Saturday, November 24, 2007

You know you make me wanna shout

Top 6 Perform: Love Songs Week - 24th November 2007

It's the show that makes dreams come true! Or at least, Leona Lewis's, because of course this is a reference to the fact that her album is the biggest selling debut OF ALL TIME. Last week, the judges fought among themselves, but nobody really cared. Alisha went home, meaning Sharon has no contestants left, and is now moulding herself as the "only impartial judge on the panel". Louis is confident that he can beat Dannii, as she is the only real competition, apparently. (She's still the most successful judge, in terms of having people not in the bottom two, leprechaun.-Joel)


Dermot welcomes us and invites us to strap ourselves in. We are four weeks away from the end of this procession of shit. The judges make their entrance, Sharon and Louis hand-in-hand as usual, and Dannii looking like she's got Tess Daly's hand-me-down dress this week, with an asymmetric hemline and a puffy top. (It's kind of Greek looking, with a big seam under the tits, and her hair looks like a wood nymph and her face is all puffy. Dannii is not rocking it, this week.-Joel)

This week, everyone is singing love songs, because that's a theme - "huge big belting ballads", and as if by magic, Westlife will appear later.

First tonight, Louis introduces Beverley, with a stream-of-consciousness ramble. She VTs that she is puzzled that sometimes she is bad and sometimes she is good. Louis says she lacks confidence and wants to get her to believe that she can win. I'd suggest one way of doing that would be to stop bloody saying that Rhydian has it wrapped up already. Beverley goes home to see her family IN LUTON, and they are happy to see her, because she is a great wife, and a great mother, and a fantastic singer. "I also went back to my old school, where I was a primary teacher," she says. So - she's left her job? Forever? Right. She reckons she is not only singing for herself, but for her old pupils too.

Oh, for goodness sake, she's singing Without You. There is a big red grand piano on stage (with someone playing it, obviously), decorated with a candelabra left over from Rhyd's Phantom performance. She's wearing a weird gold dress that looks shiny in a bad way. It starts off OK, if a bit mannered, and then when it goes up the octave, guess what - SHE STARTS SHOUTING. And then there's a needless key change, and guess what - SHE SHOUTS SOME MORE. (It starts too low and ends too high. Turns out she doesn't have much in the way of range.-Joel)

Louis gets up to applaud her and does stupid whooping. Sharon raises her arms to clap. Dannii and Simon applaud politely and sink back in their chairs. Sharon says it is one of the best love songs ever, and that Beverley did it justice with a magnificent performance. Dannii says that Beverley sang it very differently this afternoon in the dress rehearsal, and asks if she likes the song. Beverley says she does, that she wanted to give it all she had, and then a propos of nothing, says she has been married for 14 years and loves her husband very much. (Oh, Beverley. If your husband is not DEAD, he is not relevant. - Steve) Simon says that it is an important week, and though it wasn't perfect, she made it special, and it would be a tragedy if she wasn't in next week's show, because she has a great story. A great story. Pah.

Just as well it's time for a break because I'm seething.

Dermot welcomes us back to "the live finals, or the love finals" AHAHAHAHA. He asks Sharon what her role will be now she has no contestants. Much the same as always, I would guess. Simon says that he loves love songs, and he listens to them in the bath every morning.

Hooray, it's Same Difference next! Louis VTs, "Same Difference. They're still in the competition. Why?" Because people like them and vote for them, you miserable old bastard. (Substitute "Louis Walsh" for Same Difference, and "alive" for in the competition, and it could've been me talking - Steve) Sean and Sarah have gone home this week, and hugged everyone in sight. They live with their parents and grandparents, and their dad VTs that they are a bit like the Waltons. Heh. Sarah starts crying because she wants to pay her parents back for everything they have done for them. Aw. They visit an old social club they used to perform at, and marvel at how small it is now they're used to performing in a studio. That would sound cocky from anyone else, but they speak so genuinely that you can't possibly spin it that way. Even if you are a bitter and twisted Irishman.

Ah, it's Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now, and good choice, kids. Not all that keen on the stepping and clicking while the other one's singing, nor the hand gestures in the chorus, but that's NotLouis's fault, as we know. Sarah's voice isn't as strong as it normally is this week (though she's still miles better than four-fifths of Hope), and I was momentarily afraid of a needless key change, but my fears were unfounded. They bound up and down when they've finished. They're so cute. (They're so much fun you kind of forget they can actually sing.-Joel)

Louis thinks it was their best performance so far, and admires the lack of staging and gimmicks, but says if they won it would be a travesty. (As opposed to the divine justice of every victory bar Leona's? - Steve) Dannii says it is great to see Louis so uncomfortable, and congratulates Sarah on "the big notes" (at which Sean cuddles her and says, "Well done, sis"). Sharon is glad that "Daddy Warbucks" has let them grow up, and expresses her desire to join in with their Willy Wonka bed. What the fuck? Simon hopes that Louis bumps into James the social club manager on a dark night, and says that it was their best performance so far and could be a hit record. Sean and Sarah do some more bouncing. Sarah tells Dermot that if they're in next week, Louis might say more nice things about them, and then they bounce again.

Apparently, after the break, the heat is going to be turned on, and we must have hankies at the ready. Too. Many. Jokes.

Dermot fluffs his autocue reading again, and hands over to Louis, who introduces Niki. ScaryNoMakeUpNiki says last week was unbelievable (which it was, but not in the way she means), and thinks that if she walked on water it wouldn't be good enough for Simon. (Arrogant beeyotch. 'Oh my god, I'm so great but still nothing is good enough.' Stop being shit, then he might like you.-Joel) He explains that he just thought she looked more concerned with pinching the dancers' bums than performing. Louis says that Simon slags off Niki because she's got the voice and "he's got two novelty acts". One of which, I must remind you, Louis was taking full credit for a few weeks ago and bragging about his brilliance and innovation. Niki goes back to the school where she used to be a dinner lady. "I felt really humble cos they're all still slogging away and I'm here having the time of my life," she trills, waving her hands around, "and coming back here has made me realise how much I don't wanna come back here!" and therein we see the gaping chasm of difference between Niki, and Sean and Sarah. (She's a real classy lady.-Joel) Niki goes home and realises how much she loves her family and how much they love her. She asks her children if they miss her. They do, and burst into tears. Textbook example of parenting. AND! Speaking of which! Niki misses her dad. (All together now -) WHO IS DEAD. But it's OK, because her mum reassures her that he knows she is doing well. This week she is singing a song that her dad loved, and loved to hear her sing, so she doesn't want to let him down.

Niki's dad apparently loved to hear her sing The Power Of Love, with the first verse acapella and vibrato-laden, and the bar leading into the chorus out of tune. Louis and the audience clap when the backing track kicks in, because they are morons and think they are on Stars In Their Eyes. (Well, that's forgivable. This would be a much more agreeable performance in that context. - Steve) Again, she misses the money note in the bridge, and srsly, she should begin to work on her higher range, because if she's going to persist with chest-belting out everything, she's going to need to sort that out, or just switch it up to a head-voice instead. (She really needs to stop taking on songs like this. You ain't Jennifer Rush. You ain't Laura Branigan and you sure as hell ain't Celine Dion.-Joel)

Niki bursts into tears and blubs through the comments. ("Oh, I sang that so well, I moved myself!" Fuck off, Niki. - Steve) Sharon says that Louis can recognise a diva, Dannii tells her she lost it on the notes towards the end, (It was all going so well for Dannii this evening. She's still sane at the moment.-Joel) Simon says it is difficult to be critical but he was impressed because she was much better than last week. Louis reckons it is difficult to sing acapella. Whatever. Niki says she is pleased that Simon said something nice this week, and even that comes across as graceless. Am I being harsh just because I don't like her? Guys? (No, because it had a definite ring of 'it's about fucking time that shitwit Cowell sound something nice about my divine majesty'. She's an arrogant bastard. There's a world of difference between confidence and arrogance, and she's firmly queen of the latter.-Joel)

Rhydian has stripped off the sailor suit, and now he is laid bare. (But sadly not like this. Anyone for HoYay? - Steve) He says last week was a bad week, which is true, but it was true for everyone, because last week was shit. Sharon reckons that if you start off "in a huge way there's only one way you can go, and that's down", which is obviously untrue. Rhyd is from a little village and goes back to surprise his family. His mum cuddles him and screeches, "My precious!" and then VTs that she is so proud of her "baby". Aw. He goes back to his old school, where he used to play rugby, and we see shots of him as a teenager, and whoa, he looks different. His old PE teacher says that had he not gone into music, he would be a force in Welsh rugby now. Rhyd says he would give his right arm to be one of the five finalists, which would probably put paid to his rugby-playing dreams for good, I'd say. (Doesn't leave him many limbs to sacrifice up to the winning week...-Joel)

He's singing Somewhere from West Side Story. Has someone already sung that this series? And talked about Barbra Streisand? Faint bells are ringing, which clearly means my efforts to block out previous shows are not working. (That woman! That woman who thought a good way to prove to your husband who left you that you're over him was to debase herself on national TV and not even be very good at it!-Joel) This is an amazing performance, and for all Louis's pontificating about Niki being a "real singer", simply because she can knock out a few big ballads, Rhydian is streets ahead of her in terms of range, power, performance and professionalism. And that is my final word on the matter. (At least until next week, right? - Steve)

Louis says Rhydian is professional and will definitely make the final because he is head and shoulders above everybody. Sharon asks if he auditioned for Joseph, and Rhyd says no, but then realises that she means Any Dream Will Do?, rather than the role of Joseph, and says that he is glad he didn't get through because then he wouldn't be able to be on The X-Factor. Sharon scorns Andrew Lloyd-Webber for not putting him through. Simon is glad that we got to see the real, decent Rhydian in the VT, which I believe he's said every bloody week so far. He says that the purpose of this show is to maybe find a star, that his vocal was perfect, and that he would be an incredible winner of this competition. Rhyd looks stunned, bless him. Dannii looks almost maternally indulgent and proud, and then bursts into tears because she thought it was so beautiful and incredible. (She just seemed drunk. A little teary is one thing, but she was racked with sobs. It was bizarre. Rhydian was awesome though.-Joel) Rhyd says he is privileged to be here and thanks everyone for voting for him. Bless him.

