Boot camp 1 - 29th September, 2007
TONIGHT! It's Boot Camp! And an X-Factor DOUBLE BILL! Oh, growly voiceover man, Simon Cowell and ITV, with this shite overload you are really spoiling us. Fear not, though. We've watched it so you don't have to, and there'll be a Bitch Factor double bill tonight as well. I'm kicking it off, and Steve will be here later for the second instalment. (About that - it probably won't be up until Monday at the earliest. Sorry! I've had a right bitch of a weekend. - Steve)
The stakes are high, kids. That's why everyone is crying and shouting and screeching and, in the case of Dannii, holding her head in her hands. Even Dermot is crying, not at the horror of what has become of his career, one presumes.
He welcomes us to The X-Factor. For the very first time, everyone's being chucked into one big stately home building for boot camp. I don't know where it is. He's not told us yet. Perhaps later. The campers are lined up outside, and the judges walk onto the balcony, Evita-stylee, to address the gathered hordes, who cheer like morons. Simon talks to them through a microphone. I'd say having them all inside and talking to them there like a normal person through the sheer power of normal acoustics might be less wanky and pretentious, but there you go. He announces that they will be working with everyone this week, and the mentors will be distributed after boot camp.
We're with the boys first up. They've been asked to perform a song they'd like to release as their first single, because obviously releasing a cover is what everyone should do and no original thoughts will be countenanced here. The judges look thoroughly bored as they listen to various renditions - The Greatest Love Of All; Lean On Me; and one of the sparkly musical theatre boys sings You'll Never Walk Alone, which is now dead to me thanks to Ray's bastardisation of it last year. (I choose to think that all the MOR song choices were subtle digs at the show itself, but perhaps I give these people too much credit. - Steve)
"Rid" from last week is introduced to us again, complete with Phantom music. They're so clearly setting him up as an utter dickwad, which may or may not be the case but he's old enough to see through their ruse, surely? He's dressed in black and wearing sunglasses on a cloudy day. When he is on "the operatic stage", he doesn't feel like he's "connecting with the masses". Yes, because being on this show is bound to secure you widespread popularity. Not disdain or disgust or anything. He sings Delilah, in a variety of keys, but he has a nice voice. Simon looks vaguely amused. Sharon says she wants to throw things at him. Simon tells her that he is good and can sing. That doesn't matter, obviously, and she maintains that he's revolting. So was Ray, dear. And Chico, come to that. "He's the most conceited person I've met in my life," says Simon. "He's repulsive. But he can sing."
More random snippets from boys. Being reminded of names might be good. All I can remember is the respective sob stories, and I can't be arsed to look them up. Simon thinks the winner will be a boy. Shocker.
Oh, here's Ryan, and Dermot reminds us that he is A SOLDIER. Hands up who remembers this sob story? Yes, that's right, he's the one WHOSE FRIENDS ARE DEAD. He is nervous. How the FUCK can you be nervous singing for these four when you have been FIGHTING IN IRAQ and seen YOUR FRIENDS DIE? He sings Over The Rainbow. Yawn. Then he forgets the words, and has to be reminded of them by Simon. Cue footage of lots of other people forgetting their words, accompanied by Boyzone's Words on the soundtrack. Clever.
Leon's mind is back at home, and he wants to win for his mum. Yawn, and also a bit of vomit. He sings a Michael Buble album track, and Simon tells him that there is a very good reason why songs aren't released as singles. Leon looks heartbroken, so Dermot strokes his arm, which must be a comfort, and then he is hugged by some of the other boys. (There hasn't been nearly enough of that on this show, not by a long shot. - Steve)
Well, that ten-minute compilation is all we're going to see of the boys, and now the judges will do a spot of deliberating. They can't agree on "Rid", because Simon loves him and Sharon loathes him. She complains that nobody is interested in what she's got to say, which is true, but it's not a new phenomenon.
Finally a decision is made. The tension is almost too much. Ryan is kicked out - so much for his sob story. (But he has friends WHO ARE DEAD. I don't understand how this could happen!-Joel) One of the sparkly musical theatre boys goes. Little Luke from last week is staying in. Leon stays, as does the one from last week with the nice hair. "Rid" is staying on as well. Lots of squealing and weeping. I've never been so grateful for an ad break.
