4th October 2008
Last week, there was bootcamp. The judges found out who they were mentoring, and reacted in a suitably OTT fashion for the cameras whilst on the phone to the speaking clock, or something. This week, the remaining contestants travel the globe for one final challenge, and one final decision. Except for the ten challenges and the eleven decisions which will be made in the live shows, of course. Guess what? It's time to face the bastardised music! Oh, and FosterBoy's going to cry. Credits!
It's already been an incredible ride, lies Dermot. Only 24 acts remain, and by tomorrow night, they shall be 12. There are six acts in each category, all departing on The Most Important Journey Of Their Lives, but they haven't been told where they're going, or who their judge will be. Allegedly. Susie says it's a weird feeling. Alexandra is nervous and wants to know where she's going. FosterBoy is nervous and scared, and that's just at the thought of reading the tabloids. Zing! Rachel says the journey will be life-changing, and Austin drones that it won't be a holiday for him. His voice is really kind of annoying.
The categories all gather with their envelopes. The over-25s are going to St Tropez, the girls are going to Cannes, the boys are going to Barbados, and the groups are going to...Ireland (sound of record scratching). HA! I love that the show has finally embraced what we've been saying for years about the finalists who get lumbered with Louis getting swizzed out of a sunshine holiday. Nothing against Ireland, obviously, but it does look a bit of a rum do compared to Cannes, St Tropez and Barbados. [I thought it might also be something to do with the fact that from that, it's obvious who their mentor is going to be. - Carrie] Anyway, some tumbleweeds appear in the room where the groups are, which is so blatantly not anything like an airport. Stock footage of aeroplanes.
First to arrive are the girls, apparently. Frankly I'm not keen to take Dermot's word for anything any more. Their arrival is soundtracked by that cynical lazy piece of shit the Sugababes phoned in for their latest single, presumably for the sole purpose of it being used on any show that ever needs some music to accompany some girls arriving in some place. Annastasia has never been anywhere like it, and says it's like a postcard. Laura thinks their judge might be Dannii. Diana loves their surroundings. Cheryl appears on a balcony, though any likeness to Eva Peron is lost by the fact that she's wearing a cowboy hat and squealing with her arms in the air. The girls are elated. Cheryl believes she has the winner downstairs, but enough about her vagina. Only three can stay, and she wants them all to do their best. She will be assisted by her bandmate Kimberley Walsh in her decision-making, and somewhere in Ireland, Louis grumps about being demoted to the second-best Walsh on the show. Kimberley is very excited to be here, etc etc.
Next we see the boys, who are all wandering out of the sea and looking askance at the camera like they're in a Blue video. FosterBoy thinks they've got Cheryl, while Austin thinks "this has gotta be a Simon Cowell job", looking at the luxury villa. The other three judges instantly strike him from their Christmas card lists. Austin continues, "it's huge, it's beautiful, it's got to be Simon Cowell." But enough about his penis. Sorry, I can't seem to get my mind out of the gutter today. Eoghan (whose name will be getting a few new letters every time I write it from now on, I think) says it's "something else". Simon arrives, and says "well, it wasn't going to be Louis's, was it?" Heh. The boys are thrilled. Simon is joined, of course, by Sinitta, who is wearing a shiny gold leotard and experiencing some serious cameltoe. [I thought it was the opposite - she'd taken precautions to avoid that particular situation! I'm not going to re-watch and examine it, though. Also, Simon looks her up and down and demands, "What ARE you wearing?" Ha! - Carrie] Simon says that if they want to win, they can't just be good, they have to be incredible. Leon was indeed incredible, but possibly not in the way Simon means. Anyway, he warns them that if they fuck up, they're fucked. Except using more watershed-friendly language.
