Sunday, October 01, 2006

Bad singers army (part 1)

Programme 7: 30th September 2006

Last week on the show, the judges found out which category they were to be mentoring this year. Simon got the 16-24s, Sharon got the 25 and overs, and Louis got the groups. Not that this really matters, because each category only has about one good act anyway. Tonight: we're at boot camp! Simon gets narky, Sharon gets upset, Louis is surprisingly pleased. The viewers, meanwhile, are hoping that this is the stage where they actually show us the good people they must have been hiding from us in the previous six episodes.

Kate welcomes us to the show, and explains the reasons for there being two shows tonight (lord have mercy), conveniently neglecting the primary reason, which is "we can get away with it and it's really easy to find filler". The 16-24s await their mentor, not knowing who it is. Simon sits in the back of his car, crowing that "this will be, without question, the strongest 16-24 category you've seen on The X Factor so far." O rly? I'd like to know what he's basing that on, because I've seen so little during the audition rounds to prove to me that it was even worth bothering to conduct a nationwide search this year. LouisFan wants Louis as her mentor, because it would be a dream come true. Nikita wants Sharon. Kate tells us that Nikita's aunt Katie is in the over 25s category, waiting to find out who her mentor is at the 2TooMuch nightclub in London. That's about the neatest segue we're ever likely to get on this show, I think. Katie wants Simon or Sharon. Longhaired dude (whom I think is Ben, but I can't remember for definite so LongHairDude he shall be until I know otherwise) wants Simon. Sharon tells us she'd be lying if she said she didn't want to win. Well, duh. Louis is dreading today because he's got the worst category. Well, there's nothing like a positive outlook, is there? A boyband wants Louis for their mentor, a girlband definitely does not want Louis because he's said no to them twice already. I should probably know who half of these people are, but this series has thrown up unmemorable act after unmemorable act and they've all blended into one in my head. Sorry.

The 16-24s (including Rudy: HAAAAAATE) are the first to see their mentor. A chopper flies in, accompanied by 'The Ride of the Valkyries' (added in post, obviously - although if they'd pumped that through some loudspeakers at the time it would have been hilarious). The younglings cheer for Simon. We see Raymond, Sean, Harry from Eskimo Blonde (I think) and LouisFan, who's disappointed, obviously. The over-25s cheer for Sharon's dramatic entrance. The groups meet Louis, and there is cheering, although there are also some facepalms.

Coming up: Simon's gutted about his contestants, Louis wants to trim down the groups of brothers and Sharon is disappointed by some of her wannabes.

Kate welcomes us back to Simon's bootcamp (which is the location she opened the show from, FYI). The show repeats Simon's entrance, for those of us who can't remember five minutes ago. Fucking Rudy gets a special emo-woez to camera, because it's the judge he wanted the least! Oh noes! How totally unfair! No amount of whining and hissy fits can possibly fix this! He decides to try harder. Perhaps you should have decided that in your first audition, asswipe. Kate, via the medium of montage, recaps (hey! That's my job!) Rudy's story, conveniently omitting the parts where Rudy threw a massive fucking tantrum over Sharon's absence and completely absolved himself of all responsibility for his own shortcomings. HAAAAATE. Rudy smugs to camera that Sharon said yes and he got through, still apparently oblivious to the fact that he needs a giant smack in the face. The contestants are asked to choose and perform a song that they believe can take them to number one. Rudy sings 'Purple Rain' for Simon and the lovely Sinitta (her big, red GTO is sadly not present). I don't recognise the rest of the people in Rudy's group, and again I don't know if that's because I haven't seen them or just because the series is SO BORING this year. Simon pronounces the five contestants "all predictable" and dismisses them. Simon remarks that Rudy hates him because Simon said no to him. Don't feel pressured into being nice to him because of that, Simon. In fact, go the other way and kick him in the shins when he least expects it. Not a jury in the land would convict you.