Back after the break, and Dermot talks to Louis about Westlife, who are apparently his favourite band, asking why it is that the group do ballads so well. Louis's answer? "They're great singers, they're Irish, and they work hard." Oh, do fuck off, Walsh. (And note that when Dermot considered that an incomplete answer and pushed him for more detail, Louis just said "they're great singers!" again. He doesn't have a fucking clue, does he? - Steve) Simon introduces Phoebe and the Skanks. Last week, they thought it was a disaster; Louis says Simon is running out of gimmicks. The blonde one, Emily, didn't have any friends when she was younger, but now she has FOUR BFFsOMGZ?!!!/111! Leah goes home to see her mum WHO IS SINGLE, and talks about wanting a better life for herself. Phoebe's mum has noticed that she has grown up, possibly because she keeps wearing slutty outfits on national television. Charlie goes home to see her baby son; her mum says that Charlie is competing for her son, which: lie. It is ALWAYS a lie. It was a lie when Daniel said it earlier in the series; it was a lie when Kym Marsh said it in Popstars. Fine, audition all you want, single parents, but please don't pretend you're doing it for any reason other than your own ego. (Word. It was a lie when Robert said it about doing it for his unborn child and manatee wife too.-Joel)

Phoebe is singing Christina Aguilera's Hurt, and the others are standing round her holding microphone stands, miming when the off-stage backing singers kick in. I love Phoebe, and I hate X-Factor cliches, but I really think this song is a little bit too big for her when the crescendos begin, though it's gorgeous at the start and at the end, when she's taken the volume right down and showcasing her voice. (She has more stage presence than anyone in the contest, except perhaps Rhydian.-Joel)

Louis is glad that he saved them last week, because they look like a girl group, but he doesn't know why Simon gave them that song, because Phoebe is carrying the rest of them - "you've got one lead singer, and a load of girls going ooh and aah. I know Simon likes girls going ooh and aah", and again we see the stupidity of Louis trying to embarrass Simon by implying that he is a virile heterosexual man who sleeps with lots of pretty young ladies and gives them a great deal of pleasure. Louis reiterates that there's no point having a group where not everyone gets to sing lead vocals, and someone from the audience shouts something along the lines of, "Then why not kick Keith out of Boyzone?" (I think it was 'Like Ronan did with Boyzone!' Audience pwning Louis Walsh - priceless.-Joel) Sharon congratulates Phoebe and wishes the group luck. Dannii says that the judges may have made a mistake not putting Phoebe through as a solo artist in the girls' section, (About time they copped to that.-Joel) and though it wasn't note perfect, she admires the passion. Simon calls Louis out on criticising having a lead singer, asking him what he'd do if he had Take That, and praises the girls' confidence in allowing one person to sing solo. Heh. Way to pacify the four Skanks. (Except Emily, who is the only one not to hug Phoebe after this, and just stands there with a face like "yeah, WHATEVER." Lovely girl. - Steve)

Oh, why is Leon on last? He should be on first so I have time to recover from it. He mutters a load of gibberish, goes to his old work (Which is in SCOTLAND.-Joel), cries, tries to look mournful, hugs his mum and gran, and then cries again because HIS MUM IS SINGLE.

Ew, ew, he's singing You Don't Know Me. I LOVE this song. I don't like it done in badly-enunciated stylised karaoke fashion by teenage boys, though. I've stopped listening now.

Ooh, applause, so he must have stopped. He bows and clutches his hands together as if praying. Louis loves the song too, and says, "YOU'RE ONLY 18 YEARS OLD!" He then, unbelievably, tells him to stop listening to Michael Buble, because he is BETTER THAN MICHAEL BUBLE. Simon says that the start was a mess, and he has sat there every week wondering why he is still in the competition (BOOOOOOO!) until now (HOORAY!) because by any standard that was an incredible performance. Incredibly boring? Dannii cries again. Hormones, methinks. That's what comes of letting women on television. (I still think it's booze. She's been playing the X Factor drinking game by herself.-Joel) Leon burbles. Nobody cares.

In summary - Beverley SHOUTED; Same Difference were bouncy and will not be stopped; Niki sang in out-of-tune fashion for her dad WHO IS DEAD; Rhydian once again put everyone else to shame; the Skanks failed to sing anything; Leon staged his Ray Quinn tribute act.


Earlier tonight! It was the same old shite served up for your aural pleasure! Now! It's time for ONE ACT TO LEAVE THE COMPETITION FOR GOOD!

Dermot welcomes us back, and we have to sit through a recap again. Blah blah fucking blah. He then plugs a very exciting and not-a-Christmas-cash-in-at-all X-Factor DVD that's out on Monday. Seriously, who's going to buy that? And then, possibly feeling some shame about being such a corporate whore, Dermot finally redeems himself by introducing Westlife with the line, "they've all been touched by Louis's magic wand."

Anyway, Westlife sing. They still have no stools, which they lacked on Strictly a few weeks ago. How are we supposed to know when the key change is approaching if they're not going to stand up? Ooh, we will be able to tell because of the PYROTECHNICS and a GOSPEL CHOIR APPEARING!

Dermot asks them who they like - Nicky names Rhydian, Same Difference, and Beverley; Kian thinks Niki and Beverley will be there in the final; Shane admires Leon. Nobody admires Phoebe and the Skanks.

The lines are closed, and we will find out who's going home. After the break.

Here we go, then, and the tension is palpable, because the results are now in. Judges and contestants wander out to the strains of Carmina Burana. Niki and Beverley both seem to be smiling in a very strained fashion. Hope are a rabble. Who is safe? In no particular order - Leon! WHAT THE FUCK? I'm horrified, but not entirely surprised. (Being Scottish gets you a long way in these shows.-Joel) (And in all fairness, this was the least shit he's been all series. Diminished expectations are always helpful. - Steve) Niki! She screeches at everyone nearby. Rhydian! Hooray! Dannii has both her acts through again. Take that, Louis, you imbecile! And Same Difference! And take THAT as well, Louis, you cretinous fool! Sarah makes very cute thumbs-up gestures at Simon.

So it's Hope and Beverley in the bottom two, and Louis witters on about it not being fair because she shouldn't be there, and urges her to give it her all. Well, she does, Louis, but she does it through the medium of shouting, which is the problem. Hope are all tearful, and Simon tells them they must prove to Sharon and Dannii that they are good enough.

The big red piano is wheeled back on, and Beverley warbles her way through the opening few bars of Without You, moving on to SHOUTING after the second verse. This is a slightly better performance, I think, maybe because the lump in her throat is muting the bellowing a bit. Louis gives her a standing ovation, and urges the audience to cheer louder, like it matters what they think. Dermot tries to interview Beverley, but they're in the way of the stagehands trying to get rid of the big red piano, which is quite funny. Dermot then attempts to fill some airtime with semi-coherent sentences about Hope and Phoebe and lead singers, and it's embarrassing how uncomfortable he is. Phoebe begins her song slightly off-key, and continues it in the same fashion. It is genuinely not very good. Time for the lovely Phoebe to go back to school, and the Skanks to find their metier in non-performing arts-based careers, I would think. (Does Spearmint Rhino count as "the performing arts"? - Steve)

But then you never know what rubbish the judges will come up with. Louis saves Beverley, obviously. Simon saves Hope, obviously, and Beverley looks surprised, possibly because she thinks he's saving her? (I assumed it was because she was surprised he would dare not to save her, but see above re: assigning people unfair reactions based on not liking them.-Joel) Dannii doesn't want to make a decision, and doesn't want to see anybody go, but then chooses to save the act she thinks is most consistent, and sends Hope home. It's down to Impartial No-Act Sharon, and she chooses Beverley, thus getting the onus off her and pushing it on to the public vote.

Therefore, the act going home will be the act with the lowest public votes - and that is Beverley. There is much booing from the audience, and I can't decide whether that was bravery from Sharon to choose to enforce the deadlock, or utter cowardice, after all that posturing about being impartial and giving her genuine opinion.

So Bellowing Beverley is on her way back to Bedfordshire, with no job to go to, if her earlier VT is to be believed. Perhaps she could become a town crier or similar? (Unless Niki's already applied for that. Or perhaps Dannii. I love hilarious misunderstandings. - Steve) Louis is a classless graceless fuckwit and says, "I don't think she should be going home, Hope should be going home." (She didn't get the votes, Walsh, so shut up and fuck off. I loved how the show managed to make it A Shock Twist!! that the public votes actually counted for something for once. Yay for Phoebe And The Woo Woo Girls.-Joel) Beverley thinks she has started a journey. Drink! Next week: Best of British, with Duran Duran as special guests, and the judges no longer have any input into the decision as to who stays and who goes.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Burn, baby, burn

Top 7 Perform - Disco Week: 17th November 2007

I'd like to start this recap with a tribute to a beloved friend who is sadly no longer with us. My beloved Sony Vaio laptop, which I've had for over eight years, on which I've written every single one of my recaps since Joel and I founded The Bitch Factor a couple of years ago, passed away this week. It will be deeply missed. Therefore, in true X Factor spirit, this recap is dedicated to my laptop, WHICH IS DEAD. [*picks up phone and dials frantically to vote* - hang on, where is your laptop from? - Carrie]

Last week, over 10 million of you watched! But not all at the same time, and not all during the one transmission, and Strictly Come Dancing still totally kicked this show's ass during the Saturday teatime slot, so whatever, Tom Baker soundalike. Dannii came dressed in a curtain, Louis was mean to Same Difference, etc etc. Andy thought he was going to win, apparently. We're "treated" to a recap of supposedly memorable moments, most of which have all long since exited my short-term memory because I refuse to give this show any more of my brain capacity than is strictly necessary for blogging purposes. We said goodbye to Komedy Kimberley, DILF Daniel, Futureproof and Asbestos Andy. Interestingly, there is no mention of Zombie Emily, who is presumably off helping Carol to get on The Jeremy Kyle Show just as God intended. We get meaningless soundbites from the mentors. I'm fairly certain Louis Walsh has lost weight over the past few weeks. It's just a shame he hasn't lost any of his utterly vile personality. Who will be eliminated tonight? I suppose it's too ambitious to say "everyone"? Titles!

Dermot's entry this week is to 'Boogie Wonderland', because it's disco week. Once again Dermot is wearing a poorly-chosen suit that makes him look short and stocky. Obviously the wardrobe people on this show don't like him any more than they liked Kate Thornton. [Maybe they're trying to bring down the show from within? - Carrie] (At least with women's clothing there are so many different cuts and styles and options, so they've got a vague excuse for Kate looking a mess - they had too much to choose from. It's not that hard to make a suit fit.-Joel) Dermot reminds us that our Saturday night starts RIGHT HERE, and the way he shouts those last two words every week always reminds me of that episode of Friends where Phoebe is selling toner and has to stop the guy from Seinfeld from killing himself. I'd rather be watching that, to be honest. "Yes sir, I can boogie," Dermot tells us, and introduces the judges as "Cowell and the Gang". Heh. They come on to the soundtrack of 'YMCA', and as usual everyone's in black apart from Dannii, who's wearing a hot pink sequinned dress with a bow under her cleavage. Sharon is giving it her best dancefloor moves, which is quite funny. Dermot refers to them as the Indian chief, the soldier, the police officer, and the fit butch builder, who is Louis, apparently. Dermot, lest we forget, is categorically not gay, no matter how many men he kisses during this show every week or how many comments like that he makes. Not gay. Nuh uh. [He LIKES GIRLS!!!11!!1!1 Oops, sorry, wrong show. - Carrie]

We are now at the halfway point, Dermot tells us, and the contestants will be singing "high energy" songs. Yep, even Leon. Girls Aloud will be joining us later, to remind us of a bygone era when people from reality shows actually had talent.

First up are the boys, which brings us to Dannii, who introduces "the likely lad that the ladies are loving this week" - Leon. Ladies reading this blog - do you really? I mean, can you please explain to me why? I honestly want to know. Actually, I need to know. [I am a laydee writing this blog, and I believe my text to you five minutes into this show summed up my feelings on Leon quite succinctly - "AAARGH LEON HATE HATE HATE AARGH." - Carrie] Leon's continued presence in this competition is confusing me so much. Leon was very sad to see Asbestos Andy go, and cried. But not as much as Asbestos Andy did. Sharon says that Leon needs to step it up this week, but personally I don't see why. He's given the same utterly substandard performance every week since the live shows started and has never been in the bottom two, so why mess with a winning formula? NotLouis "creatively directs" a dance routine for Leon where he appears to be getting sassed by some girls. Dannii thinks Leon is getting better and starting to believe he can win. At least someone believes it, I suppose. Simon says that Dannii can't just rely on Leon's popularity and needs to up her game. Again, why? I'm beginning to think that Leon could come out on stage and defecate all over the corpse of Niki's father WHO IS DEAD and people would still vote for him. (Actually, I'd totally vote for him if he did that, so perhaps that was a bad example.)

