Tuesday, September 29, 2009

It's a man's world

Bootcamp: Day Two Broadcast 27 September 2009

Welcome back! Yesterday 200 people were back for Boot Camp and then were whittled down to 50! Considering the quality of many of them, they probably could have whittled them down to 50 in the first place and saved all the hassle. Anyway, tonight we see the final 24 and the judges find out which category they'll be mentoring, even though it was leaked all over the internet weeks ago.

We're back in London, as ever, and sadly, we are still faced with more boring live performances. I miss the boot camps of yore when they had to interpret a song in a wacky way in a studio or hotel. At least it *looked* more interesting than the same kind of stage we've seen all through the auditions and will see all through the live shows (minus NotLouis' artistic direction, mind you).

First up is Behrouz, our token Chico/Icaro contestant, but in the absence of Sharon Osbourne, will he get any further? He babbles some nonsense about The X Factor being once in a lifetime, which the likes of, ooh, last year's winner, might disagree with. Anyway, he gruffvoices through the opening of 'Purple Rain', then goes into a really weird high moany bit, and let's just say he's no Ruth Lorenzo. Nor is he through.

Treyc of the terrible spelling is up next, and guess what? She has a job WHICH IS SHIT. She sings 'Ben', which seems to be a very odd choice for anyone that isn't a prepubescent boy, but as we all know from last year, Simon seems to like it, and she does a servicable job.

Some woman who looks a bit like Claudia Winkleman also tried to do a Lorenzo (can we have Ruth's solo album yet?) and is better then Behrouz, but fairly unmemorable. A 16 year old called Lloyd does 'You are Not Alone' but I'm not sure we're likely to have two blond 16-year olds in a row getting to the final 12.

Kandy Rain put their best Hope-esque clothes on and sing Oasis's 'Stop Crying Your Heart Out'. Kudos for the song choice, but I still find them unremarkable. Some girl with big hair sings 'And I Am Telling You', which is this year's 'Falling' and I am so, so over it.

Dermot tells us that backstage, everyone is nervous and doesn't want their dream to end - we are reminded that 17 year old Dominic got to the judges' houses a couple of years ago, until Dannii stamped on his dreams. He sings a very weird version of 'Last Request'. His tone of voice is OK, but his rhythm, timing and breathing are all over the place. Louis says he's trying too hard and Dannii says she likes what he tried to do with the song. Note the 'tried'.

Ads. OK, I get that the neon rainbow song is fitting for the visuals and all, TalkTalk, but I'm beginning to hate it now. Oh, and a special mention for the Dell 'Lollipop' ad, which is my mum's pet hate. Not that she debases herself enough to watch The X Factor. I am such a disappointment.

Welcome back, and here we have hastily cobbled together girlband Miss Frank (which suggests to me that poor old Miss Fitz are out of the door). I like the girls themselves, they seem nice and they look good together, but this performance of 'Wishing on a Star' is a hot fried mess. The judges lap it up, though, as they always do with their cobbled together groups. Simon is the only one with a vague sense of being the voice of reason, which is not unusual. To be fair, there's potential here, but at the moment they're really not good. At risk of repeating myself, let's just sack off the groups next time and have younger men, younger women, older men and older women instead. I haven't seen one group this year even vaguely capable of winning.

Someone called Thomas who we may or may not have seen before screws up 'Holding Back the Years' and I at least appreciate that we are seeing more people than usual. A 'vocal coach' called Ivy Chanel (great name) fluffs 'Hurt'. It looked like she might have had a cool back tattoo but ITV Player died when I tried to rewind it and see, so I can't tell you whether that was true or not. Scott, the guy with autism from last week, also fluffs his words and Simon quite sweetly tells him not to be too upset as lots of people have done the same thing. It won't help his chances, mind.

Next up is Rikki, who I've decided is my one to hate on this year, although I don't know if my fellow Bitchers feel the same. [Yep. - Carrie] He is wearing a hat, HSM fans! Oh, and some dreadful shorts, and leaning against a piano and singing 'Chasing Pavements' and he screeches his way through it. Haaaaaaaaaaaate. He cries about his poorly throat and it's so hard to give a fuck, I'm afraid. [Particularly as he has no problem with actually talking and projecting. - Carrie] AND he has evil eyebrows.

