Okay, folks, here we go - the final X Factor until August (and may I say a hearty "thank God"), but we've got around three hours of programming to get through before we can wave goodbye, and at times it's going to feel like a World Filler Convention, but if we stay strong together, we can get through this. Are you with me? Hell yeah.
We're reminded that 182,000 people applied this year, and yet Eoghan still made it to the top three. Nikk from Phixx (except when he isn't) got dismissed, other people got through, but only the strongest (and Eoghan) survived. 12 acts made it to the finals, and by and by we said goodbye to them all: Bad Lashes, Girlband, Scott, Austin (who's not gay, in case you'd forgotten), St. Laura, Daniel, Rachel, Ruth, and finally Diana "The Claw" Vickers, who doesn't take the title as so many of us initially assumed she might, but can at least take comfort in the fact that if they ever make another Inspector Gadget film, she'll be the first one the producers call to cast the role of the villain. Now only three remain: the finalists go home but sadly do not stay there. Eoghan is amazed to be in the final, and Simon says that Eoghan will work harder tonight than he has ever done in his life. Given that Eoghan's life only started three years ago, this doesn't seem like much of a strain. JLB have come so far, and are not going out without a fight. Louis thinks they'll be the first band ever to win the show, and I for one will enjoy seeing him be proved wrong. And Alexandra, who has to win, as Cheryl puts it simply. Nobody cares what Dannii thinks, sadly, because she doesn't have any acts left. Boo! I miss Ruth.
Dermot's entry music this week is the dance remix of 'Green Light' by Beyoncé, for reasons I can't quite determine. He's very excited that it's the final, but apparently still not excited enough to actually get hold of a damn bespoke suit already. Seriously, they must be paying him enough that he can afford to nip down to Savile Row when he's going to have 14 million people watching him. Anyway, the judges enter, and Simon's shirt is buttoned so low you can practically see his rectum, Dannii looks fabulous in an ocean-blue mermaid style dress that's open just above the waist and makes her tits look amazing. Cheryl's dress follows the same pattern, but covers a lot less of her ribcage, and is silver. Louis is all in black, and wearing a bow-tie that looks like a clip-on.
In the first of many fillerific incidents this evening, we begin with all the finalists singing 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough'. Why? Buggered if I know. Austin's on first, in a tight white t-shirt showing off his guns. Tess Daly, having zoomed into her dressing room and switched on the telly the second she went off air on BBC One, has to be forcibly restrained by a passing production runner. St. Laura's done something weird to her face and still looks pregnant [I think Kate Thornton's evil stylist has had it in for Laura this series - Rad]. Rachel has a new hairdo that makes her look like Paris Bennett and Ruth gets about two words in before everyone else swoops the stage. Sigh. Diana has shoes on, surprisingly. From this point onwards, it's pretty impossible to discern the vocals of any one particular act. Then the three finalists come on, all dressed in various silver/black combinations, with Alexandra's dress being some kind of disastrous flamingo/ballerina puffball skirt concoction. And it pains me to say that this won't even come to close to being the worst thing we'll see her wearing this evening.
Dermot throws to Simon, who thinks it will be close. And then we go to an ad-break. Seriously - the first part of the final has been entirely free of relevant content. Suck it, X Factor. I'd forgotten how much I hated your bloated-ass finales. (Don't worry, Laura, when I said "bloated ass", I wasn't talking about you.)
Back, Dermot reminds us that somebody will win tonight, even though at this rate it feels like it won't happen until next Tuesday at the earliest. Because it's still not time to watch any competitive performances - first we need to see the crowds in their local areas (note: not actual hometowns): Derry for Eoghan, central London for JLB and north London for Alexandra.
For their first performances, all the acts will be singing Christmas songs. First up, representing Ireland (shut up, Simon), it's Eieioghan. He can't believe he's in the final. Join the club, kid. He goes home to Ireland, either via helicopter, which seems unlikely, or getting into one having already arrived there by other means of transport, which would be my guess. He goes to his old school in Dungiven, where the crowd yells and screams. It is one of the best feelings Eoghan has ever had. Then a POLICE ESCORT takes him to his house. And here I was hoping they'd arrived to charge him for crimes against singing. He sees his mum and dad and new baby sister (who is wearing a "Vote Eoghan" bonnet - seriously, at least let the kid learn to speak before turning her into a shill), then the police escort takes him to a big open-air gig somewhere. A girl who looks like Diana with shorter hair cries. After seeing all the support people have given him, Eoghan feels like he needs to win.