Leon sees Rhydian as his main competition, because Rhydian has five years classical training. Yep, the classical training. That's definitely the only reason Rhydian's better than Leon. Leon's very proud of himself for getting to the same level as Rhydian. Oh, girlfriend, you're not even in the same car park, so wipe that smug grin off your face, in case the wind changes and you turn into Louis Walsh. Actually, in the only known instance of Louis and I ever being on the same page, Louis then VTs that if Leon thinks he's in the same league as Rhydian, he's crazy. I never thought I'd say this, but: word, Louis. Leon got to do a shoot for his potential CD cover (DEAR GOD NO) and meet Girls Aloud for some mentoring. Leon, consummate professional that he is, forgets all of his words and babbles like Rowley Birkin QC. Cheryl tells him not to be nervous and hugs him. Cheryl claims she has voted for Leon herself. Oh God, so it was YOU? Oh Cheryl Tweedy-slash-Cole, we're going to have a problem here. Nadine tells him that she sometimes forgets the words of songs she's been singing for five years. Of course, Nadine can actually sing so I daresay her ad libbing would be a lot more convincing than Leon's just was. [Perhaps Leon should've paid more attention to that "what to do when you forget your words" masterclass with Celine Dion. - Carrie]

Leon will be singing 'Relight My Fire', and is dressed entirely in white. (White DENIM. That makes it worse.-Joel) I was once advised by a noted fashion writer that you should never trust a person dressed entirely in white (and reading a lot of Wilkie Collins at university didn't help either), which is one of the many reasons why I want to punch Johnny Borrell in the face. And once I've done that, Leon will be next. Oh, and I've just seen that underneath his white jacket, on his white t-shirt, Leon has a sequinned Scottish flag. Lest we forget that he is a SCOTTISH person who is from SCOTLAND and that SCOTLAND should be voting for people who are SCOTTISH. Between him and Kenny fucking Logan, Scotland owes the rest of Britain one hell of an apology this year. Leon fluffs his words again, and has all the charisma of a moist teatowel. (His dancing was exactly like Bruce Forsythe at the beginning of 'Strictly' but Bruce is about 100 and probably has wooden hips. What's your excuse, hamster-boy?-Joel) So, no obvious stepping up of his game that I'm aware of. Louis tells Leon that he's really surprised him and it was his best performance so far. Whatever. Louis adds that Rhydian is his biggest competition and will be hard to beat, and the audience boos, because it is anti-truth day. Sharon tells Leon that she doesn't think it's all about having voice (nice burn!), that you've got to have likeability and charisma. Neither of which Leon has, obviously. Sharon says that all the best things come in little packages and is disgusting with him in the way she always used to be disgusting with Shayne. Sharon says that it was very high energy (not true) and a great way to open the show (a lie). Simon says it should've been a disaster (which it was), but other than the fact that he thought the dancing wasn't great (boooooooooooo!), and that Leon spent the whole time looking up a dancer's skirt. "Like you, then!" Sharon shouts, and Louis cackles "Like you, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" as though this is some kind of amazing burn on Simon which it clearly is not. Anyway, Simon thought it was a good performance and totally calls Louis on not listing his own acts as possible threats to Leon. Heh. Dannii tells Leon it was his best performance, which is a bit like being the least mouldy apple on the ground a the foot of the tree, but I suppose progress is still progress. Leon C Nesbitt enjoyed this week very much and doesn't want to go home TO SCOTLAND just yet.

"What a star!" says Dermot, apparently looking right through the roof of the studio into the sky. Adverts.

Dermot wanders into the audience to chat to Amanda Holden, and tells her that he sat on David Walliams's lap last week, and enquires what the situation is here. Amanda says she'd rather he didn't, because the seat is still moist. Heh. I don't know if that was scripted (judging by Dermot's panicked reaction, I'm going with no), but either way, it was funny. Amanda, when asked for her favourite contestant, says Rhydian. Good choice. She does not mention that this week while out jogging she found a body WHICH WAS DEAD, but no doubt would've done if she were auditioning. Amanda says she's keeping an eye on Simon and "those girls in knickers", meaning H0re. [That really made me laugh. Couldn't work out if that was a burn on TeamSlut or not, but whatever. - Carrie]

From dinner lady to disco diva, it's Niki, who thinks last week didn't go as well as it could have. No, because you could've sung in tune, dear. We see Dannii's criticism of the song, to which Louis replies "what would she know about hit records? She's never had any!". Dannii has had eight top 10 singles, Louis. How many have you had? Not your acts: you. Right. Shut the fuck up, then. "Louis is just a grumpy old man," replies Dannii. "All he does is choose ballads and last week he didn't even get that right." Awesome. Scary No Make-Up Niki says that this week's song is more raunchy, and NotLouis says that this is her first time doing real choreography. Niki is embarrassed about having to squeeze one of their bums in the performance. Dannii thinks it's a mistake getting Niki to dance, whereas Louis thinks Niki will wipe the floor with everyone. And hey, if not the floor, she can at least wipe the countertop. Rimshot! Niki meets Girls Aloud, and while Nadine was impressed, Cheryl thought she was distracted by the choreography. Cheryl is not wrong.

Niki is singing 'Hot Stuff', with her hair all permed and looking like she is actually performing this from the '70s, so we all know Simon's going to absolutely cream her for that. This apparently taxing choreography appears to involve Niki walking around the stage a lot and occasionally groping her dancers. (Who burst up from the dry ice. And she looked disgusting. Her skin was nice, but she looked like a drag queen. It was Kathleen Turner being Chandler's dad in his Vegas revue show. Fucking dreadful.-Joel) That NotLouis, he's a creative genius. There's an unnecessary key change towards the end (drink!), which throws her off a bit and she just ends up warbling over it. Sharon tells Niki she is hot stuff, and someone from the audience bellows in agreement. Sharon tells Niki she can dance, although quite how she can tell from that performance I don't know. Dannii comments "extra jalapeno - I want what you're having!" I think Dannii may be drunk. As Carrie and I learned last week, that is the preferred way to watch this show. Simon is the minority on the panel and tells Niki that her performance has no place in the modern world (true), and says it was like a mum at a wedding. Louis tells Niki that she sang, she danced, she's got heart, and soul, and then proceeds to tell Simon that it was disco, a different era, and that Simon's still wearing the platforms. Okay, that made absolutely no sense WHAT. SO. EVER. I think Simon's entirely aware that disco was a different era, but his (entirely valid) comment was that this was a disco-era performance of a disco song, not a 2007 performance of a disco song. I mean, Leon's no masterclass, but at least his performance had a vague hint of the noughties to it. Niki then, in the most ill-advised PR move since Heather Mills went on GMTV, asks if she can say something to Simon, and then snits that she'd like to see him get up and have a go. And I'm sure that was intended to be in the grand tradition of contestants talking back to Simon playfully, but really it just made her sound like a colossal bitch with no class. The audience cheers her on, because they too are colossal bitches with no class. Bitches, bitches, everywhere! [Oh, Niki, you silly bint, don't piss off Le Cowell. He will destroy you. Have you not read Chart Throb? - Carrie] Simon says that he thinks he's speaking on behalf of the country (booooo!), (To which Niki says, 'No' in a really 'mmm, no, I don't think so love' tone of voice. The 'you have a go' bit pissed me off; that was just disgusting.-Joel)and Louis bangs on about it being disco week as if that's even the point here, then Sharon decides to throw her oar in about how much she resents Simon's comment about mothers, and Simon does not tell her to shut the fuck up and sit the fuck down like he should, but simply defends his point by saying that Niki did remind him of a mum at a wedding. Niki, meanwhile, is standing next to Dermot with this extremely smug look on her face. Seriously: what a fucking bitch. I've never been a fan of hers, but now I've crossed the line into actively hating her. Haaaaaaate. Dermot insists that Simon comment on Niki's voice, because Niki must not be allowed to go unpraised since she is the supreme overlord of us all, and Simon says that the voice was good. Niki looks even more smug, and then thanks NotLouis for all of his hard work. Yeah, cheers for that, NotLouis. Ten minutes well spent, that was.

Next up is Dannii with the boys again, and Simon's laughing uncontrollably for some reason. Dannii covers his mouth with her hand, and introduces "a man who commands an audience - aye aye, captain - it's Rhydian!" And she salutes. She is so drunk. Rhydian talks about his parents who've always supported him, and wants to make his parents, WHO ARE ALIVE, proud of him. Rhydian says that disco is not his comfort zone. "In week one, he came out in sequins - where do you take it?" says Sharon. Heh. Where Rhydian takes it is his own business, Sharon. NotLouis has choreographed some extremely inventive marching for Rhydian, which will come as no surprise if you know what he's singing. What creativity! What direction! Rhydian says it could be perceived as being "quite camp", like he's any stranger to that. Rhydian is pleased to meet Girls Aloud, as anyone would be, and they laugh at his performance. Nadine compliments his lack of nerves, and Cheryl tells him to camp it up - "the camper, the better". Rhydian VTs that he thinks it's quite camp enough. Heh.

Rhydian is singing 'Go West', of course. In a naval uniform, natch. Obviously, the whole thing is camp and hilarious, but it's not quite up to his usual standard. No disrespect to Rhydian, but there isn't really that much in this song that really showcases him, at least not until the middle eight when he really takes that voice out for an airing. And of course, there's a key change - is everyone drinking? I know I am. Louis calls it "as camp as Christmas", and Sharon shrieks that he stole her line. I don't think you've got a patent on that expression, Mrs O. "High camp, high hair, you remind me of Simon - it's just that camp!" says Louis. Wah wah waaaaaaah. Once again, the difference between Louis and Simon is that Simon can crack gay jokes with some degree of accuracy. Louis's just tend to hang in the air looking a bit lost. [And when he cracks them, he just comes across as the worst kind of self-loathing gay. - Carrie] Louis thinks Dannii is giving him too many gimmicks (unlike Niki, of course, who performed without hot male dancers and dry ice, as you'll all vividly remember) and that she's acting like he's already won. In fairness, he probably fucking has. [It was bloody Louis who said that he HAD already won it earlier. Tosspot. - Carrie] Sharon says it was extremely camp, but she loves extremely camp. No shit. And on her camp "rictus scale" (sic) it was 100. Just as well she didn't say "Richter scale" properly, since that only goes up to ten. Again, Simon dissents and thinks Rhydian will have a problem this week. He thinks a proportion of the audience who loved it, but that his traditional audience will hate it, and thinks Rhydian may be vulnerable. Dannii trots out "it's disco week" again (drink!) and salutes Rhydian. Rhydian gives Niki a lesson in humility by saying that he agrees with all the comments, even Simon's, and while it may have been a bit much he thought the spectacle was great. He then makes a comment about male dancers which my PVR didn't catch because the signal went for a second, but he then cracks up and Dermot hastily says "nothing wrong with that!" so I'm guessing it may have sounded slightly gay-unfriendly. [No, no, no, he said that it was great to work with so many fabulous male dancers! - Carrie] (I think Rhyd accidentally came out. Why mention that they're male?-Joel)But Rhydian's giggling nervously and miming shooting himself in the head, so I'll let him off. Interesting how Rhydian got the smug bastard edit pre-show and Niki got the so-personable-so-lovely-so-wonderful edit, and how they've completely swapped roles since then. Dermot asks the judges about the spectacle, and Louis trots out "it's a talent contest!" (drink!) and how Rhydian doesn't need gimmicks because he has talent. Fine, but gimmicks don't make him any less talented, so what's the big fucking deal, bitch? (Also, the sailors' hats said 'HMS DANNII' on them, which is the greatest thing I have ever seen. Although it kind of makes Dannii sound like a slut.-Joel)

Adverts. I'm intensely amused by the adverts for, which I can only assume gives us advice on how to avoid The X Factor in future.

