Sunday, October 21, 2007

Dyeing is easy, Komedy is hard

Top 12 Perform: 20th October 2007

Previously on The X Factor: some total bastard at ITV decided, at some point after the Radio Times had gone to press, that it would be a jolly wheeze to move the start time of the show from 5:45pm to 5:30pm, thus causing those of us who consider the humble listings magazine to still having any meaning in the technological utopia that is the digital age, to miss the beginning of the show and switch on to set our humble, antiquated video recorders just as Komedy Kimberley was getting her feedback from Simon. Cunts. It's almost like you don't want people to watch this show. And I mean, I can see how it would be an embarrassment to you; if I were in any way responsible for this show, I'd try to steer people away from it too. Perhaps you were just trying to make it harder for me to recap it? Well, I've got news for you, buddy: unless the quality of the show drops any further (which seems hard to imagine), my recapping life could not possibly get any harder, so you're on a hiding to nothing with that one, whatever time you start. And besides, I've pledged to keep recapping and pointing out all of this show's flaws until there are no flaws left to point out, so I think it's safe to say I'm not disappearing any time soon. My ever-understanding mother, whom I'm staying with this weekend since there's a family birthday, offered to let me tape it off ITV2 in the wee small hours, except that ITV decided to bugger with that schedule too and just air the results, which was the only part of the show I'd actually seen. Cue a panicked phone call to The Bitch Factor's eternally put-upon flatmate, who selflessly agreed to tape the ITV1 Sunday repeat which was on while we were catching the train home. Dear ITV Schedulers: no cookie for you. Bad schedulers! Bad! [I have the wonders of Sky+, which managed to cope with the early start for the first show, but didn't pick up the first ten minutes of the results. It was OK, though, because ITV helpfully air the occasional repeat. - Carrie]

Anyway, last week: there was no X Factor, only rugby. This week, there is both, and it seems eminently possible that both will prove embarrassing for England. [Burn! - Carrie] Pompous voiceover attempts to build suspense as the contestants prepare to sing live tonight. "The battle starts now," says Dannii. "I'm ready to fight, because I'm going to win," says Sharon. She'll have changed her tune by the end of the night - oops, spoiler! "I'm going to reclaim my crown from Simon Cowell this year," says Louis. A crown fit for a queen, no doubt. "I won last year, and I fully expect to win again," says Simon. "Um, didn't I win last year?" asks Leona Lewis, from backstage. Possibly. Glamour shot of all the Top 12. It's time to face the "music". I hope you brought your earplugs.

Studio looks much the same as last year. Maybe a little bluer. Dermot, it pains me to say, is not one of life's natural suit-wearers. Possibly it's just a bad suit for him - I suspect a severely-tailored suit in a slightly more daring colour would look absolutely killer on him, but this drab black number makes him look like a small boy playing dress-up. Give Ryan Seacrest a call, Dermot; he's got loads, he's bound to be able to lend you one. Dermot is far more excited about the live shows than I am, as he has apparently been taking lessons in needless shouting from Davina McCall. The judges are brought on in typically bombastic fashion. Everyone is in black, except for Dannii who is a vision in red. [She looks gorgeous. Well done, Dannii. - Carrie]

The theme for this week is UK No.1 hits, which is stretching the idea of theme weeks almost to breaking point, and we're only in week one. So it's essentially pick a song from whatever genre you're most comfortable with, as long as it got to No.1. Damn, this means no one's going to do 'Potential Breakup Song' by Aly and AJ, or 'I Said Never Again (But Here We Are)' by Rachel Stevens. I was probably only deluding myself in hoping for those, mind. And joining us later will be lovely Leona, with an exclusive performance of her second single in 10 months. I know they wanted to take their time with her and all, but they're taking a lot on faith, aren't they? Unless it was all cynically timed so that she could preview it on the show that launched her, which is probably the case. Sigh. Although it will be nice to see her turn up and hand these talentless buffoons their asses on a well-sung platter. (Although I know I didn't fully start appreciating Leona until about the third live show last year, so perhaps there's time for someone to win me round yet. Just don't hold your breath.)

Sharon and the girls (not her breasts, just to clarify) are starting, and Komedy Kimberley is up first. The VT shows KK meeting Brian "NotLouis" Friedman, whom Sharon pronounces "fabulous". Funny how she didn't feel that way at all in the first episode, isn't it? Komedy Kimberley has hot male dancers, so I think we can all guess what sort of song she'll be doing. [How many more times do we have to see the weaker vocalists being given gimmicks, just to distract us from the fact that they're not very good? - Carrie] NotLouis instructs the hot dancers to grope KK, who is quite pleased with this turn of events, but less pleased with the concept of being lifted up into the air like Kylie or similar. Shots of it all going horribly wrong in rehearsals. NotLouis tells us that he wouldn't have given her the move if he didn't think she could do it (ya rly), but one false move and it's a komedy faceplant for Komedy Kimberley. So, no pressure then. Obligatory sexy slow-motion shots.