Oh Lord. Eoghan is singing 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday', and he is sitting in a sleigh made of (presumably) MDF which is being drawn by four life-size plastic reindeer. Oh, NotLouis. Please try to lay off the crack next year. I was watching this show live over at Carrie's, and we hypothesised that all of the staging equipment is stored in NotLouis's house whenever it's NotInUse, which would just make his house the most amazing place in the world. At least, it would be if he didn't live there. [Imagine all the seating on offer! Ikea chaise-longues! Inflatable silver chairs! Mirror-ball swings! - Carrie] Anyway, Eoghan's vocals are typically weak and he's being overwhelmed by the backing track, but what does that matter when he has a crowd of child dancers who look like they've just run in from a Gap advert? Then they kneel by the sleigh and Eoghan hands out a sack of presents. Seriously, I am not making this up. It's still not quite as insane as flying Same Difference last year, but it's a close-run thing.
Louis can't believe Eoghan is only 16 - he has no fear, he was born to do this. Dannii loves hearing Eoghan's fan club (but not Eoghan, I presume). Cheryl calls him "a fantastic young lad and a great role model for kids your age". I warn you now, we'll be getting the "great role model" line a lot this evening, and at no point will it not be utter horseshit. Simon tells Eoghan that whatever happens he's going to go back as a hero, which is quite a sad state of affairs for the folks of Northern Ireland.
Dermot says that the level of support for Eoghan in Derry/Dungiven looked "bonkers", and Eoghan replies "it was worse!" Heh. He reminds us that he's the youngest ever finalist and the first Irish finalist. Um, well done? I guess. Dermot passes the baton to Michael Underwood in Derry, who is being mobbed by Eoghan-mad pre-teen girls who prevent him from getting anywhere near the camera. Michael chats to the mayor, who is positively beetroot-coloured with excitement, who calls "Eoghan a legend in his own country" and reminds us that Eoghan is the first Irish finalist in the X Factor. Michael Underwood looks bemused by the level of excitement. Word, Michael Underwood.
Back in the studio, Eoghan says that he saw his cousin Michael in the crowd, to which Dermot replies, "I'm guessing there's quite a lot of cousins called Michael, though, to be fair." Um, what? That doesn't make any sense. Eoghan does his patented vacant vote-begging face, and Dermot says that "first blood goes to Eoghan", which is a ridiculous thing to say because nobody else has performed yet.
Louis introduces "four boys [who are] creating a buzz everywhere they go". Sure, a buzz, hospitalisation, it's all good. We see VTs of JLB's history. Yellow JLS says that it seems so long ago that they stood in the rain waiting to audition. So long ago, indeed, that they weren't even colour-coded at that stage. They went to their home towns, starting with Aston's home town of "Peeowuh", or Peterborough to those of us capable of stringing four syllables together. They're in a stretch Hummer, by the way, with "JLS" on the side. The crowd goes nuts for them at his old school, and his mum and grandparents come down to see him. Aston's mum cries a lot and is not wearing waterproof mascara. Then they all go to London, where The Other Three are from. A random woman in the street calls them "the best thing since The Beatles". They do a gig, and the people who were trampled underfoot at this point are not mentioned. Red JLS says it was the best moment of his life. Green JLS says they really want it and they have to win.
They are singing 'Last Christmas', and by they, I mean Aston, obviously. The Other Three provide some harmonies at the very beginning before the backing track kicks in and they have their duties taken over by session singers. There is then a moment of epic lulz when the "merry Christmas" part of the first verse is spoken by Yellow JLS in extreme gayvoice, and seriously, that is the last time we will see anyone who is not Aston making any contribution to this performance. [I have not stopped laughing at "Merry Christmas" since Saturday night. I fear I may be JLS's next hospitalisation victim. - Carrie] There is a key change mid-way through, obviously.
