Sunday, September 16, 2007

Babies are the new dead parents

Audition Show 5: 15th September 2007

Last week: all of this happened. Joel's already recapped it; I see no reason for me to do it again. This week: finally that bloke from the trailers who accuses Louis of "talking stupid" is finally due to arrive on our screens, and some bloke who's clearly been rejected says that he deserves "a chance", which I'm sure will make Joel happy, because it's not like he's gone to great lengths to point out that your audition is your chance on numerous occasions prior to this. Titties! I mean, titles!
Fucking blogger ate all my comments so I might not be very funny this week. My funny is already spent, with nothing to show for it.-Joel

Time-lapse porn, including shots of smoke pumping out of what appears to be a power station. Interesting choice, stylistically speaking; a metaphor for this show being some kind of powerhouse for new talent, perhaps? Or symbolising that this show is really just a lot of hot air? You be the judge. A non green-screened Dermot has deigned to show up this week, and is standing outside with the rabble in Sheffield, for what is apparently the first time ever on this show. I'm excited; are you? Dermot asks if "the steel city" has the winner, and the crowd behind him go nuts in a very unflattering fashion. The auditions are taking place in the city centre, and Dermot claims that the whole city has turned up to welcome The X Factor. Cue shots of crowds waving banners, people leaning out of taxis waving X Factor-branded flags, etc. And really: that's just sad. Have some dignity, Sheffield, for all our sakes. Dermot runs through the categories, as though any one cares, and the judges. A brass band plays a song which the sheet music identifies as being called "The X Factor", although we only hear about two notes of it so I don't know if it's the theme tune, or indeed if any of them have a dead parent they'd like us to know about. Simon receives a small trophy of some kind, makes a crack into the microphone about how he now owns Sheffield, and is booed by the crowd. Heh.

Crowds surge into City Hall. Dannii, having her make-up done, is hoping the winner will walk through the door. First in to see the judges is 16-year-old Nathaniel (boo! Too old! Down with 16-year-olds! It's all about the 14- and 15-year-olds! Youth is a precious commodity! Being young is all that matters!), who claims to have "more vocal abilities than most other people." Either that, or more "focal" abilities; his diction's not great. Either way, it's pretty much a meaningless sentence. Nathaniel trots in to see the judges, and gets a sunny "g'day!" from Dannii. Nathaniel's a bit squirrelly and nervous, and Dannii advises him to take a deep breath. What happens next is kind of surreal: Nathaniel starts singing 'And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going' in a voice much deeper than his singing voice, and in a way that kind of doesn't match his mouth movements at all, leaving the impression of him having been badly overdubbed by someone else. It's kind of like he's been momentarily possessed by the spirit of a large black woman, with all the resultant comedy that would entail, him being a scrawny 16-year-old white boy and everything. It's not dreadful, but it's definitely a little incongrous, and not a little humorous. There are lots of reaction shots of Louis sucking his cheeks in (I can only assume they shoot a bunch of these at the start of the day for stock purposes, accompanied by lots of shots of Sharon goggling, Simon giving a WTF side-eye, and Dannii's face being as gloriously immobile as ever), so we know this is a "funny" audition. Nathaniel completely loses the tune at the end, and does weirdass movements with his hands, and giggles girlishly at the end. There's a stunned silence from the judges, before Louis - socially aware as ever - starts guffawing. Dannii asks Nathaniel how he thinks he did, the answer being "all right". Nathaniel wrings his hands as he says he wasn't sure what people wanted to hear. Awww. In a way, I sort of feel sorry for him. Not a lot, mind. Simon tells Nathaniel that he needs to change his record collection, because it sounded like he was trying to sound like Whitney or Jennifer Hudson. [I felt sorry for him. His voice is NICE, but he's got absolutely no control over it. A kind word, a suggestion of singing lessons, and sending him out to get hugged by Dermot would have been far more suitable than mockery. - Carrie] Nathaniel assures Simon that he was trying to sound like himself, and Simon reads my mind by describing the audition as sounding like Nathaniel was "possessed". Louis guffaws again. Vote: four nos for Nathaniel, and Girls Aloud's 'Sexy! No No No...' (heh) cues up on the soundtrack. I think this is going to lead into a montage of successful auditionees, don't you?

