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 heroin...Scotland...my 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.
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 all....no? 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.’