Dannii says that this is her favourite Christmas song and thanks them for singing it. She says she knew they'd be in the finals when she saw them at the first audition. Cheryl couldn't have hoped for a better four lads to be up there in the final. Given that the other two groups were comprised entirely of girls, and only three acts can actually make the final, she is right - she really couldn't have. She thinks they deserve their place in the final and wishes them the best of luck. Simon reminds them of his prediction that they would be the most successful group in X Factor history, and then declares he was right. This is despite Same Difference having got this far last year [and indeed Journey South in the second series if memory serves - Rad], and first series runner-ups G4 having sold 1.5 million albums. Shut up, Simon. He says "there is no question of doubt" (what?) that they've already become pop stars, and congratulates Louis on a perfect song choice. Louis says he's the proudest mentor there tonight, and repeats his wretched "can we win it? Yes we can!" schtick.
Dermot then rightly takes the piss out of Yellow JLS for his bizarre, almost Dickensian, "merry Christmas", and then they talk about the gig in Croydon. Green JLS says that no one expected the number of people who would turn up, and again: evidently. Dermot asks about the teddy bear on Louis's desk which is their mascot. Louis tells Dermot that "these boys already have a huge fanbase, and they're voting as we speak". In which case, they are being charged around a minimum of 35p for an entirely pointless phonecall, since the lines haven't opened yet, you dipshit.
Jeff Brazier is in "central London" with the JLS fans, and this bit is horrendous, with Brazier just yelling indiscriminately to no one in particular, before cornering their old music teacher who refuses to look at their camera, and their ex-headmistress, who is a nun. It is odd to see a nun yelling "go JLS, we love you!" into the camera.
This means Alexandra is next - Cheryl reminds us that Alexandra lacked a penis back in 2005 and rather than pressing ahead with expensive gender reassignment surgery, preferred to wait until someone less stupid would be her mentor, hence her return three years later. The 'Theme from Mahogany' plays, and Alex can't believe she's in the final or riding around in a limo. She goes to her old primary school and is mobbed by children. She sings to them in a small hall and signs lots of autographs. She then goes back to her mum's front door - and presumably inside as well, though she doesn't say this explicitly. Alex's family are very proud of her, and her sister, with whom she used to share a bed lest we forget, cries. Alex went out in the evening and "literally" stepped out of her limo (it's true, she did) and does a big gig in somewhere that looks like Camden to my admittedly unfamiliar eye [yep: Koko - Carrie], though presumably no one was slaughtered at this one.
Alexandra sings 'Silent Night', all vamped up and ballady, and is wearing a dress that looks like it was made for an eight-year-old because it barely covers her thighs and the proportions are all wrong. It's very odd. The good news is that vocally she's miles ahead of both the previous acts, and that is technically what's important here. A gospel choir is brought out to bring it on home, and we are not spared the close-ups of Cheryl looking tearful and full of maternal pride. And one of Simon pulling at his bottom lip, for some reason. Round one to Alexandra, methinks.
Louis tells her she looks like a superstar and that she'll have a massive career in music. Dannii calls it "a platinum performance by anyone's standards" and calls her a "songstress superstar", having presumably taken Arlene Phillips's pills before the show. Simon calls the performance "outstandingly good" and slips in the obligatory comment about Louis "wrecking her life" three years ago. Cheryl says she has the highest hopes for Alexandra, and wants her to win and be up there with the international superstars. Alex struggles to keep it together, and tells Dermot she's overwhelmed, grateful, honoured to be here. She promises not to cry too much and, well, we'll see.
Alexandra's fans are gathered in "north London" with Kym Marsh (wot no Myleene this year?) [I was outraged - Rad]. Kym says the atmosphere is incredible, and chats to Alex's old music teacher, who loved the performance and wants Alex to win. Kym asks a small boy what they want people to do, and he replies "huh?" before collecting himself and shouting "vote for Alexandra!" into the microphone. Bless.
The phone lines open! How exciting. Dermot gives out the numbers again and stumbles over his words. We see the first performances again: Eoghan being Tiny Cracktastic Santa, Aston And The Woo Woo Boys phoning it in and Alexandra being divalicious. Dermot urges us to return for round two with the promise of "mystery" guest stars. Ooh, etc.
