Sunday, December 14, 2008

I Am...'Xandra Fierce

2008 Final: 13th December 2008

Okay, folks, here we go - the final X Factor until August (and may I say a hearty "thank God"), but we've got around three hours of programming to get through before we can wave goodbye, and at times it's going to feel like a World Filler Convention, but if we stay strong together, we can get through this. Are you with me? Hell yeah.

We're reminded that 182,000 people applied this year, and yet Eoghan still made it to the top three. Nikk from Phixx (except when he isn't) got dismissed, other people got through, but only the strongest (and Eoghan) survived. 12 acts made it to the finals, and by and by we said goodbye to them all: Bad Lashes, Girlband, Scott, Austin (who's not gay, in case you'd forgotten), St. Laura, Daniel, Rachel, Ruth, and finally Diana "The Claw" Vickers, who doesn't take the title as so many of us initially assumed she might, but can at least take comfort in the fact that if they ever make another Inspector Gadget film, she'll be the first one the producers call to cast the role of the villain. Now only three remain: the finalists go home but sadly do not stay there. Eoghan is amazed to be in the final, and Simon says that Eoghan will work harder tonight than he has ever done in his life. Given that Eoghan's life only started three years ago, this doesn't seem like much of a strain. JLB have come so far, and are not going out without a fight. Louis thinks they'll be the first band ever to win the show, and I for one will enjoy seeing him be proved wrong. And Alexandra, who has to win, as Cheryl puts it simply. Nobody cares what Dannii thinks, sadly, because she doesn't have any acts left. Boo! I miss Ruth.

Dermot's entry music this week is the dance remix of 'Green Light' by Beyoncé, for reasons I can't quite determine. He's very excited that it's the final, but apparently still not excited enough to actually get hold of a damn bespoke suit already. Seriously, they must be paying him enough that he can afford to nip down to Savile Row when he's going to have 14 million people watching him. Anyway, the judges enter, and Simon's shirt is buttoned so low you can practically see his rectum, Dannii looks fabulous in an ocean-blue mermaid style dress that's open just above the waist and makes her tits look amazing. Cheryl's dress follows the same pattern, but covers a lot less of her ribcage, and is silver. Louis is all in black, and wearing a bow-tie that looks like a clip-on.

In the first of many fillerific incidents this evening, we begin with all the finalists singing 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough'. Why? Buggered if I know. Austin's on first, in a tight white t-shirt showing off his guns. Tess Daly, having zoomed into her dressing room and switched on the telly the second she went off air on BBC One, has to be forcibly restrained by a passing production runner. St. Laura's done something weird to her face and still looks pregnant [I think Kate Thornton's evil stylist has had it in for Laura this series - Rad]. Rachel has a new hairdo that makes her look like Paris Bennett and Ruth gets about two words in before everyone else swoops the stage. Sigh. Diana has shoes on, surprisingly. From this point onwards, it's pretty impossible to discern the vocals of any one particular act. Then the three finalists come on, all dressed in various silver/black combinations, with Alexandra's dress being some kind of disastrous flamingo/ballerina puffball skirt concoction. And it pains me to say that this won't even come to close to being the worst thing we'll see her wearing this evening.

Dermot throws to Simon, who thinks it will be close. And then we go to an ad-break. Seriously - the first part of the final has been entirely free of relevant content. Suck it, X Factor. I'd forgotten how much I hated your bloated-ass finales. (Don't worry, Laura, when I said "bloated ass", I wasn't talking about you.)

Back, Dermot reminds us that somebody will win tonight, even though at this rate it feels like it won't happen until next Tuesday at the earliest. Because it's still not time to watch any competitive performances - first we need to see the crowds in their local areas (note: not actual hometowns): Derry for Eoghan, central London for JLB and north London for Alexandra.

For their first performances, all the acts will be singing Christmas songs. First up, representing Ireland (shut up, Simon), it's Eieioghan. He can't believe he's in the final. Join the club, kid. He goes home to Ireland, either via helicopter, which seems unlikely, or getting into one having already arrived there by other means of transport, which would be my guess. He goes to his old school in Dungiven, where the crowd yells and screams. It is one of the best feelings Eoghan has ever had. Then a POLICE ESCORT takes him to his house. And here I was hoping they'd arrived to charge him for crimes against singing. He sees his mum and dad and new baby sister (who is wearing a "Vote Eoghan" bonnet - seriously, at least let the kid learn to speak before turning her into a shill), then the police escort takes him to a big open-air gig somewhere. A girl who looks like Diana with shorter hair cries. After seeing all the support people have given him, Eoghan feels like he needs to win.

Oh Lord. Eoghan is singing 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday', and he is sitting in a sleigh made of (presumably) MDF which is being drawn by four life-size plastic reindeer. Oh, NotLouis. Please try to lay off the crack next year. I was watching this show live over at Carrie's, and we hypothesised that all of the staging equipment is stored in NotLouis's house whenever it's NotInUse, which would just make his house the most amazing place in the world. At least, it would be if he didn't live there. [Imagine all the seating on offer! Ikea chaise-longues! Inflatable silver chairs! Mirror-ball swings! - Carrie] Anyway, Eoghan's vocals are typically weak and he's being overwhelmed by the backing track, but what does that matter when he has a crowd of child dancers who look like they've just run in from a Gap advert? Then they kneel by the sleigh and Eoghan hands out a sack of presents. Seriously, I am not making this up. It's still not quite as insane as flying Same Difference last year, but it's a close-run thing.

Louis can't believe Eoghan is only 16 - he has no fear, he was born to do this. Dannii loves hearing Eoghan's fan club (but not Eoghan, I presume). Cheryl calls him "a fantastic young lad and a great role model for kids your age". I warn you now, we'll be getting the "great role model" line a lot this evening, and at no point will it not be utter horseshit. Simon tells Eoghan that whatever happens he's going to go back as a hero, which is quite a sad state of affairs for the folks of Northern Ireland.

Dermot says that the level of support for Eoghan in Derry/Dungiven looked "bonkers", and Eoghan replies "it was worse!" Heh. He reminds us that he's the youngest ever finalist and the first Irish finalist. Um, well done? I guess. Dermot passes the baton to Michael Underwood in Derry, who is being mobbed by Eoghan-mad pre-teen girls who prevent him from getting anywhere near the camera. Michael chats to the mayor, who is positively beetroot-coloured with excitement, who calls "Eoghan a legend in his own country" and reminds us that Eoghan is the first Irish finalist in the X Factor. Michael Underwood looks bemused by the level of excitement. Word, Michael Underwood.

Back in the studio, Eoghan says that he saw his cousin Michael in the crowd, to which Dermot replies, "I'm guessing there's quite a lot of cousins called Michael, though, to be fair." Um, what? That doesn't make any sense. Eoghan does his patented vacant vote-begging face, and Dermot says that "first blood goes to Eoghan", which is a ridiculous thing to say because nobody else has performed yet.

Louis introduces "four boys [who are] creating a buzz everywhere they go". Sure, a buzz, hospitalisation, it's all good. We see VTs of JLB's history. Yellow JLS says that it seems so long ago that they stood in the rain waiting to audition. So long ago, indeed, that they weren't even colour-coded at that stage. They went to their home towns, starting with Aston's home town of "Peeowuh", or Peterborough to those of us capable of stringing four syllables together. They're in a stretch Hummer, by the way, with "JLS" on the side. The crowd goes nuts for them at his old school, and his mum and grandparents come down to see him. Aston's mum cries a lot and is not wearing waterproof mascara. Then they all go to London, where The Other Three are from. A random woman in the street calls them "the best thing since The Beatles". They do a gig, and the people who were trampled underfoot at this point are not mentioned. Red JLS says it was the best moment of his life. Green JLS says they really want it and they have to win.

They are singing 'Last Christmas', and by they, I mean Aston, obviously. The Other Three provide some harmonies at the very beginning before the backing track kicks in and they have their duties taken over by session singers. There is then a moment of epic lulz when the "merry Christmas" part of the first verse is spoken by Yellow JLS in extreme gayvoice, and seriously, that is the last time we will see anyone who is not Aston making any contribution to this performance. [I have not stopped laughing at "Merry Christmas" since Saturday night. I fear I may be JLS's next hospitalisation victim. - Carrie] There is a key change mid-way through, obviously.

Dannii says that this is her favourite Christmas song and thanks them for singing it. She says she knew they'd be in the finals when she saw them at the first audition. Cheryl couldn't have hoped for a better four lads to be up there in the final. Given that the other two groups were comprised entirely of girls, and only three acts can actually make the final, she is right - she really couldn't have. She thinks they deserve their place in the final and wishes them the best of luck. Simon reminds them of his prediction that they would be the most successful group in X Factor history, and then declares he was right. This is despite Same Difference having got this far last year [and indeed Journey South in the second series if memory serves - Rad], and first series runner-ups G4 having sold 1.5 million albums. Shut up, Simon. He says "there is no question of doubt" (what?) that they've already become pop stars, and congratulates Louis on a perfect song choice. Louis says he's the proudest mentor there tonight, and repeats his wretched "can we win it? Yes we can!" schtick.

Dermot then rightly takes the piss out of Yellow JLS for his bizarre, almost Dickensian, "merry Christmas", and then they talk about the gig in Croydon. Green JLS says that no one expected the number of people who would turn up, and again: evidently. Dermot asks about the teddy bear on Louis's desk which is their mascot. Louis tells Dermot that "these boys already have a huge fanbase, and they're voting as we speak". In which case, they are being charged around a minimum of 35p for an entirely pointless phonecall, since the lines haven't opened yet, you dipshit.

Jeff Brazier is in "central London" with the JLS fans, and this bit is horrendous, with Brazier just yelling indiscriminately to no one in particular, before cornering their old music teacher who refuses to look at their camera, and their ex-headmistress, who is a nun. It is odd to see a nun yelling "go JLS, we love you!" into the camera.

This means Alexandra is next - Cheryl reminds us that Alexandra lacked a penis back in 2005 and rather than pressing ahead with expensive gender reassignment surgery, preferred to wait until someone less stupid would be her mentor, hence her return three years later. The 'Theme from Mahogany' plays, and Alex can't believe she's in the final or riding around in a limo. She goes to her old primary school and is mobbed by children. She sings to them in a small hall and signs lots of autographs. She then goes back to her mum's front door - and presumably inside as well, though she doesn't say this explicitly. Alex's family are very proud of her, and her sister, with whom she used to share a bed lest we forget, cries. Alex went out in the evening and "literally" stepped out of her limo (it's true, she did) and does a big gig in somewhere that looks like Camden to my admittedly unfamiliar eye [yep: Koko - Carrie], though presumably no one was slaughtered at this one.

Alexandra sings 'Silent Night', all vamped up and ballady, and is wearing a dress that looks like it was made for an eight-year-old because it barely covers her thighs and the proportions are all wrong. It's very odd. The good news is that vocally she's miles ahead of both the previous acts, and that is technically what's important here. A gospel choir is brought out to bring it on home, and we are not spared the close-ups of Cheryl looking tearful and full of maternal pride. And one of Simon pulling at his bottom lip, for some reason. Round one to Alexandra, methinks.

