"Grand" final: 16th December 2006
So here it is. Merry Christmas! Everybody's having fun. Except perhaps for Ray and Leona, who are probably vomiting in their mouths a little bit right now. Much in the same way that I'm sure we will all be vomiting in our mouths when Ray takes to the stage shortly. Before we begin on this recap of what I'm sure will be a thrill-packed and in no way overlong or bloated finale, I would like to thank the people who've been reading this blog every week for all of your kind comments. If you hadn't all been saying how much you've enjoyed reading, I doubt I'd have had the willpower to make it this far. Of course, one might argue that I'd have been better off if I'd stopped watching and/or blogging weeks ago, because I would've been spared the horror of Ray's plastic sexuality all this time. However, we all made it to the end, despite all the warbling and the judges' bickering and the boring Scottish duos and the anatomically-incorrect Scousers and the general paucity of talent this year. Well done, everyone, and thanks for sticking with me. And now, on with the show.
The search began with 100,000. Now just two remain: Leona, who loves singing and performing and really wants to win, and Ray, who also loves singing and performing and really wants to win. Gosh, this is exciting already, isn't it? They're going head-to-head for an alleged £1 million recording contract (which is of course based on a five-album deal or somesuch, and if the winner of this show makes it to his or her fifth album I'll eat my hat), and Simon claims it's "north vs south". Oh God, you did NOT just go there, Simon. I swear to God. You did this when it was Will vs. Gareth way back in 2002, back when we actually had dramatic tension and talented contestants and emotional investment, and even then we didn't care about the shitty north/south divide, so don't fucking start on that now. GOD. No wonder Louis's so obsessed with telling us where his acts are from every week. Ray goes back to Liverpool to see thousands of geographically-convenient but clearly tone-deaf fans, and Leona goes to what looks like the Hackney Empire to take it back to the streets, yo. Isn't Leona from Islington? Hmm. Our votes will change someone's life forever. Louis: "It's The Voice versus The Entertainer. I can't wait." The fact that you can sum up the grand final in those terms is precisely what's wrong with this programme. Sharon thinks it's going to be neck-and-neck. The biggest competition of the year is about to begin. Oh, please. That Sudoku I half-finished on Monday was a bigger competition than this shit.
Live studio. Judges. Sharon and Louis are basically ornamental at this point, and I'm not sure I can stand Simon's smuggery for two-and-a-half hours. Your finalists: Ray and Leona. Ray's got his Twat Pack suit on again, which isn't a good sign. Leona's wearing a pink dress and has lovely hair. Kate is wearing some kind of sparkly jacket, which still isn't the severe tailored suit I hoped for last week, but at least it's not one of those dresses that makes her look pregnant, so I'll be grateful for that and move on. Apparently tonight we're coming from across the nation, so Kate throws over to Ray's home town of Liverpool, where everybody supports Ray. I mean, maybe this is because I'm a disaffected Londoner, but I don't get this. I've never felt the need to support someone just because we share a hometown. I mean, the nearest celebrity to my hometown is Joss Stone (born in Dover, fact fans, despite being claimed by Devon later) and I can't stand that smug tongue-poking white-soul bitch. I'm not backing Leona because she's southern; I'm backing her because she's (a) the best singer here and (b) not Ray. Kate throws to Leona's supporters in East London. Huh. Maybe she's not from Islington after all, maybe that's just where she was born. Or maybe I just shouldn't trust the facts I get from Wikipedia. Kate assures us we'll be hearing lots more from them later. Oh, goody. Kate also promises lots of surprises later, which would probably be more surprising if I didn't already know that Take That and Westlife were coming on later.
