Monday, December 17, 2007


I was invited to review the winner's single in a semi-professional capacity, and the results are here, if anyone's interested.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Live from London - the X-Factor final

15th December 2007 - THE FINAL

It BEGAN with the BIGGEST AUDITIONS EVER. That's EVER, in case you weren't listening. EVER. The wait is over - Rhydian, Same Difference and Leon are ready to compete for the final, and Carrie and Steve are here to blog the unfolding horror for you.

OH MY FUCK they are billing this as NATION AGAINST NATION - Scotland versus Wales versus England. (It's also The Pop Group versus The Crooner versus The Voice.-Joel) Seriously. Dermot screeches on to the stage in another odd suit, but at least this one is in a reasonably nice material. He drops the "j" word - hope you've all downed a shot of vodka for that. Our contestants are going to sing a Christmas song, their favourite song of the series, and a duet with a special guest star.

He welcomes the judges. Dannii looks fierce, Louis looks like a drunken old man who's wandered in off the street.

Dermot tells us there's something missing. Talent? Oh, he means the finalists. They enter looking festive, and oh my God. SARAH FROM SAME DIFFERENCE IS DRESSED AS MRS CHRISTMAS. I REPEAT, SARAH FROM SAME DIFFERENCE IS DRESSED AS MRS CHRISTMAS. Rhydian is all in white again, and Leon looks funereal. Hopefully that's prophetic.

In case you hadn't noticed earlier, this is a BATTLE OF NATIONS. Leon's supporters (who appear quite sparse) are in Edinburgh, Same Difference's "barmy army" are in Portsmouth, and Rhydian's gang is in Cardiff.

Same Difference are up first, singing "the best Christmas song of all time", according to Simon. He's not wrong. In their VT, they visit a school and the kids go nuts, as do Sarah and Sean. It's adorable. They perform at a school, and Sarah remembers doing the same thing when she was a kid and thinking it was the biggest thing in the world. Awww. They go to visit their family, and get a hug from their dad. Awwww, again. Sean says it feels like their lives are changing. They go to the Guildhall in Portsmouth, and Sarah is wearing the Coat of Awesome from last week. The crowds scream for them, and they can't quite believe it. Sean says he wanted to bottle up the crowd screaming their name and keep it forever. Oh, bless him. They really want to win, for themselves and their supporters. That'd be us! Yay!

There's a creepy small child on the stage telling them they need to turn on the lights. So they FLY INTO THE AIR AND SPRINKLE FAIRY DUST EVERYWHERE. I am so not kidding. This is AMAZING. They are singing Mariah Carey's 'All I Want For Christmas Is You'. There are small children dressed as elves dancing around them. It's ridiculous, and yet brilliant at the same time. When this contest is over, I am so going to miss Sean's faces. Obligatory cut to Louis looking like a grumpy old cunt. Some adults dressed as elves bear them aloft. That was fucking amazing.

They get a standing ovation from everyone, including Louis, who calls it "a great start to the show". He can't believe they're in the final, but obviously people like them. Backhanded compliments, table for one! Sharon agrees with Louis and says they opened the show superbly. Dannii tells them it's their best show opening, and they really deserve to be there. Simon tells them he loves the song and he never had presents at Christmas as a child. He tells them they're the underdogs, and does the battle of the countries thing again, saying England may cause an upset tonight. Dermot comes on, and Sarah says that their trip home was the best day of their lives. Sean keeps making "my crazy sister" faces. Hee.

Jeff Brazier is in Portsmouth, spouting nonsense. He asks Portsmuff what they fink of the first performance. There is screaming. This sequence is fairly pointless because you can't really hear anything. He asks a small child who's going to win. "Same Difference!" shouts the small boy. "What do you think of Louis Walsh?" asks Jeff. "He's a grumpy old man!" yells the boy. That was as staged as hell, but it was still funny. Vote for them! 0901 61 61 101. But DON'T VOTE UNTIL THE END OF THE FIRST ROUND OF PERFORMANCES. (Jeff also said, 'If you don't like Louis Walsh, vote for Same Difference', which was awesome.-Joel)

After the break Leon and Rhydian compete to win a place in "pop history" - possibly in more ways than one.

We're back. Goodness knows how it'll get better from here on in, but Dermot nevertheless welcomes us back under the pretence that anyone is going to be remotely as entertaining as the opening act. Dannii chuckles when Dermot introduces her as "our very own Christmas cracker".

Leon goes HOME to SCOTLAND in his VT. Most of what he says is incomprehensible burble, but I do catch the claim, "I feel like I've really done something with my life." Also, he cries. Shut up already. There are bagpipes, because Leon is Scottish. He goes to see his mum, who is single, and also poor. They both cry. The plinky piano of tragic life horror cranks up, and introduces Buble on the soundtrack. He goes to the shopping centre where he used to work, the mayor urges the local population to vote for him, and I can't be bothered with this.

Leon is singing 'White Christmas'. Or 'Wide Christmah', if we're going by his pronunciation. The background is nice, with snowflakes descending from the sky. He is singing in his traditional style, which means tedious and shit. Steve is yawning. He's not wrong.

Louis says that everyone in Scotland should be voting for him, and generally enthuses about how wonderful he is. Sharon says he came into the contest as a shy little boy, and is now a confident, handsome young man. Or not, Osbourne. Simon says it was smooth and controlled, and the last 20 seconds were the best part, but that it is 1-0 to Same Difference. Louis begins to shout about Scotland voting for him. Dannii likens Leon to the Pied Piper, for reasons that are not entirely clear.

Dermot hugs Leon, Leon talks. Apparently he used to work in a CLOTHES STORE IN SCOTLAND. Dermot throws to Michael Underwood in Edinburgh, but he is not Scottish, so cannot really understand the true ferocity of the battle between the nations. (Michael Underwood, who completely ruins the Special! Surprise! Guest! by saying that Leon will sing with Kylie later.-Joel) Lots of people who are Scottish say that Leon is great. They are entirely wrong.

Time for Rhydian. Dannii tells us that we all knew his name since the beginning, even if we didn't know how to spell it. Rhydian goes home to Wales and is greeted by his whole village. Wow, if his whole village is voting for him, he's got nothing to worry about! Rhydian tells his village he doesn't want to let them down. Awww. Rhydian goes to see his family, who all have white hair too. His nan is very proud of him. Rhydian goes to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and is greeted by lots of people, although it looks like a small corner of the venue. Rhydian says that winning would change his life.

Rhydian sings 'O Holy Night', and he has a lovely clarity to his voice as ever. I keep thinking of when Cartman sang this on South Park and Kyle shocked him with an electric cattle prod every time he forgot the words. The staging is very literal (thanks, NotLouis!) so when Rhydian gets to "fall on your knees", he...falls on his knees. As you do. Then a children's choir comes out, because there must always be a children's choir. And then there's a gospel choir as well! And then the doors open behind him...serving no apparent purpose, and he does a glory note. There's some kind of bright light behind him, so Rhydian is...Jesus, I think?

Louis tells us Rhydian is the next big singer from Wales and could sell lots of records internationally. Sharon says it was beautifully sung and he was like a white angel (racist!). Simon tells Rhydian that he wins the prize for consistency. Rhydian blushes, and Dannii laughs at him for not taking compliments well. Dannii tells him that if he's not busy on Christmas Day he can come to the Minogue house and sing it again there. HELL YES! Best invitation ever.

Dermot chats to Rhydian about being Welsh, and Rhydian thanks everyone for taking time off work to come and see him. Bless his little heart. Myleene Klass is in Wales, and is similarly inaudible. Someone next to her has a Rhydian tribute haircut. Rhydian's neighbour says what a nice young man he is. A girl with a squeaky voice says something that only dogs can understand, but it probably amounted to "vote for Rhydian".

