Saturday, August 25, 2007

No dead parents

Audition Show 2: 25th August 2007

There's an onerous burden on my shoulders tonight. Well, two, to be exact. First, can my vitriol manage to live up to the high standards set by Steven and Joel? And second, can I manage to recap an episode of the X-Factor without it descending into a random list of expletives? We'll soon find out.

"Prepare to be amazed and appalled," warns the continuity announcer as the credits are lined up. They should have that before the title sequence every week, like the Parental Guidance one for South Park.

Last week! Lots of people watched this shite! (Seriously. I can't believe they actually crowed about the number of viewers they got. I always knew this show had no freaking class.-Steve) Louis came back to the surprise of nobody whatsoever!

Tonight! The auditions get bigger! And probably much, much worse, as the usual clutch of talentless naive fools are lined up for the ritual ignominy.

Cue credits.

Lovely Dermot is wearing a light blue shirt, open at the neck, and he's at the Birmingham NEC. He helpfully recaps this year's rules, which have been manipulated shamefully already.

Speaking of which, here are the judges. SIMON! SHARON! DANNII! LOUIS!

They're all on the road to Birmingham. "If we don't find a talent bigger than Leona this series, then we've failed," says Dannii. "I still believe there is world-class talent in this country," says Simon. Even if there was world-class talent in this country, I'd hope they'd have the sense and the creative integrity not to offer themselves up on the altar of Cowell/Great British Public judgement.

Dermot opens the door in gentlemanly fashion for a scary gold-clad lady named Debbie who worships Whitney Houston. Dannii takes on the role of asking all the questions, all the better to mock the contestant with. Louis is looking open-mouthed bemused, Simon looks appalled. And she hasn't even started singing yet. When she does, it's awful - an off-key, shouty rendition of I Will Always Love You. Shocker on all counts. Dannii slides down in her seat, and holds on to her nose, perhaps for fear it might fall off. (Don't worry, I'm sure the Botox will hold it nice and safe.-Steve) Louis begins to snigger. Dannii grimaces. This is so rude. Worse than last week. Simon stops her in her tracks. She smiles, and giggles nervously. The judges all roundly destroy her. She leaves the stage to the sounds of Bring It All Back. What? "Imagine buying a house, and hearing that next door," says Simon, apropos of nothing whatsoever.

Montage of strange people preparing for audition.

Dannii appears to have taken over the role of head judge, and ushers in a chap named Iklaus, who is sporting large sunglasses due to having a sleepless night of preparation prior to meeting the judges. Simon makes him take them off. This is so strange. It is like ScarfFace last week, except Iklaus doesn't tell Simon that he is a handsome man with good opticianry. Iklaus has a list of 18 songs with him that he'd like to sing, which Simon asks him to read out. As he goes through the list (Lionel Richie, Paul Anka, Helen Reddy, the Carpenters, Wings, you get the idea), Simon says, "No." (This, for me, was the acme of unnecessary rudeness. It wasn't even funny. Pipe down, Simon.-Steve) Sharon puts her cardigan over her head. Simon rolls his eyes and tells him to pick one and start singing. Iklaus begins with Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying. Simon stops him immediately, and makes him choose another one.

Filler, more terrible people, one in a jaunty hat who is a switchboard operator and gives a Riverdance impersonation, one chubby lass who looks like she is going to vomit, an old man, interspersed with more shots of Iklaus's chosen songs being rejected by Simon. "You have demonstrated on about 11 songs that you can't sing a note in tune," sneers Cowell.

When asked which artist in the world he'd like to be as successful as, 46-year-old Andrew replies: "I'd like to be a second Shayne Ward." Cue much alcohol spluttered across the room, and a classic look of utter bewilderment from Cowell as he tries to work out whether he's being snarky or serious. Andrew does try to employ the traditional Ward falsetto, but it's tuneless and he's not pretty. (So he did quite a good Shayne impression, then?-Steve) With the words, "It doesn't matter, none of it matters," Simon gets up and says he's going for lunch. Sharon and Louis bitch about the rudeness and unprofessionalism. Because clearly they are always paragons of politeness and professional conduct.

Still to come - more auditionees, a woman swearing at the judges having her expletives bleeped out and an X plastered across her face (and no, it's not me).

Here we go in Manchester then. (Again.-Steve) Whoop whoop. There are many balloons released into the air because it's just SO exciting. A boy with a silly Mohican hair, a girl who can't speak English, a man who wants to win a Brit.