Ashley of the 'fro is hoping to lift everyone's spirits. Ashley is wearing a nice red cardie. He tells the camera about how his mum has told everybody about him being in The X Factor, and it's pretty funny. He sings 'Be My Baby', and it's another one of those performances where I'm not quite sure if it's actually good or not. I think he's trying a little too hard, personally, but I like him and I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Simon wants to know why Ashley chose that song (and not in a good way, I suspect) and Ashley says it reminds him of being young. As the group files out, Simon says to Sinitta, "have you ever backed a horse in the Grand National, only to find it falls at the first fence?" Oh dear. Kate tells us that it's a bad day for the entire category, which is the soundtrack's cue to whack Daniel Powter on, and suddenly it's like American Idol never finished. I've got the McPheever! Man, I really wish I were watching that show instead of this one. Lots of people cry. Somebody mumbles, somebody called Craig's voice breaks, somebody does a manic interpretive dance version of 'Angels', which is hilariously bad. Simon can't help laughing. "I think we've got the weakest category, Sinitta," says Simon in a private moment. "I genuinely do; I think we've got the short straw." Simon takes a break, and is concerned that he thought they were going to walk it this year, but it's been a disaster so far. I think we all know what's coming: Simon goes to talk to the contestants in the holding area. He tells those yet to audition that they need to believe they can win, and that because everyone's been so atrocious, he's doubling up the number of people he's going to send home. He was going to keep more, but he's only seen two people with charisma. Ouch.

21-year-old mum of two Samantha practises singing 'From This Moment On' by Shania Twain. Interestingly, when she goes into the audition room she actually sings Faith Hill's 'There You'll Be'. Simon pronounces her adorable, but admits he was disappointed with her singing. The contestants are pulling out the stops, according to Kate, which means Leona, who looks like Whitney Houston circa 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody', trilling her melisma-fuelled way through 'I Have Nothing', and Raymond blanding his way through another swing number. Just look at me on the edge of my seat! Joe and Gemma are up next, and Kate reminds us that Joe didn't intend to audition, but was just there to keep Gemma company. Gemma sings Des'ree's 'Kissing You' somewhat scratchily and Joe sings something I don't know, not much better. Outside, they both do the "I don't know if I'm coming back, but YOU definitely are" thing, which is kind of sickening. The final person in for the day is Sean, which is not at all contrived. Sean is concerned because Simon was the only judge who said no to him before. He manages to keep his nerves at bay this time, and in deliberation Sinitta calls him "voice of an angel" and "a choirboy", but Simon expresses reservations about whether Sean belongs in the competition. Simon and Sinitta work out who's staying, and the show tries to lead us down certain paths by showing us shots of people whom they might be talking about, suggesting that Simon liked Richard and will only be keeping one of Joe and Gemma. The contestants voice over how they're feeling. Rudy says - get this - "I wish that it hadn't have been Simon. I think I would have had a better chance if it wasn't." SHUT UP, RUDY. Jesus. Stop shifting the blame onto everyone else! Of course, this just makes me think that they're going to keep him around, and that makes my blood boil. Simon says to Sinitta "this is the pick you'd do?" Heh: "do". What? I'm twelve.

Simon and Sinitta have chosen their final thirty, meaning, as Kate tells us, 51 hearts are about to be broken. Please let one of them be Rudy Punchable's. LouisFan is among those who get sent home. So is Richard, I think. Rudy and Nikita go through. FUCKING HELL. Ashley goes through, as does Gemma. Joe goes home. Ray goes through. Sean and Samantha go through. Sean talks to his mum on speakerphone.

We're over to Louis's boot camp. The groups have to pick a song from a pre-approved list of Louis's. Best friends The Dolly Rockers (that's their name? SERIOUSLY?) have moved in together to increase their practice time. "We live, breathe, eat, sleep...toilet X Factor," one of them says. Out of the mouths of babes, I guess. Louis's panel consists of Louis (obviously), vocal coach Evie, skincare consultant Rowena (not really), and Kian from Westlife. The Dolly Rockers must perform in front of all of their fellow groups, Kate says. I assume this is the case for everyone, though, and they're not just being cruelly singled out. The Dolly Rockers are dressed like dolly mixtures. They sing 'Everybody Hurts', BADLY. The day continues badly, with lots of terrible renditions of that song. The team take a break, and Louis is concerned that he's seen no star quality at all. Evie isn't sure how they're going to find 16 acts judging by what they've seen already. The Brothers, who made it to Simon's house last year (that's second stage of boot camp, by the way, not some weird form of stalking). Kate tells us that relationships have fallen apart since their first audition this year after CJ decided to go on holiday rather than rehearse, and now they're underprepared. Nice. They go in to see Louis, and look sheepish as they tell him they haven't really prepared anything. CJ blathers about how "circumstances" got in the way, and one of the others peevishly insists that he tell Louis precisely what those circumstances are. Heh. Louis is not impressed. They now want to sing as two separate duos, which Louis agrees to. They go outside and bicker. Blah blah blah.

