Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Always gonna be an uphill battle

2009 Final: Part 2
13 Dec 2009

Oh my. Two more hours of the bloated X Factor final, and I forgot to record it when I was watching it live so I have to rely on the horrors of ITV Player. In the words of the Pet Shop Boys, 'what have I done to deserve this'? Weirdly, because it ran til 9.30, I have to tell the ITV player I'm over 18 in order to watch it because they're apparently so lazy that anything that crosses the watershed on original broadcast is potentially 'adult' rather than actually checking whether or not programmes DO contain offensive content. Actually, I have a feeling this programme will contain a lot of offensive content, but not in the way they mean.

Anyway, enough of my grumbling, we've got a final to endure enjoy!

Last night! The celebrity duets were a bit mediocre! No-one sang a Christmas song! Stacey went home! The recap shouty E4 sarky voiceover man shouts about last night: 'BUT! FOR! STACEY! IT! WASN'T! ENOUGH!' which isn't very catchy. Tonight! Time for a big vat of Pro Plus! It's! Time! To! Face! The! Music!

The first six minutes are full of nothing whatsoever, and then we have the group song I think we were all expecting in Take That week, 'Never Forget'. They all sound way better on autotune as usual. Their baby photos are projected behind them for some unknown reason, but the camera doesn't show us Kandy Rain or Miss Frank's pictures. There's a sleigh bell percussion sound in the background. That, and the tree buried at the side are your token nods to Christmas, people. I can't believe in FOUR HOURS of padding and repeat performances they didn't include a Christmas song. NotLouis is probably unimpressed, too. Weirdly, everyone comes out and sings together, then John and Edward get a little bit, then Stacey, then Joe and Olly, which makes it look as though J&E came in fourth. Dermot says 'admit it: you forgot about Jedward for a bit didn't you?' which: no.

Lots and lots of filler about last night - a good five-six minutes' worth in fact (ITV Player has some uses).

Ads - there are about as many of these on the ITVPlayer as on the darn show itself.

Our acts are now singing their favourite song from the series. I thought they did that last night? They sacrificed Christmas for this?! [Boooo! Cowell hates Christmas! Rage Against the Machine for Number One! - The public] Simon misses the whole point of Robbie's 112% joke and in all seriousness, says Olly has given not 112%, but 150% every week. Headdesk. He's singing 'Twist and Shout'. I can't watch this for a third time. You know my feelings. There is a very weird bit at the end when all the dancers seem to do Thriller rather than THE TWIST. The judges love it, the audience shout his name like the demented idiots they are. We then go to Colchester and as Steve pointed out yesterday, it feels so much like the lame local filler bits on a telethon I'm expecting people to pop up with large cheques and novelty hats (or even novelty blue ear headbands like they had in ITV's Telethon 1990).

More ads. Sob.

Joe's doing 'Don't Stop Believing' but I hate recapping things we've already recapped. I feel I should write a letter about how the repeats on TV are getting worse. Take away all the elements of this show that are essentially a repeat of something they've already done or said and all you'd have left is about ten minutes, if that, and very little of it would contain Joe or Olly. The performance is good, competent, pleasant, inoffensive, unexciting, just like most of Joe's performances, though there is an ill-advised 'hey' in the middle. I like Joe fine, but it depresses me that he's essentially only ever singing songs from '70s popstars. Oh, this show and its contemporary relevance. Dannii says he is definitely the best voice on the stage tonight but doesn't tell us whether that includes the mystery special guests we'll be seeing later or if she means the best voice tonight SO FAR. She congratulates him and makes it sound like he's won already. Simon tries to pretend the song isn't well known. More hometown glory indignity and they've got the Mayor out who says 'you're a winner, and you're gonna win'. Insightful.

We then welcome back our first special guests of the evening, last year's winner and runners-up; JLS and Alexandra BURKE. JLS come on, singing 'Bad Boys' and I actually get goosebumps. Dear X Factor 2008, I apologise for some of the bad things I said about you (except you Austin DRAGE! And you Laura WHITE! And you Eoghan QUIGG!) - compared to 2009, you were a veritable feast of talent and excitement. Michael Jackson week was still shit, though.

They're singing new lyrics about them being the bad boys and 'the ones to make you beat again' and they dance behind her. On the broadcast version it sounded like Alexandra might be lip syncing but on the ITVPlayer it definitely doesn't so I don't know what happened there. Anyway, this is awesome and has a lot of energy, and all five of them look like they're having loads of fun. I would totally buy this, and I already own 'Bad Boys' in its original form. Alex then sings the opening of 'Everybody in Love' and even though I'm still not sold on this single, the performance is great and I totally heart the Alex/JLS five-piece thing. All they are lacking is yellow JLS wishing us a 'Merry Christmas'. Seriously, I loved that. [Me too. It was the only good thing in this entire programme. - Steve]

During this performance, the whole internet explodes with people commenting that it's not a great idea to show up the piss-poor quality of this year's finallists by showing how good last year's were. Chances of a Murs/McElderry duet next year seem pretty slim, I feel. Dermot interviews yellow JLS though he doesn't bid us any seasonal greetings, and he asks Alexandra if she has any advice. 'Just don't cry'. Love her. Simon talks about how proud they are of last year's finalists and then Dermot tries to bring it back to this year's because clearly the producers got worried, and the atmosphere immediately drops as the judges half-heartedly bicker about whether Olly was the best (Simon) or Joe (the others).

Weirdly, Dermot introduces the next section as 'with a look back at this year's highlights... Leona Lewis' which makes me think she's going to actually talk us through it. But no, there are just projected images of "our"finalists and auditionees behind her as she sings her rubbish cover of 'Stop Crying Your Heart Out'. I like Leona fine, and I liked her cover of 'Run' but not every indie ballad has to be turned into an overblown SyCo ballad, you know. This is one of the best Oasis songs there is, and I've heard some nice enough covers of it, but it works much better as a simple song than with all the dramatic diva stuff. Still, I suppose I should be thankful it's not 'Feeling Good' or 'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face'. Again, is it really wise to be bringing out good former winners when it's clearly a Shayne/Brookstein/Leon year? This show does not do good male winners, which makes it all the stranger that they've been so desperate for one.

Now it's time for the winner's song - Miley Cyrus's 'The Climb' which was only released about five minutes ago, although the lyrics are perfect for this kind of show. Olly is up first, and during this show I was in a chat room, and the conversation during Olly's performance went as follows:

[rv] the amazing stage and light show is the real winner of the x factor this year.
[R] I like the lighting
[f] Stage was awesome
[Sf] He really really can't sing.
[f] It really is the true winner
[R] The final is so exciting we're complimenting the stage
[E] the stage has been best thing of the series.
[sc] It's like he knows he sucks...
[LG] Oly was mae favourite today though. I really can't bear the idea he might win.
[Sf] Couldn't Stacey come on and give us her version?
[f] To be fair, I LOVE the stage
[sc] Stacy would have whipped this. Bless her.
[E] I hope the stage returns next year.
[Sf] The stage is epic.
[f] The stage would win if we voted
[Sf] Simon has mouth in hands.
[sc] The stage is amazing, it's true.
[f] It and Lloyd's haircut were my series highlights
[sc] Ah, fireworks and choir. Drink.
[Sf] Simon is applauding the stage's pyrotechnics.
[f] Oh fuckin hell
[E] Can we just have the stage with no one singing on it. the singers are ruining the stage.
[f] Inspired idea
[f] Just an hour and a half of a lightshow
[f] I'd watch that
[E] We can call it "X Stage"
[f] I imagine the Stage will be off to America next year

And that, ladies and gents tells you pretty much all you need to know. Olly tries, but his voice is really weak and he misses a lot of the notes. It's actually pretty painful and he's clearly out of his comfort zone. The stage on the other hand, has been amazing all year.

The judges try and pretend he was good, and Simon lies that he has 'answered every criticism' unless he means 'answered' as in 'proved'. He asks Dermot if he can do another song. Dermot says 'we'll see later'. His 'best bits' consist of premiere of DISNEY'S A CHRISTMAS CAROL, terrible dancing, not very good singing and being a NORMAL BLOKE. Yawn. His family and Robbie Williams send him messages saying how much they want him to win. There is a load more blah about Olly during which time I put my tea in the oven. [And I put my head in the oven. - Steve]

Joe's first few notes can't be heard but after that it's polished and good and clearly, clearly much better than Olly's version could ever be. I feel denied that we didn't hear Stacey's version of this.

Louis puts his 'neck on the block' and says Joe's version was better. Dannii says it was effortless and beautiful and it's one of her absolute favourite songs. Really? Simon says it was the first time he saw Joe's nerves and he tries to fake tension by saying he 'genuinely can't call it' but I'm not sure his heart is in it. Cheryl says he's been a pleasure to work with. We see Joe's 'best bits'. Lots of changing hair, being a geordie and being competent but a bit dull. Oh, and going to the premiere of DISNEY'S A CHRISTMAS CAROL. We see lots of boring VT support messages including one from George Michael which wishes him good luck but doesn't have the same weird 'please be my mate' vibe Robbie's did. Cheryl bursts into tears and we have go back to South Shields for even more torture good luck messages. People want him to keep living the dream. Sigh.

There are still FORTY MINUTES left. Cripes.

More recaps. More hometown filler. More recaps.

George Michael arrives to perform 'December Song'. There is some really beautiful animation of rooms in a house going on in the background, and his pretty animated video plays on the side screen. This is quite a nice, sweet song, though perhaps a little subdued for THE! X! FACTOR! FINAL! Still, along with the Alexandra/JLS bit, this is one of only two performances worth YouTubing from tonight. It snows! He sings about Christmas! What's not to like?

After the break a 'world class surprise' even though everyone knows who it is because it was revealed ages ago, and I, for one, am not too excited at the prospect.