Komedy Kimberley will be singing 'It's Raining Men', of course. Because what better song to give the girl who came here from the karaoke stage than one of the most infamously karaoke songs ever? Way to hobble the girl before she's even sung a note, Sharon. Speaking of singing notes, KK utterly blows the first three or four lines (too low for her, I think) [yep, much, much too low, which is weird because I don't think it's much lower than an A below middle C, but hey ho. If they'd transposed it up, she'd have been screeching away on the high notes like she did with One Moment In Time. - Carrie] , which is not the best start. I think it's safe to say that poor Komedy Kimberley has received something of a disastrous makeover. Her hair is now platinum blonde and styled in a pale imitation of Gwen Stefani's barnet circa 1997, and she's wearing this bizarre sort of dress-tabard hybrid that makes her look like either a Thunderbird, or the hostess of an airline-themed gay burlesque show. Also, stuck to the front of her dress is what appears to be a glittery cardboard cut-out of a lipstick, or possibly a small vibrator. Folks, let me explain this to you: Komedy Kimberley's charming Brummie brassiness was all part of her appeal, and you would have done well to incorporate that into her makeover, as opposed to attempting to eradicate it. But far be it from me to criticise. Oh, wait: that's my job. In which case, I shall just say: makeover? YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG. Anyway, once the Hi-NRG backing kicks in (she's doing the Geri Halliwell version, by the way), she's able to belt it out and acquits herself fairly well, under the circumstances. And she doesn't fuck up the lift, so no broken bones for Komedy Kimberley. Hooray! (This was the most amazing way to open the show ever, and gave a good lead-up to just how astonishingly gay the whole episode would be.-Joel)

Louis guffaws like an idiot, and tells her she brings the "fun factor". He tells her she's not the best singer in the world, and is booed even before he can add a "but who cares?" to the end. Hee. Dannii thinks KK has a fantastic voice, but thinks she needs to be careful not to overdo it, which I think is fairly sound advice. Dannii thinks there's more to be seen from Komedy Kimberley. Simon says it was fine, "if you like karaoke on a big budget", and of course he's bang on the money, because that's exactly what this was, and it's all it ever could have been, and Sharon is the worst manager ever. No amount of booing from the audience can make Simon wrong here, and he's actually being fairly amiable about the whole thing. Even Komedy Kimberley doesn't look especially offended. He says it was "fun" and had "lots of personality", although it was also "shrieky". Sharon tells KK she has the toughest gig in opening the show (true), and that she did just fine. Komedy Kimberley tells Dermot she feels alive. When asked for her response to the judges, she tells Simon: "that's fine, but I still fancy ya." Hee. I heart Komedy Kimberley, even though she's utterly, utterly doomed, the poor thing. Oh, and just for the record, Simon clarifies that what he said to her was a compliment. Hmmm.

Dermot informs us it's Dannii's birthday today. Happy birthday, Dannii! The audience (and Dermot) sing 'Happy Birthday' tunelessly, and are all promptly voted off by the viewers. It's Andy first out of the boys, and Dannii thinks his appeal lies in the fact that he's fit, but doesn't know it. I've got to hand it to her: considering she's a rookie, Dannii has an excellent grasp of what will get you far on this show. In VT, Andy meets NotLouis and will sadly not be groped by fit male dancers this evening, and will be giving a "stripped-down" performance. With clothes, before you get excited. Andy frets about his lack of a safety net and Simon says that Andy can't get by just being cute and sweet any more. Andy doesn't want to go home, which I'm sure is a huge surprise to everyone watching. Andy will be singing one of my favourite songs, 'I Don't Want To Talk About It', in a weirdly mannered way that sounds a bit Val Doonican to me. But then, the definitive performance of this song on one of these shows for me was Susanne Manning's on Pop Idol 2. Andy could do with being a bit more lively onstage, because he looks like he's about to fall asleep. And he needs a vocal coach to get rid of that horrid crooning tendency, if you ask me. Maybe it's all the asbestos on his lungs. [I think he's pretty, but this was tedium. - Carrie]

Louis calls the performance "understated" and predicts Andy will go a long way. Sharon gets her lech on, and tells Andy he has a beautiful voice. Simon likens Andy to a "singing puppy", which again he claims is a compliment, and says that Andy's very good at doing the big eyes down the camera thing, but that the performance was "a bit wet". Again: bingo. He adds that it was "safe", but "good enough for the first show". Dannii loved seeing him "in [his] comfort zone", and adds that we have so much more to see from him, which is essentially what she said to Komedy Kimberley. Andy is a bit flustered talking to Dermot, but seems fairly happy with the comments. From certain angles, Andy looks like a hobbit. Dermot vamps to the crowd for a bit and we go to the adverts. Thank fuck for that; I need vodka.

Next up is our first group from Simon: Futureproof. Simon claims they were his easiest decision, and that they're not dissimilar to when he first saw Westlife. Well, that's me hating Futureproof, then. Sorry lads - blame Simon. Futureproof meets NotLouis, who tells them they need to make every girl in the country fall in love with them, and then makes them stare in the mirror to see what they look like on stage. Sean has problems doing this because he's never felt attractive, despite being probably the fittest member of the group. [Fucking pathetic attempt at a sob-story. Fuck off. - Carrie] Comedy shot of them in rehearsals singing into non-existent microphones. Shot of a pep talk from Simon during the dress rehearsal. They're singing 'She's The One', but they get the Westlife thing all wrong by standing up well before the key change. [This utterly bewildered me. If you're going to do the Westlife thing, at least do it right. - Carrie] The solos are a little bit ropey, but the harmonies aren't too bad. They do rather lumber about the stage like a group of knife-wielding teenagers at a bus stop, mind. Good to see NotLouis, Master Choreographer, earning his salary. [They look like a rabble forced into shiny suits, like children going through their dads' respective wardrobes. - Carrie]

Louis tells them they did really well, but calls it a safe performance for the first night. He tells them they have lots of potential. Sharon tells them they've worked very hard and it's paid off, and she can't wait to see what they'll be like in another couple of weeks. Dannii is excited that they're good, but also scared. She cites a few tuning problems, but says that they look great and does an exaggerated wink at Sean. Hee. Simon claims to share Sean's issue with looking in the mirror, and everyone laughs at this obvious joke. Simon thought they did really well for a first performance, and that it sounded like they'd been together for a long time, and he thinks they've got a good group here. [It does worry me that Hope and Futureproof are the best group talent in the country, bearing in mind they had a whole 48 hours of rehearsal. - Carrie] Dermot approaches and gropes a few of them under the pretence of admiring their silver fashions, and asks Sean about his self-esteem, WHICH IS DEAD. Sean is now all cured, thanks to Dannii, so that's lovely. Next up: Dannii revives Niki's father!