More blinking ads. Sigh.

Next up, we have Olly, who is shown posing in a street wearing shoes but no socks. This isn't Miami Vice, you know, fella. They're playing the music from The Sweeney for no discernible reason, unless he is also someone who likes to write the theemtoon and sing the theemtoon. He's singing 'Your Song' and it's fine. I'm just relieved that Rikki is off my screen so anyone else is an improvement, to be honest.

ITV Player has crashed yet again. If this recap doesn't reach you until Friday, this will be the reason why.

Um, OK, this is weird, but ITV Player seems to put the ads in different places each time, so whatever happened between Olly and now will never be recapped. I'm guessing we didn't miss much though.

A male duo resembling Journey South also sing 'Last Request' and will never be heard from again. Harmony Hood, who were bouncing around in their first audition sing a somewhat subdued 'With or Without You' and I miss the energy of their earlier performance. A young boy (the boy with the tag?) sings 'You are Not Alone' and mouthy girl group Plan A (or Project A? I daren't rewind), who've been on The Xtra Factor a lot sing a reasonable 'Rise'. Stacey McLean who was in S Club Juniors wants it 110%. Wrong show. On this show it's a million percent or nothing. She also sings 'With or Without You' and it's a little screechy but generally fine. Oh, guess what, nobody wants it more than our next contestant. It's Jamie Archer (apparently Jamie Afro is even too naff a name for this show) who was a sickhead last time but gave a decent performance. At 34 this is his last chance, apparently, despite all the 80 year olds we get. He is ALSO doing 'With or Without You'. I get that they've probably only given them a handful of songs to sing, but they could have spaced the choices out throughout the show. He's perfectly fine and is a shoo-in for judges' houses and the live shows. I still don't like him as a person much but have no major issues with his singing, at least not compared to most others on this show. The judges love him.

19-year-old Stacey does a reasonable version of 'There You'll Be' - I think she could do well. Her voice falters a bit but it's generally nice and she seems popular personality-wise. Perhaps I spoke too soon - Dannii and Simon are unconvinced.

Next up is one of the anointed ones, teacher Danyl. Everyone went nuts about him first time round except me (and possibly my fellow Bitchers), but he's alright, I suppose. He's doing 'Holding Back the Years' and starting with a 1, 2, 3 and some boomboxing is not a way to win my heart, fella. Can I get a trying too hard with all the weirdness of these verses? It's all over the place and ridiculously affected, like he's thrown every r'n'b singer cliche in all at once. When he eventually starts singing the chorus, it's alright, but he needs to change his bad habits before I'm convinced. Simon says, 'You didn't ever consider singing the melody of that song, did you?' Louis says, 'He's a little over-confident for me,' and Simon says, 'A little?' Ha. Also: is it pronouced Danill or Daniel? The show doesn't seem to know. He fake cries to the camera about how he'd let so many people down if he didn't get there (unlike his classes who he might let down if he does get there, eh, Beverley?).

Shots of the judges arriving in some very dodgy looking back alley. Mmm, attractive. Louis says there are some acts he loves and some acts Simon hates (that creepy blond McDougall Brothers meet Rhydian meet the seventh circle of hell duo, perhaps?). Simon gets a much funkier car than anyone else.

They are choosing on some weird computer thing rather than using photos which would make marginally more sense if they'd used it all the way through, but hey, a new gimmick is a new gimmick so I'll try to get on board. They look at the boys first and we get a rather serviceable recap of them with the judges commenting on each, and with us seeing which comments go with which contestant some of the time. I approve. Unfortunately, I really can't face recapping all of the recaps of all of the categories, especially as we pretty much know who's going through anyway. Interestingly, they spend longer on the boys and over-25 men than any of the others. In fact, I'm not even sure they talked about any 25+ women in this bit. Guess this year's pre-ordained winner will be a man, eh, people? Judging by these recaps and the brevity of time dedicated to the category, it won't be sixth time lucky for the groups. Cheryl looks rather bored during the whole thing.