The lines are now open! Vote Same Difference! 0901 61 61 101. Adrian is trying to vote for Same Difference, but his phone is telling him the number is barred. This is probably because he is Irish, and therefore NO PART OF THE NATIONALIST X-FACTOR FINAL.

Dermot welcomes us back, and now it's time for the finalists to sing a duet with their very special guests. Same Difference are singing Any Dream Will Do. WITH JASON DONOVAN. Who does not have an amazing technicoloured dreamcoat, or indeed a gorgeous white one, like Sarah. Same Difference are acting and emoting their little hearts out. Sean looks quite overwhelmed at the majesty of Le Donovan. Children's choir! (I swear they just bought a busload of orphans to use. So many kids on the show tonight.-Joel) Key change! TWO DRINKS! THEN, at the end, they go into, "Give me my coloured coat, my amazing coloured coat!" and the 'X' above the stage goes MULTICOLOURED! Vote Same Difference!

Dermot says, "I didn't think you two could look any happier!" and they both beam and shout, "JASON DONOVAN!" Sean says that Happy Together was the first single he bought. Jason says that the music business is all about enjoying yourself, and that he will be in Echo Beach on ITV in the New Year. Sarah secures herself to the waist of Jason, and they all skip off.

Rhydian is next, and he sings 'You Raise Me Up'. It's quite sedate, but very clear and he has a lovely voice. He is joined by celebrity butterface Katherine Jenkins, who comes out and completely wrecks the whole thing. Ugh. And to think she's not at Strictly Come Dancing in alleged boyfriend Gethin's hour of need. Key change! It is not a good key change for either of them. We start wondering if Katherine Jenkins actually talks as ridiculously as she sings. (Seriously. That Paris girl is a better opera singer than Katherine Jenkins.-Joel) I thought Same Difference had got the short straw, celebrity wise, but their second performance was better than Rhydian's. It was certainly more interesting. Katherine Jenkins plugs her Viva La Diva! musical with Darcey Bussell, and we're all implored to vote for Rhydian.

Back after the break, and it's Leon, with his now-famous Kylie duet. Bloody nepotism. This is the performance I have been assured will horrify me, so - can't wait. The opening chords sound - I realise what's coming - and my jaw drops open in sheer disgust and shock. It's Better The Devil You Know, sung in Leon's characteristic pseudo-swing style. There is a big red grand piano. There is a big band. There is Leon wandering around knock-kneed. There is Kylie wearing lace and a horrible black corset. This is the worst thing I have ever seen or heard in my life. Dannii is laughing. I wish I could find some amusement in those three minutes of my life that have been wasted and which I will NEVER GET BACK. (I'm not a big Kylie fan, but she certainly has amazing presence and is a great performer on stage. Paring her with Leon really just showed how lacking he is in that arena. Also a bad idea? That weird black lace Bettie Paige bodystocking they put her in.-Joel)

Dermot asks Kylie what she thinks of Leon. She glances at him up and down and says, "Look! LOOK!" EXACTLY. Leon keeps touching Kylie. She is contaminated. Ugh.

Montage of all the comedy mentally ill people who auditioned this year. I will not lower myelf to recap it. Oh God, they're probably all going to come out and do a performance in a minute, aren't they? Dear God, they just showed Icaro. And the "great dentistry" woman. I'd been trying to forget that. And a victory lap for that shot of the door hitting Sharon in the face. What number can I call to vote for the door?

Told you so: the "classic auditionees" come back to shred whatever dignity they have left. The little Asian lady, Mafia man, "no way" girl, great dentistry woman, "I used to think you were such a wonderful man" band, Icaro, the funereal twins, the woman whose dad came in to defend her (who actually sings fine and wasn't notably worse than any of the finalists), the aerobics teacher, the woman who came in with her lyrics on a sheet, the girl with the dress made by her dad comes in borne aloft by some buff bronzed men in trunks. WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS AND WHY IS IT PASSING FOR ENTERTAINMENT? Oh, they're singing 'One Moment In Time', by the way, and it's only fractionally worse than Niki's version. Simon tells them that half of them could've been in the final (true), and that they make him proud to be British. (Oh, X-Factor. How I love it when you allow me to laugh at the fat, the stupid, the disadvantaged and the borderline mentally ill. Truly, you are the most classy and dignified of all TV shows. And really. Do not put stripping dance teacher, who got to boot camp, and Icaro, who got to the final six, in your 'hahaha, aren't these people shit?' showcase, it just makes you look stupid.-Joel)

Back again for more trauma, and it's Same Difference. Who YOU SHOULD VOTE FOR. They're doing Breaking Free again. Simon looks happy. I love Simon. Sean and Sarah are holding hands. We love Same Difference. NotLouis has stage-school kids overload this week - there are another bunch of them dancing round desks in S Club Juniors-stylee.

Everyone stands up to applaud, minus stupid Louis, the miserable old bastard. He asks them why they look so scared of him, and then he tells them that Rhydian and Leon are better than them. Rude, rude, rude. Sharon loves them and reckons nobody can predict what will happen. She then urges mothers to allow their children to vote for Same Difference. Dannii says that was Same Difference at their best. Simon thanks NotLouis, and the judges nod knowingly and applaud. Pah. Sean says they are pleased to be here, and Sarah thanks everyone for voting. They bound off stage.

Dannii tells us that Leon is the one who melted our hearts from the beginning. And our ears. And our BRAINS. He's singing 'You Don't Know Me' again and it sucks every bit as much as it did last time. DO NOT WANT. I can't help noticing that the audience applauds when he stops singing, which means they must be as grateful for it as I am. Oh God, if the Jazz Twat wins this year, I just don't know what I'm going to do. KEY CHANGE. It doesn't stop it sucking, of course. Man, I wish I didn't know him. Life was much sweeter then.

Louis tells him that Scotland, WHERE HE IS FROM, should be proud of him, and that he is "potentially" as good as Michael Bublé, which actually means fuck-all when you think about it. Sharon tells him he's been on stage with superstars like Kylie and Bubbles, and it's obviously rubbing off on him. Simon says it was brilliant, and that this was the point where it all turned around for him. Dannii does a shoutout to Leon's mum WHO IS SINGLE AND POOR. Dermot asks Leon what he thinks of the comments. "Murgleflurgebleurgsstruglehurgleburgle," replies Leon.

Last up, it's Rhydian, singing Somewhere. It's tuneful, and sedate, and understated, and about a gazillion times better than anything Leon has ever served up. Srsly, this whole series would have been much more credible as a singing contest if they'd taken our suggestion and let Rhyd sing off against Leona. Louis and Sharon are whispering while Rhydian is singing, which is so nonsensically impolite it's untrue.

Louis wibbles on about selling records worldwide, Sharon says it was her favourite song of the whole, whole contest and hopes he gets chance to record it, and Louis interrupts to say, "Andrew Lloyd Webber will ring you on Monday, but don't take his call!" Sharon replies, "He's a nice guy, take his call." Simon says it was brilliant, and if the title went to the person with the best voice, he would win it. Dannii beams in mother-hen fashion. Rhydian is overwhelmed and humble, saying it is the best night of his life, and then loses his train of thought.

Recap - Same Difference FLYING and throwing GLITTER; Leon being dull; Rhydian singing like an Aryan angel; Same Difference with Jason Donovan, but without coats of any hue; Leon and Kylie collectively crucifying one of the best pop singles ever; Katherine Jenkins being put to shame by Rhydian; Same Difference being WILDCATS; Leon staring at his shoes; Rhydian demonstrating why he's the best singer this entire series has had.