We're back with the special guest, Paul McCartney, as if you didn't already know. He starts with 'Drive My Car', presumably because of the Sienna Miller advert, and "our" finalists come on to join him and make him more exciting. The judges give him an extended standing ovation while the roadies struggle to move the stage around. He's wearing a Sgt Pepper style outfit and playing behind a psychedelic-painted piano to do 'Live and Let Die'. His voice is pretty weak but the stage and lighting are very exciting, all flames and explosions and flashing lights, and this song is actually one of the Macca songs I don't mind. I swear this montage went on ten times longer on TV and ended in 'Hey Jude' as always but that's probably just my inbuilt Paul McCartney prejudice coming to the forefront, as it doesn't appear that he sang that from the rewatch. Dermot says 'I know you watch this show at home' and asks who's the best. Paul jokes that they're both good and one of them's gonna win. Oh, my sides. Simon makes an even worse joke by telling Paul he's through to the next round.


More nonsense with the local public. O Fortuna. And the winner is..... JOE MCELDERRY. He screams a bit and jumps on tiptoes and looks like an excited little puppy. Aw. Dermot applauds Olly for being a great runner-up. Olly describes Joe as being 'breathless' with his vocal. Um. Dermot lets Joe touch his actual single - a CD, rather than a download. Will next year's winner get to do the same, or will we be wholly downloading in the next decade? It's not the same in this futuristic late noughties era without Andi Peters at the CD pressing plant. The cover is really uninspired and fugly.

Cheryl blubs/goes off to be sick (depending on which internet rumours you favour) and Joe sings it again. The other finalists come on, all in white for no good reason, and Rachel mobs him and starts shouting down the mic, which isn't quite as bad as Eoghan sabotaging Diana's final song but is still a bit weird.

And with that, we're done for another year! thanks for your readership, your comments and your patience. Don't forget to join the team on Strictly Come Bitching for Saturday's Strictly Come Dancing final... and remember...


Monday, December 14, 2009

Fall from Stace

2009 Final: Part 1
TX Date: 12th December 2009

First of all, may I offer my humblest (though not as humble as Danyl's would be, no doubt) apologies for the tardiness of this recap. I won't go into exactly why, but let's just say that it involves an administrative error, and the Bitch Droid responsible will be permanently decommissioned. Either that, or we'll just stick it in the back room and make it listen to Leon Jackson's album on a continuous loop. Whatever we decide to be the more inhumane punishment of the two. Also, I inadvertently deleted tonight's episode off my V+ Box before realising I would be recapping this particular one, so I'm dependent on ITV Player for rewatching purposes, with all the problems that entails. Still, as the saying goes, don't hate the ITV Player, hate the ITV Game. Anyway, thanks for sticking with us, and without further ado (other than the ado provided by the insanely bloated nature of the two-part finale), let's get on with it.

Oddly enough, we begin not with 'O Fortuna' and a series of egregiously overblown statements, but in a quieter, more sombre way, as soft black-and-white footage reminds us of the first time we met our three finalists. Aw, they all look so fresh-faced and young! And, with the possible exception of Joe, they all looked much better when they were styling themselves. Let's add "hair and wardrobe" to the long list of things this show can't do properly.

THEN we're back on more familiar territory as we return to colour transmission and that irritating man starts shouting at us in that faux-Tom Baker voice of his. The three finalists' first auditions are shoehorned in with some of the comedy terrible auditionees, and the unfortunate result is that it's all done in such quick succession that it makes them all sound kind of terrible as well. Also visible are the likes of Jamie Afro and Jedward, whose initial audition was spikier than their hairdos. Then we see all the people who were sacrificed along the way to tonight's final, including the rest of the Top 12: SLITTY SLUTTY SLUTS Kandy Rain, Rikki Loney (remember him?) [Yes, and I still hate him - Rad], Miss Frank, Rachel Adedeji, Lucie Jones, Jamie Archer, Jedward, Lloyd, and Ho-Humble Danyl. Now Olly, Joe and Stacey remain to fight for that "life-changing" recording contract. They'll be going home somewhere along the way, before two of them are forced to go home permanently.

Dannii says that Stacey has got better and better, and Stacey grins that she wants to win this competition and be a superstar. Bless. Simon says that Olly has come from an office job (OH THE HUGE MANATEE) to having the chance to change his life forever. Cheryl says that Joe's the best singer left and has star quality and deserves to win. Joe says that tonight could be the first night of the rest of his life. Unless you are felled by a stray pyrotechnic, Joe pet, it definitely will be. Louis says something that doesn't matter. It's time! To face! Something masquerading as music! Titles!

Dermot emerges in a positively blinding lightshow and greets the studio audience with that stupid salute-and-spin move of his. You'd never catch Ryan Seacrest doing that. Hell, you'd never catch Kate Thornton doing that. Dermot makes out like we should be impressed that Joe, Stacey and Olly made it to the final three out of 200,000 auditionees, when really I'm just appalled that out of that volume of people this is the best we could come up with. The crowds will be out for the contestants in their hometowns tonight: Dagenham for Stacey, Colchester for Olly, and South Shields for Olly. This all feels very low-budget telethon.

The judges arrive with all the accompanying bombast. Louis and Simon are in suits, of course, Dannii has a lovely purplish-brown off-the-shoulder number going on, and Cheryl has some kind of mid-80s-Cher bodice and poofy skirt thing that she can't walk properly in. Still, at least she hasn't got two giant discs over her tits, because really, anything's an improvement after that monstrosity.

Then, as something of an afterthought, we have the finalists. Olly is rocking the "Lidl Will Young" (and no, I don't mean what it would sound like if Cheryl were introducing him) look of a shirt, tie and waistcoat. Joe has a shiny shirt on with no tie. Stacey has a sort of sweaterdress thing with one shoulder exposed. They all look very wholesome.

The contestants will be singing three songs each tonight, Dermot tells us, and one of them will be sent packing at the end of the show. The audience hoot and holler like the pieces of plankton that they are.

Our first theme for the evening, and one that I actually think is quite an interesting twist, is for the contestants all to reprise the song they sang at their first audition. We're kicking off with the Unwanted Vaginas: Dannii talks about her amazing trip to Dagenham with Stacey, which we'll see later, and then introduces the lady herself. We see brief snatches of Stacey's JOURNEY across the series, and she talks excitedly about being in the final three. "I never even thought I'd be in the final twelve, now I'm in the final three!" she guffaws. It's either adorable or intolerable, depending on your own personal feelings towards Stacey. I'm wholly in the former camp, just so we're clear. We see Dannii and Stacey going home to Dagenham, and it's hard to tell which of the two is more excited. They start off by going back to Stacey's old school, which is coincidentally named King Solomon High School. Blimey, I know they're proud of her, but shouldn't they wait until she wins before naming the school after her? The kids go nuts for her, and Stacey doesn't have a clue how to handle it, which is quite sweet. She goes home to see her family and friends, including her adorable little boy, and is mobbed by well-wishers. She says that introducing Dannii to her family was amazing, and Stacey enthuses about how supportive Dannii has been all along. Stacey's dad pops open some champagne and breaks one of the bulbs in the overhead light. I love how Stacey's entire family is as dorkily adorable as she is. Dannii is clearly having a blast, which is something you might want to note for later. Stacey's mum says how proud she is, and Stacey smiles shyly. Stacey does a gig at her local theatre, and is astounded at the crowds that have turned up to see her. She says that it meant more to do this gig because it was all the people she cares about, and she wants to make them proud. I hope that doesn't mean she doesn't give a shit about the non-Dagenham voters, as this is a bad time to start admitting things like that. She says that doing the gig made her feel like a real pop star and now she wants this more than anything.

Stacey reprises 'What A Wonderful World', while perched on a stool and looking very pretty. It's a really nice arrangement that shows her progression from her audition, and makes me a little bit sad that we haven't seen more of this quirky (proper quirky, not CONTRIVED QUIRKY like The Claw last year) side of her, instead of her constantly being stuffed into an ill-fitting balladeer box. It's a fantastic vocal, anyway, though one of the held high notes is a tad sharp. A minor quibble.

Louis remarks on her amazing transformation, and says he loves everything about her and that she deserves to be in the final three. He adds that he can't believe she doesn't know how good she is. Cheryl congratulates her for looking so comfortable when the pressure is so intense. Stacey says "uh oh!" when she realises Simon's due to comment next, which is cute. Simon agrees with Cheryl, saying that Stacey's turned into a bit of a nervous wreck over the past few weeks ("THANKS A LOT!" squeaks Stacey), but now she's a calm nervous wreck who sings beautifully, and he's glad to hear her sing that again, because it reminds him of how she surprised him at her first audition and continues to surprise him now. Dannii tearfully says that she's so proud of everything Stacey's achieved. Dermot asks her if she can believe she's in the final (watch the fucking VT, Dermot, and learn to stop asking questions that have already been answered at least five times), and Stacey gibbers something generally unintelligible but essentially amounts to "no, I can't." She says she feels calmer than recent weeks, if not actually calm. Then we cross over to the dreaded Jeff Brazier in Dagenham, who shows us the Vote Stacey pizza [But they never told us the toppings! Or was I too drunk to pay attention? Possibly, given I watched it on fastforward at 2am very much worse for wear - Rad] , and some mad Stacey fans who are all trying to crush him. Not that I blame them.

Back in the studio, Dermot thanks his lucky stars that he's in the nice safe studio tonight. He smarms that Stacey "quite likes" Jeff, and Stacey Les-Dawsons "all right, Dermot!" in return. Hee. Apparently the Stacey pizza has "everything on it - the fatty I am, I love a big pizza!" Seriously: best contestant ever. Dermot reads out Stacey's voting number and throws to the break, promising Olly on our return. I curse the lack of other channels to flick to on internet catch-up services.