Over in St Tropez, the over-25s are arriving and making "wow-wow-wow-wow" faces. Rachel is hoping for Simon. Pool Man Dan thinks it's one of the girls, because "I can't see it being Louis". Hee! Dannii makes her entrance, dressed like an extra from a regional production of Gypsy, and welcomes her contestants to St Tropez. She tells them they can only be themselves. Her special guest judge is Emma Bunton, meaning Dannii has broken the first role of The X Factor: Thou shalt not entreat the services of a guest judge more famous than thyself. Emma's face looks kind of bloaty, and she tells the contestants how she was just like them once, because she had to audition to join the Spice Girls. She is looking for energy and sparkle. Maybe she should read Twilight?
Lovely Ireland, Cheaper Than St Tropez, Also Greener And Sunnier. The groups arrive, and they all blatantly know Louis is their mentor. Hee. Louis waddles out and they do their best to act surprised. Louis says he's happy with his category this year. Maybe this will make him behave like a professional, then? It'd be nice, wouldn't it? He thinks the winner is here, and his guest judge is - shock horror - Shane from Westlife. Snore. [Well, it's usually Kian, so that's some change - Rad] Louis asks them if they thought he was going to be their mentor, and all the contestants are like "yes, ffs, we're in fucking Ireland", and Louis is all "oh".
Reflections: Rachel wanted Simon, not Dannii, but it's okay, she's adaptable. Spanish Ruth is happy. Alexandra had a dream where Cheryl was her mentor. Bad Lashes are worried because Louis said no to them before. Yes, because consistency is his watchword. JLB8 are pleased because Louis is "Mr Boyband". Austin is "over the moon". FosterBoy is also pleased, but nothing can replace the joy of growing up in the bosom of a loving biological family, obviously. Austin thinks Simon is ZOMG BEST EVARZ, but we mustn't tell the other judges that. He doesn't realise that I'd need to give a shit about him in order to even consider that.
Adverts! Daniel Radcliffe with his stupid emo hair in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Ugh. [Srsly. He was so gross in that, but worryingly rather fit in the next film. He's legal now, right? I'm not going to get sued or arrested? - Rad]
Dermot is "in Barbados" (it still looks like a green screen to me, but whatever - I'm seeing them everywhere since the auditions). Gratuitous shots of the boys frolicking in the sea with their shirts off. At least half of them look like children, so DO NOT WANT. [I thought exactly the same. Inappropriateness, ITV. I ended up quite fancying FosterBoy simply because he looked like a proper epitome of manhood in comparison. Sort it out. - Carrie] Simon thinks it will be tough for them, because they've flown to Barbados. Fair enough. He's handpicked songs for each of them, and first up is 16-year-old Eorghaine, who offers the profound observation that Barbados is not like Ireland. He tells us how where he comes from, they don't have popstars or music or electricity or television or entertainment. He's probably been rejected from drama school twice, too. He wants to put his town on the map. So be a cartographer, then. Dermot tells Eeeeorghaaaiiinnnnnn that he's a sweaty bitch and should wear a t-shirt next time instead of a jumper.
EIEIOghan sings 'Father And Son', and his voice is so lightweight that a coastal breeze could carry it away to Trinidad. He also has a bit of a rash on his chest. Whatever, he's a lock for the top 12, and I'm bored of him already. Simon loves him, but thinks he's a bit robotic. Sinitta thinks he isn't ready yet. Outside with Dermot, Eeeeoooogggghhhaaaannnn is devastated that he didn't do as well as he should.
15-year-old Liam from Wolverhampton is a real life Troy Bolton, because he's a basketball whizz who just wants to be allowed to sing! If only those bullies on his team and those pesky Mathletes hadn't tricked him into saying mean things about Gabriella, he could totally be the lead in Twinkle Towne! Liam got a no at boot camp initially, which led to Rikki being given the boot where he'd initially got through, but the show glosses over that bit. Liam sings 'A Million Love Songs', and his voice is pretty weak-sounding. He has an interesting birthmark under his Adam's apple, though. He finishes, and Miss Darbus appears backstage as if from nowhere to applaud and tell him he's got a callback. Also, Sinitta likes him, while Simon thinks it was good, but maybe not good enough. Liam is feeling confident.