So, we're finally kicking off the proceedings, and Ray is on first. Simon introduces him with the phrase "let's get ready to rumble", and if Ray actually sang 'Let's Get Ready To Rhumble' by PJ and Duncan, this might be the greatest show ever. Needless to say: it isn't, so he won't. Ray got to fly back to Liverpool on a private jet. Ray? It's December. PUT A FUCKING COAT ON. Seriously, what is with the short sleeves? Your guns aren't that impressive. If you need a scarf, then you need a coat, or at the very least, a shirt. Ray VTs that he can't believe how far he's come, and I think I speak for most of the viewing audience when I say neither can we. There's a red carpet outside Ray's house (don't be too impressed; his brothers own a carpet warehouse, remember? They probably got it at cost) and people scream for him. Ray gets to spend some time with his family. Ray's Not Bernie Nolan-mum: "Now you know that we know you were going to be the star that you are." Sadly, I doubt that's going to be the most incoherent sentence we hear this evening. 'Angels' plays in the background, and it's a good job I fucking hated that song anyway. Ray went to the shopping centre, and it was filled with people screaming his name. A sadder sight this Christmas I'm sure I will not see. I hope Santa brings them some taste. 'Let Me Entertain You' plays, and they really seem to be making Ray out to be the next Robbie Williams. I fucking hate Robbie Williams. I fucking hate Ray. So hey, that might work. Ray tells them that he's doing this not just for him, not just for his family, but "for all youse lot". Yes, I'm sure that the biggest thing on Ray's mind when he entered was to make some people he'd never met happy, and I'm sure that if he wins he will divide his £1 million prize equally between all of them. You suck, Ray. Leaving the "venue", Ray calls it the best thing to happen in his whole entire lifetime. Even better than the time he murdered the girl who was bullying him? I would've thought that was pretty special. Finally we get back to the studio and Ray takes his place on the Stool Of Tooliness. He's singing 'My Way' again, and everyone told me last time that it was wrong of me to skip ahead and not watch it because he was really good, but you guys? If it was anything like this, then you were wrong. It sucks, it's smug, it's affected, and I want to put my fist through the TV screen. He gets off the stool for the key change, because any kind of originality is strongly discouraged on this show. God, this sucks like an industrial strength vacuum cleaner. He gets a standing ovation from the judges, because they're desperate to convince us that the contestants they've found this year aren't really a colossal waste of everyone's time. Louis tells Ray he's come a really long way, and that he thinks Ray can win it. I think he's wrong. Sharon tells Ray that he definitely did it his way. It's a shame that Ray's way is basically Frank Sinatra's way with the smug factor ramped up to 98. Simon calls Ray "Teflon" because everything "just bounces off" him. Well, we've been saying for weeks that Ray's made from some kind of artificial substance. Is Simon a closet Bitch Factor fan? That would be exciting. Simon calls Ray "the favourite to win", and that's basically only true because this show has been manipulating the media to make it so. I'm so glad that I don't have to basically lie to everyone for a living, because that would really suck. Especially if I were lying to everyone for...Ray. I mean, come on. How would you sleep at night? Kate asks Ray how it feels to have achieved his big dream of making the final and to be standing on the stage. That would be the same stage he's been standing on for the past ten weeks, just so we're clear. Ray has no words, because he's secretly every bit as boring as Leona. Ray blathers his way through some thank yous, and we cross to Jeff Brazier (no, seriously) in Liverpool with Ray's supporters. There's a great moment when Jeff isn't sure whether he's live yet, and is being jostled by the screaming fangirls behind him and looks really pissed off, and then suddenly switches on the showbiz as he starts doing his piece, apparently unaware that we all just saw the bitchface. This is all bafflingly irrelevant, suffice to say that Ray's face is all "OMG! My hometown loves me!" which can't come as that much of a surprise after the events we just saw unfold in the VT, so: stop being fake, Ray. Jeff talks to the Mayor of Liverpool, who says that Ray is very very big in Liverpool, but who really means "no one told me I'd have to do this shit when I signed up for this job". I like that someone has a "Ray to Stay" poster, which I like to take as meaning "Ray to stay in London, far away from us." After the break, "Leona will be here, singing to win The X Factor!" Thanks for that, Kate. Couldn't have figured that one out on my own.