You know where our allegiances lie, but we'd be happy with a Rhydian win, because he is, after all, the best singer. If Leon should triumph, however, there'll be all sorts of trouble. Join us in half an hour for the results.

(Of note: Xtra Factor had celebrities naming their favourites. 90% of them liked Leon. Including Michael Bublé. Who calls himself 'Mickey Bubbles'.-Joel)

Results show

We're back! There's been vodka, and a nice takeaway curry, and if Leon wins this, we'll likely be vomiting it all back up in about an hour. Earlier tonight, the contestants have sung, and it's now THE MOMENT OF TRUTH.

Dermot welcomes us back, and tells us that it is very tense. We then get a recap of what happened earlier. Please see above.

Dermot is next to a Christmas tree, and informs us that it is VERY CLOSE. Just like it was last year. And the year before. Give us your money!

Now it's Kylie's turn to sing, but I'm currently pretending she doesn't exist due to the evil she perpetrated earlier this evening. It all looks hideous, with horrible costumes for her and her dancers, and it's not sounding great either. (This is a terrible song. As I said above, I'm not a Kylie fan, but I thought 'Two Hearts' was great, and now she's gone back to generic dance-lite blah. Oh, Kylie.-Joel) Although she has very pretty hair. I blame William Baker. For everything, generally. Dannii is gaily singing along in the audience to her sister's music and clapping enthusiastically, which is lovely. She gets a standing ovation.

THE LINES ARE NOW FROZEN, folks. After the break we'll be losing the act with the fewest votes and finding out who's in the final. Gosh. By the way, Leon really must not win.

We're back, and you could cut the tension with a mallet. Dermot is about to announce the act with the fewest votes who has finished in third place. Please be Leon. Please be Leon. I know it isn't, but all the same, please let it be Leon. Big sweepy lights. The public has been voting all evening, and the two acts through in no particular order are...Rhydian! And...Leon! Oh well. It was nice while it lasted, folks, but I think we all saw that coming. Also, people who voted for Leon: we really hope you're ashamed of yourselves. You've just made Louis very happy. They take it on the chin, of course, because they're lovely. They would've liked to get further, but it was not to be. Video montage of their best moments, and of course it is epic. Aww, I'm gonna miss these guys.

Simon joins them on the stage, and says that he's really gutted for them. He says he wouldn't have wanted to work with any other group. Elsewhere, Hope and Futureproof are all "ouch". Simon says more nice things about them. Dermot tells Dannii she is guaranteed to win this year's competition, which is kind of awesome, but if Leon wins the apocalypse will still come nonetheless.

Winner's single time: "our very own Braveheart", Leon, sings with a singular lack of charisma, and we see how inordinately awful he is without his swing-rhythm crutch. Or indeed with it. Key change. Gospel choir. It doesn't make it any better, except for the fact that Leon's slightly drowned by the power of their voices. Seriously, this child has no stage presence. He does a horrible glissando falsetto at the end, and BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. He waves in magnanimous fashion to the crowd, and the judges except Louis stand up to applaud. Louis plays the Scotland card, and FUCK OFF. Sharon asks him where those notes came from. Hell? Backstage? Simon says that he hates losing. Louis says, "But you've lost!" Not as much as you did, leprechaun, so shut it. Dannii piles on the superlatives. Dermot talks to Leon, Leon mentions a "journey" several times. Boring. There's a VT of Leon's best moments, which is mysteriously and inexplicably not two seconds long. A few "special people" with messages for Leon: his best friend, a random friend, his mum WHO IS POOR AND SINGLE, his nan, another friend, some more friends, his mum again, who says he is passionate about music. So passionate that he's been fucking its corpse on live TV for the past however many weeks. That kind of passion isn't legal, Leon's mum. Leon is crying, because he's a fucking pussy.

Dermot tells us there is 1% in it, which is bollocks. After the break, Rhydian will be performing the winner's single, and we'll find out who's winning this shitshow. 1%! You can say it as much as you want, Dermot, I'm still not going to believe you.

Back from the ads, and there's more bollocks about how there are two people left, but neither of them are Same Difference, so we don't care. And it's time for Rhydian's version of 'When You Believe', which is obviously better than Leon's, but it's still your obligatory "I JUST WON A TV TALENT SHOW" song and is inherently uninteresting for that very reason. And who do we have to kill for someone to get an original song next year? What was so special about Shayne Ward, eh? Rhydian does not appear to have a choir. FIX! FIX! But then perhaps Leon needed them to prop-up his weakass vocals and total lack of stage presence? Oh, never mind - there they are. Phew. Ignore that bit, then. Ah, the perils of blogging in real time! It's a sucky song either way, but it sucks less when Rhydian does.

(I still can't believe they chose 'When You Believe' as the winner's song. They normally raid a Bellefire album track or something, but this song was sung by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. It won the Oscar for best song. It is not a little-known song. Plus it's a damn duet. And it really only works in the context of 'The Prince of Egypt', with kids singing in Hebrew and stuff. This is it done properly:


Louis tells him that it's a close run thing, and he thinks it's going to be "between Scotland and Wales". Well, yes. Sharon tells him that he has his own approach to the song, presumably in that he sang it well, unlike Leon. Simon accidentally calls him Leon, and gets booed. Simon says if this is the last time we ever hear him sing (does the runner-up get his tongue removed? How was Ray Quinn spared that fate last year), it's a hell of a way to go out. Dannii thanks him for being so amazing, and Rhydian thanks her in turn. Such a nice boy. Rhydian thanks everyone for taking their time and money to vote, and Dermot gets corporate nervous, telling everyone that it isn't that expensive like the little toady he is. Rhydian's "journey" VT, including that time when Sharon hated him and it totally wasn't staged for the cameras or anything, and that time when he was Shirley Bassey. Ah, good times. Rhydian has a series of messages from people who are sitting in the audience - parents, aunts, cousins, friends, great-aunt, but though Rhyd is clearly on the verge of tears, he doesn't weep like a four-year-old like SOME PEOPLE. Rhydian says he wouldn't have been able to do anything without the support of his friends and family.

Recap. You know what's happened. It's a travesty so far, and we don't guarantee that it won't end that way as well. Steve wails, "I can't take any more of this show. I think it's given me cancer." Expect him to be auditioning next year if so. THE LINES ARE NOW CLOSED. After the break, we'll find out who's won.

Here we go, then. Team Minogue has triumphed in spectacular fashion, beating the hell out of Sharon and Louis. Dermot reckons this is the biggest night in British music, and gauges opinions from the OB anchors and the random lunatics scattered around them. A small red-headed child says, "I am the biggest fan of Rhydian!"


The boys come onto the stage, arms round each other.

The winner of X-Factor 2007 is...LEON. FUCK. FUCKING HELL. There are no words. But Simon will sign SD and Rhydian anyway, and Leon will go the way of McManus and Brookstein. I must have faith.-Joel

Well, if nothing else, that's the perfect way to mark the end of the worst ever series of this show. What a fucking crock of shit. Leon, the best undiscovered talent in the country? Fuck right off.

Leon wibbles like a baby, and Rhydian is gracious in defeat, thanking Dermot. Dannii joins them on stage. Leon's first ever single will be in the shops on Wednesday. Next week folks, we must all download Mariah Carey's 'All I Want For Christmas Is You', or possibly even Leona's 'Bleeding Love', just to prove a fucking point here and keep this gross miscarriage of justice away from the Christmas No.1 spot. Let's all hope his career does a Brookstein, and fast.