Some time later, we're back, and Dermot throws over to Simon, who wants to welcome a young man, who's one of the nicest contestants they've ever had apparently. Simon clunkily mentions that his father was from Essex, so it was like going home for him too. I am so sure. Olly's VT reminds us of his early audition days before his schtick got really tired. He can't believe he's made it to the final, and admits that he cried like a baby when he got through last week. Simon says unconvincingly that he was proud of Olly. Simon and Olly take a chopper back to Essex, and Olly goes back to his old school, where children are being squashed up against the railings like they're in a Tatu video. Where are social services when this is happening? Olly walks out into his school hall, looking like a twat in a hat, and gets mobbed. They drive back to Olly's house in Simon's car, where there are crowds in the street waiting to scream at him. Olly is pleased to introduce Simon to his family. Olly's mum gives Simon a butterscotch Angel Delight, which he apparently loves, and Simon tells her that it needs more milk. I'm all for people staying in character, but don't be rude to people in their own homes, Simon. It cheapens us all. Simon tells Olly's family and friends that Olly is nice and hardworking. Note the absence of any words even resembling "talented". They get back into the car, and at this point it's interesting to note Simon's total lack of interest in everything that's happening, and compare it to how genuinely excited Dannii was for Stacey in the same situation earlier. Olly arrives for his own gig and fireworks go off, and he signs lots of autographs. He smiles that it was the best day of his life without a doubt, and he doesn't want the dream to end.

Olly struts back out onto the stage to sing 'Superstition', and the most immediately obvious thing is that his dancing has not improved at all since his first audition. His vocals are pretty good on this song, but so much of it is showboating, and I think a more subtle song might've showed his shortcomings here. Still, NotLouis's mad choreography is out in full force, including a moment where Olly lies on his back and slides backwards between the legs of all his female dancers in their flapper outfits. Dirty!

Louis says that not many people can sing Stevie Wonder. I think the very existence of this show would suggest otherwise. He thinks Olly has the x factor because everybody loves him. Dannii calls it a fantastic performance, and says it's great to see him singing that song again. Cheryl says that everyone's calmer and more comfortable tonight, and that this was a performance you would see at a real concert. Simon says that he took a risk on Olly, but it was the best risk he's ever taken. He tells Olly it's the performance of his live. Olly says he's ecstatic, even though he slipped during the performance. That would explain the "whoa!" that seemed a bit too spontaneous to be an ad-lib. Michael Underwood is in Colchester being thoroughly drowned out by female screams. He talks to one of Olly's football team mates, who is broadly appreciative of Olly's body of work thus far. There are some cheerleaders, who just yell "we love you Olly!", which is pretty piss-poor as cheers go. Back in the studio, Olly attempts to talk to Dermot, but the audience is cheering so loudly that he quickly realises there's no point in continuing.

After some more ads, we're back with Dermot, and National Treasure Cheryl Cole. She says that she now classes Joe as a little brother, and they got to go back to "their" home town. Ick. Joe's VT shows him being cute and consistent if never especially exciting. He says he feels on top of the world. Cheryl says it was the best feeling to be taking him back home. They go into his old school, that he probably only left about six months ago. He and Cheryl giggle about the insanity of it all, which is a rare genuine moment on this hugely artificial show, and I appreciate that. Then they head off to his mum's house, where he gets hugged by all and sundry. He says that Cheryl just slipped into the family. Fnar. Various members of the family get tearful talking about how proud they are of him, and more hugs are shared. Cheryl says that she KNOWS HOW HE FEELS, and sounds like Nuhdeen briefly while she talks about how his life might be about to change forever. Joe does gig in a venue that looks bigger than Olly's or Stacey's, and gets an apparently rapturous reception. Someone has a cut-out-and-keep Joe face mask, which is kind of terrifying. IT HAS NO EYES! Joe, like everyone else, really wants to win this. Shocker!

He's singing 'Dance With My Father' again, which is always schmaltzy and overly sentimental on this show. Weirdly, his shiny shirt has a little strap and buckle over one shoulder that just sits below his neck. Why is it there? What is it for? It seems to serve absolutely no purpose. These are the things that keep me awake at night. Joe's vocal is sweet and strong, but his performance is a little stilted - he still hasn't quite developed the big presence to go with the big voice, but I'm sure that will come in time. Er, if he wins. Which he might. (Spoiler!) A choir comes in on the key change, of course.

Louis says that Joe has got better and better since his first audition, and that the show is all about finding someone with a great voice. We can say this now, of course, because Jedward went weeks ago. This show doesn't even pretend to have consistency any more. He tells Joe that he's got it all. Dannii says that Joe is a brilliant performer with an amazing voice, and it's been incredible to see him throughout the competition, never letting them down. Simon agrees with Dannii that he deserves credit for his progress over the whole series, and says that Joe is talented and a nice person, and he wants him to do well. Cheryl tearfully says that Joe is a "testament" to his mum and dad (what?) and she prays he's in the final. Joe thanks everyone for supporting him thus far, he can't believe he's here, etc. Kimberley Walsh (yay!) is in South Shields wiht the Joe fans, and is thoroughly overwhelmed. She talks to a baker who has made Joe cookies, and then to someone who has changed her name to "Vote Joe", who is apparently just one of 75 people to have done this. Kimberley's "bitch, you crazy" look at this point is marvellous. More Kimberley next year, please! "That's where you're from!" says Dermot, unnecessarily, and then demonstrates that he wasn't paying attention to the VT because he thinks the mad woman changed her name to Joe McElderry, and the real Joe has to correct him. Novice reality show contestant: 1, supposedly experienced TV host: 0.

Dermot opens the phone lines, which will remain open until they get frozen just before the end of the show. There's a video recap, and I don't need to recap the recap, because that way I'd just get into some kind of terrifying timey wimey loop. Dermot promises "some big surprises" after the break - except that everyone knows who this year's celebrity duets are, so: not really.

Adverts. I remained disturbed by why there is an electrician in the bath in the 118 247 advert. That is the very last place you want someone waving live wires around.

We're back, and it's time for the surprises round - well, the celebrity duets round. Now, remember how in the third series Leona got to sing with Take That and you knew she was going to win? And then Leon got to duet with Kylie in the fourth series and you knew he was going to win? And how Alexandra got to duet with Beyoncé (SO AMAZING) and you knew she was going to win last year? Well, by those standards, no one is going to win this year, because the celebrity duet partners are all kind of uninspiring. [But I suspect the person singing with the most famous/established singer might still be the winner. Just a hunch - Rad]

Anyway, Stacey is singing 'Feeling Good', and doing a better job of it than Danyl did, and halfway through Mickey Bubbles comes out to join her, like we haven't all seen enough of his crooning ass this year. The two of them work pretty well together, admittedly, but it's a bit of a comedown after automatic Beyoncé win last year. Dermot smarms into view and asks Bubbles what he makes of Stacey. Bubbles does not understand him. God help Bubbles if he ever tries to talk to Stacey herself. Then Bubbles talks at length about meeting the Queen, and Stacey might as well not be there for this bit. Then he and Dermot remember she's there, briefly. Not that it matters. Poor Stacey. Apparently surplus to requirements in her own performance slot.

Next up is Olly, who is singing 'Angels'. Oh good. His arrangement seems to cut out a lot of the long, high notes, conveniently enough. And then Robbie Williams comes out, and hilariously, starts singing too early. HAHAHAHAHA FAIL. At this point, the collective amount of smarmy laddish ooze in one place is dangerously high, and Olly has the nerve to say "go on, Robbie!" just before the chorus, as though he is Beyoncé and Robbie is Alexandra. And I'm sorry to keep referring back to that, but come on: look at this. No part of tonight's show even comes close to that. Oh, and then Olly really cheeky-chappies his way onto my permanent shit list by adding a "why's that, Robbie?" just before Robbie sings "I'm loving angels instead", like this is a cheap fucking comedy skit or something. Actually, that may not be so wide of the mark. [I hated what I saw of this, which was admittedly only about five seconds, but FIVE SECONDS TOO MUCH - Rad]

As if by magic, the Dermot appears. Robbie admits to being a fan of Olly (naturally), and Robbie says that he can't believe how confident Olly is. Not OVERconfident, obviously. He is HUMBLE too. Like Danyl. Robbie says that Olly should give it 110% tonight, or if possible, 111% or 112%, "but it's never been done on TV before". I beg to differ. [I think 111%, 112% was his attempt at humour over the game of ridiculous percentages - Rad] Robbie gets the audience to start chanting Olly's name, as if the tossers needed any encouragement.

After that, we're back with Cheryl and Joe. Joe is going back to the Elton John stomping ground that he's so comfortable with, singing 'Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me' again. He's excellent, obviously, because this is so where he's comfortable, and then George Michael comes out to join him, looking a bit squashed of face but generally well-preserved, all things considered. This is the first of many times this weekend where it becomes apparent just how very teeny Joe is, by the way. Joe holds his own against George, and it's probably the best duet of the night, although still not Aleyoncé levels of awesomeness by a long shot. George sunnily wishes Joe good luck at the end without being prompted, which is quite sweet. Joe can't believe he's just sung with George Michael and politely thanks him. Bless. George says that Joe has a great future, but wishes luck to all three contestants. What a gent. Dermot asks Joe about his mum, who is a huge George Michael fan, but the cameras can't pick her out in the room, rendering the whole thing a bit redundant. George tries to escape, but Dermot scolds him that he can't go anywhere until he's read the numbers. I'd have so been all "I'm George fucking Michael, I can do whatever the shit I like, short-arse." [Whitney wouldn't have stood for that - Rad]

Back from the break, Dermot is standing by the judges' podium, and Cheryl is late getting back into her seat. Remember this, it will be important later. It's now time for round three, where the contestants are singing what they have decided, along with their mentor, was their best song of the series. Dannii says that the upcoming performance was when Stacey truly started to believe in herself - it's 'Who Wants To Live Forever', of course. She's better at this one second time around too - she's much stronger and more on key at the beginning. There are still one or two dodgy notes, but it really is an incredible performance, and one that she should be proud of. There are lots of shots of Dannii beaming with maternal pride interspersed throughout.