Back from the break, Dermot tells us the line are very busy. He asks the audience who took the first round, and their answer is unintelligible. He plugs next year's tour, and we're back with Simon and Eoghan and "wait and see". Which sounded a bit like "Quincy" as we heard it on the night, and an Eoghan and Quincy duet would be awesome. Anyway, all mystery regarding the identity of Eoghan's singing partners vanishes when he starts singing Boyzone's 'Picture of You'. His vocals are maybe very slightly better at this point, but still not even close to the standard they really ought to be in a finalist. Sure enough, Eoghan introduces Boyzone and then basically doesn't bother to do much more singing after that. Stephen Gately is looking weird and plastic and like a Thunderbird. As usual, the song is improved immensely by a key change, but at the end of the day, it's still Eoghan and Boyzone, so, y'know.
Dermot says it was like seeing Boyzone go back in a time machine whenever he saw Eoghan, and Ronan says that Eoghan's very confident and also Irish. Sigh.
Next up are "JLS and...somebody else". Which will be Westlife, since they're singing 'Flying Without Wings'. There's not really a lot of point in keeping the celeb duets a mystery at this point, is there? It's never going to be the surprise it was during series three. Anyway, The Other Three get to do their own harmonies at the beginning, and then they get forgotten when Westlife come out. Seriously, of the eight people on stage right now, only three of them are needed in any way. That's just sad. Kian and Green JLS share looks of "yep, this is as good as it gets, try not to look too downhearted". Hilariously, the really big line of the song (you know, the "and it's like FLYING without wings") bit is done by Mark "Fishlips" Feehily [badly - Rad], despite it being the sort of vocal showcase line that really ought to have gone to a member of the act actually competing. Also, wow, Shane Filan has filled out quite a bit these days, hasn't he?
Shane says that JLS have improved every week, and he thinks they're going to win. Louis claps like a child. Shane promises a brand new album this time next year. Good God, will it never end?
Dermot says there's "a lot of man love going on". I'm saying nothing. After the break, there's Alexandra and
Back from the break, the crowd are chanting manically, apparently for JLS. Cheryl hopes our bums are glued to our seats for the next performer - Alexandra, of course.
Alexandra is singing 'Listen' again, which is a bit of a shame, because I was hoping for 'Crazy In Love', 'Beautiful Liar' or 'Irreplaceable'. And seriously, the stupid part of the guest-star gimmick is that you spend the first half of the performance ignoring the act who's competing for your vote because you're waiting for the guest star to come out. Anyway, Alex sings the heck out of it, and "cannot believe I'm about to introduce this woman to the stage - please welcome my hero, Beyoncé!" And the Yonce arrives, Alex touches her and promptly loses her shit. Hee. Thankfully she just about gets it together when it's time to start singing, and they have a bit of a fierce-off between them, which is won by Beyoncé's hair. The crowning moment of glory is Beyoncé's "sing it, girl!" to Alexandra in the final couple of lines. The song finishes, Alexandra cries on Beyoncé's shoulder, and it is hilarious.
Also, because this must be noted, around Beyoncé's neck is this gargantuan accessory which looks like some kind of blinged-out egg timer with two fried eggs styled onto it. I don't even know. Anyway, Beyoncé is very happy to have sung with Alexandra, and Alex cries. "You've made my dreams come true!" she sobs. Alexandra also thanks people for making Cheryl's dreams come true (whatever) and cries on Beyoncé again. Seriously, I could watch Alexandra crying on Beyoncé all night. Bey, to her credit, looks only a little bit awkward and not nearly as horrified as, say, Mariah Carey would have done at this point.
Oh, good God, I'd forgotten this was coming: it's time for the group performance by all the "hilarious" failed auditionees. For some reason, we're going right back to the beginning [because this years comedy mentally ill people weren't memorable enough, that's why - Rad] - some of the people featured in the VT are clearly from series one (and wow, I did not know the sets looked so shit-tastically cheap back then), and it becomes apparent they're cycling through them in order. Spirit and Destiny are there, and we get a clip of "sing 'em a song, Della!" again. Series three is represented by the old lady who got angry at Simon for laughing at her daughter. Series four by the bolshy girl and the funeral twins, and this series by the weird Michael Jackson dancer guy and Ant & Seb. There are others, but in all honesty, I can't be bothered to go and look up who they all are. I've still got nearly two hours of this shit left to recap. Cut me a break, please?