Back from the break, and Simon's frantically running to get back to his seat from his infamous inter-show fag break, claiming there was "a fire outside" (well, it's sort of true, isn't it?) and Dermot gives him grief over it. Dermot asks Louis and Sharon if they ever go out to hit the dancefloor together, and Sharon responds that every Saturday night they're at G-A-Y giving it some welly. No, seriously, that's what she says. Anyone surprised? Nope, I thought not. [They're becoming a vile little cliched couple, those two. - Carrie] Simon introduces "five very talented girls", meaning one talented girl and her skanky back-up dancers: Hope. Charlie thought last week's performance was brilliant, probably because she didn't have to do anything. Simon refers to Phoebe as their "secret weapon", as if it's any secret that she does all the fucking work. We revisit Dannii's "Phoebe, you are carrying the whole band" comment from last week and the show tries to imply it was a compliment. Phoebe was happy with it anyway, as well she might be. Sharon says they all overlooked Phoebe in the auditions, but now she's really proving herself. We see Phantastic Phoebe and her Skanky Support Singers being filmed for their potential CD cover, and Raquelle says they're "serious contenders now". Less of the "we" there, Skankerella. "This week Hope are going to meet Girls Aloud," says Louis. "Who's the best vocally? I'm not saying." No, because you'd have to say Girls Aloud, given that they actually have more than one member who can sing. Also, way to pretend you were ever Girls Aloud's manager there, Louis. I always knew he was never their manager in anything more than name only, but I didn't realise quite how bad it was until I read this article. H0re are inspired by Girls Aloud being a girl group who are already doing what they want to do, and Nicola has some advice for Phoebe, since Phoebe is the same age that Nicola was when they were doing Popstars Colon The Rivals - Nicola tells her that she seems very mature and collected and will be fine.

Phantastic Phoebe and her Skanky Support Singers will be singing 'Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)'. As ever, they are clearly being supported by offstage harmonies for the "half past twelve" bits and similar. Phoebe, of course, is doing all the solo singing, but is a little bit rough-sounding this week. [Very, very difficult song to sing well. As with all Abba songs. And yet people keep choosing them as vocal showcases. Just because they're melodic and sound simple, doesn't mean they are. When will people learn? - Carrie] Also, they're all in PVC catsuits and she and Emily have serious cameltoe. They've melded it with Madonna's 'Hung Up' as well, which would've been clever if it weren't so entirely predictable. Interestingly, the camera is never close-up during the chorus, just so we can't see that none of the five of them is actually doing the sweeping harmony that's actually coming from offstage. Urgh. Key change! Louis says that meeting Girls Aloud must've given them lots of hope (ha. ha.) and that there's room in the charts for a new girlband, before declaring them "better than the Spice Girls". This, incidentally, is where I switched off the first time in utter disgust and decided to play High School Musical: Sing It! on my PS2, because I figured I'd rather sing badly myself than watch other people being applauded for singing badly. "Vocally! Vocally I'm right!" Louis says, again not realising that the Spice Girls do have more than one member who can sing. Honestly, it's not a tricky concept; why does everyone on this show struggle with it? Sharon tells them they look amazing, and that they felt comfortable. Really, dressed like that? It looks like it chafes. Dannii tells them they look like a proper girlband. Simon then - get this - says you rarely see girl groups singing live on the telly, because so many of them lip synch. Yes, but they don't have BACKING SINGERS OUT OF SIGHT DOING ALL THE DIFFICULT BITS, do they? Jesus wept. Simon thinks they bring a sense of fun, and that it was a terrific performance. Dermot asks them how they feel, and Raquelle - who totally thinks she's the most important member of the group, you just know - says "we've all worked so hard", again misunderstanding the correct application of the word "we". (I still love Hope, or at least Phoebe. The Phoebettes, I can take or leave. And they had little leather circlets on, which is the best of all 70s accessories.-Joel)

Back from the ads, and it's time for Bellowing Beverley. Louis was SHOCKED to see Beverley in the bottom two last week, and Beverley says that in the back of her mind she was thinking that she wasn't finished yet. This is no surprise, because it was totally written all over her face that she knew Andy was getting booted. Bev says that she now realises she has to fight every week, and she's taking a risk this week (drink!) and has chosen her own song. Dannii says she's singing the most difficult song there is. Beverley blabbers on about risks a bit more, and how Rhydian is her idol because he takes so many but also her biggest rival because of that. [Also, she says Rhydian isn't the only one who can prance about the stage. How rude. Everyone is rude tonight. Get some manners, people. - Carrie] (Seriously. Have some manners and worry about your own performance rather than looking to slag off someone better than you.-Joel)Beverley meets Girls Aloud and Kimberley thinks she's a fantastic performer. Beverley is singing 'I'm Every Woman', because she's a large black lady and it is written in the rules that she must do this song at least once. Quite how this is a risk, I'm unsure. Anyway, she shouts her way through it, as you'd expect. We've all seen this performance a million times before, so let's move on. Sharon calls her "a very special woman", and Beverley waves to Class 6T, who are all up past their bedtime. Dannii says Beverley was totally in the zone by the end of the song. Simon smugs, "lesson learned, Beverley - you choose your own material". [Dannii squeals, "Uh-huh!" in agreement. - Carrie] He criticises the outfit, which is indeed horrible [but which Louis claims is "disco" - Carrie], ('fraid not, LouLou. I don't think a badly fitting tux with a sequinned collar was ever dosco. Disco people cared how they looked.-Joel) and says that it started off badly but that the second half was great. Louis reminds us that Beverley was in the bottom two last week and it was GROSSLY UNJUST so she needs everyone to vote, and then has a go at Simon again. Yawn. Dermot kisses Beverley on the cheek. Beverley yells for everyone to vote for her.

Over to Sharon and Alisha, the only girl left. Alisha was great indeed last week, and was chuffed that Simon thought she looked and sounded like a pop star. Sharon and Alisha were both pleased not to be in the bottom two last week. Simon thinks we shouldn't rule her out of being in the final, if she gets the right song. Louis thinks Alisha is in the shadow of Beverley and Niki in the competition, and not just because they're both fatter than she is. Louis thinks something is missing in Alisha, and he thinks it's the X factor. Hey, wait, isn't that the title of this show? What a coincidence! Alisha was very excited to meet Girls Aloud and sings 'Young Hearts Run Free' badly to them. Cheryl calls her "a pocket rocket" and tells her to just have fun with it, because it's a fun song. Which: no, Cheryl. Listen to the words and then have another think about what you just said. Alisha thinks that meeting Girls Aloud has made her more driven.

Alisha's dancers are on rollerskates, or at least half of them are, and this song is wrong for Alisha, because she's too young for it in the same way that Cassie was too young for 'All By Myself' in series one, and she doesn't seem to get that it's not a happy song. Also, she totally fucks up the high note. The roller skating dancers are really having a tough time of things. I wonder if this is NotLouis's doing? [Obviously. If not directly his fault, it's his responsibility, for he is the show's CREATIVE DIRECTOR. - Carrie] This is a bit of a trainwreck to be honest. The singing isn't good, Alisha never seems to remember the line "to yourself be true" properly and the less said about the dancing the better. Louis says it's one of his favourite disco songs, that Alisha gets better and better, and that he hopes she's not in the bottom two. Dannii looks a bit upset at having to criticise it, but she thinks the "disco playground" (heh) didn't go well with fierce Alisha, and she thought there were flat notes. Simon calls it a complete and utter mess, and says that the people on roller skates couldn't skate. Sharon says that this isn't Alisha's fault, which is true, and Simon says that Sharon should've done something about it, which is truer. Behind Simon, NotLouis is laughing, because his incompetence is funny, especially when it sandbags the contestants. [I wonder if he's just happy that he stuck to the script so well - we all know they (read: Simon) have a story arc to adhere to, and if he's been told to make Alisha look shit, well, job admirably well done. - Carrie] Also, Alisha sang out of tune, Simon says. Sharon then has a rant about having no power on this show, that Simon does all the hiring and firing, to which Simon responds that he doesn't pick the dancers. "I'm a paid hand here!" shouts Sharon, because once again this is all about her. Poor Alisha. "I get a paycheque on this show, I don't make decisions, that is not my gig," Sharon adds. Wow. Way to absolve yourself of all responsibility there, Mrs O. Really adult of you. And really helpful to Alisha, too. Eventually Sharon says they shouldn't argue in front of Alisha, even though she started it, and Dermot finally intervenes like the useless, perpetually late, paycheque receiving, non-decision-making powerless host that he apparently is. He really isn't good at this show, you guys. He asks Alisha for her feedback and she's fairly gracious, copping to the bum notes but saying that she felt like she was being herself, which is what the judges wanted, and she wants to get better. Dermot patronisingly calls her "our little trier", which: fuck off, Dermot.

Finally: Same Difference! After the break. Aw, nuts.

Back from the ads, and it's finally time for the act we've been waiting for: Same Difference. They are typically excited about having made it this far. We see their AMAZING performance from last week, which will take some beating, and Louis being a bitch about it. "Same Difference, no difference, no chance," says Louis, reading from a script. Simon refers to the battle as "good vs. evil", heh. Sharon thinks they should be given something less cheesy. [Sean and Sarah VT that they are excited about disco week, and proceed to sing 'D.I.S.C.O'. Heh. - Carrie] NotLouis says they're the hardest workers. Simon says they're so determined as to be unstoppable. Sean says they need to fight against sexy contestants like H0re. They meet Girls Aloud, who Sarah finds "friendly and warm", and Cheryl says they're a lot of fun. Kimberley says you just want to watch them have fun. Sarah (Same Difference, not Sarah Harding) says that seeing them made her realise this show could change her life. They're singing 'Blame It On The Boogie', with the obligatory cuts away to Louis looking miserable as instructed by the director. This is an okay performance, but not really up to the brilliance of last week, although Sarah's sparkly shoes are brilliant. Key change! And finish. That was fine, but not one of their best. Louis doesn't clap, because he's been told not to. [Rude, rude, rude. - Carrie] Sharon says it's great to see them having a fun time with an appropriate song for them. She also mentions that they had to change things last night (I believe they were originally down to do 'Feels Like I'm In Love'), and so this is basically a day's work for them, which makes it more impressive under the circumstances. Sharon then brings up the roller-skating kids again, saying that they have to do a living and they were doing their best. The vocational future of the dancers secured, Sharon hands over to Dannii. Dannii thinks it wasn't her favourite performance of theirs, but she still loves them. Simon starts to speak but Louis bitches about how he's next. He tells them that he thinks they're nice people, who'll be great for kids' parties and Butlin's, but they're not in the same league as Shayne or Leona. I'm saying nothing. Anyway, Louis isn't going to blame it on the boogie, he's going to blame it on the Simon, natch. Simon takes responsibility for what happened, because the original song wasn't working and he changed it last night and they had to do this all today. He thinks it wasn't their best performance, but under the circumstances they did extremely well. Sean admits that he accidentally swallowed some confetti during the performance and had trouble singing. Hee. Aw.

Recap: Leon being SCOTTISH, Niki being a right royal bitch, Rhydian being molested by sailors, Phantastic Phoebe and her Skanky Support Singers having serious cameltoe issues, Beverley being EVERY WOMAN, Alisha being surrounded by tripping rollerskaters, Same Difference being less good than usual but good under the circumstances.

Dermot promises us results and Girls Aloud later, and we're outta there.


