Auditions, Round Five: 13th September 2008
Previously on The X Factor: Lots of deluded people! Judges pulling funny faces! Two good people! Cheryl getting moist! More deluded people! Tonight, more of the same… ‘It’s time to face the music' (and seriously, are they really trying to sell that as a strapline? Because: no. It's even worse than Tycoons of Tomorrow)
Tonight: we’re in Cardiff, in Wales. Or Beautiful Cardiff, as the tourist board advert that is Torchwood would have us believe. I wish I was watching that show. Except actually I don’t, because they killed Tosh. The bastards.
Thousands of people are here, allegedly (it looks like a queue of about two hundred to me, but whatever), including, hilariously, a man in an England shellsuit. Tom Jones plays, because we are in Wales, home of the Welsh (to be fair, I wouldn’t mind so much if they also played some Manics or Catatonia, but that would all be a bit contemporary for this show, what with it being music that’s only about 12 years old).
The judges find ways of saying ‘Wales are shit at this show’ that sound vaguely complimentary: Simon ‘I’m always cautiously optimistic when I come to Wales’, Dannii: ‘we haven’t had a winner from Wales’, Cheryl ‘I’m excited, we need to find some really good people now’ (which could have been Cheryl taking about ANY city) and Louis: 'I really believe there’s another Leonashayne out there. There must be a young Shirley Bassey in Cardiff’ (Louis makes an old popstar reference AND a nationalistic one? Double drink!). Simon says that they don’t want a new Shirley Bassey, they didn’t even want the original. Rhydian silently weeps.
Anyway, we begin with an old friend... CERI! Erm, OK. At first I don’t actually recognise the lady they show us – she’s fifty something, a little plump but not severely overweight, with straight dyed blonde hair, and wearing purplypink chiffon. Who is she? Why thank heavens for the recapping gods of the X Factor, who are about to tell us in a slightly sepia-toned way. She is Ceri (not Kerry, thanks name captions!) who auditioned in 2005, when she had curly black hair, was rather skinny and didn’t have any teeth. Apparently she also auditioned in 2006 but I don’t remember that. It was probably on The Xtra Factor and not the main show. More on that particular grumble coming up (well, if endless teasers are good enough for the show, they should be good enough for this blog).
Ceri wants it to be her third time lucky. Well, let’s see how that pans out, shall we? enters and it takes Simon a moment to register who she is – either because she’s changed so much, or because the producers told him to fake surprise. Dannii and Cheryl look bemused as Simon chats to Ceri.
She sings ‘How Do I Live’ and it’s really, really bad, all tiny and squeaky. Simon says she looks better, but her voice is worse, she sounds like a two year old when she sings and it’s impossible for her to win a show like this. Louis and Dannii give sympathetic noes, Cheryl says she doesn’t understand a word [this from a woman who's been in a band with Nuhdeen for the past five years, so you know it's got to be serious - Steve], Simon tries to be nice to her by saying he wants her to get batter, he wants her to be happy, he likes her, but it’s a no. Despite Simon actually being quite gracious here, the producers play lightning sound effects in between each of his comments. Ceri has a moan about Simon for no real reason, considering he was quite gentle, and shuffles out dejectedly. She doesn’t even milk her hug with Dermot time, for goodness sake!
Whilst I’m not a big fan of Ceri, and think her attitude sucks, I fail to see the point in the producers letting her through again. They could have shown her makeover in Reveal magazine or something instead, where her self-esteem could have been boosted. She’s clearly made an effort with her appearance, but can’t sing and is, I think, on the vulnerable side of deluded and thus too fragile for humiliation on this show. Still, we don’t have time to dwell on the wellbeing of Ceri, when we have more humiliation to be getting on with, do we?
A ‘bar attendant and dancer’, Rachel Roberts, bellows out a strange version of Jet’s ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’. Simon says she sounds like she’s being strangled and Louis says she sounds like the girl from the Exorcist. Funnily, it’s a ‘no’. She winks at Simon and he pretends he isn’t totally into it, the man-ho. Unemployed Susan Keech, 51, screeches ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ (all to the backing of Charlotte Church’s ‘Crazy Chick’ so maybe I will get some Manics/Catatonia action later). Hilariously, a Lisa turns up, who’s supposed to be in a duet with a partner called Stephanie Frayn, who hasn’t shown up. Simon gets the wrong end of the stick and thinks she says it’s a ‘celebrity friend’ she’s waiting for. She gives a ropey performance of ‘I Will Always Love You’ and it’s a million billion trillion percent no.