Next is Mali, who shone at auditions, even though I barely remember seeing him before. His dad left school at 15 and has been singing ever since, and boy is his throat sore! Har har. He sings 'All Is Fair In Love' with his non-microphone hand in the air like he's debating whether to ask a question or not, and the song's clearly too low for him. Simon thinks he was off-key a lot, but there were times when he showed what he was made of. So much for "one screw-up and you're out", then.
Oh God, it's Austin next. His whole life revolves around singing, he got kicked out of school
Bluecoat Scott is next, and his makeover still looks shitty. He quit his job to be here, and Dermot reminds us that Paul now CANNOT GO BACK TO HIS JOB. Yeah, whatever. He sings 'I Can't Make You Love Me', and it's all right, I suppose. I dunno, I'm just finding it hard to muster much interest in any of this conveyor belt of mediocrity. Closing your eyes does not automatically make your performance "heartfelt", y'know. Simon says it's one of the hardest songs to sing (they say that about EVERYTHING) and that Scott went for it, but that there are bits of Scott that worry him. Scott thinks he's going home.
Insert here: contrived moment of Simon being all "those rumours in the paper! I just don't know what to believe!", [and Sinitta going, "What the fuck are you talking about?" - Carrie] so he chases after FosterBoy in a moment of UNSCRIPTED EPIC REALNESS and says "Are you lying, FosterBoy?" "No," says FosterBoy. "Oh, all right then," says Simon, and goes back to Sinitta going "Yeah, he's telling the truth." Well, with a sophisticated screening process like that, I just can't see how there could ever have been any doubt about his parentage in the first place. [I wanted to punch Simon right there and then. Also, it made me think Lying Alan who Lies was thena shoo-in for the final 12 - Rad]
Driver's in the club, and it's all over - for the boys, anyway. Then there is convenient telegenic rain, while Simon and Sinitta look over pictures of the boys in the dark while surrounded by candles, and it looks like they're casting a spell of some kind. Outside, it's like thunder! Lightning! The way you love me is frightening! Think I'd better knock, knock, knock on wood. Sinitta picks up the photos saying "this one will give you personality and voice", like she's reading Simon's tarot or something. Stock footage of lightning continues, accompanied by vague comments about people whose names are not given. Snore.
Still to come: Rachel fluffs her words while Dannii looks angst-ridden!
In St Tropez, 'Some Kinda Rush' is playing, and the contestants are fretting prettily. Dannii is going to look at everyone with a clean slate, Emma is looking for someone world-class. Presumably she's still looking as I write this. Pool Man Dan is the first to perform. We are reminded of his wife, WHO IS DEAD, and his baby, WHO IS ALIVE. He looks a bit like Ricky Gervais. [He SO does! This struck me earlier, and now I will never be able to look at him any other way. - Carrie] He sings 'Against All Odds', and his rendition is strainy and sweaty. Emma is swaying gently and looks appropriately moved, though. Emma doesn't think he's a popstar. Mystic Dannii is unsure. Pool Man Dan thinks he's capable of better.
Spanish Ruth is next. Singing has always been her dream. We flash back to when she sang in Spanish at bootcamp. She tries to turn her Spanishness into a sob story, but let's face it, it's not going to work. She sings 'True Colours' in Spanish, just so we're in no doubt that she's a gimmick contestant, though she sings the chorus in English. And she cries in the middle, just for dramatic effect. Emma says she got goosebumps, but Mystic Dannii is not sure Ruth can cope with the pressure of the live shows.
Next up is Louise from Preston, who looks like Viv from Emmerdale. She looked after her family rather than pursuing her dream, and is now 48, and wants A BETTER LIFE for her family. She sings a rather feeble version of 'I Say A Little Prayer For You', which leads me to suspect that abandoning her singing dream to bring up her family was probably a good idea. She fucks up the words of the chorus, and I know, pressure and everything, but I refuse to believe there's an English-speaking person in the world who doesn't know this song backwards. Dannii makes the same point as me. Emma thinks Louise is BRAVE to do this because she is old, and might break a hip or something climbing onto the stage, I don't know.