Louis tells her she looks like a superstar and that she'll have a massive career in music. Dannii calls it "a platinum performance by anyone's standards" and calls her a "songstress superstar", having presumably taken Arlene Phillips's pills before the show. Simon calls the performance "outstandingly good" and slips in the obligatory comment about Louis "wrecking her life" three years ago. Cheryl says she has the highest hopes for Alexandra, and wants her to win and be up there with the international superstars. Alex struggles to keep it together, and tells Dermot she's overwhelmed, grateful, honoured to be here. She promises not to cry too much and, well, we'll see.

Alexandra's fans are gathered in "north London" with Kym Marsh (wot no Myleene this year?) [I was outraged - Rad]. Kym says the atmosphere is incredible, and chats to Alex's old music teacher, who loved the performance and wants Alex to win. Kym asks a small boy what they want people to do, and he replies "huh?" before collecting himself and shouting "vote for Alexandra!" into the microphone. Bless.

The phone lines open! How exciting. Dermot gives out the numbers again and stumbles over his words. We see the first performances again: Eoghan being Tiny Cracktastic Santa, Aston And The Woo Woo Boys phoning it in and Alexandra being divalicious. Dermot urges us to return for round two with the promise of "mystery" guest stars. Ooh, etc.

Back from the break, Dermot tells us the line are very busy. He asks the audience who took the first round, and their answer is unintelligible. He plugs next year's tour, and we're back with Simon and Eoghan and "wait and see". Which sounded a bit like "Quincy" as we heard it on the night, and an Eoghan and Quincy duet would be awesome. Anyway, all mystery regarding the identity of Eoghan's singing partners vanishes when he starts singing Boyzone's 'Picture of You'. His vocals are maybe very slightly better at this point, but still not even close to the standard they really ought to be in a finalist. Sure enough, Eoghan introduces Boyzone and then basically doesn't bother to do much more singing after that. Stephen Gately is looking weird and plastic and like a Thunderbird. As usual, the song is improved immensely by a key change, but at the end of the day, it's still Eoghan and Boyzone, so, y'know.

Dermot says it was like seeing Boyzone go back in a time machine whenever he saw Eoghan, and Ronan says that Eoghan's very confident and also Irish. Sigh.

Next up are "JLS and...somebody else". Which will be Westlife, since they're singing 'Flying Without Wings'. There's not really a lot of point in keeping the celeb duets a mystery at this point, is there? It's never going to be the surprise it was during series three. Anyway, The Other Three get to do their own harmonies at the beginning, and then they get forgotten when Westlife come out. Seriously, of the eight people on stage right now, only three of them are needed in any way. That's just sad. Kian and Green JLS share looks of "yep, this is as good as it gets, try not to look too downhearted". Hilariously, the really big line of the song (you know, the "and it's like FLYING without wings") bit is done by Mark "Fishlips" Feehily [badly - Rad], despite it being the sort of vocal showcase line that really ought to have gone to a member of the act actually competing. Also, wow, Shane Filan has filled out quite a bit these days, hasn't he?

Shane says that JLS have improved every week, and he thinks they're going to win. Louis claps like a child. Shane promises a brand new album this time next year. Good God, will it never end?

Dermot says there's "a lot of man love going on". I'm saying nothing. After the break, there's Alexandra and Beyoncé her own mystery duet partner.

Back from the break, the crowd are chanting manically, apparently for JLS. Cheryl hopes our bums are glued to our seats for the next performer - Alexandra, of course.

Alexandra is singing 'Listen' again, which is a bit of a shame, because I was hoping for 'Crazy In Love', 'Beautiful Liar' or 'Irreplaceable'. And seriously, the stupid part of the guest-star gimmick is that you spend the first half of the performance ignoring the act who's competing for your vote because you're waiting for the guest star to come out. Anyway, Alex sings the heck out of it, and "cannot believe I'm about to introduce this woman to the stage - please welcome my hero, Beyoncé!" And the Yonce arrives, Alex touches her and promptly loses her shit. Hee. Thankfully she just about gets it together when it's time to start singing, and they have a bit of a fierce-off between them, which is won by Beyoncé's hair. The crowning moment of glory is Beyoncé's "sing it, girl!" to Alexandra in the final couple of lines. The song finishes, Alexandra cries on Beyoncé's shoulder, and it is hilarious.

Also, because this must be noted, around Beyoncé's neck is this gargantuan accessory which looks like some kind of blinged-out egg timer with two fried eggs styled onto it. I don't even know. Anyway, Beyoncé is very happy to have sung with Alexandra, and Alex cries. "You've made my dreams come true!" she sobs. Alexandra also thanks people for making Cheryl's dreams come true (whatever) and cries on Beyoncé again. Seriously, I could watch Alexandra crying on Beyoncé all night. Bey, to her credit, looks only a little bit awkward and not nearly as horrified as, say, Mariah Carey would have done at this point.

Oh, good God, I'd forgotten this was coming: it's time for the group performance by all the "hilarious" failed auditionees. For some reason, we're going right back to the beginning [because this years comedy mentally ill people weren't memorable enough, that's why - Rad] - some of the people featured in the VT are clearly from series one (and wow, I did not know the sets looked so shit-tastically cheap back then), and it becomes apparent they're cycling through them in order. Spirit and Destiny are there, and we get a clip of "sing 'em a song, Della!" again. Series three is represented by the old lady who got angry at Simon for laughing at her daughter. Series four by the bolshy girl and the funeral twins, and this series by the weird Michael Jackson dancer guy and Ant & Seb. There are others, but in all honesty, I can't be bothered to go and look up who they all are. I've still got nearly two hours of this shit left to recap. Cut me a break, please?

Anyway, Dermot introduces "five years worth of classic auditionees" (complete with "no way!" running across the screens above the stage). They're singing 'I Have A Dream' and Zoe the "no way!" girl from series four is first (which explains the text on the screens, but seriously, stop trying to make "no way" happen. It is NOT going to happen), followed by Alan the Michael Jackson impersonator from this year. Then there's a large, heavily accented woman I don't recognise (sorry), followed by Robert the 'Are You Gonna Be My Girl?' bellower from series two, and overconfident Ashwin from earlier this year, and oh dear God, poor tubby little Emma in her homemade wedding dress back to be mocked again, then some guy I don't recognise, and because these people are all hopeless, they're all way ahead of the tune at this point and (I never thought I'd say this) it's down to Spirit and Destiny to get us back on track by coming in on cue - he sings one line and then says "sing 'em a song, Della!', lolerama. They don't deserve to be in this, by the way, because they can actually sing. Two more tuneless people I don't recognise, then Ant and Seb, then the woman who fancied Louis I think (judging by the way she keeps waving and blowing kisses very pointedly at someone), with Icaro who, lest we forget, made it to Sharon's TOP SIX last year. How the hell did that wretched, clueless old cunt last four series? Then the "having a gang bang" lady and Cyril, both from this year, then the guy who held the really long note whose name I can't be bothered to go back and look up because it has taken me nearly twenty minutes to recap around four minutes of airtime at this point, and that's beyond the pale. Someone else I don't recognise, the woman with the scary mum, Justin/Justine from series two (three?), the woman who was really good at the splits who wasn't Raquelle from Hope, and the whole thing just degenerates into an ungodly mess, and I'm ashamed to be a human being right now [if Beyonce was watching, she'd have run screaming at this point - Rad]. Dermot promises a return to the srs bsns of finding a winner after the break, a pursuit we should never have fucking left in the first place.

Round three: Simon is "still reeling" from the Alex/Beyoncé duet, but manages to introduce Eoghan anyway. The contestants are repeating their favourite performances, and for Eoghan this is apparently 'We're All In This Together', otherwise known as the performance in which he DID NOTHING. If anything, he's a bit worse this time - his voice sounds really tired. Also, is he wearing a black mesh vest? Dear God, no. The bit where Eoghan is borne aloft by two of the dancers continues to be utterly redundant. It continues, and then it is over.

Louis repeats his comment from a few weeks ago that Eoghan is like Fed Ex because he "always delivers". Dannii congratulates him for not being nervous in front of a star-studded audience. Cheryl says it's one of his most memorable performances from the series. Simon says Eoghan has made the series fun, and thanks NotLouis for his choreography. Simon also says he thinks Eoghan is going to make "the finals", which...isn't that what this is? Unless he means "the bit after the third place contestant goes home", but if that's the case, I wish this show would be more consistent about what a "final" is, because I'm sure Dermot's referred to the entire Top 12 as "the X Factor finalists" on several occasions. Anyway, Eoghan liked it because it was a big production number, and he wants to do musicals and stuff. [If he does, he can expect no excited reception from me. - Carrie] He thanks N.Ireland and his cousin Michael (who's there again) for their support, and we go back to Michael Underwood who's still surrounded by terrifying pre-teens. Dermot says he's "having the time of his life" over there, and I think he'd want to be more careful about how much enjoyment he's attaching to a man's experience of being surrounded by under-age girls. Just sayin'.

Next are four boys, livin' the dream, lookin' for your vote, "so vote for JLS!" Tone down the desperation, Louis, it's deeply unflattering. Aston And The Three Randoms He Recruited Because He Figured He'd Stand More Chance As Part Of A Group Than As A Soloist (I note they're not getting nearly as much grief for this as Phoebe And The Woo Woo Girls did last year) sing 'I'm Already There' again. It's much like any JLS performance from this year - functional but unmemorable. "Central London" visibly loved it though, and a chant of "JLS! JLS! JLS!" begins in the audience [to be fair, sans Aston, they'd have finished in the typical R'n'B boyband place of second or third out. He IS very pretty, even though I feel a bit like a dodgy old perv for saying so - Rad].

Dannii says that the song shows off Aston's vocal range so beautifully. Cheryl says they sang their songs off and is very proud of them. She says the hysteria they cause is reminiscent of a young Take That. Simon says he can't call tonight - he thinks that was their best performance, and it's going to be very close. Louis says he wants everyone to vote, because they are role models (drink!) living their dream (drink!), there's a lot of doom and gloom out there so vote for JLS (arrange liver transplant!).

Green JLS says they're "the four luckiest boys" at the moment, living out their dream (snore). Jeff Brazier is still trying to make the "can they win it?" thing happen with little success, and then we're back to the studio. Wow, that was pointless. "Jeff there, in perfect control," snarks Dermot. Heh.

Cheryl is very proud to bring on "my beautiful Alexandra Burke" for her final performance. She's singing 'You Are So Beautiful' from the Best of British week, because she's already done her best performance tonight. Oh, and the dress! It's so bizarre. It's this weird drape-y gold lamé sack thing, which billows out around the sides and is open over the hips and apparently she's either not wearing much underwear or any at all. Yowza.