Dead Brother Daryl is on stage with some people we've never heard of. Things don't look good for him... they're not through, and he's upset because no-one wanted it more than him. No-one. Got that, all the people further up the page trying to make the same claim? Next up: Jamie Afro, the lady with the dead dad, Stacey SClub and Olly, although Louis tells us putting them through wasn't a unanimous decision. Single Mum Stacey, Rikki, Miss Frank, Treyc and some random are also through. Harmony Hood and a random group are out. More randoms and the two girls who were vaguely Leona-esque the other week are also out. Scott and more randoms = out, but Simon tells Scott he 'did great' and has 'grown as a person' so, y'know, that's makes everything alright, doesn't it? He gets to shake the judges' hands and kiss Cheryl unlike these other anonymous losers. More randoms go home, but Project A and Kandy Rain are through to recreate the stunning success of the girl groups in days gone by.

'Comeback Contestant' Dominic (whoops, wrong show) is on stage with some randoms. Hard luck, kid. Dannii looks like she might cry and the producers make him go to her for a hug, which seems a bit uncomfortable. Cheryl then hugs Dannii to stop more evil tabloid rumours, and Dannii cries. Aww. They force the poor kid in front of the camera and he's not composed enough to speak. Oh noes! Fit Ethan is on stage with some no-marks. Many people weep. And then they go through. Colour me shocked. The scary blonde boy duo, Daniel OTV, the Rihanna-lookalike Rachel and the other boy duo are all through. However Louis will choose which boy duo will go on to the starry heights of the McDonald Brothers and Journey South, I don't know. Simon hates the creepy blond duo and can't look at them. Heh.

The young guy from earlier who may or may not be the kid with the tag (I hope someone can clarify for me) and lots of anonymous people are out, including what looks like a duo of middle-aged black men in leather waistcoats. Who were THEY? Behrouz and some more girl groups are out. Sharon Osbourne weeps. Behrouz creepily hangs around in the theatre and Simon asks Louis to tell him when he's gone. Brrr. Unfortunately, Danyl is through, as if we ever doubted it, as are TruColourz, who I love because they said they were good enough for this show, but whom we haven't seen too much of. Hmm, could there be a sensational reason for this by any chance? (Whoops, spoilers). A couple of girls whose names I probably should know but don't are through and so is Lloyd, who actually looks a bit like Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys < /contemporary cultural reference >.

Next: the judges find out who they're mentoring. Cheryl, Dannii and Simon are thrilled. Louis lookd defeated and gives some half-hearted fighting talk about how he hopes he can best Simon (note: not WIN). Guess which category he's been lumped with again, everyone... [Also, Cheryl says "the proof is in the pudding", which causes me to scream at her for a full minute, because that is NOT THE PHRASE, dammit. - Steve]

Dermot tells us who everyone is whoch is handy for people like me with the memory of a sieve: The girls are Stacey McLean, Despina Pilavitaz, Nicole Jackson, Stacey Soloman, Rachel Adeji and Lucie Jones, apparently. Three of these people have been featured more than the other three. I'm just sayin'. Although Despina has to get through for her name alone, surely? The boys are: Duane Lamonte, Rikki Loney, Ethan Boroian, Joseph McElderry, Lloyd Daniels and Daniel Fox. One of these people is a shoo-in, and it's the one I don't want. The Over 25s: Jamie Archer, Nicole Lawrence, Treyc Cohen, Danyl Johnson, Olly Murs and Daniel Pearce (whom the ITV website calls Danyl as well. Oops). It's a good year to be called Daniel, Nicole or Stacey, huh? The groups: Kandy Rain, Tru Colourz, John and Edward, Miss Frank, Project A and De Tour. Not a promising category by any means.

Cheryl won last year and is going to win this year. Louis is sick of the other judges winning. Dannii has won before and wants to win again. Simon wants to win because when he wins, they win big. Tell that to Steve Brookstein.

TruColourz don't want Louis. Stacey S wants Dannii because she's lovely. Tru Colourz and Stacey S for the win! Simon has the over 25s. Everyone is happy. He has a really big hole in the shoulder of his jumper, despite being a multimillionaire. Skeffy get. He says, 'This could be a fantastic year for me. I mean them.' Heh. He seems on better form tonight. Cheryl gets the boys. Louis gets shafted by the producers again and gets the groups for a fourth time. I mean, I don't like the guy, and I'm glad they didn't make Dannii suffer with the groups, but this actually seems a bit mean. Damn you, show, you're making me feel sorry for Louis Walsh, and that should never happen. I assume normal service will be resumed come the live shows. Dannii thus has the girls, which would be good but a girl won last year and there must never be a winner from the same category twice in a row, as we all know. Louis tells Simon and Cheryl he got the groups and they burst out laughing. When Dannii greets the girls they all rush to hug her and Rachel falls over, which is very funny. When the other judges tell Dannii what they've got. She gives Louis a shocked 'Nooo! What did you say to them?!' Poor The Groups. Forever a laughing stock.