James was a pro-golfer, but couldn't afford to keep it up, so he's going into the always financially viable career of X Factor also-ran. He sings 'Mr Bojangles', which never really does anyone any favours, and his version isn't all that special. Emma thinks he lacks technique.
Susie is next. She's an admin worker, but has also had experience performing as a backup singer. The programme neglects to mention that Susie's work singing backup for Lemar led to her being in The 411 and having two Top 10 hits, but this is the year of non-disclosure, apparently. [Totally. Were I in charge of this show, a clip of Austin in Boys Will Be Girls would be shown every frickin' time he was onscreen - Rad] Susie was on the live shows as part of Shayne Ward's choir, which is another strike against her, and says she can't ever really be happy as a background singer. She sings 'One Day I'll Fly Away'. She sounds good, but not especially distinctive. Dannii thinks Susie lacks self-belief. Susie hopes she's done enough.
Last is Rachel, of course. Rachel's always wanted to be a singer, even when she was on drugs and having her children taken away. Good to know she always had her priorities in order! Rachel says this will change her life, because she doesn't want her children to make the same mistakes as she did. Yes, because showbusiness is an excellent place to go to avoid people trying to give you drugs. Rachel sings Xtina's 'Beautiful', and fluffs her words. Dannii is disappointed, because she was relying on Rachel to get that right.
Dannii and Emma do more voodoo with the Polaroids while the contestants say "I really want this". Susie cries. Spanish Ruth needs someone to believe or her little dream which is so big will be further away. No, seriously, that's what she said.
Moar adverts. Britannia High is coming soon, by the way.
Sunny Ireland, Where There Is No Crime And Enough Food For Everyone. 4Instinct are in first - they've impressed the judges from day one, despite being quite ropey throughout, and openly dropping the ball at boot camp. They're singing 'Rockin' Robin', which is a very current song, don't you know. [Because they are A BLACK FAMILY. Like the JACKSONS. Fucking hell, Louis. - Carrie] It's not especially effective as a vocal showcase, and some of the harmonies are a little painful, but at least they complete it. Louis thinks people will like them.
Girlband are next, and we're reminded of their lovely chemistry. Ringlets Girlband says she loves being in the band, and they're so excited. They sing 'Valerie', and they each take a turn at lead vocals, which is refreshing after H0re last year. Some of the harmonies are off-pitch, though. But by and large, I liked them. Shane thinks they looked good, and he liked their version of his song. Ringlets says she couldn't look at Shane because she had him on her pencil case when she was at school. Heh.
JLB8 are next, and they're worried that the expectations will nobble them, because they've done well so far. They sing 'No Air', and one of them does full-on squeaky Jordin Sparks vocals which reduce me to uncontrollable mirth. The end of the song is nicely done, though, and they're very impressed with how they did. Louis loves their "natural vibe"; Shane worries there is no standout singer. [Insert obvious Westlife joke here. - Carrie]
Priority have not done any practising since leaving boot camp, because they're from Ireland, Blackpool, Liverpool and Nottingham, variously, and they all have work commitments. Oh, they are so boned. Louis asks them if they've rehearsed, and they explain that work commitments made it difficult for them to rehearse until they got there. They sing 'Umbrella', and it sounds okay, but I'm so over laid-back versions of this song by now. Shane looks like he's about to fall asleep. Priority think they did poorly. After they leave, Louis and Shane are horrified that the boys DARED to have jobs and shit and other commitments in their life besides The X Factor. Louis claims to like them for some strange reason.
We're now told that the competition between
Bad Lashes are up first, and we hear their various struggles and need to please their parents, but this is unimportant. They're singing "'Wonderwall' by Ryan Adams" (HA!) and seriously, their performance is awesome, so we all know Desire are screwed. Outside, they're quietly confident, and inside Shane is impressed, while Louis reminds him that they need something special.
