Saturday, August 30, 2008

A billion per cent OH NOEZ

Evening, bitches. Well, this week has been a very exciting one in X-Factor land - so much so that even my dad, not a man known for giving a toss about television in the slightest, demanded of me that I explain the casual lies that go to create everyone's favourite talent contest.

Obviously I had no answers. I could have toed the Cowell line of "This is a REAL show, warts and all" or the vaguely more realistic press office comment of "The editing may have been flawed" (ya think? What a turn-up for the books THAT would be), but frankly, I've not a clue what goes on in these people's minds. Like Lindsay Lohan's best friend in Just My Luck, "I'm just here to observe and mock."

And with that, on with the mockery.

Previously! Rachel and teh drugz! Foster boy! Big-mouth girl! Tonight! The contestants fight back! Oh, hooray - a montage of mentally ill people "standing up" to the judges. Oh, and a classic Cheryl - "I thought we were going to have a scrap." I don't fancy the contestant's chances.

Dermot welcomes us to London. We know it is London because we see a montage of Tower Bridge, a red bus, the Houses of Parliament, the River Thames, the Millennium Dome. We then see him standing on a box, short-arse that he is, in front of a gazillion crazies who claim to have the X-factor. His shirt is straining at the bosom, a problem with which I sympathise, but he really needs to sort out his stylist. Montage of the judges, but we already know who they are and the kind of things they say, so I shan't bother recapping that.

80-year-old Cyril feels half his age, which is "a beautiful feeling". He tells Dermot that he has a feeling he can win the competition, because he has always Had A Dream, and believes that someday it will come. Oh, Cyril. Cheryl smiles at him benignly, but he doesn't seem to understand her accent. He sings Hey Good Looking with no apparent regard for tempo, and with a terrifying mid-distance glazed stare. The judges applaud. Louis tells him he's a born showman. Everyone laughs. It's all very good-natured. Four yeses, and Cyril is through. [I bet we never see him again, though. - Steve]

Cue montage of people who are good. Ooh, pretty boy. Dannii and Cheryl are quite taken. But we don't get to see much of him, because they wheel on a girl band, Just Those Girls, who sing Fat-Bottomed Girls. "What would you do with them?" asks Simon. "I'd restyle them," says Louis, to much horror and hilarity. They're through. 16-year-old schoolgirl Rachel has a huge voice, and Simon is stunned, and interrupts her to tell her she's very good.

I'm srsly tempted to audition next year just so that Dermot will kiss me.

Crashing on, then. Guylene is a waitress and wants to be like Celine Dion, but sounds a bit like a ventriloquist singing through their puppet. Cheryl raises her mug to hide her grin. [Bless Cheryl, I do love the many ways in which she tries not to let the contestants see she's laughing at them. - Steve] Nobody stops the poor deluded woman, letting her carry on to the end, at which point they laugh. "My Heart Will Go On and On and On," says Louis. Cheryl looks really upset when she says no to putting her through. Background music is the break in Dion's Think Twice where she shouts, "No, no, no, no!" Hee. Dermot does empathising.

Still to come - more awful people, one of whom scares Cheryl.

Dermot is now "in" "Manchester". I cannot be bothered to point out the continuity and editing problems here, so let's gloss over it. Simon says, "Historically, the North used to be better, then London got it together with Leona," which makes me simultaneously laugh and cringe for poor old London-born Steve Brookstein, who has been wiped out of history most effectively. [Also, Louis is looking for people of the same standard of Leona Shayne, whoever she is. - Steve]

Diana is 16 and from Blackburn. She loves to sing. She wants this more than anything, because it is her future. I'm a bit scared for Diana. Her idols are Damien Rice, the Beatles - "real music!" interjects Louis - and she sings a Damien Rice song. "I know it!" exclaims Louis, but then he would, because Damien Rice is FROM IRELAND. I don't recognise this song or indeed any of the words she's singing, but hey, that never stopped Ray or Leon. Dannii tells her to improve her diction. Simon tells her that she's one of his favourites today - "in terms of relevance...I loved it." Four yeses for Diana. [I honestly thought she was going to be shit from the buildup to her intro. Nice bit of misdirection by the editors, there. - Steve] [She was a bit all over the shop, but there was a nice voice under there somewhere and she's sweet - Rad]