Dermot reminds us that the judges were all catfighting earlier, as if that's anything new, and we're treated to that performance recap again. Dermot plugs the live tour, and then finally we get some talent in the shape of Girls Aloud, with a "world exclusus" (sic) of their new single. 16 consecutive Top 10 hits! The most successful girl group in UK chart history! Girls Aloud, with lovely new single 'Call The Shots', which they are not lip synching, except possibly a bit in the chorus. But they also do not have backing singers doing all the difficult bits, and there are five of them singing, so any idea that H0re are better than them can just leave right now, thanks a lot. Dermot asks them what they thought of the performances, and Cheryl says it's very tense backstage and that they all did very well to get up and sing live. Sarah thought Beverley was great, Cheryl enjoyed Hope and thinks everyone did well under the circumstances. It's Sarah's birthday today, and apparently she's been made fun of for having Rhydian-style hair, so Dermot's present to her is a Rhydian wig. Sarah squeals and refuses to let him put it on her, but turns the tables and makes him wear it instead. Dermot looks not so much like Rhydian in it as he does Boris Johnson, but never mind, eh?

The lines are now closed! Someone has to go, and it probably won't be Leon. Grrrr. Adverts.

Dermot welcomes back the judges and contestants, and reveals who is safe in no particular order. Same Difference! Sean looks flabbergasted, and in his hug with Simon can clearly be heard saying "we don't deserve that." Awww. Louis clearly agrees with Sean, because Louis is a cunt. Leon! I don't get it, but I can't say I'm surprised. Leon acts kind of douchey about it. Also through: Beverley! Also through: BITCH NIKI BITCH. And the final act declared safe is, of course, Rhydian. So Alisha and Phantastic Phoebe and her Skanky Support Singers are in the bottom two, which, Leon aside, is probably the right result. Sharon says that Alisha just has to go up with confidence and her skaters and do her best. Alisha says she'll do her best. Dermot says Charlie knew they'd be in the bottom two tonight. Charlie says they'll go back out and fight for it, but they don't want to be against Alisha. Charlie thinks they did well, but they could've done more.

Arg, time for Dermot's inept filler while the stage gets set. This bit is always so awkward and stilted. You'd think someone as used to live TV as Dermot is would have no trouble with this, but you'd be wrong. (Srsly. Dude, watch some Ryan Seacrest on American Idol and learn from the master of keeping live TV running smoothly.-Joel) Anyway, H0re come out again and deliver the same performance as before with a few added whoops. Once again, not one of them can be seen delivering the sweeping harmonies. Grrrr. They finish, and RoboDermot fills woodenly again. Dear God, he really is dreadful at that. Alisha's back, and no more in tune than she was the first time around. Her apparent anger at being in the bottom two is probably helping with the attitude of the song though, but she still can't do the "to yourself be true" line. Interestingly, there are no skating dancers this time around. I wonder if they refused to go back on. I wouldn't blame them, personally. [Maybe they're on strike. We should go and join their picket line and prevent next week's show from being filmed. - Carrie] (I like to think that she said 'no fucking way am I having that crap distracting me again'.-Joel)

H0re come back on and rush to hug Alisha, and WOW Emily's cameltoe is right in our face at this point. Time for the judges to vote: Simon votes first, and votes for Alisha obviously. Although he does say that he wishes she hadn't been in the bottom because he likes her, but she knows what he's going to say. "No surprises there, Simon backing his group," says RoboDermot. He reminds Alisha that that's one vote for her, like she can't count or something, and Alisha does that "mmm-HMMM" thing that sassy black women always do in sitcoms, which is quite funny. The audience keep shouting and chanting for Alisha, and I don't know if that's pro- or anti-, but Dermot takes far too long to tell them to shut up. Dannii takes a fucking ice age to vote, but eventually votes for Alisha. She gets booed for that, so I think the audience are pro-Alisha, in which case they shouldn't bloody chant her name when Dannii's being asked who should go, should they? Sharon votes for H0re. Louis doesn't want to have the casting vote, and thinks there are other people who should've been in the bottom two, and sadly I don't think he means Leon. Louis keeps bleating "I wish I didn't have to vote", to which my response is as last week: vote for H0re and let the audience vote decide. But Louis votes for Alisha, who takes it on the chin, but H0re are crying because they love her. Aww. Dermot asks Alisha how she's feeling, and she replies that she did all she could do, which is fair enough. We see her Journey, back through all those weeks when we didn't know what her name was, through to the live shows and her two visits to the bottom two (although we don't actually see those), meeting Celine Dion and being Amy Winehouse.

Sharon joins Alisha on the stage and proceeds to make it all about herself (incidentally, Alisha towers over her) by not saying how she feels, and then talks about how she can be totally impartial now because she's the only judge with nothing to gain or lose. Someone shouts "I love you, Sharon!" from the audience, and Alisha's all "um, my moment here?" Poor Alisha, she never stood a chance. [And I would like to point out that this week has been the worst week of The X-Factor I've ever seen. Boring, amateurish and a waste of my time. I know it's never consistently good, but I'm usually entertained by at least one act, and tonight was shit from start to finish. - Carrie] Motown next week, everyone. Should be as tedious as ever. (Unless Simon sticks to his Xtra Factor idea and changes the theme...-Joel)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Bitch Factor liveblog!

Songs from the 21st Century week: 10th November

Carrie and Steve are here to blog and drink vodka as they selflessly sit through a night of the X-Factor.

It's been the most explosive series of the X-Factor! Sharon left! Sisi was kicked out! Emily had a kniiiiiiiiiife! Komedy Kimberley, Daniel, and Futureproof have all been eliminated!

Dannii is gloating about having three acts left, and Louis says she won't have by the end of the night. Yeah, we'll see. (Just to shut Louis up, I wanted Dannii's acts to survive.-Joel)

Dermot struts on, and shouts at the camera, welcoming us to the live finals and saying that our Saturday night starts here. He claims it has been an amazing week because everyone is still here, and everyone is raring to go like the dogs that they are. He introduces "the fearsome foursome". Dannii is wearing very little. Steve thinks she may have joined Hope for the evening. Louis is clutching Sharon's hand.

Tonight the acts are singing "modern classics", like that's a theme, and Shayne Ward will be singing later. Wow.

First up, it's the old people, and Louis introduces a great girl, "Niki, with a big song from Kelly Clarkson". But...we don't know where she's from. How will we know if we want to vote for her? Louis says, "We're trying to put on a show, we can't have everyone standing there singing big ballads." Says the man who managed Westlife. Louis claims Simon will Eat His Words. I'm sure he's terrified.

Niki is singing Because of You, and as Steve points out, this is a song about a tragic childhood, which she probably chose because her DAD IS DEAD. (IS it not more an 'abusive miserable childhood, I hate you Daddy!' kind of song?-Joel) She is wearing a bizarre black outfit, and resembles nobody so much as Sarah Ferguson. There are two fires on stage. This is tedious, and her pitching is really dodgy again, just as it has been for the past few weeks. Key change! Drink! This is so, so bad. It would be vaguely acceptable at a karaoke night, but not on prime-time television. Bad Niki. Bad Louis. No. (So dreadful. She managed to rip any shred of emotion from the song.-Joel)

Sharon screeches at the audience to shut up, and tells Niki that she is "a good old British belter." She lays on the compliments, and srsly, can these people not HEAR? Oh, Dannii can, she says it was a bad song choice. Boooooooo! Simon says that he agrees with Sharon, which he really can't. He says he loves that she zeroed in on him, because that shows that he is now more important to her than Louis. Louis is petulant and irritating. Niki is really annoying. Her DAD IS DEAD. Let's move on.

Back from the break, and Dermot ruffles Louis's hair. IDK, IDK. Dermot draws our attention to the fact that Simon swore when he had two groups in the bottom two last week. Heh. Sarah VT says that they were convinced they'd be the first group to go all along. Simon hits back to Louis's pantomine comment by liking him to the back of a cow, and Louis makes a panto dame comment. Lolz. Home video of tiny Sean singing 'A Whole New World' and saying that his dad always wanted him to be a footballer, but it was never really going to happen. Heh, no kidding. Video of Sarah in a dancing show, being adorable. Simon thinks it could either be appalling or brilliant.

They're singing Scissor Sisters' 'I Don't Feel Like Dancing' and IT IS THE MOST BRILLIANT THING EVER. Sean rides in ON A BICYCLE! Sarah's facial expressions are priceless. In the middle of this is the singing, which is good, but no one cares about this. The dancers are dressed as toys, and then Same Difference blow them kisses and BRING THE TOYS TO LIFE! This is the best performance in the history of the show. (I just cannot express how amazing this was. I think my favourite bit was when they sat in a big silver chair because they didn't feel like dancing. Plus they were actually on-pitch while dancing in a pretty difficult song. LOVE. Also the 'SD' logo on Sean's cardi. And the big silver S and D helium balloons. And the fact that the toy soldier man froze again at the end of the song and stood there while they got their comments.-Joel) Louis looks horrified, because he's a miserable old shitbag.

Louis is speechless. He calls it fun, but says they're never going to win this show. If they carry on like that, they just might. He calls them "too happy". Fuck off, you shit. Sharon tells them she loves them, but didn't like the staging. Well, that's NotLouis's fault, isn't it? Sharon thinks it's like something Michael Jackson would've dreamed up. "Sharon Osbourne saying madness, right," says Simon. Hehehe. Dannii tells them they make it look easy, and she thinks nobody's noticing how great they are. Simon calls it their best performance in the competition so far - it was fun, quirky, and in tune. "Did you have an unhappy childhood?" Simon asks Louis. I almost expect Louis to respond, "no, I had a father, but HE IS DEAD." Sarah gives Louis the Same Difference balloons to Louis, who totally secretly loves this, by the way. Sean nudges Sarah and says "high five, sister!" And they do, and it is ADORABLE. Dermot does not kiss Sean this week, which is very sad.

Dannii introduces Asbestos Andy, who looks doe-eyed at the camera. (As if he has any other setting.-Joel) Louis criticises Dannii's song choices for her boys. Simon claims that Dannii is out of her depth because she has done nothing for Asbestos Andy, and he has no oomph. Then he says, "He must look at Rhydian every week and wonder, why are you not doing that for me?" And: no, I can't be bothered to explain. Andy is worried that he is being seen as a weak link. No, dear, that's Leon.

Andy is sitting on some perspex stairs and singing Chasing Cars, flat, and in a monotone, or as monotone as you can get when you're singing a tune. He's wearing a ROCK! t-shirt. Very loud backing vocals kick in. I fall asleep. Boring. Go away. (The camera angle at first made it look like he was hanging upside-down. I was VERY disappointed that he wasn't.-Joel)

Louis says it was a good song choice, but claims he is a good singer but not a winner. Sharon says that he has not found the right path and lacks cojones. Andy glances down at his crotch. Sharon says, "I'm looking, but I can't see them!" Ew. Simon says he is a very fair person, probably the most impartial person on the judging panel, but that performance was like eating caviar with salad cream. Booooooooooo! Dannii says the others are all out of touch, and stands up and shouts a lot. Dermot comforts Asbestos Andy, who seems to be lost of words, so instead he asks the audience, "Did I sing well?" and they whoop in response.

Back from the break, and Dermot plugs The X Factor tour. Yick. (Yah, I know, but if I get to see Same Difference and Rhydian...-Joel) Louis makes some crab about knowing more music than Simon does. Yes, Louis, but it's all shit music from the 1950s. Next up Bellowing Beverley, from Luton. Beverley is proud to have been at the top last week, although on what scale this is being judged I have no idea. (Size of flowers on shoulders?-Joel) Beverley VTs about her abandonment issues from her mother. We're playing the X Factor drinking game, and there were so many triggers in that one scene that I think my liver is going to die in the next five minutes. If I don't survive to the end of this blog, you'll know why. (This bit was sickening. 'My mum had me when she was 16. Then she gave me to her parents to look after. And I want to ask her WHY?! But I can't! Because she is DEAD! And I can't go to the graveyard and pick her up!' It was just obscene.-Joel)

Beverley will be shouting 'You're Beautiful'. I have issues with this, because it reminds me of Maria, who was actually good, but did not have a MOTHER WHO IS DEAD, at least not as far as I know. I was about to applaud her for keeping it under control, but then she gets into the second verse and just starts yelling at me again. "YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL! YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL!" There's a random key change added in. Drink! Then Beverley ad libs and wobbles right out of tune and into another building entirely.