Louis says she looks like a superstar, not like the girl he met in Dublin all those years ago. Dannii loves that Alex picked up on the passion in the performance and took it to the next level. Simon says that Alex hasn't had the right breaks in her life and he doesn't understand why [you'd have thought her mum or any of her mum's celebrity mates could have pulled a few strings - Carrie], but tonight he predicts a star has been born because there's something special about her. Nothing would make Cheryl prouder than to see Alex crowned the winner. Kym Marsh is surrounded by excited Alexandra fans, who love Alexandra. Brilliantly, as Dermot's reading out the numbers for the other acts, Alexandra leans over and hugs him, saying "I love you Dermot". I doubt it's deliberate sabotage, but if it had been, that would've been awesome.

Recap: Eoghan as Tiny Cracky Santa again, three people miming while Aston sings, Alex with the obligatory gospel choir, Eoghan with Boyzone, JLS with Westlife, Alexandra with Beyoncé while she still had her composure, Eoghan ruining High School Musical for everyone, that stupid 'I'm Already There' song and Alex dressed as an extra from a poorly-funded school nativity.

Only one person can win, Dermot reminds us. Thanks for that. And we're out. Oh, but not before a trail asking for contestants next year, "aged 16 or over". Iiiiiiinteresting.


Dermot of the Darkness promises to crown the winner of The X Factor 2008 in just over an hour. It's time to face the music, y'all.

The lines are still open, Dermot implores us to ring up and change our favourite's life forever. Video recap, which is exactly the same as it was in the earlier show and thus will not be recapped again.

Dermot gives us six minutes until the lines are frozen and the third-place finalist is revealed. He throws to Michael in Derry, still fearful for his life. Orla (or possibly Eorlagh, who knows?) is a huge fan, thought Eoghan was brilliant and had the x factor. Jeff is surrounded by adorable kids in JLS hoodies. Wisely, he does not try to repeat the "can they win it?" after the repeated failures from earlier. Kym & Ko think only Alexandra can win. Alex's old teacher Theresa is so proud of her. Well, that was informative.

Before the lines close, Beyoncé wants some solo stage time, dammit. She sings 'If I Were A Boy'. I'm disappointed, partly because I would've preferred 'Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)' and partly because Ciara did this idea way better last year. Still, combine this with her awesome handling of Alexandra earlier, and I'd like to know what number I can call to vote for Beyoncé. She strides out onto the platform behind the judges and rocks out with a random guy in the audience and then caresses the face of someone who looks remarkably like someone I know. I don't think it's him, though.

No hanging around chatting to Dermot for Beyoncé - she heads straight off backstage, while Dermot tells us the lines are now frozen. We go to the break before finding out who's finishing in third.

Back from the ads, Dermot tells us we've already had five million votes. Impressive. The judges return with their acts to the sound of 'O Fortuna' - you know how this bit goes by now, right? In no particular order, the two acts through are [ridiculously long pause] JLS and [even longer pause, so much so that I begin to fear for the universe] Alexandra. Eoghan doesn't appear particularly bothered by his ouster, which endears him to me slightly. Dermot reopens the phonelines (not personally, obviously), informs us that all previously-cast votes for JLS and Alexandra still hold, and tells us that we have about 30 minutes left.

Eoghan is extremely gracious in defeat - he wishes JLS and Alexandra all the best and thanks everybody who's supported him this far. We see his Journey, which involves a lot of weak vocals which triggered some kind of hormonal reaction in young girls, Irish people and mumsy types across the country. As Carrie pointed out last night, he's suddenly far nicer and more appealing when you know he's not actually going to win. He looks a bit teary-eyed during the VT, and Simon says that Eoghan was up against two incredible competitors and can leave with his head held high. And there endeth the tale of young Eoghan Quigg, I suppose.

Back to the competition: the two remaining acts are performing their rendition of the eventual winner's song, and JLS are up first. The song is 'Hallelujah', as we've all known for months, and a little part of me is kind of sad we didn't get to hear Eoghan try (and fail, obviously) to pull this song off. Aston's mic appears to be malfunctioning at the beginning because it's barely picking him up. They do a pretty good job with the song, but Aston sounds rather strained in parts and when there's no invisible choir helping them, The Other Three don't provide that strong a support. They are joined by the obligatory Non-Invisible Choir for the end, and it's all nice enough, if hardly groundbreaking.

Dannii calls them "the best band we've had on the show by a mile", Cheryl echoes her pretty much exactly, Simon is glad they're through even though they're not his act, and Louis decides to be a douchebag of epic proportion by claiming that Simon was wrong earlier when he said a star was born tonight, because four stars were born tonight. Way to steal Alexandra's thunder, Louis - you couldn't have said five stars were born tonight? What, were you worried about confusion with the Pearson siblings, or are you just too stupid to think these things through before you say them? He begs for votes a bit more, and people in the audience back him up, the fools. Dermot talks to Green JLS briefly before realising that no one cares and interrupts him to talk to Aston, who says that was the best feeling he's ever had in his life.

Cheryl, who seems slightly medicated at this point, introduces Alexandra with her version of the same song we've just heard. She's still wearing that bizarre dress from earlier, and to the surprise of probably no one, the song suits Alexandra's voice far better than Aston's JLS's. Despite having the exact same backing track as JLS did, somehow Alex connects with it in a different way, making the big bombast that comes in towards the end that much more effective. Possibly it might just be because she's a lot louder, but then isn't that pretty much how it always works on these shows? Also, the backing choir standing with their arms outstretched and blank expressions on their faces like the children of the corn are faintly terrifying. The judges are all on their feet by the end of it, as is pretty much the entire studio. And Alex is nearly in tears. Again.

Louis tells her she has everything she needs to be a star, and she's going to be a big recording star. Dannii tells her the performance was strong and gentle and sincere - her best performance yet. Simon calls it "unbelievable" and "incredible" and says she has to win. Cheryl is all choked up too, and says that they've become friends over the past six months and she hopes it ends "as it should". Dermot arrives with tissues for Alexandra, who thanks everyone again, some more, and says it's all been the best experience of her life.

Jaysus, another video recap: 'Last Christmas' ("Merry Christmas!" Sorry, I'm still laughing at that), 'Silent Night', 'Flying Without Wings', 'Listen', 'I'm Already There', 'You Are So Beautiful', and 'Hallelujah' versions 1.0 and 2.0. Incidentally, there's a fantastic shot of Alexandra in the final moments where the dry ice around the folds at the bottom of the dress makes it look like she has no legs. Hee. Time for another ad break.

Back from the ads, the lines are still open, therefore there is more filler, so Dermot invites JLS back on stage for a bit of a chat. Green JLS says it's been the best Journey ever, four guys just having the time of their lives, etc etc etc. Now it's time for their video Journey, from first audition, to boot camp, to Ireland, to various decent performances throughout the series, meeting Mariah and Will and Take That, Aston doing a couple of backflips, and nobody who is not Aston ever getting to sing lead that we see. Now there's an X Factor confessional-style VT from their families and friends, which look like they're coming from beyond the grave. Hilariously, the JLS member in the little inset picture is almost never the same one that corresponds to the family members who are talking. Because aside from Aston, nobody knows which one is which.

Dermot throws to Louis, who - guess what? - hopes they win.

Alexandra is welcomed back, and her voice is kind of giving out at this point. We see her journey, singing 'Listen' again for Cheryl during the "judges' houses" round, starting with a couple of so-so performances before kicking up into top gear and knocking it out of the park with 'Listen' in the top five and pretty much cementing her victory there and then. Alex manages not to be too tearful after this VT, but we haven't had the family yet - she lasts about halfway before welling up, and by the time we cut back to the studio she's in bits again. Poor Alexandra. Her nerves just can't take much more of this. Cheryl is proud of Alexandra and considers her an inspiration. Alexandra mumbles something to Dermot when she's supposed to be getting off the stage, and he unsubtly hustles her off. Hee.

Back from the ads, we are "moments away" from the result, and Dermot tells us the lines are now closed. By the way, this is pretty much the point my PVR cut off on Saturday night, so it's a good job I was watching it live or I would have been pissed off. Seriously, ITV, pick a damn schedule and stick to it. Take out some of the damn filler if you're running over.

Oh God, we're going to Jeff and the JLS fans, and an agonising pause before Jeff realises he's on. The family think they have done brilliantly and think they deserve to win. Because they're not going to say otherwise, are they? Kym is in "north London", fumbling with her cue cards trying to figure out who she's meant to speak to, and the mayor of Islington says the whole of north London is rooting for her.

Time to welcome back the finalists and the judges. This bit was more fun last year when it was Dannii standing triumphantly between both of them, wasn't it? Dermot says that we've had eight million votes tonight, and the winner of The X Factor 2008 is...

...Alexandra. As it should be. She completely loses it and has to be pulled up from the floor by a triumphant Cheryl. She recovers enough to run over and hug JLS and then cries a bit on Dermot's shoulder. Careful, Alexandra, he's not Beyoncé! Dermot asks her how she's feeling, and in a moment that probably going to live on in YouTube infamy for quite some time, Alexandra is sobbing so much she can't speak, so Cheryl waves her arm up and squees. She eventually manages to squeeze a few words out thanking everyone, but it's all a little bit embarrassing. Oh dear. Dermot goes to JLS, and Red JLS says something to the effect of "because of this moment, others have hope - victory after victory" which, what? I'm lost, but I'm on the home stretch now and I'm carrying on. Green JLS thanks everyone for their support, and hopes this is a career for them now. A final round of applause for JLS!

Dermot grabs a still-tearful Alexandra back to centre stage and tells her she's just won a recording contract. Simon comes on stage to congratulate her and Alexandra hurls herself at him. Hee! Well, I guess at least she'll never get beaten with the "no personality" stick like Leona. Dermot tries to tell her that she'll also be performing live at Elton John's New Year party at the O2, but Alex is too busy hugging Dannii to hear him, so Dermot mugs at the camera for a bit and finally hisses at her that he needs to talk to her, so Alexandra stumbles over, apologising profusely. He tells Alexandra, who looks like she's about to faint at any minute, that her debut single will be available to download at midnight and in the shops on Wednesday, and asks if she'd like to see it. "Yes please," she gasps, and it comes up on the screens behind them, but the camera is too far away to pick it up properly. D'oh!

Dermot crosses over to pick up an actual CD, and a sound guy chooses this moment to run on stage and thrust a microphone into Alexandra's hand, getting caught on camera in the process. Alexandra's sobbing again. Dermot holds the CD up so the camera can see it, and Alexandra, high on disbelief and not realising what he's doing, snatches it out of his hand and stares at it going "oh my God!" Dermot's all "eh, live TV, what can you do?" Alexandra then does his job for him by telling everyone who voted for her that this is for them, and waves the CD at the camera.

Dermot asks her if she's ready to sing again, and Alexandra says "yeah", sounding rather unsure. But she's a professional, of course, so she manages to get it together for her valedictory performance - at least for a few lines, until she's so emotional going into the first chorus that her voice breaks completely and she's silent for a few lines until she can get it back. That little hiccup out of the way, she gets through the rest of the song. Naturally, the rest of the finalists run out to join her on stage, and Alex's microphone actually picks up Ruth yelling "well done Alex!" Hee.