Here is Gavin with a beard, cue Your Song. He is a wedding singer who Dreams Of Being A Star, and gazes into the distance in Captain Jack-stylee. Dermot, clad in beige shirt and khaki tie rakishly undone, has a chat to him. Simon tells him to imagine that Dannii and Louis are the bride and groom. Gavin tells him that he thinks Dannii is the bride, Louis is an uncle, Sharon is the gorgeous mother of the bride, and Simon is a bridesmaid. HA HA HA LULZ! He sings Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher. He's OK. Nothing great. Sharon likes his personality. Louis says yes, Sharon says yes, Dannii says yes, Simon says yes, and tells him not to be such a smart-arse next time. Can you say "arse" on prime-time Saturday night ITV1? (Dunno, but this show is concrete proof that you can broadcast it for an entire hour.-Steve)

Everyone in Manchester is great! See, we have one musical theatre boy, three girls with horrid shoes who think they're the Sugababes, hooray, hooray, many people through to boot camp!

20-year-old Steph is a checkout operator. "From checkout girl to the X-Factor," proclaims Simon, and she's through. Mysteriously, there is a TV crew waiting at her supermarket to welcome her back as she breaks the good news to her colleagues.

Retired window cleaner John comes on to the screen to the sound of Monty Python's Flying Circus. He is incoherent in his babbling, and can't hear what the judges are saying to him. Presumably he also cannot hear Louis laughing all the way his rather abysmal performance, which is for the best. Since when was it appropriate to parcel up humiliation of poorly elderly people and present it as entertainment? Seriously, this is plumbing new depths. Ring social services or something, don't take the piss out of him and send him home.

I'm sure you can't have failed to remember that this year we have 14-year-olds in the contest legally. Well, apparently this has opened up the competition to a whole new generation. (I know that kids are getting pregnant at increasingly younger ages these days, but unless last year's sixteen-year-olds popped a sprog at the age of two, I think that's a bit of an untruth there.-Steve) Here's Paris, who auditioned last year with her pretty little operatic voice, but is now BACK BACK BACK to enter officially. She's a Scouser. Is this Liverpool now? Dermot, now with his tie done up nicely, gives her a kiss. Sharon pretends she remembers her and this hasn't been set up at all. She sings two lines of I Will Always Love You, with a bizarre glissando cadenza. What? Why? Stick to what you're good at, girlie. (I know! They kept wanking on about how she'd clearly improved, when to my ears she'd got worse. Non-opera songs sung in a cod-opera style are my personal bĂȘte noire.-Steve) (Just be grateful she didn't translate it into Italian. Also, for my money, she sucks as an opera singer as well as a 'pop' singer.-Joel) Obviously she's through, despite Dannii's misgivings. Cue swell of Britney's I'm Not A Girl Not Yet A Woman. How very clever!

As the judges jet off to the next city, recklessly ignoring their carbon footprint, they chat about Paris, who Simon thinks is really special. I'm not sure "special" is the right word. Possibly "Hayley Westenra clone"?

Still to come - insane people, cute boys, and the swearing lady, who's still not been on, but is now billed as the RUDEST AUDITIONEE EVER. Clearly they are saving this till later because it's simply THAT DRAMATIC.

Ooh, now we're in Cardiff, (righting a wrong from last year-Steve) where Dermot is back in light blue. I hope that's not the same shirt, or if it is, that it's been washed. (Not only is it the same shirt, it's the same people in the background. And notice how as soon as he says "we're in..." it cuts away from his face and an extremely disjointed voiceover says which city they're in. OMG LYIN TO TEH AUDIENCE!!!1111!-Steve) Here's John, a 57-year-old maths teacher ("I've got the x, y and z factor, because I'm a mathematician and I teach algebra. Hur hur hur!"), and he's accompanied by the theme tune to Please Sir!. Current cultural reference? Oh yes, I think so. He covers Tom Jones' Help Yourself, complete with odd jerky dance routine. Dannii bites her lip in distress; Louis calls him horrendous; Simon says he is terrifying in his acceptance of his awfulness. He looks genuinely puzzled and heartbroken and tells the judges they are denying Wales their singer. Sharon replies that they have Tom Jones to fall back on, and he responds that Jonesy can't sing. Sharon hits her head against the desk.

More terrible auditions - featuring nasal highlights boy singing Kingston Town, man in a trilby, woman in brightly patterned dress and pashmina-style thing wishing she was A Punk Rocker With Flowers In Her Hair, and an old man singing Oh Boy with a sideways gallop for every line - accompanied by the strains of Michael Jackson's Bad. Who is picking this soundtrack?