Anyway, Dermot introduces "five years worth of classic auditionees" (complete with "no way!" running across the screens above the stage). They're singing 'I Have A Dream' and Zoe the "no way!" girl from series four is first (which explains the text on the screens, but seriously, stop trying to make "no way" happen. It is NOT going to happen), followed by Alan the Michael Jackson impersonator from this year. Then there's a large, heavily accented woman I don't recognise (sorry), followed by Robert the 'Are You Gonna Be My Girl?' bellower from series two, and overconfident Ashwin from earlier this year, and oh dear God, poor tubby little Emma in her homemade wedding dress back to be mocked again, then some guy I don't recognise, and because these people are all hopeless, they're all way ahead of the tune at this point and (I never thought I'd say this) it's down to Spirit and Destiny to get us back on track by coming in on cue - he sings one line and then says "sing 'em a song, Della!', lolerama. They don't deserve to be in this, by the way, because they can actually sing. Two more tuneless people I don't recognise, then Ant and Seb, then the woman who fancied Louis I think (judging by the way she keeps waving and blowing kisses very pointedly at someone), with Icaro who, lest we forget, made it to Sharon's TOP SIX last year. How the hell did that wretched, clueless old cunt last four series? Then the "having a gang bang" lady and Cyril, both from this year, then the guy who held the really long note whose name I can't be bothered to go back and look up because it has taken me nearly twenty minutes to recap around four minutes of airtime at this point, and that's beyond the pale. Someone else I don't recognise, the woman with the scary mum, Justin/Justine from series two (three?), the woman who was really good at the splits who wasn't Raquelle from Hope, and the whole thing just degenerates into an ungodly mess, and I'm ashamed to be a human being right now [if Beyonce was watching, she'd have run screaming at this point - Rad]. Dermot promises a return to the srs bsns of finding a winner after the break, a pursuit we should never have fucking left in the first place.
Round three: Simon is "still reeling" from the Alex/Beyoncé duet, but manages to introduce Eoghan anyway. The contestants are repeating their favourite performances, and for Eoghan this is apparently 'We're All In This Together', otherwise known as the performance in which he DID NOTHING. If anything, he's a bit worse this time - his voice sounds really tired. Also, is he wearing a black mesh vest? Dear God, no. The bit where Eoghan is borne aloft by two of the dancers continues to be utterly redundant. It continues, and then it is over.
Louis repeats his comment from a few weeks ago that Eoghan is like Fed Ex because he "always delivers". Dannii congratulates him for not being nervous in front of a star-studded audience. Cheryl says it's one of his most memorable performances from the series. Simon says Eoghan has made the series fun, and thanks NotLouis for his choreography. Simon also says he thinks Eoghan is going to make "the finals", which...isn't that what this is? Unless he means "the bit after the third place contestant goes home", but if that's the case, I wish this show would be more consistent about what a "final" is, because I'm sure Dermot's referred to the entire Top 12 as "the X Factor finalists" on several occasions. Anyway, Eoghan liked it because it was a big production number, and he wants to do musicals and stuff. [If he does, he can expect no excited reception from me. - Carrie] He thanks N.Ireland and his cousin Michael (who's there again) for their support, and we go back to Michael Underwood who's still surrounded by terrifying pre-teens. Dermot says he's "having the time of his life" over there, and I think he'd want to be more careful about how much enjoyment he's attaching to a man's experience of being surrounded by under-age girls. Just sayin'.
Next are four boys, livin' the dream, lookin' for your vote, "so vote for JLS!" Tone down the desperation, Louis, it's deeply unflattering. Aston And The Three Randoms He Recruited Because He Figured He'd Stand More Chance As Part Of A Group Than As A Soloist (I note they're not getting nearly as much grief for this as Phoebe And The Woo Woo Girls did last year) sing 'I'm Already There' again. It's much like any JLS performance from this year - functional but unmemorable. "Central London" visibly loved it though, and a chant of "JLS! JLS! JLS!" begins in the audience [to be fair, sans Aston, they'd have finished in the typical R'n'B boyband place of second or third out. He IS very pretty, even though I feel a bit like a dodgy old perv for saying so - Rad].
Dannii says that the song shows off Aston's vocal range so beautifully. Cheryl says they sang their songs off and is very proud of them. She says the hysteria they cause is reminiscent of a young Take That. Simon says he can't call tonight - he thinks that was their best performance, and it's going to be very close. Louis says he wants everyone to vote, because they are role models (drink!) living their dream (drink!), there's a lot of doom and gloom out there so vote for JLS (arrange liver transplant!).