We give it up one last time for Alexandra, and Dermot lets Simon round things off. Simon tells Alex she deserves it, and thanks everyone who watched, voted, wrote about the show (thanks, Simon!). Alexandra thank everyone for making her dream come true, and she's the happiest girl in the world right now, and she's so grateful to Cheryl, and Dermot tries to cut her off but not before she yells "and thank you to Beyoncé!" Hee! I love Alex, she's adorkable.

Dermot thanks all the auditionees, finalists, and the voters. He'll see us next year, and we're done - finally!

And to those of you who are still reading at this point, my turn to say thanks to everyone who's been reading and commenting this year - if I can speak for the whole team, we hope you all enjoyed it and that you'll join us again next year for more crazy choreography and dead-relative shenanigans. And I shall leave you with a sobering thought: Holly revealed on The Xtra Factor that out of the ten live shows, Diana came top in one, JLS in one, Alex in two (including the final, obviously) and Eoghan in THE OTHER SIX. Yeah, think about that for a while. Oh, and NotLouis said that made him the winner, "on average", despite Holly having clarified that the same number of votes were cast during the final as during the entire rest of the series, so for the last time before 2009: shut up, NotLouis.

Thanks for reading, everyone, and of course: "merry Christmas!" Heh.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

I will go down with this shit



Last week! Everyone except Ruth and Alexandra were terrible, but Ruth went home anyway! The nation turned on Diana’s hand and called it ‘the claw’! Eoghan didn’t sing at all but got his background singers to do it all, and STILL got praised to high heaven! Britney turned up and gave even less of damn than Mariah! Tonight THE FIGHT IS ON for a place in the final. It’s. Time. To. Face. The. Music.

Live! From London! Fireworks and hyperbole as usual! Dermot suit watch: a rather sombre navy. Guess how well it fits. He jokes that the judges will give each other Chinese burns and on they come, to, err Two Tribes by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, because the show can’t count. Dannii is wearing bacofoil. How festive. Cheryl is looking very thin in a tiny black dress. I missed Simon and Louis’ outfits and I’ve already rewound that bit once, so damned if I’m doing it again.

Oh, and the theme this week? Songs the acts and judges believe can get them to the final. Our favourite. Although at least this theme makes more sense in semi-final week than the other year where it just appeared in the middle of the theme weeks somewhere. Steve will probably know when that was. [It was in series three, and it was actually in the same place. - Steve] Dermot gives us the usual ‘if you don’t vote you have no right to set up a pissy Facebook group and complain to the press’ spiel.

Up first ‘you know who it is, Northern Ireland represents, it’s Eoghan’. Simon, as erudite as ever. Eggnog bigs himself up in the VT. Apparently we are about to see him rocking out. NotLouis says if he doesn’t do well… Dannii says there are stronger people in the semi-final, Simon says he’s still the one to beat, Quigg still doesn’t sound like a popstar name.

He’s dressed in a Leon Jackson memorial beigey shirt and waistcoat and is singing, umm, ‘Year 3000’ by Busted. I can’t moan about this choice, can I, even though I don’t like the song, as it’s from this decade, and I’m the one always complaining about the old stuff being rehashed every year. There’s a guitarist who looks like Daphne from Heroes. Now, I have been ill all week, and this may have affected my hearing, so I apologise, but… that didn’t sound too bad. He can’t dance for toffee, mind. [Nor enunciate. But that never stopped Leon. - Carrie]

Louis loves him and says he’s going to be in the final, Dannii as ‘the only impartial judge’ can ‘say anything’, which is what Mrs O always used to say when her acts got kicked out by this stage, so I’m a little afraid. Dannii says that performance will have upset a few people [insert joke here] and then indicates Cheryl and Louis. Cheryl likes it and says if he were to become an artist (heh) that’s the kind of music he should do. Simon says he thinks Eoghan is lucky to be working with him because if he was working with Louis, he’d be in a blazer singing ‘Puppy Love’. Yeah, but Simon: ‘Ben’. [Also: 'Yeh Yeh'. - Steve] Dermot says he loves how Simon turned a compliment for Eoghan into one for himself and Simon looks genuinely shocked that this should be an issue.

Dermot gets upset about Eggnog trashing a mic stand. He’s clearly been told to protect the equipment this series. Eoghan points at his cousin who is the British Champion. I can’t work out what of, but I think it was ‘fighting’. O rly?

Tonight we have Mrs Cheryl Cole, following last week’s marital status debate. It’s Diana and this is the most boring VT ever: this song needs to get her to the final, if she doesn’t pull it off she’s going home, biggest night ever. These VTs are all going to be this dull tonight, aren’t they? [NotLouis said he'd "given her a big performance", which makes not one lick of sense. - Steve]

She’s wearing a black and red houndstooth minidress and BOOTS and has had her hair brushed. The horsemen of the apocalypse are backstage as we speak. She’s sitting atop a motorbike/scooter with a bevy of boy dancers and singing Avril Lavigne’s ‘Girlfriend’. SOME MEN ARE CYCLING ON STAGE. Oh, NotLouis. She has dancers climbing on a huge net, and a skateboarder. As for the singing, it’s not as affected as on the ballads, it’s not perfect note-wise, but this isn’t a very singy-song, anyway, and there are a few hiccupy bits. However, I quite like it, mainly because it’s up-tempo and recent (as with Eoghan’s) and to hear songs that tick both of those boxes on this show is a rare, rare thing indeed. To recap: I liked both Eoghan and Diana so far. I’m worried. Of course, they have a second song later, with which they can fuck it all up.

Louis liked it, Dannii thinks she’s like a young Debbie Harry and she has shocked Dannii to the core by actually being good again this week. Simon says it was her best performance in four or five weeks (true). Simon liked the choreography. Ulp. Cheryl says Diana’s back and she’s pleased that she rocked it tonight.

Dermot talks to her about dancing with her ASBO gang on stage and Diana seems genuinely quite happy and like a proper 17 year old kid instead of a Peaches Geldof-faux-muso. Huzzah.


Dermot welcomes us back and high fives some random woman in the order. Next up, the gorgeous Alexandra Burke. VT of everyone loving her and Alexandra saying everyone in their lives has a moment where their life clicks, and last week was her moment. Oh, Alexandra. She blubs about wanting to fight and work hard. She reminds us that Louis chucked her out three years ago. Leona plays in the VT, is this a subtle hint?

She’s singing Rihanna’s ‘Please Don’t Stop the Music’, and I feel we just need to pause and reflect on what’s happened tonight. THREE UPTEMPO songs from THIS DECADE. I’m not sure I can cope. She’s surrounded by a whole bunch of dancers and standing on some sort of podium. She wears a black minidress and I love her, but she’s got the rhythm of the song all wrong and singing the words on different beats to the ones Rihanna sings on. The dancers cartwheel a bit, one of them is carrying flowers, but other than that, they’re rather restrained for Friedman people. Hmm. One of the men is wearing lace over his face. O-kaaaaaay. She sang fine, I suppose, but this isn't a very tuneful song, and she looked great and danced well.

Louis says for the first time they’re going to have a girl like Beyonce or Whitney. Umm, Leona? Dannii loved her, Simon reminds us about Louis nearly wrecking her life and crushing her dreams (Louis interjects that she wasn’t ready back then, which may have been true, but he didn’t put her through because she had a vagina) and says we may be seeing the birth of a star here. Cheryl bigs her up. Alexandra babbles to the camera and says it may be her last performance so she enjoyed herself. The audience boo and she shuts them up with a ‘you never know’.

Dermot says ‘good standard tonight, huh?’ and looks shocked. Me too.

He calls Louis ‘Smackdown’ Walsh. Umm. Last week, JJB Sports were a bit sucky, but then that’s nothing new, is it? The one in the yellow who never speaks laughs at how amazing it was to get through. Louis says they deserve to win, but even he doesn’t sound convinced. Aston is wearing a horrible blue hat with stars on and he’s wanted this ever since he was a little boy, which he surely still is. Louis has given them a massive pop record which they ‘are going to make their own’. Yawn. Simon says this song is either the smartest or most stupid thing Louis has ever done.

They are all standing at different bits of the stage and they are singing ‘Umbrella’. Rihanna’s royalties go ker-ching! [Srsly, did these people not watch Britain's Got The Pop Factor? - Carrie] They sing it in much the same way as Hope did last year, so it’s hardly new, but they are in tune and in harmony for a change. [Although when The Other Three start singing, they're not in time with each other/Aston. Which is kind of funny given that they're singing all about shining together. - Steve] Then the beat kicks in, which should have happened with Hope. They are dressed in rather Boyzoney-brown outfits but at elast they aren’t all matching. Aston does some appalling dancing and there are fireworks and dry ice. They then try to dance together, and really, really shouldn’t. One of them ends it with ‘girl you can be my Cinderella’, though, which immediately removes all the goodwill they just built up by being good for a change.

Dannii says the singing and dancing were spot on. The dancing: no. Cheryl says they smashed it [three times - who died and made her John Barrowman? - Steve] and made all the women horny or something. Simon says this is the most important performance of their lives and it was brilliant. Louis is really, really proud of them.

Now, if we stopped here, I would say this was a genuinely good episode, the best of the series. Although I am ill, I might be mishearing things. [No, you're right. The inclusion of uptempo songs written this side of the turn of the millennium improved the show immensely this week. - Steve] We’re not going to stop here though, as after the break, MORE SONGS! So there’s still time for it all to go tits-up! Erm, hooray?


Dermot reminds us that last week Simon was the only judge who didn’t think his act was the best last week and asks Simon who’s the best this week. He says it’s a draw, they’re all good, and they’re all 8/10.

Eoghan is apparently singing a song by the biggest group in the world. U2? REM? Oasis? [The Polyphonic Spree? - Steve] Oh, Abba. ABBA. He’s doing ‘Does Your Mother Know’, and lest we forget, that was Eton Road’s one ace performance on this show (although second time round it’s not that great, to be honest), so he has something to live up to. He’s standing on a white piano, surrounded by girls, and when he sings ‘chick like you’ he dances a bit like he’s doing the Birdie Song. Ulp. And can a sixteen year old really sing ‘girl you’re only a child’? [It does give the song a whole new level of creepiness, doesn't it? - Steve] The flirting with dancers old enough to be his mum is a bit creepy and I don’t think he has really got the humour of this song. His vocal isn’t as terrible as usual, but he keeps putting on that stage-school style American drawl which I don’t like much, and he ends with a silly ‘serious’ face and a point, which is just dumb.

Louis reminds us that he’s only sixteen and thinks he’s a fantastic role model for kids (hey kids! Sod school!) Dannii doesn’t like the song choice as it was too cheesy. Cheryl says he brings the fun factor to this show and channels a football manager, saying ‘well done son’. Simon tells us it’s Eoghan’s favourite song in the world. There are no words.