Applause. I note that Simon isn't clapping. Sharon tells Beverley there is one thing that sets her aside from the others: she sings from the heart, apparently. I'm not sure I see it. "If you carry on, you'll be in the final." Yes, Sharon, that is how it works. Dannii wants to see the diva back. Simon is torn, because he thinks it was a hotel singer performance. He thinks it had no edge, and it was a "peanut performance", which I think he said about Kerry last year. "In your opinion!" says Louis. Yes, Louis, that is what this part of the show is about. Beverley tells Simon she appreciated the opportunity not to shout a song for once. At least she knows she's doing it, I suppose. (Except she doesn't. Because she did.-Joel) Louis thinks Beverley is TEH WONDERFUL and predicts she will be in the final. Beverley molests Dermot a bit again, as well she might. Can't blame the girl for that.

It's TeamSlut! Last week, Louis enjoyed it when Simon had two acts in the bottom two, because he's not a very nice person. (Ad I'm sure the various members of Hope and FutureProof will love to hear that their misery was received with such relish. Seriously, the contestants are just cannon fodder in these people's petty name-calling. It's gross.-Joel) Raquelle claims that it was sickening when they were in the sing-off. Raquelle's parents split up when she was young; it was very traumatic. Drink! They're singing Back to Black, and seeing as the first harmonies are utterly off, this doesn't bode well. They're getting round the problem of obscenity by missing out the slightly dodgy lyrics, and the problem of not being able to sing by letting Phoebe do all the lead vocals, which is a good move. See, this is a decent performance, because you can't hear them sing! Ridiculous.

Louis liked it and says they're as good as any other girl group in the charts today. Sharon says it's good to see them just singing, "looking great, singing great". Dannii says, "Phoebe, you are just carrying the whole band." Simon is very complimentary about Phoebe; Louis says that GIRLS MUST VOTE FOR HOPE BECAUSE THEY ARE GIRLS DO YOU SEE GIRLS SHOULD VOTE FOR GIRLS BECAUSE THEY ARE GIRLS AND HOPE ARE GIRLS. (I was slightly charitable to Louis here and thought he was trying to avoid the whole 'girls are bitches and hate other girls, especially vaguely pretty ones who show a bit of leg' situation. Also: PHoebe is amazing. The rest of them suck. They were completely scuppered by the levels being screwed entirely and the music drowning out the vocals.-Joel)

After the break, David Walliams is in the audience and makes Dermot sit on his lap. Dermot looks nervous, as well he might. David enjoyed Same Difference and is looking forward to Rhydian. Dermot kisses David on the cheek. Dannii completely loses track of her train of thought, hee. Doesn't matter, because it's Leon. Louis doesn't think Louis is capable of impressing them week after week. He thinks he's already peaked. When was that, exactly.

Leon is incomprehensible in VT. Seriously, he sounds like Rab C Nesbitt. Leon goes to the doctor in his VT because of his vocal chords, WHO ARE DEAD. I don't know how he managed that, because he's not been doing any actual singing. Leon will be singing 'Dancing in the Moonlight', otherwise known as the worst song ever to exist ever in the history of everything ever. Ever. He jiggles around the stage a bit and is entirely average, because he is Leon and that is what Leon does. (His dancing appears to consist of walking along bow-legged, as if he's trying to shake off a case of rickets, even though rickets don't work like that.-Joel) Seriously, what the hell is he even doing here? Simon looks appalled, as well he might. I'm not sure quite what Dannii was smoking when she chose this song, unless she secretly hates him as much as I do. That's the only explanation I can come up with. Leon struts around the stage and OH GOD WHY IS THIS NOT OVER YET? I haven't been this appalled by a performance since the last time I had to sit through Ray Quinn and his swing bastardisations.

Louis likes Leon's voice, but thinks we don't need another Michael Buble. I wasn't aware we even needed one. He thinks it was like a karaoke performance IN SCOTLAND. Quite how Scottish karaoke differs from the rest of the world I'm not sure. Sharon liked it, for reasons I cannot explain. Simon is trying to figure out why Leon is doing so well, and he can only assume it is because people like Leon. He thinks it was a bad vocal, and the audience boo. "Are you lot deaf?" Simon asks them. Heh. Dannii says it's her and Leon and the people at home versus everyone else. I don't really understand her; I think Dannii's been drinking. Dermot asks Leon what it's like to be as likeable as Simon Cowell. Leon says he cannot speak - well, no change there then.

Alisha is the ONLY GIRL LEFT IN THE COMPETITION. Sharon decides to plug her charity work instead of introducing her. When Alisha is talking to the camera, she looks so very young, bless her. She is going to sing like it's her last time. Simon says she deserves to be there, but doesn't think she could or should win the show. She comes on stage and seems to have inherited Emily's beret, but other than that she looks very beautiful. Anyway, she's singing Put Your Records On, and seriously, they should have made use of the prop bicycle left over from Same Difference. It's up to scratch in terms of performance; she has a lovely voice; and everyone at Virgin Active will be voting for her. BECAUSE SHE WORKS AT VIRGIN ACTIVE. (Loved it. I hate this song with a passion, trite meaningless drivel with a stupid tune, but she sang it so well.-Joel)

Louis wants everybody to vote for her. Everybody. Dannii tells her she looks fierce, and the song could have been written for her. Simon thinks the song suited her, particularly towards the end when she put some personality and character into it. Someone from the audience shouts, "We love you, Simon!" He replies, "I know." Heh. Alisha demands her two kisses from Dermot. (She proffers he cheek and screams 'TWO!' at him, when he only kisses her once. So awesome.-Joel) She is wearing a necklace which has a teddy bear in a bikini hanging from it. Then she kisses Dermot some more.

Nearly there! It's time for Rhydian, finally. Dannii says there'll be no sparkly suit this week. Boo! VT Rhydian expresses his disbelief at what he wore last week. "It was like she'd raided Louis Walsh's wardrobe," says Simon. He's not wrong. Rhydian thought it was all good fun. Dannii's going back to basics this week. Does this mean he'll be doing something off the Xtina album? Dannii thinks the other judges are threatened by him, and she's right. Hooray! Simon hopes Dannii and Rhydian don't get too cocky and overconfident. Rhydian will singing 'You Raise Me Up', which has not been done to death on this show or anything. While this may not be as dramatic as his other performances, it's actually hilarious how much better Rhydian is at singing than every single other person in the contest this year. (Srsly. What with Rhydian and them advertising Leona's album in the break, the other contestants must be a wee bit miserable.-Joel) Dramatic key change! Everybody drink! They should have an X Factor All Stars competition and just pit him against Leona and not bother inviting anyone else. It would be awesome.

Rhydian gets a standing ovation from the judges. Louis has heard hundreds of thousands of versions of that song. Yes, and they're ALL YOUR FAULT. He thinks this was one of the best, and he thinks Rhydian will be successful whether he wins or loses. Sharon thought it was great to see him just being normal and doing a great vocal, and she thinks he's going to win. Rhydian is disbelieving. Simon thinks that nothing's in the bag yet, and the only time he can remember anyone else being that good was Leona last year. Dannii tells Rhydian he was amazing and she got teary. Because of the drink. Dannii loves his humility because he always says to her "if I'm here next week". Awww. A stuttering Rhydian tells Dermot he doesn't want to be compared to Leona because she's in a league of her own. Oh, bless him. Rhydian is such a sweetie. I'm tearing up, and everything.

And that's the end. Hooray! Everyone have a drink! Performance recap: Niki singing completely out of tune about her dad, WHO IS DEAD. Same Difference being the most amazing thing ever, in a future most-viewed YouTube clip ever. Andy being pretty but dull, as always. A particuarly-tuneless clip of Beverley, which I don't think was actually that bad in the show, was it taken from the dress rehearsal? Phoebe lugging H0re on her shoulders and the blonde one trying to slut it up completely inappropriately. Leon being SHIT SHIT SHIT. Alisha being pretty good, all things considered. Rhydian just pwning everyone left right and centre.

We'll be back later with a world-exclusive from Shayne Ward BECAUSE NO OTHER COUNTRIES CARE. We'll be liveblogging again, and we'll probably be bladdered. See you then!


Right, we're back. Earlier tonight, people sang live for our votes! Most of them were shit! Same Difference and Rhydian were amazing! Now! One act must leave the competition!

Dermot welcomes us back and reminds us of the utter horror. And then there's more horror, as he reminds us of the Shayne Ward Story as a prelude to him performing his new single EXCLUSIVELY LIVE.

This song is totally Shayne Ward by numbers, in that it's got absolutely no bollocks whatsoever, and some extremely dodgy lyrics ("if we had babies they would look like you"?!?!) and has falsetto all over the place. It is also boring as fuck. It doesn't even have the comedy value of 'If That's Okay With You', it's just shit. There's a "lovely" bit in the middle where he shakes hands with Simon, and then there is the most ill-advised high note ever, so much so that it shatters the light above his head and causes sparks to rain down on his head. Possibly. Dear God, I'm so embarrassed by this.

Dermot asks Shayne for his opinion. Shayne enjoyed Hope and Beverley. Sharon perves over Shayne a bit more. Shayne tells us all that he's very proud to have come from The X Factor and is extremely grateful for the opportunity. Clever camerawork conceals the member of the production staff who sneaked onto the stage and pulled the cord in his back to make him say that.

We welcome back the judges and their contestants. Sharon only has Alisha left - had we mentioned that? Dannii has all her contestants left, and is clutching at varying parts of their anatomies. Niki and Beverley are holding Louis up. Hope slut it on to the stage with Simon, and Same Difference bound in adorable fashion.

Who is SAFE? Alisha is laughing. Is she taking this seriously, or treating it as the piss-take it so clearly is? SAME DIFFERENCE ARE THE FIRST ONES THROUGH! This is BRILLIANT! WELL DONE, BRITISH PUBLIC! They hug Simon. Niki is through. Ugh. Rhydian is through! Hooray! He hugs Dannii, and wishes the other boys luck. Aw. Alisha! She and Sharon go utterly insane, leaping and falling over, although Sharon is noticeably unbothered about congratulating her contestant, because, as we know, it's all about her. Leon is through. WHY? Bad Scotland. Hope are through, and they squeal.

And now we have to watch Beverley and Andy sing two very dull songs again. Louis says Beverley shouldn't be in the bottom two. Dannii says she knows Andy can do it. Whatevs. Beverley gropes Dermot. You go, girl! Andy goes first and while he's lying on the big box, he pulls up his shirt to expose his toned stomach, which is brilliantly cynical, but far too late for it to have any influence on the voting audience. Silly Asbestos Andy. Unless he's going for the Sharon vote, which is entirely possible. It's a bit boring, but this is the most boring song ever, so there's not a lot he could've done. At the end Sharon is crying, possibly because if Andy goes, he will take with him teh pretteh.

Dermot fills for England while they set the stage up for Beverley. Louis goes "OMG SHE SHOULD NOT BE IN TEH BOTTOM TWO!!!!111111!!!!!", like anyone cares. Beverley repeats her performance again. My God, I refuse to believe there were not better songs for people to sing from the twenty-first century than fucking 'Chasing Cars' and 'You're Beautiful'. It's not a bad vocal from Beverley, although she loses it completely in the middle, and the song is SO BORING.