Dannii does not take the opportunity to point out to the other judges how she totally pwned them this year, because she's a class act, and exits the stage while Leon sings out as the four horsemen and a plague of locusts descend upon the stage. If there was ever any more evidence to sack Sharon and Louis, I can't think of what it would be. They spent the whole season slagging her off, saying she never had any success, that she was there for her looks, and so on. But a) she had a damn sight more singing success than you bitches did and b) she's just owned your asses at managing acts as well. Her acts came first and second. What do you wretches contribute to this show?-Joel

And then we woke up and it was all a dream!, it actually happened. Oh dear. Scotland, we need to have serious words with you. Was inflicting McManus on it not bad enough? Was it just because Leon's name is "Noel" backwards and it's nearly Christmas? I just don't understand, and I give up. The rest of the finalists join him on stage, and are all "this loser beat us? Seriously?" And rightly so. ZombiEmily is not there, because she has been erased from history. The song ends, and Leon weeps because he just loves singing. It's such a shame singing doesn't love him. Leon, crying again some more: "Flurblenurblewurblebeepbeepbeep." Wow, I can't wait to hear some more interviews with this guy.

That's it for this year. Don't forget that Strictly Come Bitching will have the skinny on the Strictly Come Dancing final next week, and join us in the new year for Bitching on Ice. Oh yes.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The dream IS DEAD

Semi-final - 8th December 2007

It began with 12! Now just four remain! (Incidentally, for the X-Factor live tour, all the acts are on the bill, except for Komedy Kimberley and Single Dad Daniel. And ZombiEmily, who has been erased from history.)

The judges have bitched like teenage schoolgirls; Niki is singing for her family, except her dad, who is dead; Leon blahs about his mum, who is single; Same Difference are wide-eyed and sincere; Rhydian is determined. Dannii has two acts left so she will see us in the final. (That useless Minogue bitch, she's got no idea what she'd doing....-Joel) Sharon is impartial - yeah, right. Tonight, WE will choose who goes through! Oh yes, indeedy, it's time to "face" "the" "music"!

Live from London, it's the X-Factor semi-final, and here is Dermot in another suit that bags a bit at the front! He introduces us to Fight Night (do you see what he did there? A cunning Hatton-Mayweather reference?) and gleefully announces that the judges have been STRIPPED of their POWERS. Nevertheless they're still here, else who would we have to hate? Apart from Niki. And Leon. And Michael Buble, who's tonight's special guest.

Tonight's theme is "songs to get you to the final". Fuck's sake. One song is chosen by the contestant and one by their mentor.

Louis has refused to take his medication this week, apparently, and Dermot throws to him amidst much booing. Are they booing Dermot or Louis? Please let it be Louis. Anyway, Louis introduces a woman from Birmingham (drink!), and of course it is Niki. Scary-no-make-up-Niki has horrible frizzy hair (Srsly. Turn the hairdryer down a notch, love. 'Fricasee' was not the intention of the machine.-Joel)and gloats about how great her life is now. "I've tried so hard for so many years...everything I've done has failed." Because you're shit. And a cow. Niki goes to meet Michael Buble, who tilts his head and looks sincere listening to her. Ugh. Getting into the final is all that matters to Niki. As if we didn't know.

To be fair to her, she looks moderately decent tonight in a tailored black suit, which covers up most of her bosom, which I think is what makes her look fat most of the time. Unfortunately, she is singing Songbird. By Eva Cassidy. Who is dead. LIKE NIKI'S DAD. Anyway, this is all right if you like that sort of thing - oversung and overelaborate - which I don't. Bored now. (At least she's screaming it. High praise indeed.-Joel)

Sharon says this song is too subtle for this stage of the competition. Niki lifts her chin and looks pissed off, because Sharon has not admired her amazingness. [I like the idea that Sharon's essentially revealed the show's modus operandi is "all obvious, all the time." - Steve] Dannii says it was a beautiful performance. Simon says it was more pretty than beautiful. Dannii interrupts to tell Niki she looks gorgeous. Simon continues to say that the song was dreary, and that Niki is lucky that she has a second song tonight. Louis witters on about singing from the heart, and that Niki is older than everyone else, and he wants people to vote for her because she wants it so much. Simon tells him everyone in the competition wants it, and Louis replies that he (Louis) wants it more than him (Simon), which is possibly true, because Simon is a success, whereas Louis is a bitter washed-up shell of a man. Niki has her chance to respond to the comments, and this is what she says, verbatim: "Nobody else in the competition sings like that, Simon. Nobody else does this. I'm trying to be different. If I come out belting all the time I wouldn't be different." Conceited cow. HATE. She doesn't do herself any favours, does she? (So funny! Srsly, when someone as humble as Leona gets attacked for being a conceited bitch by some people, you really want to watch yourself there, love.-Joel) [If Niki wants to do something different, she could try going a whole song without wandering out of tune. - Steve]

Dermot welcomes us back after the break, and Dannii introduces "our very own Braveheart, who has had a life-changing week." Yes, it's Leon, who moans about having to work in a clothes shop IN SCOTLAND to make some money for his MUM WHO IS SINGLE. Seriously, I can't make head nor tail of his accent. However, I can confirm that I hate his eyebrows. Dannii reckons he is the biggest threat to everyone. Leon loves Michael Buble; Michael Buble loves Leon. Perhaps they can both run away together and fuck off from my television screen, in that case.

I've no idea what this song is, but I like the grand piano and dry ice. ('The Very Thought Of You' but I've never heard it sound like that. It was like they wrote a new melody for it.-Joel) I don't like horrible stylised pseudo-jazz singing. I also don't like Leon wandering into the audience and kissing the hands of random women. This is going to get amazing comments despite being dull as ditchwater.

Louis tells Leon that he has come a very long way, and that he owned the stage, and that he is the new Michael Buble. Well, that's original. [I thought Ray was the new Michael Buble? Leon's just the new Ray. - Steve] Sharon says something similar. Simon says, "Let's get real. It was one of your weakest performances for a while." Hooray! Good old Cowell, bringing some sense to the proceedings. He says the start was out-of-tune, the bit in the middle was corny, but the end was good. Dannii says that she knew he was nervous, and there were some bits out of tune, but it was a very difficult song to sing and she takes responsibility for picking such a tricky song. Good for her. (See, Mrs O? Telling your own act when they're not good. Like Simon told Hope last week. That's impartial.-Joel)

Dannii hopes she has chosen the right song for her next contestant, who is Rhydian, and asks us to ensure we have a box of tissues nearby. And Simon goes, "Pardon?" Filthmonger. Rhydian does not want to go back to his previous life. Michael Buble tells him that his voice has knocked him out many times, and attempts a weak impression, which is...odd.

Ohhhhhh, he's singing that reality TV classic Bridge Over Troubled Water, but he's forcing the vibrato on those low notes. Why? Maybe a sore throat. Anyway, we'll see what happens when it moves up into his comfort zone. Oops, sorry, am entirely distracted by Brian Friedman's latest offering of creative direction, which involves random dancers wandering on to perform interpretatively, and jets of smoke. And his last note sounds a bit off to me. Anyway. Let's see what the "experts" think.

Louis, who you'll recall keeps talking about how "his Niki" has the X-Factor and deserves to win, says that Rhydian is brilliant, will definitely make the final, and will probably win the competition. Sharon says it was breathtakingly perfect. Louis claps like a seal. Simon says he thinks it was bloody fantastic, in a different league to the two performances so far, and possibly the best performance of the competition so far. Dannii says it was beautiful. Rhydian looks a bit stunned, and does lots of self-deprecating humbleness, thanking everyone in the world who has so far contributed to his life.

Break, and then we're back to Dermot telling us that Simon has always had an act in the final. That's the introduction to Same Difference's first song of the evening. Louis says, "Same Difference CANNOT make the final. No, no, no." Sod off. (Humourless old bastard.-Joel) Sarah enthuses about all the staging they've had. Sean says, "We're little Sean and Sarah from Portsmouth." Aw. Friedman talks about creative direction. Michael Buble can't help but hug them, and says there are not enough brother-and-sister acts.