I hate the Barclaycard adverts with Julian Rhind-Tutt and Stephen Mangan almost as much as I hated the Homebase adverts with Neil Morrissey and Leslie Ash.
I wasn't looking closely enough at Kate's outfit: it's a sequinned dress, not a sparkly jacket. I don't like it as much now. To be in the final is a dream come true for Leona, who got to go back to Hackney in a limo. She waves to someone outside her chemist, or possibly to her chemist, and squees about being recognised. Somehow Leona manages to make this cute, but it's a thin line. Her dad is very proud. Leona says the whole journey has felt like a fairytale, and she's starting to feel like a popstar. Leona meets Jamie Theakston, and plays a "homecoming gig" at the Hackney Empire (I was right!). Lots of shots of Leona giggling as she performs. Her VT seemed half the length of Ray's, but maybe Ray's obnoxious personality just made his seem that much longer. Leona will be singing 'I Will Always Love You', and it doesn't appear to have the Dolly Parton-ness of the last time she did it, which is a real shame. There's a bit of wavering on her lower register, but I will give her points for actually singing, which Ray wasn't really doing in his first song. As much as I think Leona deserves to win, this performance is disappointingly karaoke, and I was hoping for something better. Louis calls it "an incredible performance" and tells Leona she's got "star quality", that she'll be "the next big girl singer from the UK" and that she'll "sell records worldwide". Sharon agrees: "If there's ever a contestant that's going to be a huge superstar, it's you, Leona." Simon says that Leona has delivered week on week, and says that he works in America a lot (this came as a huge surprise to me, I don't know about the rest of you) and that he's constantly being told that Britain will never produce someone who can represent the country on the worldwide stage (um, Elton John? Dido? U2? I'm just pulling names out of a hat, here. Possibly he's being told that our televised talent shows will never produce someone to represent Britain, and I've got to say I think that's true, and I think Simon's at least partially to blame for always backing such mediocre karaoke singing winners like Michelle McManus and Shayne Ward, but whatever) and that Leona has just proved them wrong. Well, hardly. Let's wait and see if she breaks America first, shall we? Also, if you're so sure that she's going to break America, I'd like to be the first to say that making her cover a Kelly Clarkson song for her first single is a monumentally stupid idea. Like, "hey, let's lick this kettle to see if it's still hot!" stupid, because it's going to invite comparisons, and I think Leona will be found wanting. Simon claims that Leona has come in as "the underdog" tonight (WHATEVER, again. GOD.) and that people who think she's going to walk it on her talent are wrong. I'm so sick of Simon now. Kate throws over to Myleene Klass (haha, seriously. This is awesome) in east London, who manages to make spazzy excitement look quite adorable. Bless you, Myleene. She's not a particularly skilled presenter, but all this specific job that she has requires is raw enthusiasm and the ability to form a sentence, so she should be fine. Myleene also points out that Leona is making history (WHATEVER) by being the first female through to the X Factor finals "in the world". How many countries has this format been exported to? I know it died on its arse in Australia and they only made one series, and hell, it's only on its third round in this country. It's not like she's the first female president of the United States or something. Tone it down a little, show. God. Time for another break (are you kidding me?), and Kate promises two big surprises when we return. I hope that one of these surprises is Ray being fed to a pack of wolves, and that the other is Maria taking his place and her rightful crown as the first female winner of this show, but I suspect I'll be wrong on both counts.