It's the girls next, with much preening and diva-ish warming-up. They've been given a slightly more creative task - to sing a song to reflect the happiest or the saddest time in their life. That blinkin' Paris sings Everything I Do I Do It For You, which makes me want to kick her. Kimberley the country-singing barmaid is back, looking madly blonde and buxom. Simon clearly hasn't warmed to her in her absence. She sings And I'm Telling You..., which I'm now thoroughly bored of. Sharon tells Simon he should put her in a girl group. He replies: "I wouldn't put her anywhere." Dannii says Kimberley is fun. Simon says Kimberley "is as much fun as putting a cut finger in a glass of vinegar."
Singing about the saddest time in their lives gives the girls a chance to perform songs that they once performed at a relative's funeral. Yes, that's right, folks, some people have loved ones WHO ARE DEAD. Simon seems bewildered at the number of funeral stories being wheeled out, like it's not all entirely his fault. He then describes one contestant as "Mel B crossed with a transvestite, who's put her make-up on in the dark", and another as "the singing version of Louis Walsh". Louis laughs, because he's a cretin.
Simon is on the phone to someone who I can only hope is Sinitta, telling them that the girls' try-outs have been "an unmitigated disaster". Sharon hopes they will get better, which is a nice piece of optimism. Dermot speaks to 14-year-old Emily, who was ONCE DEAD, but is now FOURTEEN, and therefore YOUNG, so we are rooting for her, yes? She goes in to see the judges and sings Feelin' Good, which pretty much nobody should sing ever because Nina Simone's is the definitive version, but she's still decent. And guess what that means? I'll give you a clue. The girls have been rubbish all morning. The judges have been despairing. They've taken a break. They've come back and heard one good song from one good singer.
Yes! Of course! That's the trigger for a load of good auditionees! (This damn show.-Joel) Or supposedly good auditionees, none of whom I think are particularly amazing. Raquel, who did the splits in her first audition, wants to be a "credible" performer. I'd suggest not going on The X-Factor would be a first step towards that credibility, but looks like you've fallen at that hurdle. Simon asks her how she's getting on. She says she's doing OK but she's having to keep to herself. He concurs, telling her not to make friends, and go as far as hating everyone, as that will ensure that she does well. If she could hold an acapella tune, that might also help. She sings Against All Odds, and finishes with the splits (nothing more credible than that! - Steve), and Simon tells her she will go far in the business. As the judges confer, Simon confesses that he loves her "but she can't sing. She's ruthless, sexy, ambitious. Every trait, I love." Quite perceptively for him, Louis adds: "She's a female version of you."
More montage of deliberations. Paris is going home, and cries. Kimberley is going through. Raquel is going home, and leaves the room while exchanging meaningful rueful looks with Simon. Emily stays, and reminds us: "Last year, I could have been dead." (I'm alive! Vote for me!-Joel) (When she gets through to the live shows, which she undoubtedly will, I'm going to call her Zombie Emily in every recap. - Steve)
Louis has had an idea that COULD SEND SHOCKWAVES THROUGH THE COMPETITION. Of course, this isn't scripted at all. He thinks that some of the individuals they've sent home should be put together into a group. Simon tells him that he's an idiot and it won't work, but will consider the "maybes". Nine girls and eight boys are offered this reprieve of sorts. They hug and kiss Louis. Simon is scathing, saying that fairytales don't come true. Unless there's a very good overarching narrative, of course. Ads.
Dermot returns to remind us what happened three minutes ago. For fuck's sake. There is lots of bickering between the boys who are trying to put a group together. The grown-ups are up next, and because they are so very old, they've been asked to pick a song that would appeal to a younger audience.