Over-25s next, and Louis introduces "the schoolteacher from Luton", Beverley. [From Luton! Come on, people from Luton, vote for her! Sorry, Louis, I didn't. Will they take my passport away and obliterate the birthplace from it because I do not have the requisite sense of regional pride? - Carrie] Beverley is very excited, as one might expect. Beverley meets NotLouis, and her dancing troupe. He tells her that she needs to have a diva attitude to pull the song off. Beverley's going to be singing 'I Will Survive', because nobody has learnt that clich├ęd karaoke songs do nobody any favours on this show. [Look! She is a woman! She is over the age of 16! She is black! Why, let's give her a Gloria Gaynor song! - Carrie] Beverley sings the first note a couple of beats too early, but covers it as best she can. I will say this: she's quite restrained by Beverley standards, but the whole performance is very end-of-the-pier. Not necessarily her fault, but there it is. "Who knew? A schoolteacher?" says a flabbergasted Sharon, who thinks Beverley has a great soul voice. Dannii calls it an "amazing transformation". In possibly the most egregious example of mob culture audience stupidity yet, Dannii mentions a couple of bum notes which she thinks were due to nerves, and is promptly booed. Because anything less than 100% positive feedback is TEH EV0L, as we all know. "God, you've transformed, haven't you?" says Simon. He says that the performance was very Stars in their Eyes (yep), and says that it was fun and will be popular, but throws in as an aside that Beverley can't dance, and is booed, of course. And here's the money shot: "What you can't do every week is sing Louis Walsh's record collection." Hee. Louis says that Beverley may not be a great dancer, but she's a great singer, and he hopes everybody votes for her (drink!). Dermot gushes over Beverley's fake hair (which is, admittedly, lovely), and asks Beverley what she wants to say to her class, and Beverley, in something of a non-sequitur, thanks the hair and make-up people. (Her hair was lovely, but the whole thing was 'see how close to Gloria Gaynor I can be', even the look. Simon's comment was spot on.-Joel)

Back from the ads, and it's time for ZombiEmily, "the youngest girl in this contest". Sharon tells us in VT that ZombiEmily is the best 14-year-old in the history of forever, and singlehandedly justifies the lowering of the age limit. NotLouis complains that when they were working together, she gave him nothing. "There's no energy there," says NotLouis. Well, duh - she's a zombie. They're sluggish by nature. He basically tells her to pull her socks up, as well he should. ZombiEmily will be singing 'I Knew You Were Waiting For Me', and is wearing the night's worst outfit yet - a stripey purple blazer covered in badges, and a black-shirt, with a tuxedo print on it, and a necklace saying "Emily". [What the HELL were the stylists doing? I mean, what? This outfit would have looked weird circa 1984 on Cyndi Lauper, let alone a zombie teenager in 2007. - Carrie] She is either sharp or flat at any given moment during the song, as well, though obviously not at the same time. I'm bored by her, she has no stage presence. Perhaps that was the one part of her that actually did die? Louis tells her that she has a great raw talent, and is ZOMG ONLY 15 YEARS OLD!!!!1111!! (apparently Emily had a birthday in between the recording of the VT and her actual performance), but also says that he didn't think the song suited her and he would love to see her do a big ballad. Dannii liked the playfulness of the song, but thought the execution didn't follow through. She would also like to hear ZombiEmily sing a ballad. Simon tells her that he likes her, but that he's going to say what he thinks everyone at home wouldn't been saying, which is that the vocals were a bit flat in the middle. Well, they were also sharp in places, and the start and end weren't great either, but otherwise I'm on board with that. He didn't think it was a great vocal, this being a singing competition and everything. Sharon tells ZombiEmily that they've all heard far worse, which: not the point. But there was dancing, and it was hard! And she's a ballad singer! And she has homework to do! What the fuck ever. (This was fucking dreadful. The Zombie's appeal, such as it is, lies in the smoky voice and 'older than her years'ness. So let's give her a not very good up tempo song and draw comparisons with Aretha Franklin, who, with the best will in the world, Emily ain't.-Joel) Dermot asks ZombiEmily for feedback. "Braaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiinnnnnns," replies ZombiEmily. Dermot tries to rally her cause by saying that we're asking a lot of her, at such a young age, to be able to do everything that's required. THEN DON'T LOWER THE FUCKING AGE RANGE. I hate it when Dermot is a corporate puppet. [Srsly, Dermot has really disappointed me over the past two years. I fell into the trap of watching The Xtra Factor for a while before Fearne annoyed me too much, and Dermot is such an apologist for The Man. I thought he'd treat this show with a modicum of irony, but he's not, and such is his line-toeing I'm beginning to miss Kate. And I didn't ever think I'd say that. - Carrie] Simon doesn't believe in patronising people. "I don't either, but she can't put in the same amount of time as everybody else," says Sharon, somewhat patronisingly. "Then she shouldn't have entered the competition," says Simon, entirely correctly. "Rubbish, you shouldn't have lowered the age," says Sharon, losing the argument and missing the point all in one fell swoop.