Next week - judges' houses! Kylie! Sinitta! Will Young! Hooray! Louis gets to leave Dublin! Booo!

Booty call

Boot Camp: Part 1
TX: 26th September 2009

Has someone considered putting the editors of this show on medication for attention deficit disorder? I mean, there are other ways of creating tension quickly beyond intercutting lots of different shots of totally random shit, y'know.

Previously on The X Factor: A load of shit, quite frankly. Seriously, it's not easy to get excited about boot camp when the majority of this year's auditionees barely even registered in my brain. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Boot camp this year is at the Hammersmith Apollo, which seems disappointingly low-rent. I mean, I've been there. It's nice enough, if you enjoy having to bring a spatula to scrape your shoes off the floor every time you want to move. E4 voiceover chap says that the stakes have never been higher, which is followed by Simon saying "someone on this stage is going to win The X Factor". So the stakes are, in fact, precisely as high as they have always been, no more and no less. Stupid show. Over the course of the show, we will be whittling 200 acts down to 24. Take a seat, bitches, because shit is GOING DOWN. Titles!

London. A small green creature is living inside Dermot's shirt - at least, that's the most sensible conclusion I can draw from the mysterious flash of colour below his neck and the presence of a slight bulge. Perhaps it is warm and moist down there. I wouldn't know. The remaining 200 are taken through Beautiful London (not Cardiff on a coach, and I have to say, I always find the nice rounded number of contestants who make it to boot camp deeply at odds with the alleged spontaneity of the audition process. Afro Jamie is excited, as is Stacey S. The contestants arrive at Hammersmith, where there is a sense of excitement in the air, we are told.

The lucky 200 gather on stage and await the judges. Said judges are on their way to the venue in individual cars (I think it's about time this show reduced its carbon footprint, quite frankly. If cycling is good enough for Boris Johnson, I'm sure it's good enough for National Treasure Cheryl Cole) and witter on about how this will be the BEST! BOOT CAMP! EVER! Oh, please. I decide to cash in my one complimentary statement about Louis per series and remark that his hair is looking quite good at this precise moment in time - it's quite short, but not severely so, and rather suits him. Cheryl is wearing so much makeup I'm surprised the extra weight hasn't snapped her neck.

The judges arrive, and Simon welcomes the contestants to boot camp. He has a good feeling about this lot (just as 'I Gotta Feeling' lines up on the soundtrack) and asks if the contestants know what they're in for. Hilariously, there follows a muddled chorus of both "yes!" and "no!" Simon tells them that they don't, and passes it over to Dannii, who informs the contestants that they will form themselves into teams, with each team consisting of three acts. Cheryl adds that the only rule is that each person must take a lead vocal. Louis's appearance here is apparently surplus to requirements. Just for a change.

The contestants get to it. Afro Jamie earns himself some early scorn by wondering who he'll get in his "band". Dermot tells us that they have to pick a song and start practising, and when the night falls, his lonely heart calls. Er, sorry, that last bit should read "the pressure is on to be ready in time".

The next day, the judges prepare to hack down 200 acts to just 50. Each team will perform for the judges (and in front of their rivals), and some members will progress, while others will be sent home immediately. There is footage that accompanies Dermot's narration that some people will end their X Factor journeys very quickly, but given that at least one person is walking towards the Apollo with his suitcase, it kind of fails.

