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!
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!
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)
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!"
THIS IS IT - THE RESULTS ARE IN.
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! Oh...no, 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.