Eoghan burbles at the camera and becomes about as intelligible as Leon but the gist is that he wants to be in the final.

Diana next, and in her VT she’s wearing a cricket jumper. [She's so adorably kooky! She's the Kooky Monster! - Steve] It’s her last chance to make it to the final, she has to pull off an incredible vocal. The point of these VTs is?

She’s singing ‘White Flag’ by Dido and is wearing a white dress. Her hair is in a side pony and she looks quite pretty. There are two boys sitting on the stage with Journey South memorial guitars of irrelevance, which haven’t been seen much all series. The vocal tics are back, although more toned down than in ‘Everybody Hurts’, although there is the occasional nice note when she forgets to sing affectedly. There’s also the occasional out of tune note to balance out the nice ones. Also: this song is dull, and Dido sings it rather nasally and flat anyway, so it was hardly going to be a WIN as a song choice. [That's what I considered the brilliance of it as a song choice - Dido can't sing for shit, so you're pretty much guaranteed to sing it better than the original artist. Also, I loved the choreography of accompanying the line "I won't put my hands up and surrender" with...both hands going up in the air. - Steve]

Louis liked it, Dannii said she’s having a strong night. Simon agrees with me that ‘White Flag’ is a crappy song, and he liked the first performance better. Cheryl says ‘yeah but it’s her choice’ and he didn’t argue with that, he just said she could have chosen something else. Cheryl tries to orchestrate a fight with him and it’s all so whatever. He didn’t even say anything particularly bad.

I can’t be bothered with any more nothingy VTs, so I’m fastforwarding them, sorry. Alexandra is singing Toni Braxton’s ‘Unbreak My Heart’, which is like the lowest song in the world ever, and she struggles with the low notes at the start. She has her hair piled atop her head and is sitting on a Westlife stool, wearing what looks like a black catsuit. Curtains and dry ice everywhere. She improves towards the middle and the key change helps her as it goes into a range she is more comfortable with. The big hoop earrings, catsuit and hair aren’t doing it for me, to be honest. Noe is the random silver non-belt in the middle of the catsuit. She does well on the big notes, but the lower stuff doesn’t suit her. Oh, and I hate that song, too. [I love this song, but I wasn't crazy about Alexandra's performance. Subtlety is a rare and treasured gift on this show, but it was a little TOO subdued. - Steve]

Louis says she’s in a different league to most singers they’ve had on this show and he know’s she’s the person. Dannii says she is a star and has to be in the final. Simon says after the first round because everyone was the same she could have left tonight, but that song may have turned it around. Really? I love Alex, but I didn’t particularly like that performance much. I mean, it was better than Eoghan and Diana, but Alexandra has done better. So far, first half of the show 1, second half of the show 0. Cheryl loves her etc. Alex says Cheryl is her backbone but ‘she has a message to the world, whoever’s watching’ which is don’t give up on your dream. Oh, I love her, but please don’t let her speak. She breaks down and it’s all a bit uncomfortable.

I catch the last bit of The KLF’s VT and Aston blubs. Whatever. They are all wearing Westlifey/Simon Cowelly suits. I don’t recognise this song, but it starts low, and Aston also seems to struggle with the very low notes. The chorus kicks in and I realise Westlife have sung this. It might be called ‘I’m Already There’ but it’s rubbish, whatever it is. I thought that the sing-offs this series had proved the acts were better at song choices than the judges, but thinking about it, it only proved that the over 25s and girl groups were better at choosing their own songs than the judges. Everyone else, not really, especially if this second half is anything to go on. Anyway, they sang fine, it was alright, but I still didn’t like the song.

Dannii loved it, Cheryl thought it was their best ballad, Simon said it was the first time Aston has been emotional but ‘your three mates’ (whose names he clearly doesn’t know. I at least know who Oritse is) came in and supported him well and that maybe they could even win.

Results Show

Earlier tonight! They did some up-tempo contemporary songs that were quite good! Eoghan sang a pop song and couldn’t dance! Diana lost her affectations and had a climbing net, skateboarders and cyclists on stage! Alexandra danced well! JML Direct sang in harmony (but danced badly)! Then they pissed it up the wall with a load of rubbish in the second half of the show! Eoghan stood on a piano and danced even more badly! Diana sang the most tuneless song in the world, tunelessly! Alexandra and Aston couldn’t cope with the low notes! The judges loved everyone, but Simon is off Dido’s Christmas card list! The final is next week!

Oh joy, Il Divo. There is no way I’m watching this, sorry. Lots of dry ice and suits. Did they have a bagpiper? I’m rewinding. Yes, they had a fucking bagpiper. Is NotLouis their creative director as well? Jeez, it sounds like they’re killing ‘Amazing Grace’. No thank you. Oh my, an orchestra as well. Ouch, I catch the last line. Wow, they are still really really bad, aren’t they?

They’re all ten foot taller than Dermot. He says ‘you were watching the show, right’? One of them says they’ve never watched it before but everyone was giving it their all (aka, like Britney and Mariah before them, they didn’t watch it). Dermot moves on to them plugging their album instead. Still, at least we didn’t have an Il Divo theme week. [Heh. Ruth could have done some opera IN SPANISH. - Steve]

Boring VTs of wanting to be in the final. Fast forward.

Apparently there have been over 2 million votes. That sounds rather low for a semi-final. [And indeed compared to the amount of votes the People claimed Strictly Come Dancing was getting earlier this year, though the People's article was clearly horseshit, numbers-wise. - Steve] The first act through are… JLS! I am actually surprised, although they were better tonight than usual. The second act through… Alexandra. Hurrah! And double hurrah, because Eoghan or Diana are going home. I call Diana though I’d love it if it was Eoghan. Diana looks sad, she knows. The last act through is………… Eoghan. Diana whispers to Cheryl ‘it’s fine’ and gives Cheryl a big hug. She then hugs Eoghan and cries, and I don’t really wish to be reminded of the rumour that they are an item. Eoghan blubs a lot and grabs Diana.

We look at Diana’s ‘journey’, but she’s talking to someone else and not watching it at all. A mixture of bad hair, bare feet, good performances (Man in the Mirror, the Damien Rice one, Call Me) and terrible ones (Everybody Hurts, Smile, Patience), bad eye make-up (most of the time) and good eye-make up (tonight). Diana thanks everyone and Cheryl cries and she calls Eoghan little [thus clearly debunking all over those "Diana and Eoghan are SEKRIT LOVAZ" tabloid stories - Steve], and she takes it all with reasonably good grace, Scott, despite being rather ungracious with the screaming when she got through each week. She sings ‘White Flag’ again, presumably because they couldn’t stage her doing ‘Girlfriend’. Then Eoghan runs on before she finishes and grabs her so she can't carry on singing. Seriously, way to upstage the girl in her big moment, kid. The backing singers keep going. Alexandra and JXL also come on and they have a group hug, and apparently it's not even over yet. What? There's a surreal bit where Alexandra says she's shocked because she thoguht Diana would win, WWJD say they are happy to be in the final, Eoghan sniffles and blubs and Dermot says he'd rather not talk to him. Hee.

So next week, surely, surely Alexandra will win? Surely? Steve will be here to recap the final in all its overblown ‘glory’.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Y viva Espana

Britney/American pop week
Tx Saturday 29th November

Last week! People shouted! Louis made Dannii cry! Everyone told him he was a tosspot, including our very own Steve! Rachel went home!

Tonight! BRITNEY, bitches! This is going to be terrific. Alternatively, shit.

Cheryl says Alexandra and Diana are outstandingly talented. Dannii says Ruth will rock it. Louis says that JLS will blow us. Away. Simon says everyone fears Eoghan. True fact. But not in the way he means.

It’s time. To face. THE MUSIC!


Live from London, it’s The X Factor, and here is Dermot, to the strains of …Baby One More Time. He tells us it’s a guest fest with the hottest new American act (?) Miley Cyrus performing, as well as BRITNEY. He seems quite excited. He makes a weak pun about the judges being “Toxic”. Pyrotechnics. Dermot dances. Louis sings along. Dannii is wearing an odd strapless maroon thing that makes her look pregnant. Cheryl is wearing a toga.

No judges’ votes tonight, it is all up to YOU the viewer. Bloody hell, Dermot’s suit really doesn’t fit. Dannii says that last week is OVAH and it is all about the contestants, and Britney is here! Louis echoes her like the pathetic little leprechaun he is.

Dannii introduces “our Spanish rockarita”, Ruth, who VTs about how great last week was in the grand scheme of her Journey. She talks about being FROM SPAIN. NotLouis urges her to own the song. Cheryl wonders if “Brian and Dannii have gone mad”. With you on one of those, Mrs Cole.

Holy fuck. She’s singing I Love Rock And Roll, and she looks terrific amidst the dry ice. However, I am confused by people riding rodeo bulls and headbanging and crawling through each other’s legs. She is just as good as you would imagine, although she shifts up an octave and it is not good. Key change! NotLouis has clearly lost all inspiration by this point and gets his dancers to bounce around a bit.

Louis calls it a great start to the show and says he loved it. Cheryl says it is the best Britney song for her and that it was lovely to see the big production. Simon hates to say it but he thought it was brilliant. He questions the use of the bull. NotLouis squeaks, “We’re in TEXAS.” Riiiiiiiiight. [Seriously, if anyone understood that, please feel free to enlighten me. - Steve] Ruth says, “I thought you liked bulls.” Simon says, “I could say the same about you.” There is much lolarity. Dermot gives out the numbers to vote but loses interest and says, “Blah blah blah blah.” Really. This show gets weirder by the week.


Dermot fucks up the welcome back, and then hands over to Louis, who introduces JLS. "I don't want them in the bottom two tonight, because there's no bottom two." What? Sad music. JLS and Louis VT about being DEVASTATED. They wail a lot about letting each other down and their families down. They cannot afford to mess this up, because otherwise they will be going home. O RLY? Simon says the song choice is insane, but then so is Louis. Louis himself says they are coming back strong, like the Mis-Teeq laydeez. He may not have said that last bit.

If they are doing ...Baby One More Time, why are they not wearing school uniforms? NotLouis would have had a field day with staging it in a classroom. As it is, they are scattered around the stage and singing nicely with their massed ranks of off-stage singers. Key change! They all crouch down and the tuning goes to shit. [Is this the only Britney song Louis knows? I remember when he foisted it on G4 and they looked ridiculously uncomfortable, as did JXL tonight - Rad]

Dannii says...words, but I can't hear them, and then she says they look fantastic, and then realises no bugger can hear her at all. Cheryl says it was a horrible song choice and gets booed; "I don't think guys should ever cover it." Someone applauds, and then stops. Simon says it was limp, and was "missing Ruth's bulls". The production and performance was lame and Louis is a mentalist. Louis whines about it being the best Britney song and them being the best group in the competition and Simon being cruel. Dermot asks Aston to reply to the judges' comments, and he cannot because he is crying. The others hug him. Cheryl tells him not to take the entire responsibility on himself because they ARE A BAND [subtext: 'and all of you blow' - Rad].