Louis says it was her best performance and very few people can sing Freddie Mercury songs, and he hopes she makes the final. Cheryl thinks Stacey looks and sounds incredible, and has her fingers crossed that Stacey makes the final two. Simon says that she "smashed it", apparently quoting Cheryl (though I think it sounds more like something Dannii would say). Dannii once again says how proud she is of Cheryl. Stacey is thrilled to get a compliment from Simon, and says that she's proud of herself for making the final three. She says it would be so cool to make the final three, and she can't even think how good it would be. Then we cut to Jeff in Dagenham once again, who's with Stacey's best friend Daniel. I can't really hear what he says about her, but it all sounds very encouraging. Back in the studio, Stacey says it's so nice that people want her to do well, and it's the nicest feeling ever. Dermot asks if she thinks she can do it, and she says she hopes so, but you can never tell what's going to happen. Dear Danyl Johnson: this is how you do humility. Lots of love, The Bitch Factor.

Simon introduces Olly performing the song that really made Simon think he could really be a pop star - 'Fool In Love', from Divas week. I really don't like this performance - it looks like an under-rehearsed amateur production of Chicago. Olly's singing is fair enough, though I don't really see Simon's perspective on how this makes him a legitimate pop star, because there's nothing contemporary about this whatsoever.

Tellingly, at the end Simon and Cheryl are on their feet, but Louis and Dannii are not. Louis tells Olly he owned the stage and the song, and he doesn't know how the public are going to pick, but he hopes that Olly will be there tomorrow night. Right, so that's three people Louis has now said he wants to see in tomorrow's two-person final? Back to remedial maths for you, Walsh. Dannii says it was Olly's best performance of the series and it was so good to see it. Cheryl was impressed by the improvement since the last time he did it, and wishes him luck for being "in the bottom two" tomorrow. I don't think that means what she thinks it means. Simon thanks the celebrities for giving up their dignity time to appear, and says that he hopes this isn't the last time Olly gets to perform on this show, and that Olly is an amazing person who mustn't be forced back into the LIVING HELL of an office job. Olly thanks Simon for all his help, and everyone who's been voting for him. Dermot throws to Colchester, where Michael is talking to Olly's old PE teacher, Mr Ferguson. Mr Ferguson says that Olly is a nice guy. How illuminating. Back in the studio, Olly says that he's given it everything - 112%, like Robbie said - and he'll be devastated if he goes out tonight.

Finally we have "the boys and Cheryl" - but enough about her boobs. Joe's singing 'Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word', just to remind us that he really did sing a lot of Elton John songs over the course of the competition. I miss the "sing a Christmas song" part of the final (specifically, I miss "Merry Christmas!"), but I guess the way the calendar has fallen this year has made it a little bit too early for that sort of thing. Oh, right: Joe. Excellent, as usual. Seriously, I don't think he's put a foot wrong throughout the competition.

Again, a semi-ovation from Simon and Cheryl. Louis bleats on some more about Joe being the voice they've been looking for, and his potential as a recording artist. Of the three people remaining, Joe DEFINITELY deserves to be here tomorrow. Dannii says that it was beautiful, and he needs to be in the final two. Simon says that Joe is "really special" (presumably in the good way), and that the performance proves what a great singer he's become. Cheryl says that she adores him and she feels like they've made a strong bond and she can't bear the thought that this could be his last song. She's sounding all tearful, but not actually crying. Just pointing that out. Kimberley's still alive in South Shields, and talks to Joe's friend Stevie from college, who is very proud of Joe. Back with Dermot, Joe says that he really wants to make it to the end.

That's the last performance of the evening, Dermot informs us - one act must leave the competition later tonight, so it's time for a recap of the voting numbers and the performances so far. Feel free to nip off to the loo or put the kettle on - I'll wait for you.

Dermot says the contestants "sang with their hearts out" (now that I'd like to see!) but there's still more to come - an exclusive performance from Robbie Williams after the break. Oh the sheer uncontainable joy.

We go back to the show post-adverts, and Cheryl is late back to her seat - again. I would absolutely love it if you all left your best theories in the comments below on what she was doing (other than wearing a dress that prevented her from moving at normal speed) to make her so perpetually tardy this evening. The filthier the better, quite frankly. Just nothing that could get me sued, obviously.

To fill time while people are voting, there is Robbie Williams, singing 'You Know Me'. He's titting about with a cane, and the song is shit. I impress myself with the succinctness of my summaries sometimes. At the end, there is a sign in the background saying "Have a Very Robbie Christmas". I'd rather not, thanks. After shooing Robbie off, Dermot announces that the lines have been temporarily frozen, and after the break, we'll be finding out who's finishing in third place.

After yet more adverts (well, I suppose this is one of the very few programmes of the year that makes ITV any money, so I can overlook it), we're back with Dermot for the final time. The studio is plunged into near-darkness as he welcomes back the finalists and their respective mentors: Olly and Simon, Stacey and Dannii, and Joe and Cheryl. Everyone's looking pretty nauseated right now, but most noticeably Stacey and Cheryl. The first act through to the final, in no particular order as always, is...Olly, who Simon wraps in a hug quite quickly to prevent him from being too much of a twat about it. Smart man. Stacey smiles thinly at this point because she knows it's over. Joe sticks his head in Cheryl's tits. Dermot announces the other finalist as Joe, and he cheers and hugs Stacey. Stacey, of course, is unflappable in defeat, just gleefully chanting "I came third! That's really good! I'm really proud!" Bless. Dannii thanks everyone for supporting Stacey. Dermot tells her that her attitude's been brilliant, and it really has: as much as this isn't really the time for a sidebar, I love that while Stacey has been incredibly enthusiastic about this show, she's also been very realistic about it, and has only dipped her toes into the hyperbole of "THIS SHOW IS LIFE OR DEATH" when shoved in that direction by Dermot - the rest of the time she's still been the same girl who admitted there was "always Asda" when considering her alternative career prospects. And I know it only got her to third place, but I still admire that attitude a lot more than I admire "I CANNOT RETURN TO THE INDIGNITY OF OFFICE WORK D: D: D:"

We review Stacey's JOURNEY, where Simon was surprised at her first audition that she could sing even though she looked thick, having learnt nothing from Susan Boyle, then she sang in front of Kylie, Robbie, Whitney and various other exciting people. Her performance of 'The Scientist' was a highlight, and she wore an ugly dress to the premiere of DISNEY'S A CHRISTMAS CAROL and sang a lot of nice songs.

Stacey says that every moment of the show has been a highlight, and then she is ushered off with no singout. What a load of old shit. Dermot welcomes back Olly and Joe, who will compete in what is now to be a boring sausagefest of a finale. Olly says that Stacey has been amazing and that anyone could've gone home at this point. Joe says he feels numb, and that Stacey was amazing just like Olly said. Told you tomorrow was going to be boring. The lines are reopened, with the previous totals still standing.

And that's it! Rad will be here tomorrow with the recap of Sunday night's surprisingly succinct and content-filled grand final. Ha! Just kidding. The poor lady has to recap an absolute bloater of a show with filler stuffed into every available orifice, and where the solitary highlight is a performance from two acts who competed in a previous series. I don't envy her at all.

Monday, December 07, 2009

What about the polar bears?

Semi-final, the RESULTS
Tx: Sunday 6th December, 2009

Last Night! They! Battled! For! A! Place! In! The! Final! I really wish I was joking about the way the voiceover man says that, but that is GENUINELY WHAT HAPPENS. The judges were over-enthusiastic about everybody. Tonight! The! Finalists! Are! Revealed! Cheryl swore that Joe would be in the final; Simon whined about the possibility of not having two finalists. It’s time! To face! The music!

Yes indeedy, it’s time for the results, with our host Dermot O’Leary, who reminds us of the concept of the show, and trails the imminent arrival of Lady Gaga and Janet Jackson, who is the sister of Michael. WHO IS DEAD. [I can't believe how few times we've been able to say that this year. - Steve] He introduces the judges. Louis is in a bow tie; Cheryl has a skirt with a tail.

Group singalong. They Gotta Be Startin’ Something, which merges into Please Don’t Stop The Music. I like the use of autotune; everybody is much more bearable when they’re always in tune, though I suspect that Joe hasn’t been tweaked that much. Fnar. They do some arm-waving which they manage to mess up. NotLouis will not be impressed.

Recap of last night. A rather lengthy recap. Olly assures he gave us everything; Dannii thinks it was the best opening ever; Simon says it’s one of Olly’s best performances ever, which may possibly be true. Joe did his best, and Simon clearly hates his vocal ability in terms of the competition, as he congratulates him backstage. Stacey is not impressed with people bitching about her chair-based choreography. Danyl didn’t care about the polar bears (which Dannii didn’t understand), and then was humble to Simon. Olly wants people to vote for him; Joe thinks he did all right, and Simon isn’t happy about it being the Joe McELDERRY show; Stacey would be the happiest person in the world to be in the final; Louis lied about Danyl being good, and then Simon said it is the closest semi-final ever. Dermot reiterates this back in the studio, and Simon concurs that he can’t call it. And then Louis reiterates that Danyl was incredible, and adds that Joe’s two songs were great, though he didn’t like Stacey’s. Cheryl smugs that she is never nervous about Joe normally, but she is now; Dannii gets chance to interject that she too is nervous before Dermot cuts to the break. Admirably done, O’Leary.

First special guest of the evening – Lady Gaga, with an exclusive performance of her new single Bad Romance. Apparently she has the most downloaded single in UK history. Not sure whether that means legal or illegal downloads. Anyway, she sings, while dressed as a bat, dancing in a bathroom. Did NotLouis creatively direct this? I don’t understand what a bathroom has to do with this song. Nor why her male dancers are dressed in butchers’ aprons. [This is the joy of GaGa - she comes with her very own built-in Brian Friedman. - Steve] She screams, “SING IT, X FACTOR!” Dermot is very happy. They have a little chat while she is still in the bath. She tells us that the bath is Simon’s. Dermot appears to treat this entirely seriously. Her advice is to BE YOURSELF and DON’T LET ANYONE TELL YOU THAT YOU CAN’T ACHIEVE YOUR DREAMS. Except that’s the whole fucking problem with the world and this show in particular – sometimes people CAN’T achieve their dreams, due to lack of talent, or resources, or whatever. It’s sad, but true. This pervasive idea that success is just down to trying and working is a huge misapprehension. Anyway, she’s coming back to the UK for a tour next year, which excites her greatly.