Back from the break, and Kate introduces a highlights package. I'm not writing about this, because I've inevitably already done it once, and it sucked the first time around. Sorry, folks, but this show is already at least an hour too long and I'm not going to pretend that this has been a vintage year because it's possibly been the worst run of this show yet. Anyway, Kate asks "who could forget this next contestant?" and we get a montage of Sean, who I'd kind of already forgotten, to be honest. I mean, there are points where they show clips of Kerry and I genuinely think for a second that she was on the show last year, because so much of this year's show has been so thoroughly unmemorable. Anyway, Sean finally gets a chance to sing 'Right Here Waiting' on the live shows, and to be honest, kind of sounds like a chipmunk. He was sweet in a pathologically nervous sort of way, but I don't think his eventual elimination was any great loss. God, there really were such slim pickings this year, weren't there? I wish this show would just admit that. Kate says that "we've all fallen in love with Sean", which: no, and sends him on his way.
Now Ray's back, and wearing a tuxedo this time. Jesus wept. Ray proves his versatility by singing yet another Rat Pack number, 'That's Life'. It's every bit as hideously stage-school as you'd expect, and just when you think it couldn't get any worse, Westlife come out to join him, and Ray MCs their intro. I am not making this shit up, I swear. I know that credibility and dignity are alien concepts to Westlife, but I thought even they were above this. And also: what's the point? If Ray's meant to be showing us what he's made of, why are these established stars intruding on his song? THIS SHOW IS SO STUPID. Kate mentions that Ray's a big fan of Westlife. Ray: "Yeah, of course - they've done a swing album!" Aaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrghhhhhh! I just...seriously, is this show TRYING to kill me? God, I don't think I've ever hated Ray more than I do right at this very minute. He can pretend he's some kind of swing aficionado all he wants, but if he's genuinely trying to convince us that Allow Us To Be Frank was anything other than a total abomination and a completely shameless cash-in, then I'm afraid I'm going to have to go around there with a sledgehammer and smash his moronic skull in. Ray thanks Westlife, and Kate asks Fishlips what Ray was like to work with. Fishlips forgets to hold his microphone anywhere near the aforementioned fishlips, so we don't hear the answer, but I assume it was suitably sycophantic. Kate points out that this was put together in a hurry, and they sang together for the first time last night, to which I say: yeah, we noticed. Nicky (I think, I can never tell him and Kian apart) tells us that it was an honour to work with Ray. Let this be a lesson to you all: no good can come from selling your soul to Louis Walsh. Another ad break. Fuck me.
We're back, and so is Leona, singing 'A Million Love Songs'. Ooh, I wonder who her special guests could be? She's wearing a lampshade-shaped dress that makes her look rather stocky, if I'm honest. Her version of the song is quite nice, actually: very heartfelt. Leona also gets to MC: "ladies and gentlemen: Take That!" It's like An Audience With The X Factor or something; seriously, this is so fucked up. Leona doesn't get to sing any of the second verse at all, but she harmonises very nicely on the chorus. Because God forbid she should take the lead vocal as THE CONTESTANT HERE or anything. God, this show is making me CAPS LOCK so much tonight. I can only apologise. I think it's safe to say that Leona's second performance pisses on Ray's from a great, great height, as if there were any doubt. Leona says she feels so lucky and so honoured to have sung with them, and squees that she was totally a fan back in the day. Wouldn't she have been, like, five? Then again, I was a bit too old to like Take That (even though I totally did) when they were first around, so Leona was probably the right age. There follows a moment which should secure Gary Barlow a sainthood, and I shall transcribe it verbatim: "I have to say, Leona, and Simon, this is to you, mate: you've got a big responsibility because this girl is probably 50 times better than any contestant you've ever had on this show and it's your responsibility to make her the best record you can. So please do that." Ladies and gentleman, you have just witnessed Gary Barlow calling Simon Cowell out live on TV and telling him not to peddle the same kind of shit on Leona that he normally forces everyone else to record. That's right: Gary Barlow just totally pwned Simon. Okay, it was worth sitting through this entire series just for that moment, I swear. God bless you, Gary Barlow.
So, Ray gets Westlife, and Leona gets Take That. I think we all know who's going to win now, don't we? Clips of the performances so far: Ray's marble-mouthed 'My Way', Leona's Whitney-by-numbers 'I Will Always Love You', Ray managing to outsmug Westlife on 'That's Life' and Leona being a very functional backing singer to Gary Barlow on 'A Million Love Songs'.