One team consists of It Takez 2, Just Du-et (*sadcries*) and somebody who may be called Alicia. We are reminded that It Takez 2 almost didn't make it past their first audition. They are singing 'Breakeven' by The Script as a team, and it is horrendous. The performance, I mean. I already knew the song was horrendous. There's a "comedy" flashback to Simon's chat in the car about the level of talent this year (seriously - we all know the levels of talent this year are embarrassingly low, you don't need to draw our attention to it), and then a layered harmony is missed spectacularly. Poor Alicia/Alesha/Aleycia/Felicia/whatever her name is doesn't even get showcased, though perhaps it's for the best. Cheryl covers her ears. Simon brings the whole sorry mess to an overdue end. "It was awful," says Cheryl. Louis tells Aleeeeyshia she did a good job putting herself in the middle of two terrible groups. The crowd sort of boo this backhanded compliment, though their general confusion over whether they should or not is quite funny. Simon asks if she did it deliberately. "Yes," she replies, and the room applauds her. [I loved Simon's admiration of her total hardheadedness. And the way It Takez 2's faces dropped as they realised they'd been thoroughly stitched up. - Carrie] The judges vote, and It Takez 2 and Du-et are sent home, but presumably Alicia stays.

Alistair, William Tackie (21, unemployed) and an unseen third act are flat (and occasionally sharp, but never natural) on 'I'll Be There'. Some other people are shit, so much so that we are not told who they are. Oh good, I'm glad that tradition is continuing. Lord knows the auditions were so monotonous this year, I ain't gonna recognise any faces. Some people manage to sing 'Hot 'n' Cold' more ineptly than Katy Perry does. Despite the rules we were told earlier, Amie Buck appears to be in a group of two, and struggles with the lyrics to Jennifer Hudson's 'Spotlight'. How utterly surprising, because it's not like this happened at her first audition. So glad we've wasted so much time on her. NEXT!

In a much-needed break, Simon wonders if it's going to get better. Louis reasons it can't possibly get any worse. Oh, I wouldn't be so sure of that.

Adverts. Finally! I need a drink.

Shots of Piccadilly Circus, immediately juxtaposed with Hammersmith. What is this, The Apprentice? Dermot informs us that the contestants have been asked to perform in the judges, and I quote, "in groups of two or three". Which is categorically not what Dannii said at the top of the show. Hoping they can turn things around (where have we heard that before?) are Graziella, and two people called Shaniece (21, hairdresser) and Shar (24, recruitment consultant), whom I can't find any previous record of. They talk of how they rehearsed all night, and we're reminded that Graziella wants to change her life. Don't we all, darling. They're singing 'That's Life', which is apparently "cool" and "different", according to Simon. Shar's pretty good, if a little scratchy, and the same applies to Shaniece. Personally I think Graziella sounds dreadful, but the judges all nod and make approving smiles, so apparently I am wrong. Cheryl tells them that she loves them all individually, but wishes they were a group after seeing them together. The judges deliberate, and they're all through.

Wouldn't you know it? Those three girls have turned the tide and now suddenly things are looking up. This is, of course, in no way a storytelling method that's been overused by the producers and which bears little resemblance to reality as we know it. Lucie, who is from a village WHICH IS SMALL [though is apparently practically part of Beautiful Cardiff - Rad], goes through, as do some more faceless people, and Shitty Arse Bloody Kandy Fucking Rain, who suck some more, but are through, yet more faceless people, Joe who is FROM THE NORTH EAST lest we forget, and who will continue, and some more people I can't even be bothered to try and look up, and then Jamie Fucking Afro, who screeches and is told by Simon that he is a good singer.