Parade of losers: a surgeon called Bongo [And you're really going to want your innards sliced up by this man. - Carrie] , an aging rocker called Steven singing 'Angels' wobbily, a brunette called Ashley in a newsboy cap who forgets what song she was going to sing, and when she eventually wish she hadn't. Losers, losers, losers. Simon strops out for a break. Rain! Surely this is somebody's cue to sing 'Umbrella'? [Ella, ella, ella. - Carrie] Next up is 24-year-old Katie from Skegness, who is five months' pregnant. Katie interviews that money is tight, which is clearly why she's going into such a stable career as the recording industry. The Spice Girls' 'Mama' plays on the soundtrack as Katie walks into her audition. Katie tells Sharon that her baby is due in November, which would be a tad problematic if she makes it to the live shows. Simon tries to work out the dates, and Katie concedes that her timing is not brilliant, but that it might be "the first child born on X Factor." Hopefully in the middle of a live rendition of 'Papa Don't Preach'. Katie sings 'There You'll Be' by Faith Hill, and her voice has quite a nice clarity to it, although her teeth are fucked. Simon stops her and says that he doesn't know what to make of her: her baby's due in the middle of the live shows, her voice is nice but her busted teeth give her a lisp. [The fuck-off big tongue stud doesn't help either. - Carrie] She backchats a bit, although she does it in an endearing [read 'incomprehensible attempt at a burn' - Carrie] way rather than a snotty way. Sharon asks Katie if she thinks she can cope, and Katie assures her she can. It's a yes from Sharon and Louis, but a no from Dannii who thinks Katie should come back next year post-childbirth, thereby cementing her role this year as the Common Sense Judge. Simon doesn't want to pass judgement because it's Katie's decision, so he gives her a yes. [And here again we see the utter madness of this show. No, Simon, it's YOUR decision. You're the one who votes them through. Remember? You, Louis, Sharon and Dannii sit in a row and decide who to send through, usually with little logic whatsoever based neither on the auditionee's voice nor their vocal potential. - Carrie] In a sequence whose connection to reality is in no way questionable, Katie celebrates outside while the judges wonder inside if they've made the right decision. Omimous music plays as Dermot's VO asks if Katie's dream is over before it's even begun. Which obviously is the cue for the ads.

Back from the break, and the show recaps what we just saw. Simon tells a producer that the decision on Katie should've been a no, with Dannii voicing her fears about the baby. Best bit of the show. Dannii basically explaining to the rest of them with diagrams and hand puppets what pregnancy and labour entail and why it would be a bad idea to let her through. 'You do have to think about the baby a little bit.' Genius.-Joel Simon goes out to speak to Katie, and essentially tell her (and her fella, Jason) that they made the wrong decision because of the baby, and that they've changed their minds. Katie takes it on the chin [Jason doesn't. He swears and slams doors. Maybe Katie should have wheeled out a domestic violence story instead? - Carrie], or so it seems: Simon goes back to the other judges and says how the stress that Katie would've been under during the live shows with a baby on the way at any minute would've been unbearable, and then we cut to a cheesed-off Katie saying that they all knew the situation when they said yes the first time, and how it's her decision and she's aware of the risks. And...really, when Simon Cowell's parental instincts are more responsible than yours, that's when maybe you might want to be worrying, just a little bit. Bye, Katie! Pop into Mothercare on the way home, eh?

28-year-old Steve had it all, but lost it: he used to be a member of BBMak. I'm not sure you can refer to a member of BBMak as having "had it all", but there you go. Steve has a two-week-old baby, thus proving that babies are the new dead parents, and BBMak's 'Back Here' plays on the soundtrack, possibly earning him a few PRS royalties, which must be handy. Louis does the entirely unprompted "do I know you from somewhere?" bit, trying not to look at the notes the producers gave him before Steve walked in, just so Steve can confirm that he was in a boyband for the narcoleptics in the audience who may have been asleep thirty seconds ago. Steve sings 'Isn't She Lovely', which sounds a bit Stevie Wonder-karaoke to my ears. Sharon was disappointed in his performance, but liked his voice. Dannii agrees. Steve claims that he's nervous, and I'm not sure how he plans to be any less nervous in front of an audience of approximately nine million viewers as opposed to...four people right there, but hey. Simon understands how Steve's feeling, because he knows what he feels like to have had it all and then lost it. Oh wait, I'm thinking of Donald Trump. Simon thinks it's tougher for someone to make a comeback than it is for someone just starting out, but says that Steve's voice was a bit of an impersonation, and what is it with the me-and-Simon mind meld this week? Yes from Louis, yes from Sharon, no from Dannii, I knew she was my favourite for a reason. Piss off, has-been.-Joel yes from Simon. Steve's through to boot camp, but Simon tells him to step it up.