Colin is a 59-year-old welder from Worksop. "Why should I be nervous?" he asks. Um, the reasons you just said? He is working on a film called The Life of Colin. About him. ZOMG. He bills himself as a singer and entertainer, and tells the judges about his film, on which he sings the soundtrack. Simon looks a little bit appalled. Louis has his usual bemused/amused face on. When Colin sings, do you think it's good, readers, or do you think it's in fact abysmal? No, go on, guess. Four noes, and Simon bids him farewell with, "At least you've got the film."

Montage of weirdness - old man brings the ladies flowers; lady brings in her dog, which Cheryl cuddles rather than listening to the dreadful singing, and which she regrets afterwards when the dog leaves a smelly dribbly residue on the desk; lady brings in good luck cards, which have pictures of Simon in - she is a dinner lady, by the way, like Niki, and she is wearing a glam black cocktail dress, the effect of which is ruined by the greying bra underneath it. She's dreadful, and possibly drunk, and gets dragged away by security. [Would've been a different story if she'd had a dad WHO IS DEAD though. - Steve] Man brings in a bizarre sculpture of Simon. Why? Why would someone do this? [I was very impressed at Simon's composure there. I would have run screaming from the room and demanded several restraining orders before returning - Rad]

Scott, 19, from Manchester, is a Bluecoat, which Louis will no doubt throw back in his face at some point should he get through. He does some acting when Dermot comes over and "introduces" "himself", which makes it look even more staged than usual. Manly hand-clasps, and Scott is sent into the judges' lair. "Has anyone ever come from Pontins or Butlins?" asks Simon. "Shane Richie," says Scott. Ha. He sings You'll Never Walk Alone. Cue "musical theatre" comments. Cheryl is pleasantly surprised; Louis thought it was old-fashioned. "What do you want, a hip-hop version of it?" asks Simon. "That's like saying a banana tastes like a banana." Dannii wants to restyle him. Simon has decided that he likes him, and then proceeds to bicker with Louis in a truly unprofessional way [And also: my, how the tables have turned, considering Simon was always the one bickering at Louis for being old fashioned and telling contestants they needed to be contemporary. I blame Ray - Rad]. Four yeses.

Still to come - brilliant "horrified" faces from Cheryl. [I really need to learn how to make animated gifs from this show. - Steve]

Dermot is still in Manchester. Twin sisters Francine and Nicola are "Francine and Nicola", which I'm sure you'll agreed is inspired. They claim to be "the same person", and want to be "multi world-wide selling superstars." Louis asks them if they're sisters. Imbecile. They sing, and it's not bad once they get into it. They need to have someone help them with arrangements and harmonies, which clearly they won't get on The X-Factor, but they have powerful voices. Cheryl likes that they're twins, and says there aren't any duos out there at the moment. Thank fuck. Louis likes them. Simon is on a banana trail this evening, and likens their personalities to said fruit. [Seriously, is this show sponsored by the British Banana Council or something? If so, at least give us some gratuitous softcore shots of Dermot peeling and biting into one. - Steve] Four yeses.

Stuart, 29, is a soldier in the British Army. Simon says that he sings like a robot. Cheryl enjoyed it. Everyone else liked it too. Simon says 35-year-old property developer Sondelle looks like she's in a cornflakes commercial. "Your comments just get more and more confusing," sniffs Cheryl. Level 7 are a mad song-and-dance duo. Simon calls them annoying. Cheryl tells him, "You're acting very strange today", and does a nyah-nyah noise then blows a raspberry at him. I love Cheryl.