Green JLS says they're "the four luckiest boys" at the moment, living out their dream (snore). Jeff Brazier is still trying to make the "can they win it?" thing happen with little success, and then we're back to the studio. Wow, that was pointless. "Jeff there, in perfect control," snarks Dermot. Heh.
Cheryl is very proud to bring on "my beautiful Alexandra Burke" for her final performance. She's singing 'You Are So Beautiful' from the Best of British week, because she's already done her best performance tonight. Oh, and the dress! It's so bizarre. It's this weird drape-y gold lamé sack thing, which billows out around the sides and is open over the hips and apparently she's either not wearing much underwear or any at all. Yowza.
Louis says she looks like a superstar, not like the girl he met in Dublin all those years ago. Dannii loves that Alex picked up on the passion in the performance and took it to the next level. Simon says that Alex hasn't had the right breaks in her life and he doesn't understand why [you'd have thought her mum or any of her mum's celebrity mates could have pulled a few strings - Carrie], but tonight he predicts a star has been born because there's something special about her. Nothing would make Cheryl prouder than to see Alex crowned the winner. Kym Marsh is surrounded by excited Alexandra fans, who love Alexandra. Brilliantly, as Dermot's reading out the numbers for the other acts, Alexandra leans over and hugs him, saying "I love you Dermot". I doubt it's deliberate sabotage, but if it had been, that would've been awesome.
Recap: Eoghan as Tiny Cracky Santa again, three people miming while Aston sings, Alex with the obligatory gospel choir, Eoghan with Boyzone, JLS with Westlife, Alexandra with Beyoncé while she still had her composure, Eoghan ruining High School Musical for everyone, that stupid 'I'm Already There' song and Alex dressed as an extra from a poorly-funded school nativity.
Only one person can win, Dermot reminds us. Thanks for that. And we're out. Oh, but not before a trail asking for contestants next year, "aged 16 or over". Iiiiiiinteresting.
Dermot of the Darkness promises to crown the winner of The X Factor 2008 in just over an hour. It's time to face the music, y'all.
The lines are still open, Dermot implores us to ring up and change our favourite's life forever. Video recap, which is exactly the same as it was in the earlier show and thus will not be recapped again.
Dermot gives us six minutes until the lines are frozen and the third-place finalist is revealed. He throws to Michael in Derry, still fearful for his life. Orla (or possibly Eorlagh, who knows?) is a huge fan, thought Eoghan was brilliant and had the x factor. Jeff is surrounded by adorable kids in JLS hoodies. Wisely, he does not try to repeat the "can they win it?" after the repeated failures from earlier. Kym & Ko think only Alexandra can win. Alex's old teacher Theresa is so proud of her. Well, that was informative.
Before the lines close, Beyoncé wants some solo stage time, dammit. She sings 'If I Were A Boy'. I'm disappointed, partly because I would've preferred 'Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)' and partly because Ciara did this idea way better last year. Still, combine this with her awesome handling of Alexandra earlier, and I'd like to know what number I can call to vote for Beyoncé. She strides out onto the platform behind the judges and rocks out with a random guy in the audience and then caresses the face of someone who looks remarkably like someone I know. I don't think it's him, though.
No hanging around chatting to Dermot for Beyoncé - she heads straight off backstage, while Dermot tells us the lines are now frozen. We go to the break before finding out who's finishing in third.
Back from the ads, Dermot tells us we've already had five million votes. Impressive. The judges return with their acts to the sound of 'O Fortuna' - you know how this bit goes by now, right? In no particular order, the two acts through are [ridiculously long pause] JLS and [even longer pause, so much so that I begin to fear for the universe] Alexandra. Eoghan doesn't appear particularly bothered by his ouster, which endears him to me slightly. Dermot reopens the phonelines (not personally, obviously), informs us that all previously-cast votes for JLS and Alexandra still hold, and tells us that we have about 30 minutes left.
Eoghan is extremely gracious in defeat - he wishes JLS and Alexandra all the best and thanks everybody who's supported him this far. We see his Journey, which involves a lot of weak vocals which triggered some kind of hormonal reaction in young girls, Irish people and mumsy types across the country. As Carrie pointed out last night, he's suddenly far nicer and more appealing when you know he's not actually going to win. He looks a bit teary-eyed during the VT, and Simon says that Eoghan was up against two incredible competitors and can leave with his head held high. And there endeth the tale of young Eoghan Quigg, I suppose.