Next up is Leon, who has the most pressure on his shoulders, according to Dannii, because he's doing it for himself and also for his mum, WHO IS SINGLE. Oh, you have got to be kidding me with that shit. [According to last weekend's tabloids, Leon's dad, from whom HE WAS ESTRANGED, is also DEAD now. Why not play that card? Or are there only so many DEAD DADS this show can take? - Carrie] NotLouis has comely female dancers for Leon, who has tucked his tracksuit bottoms into his socks. Instant fail, I'm afraid. NotLouis thinks Leon might go out on stage and freeze. Simon says that if rehearsals are anything to go by, it's going to be a trainwreck. Dannii has confidence in him. Leon will be singing a horribly bastardised swing version of 'Money Can't Buy Me Love', and it's possibly the most aurally offensive experience of the night so far. So I guess he's this year's Ray, then. Expect to see him in the finals, folks. Or, y'know, learn from your mistakes last year, whatever you prefer. God, this is dreadful. I actually muted the last 30 seconds of it because I couldn't take any more. [I believe my text to Steve at this point read "OH MY GOD WHAT IS LEON DOING?", which remains my overriding thought on the matter 24 hours later. - Carrie] (Just so bad. Arrangement. Vocals. And to be blunt, the dancing made it look like he had Parkinson's.-Joel) Louis thought Leon was an amazing talent with a great voice at his audience, but he came out tonight and lost the melody. He adds that it was a dreadful arrangement (true) with awful choreography (also true). He asks Leon who picked the song; Leon says it was a mutual thing between him and Dannii. Louis says the song let him down. Sharon, who you'll remember doesn't believe in patronising people, greets Leon with "hi, sweet boy." She tells him he has a likeable personality, but that the song and arrangement were too frantic - it wasn't good, but she knows he can do better, and she knows he'll be here next week. Simon calls it "a complete and utter nightmare" - terrible arrangement, timing all off, a complete mess, and then he delivers this zinger: "I think you've taken the place of somebody else who should be in the show." Ooooh, ouch. That's gotta hurt. Simon declares it not good enough, and tells Dannii her song choice and arrangement (yeah, like Dannii arranged the song) were "insane". Dannii tells Leon he only lost it in the middle (lie), that he had the hardest song (lie), and that he's passionate about music and that's why they chose that song. Dermot hugs Leon, who thanks the judges for their comments in the blandest way possible. Dermot goes Corporate Puppet again, pointing out that some contestants are derided for being too safe, while someone like Leon who tries to do something different is also shot down. That would have held more water as an argument if Leon hadn't been so utterly appalling, but nice try all the same, Dermot. (It's true that the judges are always all 'Get out your box!' 'Bad dog, back in your box!' but the problem was not the difference so much as the mindbending awfulness. But at least Leon looks like he's off the crack.-Joel)Dermot earns himself a few points back by asking Simon if he just went too far with that, and Simon gigglingly agrees that perhaps he did. Dermot points out that Leon's mother, WHO IS SINGLE, is in the audience, presumably in case any unattached older gentlemen are watching.

Adverts, and then back for more bollocks. Dermot shouts a bit more, and talks to a random audience member who likes Futureproof. Well, that was airtime well utilised. We're back with Simon and the groups, and the Happy Incest Twins. And since they're not actually twins, and hopefully not actually committing incest, I'll be renaming them during the course of this recap. Simon likens them to two wind-up toys, which is funny because it's true. Sarah says that they've had their critics, namely Louis Walsh. "The thing about Same Difference is that they're so cheesy," says Louis Walsh, the man who brought you Boyzone, Westlife and, of course, Bellefire. The HITman and Her work with NotLouis, who gives them an elaborate routine because he thinks they can pull it off. "I don't think they're what we're looking for in the show," says Louis Walsh, the man who thought we were looking for The MacDougall Brothers. The HITman says they've been preparing for this night all their lives. They're kind of dressed like they're auditioning for the parts of Patty Simcox and Eugene in Grease [now THAT might make me go and see the new West End production of it - Carrie], and they're singing 'Tragedy'. Cut to Louis looking horrified, but there are some quite nice Abba-esque harmonies on display. This is possibly the only part of the evening where this show was gayer than Strictly Come Dancing, by the way, but it's also the most enjoyable performance since Komedy Kimberley opened the evening. Because really, if you can't be good (although I actually think these two are better than they're generally given credit for), you can just be really really camp, and in many ways that's better. [I actually really liked this. She's better than him, but they can both sing in tune and in harmony, and it was fun, and as you say, the most enjoyable performance for at least 40 minutes. - Carrie] (So fucking awesome. I was in delighted hysterics the whole time. Again - SO gay.-Joel)