The lines are closed, the finalists are decided, but while the votes are counted, Dermot declares us honoured to welcome Janet Jackson. Little montage of previous hits and videos, about three of which I recognise. I am so terminally uncool. Ooh, I know her first song, though; All For You, sung from a Great Glass Elevator. Her bosom is safely buttoned up in a severe tailored jacket, for those interested. She then goes into her next song, Make Me, and about a billion more dancers wander on to stage. The judges stand up, Louis whoops, Dermot doesn’t get to interview her.

Time for another break, and when we’re back Danyl assures us that he wants to win, and Simon assures us that he wants him to win; Stacey assures us that she wants to be in the final (in a very badly edited VT), and Dannii thinks she can do it; Olly tells us he HAS to make it to the final in order to fulfil his dream, and Simon calls him fearless, hardworking and talented; Joe thinks his desire to be in the final is “unbelievable”, and Cheryl thinks it would be a disaster should he fail to get there.

So who is through? Well, first we must welcome back the judges and the semi-finalists – you know who they all are. And then we must dim the lights and have the dramatic music as Dermot prepares to reveal their fate. Olly is the first through, and he has a mental breakdown that surpasses even Alexandra BURKE’s. Still, Alex’s was on the shoulder of Beyonce, so she wins overall. Then Joe, and he does his adorable camp applause before hugging Cheryl. Stacey’s bottom lip is wobbling, but no need to fret – she’s through too, and that means Danyl has to make his humble exit from the competition.

Of course, that means it’s time for a humble concession speech. He says he’s gone out to some of the Best People he’s Ever Met. Simon says he would have changed nothing about Danyl’s performance, that he’s gone out on a high and is a graceful loser, and I don’t think Simon could sound less sincere here if he tried.

Montage – the Best First Audition Ever ™, progression to judges’ houses, the live shows, but a strange omission of his tabloid story-selling and Dannii’s notorious comment, which is probably for the best. Dermot’s all “Well, you won’t be going back to teaching!” and Danyl’s all “Yeah, too fucking right!”

One last HUMBLE sing for Danyl Johnson, and that is that for him. One more week to go. Join us next week!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Look at yourself and make a change

Last week! The theme week wasn't as terrible as usual! Lloyd went home! Joe had some dancers in a picture frame! Rihanna curled up on a big armchair!

Tonight! Michael Jackson week AND songs to get you to the final! Oh GREAT! IT'S! THE! SEMI! FINAAAAL!

Gah. I would have to be on recap duty for this week: not only do we get Michael Jackson week, which was by and large a car crash last year, it's also lame-o 'Songs to Get You to the Final Week'. The themes alone have already put me in a bad mood so they're going to have to work extra hard to impress me.

There are lots of opening VTs about how this is the most important night of everyone's lives and the judges bigging up their acts. Simon says talent like Danyl does not come around very often, and that's why he deserves a chance, and I've still seen no particular evidence of this talent. Maybe it'll arrive tonight.

Simon, in all seriousness, says 'they have to give it 150% tonight'. I've given up pointing out the flaws in Simon's logic but I still sigh every time he opens his mouth.

Dermot is wearing a black suit. It's OK for a Dermot suit, I guess. Tonight, 'we pay tribute to the legend that is the King of Pop himself'. He's dead, Dermot, surely you don't need that much hyperbole again. The judges enter to 'Thriller', which, if last year is anything to go by, will be the best MJ song we hear all night. [I genuinely thought for just a second that the judges were going to break into the Thriller dance routine. - Carrie] Dannii is wearing a nice enough long reddish-orange dress. Cheryl is wearing an odd thing that looks like a tight black mini dress, covered with half a bit of a peach rag. Simon and Louis are in boring suits but at least Simon's chest hair is hidden away. Small mercies.

Dermot tells us Michael Jackson was the biggest pop star of ALL TIME. I don't know if he has quantifiable evidence for that. Footage of some good Jacko songs (Smooth Criminal, Bad, Thriller etc) and then some toss (Heal the World, Scream). Simon says it's unbelievable that Jacko's not here any more but he's excited for Janet being here tomorrow. No guest mentoring again? This series is such a rip-off.

The sacrificial lamb this week (please God) is Olly MURS, who is doing 'Can You Feel It'. Now I'm in two minds about this. On the one hand, I criticised them last year for too many ballads, so it's nice to see uptempo stuff on the list. On the other, this has huge potential to be a car crash. His VT is all about how he used to work in a call centre and it was the worst thing ever. As sob stories go, it's no MY DAD WHO IS DEAD. [I sympathise to some extent, because I've worked in a call centre too and it's not pleasant, but I absolutely hate this 'working a normal job is beneath me' angle they always peddle every year. - Steve]

He starts very wobbly and is singing a white suit that is presumably a cast-off from Boyzone/Westlife/Jedward. Immediately we have a problem. Because this song was sampled on this:

and thus all I can think about is this (go to 2.56):

And this:

All of which gives the impression that NotLouis has been out drinking with Peter Kay, which would be the weirdest thing ever.

Anyway, back to the performance. He is standing on some steps and has a bunch of dancers, one of whom has hair that is very Jedward-esque. In fact, Olly's hair is getting that way a bit as well. His vocal is pretty shaky throughout - some bits are better than others. There are a lot of unnecessary 'huh's and he sings 'now tell me' in just the same way as Peter Kay does on that Children in Need song. He dances though, so it's all over as far as I'm concerned. The thing about Olly's performances is that I really don't think they know what to do with him any more so they keep rehashing the same old schtick. In terms of a winner, he would be the least marketable in terms of selling albums, and they know it.

Louis says something I can't hear because of the crowd and goes on about how Olly is the likeable guy from Essex. He is - guess what? An all-round entertainer. Louis and Dannii say he has to be in the final and Dannii talks about him grabbing his crotch. Cheryl repeats what they just said. Simon says he has the presence of a star.

There's an ad for Madonna's 'Celebration'. I want a Madonna week with Madonna as guest mentor.

Next up, it's Joe MCELDERRY, and he's introduced by his mentor and, I quote, 'Geordie soulmate' Cheryl. If we're going by the same geographical logic, I am soulmates with Julie Peasgood, Patricia Hodge and Mrs Mangel from Neighbours. Cheryl tells us he is performing a Michael Jackson song. Thanks for that. His VT is soundtracked by twinkly music and is all about how he wants it and how the judges like him. He's surely the clear favourite, so surely the question is whether his outcome will be that of David Archuleta or of Gareth Gates? [Or someone who actually wins. - Steve] [Oh YEAH, I had completely forgotten about David Cook until you said that - Rad] He is sitting on a stool, wearing white again, and singing 'She's Out of My Life'. The song isn't my favourite, but he sings it very well. I still think the West End would be a better showcase for him than the charts, though, and one that probably offers more longevity. Louis says there is a big, big gap in the market for him, which I'm not convinced about but the judges all love him, and he's clearly so much better than everyone else in this competition that it looks a bit embarrassing.

Dannii is wearing earrings that look a bit like the BlockBusters grid. Anyway, Stacey SOLOMON is next. Her VT is all about her being from Dagenham but still being a good singer, SHOCK HORROR. Simon says 'in a world where so many people are aware of themselves, she's the opposite, she's just herself'. Um? We see more of her cute son.

She is dressed in a hat and jacket, with what looks like a leotard underneath, surrounded by a load of 1920s-styled men. She's doing 'The Way You Make Me Feel' which is an odd choice. I'm all for seeing her do upbeat but this isn't the best song. It doesn't showcase her voice particularly and sounds a bit pedestrian. There is some mad choreography with her walking across chairs that keep getting removed a la musical chairs, though. [I rather liked it - it was the only performance of the night where they'd done something interesting with the arrangement and choreography. So naturally Simon hated it. - Steve] Louis and Simon thought it was a bit gimmicky but Cheryl loved it. Simon, he of mentoring Olly and Danyl, felt it was too cabaret. Dannii says it's about showing she could do a live show, and Stacey had infected teeth. Infected teeth? That sounds unpleasant. Stacey says she likes the song but the comments were fair enough.

Danyl JOHNSON is doing 'Man in the Mirror'. Last year, Diana Vickers' performance of this was one of the only things I liked about MJ week last year so it's interesting to see that it's not just Ruth Lorenzo's good performances they're determined to shit all over this year. Fortunately he's doing a version closer to the original, which might not be a bad move since 'Relight My Fire' is widely regarded as his least twattish performance yet. His VT is all about how he is SENSATIONAL and HUMBLE and a STAR and did the BEST FIRST AUDITION EVER. Simon thinks he is the best singer, because he is deaf. [Every time Simon says "best", I just mentally substitute it for "loudest". It makes things easier. - Steve]

He starts out really badly and the camera looks to Simon putting his hand over his mouth, appalled. Heh. There's a lot of pointing and EMOTIONAL throwing the mic around and his gob and his staring and MEANINGFUL stomping. There's also a load of random photos of nature being projected behind him, becasue it's a song about changing your ways, and we need to change our ways with regards to the environment. At least I assume that's NotLouis's logic. He could simply have been trying to recreate this:

Anyway, it's a Danyl performance, so it's as overblown and fake and unsubtle as you'd expect I really, really hate his performances. I'd genuinely like to see him do a simple, stripped back song without BIG SHOUTY notes in it to see if under all the gimmickry and ego there actually is a nice voice. I suspect there might be, but he and Simon are still determined to confuse VOLUME for sincerity and BLAH and he's not even very good at that stuff, although at least he wanders away from the tune less this week, though his breathing is awful. Oh, and of course, our blessed lord and saviour gets the gospel choir and gets to go on last AS BLOODY USUAL. To be generous to him, it's one of his more competent performances, because he's singing the actual melody for most of the time for a change, but it's still utterly hateful.