You are kidding me: another clip of the year's most "unforgettable" auditions, and they weren't funny the first time, and if you think I'm writing about them a second time, you can fucking forget it. Anyone wants to relive them can buy the damn DVD. What's hilarious here is that scary, dog-tripping, 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head' woman Janet is included, and THEY PUT HER THROUGH TO BOOT CAMP. Seriously, show, stop making it so easy for us to mock you. Then they bring on Edna. Remember Edna? The woman who had a go at Simon when he was apparently mean to her daughter? Because that was totally your TV moment of the year, wasn't it? Never mind the season finale of Doctor Who or anything: this shit was your TV gold. This is such a fucking pantomime. Edna blows kisses to Simon. Edna tells us that she would like to apologise to Simon's mum for being rude to him, "but he deserved it". She says that she doesn't dislike Simon, and Simon apologises to Edna. Edna beckons Simon over for a hug, and Simon gets up and hugs her. Kate chides Edna for wasting time, and Edna's complete failure to understand Kate wastes a bit more time. I wonder if I can gnaw through the restraints with my teeth, or whether I still have to sit through the rest of this. Edna is here to introduce "all the real stars of The X Factor: the auditioneers (sic)". And then all of the worst performers come back to sing 'Earth Song': (Mad) Donna, Warren, Rocking Rick, Twice As Nice, Identical, some guy whom I don't even remember, another guy I don't recognise, someone else who I don't recognise who totally misses her cue, and Oncar Judge being lowered from above. Whoever thought this would be funny? YOU WERE WRONG. Most of the people this series weren't even bad enough to be memorable. There's not a William Hung amongst them, let me tell you. And again, the fact that you included Identical in this when they made it through to at least the second day of boot camp, if I remember rightly (and I do), just proves how utterly disastrous this show has been this year.
An advert for Britain's Got Talent: the statement this show has been trying to disprove for three months. Simon claims he's ready for anything we want to throw at him. Oh Simon, don't tempt me.
Kate tells us two million people have voted, and you've guessed it: It's Very Close. Ray comes on for the third and final time to sing 'Fly Me To The Moon', just in case we've forgotten where his skills lie. I want to cry at the fact that this show isn't even trying to produce a winner that can do more than one genre. Ray does some twirls and looks like a complete fucking girl in the process. His very existence upsets me so very much. I can't believe I wasted so much time hating Rudy in the early stages when I could have been directing the hatred towards Ray instead. Louis calls Ray "a true professional, and if anyone was ever a born entertainer, you are a born entertainer." The bounds of credibility get stretched further: "a couple of weeks ago, I thought you were a one-trick pony: tonight you've proved you're not." HOW, EXACTLY? Please tell me precisely at what point in the three out of three swing tracks that Ray performed he proved he was anything other than a one-trick pony? Do they think we're stupid? Perhaps it's best I don't go down that road. Sharon says there's nothing Ray can't do, except be likeable, perform something current and relevant, or have a reproductive system. She may not have said all of that out loud. Simon tells Ray he's had an outstanding night, and says that he's so happy he took a chance on Ray, that Ray's a complete dream to work with, and that he thinks Ray's on his way to winning the competition. This is bullshit, and I think even Ray knows that, judging by the bitchface I just caught in a freeze-frame. Ray says that he respects all three judges, despite the fact that they just proved they deserve respect from precisely no one. Kate asks Ray why people should pick up the phone and vote for him. Ray: "Pick up the phone and vote for both of us, because Leona's amazing and we both deserve to be here." Well, that achieved precisely nothing, didn't it? Although I really do think Ray knows he isn't really going to win, and maybe I respect him just a teensy, teensy little bit for that. Then he pulls one of those stupid faces again and I promptly stop respecting him, and all is right with the world. Kate asks him what he'd do if he won. Ray: "I'd probably curl up in a ball and die." Seriously, he actually said that, and if anything was going to persuade me to vote for him, that would be it. Kate throws to the people of Liverpool again, but it's all completely irrelevant and I so don't care any more.