Montage of successful auditionees. Raquel, in a lovely purple silk top, does the splits and sings 'Rescue Me'. She gets through. Darren sings 'If You're Not The One' and gets through. A girl in a yellow top called Abi has the largest family-slash-entourage in the world and sings 'Unchained Melody'. It's a no from Louis, but a yes from everyone else.

19-year-old student Andrew has a monobrow and a bleached Hoxton fin, and lists S Club 7 as his musical influence. This should be interesting. He sings 'Zipadeedoodah' (sp?) entirely tunelessly and waves his arms around a lot. Sharon says that he "definitely made the song [his] own." Simon calls the song "ridiculous". The judges vote, and it's a no for Andrew. 33-year-old mother of two Andrea chats to Dermot in the waiting room, this audition presumably having taken place on one of the few days that Dermot was not required for Big Brother's Little Brother. And wait for it - Andrea has a husband, WHO IS DEAD. Whee! I knew we couldn't get through an entire episode without that happening. I'm staring to wonder if the X in X Factor refers to the way that cartoon characters have crosses in their eyes instead of pupils WHEN THEY'RE DEAD. It would explain a lot. Andrea is wearing her husband's wedding ring around her neck (on a necklace, obviously; she doesn't have a pencil neck or anything) and is auditioning to show off the voice that he loved. Apparently she's not sung since Mark died nine months ago. Sharon asks Andrea to tell her something about herself, which gives Andrea a chance to mention her husband, WHO IS DEAD. Andrea sings 'Nessun Dorma' (I think; I really should know that, but I don't [Yes, it is. - Carrie] ), which is a song that just doesn't sound right being sung a capella. Simon compliments the quality of her voice, and also the sincerity. The judges gush about Andrea's performance, and Sharon thinks that Andrea's husband, WHO IS DEAD, would've heard her singing. It's four yeses for Andrea, who goes outside to hug her kids. The judges jet off to the next city, and continue to gush about Andrea. Those sequences are getting so boring. Please can we get someone with a proper classical training on the panel to give proper critique of coloratura and so on? Rather than the 'opera =good' we've been seeing this series.-Joel