Louis tells them that they're both nice people, and their family loves them, which is more patronising than anything to have come out of Sharon's mouth tonight, and lets rip with: "The song was called 'Tragedy'; I think it should've been called 'Disaster'." Isn't a disaster generally considered to be less bad than a tragedy? I'm not sure. Louis tells them they haven't got a chance in hell, before invoking the MacDougall Brothers, who he claims look like Lennon and McCartney next to these two. If he means "boring, tedious and overrated", I'm right there with him, but I suspect he doesn't. Louis pronounces it "awful", and gets a cheap dig in at Simon, and is justly booed. [Louis can fuck right off. I never particularly hated the MacDonalds, but these two are better than them in all possible ways. - Carrie] Sharon tells them they are cheesy, "double cheeseburger with bacon", in fact, but points out that she loves cheeseburgers. Sharon delivers a sort of backhanded compliment by saying that while lots of arty people in New York are trying to be retro, these two actually are. I think that was genuinely well-intentioned, however clumsy, so I'll let it slide. Louis can't shut up, of course, and asks who would buy their record. I'll tell you something for nothing: if it would shut Louis Walsh the fuck up once and for all, I'd be first in the queue to buy it and there'd be a long line behind me, so cram it, tubby. Dannii thinks there is a market for these two (because Dannii knows the gays), and tells them to be careful with the vocals, but that she liked it. Simon says that he wishes he could be them for an hour a day so he could be happy, which is why he put them in the competition. Simon also points out to Louis that the biggest group in the world right now is High School Musical, which isn't so much a group as a brand, but the point he makes is clear: they'd appeal to the same market. It's a notoriously fickle market, though. Simon tells Louis he's made himself sound like a miserable old man. Louis attempts to argue back and invoke the MacDougalls again, but is thankfully shouted down by Simon. Dermot asks them for their feedback, and Her's response is kind of brilliant, in that rather than saying they'll try to be less cheesy, she just says that they'll be equally cheesy next week because they know Louis loves it really. Heh.

Back to Louis, with "a lady from Birmingham - she's a real singer". Except it's Niki, who isn't a real singer, because if she was she wouldn't be on this show in the first place. We get a recap of the ballad of Niki's father, WHO IS DEAD, lest we forget why we're supposed to be voting for her. [And if we're from Birmingham, we thus have TWO reasons to vote for her, thanks to Louis's helpful reminder. - Carrie] Niki tells us that the song she's going to be singing is beautiful, and "all about emotions". Well, I don't think we need to compile a shortlist for this evening's Most Vacuous Comment award. Louis hopes she doesn't get too emotional on stage, what with HER FATHER BEING DEAD and everything. Niki weeps a bit in her VT for good measure. Niki will be singing 'Nothing Compares 2 U', but has sadly not shaved her head. She looks disarmingly like Amanda Redman while she's singing. It's probably one of the better vocals of the night (not that that's saying much), but the overwrought melodramatic hand-wringing and squintyface during the performance absolutely wreck it for me, personally. [You heartless bastard. Didn't you hear? HER DAD IS DEAD. - Carrie] Sharon tells Niki that she's in a class of her own. Sharon says that she didn't think Louis was too happy when he got this category (really? Gosh, he just kept that bottled up inside, didn't he?), but that Simon said there was a winner there, and she thinks it might be Niki. Niki gets all misty-eyed. Dannii says that Niki is a real singer (lie), even if she hasn't grasped that yet, and it's so endearing (aha, so she's getting the Leona edit this year), and that Niki's looked after all the other kids in the competition since they all moved in together. Simon reminds us about Niki's father, WHO IS DEAD, and tells Niki she's fantastic. He tells her to lift her shoulders and believe that she can win (in other words, stop being such a fucking crybaby), (Word. She's good enough on her own merits to stop talking about her Dad, WHO IS DEAD.-Joel) and also, awesomely, calls Louis out for his "unbelievably disrespectful" attitude towards his group, and tells Louis that he owes Niki and the rest of her group an apology. Awesome, and yet because this came from Simon, Louis is a twat about it and says that he's happy to be working with Niki (at which point Beverley and Daniel do not pelt him with stones, even though they should). Simon insists that Louis apologises, and Louis snits "I'm not apologising to you!", which is not what Simon asked, and Louis is a horrid, horrid, unprofessional, disrespectful little man and they need to fire him again and they need to make it stick this time, because he makes me embarrassed to be a human being, knowing that I share a species with Louis Walsh. Niki, because she doesn't possess a spine, tells Louis that she loves him, and Louis smugs "thank you, thank you, thank you". Ugh. Now I hate her almost as much as I hate him. Anyway, performance of the night, blah blah, you nailed it, blah blah blarney. Dermot reminds us that Niki's mum, WHO IS NOT DEAD BUT IS A WIDOW WHICH IS ALSO QUITE SAD IN ITS OWN WAY, is in the audience and off Niki goes.

Back from the adverts, and it's the last girl: Alisha. [Ooh, kids, I went to the gym yesterday and all the Virgin Active staff are wearing VOTE FOR ALISHA t-shirts. So I guess she works there. - Carrie] (She does. I learnt that in my sister's Now! magazine.-Joel) Sharon says that when Alisha turned up at the audition, they thought she had everything. Except a compelling sob story, which is presumably why we didn't even learn her name until two weeks ago. She choreographs a stunning entrance with NotLouis, who tells her that her challenge is walking downstairs in a stiletto. Well, sure, if you've only got one it is going to be difficult. Alisha is fearing falling down the stairs, and NotLouis thinks that she's at risk of making it happen by worrying about it, but Alisha VTs that if she falls, she'll just get up and the show will go on, which is precisely the right attitude. Not right, however, is the fact that she's singing Gabrielle's 'Dreams', which is not right for her voice at all. [Would it be wrong to accuse her mentor of horrendous racial stereotyping here? She's a young black woman, so she should sing a song originally performed by a young black woman? - Carrie] Also, Alisha is entirely static in a giant picture frame for the entire first verse, which is kind of boring to watch. I think Alisha suits songs which have a bit more va-va-voom than this one; her voice just sounds scratchy here. I'm really disappointed, because I liked Alisha at the auditions, even though I knew she was doomed. (It was really bad. I'm starting to think that I only like Alisha because she's hot and has awesome hair. I hope she proves me wrong.-Joel) Louis loved the performance, and says that she reminds him of "one of the American divas", though I suppose we should be grateful he didn't say Gladys Knight or something equally outdated. [Billie Holliday? - Carrie] He wasn't crazy about the song, though. Dannii congratulates her for getting down the stairs in her heels, and warns her about the scratchy notes. Dannii's feedback is actually reasonably good, tonight. She also advises Alisha to make more of a connection with the camera. Simon says that he likes Alisha, but that he didn't think it was the right song for her, because the song "does that", accompanied by a hand gesture which I think is intended to imply that it doesn't really go anywhere, and he thinks she'll be vulnerable tonight because we haven't seen her fun and quirkiness. Sharon does a mea culpa on the song choice, which is to her credit, and suggests we get rid of her, not Alisha. Don't tempt us, Sharon. Alisha is gracious in her response and says that if she's here next week she'll do better.