Back to the competition: the two remaining acts are performing their rendition of the eventual winner's song, and JLS are up first. The song is 'Hallelujah', as we've all known for months, and a little part of me is kind of sad we didn't get to hear Eoghan try (and fail, obviously) to pull this song off. Aston's mic appears to be malfunctioning at the beginning because it's barely picking him up. They do a pretty good job with the song, but Aston sounds rather strained in parts and when there's no invisible choir helping them, The Other Three don't provide that strong a support. They are joined by the obligatory Non-Invisible Choir for the end, and it's all nice enough, if hardly groundbreaking.
Dannii calls them "the best band we've had on the show by a mile", Cheryl echoes her pretty much exactly, Simon is glad they're through even though they're not his act, and Louis decides to be a douchebag of epic proportion by claiming that Simon was wrong earlier when he said a star was born tonight, because four stars were born tonight. Way to steal Alexandra's thunder, Louis - you couldn't have said five stars were born tonight? What, were you worried about confusion with the Pearson siblings, or are you just too stupid to think these things through before you say them? He begs for votes a bit more, and people in the audience back him up, the fools. Dermot talks to Green JLS briefly before realising that no one cares and interrupts him to talk to Aston, who says that was the best feeling he's ever had in his life.
Cheryl, who seems slightly medicated at this point, introduces Alexandra with her version of the same song we've just heard. She's still wearing that bizarre dress from earlier, and to the surprise of probably no one, the song suits Alexandra's voice far better than
Louis tells her she has everything she needs to be a star, and she's going to be a big recording star. Dannii tells her the performance was strong and gentle and sincere - her best performance yet. Simon calls it "unbelievable" and "incredible" and says she has to win. Cheryl is all choked up too, and says that they've become friends over the past six months and she hopes it ends "as it should". Dermot arrives with tissues for Alexandra, who thanks everyone again, some more, and says it's all been the best experience of her life.
Jaysus, another video recap: 'Last Christmas' ("Merry Christmas!" Sorry, I'm still laughing at that), 'Silent Night', 'Flying Without Wings', 'Listen', 'I'm Already There', 'You Are So Beautiful', and 'Hallelujah' versions 1.0 and 2.0. Incidentally, there's a fantastic shot of Alexandra in the final moments where the dry ice around the folds at the bottom of the dress makes it look like she has no legs. Hee. Time for another ad break.
Back from the ads, the lines are still open, therefore there is more filler, so Dermot invites JLS back on stage for a bit of a chat. Green JLS says it's been the best Journey ever, four guys just having the time of their lives, etc etc etc. Now it's time for their video Journey, from first audition, to boot camp, to Ireland, to various decent performances throughout the series, meeting Mariah and Will and Take That, Aston doing a couple of backflips, and nobody who is not Aston ever getting to sing lead that we see. Now there's an X Factor confessional-style VT from their families and friends, which look like they're coming from beyond the grave. Hilariously, the JLS member in the little inset picture is almost never the same one that corresponds to the family members who are talking. Because aside from Aston, nobody knows which one is which.
Dermot throws to Louis, who - guess what? - hopes they win.
Alexandra is welcomed back, and her voice is kind of giving out at this point. We see her journey, singing 'Listen' again for Cheryl during the "judges' houses" round, starting with a couple of so-so performances before kicking up into top gear and knocking it out of the park with 'Listen' in the top five and pretty much cementing her victory there and then. Alex manages not to be too tearful after this VT, but we haven't had the family yet - she lasts about halfway before welling up, and by the time we cut back to the studio she's in bits again. Poor Alexandra. Her nerves just can't take much more of this. Cheryl is proud of Alexandra and considers her an inspiration. Alexandra mumbles something to Dermot when she's supposed to be getting off the stage, and he unsubtly hustles her off. Hee.
Back from the ads, we are "moments away" from the result, and Dermot tells us the lines are now closed. By the way, this is pretty much the point my PVR cut off on Saturday night, so it's a good job I was watching it live or I would have been pissed off. Seriously, ITV, pick a damn schedule and stick to it. Take out some of the damn filler if you're running over.
