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.