Time for Dannii, and Rhydian Ultra. Dannii claims the whole country is talking about him, which I think is rather an exaggeration. In the VT, Sharon shudders and says "puke", which is kind of funny. Dannii basically tells Sharon that the game is on. NotLouis thinks Rhydian Ultra is brilliant, because he already knows all the moves, and it's just a case of perfecting his craft. I originally heard that as "perfecting his crap", which I prefer. Rhydian's hair is white blonde and spiked right up, making him look like the unholy lovechild of Billy Idol and Draco Malfoy. (For me it was a cross between a Eurovision entrant from Belarus (the shiny dinner jacket) and Rutger Haur playing a villain in a 1980s Jean-Claude van Damme movie (the hair, of course).-Joel) He's singing 'I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)', which is a great choice for him at least in terms of high drama and bombast. It sounds exactly like you would think it sounds, basically. Louis doesn't know what to say, but tries to make a clumsy dig at Simon, and fucks it up as per. Sharon calls Rhydian "darling" through clenched teeth, and "sweet boy", before moving on to "strange boy" and "weird boy" and "Mama doesn't know what to make of you", and just when I thought it couldn't get skeevier she asks to see his (surprisingly hairy-Joel)chest. Rhydian Ultra promises to do it "a few weeks down the line, but not yet". "Oh, are we still going to be here a few weeks down the line?" asks Sharon, sounding like Hyacinth Bucket. Rhydian quickly turns this into a "vote for me and see my chest" ploy, obviously, and Sharon eventually settles on calling him "barking, in a good way" and dismissing him with a sunny "goodbye". [She can talk about 'barking', with her fucking stupid insane crap all through this bit. She can't be gracious or constructive simply because she doesn't like him, so she talks "eccentric" bollocks and makes it all about her instead. Stupid cow. - Carrie] Simon calls it the best performance of the night by far, and that he's an antidote to all the boring singers they've seen tonight (hee). He adds that a good classical singer needs to be pompous, and that he'll look forward to seeing Rhyd week after week. Dannii calls the performance "genius" and says that she can't wait to see what else he has to offer. Simon then randomly asks to say something else, and says that in light of all the press Rhydian's had, whenever he's met him backstage he found him to be a very nice and polite young man. That was weird, but nice. [It was a lovely touch - again, the tabloids last weekend were full of "Rhyd's not as bad as Simon Cowell's making him out to be" crap, so good of Cowell to correct his previous "he's the most arrogant and conceited person I've ever met" schtick. - Carrie] Asked for his comments, Rhydian Ultra gets a bit weird and rabbit-in-the-headlights and blabbers on about wanting to take on board what was said, and wishing happy birthday to Dannii, and not wanting people to think he's an arrogant arse, and that he thinks he can do better and will try to do so if he makes it through tonight.

Next up is Daniel, who has the voice and the looks, according to VT Louis. NotLouis says that Daniel has to convey emotion while walking, which is apparently difficult. Daniel is scared he won't pull it off. Louis says that it will be a hard song for Daniel, because it's the song that reminds him the most of his parents, WHO ARE PRESUMABLY DEAD, BECAUSE WE ARE SHOWN A FADED BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOGRAPH OF THEM. Daniel says the song is very poignant, and wells up a bit. Pussy. For one amazing moment in the intro I thought he was going to sing Kate Bush's 'Wuthering Heights', which would've been the best thing ever, but it turns out to be Bryan Adams's 'Heaven'. Because Heaven is where DEAD PEOPLE ARE, obviously. His vocal is nothing special - not bad, not great. Karaoke, I guess. I'm not really caring at this stage, at all. There's a bit of brief "banter" with Sharon, who asks "what's the matter?", as if we didn't bloody know. Sharon pronounces the performance "nice", so she's obviously as tuned out by this point as I am. Dannii tells him he's improved a lot since the rehearsal, but thought he was robotic with the movements, and blames nerves, as she is wont to do. Simon thought it was okay, but boring. He says that Daniel is not a rock singer, and that the production shows him up. He says that he doesn't know who Daniel is, and he's none the wiser after that performance. Louis says it wasn't the best performance of the night, but he knows Daniel's capable of better. Dermot asks Daniel if he thinks it was the right song, and Daniel thinks yes, absolutely definitely. Daniel's kid is in the audience, looking like he's about to burst into tears. Like father like son, I guess. [I presume the kid is sitting with the mother? The mother who sold her story to the papers and pointed out that Daniel is not actually a single dad because she has full custody? - Carrie]