20-year-old Laura seems to have stolen Amy Winehouse's wig. She is a strange orange colour, and has a sore throat from overpractice. Music is the only thing she's ever wanted to do. (Dermot has a different shirt on now, by the way.) She sings Jocelyn Brown's Somebody Else's Guy, prefacing it with all kinds of apologies for being dreadful due to her poorliness. Except she's not dreadful, she's pretty damn good, despite a really irritating habit of bending over while she's singing and scrunching up her face. Simon thinks she's incredible and adores her; Cheryl thinks she's got a fantastic voice; Dannii loves her; Louis thinks she's potentially very good "but you need a lot of work", the miserable old git. Four yeses, with increasing degrees of intensity ("one billion per cent" from Simon, in fact). [I loved the fact that whilst the other three were playing a game of ridiculous percentages all through this show, Dannii just said yes. Clearly she is too classy for this show. Or else lacking in humour. - Rad]

Another break. Yawn.

Holy mother of God. Sue is 44, Jason is 22; they are workmates, and they go by the name Guilty Pleasure. I really don't know how to describe them. He looks like a cross between a fat, deranged Gok Wan and Kat off Big Brother; she looks a downtrodden EastEnders extra. They think they can win the show, and can be like Kylie and Robbie Williams. They sing Unbreak My Heart, but don't seem to be singing it in any key known to humankind, going so high that Jason has to stop. Simon speaks the truth, and Jason declares it "upsetting". Four noes.

Dollymix sing I Love Rock and Roll while wearing Primark polka-dot basques, blue eyeliner and stepping unconvincingly from side to side. Simon decries their lack of energy and charisma; Louis advises them to get a singer. Olweleng thinks he could be as big as R Kelly. He emotes, but not in tune. A neon-tutu-clad girl group 4Fit sing a unison arrangement of Fame, with accompanying arm-lifts on the title word.

Ariel from West Yorkshire is introduced to the strains of Kate Bush's Baboushka. She's a "holistic vocal coach", and has black and bleached dreadlocks. I'm guessing Ariel isn't her real name, either. She does a boxing-style warm-up, along with some meditation, and she intends to "own the space". She walks in, and Cheryl definitely mutters, "Oh, no." She's not wrong - Ariel storms up to the table and tears off her audition number, declaring, "I am NOT a number, I'm a human being." Simon looks stunned. Dannii looks as gorgeously immobile as ever. "I'm a generalist, not a specialist!" declares Ariel. Simon asks her to explain what the fuck a holistic vocal coach is, and then asks for examples of the famous people she has worked with; she names Matt Tuck from Bullet For My Valentine, but it seems the judges aren't huge fans of metal [And also: 'worked with' him, or 'stalked' him? - Rad]. Cheryl asks her to stand on the red X, which she does with poor grace, a stamp and a big hard-done-by sigh. "Is there a problem with that, Ariel?" she asks, all steel. "No, there's not a problem with that, but can I get on with singing, please?" comes the retort. Oh, girl, you did NOT just take on the Tweedy. Ariel begins to sing, and I have no idea what it is. [I'm guessing it was an original Ariel composition. - Steve] At all. "That was a complete and utter nightmare," says Simon. "The idea behind it was that you get to understand that every line is a different style, OK?" replies Ariel. For good measure, Cheryl tells her that she's scary - "by the way you walked over to me, I thought we were gonna have a scrap!" That would be awesome. Go Team Tweedy! Ariel smirks, "You've obviously never been a rock singer then." Cheryl's jaw drops open, and she says, "Nooooo." Simon begins to criticise the song, and Ariel snaps, "The piece I have just performed, it is an academic construction, it is NOT a song." Cheryl bangs her head on the desk. Simon tells her they didn't like it, but apparently that is not a valid comment - "It is not something to be liked. It is something to be understood from an academic perspective. Obviously you're not an academic." Simon agrees that he's not, and tries to get rid of her by telling her she's not a very good singer, but she won't have that either - "Oooooooooh. We are proud," which just comes across as a desperate retort from a humiliated woman. She adds, "I shall say goodbye to you, but not before - " and then she breaks into song again, telling the panel to stick it, and that they're stupid. Time for security. Once in the secure arms of Dermot, she announces that she doesn't need Simon Cowell to tell her she can sing, because she has a degree in it. Oh, dear, universities of the world, watch this show and weep.

Next week! We're in Scotland, which is where Scottish people are from!

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