Leona comes back on in a sea-green dress and does not punch Simon right in the face for saying that Ray was going to win, which is what I would have done. Instead she sings 'All By Myself', which kind of reminds me how her lower register really isn't her strong point. However, this looks like a good song choice because Leona's strength lies in her ability to empathise with the emotion behind a song, an ability that Ray lacks as a direct result of him being a robot. It's not her best performance ever (seriously, I don't think she ever bettered 'Summertime' or 'Chiquitita'), but still, inevitably, much much better than Ray. Though I suppose I should point out that since I've been ragging on Ray all evening for sticking to the same genre all night, Leona's done the same thing. I guess it's fractionally less noticeable with Leona because her genre does have a little more potential for variation in it, but either way: a little bit of diversity this evening would have gone a long, long way. Louis says that every week she delivers "100% every week", and says that she's the first girl in the UK who could compete with Mariah/Celine/Christina etc, and it's all stuff he's said before really. Also, he sounds kind of drunk. I wish I were drunk right now, it would make this so much more pleasant. Especially considering I'm a right bitch when I've been drinking. Sharon calls Leona "faultless" and says that she shouldn't have favourites but "it's a travesty if you don't win this contest". Slightly iffy grammar aside, that's the most sensible thing Sharon's said throughout this entire competition. Simon says "I think that final note may just have won you The X Factor." Simon then proceeds to address "the whole personality issue" by pointing out that a lot of these girls with so-called character are cocky bitches, and he'd take Leona's shyness any day. That's right, folks, because all confident women are complete bitches, and don't you forget it. I am so concerned about the message this show sends out to the nation. Confidence is bad! Success is something not to be encouraged in women, lest it go to their heads! Oh well, it's the bland leading the bland in this competition anyway, so what do I care? Leona says that she thinks maybe she's a better singer than a speaker (cocky bitch! She thinks she's a good singer! Stone the harlot to death!) but thanks everyone for their support. Cut to Myleene in east London, being joined by Donna, Leona's number one fan, who is slightly scary and thinks that Mariah Carey should move over. Mariah's all, "whatever, them chickens is ash and I'm lotion", or something equally scathing.
Kate welcomes back the final 12, because we can't just finish now when ITV1 desperately needs to hang on to the only show that's pulling in any ratings. They're singing 'That's What Friends Are For', and Ashley remembers his words, and Nikitta is awesome because she finally got to sing a ballad, and Robert is every bit as annoying as he was before, and Eton Road are cute in a slightly off-key way, and the MacDonald Brothers are competently boring, and Ben is gruff and looks like he took losing hard judging by his failure to shave, and Ray and Leona come on, and Ray proves that he can't sing a normal song in anything resembling the correct key, and Leona blows them out of the water. Kerry, Dionne, 4Sure and The Unconventionals don't get a solo, because we all hate them, apparently. They don't even cut to 4Sure during the "you can always count on me for sure" line, which I thought would've been a slam dunk. "How special was that?" asks Kate. Well, it was definitely "speshul", if you know what I mean.
Performance recap. We all lived through it once, I'm not writing about it again, but Leona hands Ray his anatomically-inaccurate ass on a plate. A plastic plate, naturally. Ray and Leona rejoin Kate, and Kate promises that during the results they will both sing the song that the winner will release. Shouldn't they have done that during this show? But then, I suppose we wouldn't have had room for all that lovely time spent laughing at shit auditionees. Yeah, that was choice.
