Sunday, August 30, 2009

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Last week! The X Factor returned with ALL! NEW! auditions in front of an audience. A whole nation thought this change was rubbish! But it's too late to change that now, so onwards we go...

Dermot standing on a podium tells us 'we're still on a quest for the best'. OK, kill me now. We're in Birmingham and there are a LOT of people here. Apparently it made the front page of one of the local papers (which I presume it always does), so they spin that as a big deal for a few moments.

We get some random footage of traffic jams for no reason, then we see the crew setting up, and the first of many shots of a soundman's fingers on the button, as we are reminded that this year there is a BIG CHANGE. There is the usual judges' blah, and Louis says 'every year we wanna find a bigger star than the year before'. Um, OK.

Onto today's first auditionee. 'It's Raining Men' is playing. He's wearing two-tone double denim. He's called Alan. He's 50. He has a big white beard, a cap and a shoulder bag slung across his chest. He sings karaoke. Can you guess where this is going?

Simon asks him where he lives and keeps prodding him for more until the guy gives him actual directions to get there. Simon does a trademark eyeroll. The audience have cue cards marked 'laugh a lot' held up in front of them and it's all so far, so ridiculous. Gah, I hate the audience enough in the live shows, I don't think I can cope with them for all these weeks of auditions as well. He's singing 'No Matter What' in order to get those maximum Louis Walsh points. The backing track starts and... he stands there looking at his watch. I'm guessing he's rehearsed to the CD at home so knows what time he's supposed to come in and hasn't actually thought what it would sound like with a band, but never mind the specifics, feel the comedy LULZ as he forgets to come in! He goes again and is just as bad and Simon says they can't really give him cue cards for the live shows and Alan says 'aw, I see your point, I guess not' and is actually quite gracious about it, really.

Montage of comedy people being 'wacky' in the waiting room.

A woman from Hungary (whose name I don't get because my signal blips) and loves England is up next. We see Dannii and Cheryl's confused faces so we know this is our cue to welcome a comedy foreign accented performance! She sings Shakira's 'Underneath Your Clothes' and it's as bad as you would expect. Simon and Cheryl ham up having giggles for the camera.

Beyonce's 'Crazy in Love' backs up some more people who are, you know, crazy.

A big truck driver guy, Andrew, blathers about having angels on his side and squeaks out 'A Little Respect', which is at least better than going down the obvious Sarah McLachlan/Robbie Williams route. A group of hippies called 'Children of the Earth' chant (and I strongly suspect they are here to take the piss but you never can tell). Simon and Louis pull faces.

Louis VTs that they've never had a winner from Birmingham and they're not going to have a winner this year.

But what's this I can see coming round the corner? Is it someone great who will turn the day around?

Erm, no, actually. It's a skinny bloke called Simon who looks very nervous and has family backstage. He asks 'can I sing 'On Top of the World' for you?' and Simon says 'do you have to?' And Simon goes 'yes please' in a way that kind of makes me want to give him a big hug and pull him off the stage as fast as possible before the inevitable happens. Apparently he's 30 - but looks a good five or six years older. The years, they have not been kind - unlike the judges, actually, who give him the no verdict in a very straightforward and not-at-all harsh manner. Well, well.

The judges carp some more about how rubbish Birmingham is and Cowell tells us it has a 'yellow card warning' - but apparently it's not as bad as Yorkshire seeing as the bad auditions in Sheffield and Leeds quickly got them struck off the rota. [

Ads. That 'Back to the 90s' dance album with Corona, 2Unlimited etc on which would make an amazing theme week please ta.

The auditions have "now" "moved" to London and Lady GaGa implores us to dance. But hark! What is this musical cue I hear? Why it's Electric Six's 'Danger! High Voltage! and we have a man all in leather! His name is Behrouz and he looks very much like Chico with better hair. [Ha, is the line I took over at the esteemed Grauniad last night. - Carrie] He wants to be 'the sun, because there is only one sun'. Heh. [OH. I was hearing it as "son" and thinking he was, like, the Son of God or something. - Carrie] Louis asks 'what age are you?' and he says 29, and my word, the men on this show are not in the least bit well-preserved. He's from Persia (isn't that Iran? Or am I being geographically/politically thick?). He's doing 'Take Your Mama' and starts with an 'oh-wo-wo-wo' waily bit. The editors pull out the usual 'judges r teh shocked!' stock faces from their archive, and can I just point out Dannii is working a dark brown bob-type haircut which looks very nice. Well done, madam. He struts about and is very showy and Chico-y and it isn't as out of tune as some but it's still completely cabaret. He gender-changes some of the words though, which is always wrong. The audience love him, but I'm not surprised - he's probably the most entertaining person they've seen all day. Now here is where we should see the judges tell him he's very entertaining but he's not right for the next stage. If Mrs O was here, of course, she'd not only put him through to Boot Camp, she'd take him to the bloody finals. Anyway, Louis, Dannii and Cheryl all say yes, and this will not be the last time we see this happen tonight. Whoops, spoiler.