Andy rejoins them on stage, and is totally crying. Dermot has his hand on Andy's waist and says "all right, fella?" Awww. Dermot calms the audience ineptly, making me miss Kate Thornton again. Louis claims it's not an easy decision for him, which is a total lie, and he sends Andy home saying he's peaked in the competition. Sharon tells Andy not to cry and sends Andy home. Andy continues to cry. Dannii sends Beverley, of course. Beverley does not cry. So it's all in Simon's hands, as always. Louis tells Simon he has to keep Beverley. Simon is not pleased at all with being told what to do. He tells them they both had a weak night, and the public got it right. He tells Andy the song was wrong, but he has an audience and hasn't had the song to suit him yet. Beverley was one of his favourite auditions, but the performance was not great. He'll be deciding based on who the public will want to see. The person Simon is sending home is...Andy. If he wanted the public to make the decision, why didn't he vote to send Beverley home so the public vote would've been the deciding factor? Beverley kisses Andy and gives him a hug, and we get Andy's X Factor journey, while he cries in the corner. Oh, Andy. You weren't that great, but you were very pretty indeed, and we shall miss you.

Andy thanks everyone for supporting him and getting him this far, and he hope he hasn't let his family down. And cries. Dannii apologises for choosing the wrong songs, and it's all over for Andy. And for us for another week! Next week is a disco special with Girls Aloud, which should be amazing. I hope Cheryl punches Louis in the kidneys for claiming H0re are a better band than they are so often. See you then!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Back to the future

Big Band Week - 3rd November 2007

It's Big Band Week on The X-Factor - and what a week it's been! Yes, slightly camp announcer man, you are correct.

Dermot is soberly suited to announce prior to the titles that ZombiEmily has been removed from the competition "after a thorough investigation carried out by the show's producers and Emily's family". Not by the tabloid press, obviously. So she's gone, but let's not fret about that - for the rest of the contestants, the competition continues! Cue inappropriately-excited titles, bragging about being voted Most Popular Talent Show at the National Television Awards. Last week, Hope were sluts, Daniel was lumbered with Build Me Up Buttercup, Alisha wore a hat. Simon is confident; Louis thinks he has the best two acts; Dannii is here to win; Sharon only has Alisha left and is ready for the madness to begin.

And begin it does. We're live from London with a genuine big band and the lovely Dermot. (Whose suit is still ill-fitting; it's boxy and gapping at the front.-Joel) (But it is a slight improvement on last week's. I'm hoping he'll have found at least one that fits by the final. - Steve) He welcomes the band, who play the opening bars of In The Mood. He claims that the judges are the toughest, most brutal, most unforgiving people in the history of the universe, "three of whom you might even want to cheer for." Which three? (I was hoping that was a burn on Louis, but I suspect the one who gets left out was probably meant to be Simon. - Steve) The judges enter, and at first I thought Dannii wasn't wearing a poppy. Then I saw she is wearing it as a wrist decoration, because of course pretty flowers are pretty flowers, whatever the meaning behind them.

Later tonight, we have to listen to Boyz II Men. Everyone is ready to begin, and it's the Boys to start, which means Dermot throws to "their beautiful conductor, Miss Dannii Minogue." 'Creative' 'director' NotLouis is sitting behind her, so he hasn't been sacked in the X-Factor Night of the Long Knives. Dannii says it's a pleasure to be here for Big Band Week, and she claims that everyone is stopping her in the street asking her about Leon. Presumably they are asking, "Leon - what the fuck?"

Leon says that last week was all about giving a good vocal performance. It's a shame he didn't manage it then, really. He slags off Simon for not mentioning his voice (If Simon had anything complimentary to say about your voice, kiddo, I'm sure he would've said it. Take your silence and be grateful - Steve); Simon says that potentially he is quite good, but he has no confidence. Leon tells us he's a teenager from Scotland and he used to work in a clothes store; to go back to his normal life would be heartbreaking. And I just...I can't find the words. Leon, love, even if you WON this show - and if you did it would be an utter travesty - what's to guarantee that you won't go back to your normal life? Where's Brooko now, for example? And what's so wrong with your "normal life" anyway, which your mum Who Is Single worked so hard to give you? Simon says Dannii is out of her depth. We'll see.

Leon is on the stool of tossery, and sings Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words) as the audience clap along in rigid time. He's absolutely caked in panstick foundation. He looks a bit like a squarer Gareth Gates tonight. This is too low for him. As it goes into the instrumental break, he rises from his stool and moonwalks across the stage. (I hated the whole performance, but that bit was particularly egregious. A good entertainer will dance about a bit on stage during their performance because it feels natural. But this was so clearly 'and now it is time to dance spontaneously for three steps in this direction, then spin, then jump'. Stilted and dreadful..-Joel) Really. Moonwalks. NotLouis, you are an imbecile, challenged only in idiocy by the real Louis.

The audience whoop and cheer, Dannii gets to her feet. Louis says Leon has a great voice and is in his comfort zone. He says he didn't like the dancing, and the audience boo, the fucking morons. Sharon says Leon is the dark horse, positioning himself right for the final. Or, y'know, not. (I'm sure he's got a nice spot on the sofa saved right in front of the telly. - Steve) Simon says he will talk about Leon's voice, and says it was very good. He adds that Leon should thank him for being better this week as it was he who gave him a kick up the bum. Dannii says, "In other words, the whole country loves you." (Speak for yourself, Minogue.-Joel) Dermot tries to be snidey about Simon, but fails. (And here's where I miss Kate. She may not have been perfect, but she was pretty good at cutting Simon down to size when it was necessary. Dermot just doesn't have the chops, at all. - Steve) Leon mumbles in a dull fashion.

Dermot throws to "top brass" Simon Cowell, who immediately has a go at "Miss Cocky to my right, who just said 'follow that'. Slightly over-confident." So...does that mean that Dannii actually genuinely thinks that Leon is good? Anyway, it's Futureproof. The VT kindly gives us the names of each Futureproof member in captions, so we start to tell them apart. NotLouis gives them a dance lesson. Don't listen to him! Run while you can!

They're singing Can't Take My Eyes Off You, and wearing really, really strange suits. (Shiny material just looks cheap and old, like some car salesman whose suit couldn't stand up to repeated dry-cleaning.-Joel )They're standing in a straight line clutching their microphone stands, and look a bit like a shiny Westlife. Except Westlife can't sing in extended close harmony. This is good, but I'm fairly sure these vocals have been recorded, as we saw with Hope last week. ZOMG THE LIES OF TELEVISION!!!111!!!111!!111! They march into the band and clap their hands, and begin what might be a dance routine of sorts, but it's a bit of a shambolic interpretation of a Sixties Motown group's swaying, finger-clicking, hand-extension style. (And see above re: the stupidity of pre-planned spontaneity.-Joel)

Louis criticises the lack of dancing and the two "bookends" at the end for looking "odd". I shout, "That's fine talk coming from you!" and Simon echoes my sentiments, meaning that Louis pulls a very unattractive bitchface in pseudo-outrage. (I think it was actual outrage...'WHAT DO YOU MEAN?!' Louis is very angry all evening.-Joel) Sharon bashes the table, and tells them they look great and sound great. Dannii says she didn't love the song (booooo!) and says the vocals weren't perfect (booooo!). Simon says there were major issues with the dancing so they had to rework the routine in 20 minutes. Whatever.

Dermot says there was dancing, and he likes swaying. Snigger. Why has Dermot decided to take on the role of Defender of the Contestants? Shut up and present, O'Leary, and don't pick fights.


Dermot welcomes us back, and reminds us it's Big Band Night. All right, O'Leary, don't rub it in. He throws to "our very own wind section", Louis, to introduce the Old People. First up, "she's from Birmingham" - drink! - it's Niki. Bloody hell, she looks rough without make-up. Louis has picked a song for her that she doesn't know. NotLouis wants her to have energy and show what it's like to have fun. Three weeks ago, she was a dinner lady and a full-time mum, which was a Waste Of Her Life. The X-Factor has been a godsend for her. And...I'm kind of hating her. (Especially since the implication is that she's no longer a full-time mum. "I'm on the telly now, children, fend for your fucking selves!" - Steve)

Oh holy fuck, she's singing All That Jazz. She's perched on a chair and wearing fishnets and twirling her stilettos and she's got a trombonist pushing his slide under her knee (not a euphemism). And whatever else NotLouis may be, he's not bloody Bob Fosse, and this choreography sucks. And this performance sucks. It's All That Jazz done in cabaret style, and it's wrong wrong wrong, it should be snide and knowing and debauched, not Niki in Vegas singing so loudly her dad WHO IS DEAD can hear her. (Hmm. Niki from Heroes lives in Vegas. And she has a sister, WHO IS DEAD. Sort of, anyway. COINCIDENCE? - Steve)

Sharon says the risk paid off and she admires her for stretching herself. Dannii loves the song and Niki's performance of it. Simon didn't like it because he thought it was cabaret, awkward, unbelievable and she shouldn't have let the musician between her legs. The audience boo; Carrie cheers, because he's right. (I also got the distinct impression they were booing because they thought Simon was dumb because they thought this song was from 'Cabaret'.-Joel) Louis says that Niki can take on any challenge. EXCEPT SINGING KANDER AND EBB, it would seem, you fool. (Of course she can take it on. Whether she's successful in her endeavours is another matter entirely. Having said that, this was the first week Niki didn't bore me to tears, which must count for something. - Steve)

Dannii introduces Rhyddian, whose new hair I still don't like. Dannii says Rhyd is surprising us, every week. Rhyd says he has had classical training, and it has all been to set him up for what he's doing now. Oh, Rhyd, that's tragic. NotLouis thinks Rhyd has peaked too soon.

WHAT? Rhyd is being SHIRLEY BASSEY. It's Dame Shirley's version of Get This Party Started, and he's in the middle of the audience in a silver suit and a white fur coat, and...WHAT? Rhyd only works when he's being unknowingly camp. This is every camp cliche rolled into one, and he's hamming it up, and however vocally adept he is - and he is - this is going to be cringey. In fact, he looks a bit like Max Headroom. (White fur ftw. And Rhydian's pronunciation of 'boulevard' is my new favourite sound ever.-Joel) (He looks a bit like a woman in male drag throughout. But props to him for having the balls to dress like that on national TV. - Steve)

Louis says it was all a bit over the top. Sharon says he looks like the Snow Queen from the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and she doesn't know what to say to him. Simon calls Rhyd "Louis" by accident, corrects himself and says, "Oh, I called you Louis, I wonder why?" Hee. Simon loved it. Vocally it was incredible (which: duh), and it was his favourite performance of the series so far.


Dermot screeches, "What a night we're having!" He asks Sharon, Dannii and Simon if they are feeling the love. They are. Simon introduces Same Difference. Hooray! Oh, God love them, they walk into the rehearsal room to meet NotLouis with huge beams on their faces, and throw themselves into dancing with aplomb. And oh, cute baby pictures alert! First up, Sean aged about four, I'd say, in red cardigan and white shirt; Sarah at about twelve months in white lacy dress and with her smattering of hair brushed up into a Tintin-esque quiff. One about three years later, with Sarah in another white dress and bunches, Sean in some orangey rugby top, doing what seem to be Charlie's Angels poses. Bless! The plinky piano of life tragedy starts up, and Sean says that Sarah was bullied at school. Sarah says that all she ever wanted to do was sing, so she'd spend all her time in the music room and people thought she was a bit weird. Simon says, "I can't bear the thought of anyone bullying her, she's one of the sweetest people I've ever met", which - OK, that's made me go a bit gooey-eyed and stomach-flippy. Sarah carries on talking to the camera with tears running down her face, but she's still smiling. They really are lovely. (People who bullied Sarah at school: you are totally On My List. I'll kick your asses. - Steve)

They're singing Reach. Which - yes, I can see why, but really, is this Big Band week, or just Songs Which Can Have A Big Band Playing In The Background week? Sarah looks lovely in a black polka-dot dress; Sean is looking quite suave in grey jacket, black shirt and trousers. In the chorus, they throw glitter in the air. Again, the choreography sucks, but they perform with such sincerity you almost don't notice. NotLouis, I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming that when there are fewer acts, you'll have more time to spend with each of them and thus the routines will be better.