Dermot throws to "Miss Cheryl Cole". Mrs, surely? [Or Ms - I thought you were supposed to be a feminist! - Steve] [If you're going to change your name when you get married, you might as well call yourself Mrs... - Carrie] Anyway, Alexandra is next, and she wants to do singing for the REST OF HER LIFE. If she had a quarter of Leona's success, she would die a happy woman. She whoops about her song. NotLouis name-drops about choreographing Britney's dance for Toxic, and Alexandra is going to do that VERY SAME CHOREOGRAPHY with FOURTEEN DANCERS. She says if she left a week before the semi-finals, it would kill her. Tsk, these young people are so melodramatic.

She starts the song with a big PVC red coat, but that's removed in the chorus to reveal a corsetted dress and boots. It is a lovely performance of a good pop song but it's not really a showcasey kind of song. Though none of Britney's songs are, to be fair. Louis enthuses. Dannii calls it fantastic and praises the dancers. Simon says it was risky but it worked, and that if the show was about talent, she'd be in the final. Ha. Cheryl is the proudest mentor on the panel. Alexandra admits she was worried about the choreography, which is unsurprising, and then witters on, contrary to Gary Barlow's advice.


Dermot says Britney IS WATCHING [yeah, presumably in much the same way Mariah was 'watching' the other week - Rad]. Simon reads from a script to introduce Eoghan, who thought last week was like his own concert. Cheryl was a bit pervy on him last week, but he liked it. Simon doesn't know if Eoghan will be able to sing a Britney song because she IS A GIRL (though not yet a woman) and he is a 16-YEAR-OLD BOY, but he is the ONE TO BEAT. Yeah, whatever.

What the hell is wrong with NotLouis's obsession with stupid staging that looks like it's from Fame for all Eoghan's tracks? Anyway, it's Sometimes, and Eoghan's feeble little voice is shown up for what it is. Except in the middle eight, where he sings properly again, and then going into the key change. And then he's feeble again. Vocal coach Yvie should really work on teaching him some kind of control, because it's really pissing me off now.

Louis didn't think it would work, but it did, and that he has championed him since the start. BECAUSE HE IS IRISH. [And probably because all reports say he's creaming everyone else in the voting every week. - Steve] Dannii calls it pitchy, and judges the "High School Musical" choreography unfavourably. Cheryl says that everyone loves Eoghan. I don't. Simon says boys are at a disadvantage, and it was OK, but it was a difficult song to sing. Eoghan says it's not his kind of cup of tea, whatever that may mean.

Cheryl introduces Diana, who loved last week and thought it was really good. Well, that's something, I suppose. Cheryl would like her twinkle to turn back into a sparkle again. Diana reckons this song reflects everything that she is. Louis says she needs to up her game; Simon says it'll make her or break her. Break! BREAK!

Oh, mother of God, she's singing I'm Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman. Reclining on some kind of sun lounger? Has NotLouis got a sponsorship deal with Ikea this series? Anyway, the low notes are too low for her. She stands up at the chorus. She is not wearing shoes. The middle eight is VERY pitchy, dawg. Key change! Screeching and nonsensical rubato in what she clearly thinks is a meaningful and emotive fashion!

Louis is a fuckwit and tells her that she should be dancing, because she needs to be versatile. [Well, at least we know what Louis would sing in Bee Gees week. - Steve] Dannii says it is about performance, but it was pitchy and she didn't really sing out until the end. Simon tells Louis he is ridiculous, and Louis wibbles on about Britney, Madonna and Kylie all dancing, and Simon tells him to fuck off to Strictly, before telling Diana that it sucked and she's in trouble. Cheryl takes Louis on and he continues to moan about Diana not dancing. Cheryl reminds us that Diana is ONLY SEVENTEEN. Everyone cheers. Diana says she is overwhelmed and didn't feel it worked and then goes a bit incoherent.

The phone lines open, and then it is time for us to hear the acts' second songs! How lucky we are! (Like this Hollywood girl!) First it is time for a break, though.

Dermot welcomes us back and asks the judges who has been best so far - Simon says Ruth and Alexandra; Cheryl chooses her own acts; Dannii says Ruth and Alexandra; Louis says Alexandra and JLS. SIGH. [Fail, Cheryl. Even Louis managed to mention one act he wasn't mentoring. - Steve]

Dannii reintroduces Ruth, who is singing a perfect song, which she used to sing in her bedroom as a child. It's the first song she learnt in English, but Yvie sniffs about all the bad habits she has learnt. Heh. If she does it right, it'll be her BEST PERFORMANCE EVAH.

Complete with crazy wind machine, flames on the screens and gusts of dry ice, Ruth is singing Always. For some reason she chooses to yodel the start of the first chorus, but gets back to belting it soon enough. Key change! What?! Pyrotechnics! Guitar solo! Ruth's hands are shaking! Then she bursts into tears. [Also: there are attempts to gender-change some of the lyrics, but not things like 'this Romeo is bleeding', so it makes little sense. - Rad]

Louis says stupid things but is nice, and then closes with, "Don't be crying. It's all good." Cheryl understands how emotional singing can be, although she thought it was a bit shouty in places. Simon didn't understand what was happening, but it sounded like fun. If places in semi-finals were awarded for effort and determination, he would give it to Ruth. SNORT. Dannii hopes everyone votes for her. Dermot brings Ruth a hanky, bless him. Then she cries about people in this country, which is NOT SPAIN, voting for her. Dermot blubs a bit too, and then gabbles at her, and she doesn't understand. Yet again she tries to escape before he's read out the phone number. Come on, O'Leary, assert some authority, this is happening all the bloody time.

JLS have been working very hard this week. They think it'll take an amazing vocal from all of them (and their off-stage backing singers). This competition means a lot to Louis. JLS will sing for their lives. They are dressed all in white. There are flaming torches on the stage. Because they are singing You Light Up My Life. Do you see? Actually, from the sounds of it, they are doing the bulk of the harmonies themselves at the start. And then they use a big fuck-off choir for the last chorus, and Aston is the only JLS you can actually hear.

The boys hug. Aston cries. Dannii says it is hard to get on the horse after falling off. The camerawork here is fucked and is filming her through one of the flaming torches. Cheryl enjoyed it, but likes it best when they have Big Production, and then she and Dannii rip the piss out of Louis for having NO DANCING. Simon says JLS are back in the race. They hug some more. Oh, I hadn't noticed their JLS silver dogtags! Ha! Louis wants EVERYONE to vote for them. He is BEGGING us. Dermot talks to the boys, and we see that they have JLS colours on the soles of their shoes. Oh dear me.

Alexandra's second song is the biggest vocal song EVAH, and she is scared, as is Cheryl. Simon thinks she'll be incredibly emotional before she sings, because she knows what's at stake. Cue VT of Alexandra weeping and the plinky-plonky piano music of tragedy as she speaks about how hard she has worked. She doesn't mention being poor and sharing a bed with her sister, though.

She's singing Listen, aka the song Beyonce and her mates wrote to shoe-horn anachronistically into Dreamgirls because there wasn't enough vocal work for the character of Deena to do. Anyway, I'm not a fan of Beyonce's version of this, and I do think Alexandra's is actually better, apart from when she makes her vowel sounds weirdly when she dips into her lower register. It is very good. Everyone stands to applaud. Louis calls it incredible, and mentions her dancing again. Alexandra is weeping. Dannii says she deserves to be in the final and urges people to vote for her. Simon says that it is a British competition and she makes him proud to be British, and he likes people who are DECENT and who TRY and it was the best performance of the series. Cheryl is crying too. She is proud of her. Alexandra thanks Cheryl and then they both cry at each other. Dermot attempts to get a grip on proceedings but Alexandra is in bits by now and turns away while she tries to pull herself together.


Simon is still reeling after Alexandra, but now we all have to hear Eoghan again. It is a REALLY BIG SONG from a REALLY BIG MOVIE. NotLouis deplores Eoghan's lack of dancing ability. OH HOLY FUCK. It's We're All In This Together. If we had to have a song from the High School Musical series, couldn't we have had Bet On It? Comedy emoting with jazz hands on golf courses? No? [He should have done 'Fabulous' - even I would've voted for him if he'd sung that. - Steve] Crashing on then. Eoghan stands at the front and bops a bit as the mob of dancers do the proper routine and breakdancing [and the backing singers do all the vocals - I could barely hear him all song - Rad], and then two boys lift him in the air while the others do a kind of ring-o-roses around him. Seriously, dear me. Louis calls it "busy", then says, "I'm your biggest supporter." Because everything is all about Louis Walsh, you see. Dannii reckons that's how it should be done. Cheryl wanted to join in. Simon says, "We are in the semi-final." Are these people watching the same show as me? Eoghan looks a bit wrung-out. Dermot makes school-related puns and then grabs him in a headlock.

Finally, Diana closes the show, with a huuuuuuuuuuuge song, which is amazing, but she is nervous. It is a classic, but one everyone can relate to, and Diana is worried she won't hit the big note. It is Everybody Hurts. [Or, alternatively, 'Everybody Hyurrrrrrghs', apparently. Which, oddly enough, is the noise I make when I listen to Diana "singing". - Steve] There is a man with serious lank indie hair playing guitar on stage. Diana waves her claw at the camera as she strides round the stage like a little banshee crab. And I bloody hate that little coy Princess Di under-the-lashes glance she does.

Louis says it is one of his favourite songs, "by REM", just to show how hip he is. He thinks Ruth and Alexandra are better [trufact - Rad]. Dannii says she was workin' it. Simon could feel her nerves, and he has never seen her look so tense, but that song may have saved her. Cheryl says she is a little fighter and she is proud of her. Dermot has been relegated to the role of hanky-bearer this evening, and brings on some more tissues for the over-emotional Diana, who chats at nineteen to the dozen and gulps randomly for air.

Dermot beseeches us to bolster Simon's dwindling reserves of cash by voting. No thanks. He reminds us that BRITNEY is here later. In the meantime we must make do with Miley blinkin' Cyrus. She sings her new single Seven Things. Well, so Dermot tells me. I'm fast-forwarding this bit. Gosh, it goes on for a long time. [I liked it. It was good. - Steve]

Finally it's over, and here's the recap - Ruth bellowed in rock fashion; JLS had some odd production and would like to be hit one more time; Alexandra pissed all over everyone vocally but not literally; Eoghan was bleedin' awful but nobody in the studio seemed to be able to hear that; Diana tried to grab votes by using her pincer. That's all for now!

Results show

Dermot welcomes us back, with the remaining acts lined up like an identity parade again, or perhaps as if they are about to face a firing squad [maybe it's recmpence for the week no-one was murdered - Rad]. More recap.