Post-ads, Dermot welcomes us back to The X Factor, where the talent search continues. He doesn't mention the city, of course, because that would mean they couldn't keep generically using this shot for all the times he wasn't available. I bet Kate Thornton's pretty pissed off right now. We've "returned" to Birmingham, because obviously it makes sense from a production management point of view to return to cities you've already visited. This is not - I repeat NOT - just previously untelevised footage from the last time we saw them in Birmingham, and anyone who claims otherwise is a whore and a charlatan. Some bloke wibbles 'Sherry' by the Four Seasons in a falsetto, and gets through. Kidding! Of course he doesn't. Louis guffaws, as usual, because he's a bastard. A woman who loves performing bellows 'What's Up' by 4 Non Blondes, so badly that I almost couldn't tell what she was singing. A bearded man called Alex gets a line-and-a-half through 'Fly Me To The Moon' before stopping because he "didn't like [Simon's] reaction." Alex gathers that Simon isn't impressed. There are no flies on Alex, folks. Next up is bubbly Kimberley, who, when greeted by Dermot in the waiting room, grasps his hand rather awkwardly and doesn't let go, leaving him sort of semi-straddling her while he tries to sit down in the chair next to her. And really, in her position, who wouldn't do the same? Kimberley is 19, and wants to show everyone what real country singing is. Because all the best country singers come from Birmingham, obviously. Birmingham, Alabama, maybe. She high-fives Dermot and goes in for her audition. Sexually voracious Kimberley makes no attempt to hide her lust for Simon, which is a little terrifying. Simon asks her if she doesn't think Louis has a smouldering look. Kimberley says that Louis has a "different kind of smouldering look", presumably the type that is utterly absent. Unless she has some kind of thesaurus where "smouldering" is listed as a synonym for "gormless". Kimberley tells the judges that she lives in a pub with her parents, and adds "I'm not an alcoholic, but I do like a good drink." I'm always slightly wary of anyone who starts a sentence with "I'm not an alcoholic, but..." Kimberley starts singing 'Redneck Woman' in exactly the sort of way that she claimed she wasn't going to, I like her but that bugged me. Jeebus, if you think Gretchen Wilson is real country, there's no hope for you.-Joel and Simon asks her what her second song is. Kimberley clarifies that she is versatile, and doesn't just do country. Just as well, really, because I'm not sure the country music industry's that huge in the UK. Kimberley's second song is Maria McKee's 'Show Me Heaven', which she performs better by all accounts. Dannii compliments Kimberley's voice, but counters "you scare the life out of me." Kimberley's response? "Sorry! It's the Red Bull." Hee! I kind of love her, even though I know I shouldn't. Sharon loves her personalities, but trots out the old standby "we've got so many great people in your category". It's a yes from Sharon and Louis, and a no from Dannii, and the show blows all suspense by lining up 'Spinning Around' on the soundtrack. It's not so much a sad song, so we know Kimberley gets through. Simon tells Kimberley she might be "one of the most annoying contestants we've ever had". Oh come on, she's hardly Chico. Or Ray. Or Ashley. Or Tabby. Or...well, you get my point. It's a yes from Simon, and smutty hugs from Kimberley. Obligatory entirely spontaneous shot of Kimberley arriving home to tell the folks in t'pub that she got through, and also the camera crew that just happens to be there.

Theme from Terry and June, which accompanies this year's oldest auditionee: 84-year-old Dorothy. [But why Terry and June? Because June Whitfield is old? Because Terry Scott is DEAD? What, what WHAT? - Carrie] Everyone in Dorothy's family has been telling her "oh Grandma, you must enter The X Factor." Which probably means that her family don't have the most accurate grasp of their family tree, I'm guessing. Dorothy used to sing for the troops during the war, and everyone loved her, and she's giving it another go "in the last chapter of [her] life". Aww. I can't begrudge her that. Also waiting to audition is 67-year-old retired builder Eric. I've gotta say, if I had to guess which of these two was the elder one, it wouldn't have been Dorothy. She's looking good for 84. Eric isn't looking so good for 67. Sorry Eric. Anyway, to further contextualise the use of the music, Eric and Dorothy meet in the queue and hit it off. [Or! The researchers make them both sit on chairs that are clearly marked FOR RESEARCHERS ONLY and tell them to talk to each other, in a desperate attempt to create a backstory, as nobody cares about old people WITH DEAD SPOUSES. - Carrie] Awww. It's a November to December romance! Cue 'Love is in the Air'. Footage of auditions going well, including someone singing Maroon 5's 'This Love'. Sadly this person is not Eric, because that would've been awesome. It's a teenage boy, who gets a kiss blown from Dannii but who does not hug Dermot upon his exit. Boo! A girl sings Xtina's 'Hurt' in such a key that makes me think she'd be fucked royally when she got to the chorus, but we never hear that far. She gets through, anyway. Lots more yeses. Eric and Dorothy sing love songs to each other in the queue. [Entirely unprompted, obviously. - Carrie] A woman sings 'Amazing Grace' with her eyes shut the entire damn time. She gets through, and possibly sent to an optician. Eric offers to take Dorothy out for a meal next week. Dorothy isn't sure what her sons will think. Presumably if they're the same sons who call her "Grandma", they won't really understand anyway. A young boy wearing a bandana gets through and is so elated that he jumps through the doors. I have to say, I was really hoping for that to be an "other door" moment, but sadly it was not to be. The auditions seem to be taking place in some kind of shopping mall, as he runs out through the main doors and hug some girl who's standing outside.