Louis says he's had a REALLY TOUGH TIME from the press and he slags Simon off for the images, calling it a Benetton ad. He like Danyl though, as did Dannii, but she also thought the images were distracting. Cheryl said it was like 'The Earth Song' but he was good. Simon snips at them all, despite them saying they liked it and weren't sure about the visuals, which is constructive criticism, no? Of course, it's the second coming as far as Simon is concerned and I really don't know why Simon's so keen to back this horse. Just because a few Americans talked about his YouTube audition clip does not mean he's the new Susan Boyle. The judges bicker about the visuals and Simon looks for NotLouis in the audience to give him a death stare. Heh. Danyl tells us all how HUMBLE he is.

We then have an overlong recap of all the performances so far.

Olly next. Guess what his VT's about? He wants it and he hates his job. O rly? Why have you never mentioned this before?

He's singing 'We Can Work It Out' and his mic stand looks like it's made from a chain. He has a better grasp of the tune than in his first performance, but it's marred by BLOODY DANCING and stupid head flicks and annoying pauses. Oh, and the song is awful. He really, really doesn't deserve to be in the final. Unless Danyl goes home tomorrow which would be fun just for the look on Simon's face.

Louis says he has the likeability factor and is a bit like Jay Kay from Jamiroquai, who isn't the first person that comes to mind when I think of 'likeability factor'. Dannii says it wasn't the best song choice and you know what, if I was at home right now....' and I'm expecting her to say 'I wouldn't be excited enough to vote' but she says she'd pick up the phone and vote.

Joe's VT is about how his family are proud, but his nana wishes he'd put as much effort into his science and maths as his singing. Love her.

It's his turn for the perspex steps this week. He's singing 'Open Arms' because our youngest X-Factor contestant, and favourite to win, is sponsored by Journey and Elton John (feel the contemporary references!). As for the performance - well, it's a Joe performance. By this stage, no-one has any surprises left, so it's clear, tuneful, competent and all the things we'd expect from him. There's an unintentional comedy moment when a light shines directly onto his crotch, though.

Louis thinks he's a natural pop star and would have a number one with that song. He makes a point of Joe being likeable, presumably unlike some other people? Dannii and Simon love it, and Simon says he's polite and listens. He attempts a joke by saying 'on the most important night of your life, your mentor picks a sing no-one knows...' and Cheryl looks like she'll lamp him but then he says 'it was 100% (only 100?) the right thing to do'. Simon offers Joe's nan a place on one of his shows. Joe's nan for American Idol 2010! [Or Joe's Nan to take over from Simon when he gives up on this show in a year or two, please. Either's good. - Steve]

Stacey's family want her to get into the final so she can be a proper sister. [Que? - Carrie] Her sister has the exact same voice as her. She's singing 'Somewhere' and I can't hear the first 'there's' but after that it's perfectly melodic and nice, and more subtle than anything Danyl could dream of. Her dress and hair are very Leona-esque, though. She nearly loses it on the last 'Somewhere' but gets it back for the big note. The judges all love it.

Dermot asks her if she even dares to dream about the final or just takes each day as it comes. She says 'Dermot, I dream about it all the time'. Heh.

Danyl's final VT reminds us that he is GIVING and HUMBLE. Simon says he is the best singer and it'd be WRONG if the best singer didn't make the final. Oh, Simon. A) No, he isn't and B) It would be HILARIOUS.

Nonono. He is singing 'I Have Nothing'. It's not quite as heinous as I expected to start with, but then all the famous Danyl performance tics come into play. [Also, the best reality show arrangement of this song was Katharine McPhee's from season five of American Idol that just cut straight through the wimpy bit at the beginning straight into the strident second verse, which makes the song so much better. So essentially, this was automatic fail very early on. - Steve] One of the big NOTHINGS is actually quite good for a second when he slips out of his horrible nasally American drawl and I get a glimpse of what might be a nice voice under all that after all. Then he puts the nasal drawl back on, so whatever. To be fair, this might all be just as much Yvie's fault as anyone's, because he desperately needs some vocal coaching. Simon snipes that he hasn't had fair criticism so far, which? He gave him a girls' song so it would be deliberately more rebalanced, which is a whole phrase made of WTF. Danyl reminds us he is HUMBLE.

So, to recall, Olly felt it and wanted to work it out; Joe was sponsored by 70s MOR rock again, Stacey sang whilst walking across moving chairs, and Danyl had nothing.

The results show will feature Janet JACKSON and Lady GAGA! Join Carrie for the recap!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Drop the boy

Last night! Take That and Elton John theme week proved to be not all that bad actually! Well, apart from Danyl’s murder of Your Song! Tonight! The final five sing for a place in the semi-final! That means there are only two weeks left! Hooray!

Dermot welcomes us back and there are some very spiffy firework lighting effects. We will be joined tonight by Alicia KEYS and RiHANNA. He is wearing a badly buttoned blue suit that is designed to show off his shirt cuffs, but it looks ill-fitting. As usual. He reminds us that tonight’s vote is all in the public’s hands, as if that hasn’t been the case for the majority of weeks anyway.

The judges enter, and Simon has finally broken away from black and is wearing a grey suit. I wish he’d put his chest away though. Bleurgh. Dannii is wearing a nice pink dress. Cheryl has a nice enough black dress with massive amount of ruffle on the shoulder.

The group song is ‘I Don’t Feel Like Dancing’, and the men are dropped in on strings. This song is too high for all of them, and it sounds appalling. [I miss Same Difference. And Eton Road. - Carrie] Shayne Ward is still the only X Factor contestant to ever vaguely pull off falsetto. The dancing is pretty poor as well. I actually caught a clip of them doing ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go’ (I didn’t see last Sunday’s) and it wasn’t too bad. This, on the other hand, is. I don’t blame the contestants, I blame whoever chose the song, Yvie and the person who does the arrangements. Still, NotLouis throws a load of balloons on the stage at the end to try and hide the noise.

Dermot plugs the tour, which promises to be the biggest tour in Britain, 2010. Riiiight.

I love the really long filler about the previous night, as I’ve been able to make myself pudding and a drink during it rather than sitting and typing. [I put the ironing board away and took the recycling out. This show is definitely helpful when it comes to finding time to do those little chores. - Steve]

Dermot asks the judges who was the best. Simon says his acts, then concedes Joe on his second song and Stacey on her first song were also OK. Dannii says Joe and Stacey. Louis says Joe, Stacey and Danyl, in that order.

It’s time for the first of our special guests, Alicia KEYS. She has her hair straightened with a kind of reddish tint. It looks nice. She sings that ‘New York’ song that I’ve heard on the radio a lot lately, but I didn’t know it was actually her singing on it. She has a giant Perspex piano. Is this show sponsored by them this year? The song seems to turn into something else and then reverts back again. It’s not very exciting, but there’s a bit where she STANDS UP. Dermot asks her who was good and she refuses to answer, but says that each one is different, and she loves that there’s only one woman in the flow, apparently. Riiiight.

Dermot asks the judges who’s at risk. Simon and Louis think Lloyd. Cheryl and Dannii think everyone. I’d be inclined to agree with the women. Olly/Danyl bottom two would be the sweetest outcome, mind.

Rihanna is up next. She’s sitting in a giant white sofa wearing a ghastly beige dress and gloves. She really does look a lot like Rachel ADEDEJI. She stares into the distance and it’s a little scary. I would not mess with this lady. She’s singing that ‘pull the trigger’ [it's called 'Russian Roulette', just FYI - Steve] song, which, in keeping with the tradition of special guests, is a slightly dull addition to her back catalogue. The singing isn’t all that, but the song's not all that, either. Still, on the plus side, there are lots of nice fire lighting effects. She has clearly been taking lessons from Louis Walsh and stands up at the key change, at which point her hair falls in front of her face. She gamely pushes it out of the way and carries on. She ends by being sultry in the chair again and then collapses in giggles like she’s a contestant on Strictly. Heh. Love her a little bit. Dermot asks her about her records. She knows, unlike previous guests, that they are out in the stores right now. She’s on tour in Spring. She doesn’t get asked her views on the contestants. I wish she’d been a guest mentor. Heck, even Howard Donald as guest mentor would have done, anything other than those ‘oh look, we’re number one’ blah VTs we got last night.

We see more recaps and blah about why they all want to win, but nothing of any consequence is said. Suffice to say they all want it and they all deserve to be in the semi-final.

The first act through is Stacey. She and Dannii explode. The second act through is Joe. It pleases me that these two are through, because now I don’t really mind who goes home (though I’d laugh my head off if Lloyd stays). The third act through is Danyl. Poor little Lloyd, like a lamb to the slaughter… Olly takes being through rather ungraciously and punches the air, making YES noises and grunting faces. Ugh. I hate him. [Me too. I've said this before, but it bears repeating - it's really fucking classless to make so much noise about getting through when your survival automatically means someone else is going home. So shut UP, Olly. Find a slightly more subdued way of celebrating. - Steve] [Particularly as Simon looked sad for Lloyd and gave him a little pep talk as Olly cavorted round the stage. Twat. - Carrie] Lloyd takes it on the chin and smiles. I can't imagine certain other people in the final five taking it as graciously, and he's only sixteen (at the risk of turning into Cheryl).

Cheryl says he’s only 16 and he’s got loads of time to grow and blossom into a little star. Dermot commends him for always smiling despite getting lots of flak. We’re reminded of his ‘journey’ which, for a change, genuinely was a bit of a journey – of all the contestants, he’s the one that actually improved as he went on. He sings ‘A Million Love Songs’ and holds it together remarkably well. Bless him, he was never the best act, but he did get a lot better, and he seems like such a sweet kid it’s hard to take against him. [I agree - I said in the earlier recaps that I hated Lloyd more than any of the other contestants, but he quite grew on me in the end because he seemed like a genuinely nice kid. And his singing did improve as he went along, even if he was still easily the weakest singer left by this point. - Steve]

So Ma Little Lloyd Daniels has gone home, and we’re left with Stacey FROM DAGENHAM, MA LITTLE GEORDIE Joe, ORDINARY BLOKE Olly and OUR BLESSED HUMBLE LORD AND SAVOUR Danyl. Next week it’ll probably be the inevitable ‘songs to get you to the final’ snoozeathon, but if rumours are to be believed, Janet JACKSON and Lady GAGA will be performing. [There are no words for how much I want next week's theme to be Lady GaGa songs. C'mon, there are only four contestants left, so the numbers work out. - Steve] NotLouis is probably giddy with excitement already.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Saturday night's...alright?