Ray and Leona's journey began months ago. We re-witness Ray's father's terrifying act of child abuse, and now it's the moment we've all been waiting for, where Ray finally gets sent packing and Leona is crowned the victor. Kate tells us that over 5 million votes have been cast (and not a single one of those was mine, I'm happy to say. Okay, I voted three times to save Emma Bunton in Strictly Come Dancing and look where that got me, but still, I feel the moral victory is mine), but - and say it with me now - It's Too Close To Call. Performance recap, for about the ninetieth time this evening. Ray looks really ugly when he sings. Well, uglier. Leona's hair really does look lovely tonight, as I'm sure I've said already. But come on: there's no new material here for me to make fun of.
Take That return to the stage to show these losers how it's done, and with any luck to completely pwn Simon a couple more times before they have to go home. Gary Barlow appears to have a very large bulge. Or maybe everyone just looks like that in comparison to Ray XY. Anyway, they buck the trend of this show by not embarrassing themselves and actually being quite good. Kate promises that when we return we'll be "hearing what will become the winner's single for the very first time". Unless you've ever seen a Sandals advert, or heard Kelly Clarkson's first album.
We're back, and Kate tells us that the winner's CD will go into production as soon as the show finishes. And just to prove it, Kate crosses to Andi Peters at the CD pressing factory. OH MY GOD. This is almost as bad as the Pop Idol 2 finale when they sent the one and only Kate Thornton to the call centre where all of the votes got counted. NOBODY CARES. Apparently over a million copies have been pre-sold, despite no one knowing who's actually won yet. That depresses me. Although by "pre-sold" I have a sneaking feeling they mean "shipped to stores", rather than ordered by individual customers. Also depressing: Ray singing 'A Moment Like This'. He looks like a little kid dressed in his dad's suit, pushed in front of the family to sing for the family on Christmas day. I know that this is basically a schlocky winner's ballad that's all "winning a talent contest is a metaphor for life, really", but I do like the Kelly Clarkson version and Ray's sounds so flat and lifeless in comparison. Still, I should be grateful that he didn't get it made into a swing version, I suppose. A gospel choir gets trotted out halfway through, and there are pyrotechnics, although the performance really doesn't deserve it, to be honest. Louis tells Ray he's a fantastic role model for young people. No, Louis, he's a fantastic Airfix model for young people, ages 4-8. And there aren't any small pieces for the kids to choke on! "No matter what happens tonight, you're a winner." Except for the part where he's going to be a loser in about 35 minutes. Sharon calls it "a very hard song to sing" (which: not so much, really) and says that it's been such a pleasure going through the contest with him. Well, at least someone enjoyed it. Simon predicts that after tonight Ray will get everything he wanted out of this business. I hope one of those things is a kick in the teeth, because he's certainly earned that. Ray blathers something cringeworthy and tries to make a pun on the song title, and I won't do myself the indignity of repeating it. Kate kisses Ray on the lips, which he wasn't expecting, and she catches him with his mouth half open, which is pretty funny.
And now we have Leona, singing exactly the same song. Her arrangement is instantly more lifelike, as if we didn't already know she was going to win. Obviously the song suits her much better because it was always going to, although she doesn't have quite the same raw power as Kelly Clarkson and it still sounds a little anaemic in comparison. On the plus side, she's wearing this long, flowing dress and looks amazing. It's quite hilarious watching it, just to see how little they really expected Ray to win when you listen to his version next to Leona's. So, so far, Shayne Ward is the only X Factor winner to get an original song for his winner's single. Lucky him, eh? Leona gets the gospel choir too, except she gets a lightshow instead of pyrotechnics. Louis says that it's very, very simple: "That was world class, and you are a world-class artist. This time next year, everyone's going to know your name, and not just in the UK. I think you're going to be a world-class diva." Well, maybe we could have a year where anyone still cares about the previous winner by the time the next series starts before we start making claims like that, eh? Sharon says that Leona "saved the best to the last" (sic) and says that Leona owned the song. Simon does the whole "six months ago, a very insecure girl auditioned for us" schtick and says that Leona has proved you can be talented and also a nice person. That was never in doubt: I mean, I interviewed Kelly Clarkson once (not that I'm name dropping or anything), and not only is she hella talented, but she's also one of the nicest people I've ever met in my entire life. Seriously: before she left the room, she apologised to two people standing at the side (who were just waiting to take some photographs later and were nothing to do with the interview at this point) for not having introduced herself earlier, and stopped to have a quick chat with them. Charming as hell, she was. I think this whole "all talented women are conceited h0rs except Leona" thing is getting a bit offensive. Leona thanks the judges again. Another performance recap, with added 'A Moment Like This'.