Montage of the judges changing outfits every five seconds and everyone apart from Simon losing their marbles and putting through some truly sub-standard acts who are clearly Day One of Boot Camp fodder, so even though them getting through annoyed me, they won't be here long enough for it to really matter, so let's move along. (I do hate how this section is supposed to make us be all 'boo! Simon!' though when it's clear that none of these people are in any way talented, so it just made me hate the other three instead. Clearly they just had quotas to make up.) [Reason number 46892 why the live auditions are a bad idea: it just encourages the likes of Cheryl "National Treasure" Cole and Louis "No Fucking Clue" to play to the crowd and put shit people through. I'd expect better of Dannii, so I'll just assume she was drunk. - Steve]

Our next auditionee is a smiley 21-year old from Trinidad and Tobago, called Rozelle, and she used to watch the show on YouTube over there. Hello ITV/Syco lawyers, are they alowed to say such things on telly? [I dunno - if the show isn't being shown on any network over there and there are no plans to do so, then technically she's not robbing anyone of their advertising revenue by doing so? I'm not sure it'd stand up in court, but that's how I look at these things. Besides, this show's far too in love with its own overinflated reputation that they're probably just thrilled people in Trinidad and Tobago want to watch it in the first place. - Steve] She's doing it for her grandma, apparently, who isn't dead, which is a bit rubbish, but at least lives OVERSEAS. She has the cutest, biggest smile ever, and beams as she comes on stage. Awww. CUE MIXING DESK SHOTS! She's singing 'One Night Only' by Jennifer Hudson, which is who she looks quite a bit like. The judges already love her. As if we were expecting anything else, she's very good, and there's this really cute bit at the start where the audience start cheering her and she beams and blushes without losing the thread of the song. The audience go mental which is annoying when you want to hear her sing. Anyway, she blubs a bit and we get 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough' on the soundtrack as usual.

The judges try to speak but the audience are too damn loud, which is bad enough in the finals. The audience = haaate. Anyway, Louis gets in an obligatory 'you're what this show is all about' and an 'a million percent yes'. Dannii goes for 'you give me goosebumps' and Cheryl opts for the boring 'definitely yes' so automatically falls behind on the war of the cliche. Simon talks about her making her grandma proud and she's very excited. [Um. She's really not THAT good. She's decent, but her voice veers between a proper belt and a yodel. American Idol wouldn't put up with this shit. - Carrie] [Agreed. I thought she was a bit iffy, tune-wise, in places, but she was at least one of the standouts in a pretty dreadful episode.. - Steve]

Ads. Is Wii Sports Resort any good?

Welcome back, where the judges are all 'waiting for one thing' and wouldn't you just know it? They're moaning about the groups (or as Cheryl calls them, the bands - oh Cheryl, if they actually let bands with instruments and suchlike in, they might stand a chance, but anyway).

Meet... The Stunners. Cue shot of a felt-tipped pen sign, that record-abruptly-stopping sound-effect and a close-up on two girls' grey jumpers. The camera pans out to reveal two very, very normal looking fairly young girls, Lisa and Zoe, and this is all just so horribly distasteful. I mean, the band name choice wasn't inspired, I grant you, but they're hardly hideous - just average. They tell us they're called The Stunners because they're beautiful and I really, really hope they have a great sense of humour.

When Louis asks their name, there's a predictable deadpan 'oh'. Simon asks who they want to be like. One of them says Whitney and Mariah, the other Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera. Simon says they're not short on ambition. Unsurprisingly, they are short on talent. Simon says some nonsense about he can understand how they found each other as it's hard to find someone as bad as you (?). They provide us with an obligatory storm-off and giving-the-finger moment.

Some guys who work on a checkout (which always=fail) can't sing 'Reach'. Montage of bad groups - mostly duos. Have these people learned nothing from the last five series? One boy blames his singing partner for living in Ireland. Heh.

Guess what, everyone, the groups aren't measuring up. But lo, here are a group that have come to save the day, and to prove the point, 'About You Now' plays in the background. Meet girl group Misfits - starring Gemma/Jemma who apparently got to Simon's judges' house category in 1996 [Um, what? - Carrie] although I don't really remember her. She has a cute cropped hairdo now and Simon says 'you were on the show before, yeah?' She says yes, in Leona's year. Simon says 'unlucky for you'.