NOW IT IS TIME FOR BRITNEY! Complete with stupid introductory montage about her amazingness! Woma-womanizer! She's miming, obviously [and badly - Rad]! It is circusy! Brian Friedman's mental choreography works much better when the artist can actually dance and everyone gives into the requisite divaness rather than looking inept and faintly embarrassed! Cheryl is going absolutely MAD in her seat! Then Britney finishes and Dermot curtseys to her, and then laughs at the dancers. She says she enjoyed it, and thinks that tonight has been good because she loves being in London. Ha! Not because the contestants were any good, obviously. She does a cute little curtsey-bob and rushes off.


We're back with much filler, about how the acts do not want to go home. Ruth wants to keep singing; JLS don't want to leave tonight as it would be a kick in the teeth; Alexandra thinks she can literally taste her dream; words cannot describe how much Eoghan wants to be in the semi-final; Diana is excited when she thinks about being in the semi-final and is praying to her guardian angel.

The contestants and the judges come on to the stage. Tonight, there is no final showdown, no bottom two - it is ALL ON THE VOTING. Dermot wishes everyone luck, and opens the Silver Envelope of Destiny. The acts through to next week - JLS, who bound around like bunnies; Alexandra; Diana, whose face crumples and then she begins to shout in a really ungracious way; and Eoghan. He bursts into tears and sobs on Simon's shoulders.

Which means Ruth is out. And yes, she is magnificent, but it was always coming, wasn't it? She claims it is the beginning of her dream, and Dannii says she is a beautiful person and will be her friend forever. Aw. Montage of Ruth's highlights - auditions when she announced her Spanishness; Simon imploring her to be more Spanish; weeping at Dannii; her mum being Spanish; Louis's ill-advised matador simile; some really good sing-off performances; and her excellent utilisation of the wind machine. Back on stage, Ruth says she came from nowhere. I thought she came from Spain? She says (in Spanish) that she loves England. But NOT IRELAND.

She sings us out with Always, and I have to say she's taken this with exceptional good grace. I guess she knew it was inevitable too. Louis is crying. Hopefully this is because Dannii has been pinching him underneath the desk. Dannii is forced to fill some time by jabbering some more about Ruth's vocals; Dermot admires Ruth's passion. No mention of what next week's theme will be, but whatever it is, some poor sucker will be here recapping it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Checking out, the Hylton

Previously on The X Factor, ZOMG scandal! Laura went and the nation whipped itself into a frenzy. Then Daniel went and nobody really cared, because apparently having a wife WHO IS DEAD isn’t as instrumental in garnering public favour as singing like a kitty. Who knew? The theme was ‘Best of British’, with a typically fast and loose definition of the word ‘Best’, and this week we get Take That week, which is presumably harder to fudge, but don’t be surprised if this turns into ‘songs Gary Barlow once heard on the radio’.

Louis says we can up the ante now that Daniel is ‘finally gone’. We only get Gary and Mark out of Take That as mentors. Poor Howard and Jason. I like to think they were off having sex somewhere, but they probably weren’t. Cheryl says the competition is now super intense. Louis says Take That songs were written for a boy band, so JML Direct will wow ‘everbaddy’. Oh, come on. You know what the judges say – these songs are amazing, it’s a challenge, they’ve got to do well, etc.

Dermot suit-watch. Fits better in the chest, but gapping horribly at the bottom. He’s obeying the ‘never do up the bottom button’ rule but the jacket should hang better than that. He says some bullshit and then the judges come out. This bit is so hard to recap. You know what happens. Dermot bounces up and down when ‘could it be magic’ plays as the judges come in. He clearly thinks he’s not on camera. Hee. Dannii has a pretty gold flapper dress on. Cheryl has a weird black ballerina skirt on. Not good.

Following Mariah’s lead, Take That get to open the show. We have the funny heartbeat flashing words ZOMG they’re so important intro as normal. Take That are kind of awesome, mind. Not to the extent that I’d buy their records. But still.

Mark Owen has taken to hats in a big way lately. He really must be going bald. [Poor Mark Owen. Having watched too much High School Musical recently, I am sad for him that his hats denote nothing but age. - Carrie] Gary’s wearing a shirt that looks like it’s made of a bin bag. I don’t really like Take That’s new song. It’s kind of dull and just sounds too much like it’s written to be played over the credits of Gray’s Anatomy when somebody’s girlfriend dies. They try and make the audience clap along. It’s not really a clap along song. It almost sounds a bit Coldplay-esque. It’s still a much better song than whatever the winner will get lumbered with, mind. Given that Geraldine’s Winner’s Song is actually a terrifyingly close pastiche of those songs, they should maybe just get Gary Barlow and Peter Kay to write it. Although they’ve probably already found, like, an O-Town album track that they want to use, so…. [I hear that Delta Goodrem's Born To Try is mooted... - Carrie]

Cheryl’s shoulderblades are very prominent. She looks a bit poorly.

Dermot asks what’s the hardest TT song to sing. Mark says ‘the one I sing!’ and Gary says ‘the one I sing’, forgetting that he sings, well, most of the songs. Gary says that he admires all the contestants for coming out and singing and stuff and how nerve-wracking it is.


Only 3 weeks to the final. Sweet candy. We’re nearly done.

Girls first. Cheryl’s a bit cold. She could wear some damn clothes, then. Up first – ‘She’s hot. It’s Alexandra Burke.’ [Because heaven forfend Diana should have to open the show and risk being forgotten, even though Alex was on near the start last week too. - Steve] Alex thought she’d died and gone to Heaven last week. Etc. She’s put a twist on one of their songs. She apologises to Gary and Mark for reading the words from a paper. Gary tells her to take care of her voice and she says ‘yeah, the thing is I’m not’. She has to stop talking. Gary wants her to look after her instrument. Dirty. NotLouis, wearing some furry thing that makes him looks like Princess Of The Bear People, says she’s got a difficult routine.

She’s singing Relight My Fire. She’s got a high ponytail, kind of like some Russ Meyer slut . It looks awful. Pretty sparkly shift dress though. Sounds a bit like she’s forcing herself into her lower register, in order to cope with the escalation that comes later. Again the amazing routine seems to involve, well, wandering a bout a bit. She does sound like Martha Wash or something, some big fat 50 year old woman who’s been doing this for years. But… this is, dare I say it, a bit boring? She’s still ridiculously good. Ha! We see Louis waving his hand in the air like a moron. The end is weird – the backing singers do almost all the work and Alex just goes ‘woah’ a bit.

Louis says he loves how she didn’t just copy the original. Goes on about her amazing personality again. He wants her in the final. Dannii says she didn’t warm up til half way through (true – she did sound weird at the beginning, the whole forcing herself to sing low thing) and looked a bit nervous. Alex says she’s always nervous and everyone boos because they’re fucking idiots. Alex says she likes shaking what her momma gave her. Simon says she’s great. Louis interrupts to says she’s best since Leona. Simon says people mustn’t think she’s safe, they should vote and she has to be in the final;. Cheryl says you couldn’t tell she was nervous. Alex woops a bit and high fives Dermot [Has Alex been taking pep pills tonight? She seems much more talkative than usual, despite the Barlow's warnings about being chatty - Rad]. Dermot tells her to hush, for her voice’s sake. She does sound a bit hoarse. Dermot’s suit gapping is really annoying me. It’s too small, is why. With the bottom button open, there should be enough overlap of cloth that you don’t flash the shirt beneath. Who knew I cared so much about tailoring?

Ruth is up next. Ruth couldn’t believe it when she was safe. Dannii says she’s chosen the best song for her. Ruth wrote to Take That when she was 9; she wanted them to sing at her birthday. Gary tells Ruth to rein in the big notes a bit and not hammer people over the head with her big voice. Yvie says the same. Simon doesn’t think she can hold back. Gary says Ruth wants it more than anyone else. And we know how important that is in these shows. Only behind going on Journeys and having relatives WHO ARE DEAD.

Ooh, they’ve rocked up Love Don't Live Here Any More. Oooh, she looks awesome in a great big black chiffon number. Oooh, her diction is a bit mushy at the beginning. Ooh, Love AIN’T Here Any More. Apologies. This is the perfect arrangement of this song for her – they’ve made it soft rock, which is totally her wheelhouse. Ha! Apparently this is Ruth holding back. Christ. She really belts the end out. Awesome again. I just really love watching Ruth on stage – there’s something about her on stage that you can tell she loves being there and it makes me love it.

Louis says ‘I can’t fault you at all’. Cheryl says it was great, and that Ruth is inspirational for coming to a foreign country and stuff [She actually said 'for moiving to Spain'. Oh Cheryl, I'm not sure you should speak, just look pretty and cry a bit - Rad]. Simon says Ruth is always better in sing-offs because she gets the right song, but this was ‘sensational’. Dannii chose the right song and Ruth now has a fighting chance. Her best performance by a mile. Dannii says she did her proud. Dermot gets all snarky because Ruth threw aside a mic stand. He said they’re ‘expensive’, which, um… it’s a metal pole. He calls her a Spanish omelette for some unknown reason.


Dermot says if we’re jealous of the audience we can book tickets for the tour. Then says we’ve got the only group, and their mentor, ‘who would have been even more successful if it weren’t for Take That’. Yuh. Cos Take That didn’t pave the way for Boyzone or anything. You’re a dill, sometimes, Dermot. [Sometimes? - Steve]

Louis says ‘how dare Dannii slag off his song choice?’ I’m afraid I still don’t know which JML Direct is which. But then I didn’t know who Hope except Phoebe were for ages, and I still call Same Difference Boy Difference and Girl Difference. Bear Princess NotLouis says they’ll be compared to Take That. One of them says ‘we’re going to rule the world – JLS are back for good’. The other three then all laugh at him and call him a dick. It’s sweet. [They did the same sort of thing last week, though, so it's getting a bit played for my liking. - Steve]

They’re doing A Million Love Songs. They’re wearing various components of grey suits. Oh dear. They lean on the piano for a bit. NotLouis, with your spectacular choreography, you are spoiling us. Walk out. Walk across stage. Lean on piano. Walk back across stage. Earning your keep there. [I laughed very loudly at the piano and the girl piano player. Not sure why I found it so amusing. Possibly the mental images of NotLouis going, 'Hmm, what can I do to creatively direct this bit? I KNOW - A PIANO! ON STAGE!' - Carrie] It’s all a bit dull. They harmonise really well, I must say – it’s nice to see a group not relying on invisible backing singers. [Except I think they were. In rehearsals with Gary and Mark, they sang in unison, and I suspect they did that on stage too, with the backing vocalists taking the harmonies. - Carrie]

Dannii says there was no song stealing, they chose the song it went back and forth a bit. It suffered at the beginning, but they really pulled it out. BOOOOOO!!!!! Cheryl says she missed some of their camaraderie. Simon says it was confusion between them and Louis over the song choice and that was unforgiveable, Louis. Everyone boos. Before Simon says it was great [and that they had a bit of a row with Louis, who earlier in the week announced they were singing 'Back For Good'. Interesting - Rad]. Louis, being a cunt as ever, says ‘Dannii, you DID steal the song, but it doesn’t matter.’ Dannii says it was rota system and Louis jibbers on some more. What a fucking troll.