After the ads, we go backstage to see Ray, who is feeling "scared". Er, why? "Nervous" I can understand, certainly, but "scared"? What's the worst thing that's going to happen if he doesn't win? Nobody's going to die. Unfortunately. Anyway, clip of Ray's highlights, and people lying about how likeable he is. Also amusing me greatly at this point is the fact that Ray has a blue band on his microphone and Leona has a red band on hers, so it's basically like televised SingStar. Wouldn't it be awesome if we had little green bars on the screen documenting all the off-key notes? I hope they implement that next year. Kate asks Ray what his favourite moment is, and his answer is predictably "everything". Kate tells us that they sent the X FActor pod to Liverpool, and it collected some nauseating testimonies from his family. She didn't say that last bit, I did. Leona is also feeling "nervous" and "scared", and oy with the scared already. Montage of Leona's journey. Katy points out that Leona looked like Tara Palmer-Tompkinson during her performance of 'I'll Be There' in Motown week. Leona says that she's learnt to do everything "to the fullest" from working with Simon, and thanks him for allowing her to be here. The pod went to Hackney, and there are more nauseatingly sentimental family and friends testimonies. Leona wells up at the sight of her nan.
Back form the ads again, and we cut for hopefully the final time to Jeff in Liverpool with the Ray fangirls. I am very concerned about the man holding a sign with "Ray ♥" on it. Over to Myleene in east London, trying to fight her way through the crowd who are "literally going mental" (really?) with little success. Kate welcomes Leona and Ray back to the stage for the moment of truth. Eight million votes were cast (bloody hell), and the winner of The X Factor 2006 is...Leona! There's a loud bang of a glitter cannon which clearly scares the crap out of her, which is kind of funny. Ray, to his credit, looks genuinely pleased for her, and they all make a big deal about how she's the first woman to win. They waste lots of time saying how wonderful Ray was, which is kind of crappy when this is Leona's moment. We cut back to east London, where Myleene has apparently been eaten by the baying crowd. Leona, bless her, looks absolutely stunned by the whole thing. Kate tells Leona that she's now a "bona fide superstar popstar" (here we go!) and asks her how she feels. Leona, predictably, is speechless. We cut to the CD factory and Andi Peters, where Leona's CD is going to press. Andi presses the button to get her first ever single made, and I learn that the process of making a CD looks really, really gross. Andi shows her her first ever CD, and Kate refers to her as "the bookies' favourite", which is completely at odds with the whole "you came into this the underdog" schtick from earlier. Simon says that he is possibly "the most proudest person" (sic) in the world right now, to which I say: get in line behind Leona's parents, you douchebag. Simon blows a raspberry to everyone who thinks these shows don't produce talent, because he's mature like that. Kate tells us that we can go to the website to download the single now (and apparently an awful lot of people did) and all that's left is for Leona to sing us out.
Well, there we go. Even though this year's show was a massive disappointment to most of us, the right person won, and I'm grateful for that. I'm also grateful for everyone who's been reading the blog for managing to make the show fun - something the show itself failed to do. We might possibly blog about something else before the next series starts, it depends on how much free time we have and how masochistic we're feeling. If you have any suggestions of any shows you'd like us to tackle, or if you'd just like us to let you know if and when we plan to blog about another TV show, feel free to e-mail us. Otherwise, we'll probably be back next year for the fourth round, for more sob stories. You know you love it, bitches.