THEY'RE IN A CIRCUS! This is amazing! They're singing Chain Reaction, dancing on a podium, and there is a FIRE-EATER, and a CLOWN, and a FORTUNE TELLER (With whom Sarah argues!-Joel), and a RING-MASTER, and a JUGGLER, and a STRONGMAN (With 'Same Difference' written on his back!-Joel). I love Same Difference, and they have to be in the final. I can't say they've ever really topped the pure brilliance that was I Don't Feel Like Dancing, but this is enthusiastic and lively and fun.

Louis still doesn't understand the point of Same Difference, so we'll ignore him. Sharon says she doesn't think the song showed off their voices, and Louis interrupts, "What voices?" Imbecile. Dannii says it was too high in parts and too low in other parts, and tells Louis that you can have whatever you want to make it entertaining. Simon says all three of them know that they're not the best singers in the competition, but they work hard, they've done well, kids will love it, and Louis is evil for wanting to shatter their dreams. Dermot tells Sean and Sarah that the performance was bonkers, and they beg for votes. Bless.

Dermot reminds us that WE MUST VOTE to DECIDE WHO WILL PROGRESS, and we get a recap of what we've seen so far. Adverts.

Now, the contestants are going to sing a song they have chosen themselves. Louis says, "She's from Birmingham, and her name is Niki." Seriously, he has no sense of self-irony. Niki reckons this song was written especially for her to sing in the X-Factor semi-final. Silly bint. Niki says she NEEDS to get to the final. Louis says if she doesn't, she could be back SERVING BEANS IN THE KITCHEN next week. Oh well. Such is life, eh?

The song that was written specifically for Niki to sing tonight is One Moment In Time. And I think she'll find it was written specifically for Whitney to sing as the theme song for the 1988 Olympics. She warbles her way through it, surrounded by candles and dry ice. Louis is air-drumming along, like a muppet. And her key change is AWFUL; yet again she's trying to chest-belt it and doesn't have the capacity. (She just has no idea of her own limitations, does she?-Joel) And then she misses the big note at the end, stops singing, and finishes the last bar in a head-voice, which is what she should have been doing before.

Sharon says it was brilliant. A clue: no. Dannii says that Niki knows how to work a studio. Simon says that performance was more like it. Niki asks him why he can't always be nice. (Because you're shit most of the time. Be good if you want praise.-Joel)Simon replies that it was a bit shouty in the middle, and some brainless item in the audience shouts, "Who are you?", at which Simon turns round with great disdain and says, "My name is Simon Cowell." Louis says people in Birmingham should vote for her. Niki thanks Simon for his nit-picking. Dermot wants Simon to praise Niki. Simon refuses.

Leon returns. His VT says...something about Michael Buble, maybe? Buble is scared of Leon. Me too. OH MY EYES! Leon is wearing leather trousers and trying to dance, with a strange slutty-looking girl. He is sort-of-singing How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) in, what else, pseudo-swing style. More girl dancers turn up, complete with chairs, and it looks a bit like Cell Block Tango from Chicago. This is excruciating. Why can nobody see that Leon is an adequate karaoke act/Buble impersonater at best?

Louis says nice things, including "you're going to have an amazing recording career"; Sharon says Leon pushes himself with his song choices; Simon says that he didn't like the arrangement, it was a bit indulgent, and Leon should be connecting with the audience at home. The audience start shouting at Simon, and he looks incredibly pissed off. Dannii reminds us that Buble chose Leon to join him on stage this week. Leon is humble and upset, and Dermot utterly misjudges the tone and tries to gee him up by saying, "Don't be fooled by this! He's a cheeky bugger!" Leon says that Buble was responsible for him starting to sing, so at least now we know who to blame.

Ads, then we come back to Dannii to introduce Rhydian. He VTs that this song is what this whole experience has been about, and that he chose it because he loves it. Simon says that Rhydian's greatest threat is himself. Louis says it is a very safe song. Simon says that if he doesn't go through, it'll be the end of the world for him, and I'm fairly sure he said that earlier too.

Ah, Rhydian is singing You'll Never Walk Alone, which Ray ripped to shreds last year with his SINCERITY, performing for the CITY OF LIVERPOOL. However, Rhydian is performing the original Carousel version, rather than the adultered Gerry and the Pacemakers version, and it's technically fine, but just seems to be lacking something. I do like Rhydian's three-piece suit, though, so well done to him on that front. (It's lovely. And it fits. So it's clearly just Dermot's stylist who needs firing.-Joel)

Louis says it was amazing, Rhydian will make the final, and will probably win it. YOU SAID THAT EARLIER, WALSH, YOU TEDIOUS REPETITIVE MORON. Sharon witters on about Rhydian's mum being proud. Simon says that if a place could be awarded in the final to the person who sang the best tonight, Rhydian would be through. Dannii says it was beautiful, and it was world-class, and people should vote for him. Rhydian thanks everyone, and hopes people will pick up the phone and vote for him. Dermot talks about how great Rhydian's mum is. Rhydian speaks in Welsh. Get a move on already.

Simon introduces Same Difference again, and says the song they have chosen is a very personal one. Sean and Sarah are VTing their reasons for their song choice, and Sarah looks very red-eyed. The reason becomes clear - this is a song Sarah listened to when she was being bullied at school. Sarah says she didn't think she'd be able to achieve her dreams because those people told her she couldn't, and she had no friends except for Sean, who was always there for her. Sean is proud of her; Sarah wants to show that she is stronger now and she will sing for herself and her brother.

They are sitting on a park bench and singing Never Had A Dream Come True, and I'm very much loving Sarah's coat. (Best coat ever.-Joel) Ooh, there's a lamp-post, and snowflakes on the screen behind them. Then random dancers walk on, and snow begins to fall from the sky! Oh, and Sarah bursts into tears on her last note, but continues to sing. Sean hugs her. All the judges are on their feet, even bloody Louis. Louis then proceeds to bitch, while Sarah weeps. Sharon says it was nice to hear Sarah sing without dancing. Dannii says she prefers that to the original. Simon says it was one of his favourite performances so far, and tells Sarah that having watched the VT, even if they don't make the final, she doesn't have to put up with that rubbish even again. Dermot comes on, bringing Sarah a tissue so she can wipe her eyes, and Sarah thanks Simon for giving her confidence, and then thanks Sean for being her best friend. Sean looks shocked, and then he begins to well up too. And yes, OK, I've gone a bit weepy too.

In conclusion - Niki or Leon to go, please, British public.

Results show

Earlier on, you know what happened, because I've recapped it for you. Now, it's the MOMENT OF TRUTH. But before the actual genuine moment of truth, we have to watch clips from the performances. And THEN we have to welcome Michael Buble, which Dermot is pretending is an honour and a privilege for us. The King of Swing, who has had a whole seven number one hits world-wide, which is admittedly seven more than I've had, but that's not really a sackful, is it? [YOU CAN'T SAY ANYTHING! YOU'VE NEVER EVEN HAD A HIT RECORD! YOUR OPINION ON ALL MATTERS MUSICAL IS ENTIRELY MOOT! - Louis Steve] He looks a bit dishevelled, and just to show how hip and contemporary he is, he is wearing Converse with a suit and tie. He sings. It's dull. Let's move on to garnering his opinions. Dermot shakes his hand and does a little bow. Buble says, "These's a little scary." Yes, they are scary. What he actually means is that it's scary to sing live in front of judges. He liked Rhydian. He liked Niki, and thinks she is sexy. He liked Same Difference, and thinks they are cutie-pies. (Whatever you think of Boobly, 'cutie-pies' is the perfect description of them.-Joel) He liked Leon, and claims to have been copying him tonight. How tedious.