Whilst Cardiff is packed with millions of hopefuls, somewhere in Wales feels like a ghost town. I am assuming they are not referring to the place they used for a non- sob story in episode one, but I wouldn’t put it past this show to be that tasteless… Cut to a bus emptying ‘the whole village’ onto the streets to support pub duo Adante at the auditions. They are real women ‘size 12s’ (my over-size-12 self sobs), who are covered in fake tan so could be anything from 25-45. Oh, 36 and ‘14’ apparently. They sing ‘Hey Big Spender’ and it’s all rather cheesy but generally in tune. Simon tells them they are a bit cheap (BURN!) and no-one will take them seriously – and I can’t see what they’d do with them past boot camp, but it never stopped 2ToGo, did it? Louis likes them and says yes. Cheryl says they have the fun factor and says yes. They beg incoherently at Dannii who says she doesn’t think she’s allowed to say no. [Check your contract, Dannii luv, I'm fairly sure you are. - Steve] They won’t get past Boot Camp. Simon does a not at all staged 3-2-1 and the ‘village’ explodes in cheers.
Adverts, which seem to have taken a long time to get here, for the first time all series. Oh joy, Fearne Cotton is presenting something terrible next. I’ll be watching Casualty, thanks.
We’re back in London, blah blah blah, deluded people talking about how great they are, blah blah blah.
MC Hammer’s ‘U Can’t Touch This’ plays as we meet 22-year old personal trainer Ryan, who wants to own his own record label someday and is shown posing in the mirror. He also wears a baseball cap that makes him look as if he’s come straight out of 1991. Dermot asks who he’s going to impress in there and he says ‘the ladies’. Ryan Cummings is, er, coming, apparently.
He enters, singing ‘I’m going to be a superstar, I don’t think you heard me, I’m gonna be a superstar’. Simon says ‘we heard you’ and looks a bit narked. Cheryl is all beaming, the hussy, and Louis looks a bit befuddled, although it doesn’t take much. He says he wants to be as good as Usher, and Louis is all like, Really? Usher’s good? Which, fair point, LouLou, cos he really isn’t my cup of tea, but Cheryl says that Usher’s good, he’s the one, and she's more 'hip' than either of us will ever be, so I'll take her word for it.
Ryan sings ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ and it’s all breathy and showy and a bit too high for him, but I’ve heard worse.
Dannii and Cheryl are all frothing at the gash about him, Simon ‘doesn’t get him’ because he’s a substandard wannabe, Louis is on the fence. It pains me to say it, but I’m with Louis on this one (come to think of it, is it just me or has Louis been much less objectionable than usual this series? I trust that will all change when it comes to the live shows which is usually when he’s at his most ridiculous) – the guy’s very cocky, a bit affected in his delivery, nowhere near as good as he thinks he is, but probably has enough about him to at least get him to boot camp. I think Simon was a little harsh, but Dannii and Cheryl really do need to get their hormones in check. Anyway, it’s a hundred per cent yes from Dannii, a million percent yes from Cheryl, a no from Simon, and a… yes from Louis. I’d be happy to see him fall on his arse at boot camp, it only seems right and proper. Ryan goes on about being the one and only Ryan C in the booth. I have a friend called Ryan whose surname begins with C who is older than this punk, so I would dispute his claim. [Please say it's Ryan Carnes. - Steve]
Cue Frankie’s ‘Two Tribes’ and a random montage of Cheryl and Simon disagreeing: First up, a blonde, cute 14 year old called Melanie, singing ‘Beautiful’. Cheryl says she’s too young, Simon disagrees and says we have to give her a shot – because we all know how well letting 14 year olds onto the show has gone so far. Cheryl’s all like ‘I don’t have to let her on just because you say so’ but fails to back up her fierceness by letting her through anyway.
A slightly ropey girl band called Pure Elements sing ‘Love Machine’. Louis says their singing wasn’t perfect, but that doesn’t always matter in girl bands and shoots Cheryl a look. Cheryl and Louis bitch a bit about Louis buggering off five minutes after ‘managing’ Girls Aloud, but anyway, they’re through.
