hopeful. Nikitta doesn’t know how Katie has done. Everyone wails with excitement. Nikitta asks how Katie did and she replies ‘I didn’t get in BUT I’M FINE YOU DID!!’

And close.
Like: Dionne, Ashley, Nikitta, Leona, Eton Road
Hate: Ray (could you tell?), Robert, 4 Sure
Indifferent: the rest

Next week they sing. God help us all.