Oh God, we're going to Jeff and the JLS fans, and an agonising pause before Jeff realises he's on. The family think they have done brilliantly and think they deserve to win. Because they're not going to say otherwise, are they? Kym is in "north London", fumbling with her cue cards trying to figure out who she's meant to speak to, and the mayor of Islington says the whole of north London is rooting for her.
Time to welcome back the finalists and the judges. This bit was more fun last year when it was Dannii standing triumphantly between both of them, wasn't it? Dermot says that we've had eight million votes tonight, and the winner of The X Factor 2008 is...
...Alexandra. As it should be. She completely loses it and has to be pulled up from the floor by a triumphant Cheryl. She recovers enough to run over and hug JLS and then cries a bit on Dermot's shoulder. Careful, Alexandra, he's not Beyoncé! Dermot asks her how she's feeling, and in a moment that probably going to live on in YouTube infamy for quite some time, Alexandra is sobbing so much she can't speak, so Cheryl waves her arm up and squees. She eventually manages to squeeze a few words out thanking everyone, but it's all a little bit embarrassing. Oh dear. Dermot goes to JLS, and Red JLS says something to the effect of "because of this moment, others have hope - victory after victory" which, what? I'm lost, but I'm on the home stretch now and I'm carrying on. Green JLS thanks everyone for their support, and hopes this is a career for them now. A final round of applause for JLS!
Dermot grabs a still-tearful Alexandra back to centre stage and tells her she's just won a recording contract. Simon comes on stage to congratulate her and Alexandra hurls herself at him. Hee! Well, I guess at least she'll never get beaten with the "no personality" stick like Leona. Dermot tries to tell her that she'll also be performing live at Elton John's New Year party at the O2, but Alex is too busy hugging Dannii to hear him, so Dermot mugs at the camera for a bit and finally hisses at her that he needs to talk to her, so Alexandra stumbles over, apologising profusely. He tells Alexandra, who looks like she's about to faint at any minute, that her debut single will be available to download at midnight and in the shops on Wednesday, and asks if she'd like to see it. "Yes please," she gasps, and it comes up on the screens behind them, but the camera is too far away to pick it up properly. D'oh!
Dermot crosses over to pick up an actual CD, and a sound guy chooses this moment to run on stage and thrust a microphone into Alexandra's hand, getting caught on camera in the process. Alexandra's sobbing again. Dermot holds the CD up so the camera can see it, and Alexandra, high on disbelief and not realising what he's doing, snatches it out of his hand and stares at it going "oh my God!" Dermot's all "eh, live TV, what can you do?" Alexandra then does his job for him by telling everyone who voted for her that this is for them, and waves the CD at the camera.
Dermot asks her if she's ready to sing again, and Alexandra says "yeah", sounding rather unsure. But she's a professional, of course, so she manages to get it together for her valedictory performance - at least for a few lines, until she's so emotional going into the first chorus that her voice breaks completely and she's silent for a few lines until she can get it back. That little hiccup out of the way, she gets through the rest of the song. Naturally, the rest of the finalists run out to join her on stage, and Alex's microphone actually picks up Ruth yelling "well done Alex!" Hee.
We give it up one last time for Alexandra, and Dermot lets Simon round things off. Simon tells Alex she deserves it, and thanks everyone who watched, voted, wrote about the show (thanks, Simon!). Alexandra thank everyone for making her dream come true, and she's the happiest girl in the world right now, and she's so grateful to Cheryl, and Dermot tries to cut her off but not before she yells "and thank you to Beyoncé!" Hee! I love Alex, she's adorkable.
Dermot thanks all the auditionees, finalists, and the voters. He'll see us next year, and we're done - finally!
And to those of you who are still reading at this point, my turn to say thanks to everyone who's been reading and commenting this year - if I can speak for the whole team, we hope you all enjoyed it and that you'll join us again next year for more crazy choreography and dead-relative shenanigans. And I shall leave you with a sobering thought: Holly revealed on The Xtra Factor that out of the ten live shows, Diana came top in one, JLS in one, Alex in two (including the final, obviously) and Eoghan in THE OTHER SIX. Yeah, think about that for a while. Oh, and NotLouis said that made him the winner, "on average", despite Holly having clarified that the same number of votes were cast during the final as during the entire rest of the series, so for the last time before 2009: shut up, NotLouis.
Thanks for reading, everyone, and of course: "merry Christmas!" Heh.