Dermot talks to the contestants backstage. Sarah says tonight has been really emotional, and sounds like she's about to start crying again. Leon says something or other again. Niki is nervous. Good. She says she hasn't done her best tonight, and if she walks away tonight, then her DREAM IS DEAD. (Like her DAD.-Joel) Rhydian thanks people who have voted for him, and wants more votes. Tedious again. Adverts.

We're back, and ready for the results. Dannii comes on to the stage with Rhydian and Leon, Louis with Niki, and Simon with Same Difference.

Dermot tells us that the public have voted, and the three acts with the most public votes will go through to next week's final. In no particular order, the first act through is - Same Difference! HOORAY! TAKE THAT, LOUIS, YOU MISERABLE FUCKING TOSSPOT! The second act to go through is - RHYDIAN! THAT MEANS SOMEONE WE HATE IS GOING! The third act through is...goodness, this is tense...Leon! (Cheering for Leon was a very strange sensation indeed.-Joel)

That means NIKI'S DREAM IS DEAD! Leon bursts into tears and sobs like a toddler on Niki's shoulder. Dermot ushers him off the stage. Niki thanks everyone and attempts to be graceful, but one can't help but think that she's putting it all on. (Bit late for grace and humility, love.-Joel) Louis says Niki has been a dream to work with; Niki says Simon Le Bon is nice but not as nice as Louis. Dermot introduces the VT of Niki's Journey, which opens with her saying, "My dad died", and ends with Louis saying, "Your family would be so proud of you, particularly your dad." See, if she'd only played that card earlier, it might have got her through to the final. Still, never mind. Back to serving beans for you, Niki. Dermot says that she's one of the nicest people they have on the show, which doesn't say much for the rest of them. She sings us out with One Moment In Time, and it's worse than her original attempt, particularly the end. Ah well, it doesn't matter, because she's gone!

Next week, it's the final. Leon to finish third, kthxbai.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

It's all Hopeless

Top 5 Perform - "Best of British": 1st December 2007

I’m trying a bit of an avant-garde experiment with this recap. I was watching the show at someone else’s house and couldn’t take notes. So, basically it’s going to be more of a stream of consciousness thing. All the events in the recap took place, but not necessarily in the order I retell them, particularly the inter-judge bickering. I have a feeling anyone would be hard-pressed to notice, so damn formulaic is this godforsaken show.

We open with, as ever, the normal hyperbolic bullshit. The judges badmouth each other and each other’s contestants. Exciting music plays. Louis goes on about Beverley being there instead of Hope. ‘Beverley should be here, not Hope!’, that sort of thing. And given that she actually got the fewest votes and there were no judicial shenanigans, he really needs to shut the fuck up. I get pissed off with the retarded voting public, of course I do, but I’m not a voice of the show. Plus she was shit and deserved to go home. This is a pre-cursor to Louis being, even by his own standards, particularly hateful tonight. Sharon goes on about how she’s impartial and therefore the other judges are scared of her. Or perhaps they’re not, given that you’re so shit all your acts got voted off or stabbed their way out the competition on youtube. It’s worth noting that the moody video clips of the contestants are new – they are now dressed in white, in a room that is white, with lots of fluorescent bulbs hanging from the ceiling. It’s not a good look. Except for Hope, who are lying on their fronts with their legs kicked up on a bed, looking like the sleepover scene in ‘Grease’ or something.

Dermot stomps out and tells us our Saturday night starts right here. As ever, I think that I should be the judge of when my Saturday night starts or doesn’t start, thankyousomuch, O’Leary. [He also appears to be morphing into Vernon Kaye, with all of the unpleasant gurning that was going on this week. Vernon Kaye only shorter, obviously. - Steve] [When Dermot walked out, my friend watching the unfolding horror with me asked me entirely seriously and unprompted, "Why doesn't he wear a suit that fits?" - Carrie] He tells us that it’s ‘Best of British’ night and given how bastardised the theme always are, I worry. I mean, British is fairly unskewable, but ‘Best’ is a nebulous word at the best of time’s. If Xtina’s ‘Hurt’ can be a love song, I dread to think what ‘best’ means.

Out come the judges. Dannii is wearing a lovely black tassled minidress thing, until you realise the straps seem to be made of wicker. Then it is less good. Sharon is wearing an enormous black silk ballgown, like some dowager duchess. I think Louis has been eating placentas, or injecting stem cells or something, because he looks younger every week. Maybe he’s bathing in the blood of boys who audition for boybands. [A friend of mine remarked the other week that Louis appears to be getting greyer. I said, on the contrary, he's clearly been colouring his hair this year. Turns out she meant his skin, which I can sort of see. He's going to end up looking like John Major's Spitting Image puppet if he's not careful. - Steve]

First up is Rhydian, dressed in a red suit. [An amazing red suit. I want it so much. - Steve] He stands atop a piano to sing Queen’s ‘Somebody to Love’. The backing singers are women in black shirts and sunglasses, with ponytails. It’s like they’re from one of those awful porno knock-offs off Men In Black. All I can think of is how awesome it would be if Rhydian sang Jefferson Airplane’s ‘Somebody to Love’ and how this isn’t really a very good performance. I mean, it’s Rhydian, so note-wise it’s great, but there’s no real...’buzz’ to it, which is a shame. He generally either catches my attention by the whole white fur and sailors stuff, or by singing brilliantly, but this is mediocre. Sad face. He does some lovely sustained high notes towards the end. The judges are generally complimentary because he’s still head and shoulders above the rest of these clowns. Louis says that Freddie Mercury would have loved it. Wuh? Simon says that he didn’t know Freddie Mercury but he expects Freddie Mercury would have liked it because it was a great performance. A bit better but still wuh? [And Sharon says she wouldn't dream of speaking on Freddie's behalf, since he was a close personal friend of hers...and then does so anyway. Silly cow. - Steve]

Hope are next. They’re very excited because they got through last week on the public vote, not on any judge’s favours. I mean, they still came 5th out of 6, which isn’t great, but any port in a storm, I guess. I wouldn’t have the heart to break it to them they’re not doing too well. [Also, awesomely, in a flashback to last week, we see Simon leaping out of his seat when Beverley gets sent home, and looking round at everyone all, "See? See?" I don't even care how rude it is to Beverley because it's just that awesome. - Steve] Speaking of not doing too well, they’re singing the Spice Girls’ ‘2 become 1’. Dressed in curtains. Matching curtains, but still curtains. Or possibly wallpaper. Or paper used to line a hat-box. Cream and brown striped shift dresses. Averts the whole ‘Hope are slags’ thing but kind of gives a whole sackcloth and ashes vibe that you might not want. [And they are standing on a couple of park benches, piled up on top of each other, as far as I can see. - Carrie] They’re all singing! Unfortunately, this just serves to remind why they make Phoebe do all the singing. I’m normally something of an apologist for these girls, but this wasn’t great. [And if proof were needed that it definitely wasn't the girls doing those pitch-perfect harmonies in 'Back to Black' and 'Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!, this is it. It was better than I expected, but still rather scratchy. And I loved that even in a week where they don't give all the main parts to Phoebe, they still didn't give any to Charley and Emily, who are the ones who complain most about Phoebe doing all the singing. Heh. - Steve] Louis, basically, ‘you’re not bad, but I hate you and Beverley should be there instead of you’. What a vicious, classless thing to say. Sharon and Dannii are quite nice. Simon says he has to be honest, and the girls weren’t good enough. They will have to do better on the next song. They take it all on the chin, and Louis honks some more about how they’re disgusting bitches and Beverley should be there instead of them, despite the fact that she got voted off fair and square. I love how the only time Louis has complained about a result is when it was actually based on votes rather than tactical manipulation between him and Sharon about what would piss off Simon the most. Twat.