Final act of the night, and we're over to Simon to introduce his last act, H0re. Um, I mean "Hope". Or do I? Nah, I prefer H0re, so we'll go with that. Simon's very excited about them. [I bet. - Carrie] They can't believe they're in the live finals. There is no mention of fallen comrade SiSi, of course. She is now to this group what Shannen Doherty was to Charmed, post-season four. NotLouis tells them that their routine is all about being sultry, which is obviously a huge surprise to all of us. Phoebe says their performance is quite sexy, and they basically slink and pose about the screen for a few hours. Phoebe is worried that her parents will be watching from the audience and seeing her all dressed up like a hooker, as well she might be. NotLouis warns them that if they don't walk like ladies, they will look like men in drag. More so than they already do, anyway. Simon says it will either be fantastic or a car crash. H0re will be singing 'Umbrella', all slowed down to a snail's pace. [They look like prostitutes, and I am actually quite shocked. I'm not easily shocked, but I cannot believe - well, I can, but I wish I couldn't - they are dressing 16-year-olds up in such a fashion. - Carrie] Raquelle's breasts are doing far more work than her vocal chords in the first few lines. The harmonies are quite nice, but I don't like what they've done to the song; it's too much the school of "slow = meaningful", which is utter bollocks. Also, given the plethora of covers of this song that are working around the internet as you read this, you really need to do something brilliant with it to make it stand out. Unfortunately, Mandy Moore and Tegan and Sara have already cornered the market on ballady, winsome versions of this song, and while their versions still managed to be moving, H0re's rendition is leaving me cold. But not as cold as they must be in those outfits. Rimshot! I'm checked out of this performance now; they've drained every last bit of energy out of this song and left it as bland as one of Louis's comebacks. (I really liked it. I liked that they did descants and stuff and actually made use of having lots of voices rather than just singing the same thing at the same time. Plus the majority of viewers won't have been trawling the internet for ballad versions of Umbrella and this probably would be quite exciting to them.-Joel)

Louis tells them that they look like they've been doing it for years, that they did their homework, and that - wait for it - they look like the UK version of the Pussycat Dolls. What a total coincidence! I bet that so wasn't what they were aiming for at all. He claims they put a lot of established girl groups to shame, which: no. Sharon tells them she has a problem: they're good-looking, sexy, they can sing, and she hates them. Ha ha. She tells them they're great, of course, and says they can sing, as though this is something to be surprised by. Dannii thanks Louis for "his" "idea" to create groups out of the off-cuts, and Louis laps it up like the shameless adulation whore that he is. Simon tells the girls that he agrees with Louis in that it was as good as anything you hear in the charts, and singles out Phoebe for praise because she is sixteen. Phoebe says that they didn't expect such good feedback, and Dermot asks her how she feels about her outfit after performing. Phoebe says her parents will still kill her for showing too much flesh, even though it's only really her belly button that's on display - it's not like she's got her norks or her vag out or anything. (Not like Raquel, whose nipples are veering dangerously close to being exposed, all the better to distract us from the fact that she can't sing. - Carrie]

Dermot reminds us that the two acts with the lowest tally of votes will perform again in the showdown, and we get the obligatory recap: Komedy Kimberley doing big budget karaoke, Andy being dull but as cute as a button, Futureproof training to be the new Westlife, Beverley not being able to dance, ZombiEmily in one of her rare in-tune moments, Leon being the worst thing ever, The HITman and Her being camp and adorable, Niki rehearsing for the next series of New Tricks, Alisha being scratchy and not fierce, Rhydian Ultra being melodramatic as usual, Daniel being wet and whiny, and H0re sucking all the fun out of 'Umbrella'. Dermot implores us all to vote, and reminds us to check back in for some actual talent from Leona later, and we're out. My God, that went on for ever.


Earlier tonight! People sang! Most of them were shit! Now! One act must leave the competition! And not before time!

Dermot welcomes us back, and reminds us that the contestants are all desperate to end the night on a high. They air the same recap we saw earlier, so I won't repeat myself.

And now: Leona! We get a black-and-white recap of Leona's X Factor journey from last year [drink! - Carrie], and she's better in a three-second clip than all of this year's contestants were in an entire song. Shots of Kate Thornton are, of course, kept to a minimum. And then Leona takes to the stage to sing her new single 'Bleeding Love', which is apparently not about menstruation or miscarriages, and sounds a bit wobbly as she ad libs the intro, but is much better on the verses. I shouldn't like this song, but I really do - is that wrong? Perhaps it's just that I appreciate a bit of professionalism from Leona after the shitshow that was this evening's performances. There are points where I thought she was lip-synching, but I think she's just unusually well in pitch with her backing track, which may still have the recorded vocals on it. (I was confused by how she suddenly wasn't singing the chorus at the end, when she started doing her waily bits over the top. Stil she just embarrassed the rest of them.-Joel) I wouldn't be surprised if it did. There are certainly no backing singers in sight, but their voices are coming from somewhere, so my guess would be the record. Whatever: if we find a winner this year who's half as good as Leona, I'll be shocked.

After the performance, Leona makes to wander off, but Dermot calls her back to speak to the judges. Leona says she's glad to not be judged at this stage, but that the finalists have all been doing really well (lie), Simon tells her she was incredible and asks her if she wants to come back. Dermot: "She can't win it twice!" Simon: "Yes, she can!" And I'm going to take that as an awesome burn on this year's batch of rubbish contestants, thank you for asking. [Yeah, he's right, but...a bit harsh on the contestants. They're shit, yes, but he didn't have to put them on the telly and make us watch them. - Carrie] He tells her he's very proud of her, and that the performance was "stunning". Dermot plugs Leona's new single, and we cut to the ads in anticipation of the results.

