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.)
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!