Oh Christ on a bike, next up are John and Edward (see previous link), The Puppini Sisters Miss Fitz and someone called Sian Paley, who is possibly new. We are reminded of John and Edward's ghastly audition - they claim they have taken on the judges' comments, but I am sure they have not. Sian has enjoyed working with them, and wants them all to get through. Sian is so doomed, I bet you. John and Edward decide to do a bit, where only one of them walks on stage, prompting Dannii and Louis to ask where "The Other One" is, only for said Other One to emerge from the wings and flip onto the stage. How very lovely. They are singing 'Apologise', and John and Edward have added to their shitty singing with some shitty dancing, then they forget their words. Miss Fitz (who appear to have shed a member somewhere along the way) and Sian both cope fine, but it is obvious that John and Edward are way out of their depth. But they are FROM IRELAND, so they'll be fine. Simon, of course, decides to pick on Sian and tell her she "became invisible", because she committed the cardinal sin of coming in on time, singing in tune and not looking like a twat. Sian protests that John and Edward sang over her, and over Miss Fitz, and how this was not what they'd rehearsed. John or Edward makes some bullshitty excuse and is booed, and Simon tells them that they've put Sian at a massive disadvantage. For fuck's sake: how, exactly? They put themselves at a disadvantage by BEING SHIT, and perhaps if there was someone on the panel with the sense they were born with, they would be pointing this out right now, and would probably have actually been listening to Sian in the first place. God, one of these days I swear this fucking show is going to give me an ulcer. Shitwit Louis thinks the boys have got potential and that people will like them. Simon disagrees. So who goes through? As if you can't fucking guess: Sian is dismissed, but takes it on the chin. Incidentally, during the deliberation, Louis refers to John and Edward as "innocent children", which may challenge "the poor boy's blind" as the most idiotic thing he has ever said. Sian goes outside and has a little sniffle with Dermot. The other two acts are both through, of course. THIS FUCKING SHOW. John and Edward run around the building whooping, and appear to interrupt Sian being interviewed. "Good timing, guys," notes Sian. [Thank fuck my DVR chose to malfunction during that whole section as I think I would have vomited - Rad]

After the break, we're finally coming to the end of the first challenge. Treyc and Olly are through. Shanna and William are next - Shanna goes through, William does not. And with that, we're down to 100. But there are only 50 places left, remember - so the judges now have to do another entirely arbitrary elimination. The editors do TENSION again in that headache-inducing way. The contestants sit outside and sob, as they are wont to do. The sequence goes on for ages, and essentially defies recapping since so little of substance is said (though in fairness, when isn't that true on this show?), so I'll skip over it.

The acts are divided up and sent into four different rooms. Room 1 has Danyl in it, so it's obviously a yes for them. They all lose their shit and mob the judges. Oh God, John and Edward are in that room too. Room 2 contains Graziella, but the people in this room are being sent home. Cue lots of hugs from Dermot. Shar and Shaniece are out too, incidentally. Room 3's inhabitants are also sent home, weepy weepy weepy. That leaves Room 4, who are obviously through. This room contains Ethan, Lloyd and Miss Fitz. Then, suddenly, there is A SHOCK TWIST: Shar, Shaniece and Graziella are called in to see the judges and told that if they form a group they can be in the top 50. They accept, of course, but what if they had said no? Would it have been a top 49 instead? The Top 50 all celebrate together, oh happy day. We then get a trailer informing us that after the break, the remaining 50 acts will battle for a place in the top 24. I think we could've worked that out for ourselves.

Returning from the break, we're given a recap of what we saw five minutes ago. I assume this was for the benefit of people who'd suddenly switched over from Strictly Come Dancing. The next challenge is for them to pick from a list of 25 songs, and then deliver the performance of a lifetime in front of an audience of 4,000. Joe, who is FROM THE NORTH-EAST, remember, is singled out as feeling the pressure of bootcamp, though I'm fairly sure this applies to everyone. That's just FYI, scriptwriters. Indeed, we are reminded that Joe is FROM THE NORTH-EAST and that Cheryl is also FROM THE NORTH-EAST and therefore they have COMMON GROUND. Joe says that he wants this very much because singing is his life.

Joe takes to the stage and is engaged in conversation by Dannii, who clearly has some nerve in doing so because they do not SHARE A REGIONAL BACKGROUND, but Joe seems willing to let that pass. Joe sings 'Praying For Time' by George Michael, which Simon warns him is a toughie. It makes Joe sound very lispy, and his voice is a bit weedy in places, but the performance is right enough, and the crowd go nuts at the end, like there was ever any doubt. Louis and Dannii love him, though Simon thinks he's a year or two away from being properly ready.

The performances continue - Nicole Jackson's bluesy version of 'Stop Crying Your Heart Out' is not to my taste, but the judges seem to like it. Ethan sings 'Last Request' and continues to be telegenic. Mercedes from Glee - sorry, Rozelle sings 'And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going', apparently in a quest to perform the entire songbook of Dreamgirls before her time on the show is up. She's dreadful, but Cheryl is smiling. Daniel Fox sings a nastily affected version of 'With Or Without You' which makes him go very red in the face. Cheryl doesn't get it, and I can't believe I'm actually saying this, but: word, Cheryl.