Dermot welcomes back the judges and the contestants. You already know who they are, and I just want to get to the end of this, so let's carry on. Dermot has the results in his hand, and in no particular order the first act returning next week is...Leon, who gets hugged by Dannii immediately. Joining him are Daniel (who hugs Beverley and Niki), ZombiEmily (shot of The HITman and Her looking nervous), Futureproof (five-way man hug), Andy (hugs Dannii and Rhydian Ultra, shot of Komedy Kimberley looking nervous), Niki (almost cries, hugs Beverley and Louis), H0re (squealing and hugging of Simon), Beverley (looks surprised, Louis looks happy that all his acts are safe), Rhydian Ultra (hugs Dannii, who also has all of her acts safe [and he keeps shouting 'Happy birthday!' in her ear - Carrie]), and finally...The HITman and Her (Sarah claps her hands, Sean looks like he's going to be sick). So, Komedy Kimberley and Alisha are in the bottom two. Sharon is not allowed to say how she feels because it is not suitable for television. Dermot asks her if she has any advice, and Sharon, always thinking of her students, says that she can't give them any advice because clearly everything she's done for them so far has been useless and she's going home now. No, seriously, that's what she says. Sharon: worst manager EVER, and not just because she managed to get two acts in the bottom two on the first week. [I am disgusted by this. Obviously I should be used to this by now, but - these are two teenage girls. They clearly - for reasons unknown to us - love Sharon and see her as the maternal figure she's always trying to present to us. It's their first-ever time on live television, and one of them is about to have their dreams of pre-packaged fame and fortune crushed. And what does Sharon do? She takes her shoes off, puts on her insane voice again, and makes it all about her AGAIN, rather than saying something a little bit supportive, like, oh, I don't know - "I'm shocked that Alisha and Kimberley are in the bottom two, and I take full responsibility for it because as we've found out tonight my song choices weren't up to scratch. They're both lovely girls, and I'm very proud of them whatever happens, even though I'm angry and disappointed that one of them will have to leave the competition tonight. I just want to tell them both to go out there and enjoy themselves." How difficult would that have been? - Carrie]

Anyway, Komedy Kimberley takes to the stage again and is so choked with emotion that she can't even sing the first line. [To be fair, she couldn't anyway, so I think the emotion was a convenient excuse. - Carrie] She gets it back again when the tempo kicks in, and gives it a bit of welly. (I think she really turned it around by the end.-Joel) There's an unfortunately-timed shot of the judges where Dannii is whispering something to Louis and he has his fingers in his ears to block out KK's singing so he can hear Dannii. [What was it? "Simon will vote to send Kimberley home, so I'll vote for Alisha so you can have the casting vote?" - Carrie] Hmmm. When it's all over, you can clearly see Komedy Kimberley mouthing "thank fuck", and a very hard-working sound engineer has obviously cut her mic off just in time. [Hee! I'm glad I wasn't the only one to notice! - Carrie] Alisha takes to the stage again and is no better or worse than the first time, although she doesn't have her giant picture frame this time. [She looks very pissed off and sulky, though. - Carrie] I'm kind of disappointed that this is the best she can do when her place in the contest is at stake, but perhaps it is just the song hobbling her. We'll find out soon enough, I suppose. But I would say that vocally, on the basis of these two performances, Alisha deserves to go home.

Dermot returns to the stage, and his eyes are red and puffy. You guys? Dermot has so been crying offstage during the singoff. Bless. Ice queen Kate Thornton never cared this much. Dermot tells us that Sharon has decided to leave the panel for tonight. "I'm leaving the show!" shouts Sharon from the audience. Good riddance. Also: way to make it all about you, and excellent behaviour from a 55-year-old woman. Based on it being a singing competition, Simon votes to send Komedy Kimberley home. Dannii doesn't want to vote and wants to sit in the audience with Sharon, but eventually votes to send Alisha home. Dermot informs Sharon that she has officially lost her vote and goes to Louis (Way to set a precedent Sharon. And Dermot. And show.-Joel), who says that it's the fun factor versus the talent factor (hmmm), and eventually votes to send Komedy Kimberley home. Alisha gives KK a big hug and kisses Dermot on the lips before going home. Dermot asks her how she's feeling, and KK says that it was a fair decision, but it was hard because she and Alisha are total BFFs. Shot of Komedy Kimberley's X Factor journey, with obligatory shot of KK in the corner weeping in the present day. Awww. I mean, she was never going to win, but she didn't deserve to go out ahead of fucking Leon, for fuck's sake. Back on the live show, KK is crying and tells Dermot that her memorable experience was meeting Ozzy. Dermot consoles her and tells her that she nailed it, which, in fairness, she did. She did the best she could with the millstone that Sharon gave her. I don't think we should worry about Komedy Kimberley anyway; she can do that number round gay bars across the land for a couple of years and support herself adequately on the proceeds, I reckon. Kimberley is a gay icon of the future, you mark my words.

Next week: the theme is the movies, and we'll be joined by Celine Dion. [For FUCK's sake. Will she sing My Heart Will Go On? Or will somebody else, and then she'll tell them that they made the song their own? - Carrie] And hopefully someone else will recap, because I need a week off.Stop looking at me.-Joel


Natalie said...

It just proved what a selfish cow Sharon is

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