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.
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’.