Take That/Elton John week
Tx: 28th November 2009

Last week! John and Edward left! Bizarrely, we're reminded that 200,000 people originally applied for this show, and Cheryl thinks the competition is on NOW. Simon believes everyone left deserves to be there.

This week! The judges don't get to vote at all! Our remaining contestants sing two songs, one by Messrs Barlow, Orange, Owen and Donald (and formerly Williams), and one by Mr Reg Dwight (and more than likely Bernie Taupin)! Dannii wants Stacey to win; Simon guarantees that Danyl and Olly will both reach the final. Obviously, it is time to face the music.


I do believe Dermot has a three-piece suit on tonight. [I just want to know what the fuck was going on with his lapels. That shit was weird. - Steve] He welcomes us to the show and explains the concept of the show - "celebrating Great British Pop Royalty" - before utterly cocking up his autocue reading to introduce the judges. Dannii is wearing a bed sheet with a belt slung round her. Dermot then reminds us to buy the X Factor charidee single; I remind you that if you want to support GOSH, you can do so without having to listen to that travesty, and what's more, you can do so at any time of the year.

Quick VT explaining who Take That are, and then it's time for Simon to introduce Danyl. This week he is going to sing a song that's very different for him. One that's in tune, and one that he doesn't whine about having to sing? Plinky magical music in the VT as Danyl talks about having a number one single for such a great cause. Then scary dramatic music as NotLouis shepherds a gang of dancers into the rehearsal room ready for a mad big production number. Muchos panic about whether Danyl can keep up with a high-energy routine.

Heh, he's singing Relight My Fire. He yelps the opening bars a little before the number begins properly and the lights comes up on a load of gold Lycra-clad dancers in a tableau. Whenever he sings the word "fire", a load of flames flare up from the floor. Oh, NotLouis, you are INSPIRED tonight. The Lulu break is a bit flat in terms of melody and energy. Danyl's throwing his head about and his earpiece has fallen out, which may explain some of the tuning issues. Then there is a KEY CHANGE as fire-eaters EAT FIRE and then RELIGHT IT. By the way, all the way through this, Danyl is HUMBLE, lest you have forgotten.

Louis has refound his book of tedious anodyne statements, and ludicrously claims that Danyl has "won round one". Danyl to his credit points out that he is the only person to have sung so far tonight. Dannii liked the choruses, not the verses. Cheryl says it is HARD to sing and dance at the same time and he did well. Simon says it was very complicated and Danyl was PERFECT, proving that he is the type of artist who can do anything.

Cheryl introduces "the baby of the competition...little Lloyd Daniels". Lloyd VTs that he was awesome last week. Seriously. That's what he says. This week he is doing a big ballad, and Yvie says if he sings badly, everyone will notice. Well, Cheryl probably won't. She hasn't so far.

He sings A Million Love Songs, beginning by sitting on the steps. NotLouis clearly does not realise that this is an ill-fated piece of choreography. To be fair to Lloyd, this is fairly inoffensive, but he's not performing it as a big ballad; it's a pleasant, relatively tuneful pub singalong, drowned out in most places by the backing vocals. Oh, and a KEY CHANGE.

Louis says obviously other people like Lloyd more than he does, but it was pretty good rather than great. Dannii begins the LLOYD LIKES GIRLS AND GIRLS LIKE LLOYD whitewashing by saying that a million girls want his phone number, and suggests he doesn't overcomplicate melodies for himself. Simon says it was OK, and thinks that in his second song he needs to show that he has fire in his eyes. Cheryl says that he will. Simon starts to talk to Dermot a bit, and the morons in the audience drown him out with their idiotic heckling and whooping. Lloyd assures Dermot of his dedication to the X-Factor cause.

Simon introduces Olly MURS. He had to sing off last week, and NEARLY cried about the potential loss of his dream. He fails to point out that he was singing off against John and Edward and there was no way he was going. NotLouis has given Olly a stripped-back performance this week, possibly because he's splurged his budget on scores of dancers and gold Lycra.

Ew EW. Olly begins by serenading a woman in the audience. [I'm just grateful there was no crotch thrusting - Rad] He is singing Love Ain't Here Any More, and he is NOT a natural ballad singer. The stripped-backness of the performance exposes the weakness of his voice - he hits a big note and he's got nothing there to support it, so it's in his throat and there's a massive wobble in the middle of it. C'mon, Yvie, you should have sorted that out. The tone is nice, there's just no power. Anyway, that was not a classic.

Louis witters on about girls wanting to marry Olly. Dannii says there wasn't any sparkle in the eyes. Cheryl says it was nice to hear him sing. She is wrong. Simon makes inappropriate comments about the girl Olly sang to at the start, and then reckons not having sparkle is OK for this song. Interestingly he adds that Olly doesn't sulk or complain. NOT THAT ANYONE ELSE DOES, OF COURSE; EVERYONE IS HUMBLE AND IS GRATEFUL FOR THEIR CHANCE. Dermot mocks the girl as well.

Cheryl introduces "Geordie Joe". Last week he was technically superb, and he says it was amazing. His VT has Cheryl's song as the backing music, by the way. The editing of his comments is very scratchy. In practice with Yvie, he keeps going flat. She says this isn't good. THAT is why she earns the big bucks. Simon says the song Cheryl's chosen is obvious. Joe says he cannot afford to let his chance go.

Joe has a wardrobe full of people behind him. Or maybe on second viewing it's a picture frame. I'm unsure. Anyway, he's singing Could It Be Magic, which is a Barry Manilow song and I wonder if Louis will be producing the rulebook shortly. [I note with interest that every time this song is used on this show, they use the exact same arrangement, and it ain't the Take That arrangement. - Steve] When the beat kicks in, the dancers begin to move. Some of them appear to be dressed as peacocks. And some of them appear to be dancing like peacocks. Joe, meanwhile, sings beautifully, with the occasional dodgy piece of breathing, and he doesn't even have the excuse of dancing, because all he's doing is walking across the stage every so often. He hits the big note just before the end magnificently, and everyone claps.

Louis says words. Dannii says Joe "absolutely smashed it". Simon says Joe was in control all the way through, and thanks NotLouis for his production. Cheryl says it was flawless. Joe thanks everybody who has voted for him so far, and then beams into the camera.

And finally, Dannii introduces "the beautiful Stacey Solomon". Stacey was nervous last week; Dannii assures us that Stacey is the best singer left in the competition. Stacey and Yvie fret about the fact that the song Dannii's chosen is "a man's song" and "low at the beginning". Here's a thought. CHANGE THE KEY. Bump it up a tone or two. What's the problem?

Stacey has a lovely voice and is certainly talented, but the start of Rule The World is weak and wavering. However, she does walk along a platform that lights up as she sings the relevant words. I'm a bit disappointed with Stacey's performances and song choices for the past few weeks, y'know. She's nice, fun and likeable, and she can really sing, but they don't seem to know what to do with her apart from shoehorn her into a Leona LEWIS big ballady belt box.

Louis hopes people will vote for her; Cheryl says it is very HARD to sing a man's song and urges her once again to "represent"; Simon says at least it doesn't sound like karaoke. And then he congratulates Robbie on his engagement (that never existed) [and was exceptionally poorly-worded even if it did exist - Steve]. Dannii is pissed off at the spotlight-grab from her act and promptly turns the attention back to Dagenham Stace. Dermot does an impression of Stacey which is scarily accurate. Then she says, "I think I'm growing. Not in height. In confidence!"

Right, round one over. Time for the Elton John singalong to begin. Not before a recap and the judges giving their thoughts on who was best first off, though (Simon and Cheryl pathetically say their own acts; Dannii says Joe and Stacey; Louis says Joe). Oh, and a montage of Elton John songs.

Cheryl introduces "lovely Lloyd", who has a tough song to sing. In the VT, Lloyd wails about having to do a lift, and he is scared of heights. NotLouis says that it keeps going wrong because he always thinks it will go wrong. Louis chortles that Lloyd will never have to deal with the dizzy heights of stardom. Cheryl says Lloyd is going to prove that he deserves a place in the semi-final.

Ooh. He's singing I'm Still Standing, and sadly Jill Halfpenny and Darren Bennett are not there to jive. Instead, Lloyd and the dancers each have canes. This isn't a bad song, mostly because he doesn't have to sustain anything, but his diction is fairly poor. Louis attempts some wordplay and thought it was too karaoke. Cheryl retorts, "You haven't got ANYONE still standing!" and Louis bleats, "In the charts! In the charts I have!" [Oh Louis. You started out so well this series. - Rad] Dannii says it was shaky but better than the first; Simon thought it was a silly song and worse than the first. Cheryl says it is hard to come back week after week when you're getting tough criticism, and she hopes that Wales will vote for him.

Time for Danyl's second song. Classic bit of VT where Yvie tells him, "You CAN'T start in the wrong key!" Danyl panics about not hitting the notes. Simon thinks if he sings it properly, he will go right through to the semi-finals. [The VTs really didn't disguise how much Cheryl and Yvie apparently hate him, did they? - Rad]

Danyl gets the big note at the start of Your Song, but then chooses to veer into the wrong key for the rest of it. And THEN a choir of small children trip-trap on to the stage to provide a nauseating cute factor for the end. Still, Simon liked it, and he hauls Cheryl on to her feet for a standing ovation too. Louis admires that Danyl always bounces back from criticism, but he did not like the choir. Dannii thought it was better than the first song, and Danyl replies, "Thanks, babe." Ugh. [Seconded. - Steve] [Thirded - Rad] Cheryl says we are now seeing the Danyl we fell in love with back in the audition process. Simon claims that performance was what the entire show is about, and then picks a fight with Louis about the children's choir - "They are little children who want to be on the show! Let them!" Danyl says the children were polite. Everybody applauds. I feel we've moved away from the point somewhat.