22-year-old Andy is an asbestos remover and is the cutest thing on television I've seen for ages, with his dinky little mannerisms and unforced awkwardness. He gossips with Dermot (now in a lovely chocolate-pinstriped shirt - is this a different day? Can it be that the continuity here is buggered again?) wants to make his dad (WHO IS NOT DEAD) proud. He sings Fly Me To The Moon, and is fairly decent. Dannii and Sharon suppress smiles. Louis thinks he has potential. Sharon says no, Dannii says yes, Louis says yes, Simon has THE CASTING VOTE and puts him through. Why did Sharon say no when you just know she loved him and will be leching at him throughout the live shows? (Also, I would just like to say here that one format change I approve of wholeheartedly this year is the post-audition scene of Fit Boys Hugging Dermot. Can we not just have an entire hour of that?-Steve)(Manual labour, quite fit, and Daddy Issues (see: I just want him to say he's proud of me). Triple whammy of X-Factor gold. He's through to the live shows, guaranteed.-Joel)

Aha, here's the RUDEST AUDITIONEE EVER. EVAH! Heavily eye-lined Rachel is 25 years old and is adjusting her breasts in her crop top. She claims to be able to sing like Cyndi Lauper and Gwen Stefani, and reckons she is "just too goddamned good". Is this woman for real? She asks for a microphone. Why? Who can tell? The boom mike comes in, and she's poor. (But she IS singing Sheena Easton's 'Sugar Walls', whcih has to count for something in her favour.-Joel)(That was insane. She actually tried to HOLD the boom, for Pete (Waterman)'s sake.-Steve) There's absolute silence when she finishes. She says, "That was good, wasn't it?" Simon says no, and tells her she is lazy, deluded, with a bad attitude and very little talent. This is Rachel's trigger point to unleash a torrent of vitriol. Sharon and Louis look astounded. Rachel announces that she has made a cassette and Sharon decides to throw fuel on the fire by saying: "Nobody makes cassettes any more, they're called CDs." Looming up towards the panel, Rachel tells Sharon. "That was rude, wasn't it?" and security is called for. Dannii claims to have never heard such language. True, because Australians are noted for their decorous manners. (Come to The Redback in Acton, Dannii. Boy, will your eyes be opened.-Steve)

Still to come - shouting, yodelling, laughter, vodka.

We're still in Cardiff. You can tell because it's Charlotte Church's Crazy Chick on the soundtrack, and Dermot is surrounded by a male voice choir. Here is Icaro, whose mission is to spread love. Oh my fuck. He is Chico, with more earnestness. He wants to let his love out. Danger! He then explains that he has four children (that's the danger of letting all that love out without protection) and has been married for 20 years. "That is a real hero! A man who can keep a woman for 20 years! That's a real man!" he claims. Sharon agrees vociferously. Icaro sings a song I cannot really recognise, declares his love for Louis and Sharon, sings To All The Girls You've Loved Before to Simon, then decides he must sing I Can't Help Falling In Love to Dannii. What on earth is going on? Simon is disbelieving, and tries to send him away, but he's not going to escape without a kiss. Three yeses from the non-Simon judges to piss him off, and Icaro will be at boot camp. He throws himself to the ground with a wail. Dannii discovers a fan from somewhere, possibly a hand-me-down from Sinitta last time round. She'll have the parasol next week.

Filler - pretty girls, pretty boy with a nice smile, boy who looks like Keith from Any Dream Will Do?, close-harmony girl group, boy in checked shirt, they're all through. (And once again the ratio of bad auditions broadcast to good auditions broadcast is approximately 99,000:1. Sigh.-Steve)

Sad music to indicate the closing of another tough day of auditions. The last person to see the judges is 22-year-old Private Ryan (yes, really) who has been in the army for six years and has returned from Iraq to pursue his dream of singing on the X-Factor. He has his camouflage combats on, just in case we didn't know he has been a serving soldier. With customary sympathy, Simon demands to know about the distressing experiences that have sent him back to the UK, and Ryan tells the panel about his two friends who died during service. Friends WHO ARE DEAD? This is a new departure for this BRAND-NEW INNOVATIVE SERIES. If you've just got parents WHO ARE DEAD, that simply doesn't cut it any more. Cogitate that, Niki! He sings Lean On Me. His dad (who is IN A WHEELCHAIR) waits outside and whispers to the camera that if he doesn't go to boot camp, he'll be going to Afghanistan. What? Since when did the X-Factor qualify as a good reason for leave from the army? Enrique sings Hero in the background - it's four yeses, and there is delight all round. (I'm not sure what troubled me more about this - Sharon and Simon's extremely flip comments about Iraq, or the fact that seeing your friends - WHO ARE DEAD - die right in front of apparently prompts the kind of epiphany that makes you apply for this show. You've got a lot to answer for, Mr Blair.-Steve)(Well. When you can go on Big Brother, lie to a slightly mentally ill recovering anorexic about how much you love her, and then say that your dead friend came down from Heaven and told you that your life wouldn't be worth living if you didn't win Big Brother, and then go on to win, I guess 'my friends WHO ARE DEAD' looks like a winning tactic. Hopefully they'll come down on a cloud during bootcamp and tell Private Ryan he has to win.-Joel)

Next week - more absolute shit. Someone tells they judges they are "talking stupid". Someone claims to have formerly thought that Simon Cowell was "a wonderful man". Why would you think that?

Well, that was another waste of an hour. Tune in again next week, when Joel is set to down a bottle of nerve-invigorating meths to take on reporting duties. (*cry*-Joel)

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