Finally it's time for Eric and Dorothy to audition, and Eric's in first. Eric's asked if he's had a good day, and he says he's really enjoyed it: "I've been with a lady all afternoon." Dannii's eyes pop out on stalks. Heh. Eric sings 'What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For', and has a pretty good voice and is kind of a twinkle-toes. Sharon says he reminded her of Sunday night at the London Palladium, and took her back to her youth. Ahhh, the 1820s. A simpler time. Louis enjoyed it very much, and Simon considers him very stylish. It's a yes from "DM", and also from Sharon. It's a no from Louis, who liked Eric but doesn't see any point in putting him through. And if I may take a moment to address the utter idiocy of that, please: the hell? Louis has put through people much older and more infirm than Eric previously. If it's not that, and it's a stylistic issue, then I'm willing to bet that he's unlikely to find anyone notably better or different in Eric's age group, because they will generally be a product of their time and thus be singing that sort of song in that sort of style, and if they're so out of touch and pointless, what's the point of having no upper age limit in the first place? I mean, what kind of fuckery is this? Sorry, but given that Louis has put people through before who only sang with a heavy Spanish accent, and who uses the phrase "well, I was entertained" as some kind of ultimate get out clause to put through all kinds of retards, that was a really dickish move on his part. Simon calls him a grumpy sod [Hee! "Know-nothing fuckwit" would have been better, but I'll settle for that - Carrie] , and puts Eric through. Eric gets a congratulatory kiss from Dorothy outside, and she heads in for her audition. She chats about Eric with the judges, and says that Eric's offered to take her out for a meal next week. Simon's eyes go wide and he's all disbelieving and "no!", and hee! It's rare to see Simon acting this queeny when Ryan Seacrest isn't in the immediate vicinity, but it still amuses me all the same. I half expect him to invite Dorothy out for brunch the morning after to find out all the sordid details. They ask what Dorothy said and it turns out she said yes. "Why not?" she says. Why not indeed. Simon asks Dorothy how old she is and when Dorothy tells him she's 84, he's all "no!" again. Hee! At this stage he's a mani-pedi away from completely turning into Regina George. Dorothy refers to herself as Eric's "sugar mummy" and hee, again. I love Dorothy. Dorothy sings 'We'll Meet Again' [I refuse to believe they didn't make her sing this. "Hey, old lady! Sing a song from World War II! It'll be all nostalgic and aww and we can patronise you!" - Carrie], and it's not especially great, but it's serviceable enough and she gets a round of applause. Outside, Eric's saying it'd be nice if they both got through to boot camp. "It'd be nice to have a week with her." Ha! Old person sex, everyone - finally getting the airtime it deserves, and who would've through it would take The X Factor for that to happen? Dannii calls Dorothy's performance "faultless". Simon calls Dorothy a little minx, and she's all "Pardon? Oh yes! Yes, I can be naughty." And that just makes Simon cackle even more. It's a unanimous yes for Dorothy. Eric and Dorothy head off together, as Dermot VOs the question of whether their love will blossom at boot camp.

After the break, we've "returned" to Manchester. Well, see above. 42-year-old Thomas has already recorded his album in his home studio, and thinks he's "an extremely creative musical being [with] a natural talent for performing and making music." Anyone not see how this is going to go? Thomas goes into the judging room and tells the judges about his album (called It's Thomas) and the producers use up every last one of their pre-recorded judges' disbelieving reaction shots as Thomas elaborates that he's only played it to his family and he's been keeping it under wraps because he wants Simon to produce it. And...if you've already recorded it, wouldn't you be beyond the stage where you need a producer? Thomas sings 'All By Myself' tunelessly and soullessly. Simon informs him curtly that there will be no album release. Vote: it's a unanimous no for Thomas, who disagrees with the judges and says he'll be watching and is sure he'll see much worse than him on the show. Well, there's a compelling argument: "I'm not the shittest person you'll see." Thomas leaves, and bemoans the fact that he didn't get a chance (I'll leave that bit to Joel) and says that the judges will have to answer for themselves when they get to the gates of heaven. Oh, Thomas. Simon will be in hell, with me and Carrie and Joel. That much is clear. We'll have slumber parties and roast marshmallows, and it will be awesome. And we'll invite Dannii, but not Sharon and Louis.