Simon re-introduces Olly, after an appalling bit of business about Louis being Scrooge. For this round, Olly is doing "the only butch Elton John song" [fuck off, Simon - Steve], because, remember, he is an ORDINARY BLOKE. And of course that means he's doing Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting. Girls in bikinis strut around the stage with cards announcing the rounds in a boxing match as Olly stands in a one-dimensional boxing ring. The band and backing singers are so loud that you can't hear Olly (in fact, the backing singers are on the melody line rather than a harmony for most of the way through).

Louis liked the "funny dancing" but thought there was something missing. Dannii thought it was "an absolute knock-out" and that the sparkle in his eye has returned. Cheryl doesn't know how Olly concentrated with all the lovely dancing girls around him. Simon thought it was brilliant, obviously, because Olly added an "extra ten, 15, 20 per cent".

Joe has sung this song before in the judges' houses round. Simon thinks that means they're playing it safe. Cheryl, Joe and the guru that is NotLouis do not. And they are right. When Joe sings Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word, it's low-key and compelling - no lightning striking in the background on that line of the song, as you'd expect with NotLouis' productions, just a spotlight on him as he begins to put some emotion into the words.

Louis says Joe has it all and was born to sing. Dannii admires the passion with which Joe sings. Simon is gobsmacked and reminds us that his day job is that he runs a record label and that Joe has become a man. Total non sequitur. Cheryl is proud to be a Geordie. Joe beams a bit more.

And finally, "saving the best till last" (a la Dannii), Stacey's final song. NotLouis is making her lie down while singing, which is hard because you can't breathe. What is with these attempts to restrict her lungs? Not that I am implying that this series is set up for a male winner, of course. Simon says that all Stacey's performances are starting to sound the same to him now, and I sort of see what he means. [Yeah, me too. But then so do most of Danyl's, Olly's and Joe's. I do wish they'd given her one upbeat song, though - Rad]

Anyway, she's reclining on a sheepskin rug on top of a piano, which looks weird. She's singing Something About The Way You Look Tonight. She gets up and tries to do "slinky" and just looks awkward. Louis thinks Stacey deserves to be in the final, but didn't really like the song choice. Cheryl thinks she looked uncomfortable but did well in the circumstances. Simon says that he didn't like it because Stacey isn't a belting singer (which is what I thought about the first song too), and getting these kinds of songs makes her into a dull identikit vocalist, or a "wedding singer", rather than the singer with originality we saw at first. Dannii says that she pushes Stacey and doesn't know what Simon's talking about. Stacey doesn't want to be a wedding singer - "no offence to any wedding singers, they're very good" - and then giggles about loving sheepskin rugs. Dermot looks nonplussed.

So a recap - Danyl lighting fire with a gold Lycra troupe and singing a song for YOU in a HUMBLE manner; Lloyd putting together a million love songs and remaining standing; Olly imploring girls in the audience to love him even though love don't live there any more, and then assuring them Saturday night is alright for fighting; Joe speculating on magic and the difficulty of saying sorry; and Stacey hoping for world dominance and assessing appearances tonight.

Tomorrow night, Alicia Keys and Rihanna, and Rad taking you through the results! Join her then!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Don't bother waking me up before you go-go

Results show
Tx: 22nd November 2009

Last night! It was George Michael night! Louis wore a bow tie! Everyone sang in a mediocre way, apart from those who were rubbish! Tonight! Susan BOYLE and Mariah CAREY and ELIMINATION! And Louis and Cheryl shouting at each other in corridors, apparently!


Yes, we're live from London, complete with pyrotechnics, Dermot and another ill-fitting suit from the House of O'Leary. He welcomes us and triggers more pyrotechnics. He promises us an incredible night (fnar) because people who can actually sing will be performing. [I loved his comment about how Susan Boyle won people's hearts with just one song. An unfortunate turn of phrase, given that she only sang two songs on Britain's Got Talent and one of them was kind of a disaster. - Steve]

That'll be after we've met the judges and had the group sing, though. It's Wake Me Up Before you Go Go begins with some Abbaesque choreography for John and Edward. Lloyd sounds very good, because he has been autotuned to fuck. [And now I have an image of Lloyd in my head as some kind of sex-robot. There is not enough brain bleach in the world. - Steve] Also, there are lots of dancers, some of whom are female, which evens out the girl-boy balance a little. Danyl, Lloyd and Olly do a little arm-waving at the front of the stage, which makes me think of the trio of boy Yellowcoats in Hi-De-Hi! Then they take out the reference to it being "warm in bed" and CHANGE THE KEY.

Dermot thanks them and talks about "Leola Lewis" being number one album, and the shitey X Factor charidee single being number one single and making "a lot of money for the kids". Remember - if you want to do something for charidee, you don't have to buy The X Factor single. You can just make a donation to GOSH anyway and when they ask, tell them you paid never to hear The X Factor single again. Simon enthuses about how generous the public are, and then lists a variety of nouns without any connecting words. Dermot does the corporate shill bit by reminding us that these crappy acts are on tour next year and we too can see them in public if we cough up £50-odd quid.

Then it's time for a recap. Lloyd had his hair cut [which made him HUMBLE -- oops, sorry, wrong contestant - Steve]; Simon thought he was "pretty good" and Cheryl thought he looked comfortable. When Louis points out that Lloyd is out of his depth, Cheryl hollers at him to shut up. Stacey sang lots of high notes and was told to believe in herself. Cheryl wants her to REPRESENT for the girls. Dannii and Stacey screeched at each other. John and Edward were bad at singing and dancing and also talking backstage. Louis reckons they are making him feel young. They snigger. As do I. Danyl was Keeping It Real and Humble while Respecting The Song. Danyl was Humble back stage. Cheryl and Simon bicker about Danyl's flatness, and Cheryl pulls faces behind Simon's back, which is both childish and awesome. Olly was tedious with his non-contemporary-contemporary song. Olly wants to concentrate on singing and then have sex with lots of girls, whom HE LIKES. Simon thinks Olly is an ordinary guy and that is why people like him. Well, not THAT much, Cowell. Oops, spoiler! Joe was lovely but dull as always, and he can't believe he got a standing ovation from the judges. Cheryl thinks he has set the ball with a winning performance.

Time for tonight's first special guest - Susan BOYLE. She VTs that she was once lost and lonely. SHE SANG....AND THE WORLD....LISTENED. TONIGHT...THE DREAM....CONTINUES. Hooray! She sings Wild Horses, which is fine, and then tells Dermot that fame is BLOODY FANTASTIC, warning the public to LOOK OUT, which sounds vaguely threatening.


Dermot welcomes us back, thanks us for voting, and tells us the phone lines are now closed. He tells the judges to answer honestly rather than shitly and partisanly, and asks who the best acts were - Dannii says Joe and Stacey, Louis concurs, Cheryl says her own acts, the stupid cow, and Simon opts for Danyl and Joe. Dermot tries to get Dannii to say she's gutted at the possibility of losing Stacey, but she chooses to mock Simon instead. Louis admits that he's worried. Simon doesn't appear to be paying attention or perhaps he's just deaf.

Now time for the second special guest, Mariah CAREY. She has covered I Want To Know What Love Is. Presumably she also Respects The Song, because that is what singers should do. She has a sparkly mic stand of yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay. Shiny pieces of paper fall from the sky. It is like the Crystal Dome. Dermot reveals that they are in fact little butterflies. Mariah mocks Simon, and is generally pretty nice. I miss the Mariah masterclass.


Results! Dermot welcomes back Cheryl and the boys, Dannii and Stacey, Simon and Team Ordinary Humble Blokes, and Louis and John and Edward. The acts singing next week, in no particular order, mark you - Stacey (she and Dannii hug and murmur words of love to each other); Joe (who claps his hands in the gayest way ever); Danyl; and Lloyd.

Heh. So it's Olly versus John and Edward in the sing-off. What way will THIS go? Simon looks appalled. The boys are going to sing No Matter What by Boyzone "because they are a great Irish band and we've got all their records". FROM IRELAND. Olly is going to sing Clapton's Wonderful Tonight, but provides no justification for this decision.

Louis is clearly not shocked but pretends he is anyway, and says that the people booing them are very rude. True. Simon still looks appalled and says Olly must prove why it is right for him to stay in the competition. Louis introduces his act, who are welcomed to the stage with booing, which is really mean. And dear me, John and Edward really can't sing, even by Boyzone's standards, and they look upset, pointing at the audience during the line "No matter what they call us". They attempt two-part harmony, and Louis is singing along. The one who is the weakest singer totally loses the melody and begins singing the harmony line as performed by the backing singers. Simon introduces Olly, who is also relatively rubbish, but he is obviously better vocally than John and Edward, and fortunately there is no gyrating in this particular song to make us want to vomit or bleach our brains.

Dermot asks the judges for their decisions. Simon says that if John and Edward go, he will miss them, but obviously he will save his artist. Cheryl blows kisses to the boys, but saves Olly. Louis can't believe that Olly is in the bottom two and Lloyd is safe, but he's sending Olly home anyway.

So it's down to Dannii, who is frankly magnificent. She asks, "Is it a singing competition that we're voting on? I need to know the answer to make a decision." A marvellous display of snark. Simon either can't hear her or is ignoring her. Dermot whines, "Who are you asking?" Simpleton. [I think he's turning into Louis Walsh. - Steve] She works on the premise that it's a singing contest, and sends home John and Edward.

Dermot tells people to stop booing and to cheer them as we view John and Edward's JOURNEY, during which Louis has loved them, Ronan Keating has looked puzzled at them, Mickey Bubbles deemed them "sweet", NotLouis has given them creative direction on crack, and never once have they sung in tune or danced in time.

They confess that Olly shouldn't have been in the bottom two, and they hope he and Stacey will go all the way to the final. Fnar again. Louis says he feels young again and has had an amazing time with them. Fnar squared.

So that's the end of the road for them. Next week! People will sing two songs, and the judges don't get to make any decisions! Alicia Keys and Rihanna will both perform! And we will be back then!