Niki [who is pleased Beverley has gone, because it means less competition for her. She SAYS THIS IN THE VT. Think it, but don't bloody say it, you stupid arrogant mare - Carrie] is doing ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’. I guess we can add Bonnie Tyler to the list of people Niki ain’t. God, she’s not even Nicki French. [Hee! That's exactly what I was thinking. - Steve] She’s got a big strapless blue dress on. It’s not good. When you have broad shoulders and enormous tits, you shouldn’t go strapless. [One of the maxims by which I live my life. You'd have thought someone of Niki's age would have worked that out by now. - Carrie] A bit of material to break up the expanse of flesh is a good thing. She has a funny backing singer to do the ‘Turn Around’ bits. He looks rather a lot like a vampire. I want to vote for him, but I don’t think it’s an option. This is passable at best. We generally ignore it, so it’s good by her standards. I’m normally glued to the screen by the awful screeching, like when she murdered ‘The Power Of Love’ or ‘Because Of You’. [She's got no grasp of the rhythm of this song, mind. She can't get the main lines out of the way in time for the backing singer to do his "turn around" without her still having about five words to go. HURRY UP, NIKI. - Steve] [Heh, yeah. She clearly thinks her rubato shows her to be a wonderful prima diva. - Carrie]
Dannii tells Niki that last week she was shit, and looking back it was the whole thing that was out of tune, not just parts. Hahaha! Awesome. Niki gets her bitchface on. Sharon pounds the table in rage that Dannii dare say something truthful. Dannii goes on to say it was much better this week Sharon goes off on one about how Niki is great and the face of working women or something, and Niki’s all ‘that’s right, Sharon, that’s right!’. [Not just working women - working MUMS. Because it's bad when Simon makes generalisations about mothers dancing at weddings, but it's fine for Sharon to mention that Niki's a mum, a propos of nothing, just to make her look good. - Steve] Sharon and Louis also say that it’s okay for Niki to be cabaret because cabaret is awesome, and she’s good cabaret so it’s okay. Louis says ‘Celine Dion is a cabaret artist!’ and then, awesomely for reasons he will never understand, ‘That was Las Vegas quality!’ Yes, Louis, yes it was.

Same Difference do their bit to VT. Sarah says that Louis won’t get a chance to get rid of them this week because it’s all down to votes now. I think that counts as them having an attitude. It’s as close as we’ll get. They’re doing ‘Any Dream Will Do’. Andrew Lloyd-Webber is British, I guess. Still, pretty damn tenuous there, Simon. As soon as they start, I say ‘when are they going to bring out the children?’ They don’t disappoint. Out comes a choir of kids to do the ‘ah-aahs’. They’re carrying candles. Or at least, fake lightbulb candles. One of the girls gets in the middle of Sarah and Sean, causing my viewing-mates to say:
‘Don’t get in the way of our incestuous relationship!’
‘We can’t have children! They’d be MONSTERS!’
I’d let the incest thing go, but that made me laugh too much to leave out. Once they’ve finished, they and the kids have a big group hug. Oh, I haven’t said anything about the singing. It was fine, of course. Louis is a humourless shit some more. Sharon loves it, saying it was cheesy and schmaltzy and all they need next week is puppies [and rollerskating midgets! - Steve]. Sarah and Sean seem to take this on board as a genuinely good idea and, after talking to Simon, literally skip off stage. Love. [They're cute as anything. Louis, meanwhile, is a tosspot. - Carrie]

Leon mumbles something intelligible to VT. I think it went, ‘I’m on mum’s single...Scotland...I didn’t like working in a shop...Scotland...Vote for me. Scotland.’ He’s doing Crazy Little Thing called love. Fuck off. We came to the conclusion that Dannii has realised he’s shit so keeps giving him swingy type undemanding songs so that people will vote for him no matter how bad he is. It worked for Ray Quinn, after all. His legs are remarkably short. This is perhaps slightly better than normal but still nothing I would ever listen to voluntarily. [He mumbled his way through it. Lame. - Steve] The judges are all agreed that he’s the most improved contestant but that’s not difficult, really. When you start at the absolute dank bottom of the pit of awfulness, you can only get better. Kudos, Leon. Kudos.

A little half-way break thing with recaps of the performances. Every single VT for the second song features the act saying variations on a theme of ‘this song is really important because everything depends on it’.

For their second song, Same Difference do ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’. NotLouis is earning his money for the staging here. [This was the point at which I texted various people to enquire whether they agreed NotLouis was on some kind of mind-altering substance. - Carrie] There are two beds on the stage, and a giant alarm clock. The clock rings and Sean pops out of one of the beds, and Sarah the other. There are lots of dancers dancing about in pyjamas! One has a dressing gown and I’m scared he’s going to flash somebody. It all ends with a massive pillowfight, with feathers bursting everywhere [including into Sean and Sarah's respective mouths - Carrie]. Dannii tells them they could have a hit with it. Louis says they’re there because kids are voting for them. He seems to think this is a bad thing. Presumably children are only allowed an opinion when they’re Mrs Trotman’s pupils saying how great she is and how they don’t feel abandoned by her fucking off to come 6th in a talent show. Fuck you, Walsh. Simon says that Same Difference are, ‘the opposite of Louis Walsh: young, fun, good-looking and relevant.’ HA! But srsly Simon, if you can see that, fire him and keep him fired. He’s a hateful little shit and not actually any good in the context of the show. And fire Sharon too, cos she’ll only kick up a fuss.

Niki’s next song is ‘Fields of Gold’. Unsurprising, since Louis has an absurd hard-on for this song [and it was used for that advert for a charity to stop people's LOVED ONES DYING - Carrie]. The VT says something about how this song is really special for her. I stopped listening after ‘because’ because I presumed it would be about her Dad, WHO IS DEAD. This isn’t too awful, because she’s not stretching herself. She just stands there and sings gently and when she does that she has a perfectly nice voice. But she’s got these illusions of herself as some leather-lunged banshee like the woman from the Bodyform adverts and keeps proving herself wrong. Louis tells her that it was great and her whole family, especially her dad, WHO IS DEAD, would be proud. [And he says this directly after his pointed comment to Same Difference about Niki not needing "any gimmicks", because he is so unutterably clueless. - Steve] Dermot asks Niki what she thinks about the judges’ comments tonight. She says that they’ve been okay. She then goes on to say that ‘Simon’s up and down with me. You can’t make your mind up, can you Simon? Maybe he’s a little bit scared of me.’ Or maybe, you hideous ego-puffed wretch, he is giving comments each week on your performance and some weeks he thinks you are shit and some weeks he thinks you are good. For her to act as though Simon is crazy because he’s not consistently singing her praises...just, gah! This woman’s sense of entitlement is even bigger than her tits.

Leon is doing The Long And Winding Road. Fuck off some more. I don’t even have to say anything about this performance. You know what it’s going to be like. His little earnest face and crappy little voice and complete sucking void of absence of stage presence. The only notable comment from the judges is Sharon saying that Leon is great and he’s got one thing that Rhydian hasn’t got, which is, ‘heart in his eyes’. Apparently, Leon’s little gimlet eyes are expressing emotion when he’s on stage. News to me. And kind of harsh on Rhydian, who does have rather pale and unusual eyes – it just seemed like a physical dig about Rhydian’s appearance. It will get worse.