Icaro, who I hated first time round, thinks he has wide-ranging appeal. He comes onto the stage and kisses the floor, because he is "too much full of emotion". He warbles a song I don't recognise. It's awful, but no worse than he was in the initial audition. Which is exactly the case for most of the rest of this group, who sucked first off, and they suck now, and I hold the judges entirely responsible, and have no sympathy for them whatsoever. (Word.-Joel) Dannii suggests that the four of them should enter in order to make up the numbers, which would be awesome. (She'd totally win. I bet that was their plan all along! - Steve) She wanders round chatting on her mobile to someone I like to think is Kylie, and says: "If I get the overs [over-25s], I'm screwed, there is absolutely nothing I can do with them." (Yeah, like any of the judges allow their private phone calls to be recorded. Pull the other one, SHOW. - Steve)
Daniel is a single dad who wants a better life for him and his three-year-old son. He has nice hair. He will be good, I predict. He sings Umbrella, but pitches it a bit too high, and it is tuneful if powerless. One good audition = more good auditions. Seriously, how stupid do they think we are? It is the SAME EVERY WEEK. The last one in is Niki from Birmingham, who wouldn't have entered if her dad WHO IS DEAD hadn't applied for her prior to HIS DEATH. She sings Natural Woman, and Simon tells her that the song was too big for her. He is disappointed because he was relying on her. (Also too big for her? That top. It made her look like a bungalow. - Steve)
Deliberations - Daniel is staying. Dorothy and Eric are going home. Icaro and the opera widow are staying. Icaro does somersaults, and Simon smiles through gritted teeth. Niki is staying. She thinks she has done her dad, WHO IS DEAD, proud. Ads.
Dermot welcomes us back, and it's time for the groups. Simon is looking forward to seeing how "Professor Walsh's experiment pans out", and Dermot takes it upon himself to remind us what exactly that experiment was, despite the fact it happened ten minutes ago. The newly-formed all-boy group kick out one of their members, and his former colleagues roundly condemn his attitude.
Same Difference are back! Remember them? The speaking-in-unison, nonsensically-happy incest twins? They bound into the room, and Simon introduces them to Louis, whom They Have Not Met Because He Was Not Invited To Judge This Series Before The Lack Of Chemistry Demanded That The Judging Panel Was Changed In The First Twenty Minutes Of The First Show. Louis says: "You look a bit like the Osmonds." Louis? Likening an act to one from 30 years ago? I think that calls for a Drink! Same Difference look a bit puzzled, and Louis explains: "You look happy." Dannii murmurs: "They are happy." They sing Flying Without Wings. Simon smirks. Louis says: "I didn't think there were people like that in the world. They're so happy-happy." The judges conclude that they'd be on the pier at Blackpool, but bottom of the bill. Ouch. (I love The Happy Incest Twins so much. It warms my bitter Grinch-like heart to see them so smiley.-Joel) (Happy Incest Twins for the win! I am totally serious about this. - Steve)
So it's started off badly. What will happen now? Well, there are lots of bad, bad groups, and Louis feels: "It can't get any worse." Simon is losing the will to live. But look! What's this? It's the newly-formed girl band, Hope, which features ruthless-sexy-ambitious Raquel. They look like the Pussycat Dolls, ie slutty and glittery, who coincidentally are playing on the incidental music. They claim that the past few hours have been "a journey". Drink! Oh, shock, they sing Dontcha. Raquel vamps it up in Simon's direction, but this is shambolic and sixth-formery. Simon tells them that they didn't use the girls who are the best singers, and tells his judging colleagues that he "is not excited".
The newly-formed boy band appear to have chosen the name Future Proof, which is a bit shit. (It might be Future-proof, like technology that won't get broken when it interacts with newer models. Not that that's any better than Future Proof, which presumably means that at some undetermined point in the future they will prove that they aren't shit, or something.-Joel) They are looking urban and street and all sorts. They sing If You Don't Know Me By Now in close harmony, and I quite like them. Simon says: "I told you it would work." HA HA HA LULZ. Louis says: "Sometimes I'm right." Very, VERY occasionally.
Here's a montage of the good groups, who we don't get to hear sing, which includes a speccy bunch who look like they've escaped from the chess club, (I heart the big bunch of poorly-coordinated geeks. It's like if Blazin' Squad came from Windsor.-Joel) and the traditional earnest r'n'b boys, who have not invoked God yet, but I'm sure they will eventually live up to the proud path blazed for them in previous series. (That'll be eleventh place, then. - Steve)
The judges have made their decisions. Same Difference are staying. As predicted, the earnest r'n'b boys are staying, as are the chess club boys, and Hope, and Future Proof.
Later tonight! Boot camp continues, and I don't have to recap it! Dermot cries! The judges find out who they'll be mentoring! The excitement is tangible.