They're going to sing a Britney song 'with a twist' (and they're actually called Miss Fitz. I'm not sure about the name yet). They sing 'Toxic' in a cod-swing arrangement and I hate those arrangements - surely, surely they've been done to death now? That said, it works fine and they look and sound pretty good - like the Sugababes on a good single day. Cheryl declares them her favourite girl band (ever? What about Girls Aloud?). Simon likes them because they didn't do a Girls Aloud/Sugababes/Spice Girls song ('which is so pointless'). Needless to say, they're through. They go through the back and hug each other and Dermot looks all woobie-like when they ignore him, and demands he joins in. Aww. By the way, a fierce middle-aged women duo also got through and were fabulous, but I think that must have been on The Xtra Factor as it wasn't on the repeat. Anyway, I loved them.

Ad bumper - some competition to identify the song some people are singing, which we all know as 'Hero' because they released that song on this very same show last year and rammed soldier grief porn down our throats, as if we have forgotten.

Welcome back to London - although I don't recall us leaving. The judges are hopeful, so here comes along Daryl who's about 45ish (but is apparently 40. Seriously, what is WITH the men on this thing tonight?) and dreams of performing in front of an audience. He comes on stage and tells us he was going to audition last year, but it was his brother's wedding... and then his brother died. Cue the piano music of tragedy. Daryl promised his brother he'd look after his boy, although I assume this doesn't mean become his sole carer, even though the show is spinning it that way. I could be wrong. It was about time we had someone with a sibling WHO IS DEAD, though I'm still holding out for a dead child next series for the ultimate grief porn experience.

He sings 'I Don't Wanna Talk About It', which is essentially the go-to record for men in the over 25s category, and should therefore be banned from the list of options. He sounds like Steve Brookstein and is perfectly boot camp passable, but because he has a brother WHO IS DEAD, we'll see him in the top 12, with Danyl, which could be confusing. Dannii says some people go on stage and give us good sob story everyone's for them. Louis said he thought he'd be bad because he was nervous, but he loved his voice. Cheryl just about manages to make herself cry. And as he is tonight's anointed, he gets Leona as his exit music. Cue the audience going ballistic and the stage manager shoving his (very cute) nephew on to give him a hug. Even Louis pretends to get in on the crying act.

Daryl seems like a nice bloke, his nephew is gorgeous and having your brother die in his 30s like that is a horrible, horrible thing to experience, but even so, this show has just automatically made me hate him. Sorry Daryl, it's not personal. (NB This is the second time I've watched this and I got really excited when Daryl came on because the sob story always = the end of the show, even though I saw it last night, so I should have remembered there was more of this to come. Bah.)

Montage of over 25s who say it's their last chance.

Here comes 33 year old Jamie from London, who has a ridiculously big afro and a terrible brown leather jacket. I hate him already. Montage of over-25s getting the no vote. U2's 'One' plays as Jamie gives us all the 'now or never' cliches. His name is Jamie Archer, but everyone knows him as Jamie Afro. *Sigh*. Simon asks why it hasn't worked out and he says because he's a musician, not a businessman and doesn't know how to make it (Simon could suggest he did his research, but whatever). He's singing 'Sex on Fire' and, damn it, he's good. It's a refreshing change to hear a song like this amongst the usual schlock - recent, upbeat, rocky - especially when it's done well. Damn him, damn him to hell. That said, he isn't as good as he thinks he is (hello Ashley and Tabby) but he's still a shoo-in for judges' houses at least - possibly not the finals, as Daryl and Danyl are already in the running and we haven't had any good women over 25 yet. The crowd get really excited. He then gives a tedious Freddie Mercury pose because he thinks the song's over when it isn't. Ha. Then it ends and he does the same pose. So, I'm torn with this one. He sang pretty well (better than Daryl/Danyl anyway, both of whom I've decided to hate already), he chose a great song, but he's a cock. Probably perfect rock star material, then. X Factor winner material? Notsomuch.

The judges love him, and Louis calls him James. Hahahahahaha. [So did Simon. I'm assuming that's what was on his original audition form. - Steve]

Louis gives him 150% yes, which is much less than the million percent he gave Daryl and Rozelle. Simon gives him 'two and a half thousand yeses' (um?). Cheryl, as throughout the show, refuses to play in the game of ridiculous percentages and just says yes, and as much as I wasn't keen on her in series one, if she continues to act this way, I'll approve.

Next week: everyone sucks, apparently. Oh, and a couple who've split up go on stage to sing together, which could be interesting.

1 comment:

Fiz said...

I thought last night was dire beyond words and wondered why the judges put any one though. The whole thing was a POS. If it doesn't pick up fast, I won't watch it any more.