Hope, awesomely, are doing ‘We Will Rock You’. There are dancers in the audience waving big pink flags that say ‘Hope’. Darlene Cake starts on stage alone singing a slowed-down kind of ballady version of the song, which is an interesting opening. The rest of the girls come on. Phoebe sings her bit and shows the rest of them up. Raquelle does a high kick, presumably because the splits are passé now. [Maybe she thinks she's a Spice Girl. - Carrie] There are more men waving flags on the stage. I enjoyed this performance more than any of the night. It wasn’t perfect, vocally, but I just really liked watching it and I think it was a pretty daring thing for them to attempt. Louis tells them that Freddie Mercury would not have liked it and is now spinning in his grave. What? Just, what? Under whose auspices, with what agreement, did Louis Walsh become the expert on what Freddie Mercury would think? Freak. Simon thinks it was a million times better than the other song. Dannii agrees. [And Sharon Osbourne, feminist icon, tells them that it's a very difficult song for girls to sing. Because girls know nothing about rock music, presumably. Nice one, Sharon. - Steve]

Finally, Rhydian is doing ‘I Vow To Thee My Country (World In Union)’. We spent most of it debating how to pronounce Kiri te Kanawa’s name because, again, this wasn’t a particularly inspiring performance. A big choir comes out to sing with him. He’s hitting the notes and all that of course, but it’s neither campy insane Rhyd or astonishing voice Rhyd. He’s a bit drowned out by the music. The judges give their comments and there’s a really weird exchange. Simon says that Sharon is wrong, because Rhydian does have heart and emotion. Sharon, in her comments to Leon, clearly meant that Rhydian did not have these things, but she now changes tune, saying, ‘I wasn’t talking about emotion! I was talking about eyes!’. Simon says, ‘then we’re seeing different eyes’ and Sharon screeches, ‘different opinions!’ Simon says something more about Rhydian performing with emotion and Sharon just bellows, ‘I was talking about the bloody eyes!’ Which therefore seems to confirm that she was just saying ‘Rhydian has freaky pale eyes and I don’t like them, and this week my menopausal cravings are stronger for Leon, so I’m going to make completely unwarranted physical digs about him’. Simon, because he is both a professional and a nice person, defuses the situation by saying ‘I thought your eyes were very good as well’ to Rhydian. Seriously, these protracted arguments with each other when the poor contestants are standing there feeling, presumably, totally overwhelmed with emotion, are just obscene. It’s rollerskategate all over again and why, Simon, if you’re reading this, which I’m fairly certain you aren’t, you have to axe Sharon and Louis because they are egomaniacal monsters who don’t give two shits about the contestants. You probably don’t either, but you hide it better, and that’s what really matters. [I love Simon. Really. - Carrie]

Two random other snippets that I don’t remember where they go:

Simon teases Louis about getting hair implants. Louis says, ‘at least I change my hair!’ and then, proving as ever that he can’t insult people, goes ‘your hair’s fake, my hair’s real!’ Is that seriously the best you can come up with, Walsh? ‘Your hair’s fake.’
‘No! Your hair’s fake! My hair’s real! Haha!’ Most people grow out of, ‘I’m rubber, you’re glue’ by the age of about eight. Simon threatens to watch back the videos to prove that Louis has more hair now than he did before. HA!

Dannii says something vaguely critical about Louis and he says, to her face, ‘What do you know? You’ve never had a hit record!’ [And he spits it out with such hate-filled bile that I half expect lasers to shoot out of his eyes, like on those animated gifs of Tyra Banks screaming at people on America's Next Top Model. - Steve] It was bad enough to say it to VT, but to say it to her face. How fucking classless can one person possibly be? More to the point: wrong. As Steve said to you before, maggot, 8 top 10 singles in the UK. How many have you, personally, had? ‘Who Do You Love Now?’ sold 200,000 copies. She’s had 13 consecutive number ones on the UK Club Chart. Clearly she’s not Madonna or even Kylie in terms of chart success, but ‘never had a hit record’ is just such a stupid thing to say. Dannii classily doesn’t respond with stastistics, and just calls him ‘the bitterest man’ in the studio. Or on the panel. Either is true. [I think it was "in the country", actually, which is even truer. Also, Dannii made a pointed comment about someone - Leon, I think - always being in tune, and Louis does another spiteful "that? Coming from Dannii? Ho ho! Ho ho! Ho ho!" thing, which you really shouldn't try when you're a short fat man because it just draws unfavourable parallels with Father Christmas. - Steve]

Recaps of the second set of performances.

Results show

Duran Duran, of all people, are the special guests. We get lots of exciting screen shots of ‘they’ve sold records!’ and ‘And won awards!’ The screens do not flash, but should, ‘They have gone to seed really badly’. Seriously, they look dog-rough and as bored as hell. They sing a medley of something and then another thing. It’s done with a complete lack of enthusiasm and they’re clearly just there for the publicity and/or appearance fee. It could be a PA at a caravan show, it’s so lifeless and depressing. Duran Duran’s favourites are Hope and Niki. Simon le Bon won’t say who likes who, but confirms to Dermot that yes, they do indeed like Niki because she’s from Birmingham, I take it all back, Louis, it clearly works. [Yep, definitely no gimmicks whatsoever working in Niki's favour. - Steve]

In the absence of a sing-off, because it’s now down to public votes alone, (the judges are POWERLESS! according to Dermot) we get to talk to people back stage about how nervous they are. Same Difference are nervous. Rhydian, too is nervous – noting that he didn’t perform his best tonight. Hope are also nervous. Niki says that she thinks Rhydian and Same Difference were great, and then goes on to say ‘they’re all doing their best and trying really hard’ or something. Point is, she says ‘they’ and not ‘we’. I’m probably just judging her harshly because I think she’s a crap singer and a terrible human being, but seriously. They? So you consider yourself entirely separate from the other contestants. There is you, doing your thing, and there is them, who are ‘doing their best’. Which is to try and keep up with you, because you’re amazing and destined to win this competition with the form blessed by the hand of your dad, WHO IS DEAD? Which, by the way, Niki love, we need to talk about. That form was not for you. It was for him. He was going to be one of those old men who turns up without his false teeth and sings ‘Camptown Races’ and then gets put through by Louis and Sharon because they think old people are funny. Anyway, basically, you’re still a contestant, so mind your damn manners. Leon is also nervous.

After adverts, results. The judges now come out individually with the contestants, with their faces projected on the sliding doors. It works for Dannii and Simon, who have one act on each door, but when Louis and Niki come out, Niki’s face gets split in half. [And out pops a giant fire-breathing lizard to devour us Did I just imagine that? - Steve]

Anyway. The first act safe (in no particular order) is Niki. She screams with delight. The second act safe is Leon. They’re doing this on purpose to piss me off. And I still don’t understand who’s voting for that ratweasel. The third act safe is Rhydian. Dermot congratulates Dannii on having both acts through. The fourth and final act safe is Same Difference, meaning that in a surprise to no-one, including the band themselves, Hope are going home. Dermot stressed the ‘no particular order’ thing again, which makes me think that Same Difference were higher than fourth and gives me some vague hope of losing Leon or Niki before the final.

Hope are remarkably composed. Or well, not remarkably, given how they knew the axe was going to fall. They say that they’re not going to split up, and are Hope now. Phoebe’s, like, ‘what’s that? Oh yeah, Hope, we’re a band now...’ while signing a solo contract, using Raquelle’s back to lean on. Simon tells them that they really fought and are a proper group now, and he doesn’t think this is the end of them. He seems to genuinely mean it, and the girls look delighted. They sing ‘We Will Rock You’ again and I still think it’s awesome.

Dermot says the theme next week is, ‘Judges, Contestants and Their Choices’. He does have the decency to look confused as he says it, because frankly it makes ‘Songs from after the year 2000’ look pretty damn specific. That is not a theme. Scott: ‘That’s not a theme. That’s just the format of the show.’