We are reminded that Lucie is from a VILLAGE WHICH IS SMALL and this is her big chance. She sings 'Hurt' (Christina Aguilera, not Johnny Cash, just to clarify), and I kind of preferred it when Phoebe Hope sang it, though she does have a nice voice. Simon and Cheryl think Lucie is good at ballads but no use at uptempo songs, and "you can't do ballads every week". Oh, pull the other one.

Next up is Rachel, who is scared, because she wants to win, so today's performance has to be good. I for one am glad she has explained the workings of this deeply complicated show to me. She sings 'Last Request' and it sounds rather lovely, and since I can actually see myself getting excited about her, I assume she will not be making it to the live shows. Simon admires her song choice, but doesn't think she displayed her true capabilities with that performance. Duane is on next, and seems to do quite well. TruColourz, of "good enough for this show" fame, are next and not that great, but they've been kicked out for being lying liars who lie, so it doesn't really matter now anyway. Daryl sings 'Red' and is all right, and then Daniel from One True Voice tries 'Purple Rain' but is obviously no Ruth Lorenzo.

More adverts! Are we nearly there yet, Dad? (Who is NOT DEAD, I hope, since he is apparently driving.)

Dermot tells us that only half the remaining acts can make it through to the final 24 (again, why? Just put the best ones through, regardless of where they sit in the running order, dammit). 31 year old care worker Nicole, whose FATHER IS DEAD, got a no from Simon at her first audition. We are told lots about her father, WHO IS DEAD, and how a large hole was left in her life WHEN HE DIED, and how he would be so proud of her now IF ONLY HE WERE NOT DEAD, BUT HE IS DEAD. DEAD, DO YOU HEAR? She is also singing 'And I Am Telling You', a song which I honestly never need to hear again in my entire life [but which you will, in, oooh, an episode's time or so. Oops, spoilers - Rad], and which I don't really feel I can make objective judgements any more because every version I hear just sounds brash and entirely lacking in subtlety, so let's just say she sings and leave it at that. She gets a standing ovation for her troubles, although not from me. Cheryl confuses volume with emotion when evaluating the performance.

And that's it! Rad will be here with the concluding part of boot camp surely.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

This week's recaps: delayed a bit, sorry.

Hello everyone! Due to the unfortunate circumstances of there being approximately eleventy billion hours of reality TV this weekend, your Bitching team has found itself a little overstretched, so this week's recaps will be a bit delayed. Don't worry, they're on their way, but they may be a couple of days later than usual. Sorry about that.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Tag! Who's It?

Tx: 20th September 2009

Over the last few weeks, people have sung! So, so few of them have been even tolerable, let alone good! Tonight, the auditions draw to a close, thank fuck!


Dermot tells lies about the competence of the auditionees so far and the scale of the audition process. The judges arrive in shiny cars; Louis reckons they've already seen "great talent"; Simon reckons they all want the over-25s [To be fair, that does seem the best category. Also: I suggest they split that category into male and female next year and dump the groups onto BGT seeing as groups never win anyway - Rad]; Dannii isn't feeling competitive - yet. There's some weird bit of filler about Louis doing press-ups, but no need to revisit that particular nightmare.

Pub singers Them Two (Them2?) began performing together two years ago, and want to increase their popularity "to the world" and be as big as Robson and Jerome. This made me laugh audibly. Not as much as their performance of One Love, which breaks into a dirgelike harmony at the chorus. Simon looks fed up, and finally tells them it was terrible. The boys are surprised. It's a no from all four judges, obviously.

One bad audition buys many more. Faye, 16, with a itsy-bitsy voice, tries to sing You Know I'm No Good. Simon says everything was wrong, even though he likes her. Terry is asked what is the most interesting thing about him - it is that he was shot by his brother [Note: this was a "hilarious" anecdote rather than a sob story. The background music told me so - Rad] . He sings; Simon asks if he was singing just before his brother shot him. Jarrod, 36, dances like a puppet with the strings cut, and proceeds to remove his clothes, much to the horror of the panel.