Dermot asks who’s going to win and the audience go insane like you dropped some meat in a tank of piranha. Seriously Dermot. You know better than to direct a question to that pack of baying freaks. As soon as Dermot turns to Dannii the audience start booing? I think? And she can’t answer and points to Louis and Louis introduces Rachel. The audience hate her? I really can’t tell what’s going on. Rachel says she was shocked to be in the bottom two, which is probably true, but god that’s something you shouldn’t say. Dannii says she needs to show her soft side to make the public connect. Yes, indeed. Louis says she’s a good singer but has no likeability. Dannii’s in tears before the singing even starts. Something really weird has happened. Rachel’s doing Rule The World. NotLouis has men dangling from ribbons dancing. [WHAT THE HELL WAS THIS? Sweet holy mother. That man bewilders me more week by week. - Carrie] She still says ‘if you stay with me girl’, which I like. I hate when they gender-switch songs. She’s a bit drowned out by the music. Once again, X Factor fucks up the levels on its sound. Louis says great song choice, she looked happy. Cheryl says great song choice – nice to hear the softer side. Cheryl says Rachel needs to find the soul side of any song, because that’s her strength, but it was lovely. Simon says aside from the insane acrobatics, it was very very good. The artist is not responsible for the choreography!!! Simon says it was Dannii’s absolute right to choose that song, it was on a rota, and she chose the right song cos she was looking out for her act. Louis says ‘I want to protect my act too!’ Completely ignoring the fact that the point is that it was Dannii’s prerogative. Simon tells Louis to stop pissing and moaning. Louis says ‘you’re the moaner! You’re the moaner!’, showing his normal incisive wit. Dannii is in tears and can barely speak. She says it was great, but she would never steal anyone else’s song. Louis, being a rancid cunt, says ‘I’m not crying! I’m not crying!’ and Dannii says if it was a running race, Louis would trip up the other runner. There’s more going on to this – Dannii isn’t the kind of person who would get so upset over Louis’s sniping – he’s said she can’t sing to her face and it’s normally water off a duck’s back. I get the impression that he’s been really unpleasant to her behind the scenes. [Join Steve's People for the Ethical Treatment of Dannii Minogue group on Facebook! - Rad]

Rachel says that she thanks the people voting for her, she knows she hasn’t been consistent but she does think she deserves her place.

Diana is next. Gary tells her that if Simon doesn’t sign her, Gary will, and gives her his number. Diana is doing Patience. Oh, fucking hell. Those aren’t notes that she’s singing. She’s almost got the errant wavey hand under control. She ends better than she begins, but she’s a mess, to be honest. However, like Dearly Departed Saint Laura Of The Broken Phonelines, when she stops putting on a totally contrived ‘oh, I’m so damn kooky you could punch me in the throat’ voice, she can actually belt it a bit. Louis says she’s got a recording career, whatever happens. Dannii says it was great to see her so happy at the end, and it was really good. Simon says it was great, there were some shaky moments (and you can tell just how fucking dreadful some of the notes were that the audience do not boo this one bit, at all) and that they won’t be taking Gary’s offer of a recording contract (Louis, because he is a moron, gets all indignant and says ‘WHAT!?’, not realising that Simon means he’ll give Diana a contract himself, not that she shouldn’t have one at all.) Diana, much like Rachel, says she knows she hasn’t been her best every week, and really appreciates the support. [Louis also helpfully says that she made Patience sound contemporary. That's Patience. The eighth best-selling single of that bygone age, 2006. - Carrie]

Eggnog is doing Never Forget. In practice, he doesn’t attempt the high notes in the chorus and Gary totally pulls him up on it. Eggnog hoped Gary wouldn’t notice, but then realised that he totally would. It’s quite sweet. For about an hour it’s like ‘can he hit the notes?’ ‘it’ll be bad if he doesn’t hit the notes’ ‘I’m going to try and hit the notes’.

His hair has got even bigger. NotLouis clearly shot his choreography load on Rachel’s ceiling dancers, cos Eoghan’s just walking about the stage a bit. He attempts the high notes, but is fortunately very strongly supported by invisible backing singers. Oh, and then visible singers. Some teenage girls who look like they’ve just come in from the Maypole [or a bizarre cult - Rad]. There are a couple of moments where Eggnog manages to make himself heard over the backing vocals, but he’s basically drowned out for the entire second half of the song. I think Louis just called him Quigglet. Vomit. He then talks about Irish charm, because he’s still Louis. Dannii says Eggnog’s best performance so far and one of the best of the night. Cheryl says it was great and she’s a little bit in love with him. Simon’s like, watch it paedo. Simon says it was awesome – he missed some notes but it doesn’t matter. And seriously, the only thing I can think is that the judges are privy to the votes and Eggnog is SO far in front that they want to show support so they don’t look stupid when he wins. Because srsly. You couldn’t even hear him for half of the song.

Recaps of all the performances. Ruth really stands out – she was best of the night. Then we go blah blah blah blah blah for about twenty minutes before the show ends.

(FYI: In Xtra Factor, Simon basically says that Louis might have wanted Rule The World for JVC but Dannii got first pick and was within her rights. Holly forces Louis to apologise and he does, but it’s totally forced. He gives Dannii a kiss but she practically flinches. They do not like each other. Or rather, Louis is probably oblivious to how much of an arse he can be and likes Dannii, without realising that he makes her skin crawl.)

Results Show

Dermot waffles on. Same Difference and Rhydian will both be on later. Performance recap. Ruth’s still best. Ha! Dermot makes Louis say, ‘Let’s remind ourselves of the pure unadulterated joy that is Same Difference.’ [Except he can't read and doesn't actually say 'unadulterated'. - Carrie] Girl Difference has scary stary eyes when she sings, a bit. They appear to be miming, which is odd. I mean, it’s not, cos they’re doing a fairly energetic dance routine, but still. Years ago, Gala sang ‘Free From Desire’ on Top of The Pops and did press-ups (press-ups!) and still sang live, so nobody ever has any excuse. This song’s a lot better than I expected it to be. High School Musical channelled via Swedish power pop. Alarmingly, given the HSM, Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers market, I could see Same Difference doing incredibly well in America. A big glitter storm at the end, and Dermot calls Boy Difference ‘Mr Glitter’, raising unfortunate paedo spectres. Louis says they put a smile on everyone’s face, even Dannii’s, (which: too soon, maggot) and they’re great and he was wrong. Dannii gets her own back by leaning at Louis and tasting the air and saying, ‘Let me taste it. Mm, bitter.’ [Dannii wins at life. - Steve]


We get a little intro to Rhydian. He’s singing The Impossible Dream. He’s had a very good facial, or something. His skin looks lovely. By his standards. God, vocally he shits all over everyone in it this year, certainly all the males anyway. It’s really a good thing Daniel’s gone – it would have been so embarrassing to have to compare him to this. However, he isn’t wearing a white fur coat, and there aren’t any sailors wearing hats that say ‘HMS Dannii’, so I can only get so excited, you know? In a fairly nice bit of staging, at the end they bring up all the stage lights and reveal a great big choir from the darkness. Sheesh. Dude can sing. Go Rhydian! May your album sell by the bucketload to mothers and grans. Simon says Rhydian was ‘by any standard, one of the great X Factor performances.’ He thinks that Rhydian came back to prove a point and he proved it – the point presumably being that he sings a wee bit better than that mush-mouthed shuffler Leon [Interestingly, I read an interview with Simon the other day where he was playing down Leon's chances of longevity and singing Rhydian's praises instead - Rad].

We see chats with the contestants about why they want to be in top five. That is to say, the programme was coming up a bit short, so they needed a minute or so from somewhere. This is not in any way informative – dreams, wanting it, for my children, a group has never done it before, it’s my dream, I really want it, blah. You can allocate a couple of those to their owners, but really you don’t need to for most of them.

Results time. I really hope it’s not a Ruth-Rachel bottom two. Although that would be the only way Ruth would survive the bottom two, so…. And that doesn’t matter because she’s safe! YES! Eggnog is also safe. He screams and jumps up and down. I swear people didn’t used to be so damn graceless at this point. Screeching hag Diana is safe. (I’m sorry. She was appalling this week.) [She was. I loved Man in the Mirror and Call Me, but everything else has either been meh or awful - Rad] [Diana's album plays on repeat forever in Hell. - Steve] Alexandra is safe. Rachel and JLS bottom two.

Poor Rachel. People just can’t warm to her, I think. Oh jeebus. JCB are doing, in their words, ‘Stand By Me Beautiful Girl’, which can only be some godawful Sean Kingston/original song medley [it's not original, the lovely Gareth Malone did it with a bunch of da yoot in 'The Choir' earlier on this year on BBC2 - Rad], because they need the country to ‘stand by us in this moment’. Rachel gets all flustered and it takes Dannii to step in and say she’s doing a song called ‘I’m Not Leaving’. Which for a second I thought was going to be ‘And I’m Telling You’, which would have been so cool, but probably isn’t.

JJ The Jetplane is up first. They start off doing Stand By Me and it’s at least half a beat too fast, in order for them to segue into Beautiful Girls. They’re not great – in the past people like Ruth have kicked it up a notch in the sing-off, but they seem a bit nervous (completely understandable) and disorganised. Oh, boys. No. They end by singing ‘stand by us, stand by us, stand by JLS’ and that is such a no-no. It’s rubbish.

Dannii is a bit choked up and just says ‘Rachel Hylton’. Oh, it is And I Am Telling You! Awesome! And here’s someone who raises their game in the sing-off. It shows the truth of Cheryl’s comment that Rachel needs to find the soul in songs because she’s strongest there. She is putting everything into it, and slips in some lovely unexpected high notes. She biffs the last note slightly, but not horribly so. It wasn’t note perfect, but it had actual emotion in it and stuff, which is what I want to see, especially at this point.

Louis totally believes in JLS and that they belong, so he’s sending home Rachel. Dannii says fantastic performances from both, but hands down she liked Rachel more and has to send home JLS. Cheryl doesn’t want to do it – she loved JLS, she thought it was the best Rachel had sung since auditions, but based on going forward in the competition, she has to send home Rachel. Simon says it’s tough – he’s been a fan of Rachel’s since the beginning, but it’s been three times. JLS he doesn’t think should have been bottom two and it was a great song choice. Louis says Simon has to save JLS. Simon says ‘I don’t HAVE to do anything!’. Louis says ‘You do!’ Simon says the person he’s sending home, ‘and I really really don’t like saying this’, is Rachel. It’s only right – that many bottom two appearances, she is never going to win the competition and you can’t keep putting her through just to end up in the bottom again. And at least this way she went out on a high note – it was a great, great sing out. Still sucks though, when Diana and Eggnog are still there. Rachel says she’s fine – someone has to go. She seems genuinely okay. Dannii says she’s really sad to see her go.

Next week we’ve got Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears! And given that the theme is American Classics or something, my dream of seeing Ruth sing either Pat Benatar or Heart comes slightly closer to fruition. Woot!