Louis says it was a lot better than he expected, and they will work forever in panto. Sharon says there is nothing wrong with panto, she loves "the whole brother and sister thing", and asks, "What did your mother put in your milk? Where did I go wrong?" Simon mutters, "Well, that's a long story." Heh. (I want to know what Sharon put in her children's milk, since one of her daughters is invisible at all times. The wrong daughter, unfortunately. - Steve) Dannii says they are getting better and better every week. Simon says he loves them, and they put him in a good mood every week. Dermot throws glitter at them, and kisses Sean AGAIN. Sean is gleeful. (He totally did an air-pump when Dermot kissed him. Not that anyone could blame him.-Joel)

Time for Sharon's LAST REMAINING ACT. Sharon sends a message to her daughter WHO IS IN HOSPITAL, and then introduces Alisha. Alisha cries about having been in the bottom two because people don't like her. Blah blah. She doesn't want to go back to being a receptionist because it would break her heart. Way to thank those nice people at Virgin Active, Alisha, who are wasting my monthly membership fees not on cleaning the changing rooms or providing non-broken equipment but instead on a website and Vote For Alisha t-shirts. (Yours too? I'm still waiting for mine to repair the swimsuit drier. I'm fed up of carrying soggy carrier bags around. Oh, my middle-class angst. - Steve)

Alisha is singing Amy Winehouse's version of Valerie, which worked when the Winehouse did it due to her general insanity and confidence, but Alisha's half-hearted strutting around with a tambourine doesn't have quite the same effect. Also, again, it's a bit low for her in places. On the up side, she looks amazing with a lime-green dress and much gold accessorising.

Louis says it was her best performance yet, which is true. Dannii says that sometimes people need to be pushed to be their best. Simon says it was her best performance so far, and that everyone likes a fighter. Except the sorts of fighter who genuinely do fighting and record it on their mobile phones and upload it to YouTube. Sharon says she is proud to have Alisha on her team. Alisha demands two kisses from Dermot, which is fair enough.


Dermot welcomes us back again and praises the band. He throws to Simon, who introduces the sluts known as Hope. Simon thought they were good last week; in the VT we get their names on captions again. Leah never thought she'd amount to anything, they're all best friends, blah blah fucking blah. They have a surprise for Simon. Simon is terrified.

They're singing Hanky Panky, and are dressed in pinstripes, red bow-ties and stilettos, and hair extensions. This song is so inappropriate. And at least two of them can't sing at all, which you can really hear when the backing singers kick in at the chorus. They rush up to dance round Simon in the last bridge, and he greets them with a glazed grin. This was...OK, and I can see them selling records, but they're not vocally very gifted. Not that it matters much. (They had clothes on! Hooray! And I think Phoebe is great, even if a couple of the others are...well, not.-Joel)

Louis likes them, he wants girls to vote for them, and he wants them to bring Girl Power back to the charts. Sharon says she wasn't crazy about the song but she still loves them. Dannii accuses Simon of living out some weird fantasy, and he replies, "What, you didn't like it?" She says, "Yes, I liked it," and he says, "Yeah, I know you did." Readers, I think the Cowell is trying to embarrass Dannii with lesbionic accusations on live television. Simon says the routine had to be changed with "seconds almost to go". Louis interrupts with, "You've got lipstick on your face!" and he replies, "Yeah, they kissed me," and cracks on with his praise for his act, which he says were his favourite of the night. Phoebe says they will take on board the comments. Drink!

Dannii introduces Asbestos Andy, saying that she has checked out his abs and they are looking gorgeous, which is good to know. Simon accuses Dannii of choosing songs that are safe and a bit boring just to keep him in the competition, rather than choosing songs that will win. Andy misses his family. Yawn. (He also said something about 'tonight you'll see how serious I am about being in this competition,' to which I responded, 'you're going to get your cock out?'-Joel)

Andy is dressed in white, and looks a bit like Jason Orange if you squint. His hair's gone different, and he's wearing a white suit and doing all sorts of acting and surrounded by dry ice as he sings This Guy's In Love With You. He has pretty eyes, as we know, but he's doing far too much emoting with his eyebrows and it's very distracting. The Cowell's right; this is all right, but it's nothing special. Although I liked the key change, marked by a massive timpani roll. More timpani rolls, please, musical director. (It was fantastic at the end, but that was totally the band and not Asbestos'n'Eyebrows boy.-Joel)

Louis says that Andy deserves to be in the competition because he looks and sings like a pop star, but the song was too obscure. Que? Sharon says he has a great voice but it's a bit weak and she wants to see some oomph. The audience boo, of course. Simon says the end bit was good, and Louis starts to shout at him, hollering, "I just want to say what I think!" You've had your chance, shorty, shut up. Simon says he doesn't see Andy as a recording artist. Dannii says that every girl in the country sees him as a recording artist. Andy respects the comments (drink!) and wants people to vote for him (drink!) and hopes his parents are proud (drink!). Dermot says that Andy's mum looks grrrrrrreat, then realises how inappropriate that is and apologises.

The final act of the evening is Beverley, whose class (Icknield Primary School! It's in Luton! I'm from there! Beverley is the aunt of West Brom's Leon Barnett, who used to play for Luton! I'm still not going to vote for her!) are in the audience. Louis can't wait to hear Beverley with the big band; Beverley is excited about the big band; NotLouis thinks this song will make Beverley stand out. Beverley never had chance to sing growing up because she had to Provide For Her Family. Louis, the patronising wanker, says, "She's just a schoolteacher from Luton." (Drink! - Steve) Beverley says her pupils made her enter The X-Factor, and there is footage of her hugging a child. I don't think you're allowed to do that these days, but we'll gloss over that and crash on.

She's singing Nina Simone's Feelin' Good, and wearing an asymmetrical red dress, which would be quite nice if it wasn't for the bizarre huge flower on the left shoulder. (It's gorgeous and incredibly flattering for her figure, totally ruined by the big triffid on the shoulder.-Joel This does sound good with the big band, but it's bound to, really. She seems to be singing on the set left over from Rhyd's Phantom performance, with dry ice and candles. After the key change, there's just a tad too much growl in her voice for my taste, but it's adequate. (By the end, she's just shouting. Again.-Joel)

Sharon says that Beverley owned it. Drink! Dannii says that everyone is in love with her, it was a good song choice, and a stand-out performance. Simon says that she had a bad first week, a good second week, and an incredible third week, and she outsang Niki, despite not mentioning any dead parents. Louis says this was the best performance of the night. Beverley said it took her some time to slip into the dress, and gives a big shout-out to her class, who wave their banners. Dermot makes a good point, which is - how much time is she getting off work to do this show? No wonder young people are growing up illiterate, innumerate and beating people up on the internet.

Dermot urges us to vote, and we have a reminder of what we've seen so far - Leon being punchable, Futureproof being shiny and finger-snappin', Niki being cabaret, Rhyd being Dame Shirley, Same Difference being glittertastic, Alisha being percussive, Hope being slutty again, Andy being tedious and emotive, and Beverley being throaty.


Earlier tonight! People sang for our votes! One act must now leave the competition!

Dermot welcomes us back yet again, telling us that all the remaining acts have been dreaming of a place in next week's show. He makes us sit through a recap of the performances yet again. I shan't be so cruel.

Obvious pun alert! Dermot says it will be the "End Of The Road" for one of the contestants. What will happen now? Oh, Boyz II Men are going to perform. They are the MOST SUCCESSFUL MALE R&B GROUP OF ALL TIME, which makes them a fine choice to sing on Big Band week. There are only three of them. Didn't there used to be more? They perform a Sixties Motown medley complete with Supremes-style choreography leading into a weirdly truncated snippet of End of the Road, and obviously piss all over anything we've seen so far this evening.

Dermot tells them they've still got it, and asks them who they think stood out. The first name mentioned is "Rhyddian, that cat, that vibe!" Dermot is amazed they "got" Rhyddian, presumably because Americans don't understand irony or camp. Beverley is their other favourite, and they have a new album out, of course.


Ooh, we're back, and all the acts are out on stage with their mentors as Carmina Burana plays to remind us how very dramatic this is.

Dermot reveals who is safe in no particular order - Alisha! (Hooray!-Joel) (I was hoping for a "congratulations Sharon, all of your acts are safe" from Dermot. You just know Kate would've snarked something. Come back, Kate! - Steve) (Sean Same Difference claps and nods very cutely.) Leon! What the fuck? Beverley! And class 6T goes wild! Rhyddian! (OK, this is weird - before his name was read out, Dannii clearly said to him, "This is you.") Niki! Same Difference! Hooray! Sarah screams, Simon kisses her hair. (I thought Simon was kissing both of them at the same time, since their heads were together, which struck me as adorable. I really hope that's what it was. - Steve) The final act returning is Andy! (And Dannii is thus the only one with all her acts left. Out of her league, is she, Cowell? I hate Leon and Andy's only appeal is the hotness, but clearly people are voting for them so she must be doing something right.-Joel)

Which means the two ramshackle groups will be singing off, and Simon has to choose which one he likes best. He says it's a difficult decision, and he doesn't think it's the right result. He advises them to do the best they can. Sean Futureproof says something, but we can't hear because idiot audience members are screeching. Random members of Hope say things but they're so high-pitched only dogs can hear them.

Dermot reminds us of the comments the judges made, and claims the acts are "singing for their lives", which isn't strictly true. If it were, it would be awesome, though. (Hee! Now that's what would make this show interesting again; every time someone hits a bum note, a small explosive device is triggered somewhere in the studio. It may be attached to them, it may be attached to Louis. Who knows? - Steve) Simon says he chose the wrong songs. Yawn. Futureproof sing first. Vocally, it's pretty much the same as the earlier performance, but I can't help but think they reckon this is their last throw of the dice because the judges will save Hope, so they're putting everything into the performance, shouting out to the crowd, and it's quite endearing. Hope are up second, and Dermot struggles with reading the autocue to introduce them. Louis reminds everyone that it was his idea "to put these two bands together", the cretin. The girls slut it up, it's no better than earlier, they do the same schtick where they grind at Simon, and if this is what passes for Girl Power, then truly Emily Davison died in vain.

Dermot goes to the judges. Louis says he is judging on tonight's performance, and is sending home the "sloppy" Futureproof. Sharon doesn't want to send either group home, but loves the girls so she will send home Futureproof. Dannii pulls a sad face, and tells them that neither of them performed well. (Hee! Go Dannii! - Steve) She says she is judging overall, and the boys have always come up trumps, so she will send home Hope. And what a shocker that is, because that means Simon has the casting vote. Simon says he is making the decision based on who he thinks has the best long-term potential, so he opts to send home Futureproof. And really, that is such a set-up.

We see Futureproof's journey, and I trust they will all learn from this - if they went for gloss and presentation rather than vocal performance, that might have stood them in better stead. The boys say they are shocked, but everyone raised their game this week, and they thank everyone for their support, reassuring us that this is not the end for them, and they will be in shops near us soon. Serving us?

Dermot's failure to tell us what the theme is next week indicates that either they haven't decided yet or they haven't got a special guest lined up. However, you can be assured that the Bitch Factor team have a real treat in store for you next Saturday. Oh yes.