‘29’ year old Shelley sings ‘Take a Little Piece of My Heart’ and is so-so. Simon says no and she’s pub singerish, and Cheryl says if she was in a pub, she’d finish her drink. Cheryl says yes, Simon says no and presumably Dannii and Louis say yes, because she’s through, but their opinion is redundant for the next few people, OK. A man whines through ‘When You Believe’. It’s dreadful, but still better than Leon. Cheryl says yes for no reason. They disagree on a one second clip of a man and have a fake argument about Cheryl not wanting to do this any more. Someone called Aderito sings an unknown song and everyone says no except Cheryl, who thinks he’s sweet and has been channelling too much Osbourne lately. Some more randoms who Cheryl and Simon disagree on, WHO WE DON’T EVEN HEAR SING. This bit is so overlong. [And made me dislike Cheryl a little bit, which is the most heinous crime of all. - Steve]
The next contestant is apparently not hoping to heal the rift between the judges, but also heal the whole world. Cure Michael Jackson’s ‘Heal the World’ because the scripting is subtle like that. And I think we can see where this is going, can’t we? Student Ashiq talks some nonsense to the judges about healing the world and his passion and sings ‘Rule the World’ by Take That in a very slow, breathy and flat way, with his eyes closed, and it’s bad, but probably no worse than his lookalike, Sanjaya Malakar from American Idol. Anyway, noes all round and the ‘ah-ah-aaaah’ bit from the chorus plays.
Whitney’s ‘So Emotional’ plays as we’re back in London. 15 year old Marley sings ‘The Harder They Come’ by Jimmy Cliff, and he reminds me very much of Sideshow Bob Ashley from the other year in that you can’t tell if he’s really good or just annoying, he has that slightly nasal tone to his voice. Simon thinks he’s really talented and Dannii loves him, he’s through.
And wouldn’t you know it? He’s ushered in some good people! Shocker! 19 year old called Anastazia was a waitress in Nobu (Cheryl: "Oh God, that’s a swanky restaurant") until she had a baby. She sings ‘Valerie’, Amy Winehouse stylee and is pretty great, but has bad hair. Easily through. She kisses her very cute baby in the booth and makes me melt like a gurl. Stacey Phipps, who is 33 and looks amazing for it, sings ‘The Greatest Love Of All’ well and is through.
Because she sang a Whitney song, we are treated to a few clips of randoms in the audition room saying which pop star they want to be like. Cue accountant Adebola, who wants to be Celine Dion. She has the look, the voice, the stage presence, the talent, the vibes. O RLY? Can you predict the outcome here, viewers? At least she thinks she ‘has’ the X Factor rather than she ‘is’ it. She sings ‘Where Do Broken Hearts Go’ badly, and as we all know, unless you are properly good, Whitney is a bad, bad choice for this show.
Guess what? A bunch of failures, including a tuneless Shayne Ward lookalike, a fugly boy band called Walderwood, named after the two places they come from (hey, two of your Bitch Factor team come from Grimsby and Luton: Grimton? Score), some bloke who thinks he can be Bryan Adams, and a three-piece boyband who compare themselves to the Jackson Five and are called From Us 2 You. Sometimes these things speak for themselves. They don’t even open their mouths when they sing, singing through their teeth like a bunch of boys embarrassed to be singing in school assembly.
Hannah works in an office. Yes, folks, welcome back to fallback sob story 'my job, WHICH IS SHIT'! She looks a little like Shirley Manson crossed with an actress who I can’t quite place, only with bad hair - I can’t decide if it’s greasy, has too much product in, or if she just took it out of a ponytail and it hasn’t recovered its shape yet.
She sings Duffy’s ‘Mercy’ and she’s quite good, a little unusual, in the way that Susanne from Pop Idol 2 was unusual (although her voice and style aren’t the same as Susanne’s, I just mean she stands out from the usual type of X Factor contestant). She’s a bit all over the place, and there are a few rusty notes, but nothing some vocal coaching couldn’t sort out. Simon is utterly taken with her and whilst I don’t think she’s as amazing as he does I can at least see that with a bit of refinement, and a proper hairstyle, she could be interesting.
I honestly thought she was the last contestant, but apparently not, because we’ve got some ads.
We’re back in London, sans Dannii, and I really don’t need to point out the continuity errors with this show to veterans of this blog, do I?