Desire are WORKING CLASS and want a better life, and they sing Take That's 'Shine', which is fine in and of itself, but Bad Lashes were in an entirely different league. Also, the one in the middle has a skirt so short I can see her cooter. Her face reeks of desperation, and so does her clitoris - I know, I saw it. Louis wants to win with a group this year. 4Instinct have come too far to go home, they reckon.
In Cannes (where Girls Aloud's 'Can't Speak French' is playing, hee), Cheryl is nervous because she can't think of anyone she wants to send home. [To be fair - best category by a country mile. I don't like Laura and Diana's personalities, but all six of them are better on vocals than any of the boys and many of the groups. And Dead Wife Daniel - Rad] First up is Diana, who is very excited that everyone speaks French in France. And they say children are being let down by our education system! Diana sings 'Nothing Compares 2U' in her throaty, 20 Benson and Hedges voice, and sounds good if you like that sort of thing. It sounds a bit contrived to me, personally. Cheryl finds her captivating, but worries that Diana's lack of self-belief could be her downfall.
Amy, whose MOTHER IS DEAD, is next, and she says it's make-or-break time. She sings Gabriella Cilmi's 'Sweet About Me', and fluffs her words. Not that it matters, because she's far too apple-pie to pull this song off [Totally. She is the sweetest person on the show, so it's so inconguous. On the Xtra Factor she sang From This Moment On, which was much more suitable. Except we're supposed to pretend that they didn't all do two songs - Rad]. Amy cries. Cheryl hugs her. Amy has another go, and apparently pulls it off this time. Cheryl likes her, and so does Kimberley. Amy hugs Dermot.
Next up is Hannah And Her Giant Forehead. She sings 'Take Another Piece Of My Heart' and is gritty in the same vein as Diana. She's okay, I guess [Again, her second song was much better - Rad]. Kimberley finds the disconnect between Hannah's appearance and her voice interesting. Cheryl thinks Hannah put a spanner in the works.
Laura's next, and she was ill in her first audition, good in stage one of bootcamp, and then sucked royal ass in the second. Laura needs Cheryl to believe in her. She sings Justin Timberlake's 'Cry Me A River' and earns bonus points from me for not switching the gendered pronouns in the song, but also sings "member you call me when you call me on the phone", which are not the lyrics. I quite liked her performance, though. Cheryl thinks she's unbelievable. Kimberley says she likes it, but maybe not everyone will feel the same.
Annastasia is next, and she wants to live the lifestyle of the celebrities she serves in the restaurant where she works. She will be thinking about the life she wants to be living while she sings Eternal's 'Oh Baby I...', and it all goes rather unfortunately wrong - she goes for the big key change and biffs it, so she drops down an octave, but is then entirely out of synch with the piano, and then she and the pianist keep trying to second guess each other and it all falls apart. She finishes singing acapella, and then sobs by the poolside. Like, literally, splayed out on the floor. Dermot tells us that the nerves have got the better of the girls.
The last to perform is Alexandra, who got booted out by Louis and his NO GIRLS ALLOWED club in 2005. She discusses with Dermot how she's in a much harder group than last time [And yet crap like Philip and Nicholas still made the live shows. Thanks, Louis - Rad]. Alexandra lives in a council house sharing a single bed with her sister. That does sound like it sucks, in fairness. She sings 'Listen' from Dreamgirls, otherwise known as "that song they wrote to try to get Beyoncé an Oscar". Alexandra oversings it a little bit towards the end, but she is pretty good. Cheryl says that Alexandra killed it (in a good way), and is distraught at the prospect of having to choose who goes home.
Cheryl and Kimberley sit at the voodoo table and deliberate, but who will be getting through? This bit kind of goes on forever, and I have been recapping for the past four hours, so forgive me for not really going into it in too much detail. Cheryl is having to pick between two people that she doesn't want to lose. Kimberley would not want to be in Cheryl's shoes. Cheryl's made her decision. She has a lovely hug with Kimba.
Tomorrow night! 12 dreams will be shattered! Awesome. And 12 dreams will come true! As the finalists are revealed! Assuming we didn't all read the leaks on the internet! Carrie will have the good work on that, so join her later.