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.
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! -
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.