Next up, it’s girl group Bad Lashes (a name which is surely too similar to Bat For Lashes?), singing Gnarls Barclay’s ‘Crazy’. They seem lovely, are very pretty and they have great personalities, and at least two of them sing well, but they are a bit OTT and all over the place with their harmonies. They need to settle themselves down and have some co-ordination. Simon agrees with me for possibly the first time this show. Anyway, they’re through, which is no surprise, although Louis says no, as he has to a lot of girl groups this series. They’re one of the best (potential) groups I’ve seen so far… and yet, they’re still not all that. I know in the pre-publicity the judges have made this big thing about all wanting the groups, because, as we all know, it’s the category overdue a win, but seriously, I haven’t seen anything that great to get worked up about. Mind you, you could say the same about any of the categories, it’s hardly vintage this year, is it?
Apparently everyone wants a yes from Simon, because the other judges don’t count, EVEN THOUGH IF SIMON SAID NO AND THEY SAID YES, SOMEONE WOULD GO THROUGH.
We’re back with a familiar face, who wants to impress Simon most of all. Anthony auditioned back in 2005 and has spent three years trying to improve himself. He arrives in a white suit and black shirt, which is just what he wore last time, REMEMBER? Actually I don’t. But anyhow. Apparently he was one of those cocky people who accosts Simon outside the room to tell him he’ll be sorry. Great.
Anthony has changed a lot. He’s lost four stone and had voice coaching and wants to prove to the judges that you can improve if you want something bad enough.
He goes into the judges room to the sounds of overly dramatic music and reminds them who he was. He tells Simon he was ‘shocked to bits’ about his previous appearance, then proceeds to remove the suit to show he’s changed, right? And underneath is a T-shirt and chain that I’m sure is meant to make him look trendy, but just seems to make him look like a thug, and I’m actually quite afraid of him. (Louis half laughs, half cowers)
He sings ‘When You Believe’, which goes so well with his thug image, and isn’t great, but isn’t terrible. Basically, he’s the kind of person that wouldn’t get past the producers unless he had a gimmick or story of some sort – and this is one of the main things that bugs me about this show. Mediocre people like DeadWife man from last week can get past them because they have a great sob story and can then get through, and people like this guy and Nikk from Phixx (although we’re not supposed to mention Phixx, are we?) only get through because it’s their ‘last chance’ and then they get humiliated on telly instead of being quietly let down away from the cameras, which would surely be kinder. Bite me, X Factor.
Louis and Cheryl talk a lot about his changes, skirting over the singing. Simon says he has changed, but his singing is still average. Simon says that if you love music, buy a record player, which is the kind of random outdated schtick I’d expect Louis to come out with. Don’t make me come down there, Cowell.
Louis gives him a chance. Simon says, categorically, no. Cheryl says she has to be true to herself and doesn’t want to patronise him. Anthony starts sobbing to her, clearly seeing her as the Sharon Osbourne of the show (well she does have a weeing dog). She says they’ve seen thousands (really? Dozens, perhaps) of boys that are stronger and it wouldn’t be fair on him to put him through when he wouldn’t get past the next stage. Anyway, it’s a no and that ‘no hope, no love no glory, no happy ending’ song plays. DOWNER.
I do feel for Anthony. I mean, I didn’t think he was all that good, but he seems clearly upset and I’m not sure putting him back through to the judges was the kindest thing to do. Also, I’m a bit scared of him and I’m not sure he’ll handle rejection too well.
So we’re opening AND closing tonight’s episode with vulnerable contestants who are trying again and failing again? Seriously feel good Saturday night telly, there…
So, to sum up this week. None of the ‘good’ people were all that good, none of the ‘bad’ people were all that bad, no-one had a proper sob story, there weren’t any cheesy comedy moments, and it was all a bit ‘so what?’ You could say that it was because they didn’t get that many good/bad/mad/funny people auditioning, but I call lies. You see, I have watched The Xtra Factor the past three weeks, and they show some properly good people in that, and some properly rubbish ones, and there are some really funny moments – and there’s more of Dermot in that than there is in the main show! Why can’t they put some of that stuff in the main show and some of the mediocre bits in the spin-off, hmmm? What will we get during live show weeks? 12 mediocre people battling it out on the main show, followed by 12 actual good people battling on the ITV2 one? Whatever, producers, whatever.
Next week: The last of the auditions! Joel will be happy! About a million people ‘sing’ for your pleasure, including the ‘we’re having a gang bang’ lady who’s been trailed a lot already and some children.