Montage of people whinging in The Pod. A guy with an Afro who sounds like Vicky Pollard is in disbelief at his ouster. A fat girl cries and swears. A chap with a goatee claims that judges haven't earnt any respect from him (I bet they're ever so upset to hear that). A woman who wanted to give it a shot "for the over-25s", and I think she's safely on that side of the fence, yes. Shouting Asian guy. Curly-haired boy who hates Louis. Word, Curly.

Final contestant in Manchester: yep, it's the "you're talking stupid!" bloke. He's 67, he's a retired gardener, and his name's Johnny Rocko. He's versatile, he can do anything, and he's been doing pubs and clubs for years. He brags that he can do a two-and-a-half hour set, dancing around, "and not even breathe heavy". Gosh. He's a dead cert, don't you think? I mean, all those "still to come" trails painted him in ever such a flattering light. He says he'll make Louis Walsh kiss his feet, which: ew. I don't want Louis kissing any part of me, thanks. [I really thought he was going to say "kiss my arse", which was worse. - Carrie] Simon asks Johnny what he's going to sing. Johnny: "You know Elvis?" Simon: "Yeah, I know Elvis, yeah." Johnny: "You know Elvis?" Steve: "*facepalm*" [I actually laughed at this. Well done, show! - Carrie] Johnny sings 'Always On My Mind' in a terrifying way where the upper half of his face doesn't move at all, and his enunciation is all weird, and he sounds like Vic Reeves singing in the club style on Shooting Stars. Louis guffaws, quelle surprise. Louis calls him "a great entertainer, but a pub entertainer." Johnny scoffs. "I've been offered work in Ireland." (Simon: "Irish pubs.") "I've been offered work in Spain." (Simon: "Spanish pubs.") "I've been offered work in Majorca." (Katy: "Gardening work, I expect.") It's a no from Louis, and Johnny says "you're talkin' stupid!" Well, I didn't see that coming, did you? It's a unanimous no for Johnny. What I think may be the theme from The Godfather cues up (again, could be wrong; I'm culturally illiterate at the best of times) as Johnny tells Louis to remember his name: Johnny Rocko. Sharon: "Sounds like a hitman for the mafia." [Way to defuse a tense situation, Sharon, you stupid cow. - Carrie] Johnny starts, I think, talking in Italian, and is hopefully putting Louis under some sort of curse. A curse other than the eternal curse of having to wake up every day and realise you're Louis Walsh, I mean. Louis gapes. Johnny walks out, and Sharon tells Louis he messed with the wrong man. Simon: "He was giving you a death threat. That was a sign to the mafia, worldwide, to kill you." Team Mafia! Sharon and Simon wind Louis up about sleeping with the fishes, and waking up with a horse's head in his bed, etc etc etc. Echoing death threats from Johnny as we fade out. Dermot VOs that Louis leaves the auditions under a cloud, "but will he ever return?" Oh don't get my hopes up, O'Leary.

Next week: final auditions! [This whole stupid show is getting on my nerves. It's been ridiculously formulaic every week so far - bad auditions! Judges are despondent! One good person starts the ball rolling for lots of yeses! A dead relative is mentioned! A random sob-story without a deceased loved one! The last audition of the day is eventful! I feel like I've watched the same show five times now, and I'm fully expecting it to be exactly the same next week. - Carrie] The best voice of the whole competition [like THAT matters - Carrie] , and that long-promised sequence where Simon kicks Sharon and Louis out and Sharon walks into a door as she leaves. Karma 1, Osbourne 0.


Joel said...

Motherfucking blogger ate my comments. And keeps talking to me in German.

Suffice to say:

I liked the 'And I am telling you' boy. He just needs some lessons on proper diction.

Kaylie said...

I adore you. Bitchfactor is one of the only things in life that actually makes me laugh out loud. (I'm not a laughing person. Normally I stick to quietly amused). That it did so today when I was feeling like crap is just further proof that all three of you are awesome. Or that X Factor is stupid. Take your pick.

Bridget said...

If 'And I'm telling you' girl doesn't feature next week, I will cap a bitch. She's the 2007 equivalent of marriage proposal-midget (Bitch Factor old-skoolism).

Lee said...

Why do people insist on talking to old people like they are children?

I was fuming. All that "ooooooh have you been with a man! Is he your boyfriend? oooooooooo you naughty minx." WHay the fuck dorothy didn't say, "Why are you talking to me like I'm an imbecile?" I do not know?