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.
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.