Next up are Avenue, all cheesy grins, despite the press stories that have surfaced about how they were put together by a management company to see if they could get on the show, yadayadayada. Jamie Tinkler, from Pop Idol and Pop!, is barely recognisable in this incarnation. They sing 'To Love Somebody', and sound passable. A hallelujah chorus plays, though they weren't THAT great. The Unconventionals (I think) sing 'Everybody Hurts' gospel-style. Journey South v2.0 (aka The McDonald Brothers, who are so dull that I can't be bothered to find their initial audition) are up next, and also sing 'To Love Somebody'. Kian studies them intently while wondering if there will be donuts later. As the team takes another break, they're feeling more upbeat. Evie can definitely see potential for a final four. Well, that definitely validates the search, everybody: they've found four acts who weren't entirely shit! Louis cackles at the thought of winning again. The two halves of The Brothers audition last. Brothers 1 also sing 'To Love Somebody', and so do Brothers 2. How long was this songlist, exactly? It disturbs me that they both appear to be singing to each other. Incest!

Louis and his judges narrow the 36 groups down to 16, and Kian appears to be contributing absolutely nothing, although they do play 'Flying Without Wings' by means of apology as the groups file back in. Lots of groups I don't remember get the boot. The Dolly Rockers file back in, and Louis loves their image but hates their vocals, so...he puts them through. Of course. Eton Road (I think) go through, although Crazy Mohawk guy has his hair flattened down and looks like he's about to throw up (as usual). Avenue go through. Journey South v2.0 go through, and are so absolutely excited that they...mumble a thank you and trudge outside. We need a shot of charisma for them, stat. The Unconventionals go through. Brothers 1 go through, and hug Kate. Brothers 2 get a dressing down for airing their dirty linen in public and failing to work with people, but they get put through. Kate sounds very surprised that they're through.

We're at Sharon's boot camp, and Sharon starts with a pep talk: telling the candidates she wants to win so they mustn't waste their chance to impress her. Sharon's task is interesting: she's given them a list of 26 classic Beatles songs and wants them to interpret one in their own style. Sharon's accompanied by vocal coach Mark and record company executive Adrian. Katie (I think) sings 'Yesterday'. Jonathan, who is wearing a fantastic jumper, recounts his winning story of looking after his sick mum. I read that he got Queer Eye-d, which is interesting. Roxanne also gets a recap of her tragic story. She sings 'The Long And Winding Road', a song that I hate, and doesn't do it particularly well. She tells Kate that she thinks she blew it. I'm really not seeing much evidence of people re-imagining their songs. Some people forget their words. Sharon joins in to help them remember, which is cute. During a break, Sharon is a little nervous. Mark is sceptical about the quality of their acts. I quite love Mark. 26-year-old mum of two Sarah wants to buy a nice house that she walks past every day if she wins. She sings 'Come Together', kind of wobbily, but I at least get that she tried something different. LongHairDude sings 'Hey Jude' in a rawk style. Lots more people whom I just can't place sing. Sharon's feeling confident. Kerry is one of the last ones in, and also gets a recap of her tragic story, but I like that she's so smiley and positive about it. Judging by the numerous shots of people carrying her wheelchair around, I suspect Sharon has not chosen a wheelchair-user friendly venue. Sharon, Mark and Adrian are to cut down to 16 people.

Sharon makes the cut, and lots of people I don't care about go home. Roxanne goes home, while Kerry, LongHairDude and Old Man John go through. Kerry cries with happiness. Jonathan is coming back, as are Sarah and Katie. Sharon makes a point of telling every group that some of them have disappointed her today. The fact that everybody seems so grudging about putting people through just reminds me how shit half the contestants are this year. I still don't recognise half of the people going through.

More at 8:10! I'm so excited! Except for the part where I'm totally not.

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