Ooh, now we're in That London. There's plinky guitar music to introduce Daniel FROM ONE TRUE VOICE. Will Louis recognise him? Will Cheryl? Will it be Nikk from Phixx revisited? Daniel now thinks the most important thing in his life is his family. He has a couple of very cute kids. (I'm saying this, not him, though probably he thinks they are cute too.) Cheryl and Louis pretend they are surprised to see Daniel. Cheryl has a little chat with him; Louis tries to make him cry, and Daniel says that he knows it is a challenge, but he thinks he is up for it. He sings Kiss From A Rose. Cheryl does that squinty-eyed thing she does when she is assessing something seriously. His high notes are a bit iffy. Apart from that, it's nice. Louis does not like his mohican hair. Nor do I. Simon says that Daniel nailed that song, and it must have been awkward for him to come back and audition. Four yeses, much screaming. Hooray! My friend I am watching with says: "If his baby dies during the series, he'll win." Ouch.

One good audition buys more. Despina does some appalling melisma, but is still applauded; Nicole, 18, has a dream to be "a performer" - she switches key while singing acapella Think Twice but goes through anyway; Cheryl thinks one of girl duo Siren looks like Leona; Graziella looks like she'll be comedy with a tattoo on her arm and puffball skirt, but she's actually pretty good.

Lauren and Nathan are a duo of cousins, and they cannot compare themselves to anyone, because they are unique. Their name is Casyr, which stands for Care And Support Your Relatives. Oh. Fuck. They have 32 relatives backstage. Simon really doesn't understand the name. Lauren is sulking already, with her arm slung across her waist. She's about a foot taller than her cousin, who's a year older than her. They sing No Air - very, very badly. Simon suggests a new name for the group - Caring Relatives Are Problematic. HA. They reckon they'll come back next year, and they'd like to see Simon get on stage and sing in front of 2,000 people. SIGH.

Ads. Thank fuck.

Simon mocks Steve Lee for wanting to call his debut album When You Believe, and then singing When You Believe. Steve clearly thinks he is highly talented. He is not. [Oi! - Steve] The judges are all horrid to him. Four shakes of the head.

One bad audition buys more. Melody is poorly named. Bodybuilder Michael takes his shirt off. Dannii looks like Sally Bowles. Paula has spent £600 on singing lessons. This was not a good investment. Simon says he will give her all the money back. Bless. I hope he does.

Scott is 21, and when he was 13 he was diagnosed with a form of autism, which has made it hard for him to leave his house for the past seven years. Now he is going to audition for The X Factor, which I think is the obvious next step in recovery. He goes on to the stage and declares that he has a dream. That sounds awfully familiar. [Yo Scott! I'm happy for you and I'mma let you finish, but Martin Luther King had one of the greatest dreams of all time! - Kanye West] Anyway, he sings You Raise Me Up to a fucking awful backing track, and he's actually good. Then he does a key change, which makes me do a happy dance of merriment. But this makes me sad because he will go through but he will not win and he will be crushed. The judges enthuse, as you would expect. Simon demands to meet Scott's singing teacher, who comes out and cries and hugs him. They hold hands as they walk off stage for more group hugging. [This was the point where this series broke me, because I thought he was deeply average, and I just can't cope with all this mediocre karaoke being peddled as the second coming. - Steve]


Back to old Eileen who tried to get off with Simon while caterwauling The Wonder Of You, and got a second chance. She leches a bit more over Simon, and marches back out on stage to declare that she is going to sing The Wonder Of You again, with a CD. She then tells Simon that she could show him a thing or two. Everyone laughs. She knows she's not going through, but she takes rejection well, telling Simon that he has made an old lady very happy.

Now "the yeses come thick and fast". This is the most overused voiceover line in this show. Two security guards from Harrods sing End Of The Road; True Colours think they're good enough for The X Factor. which is the funniest and truest thing I have ever heard on this show (oh, I should have known - Trucolourz) [Also: Simon made this amazing face when they said this like he was partly insulted but he was also a bit impressed because it was true and a kickass retort. Best moment of the night. - Rad] [Indeed. Trucolourz FTW! - Steve]; Project A are another girl group singing Just Dance; Daniel sings Somewhere from West Side Story and is bound to get kicked out with the words "too Broadway"; Rachel got kicked out last year but she admits that was the right decision because now she doesn't suffer with nerves. She DOES suffer with too much ill-advised belt, but nobody thinks to point that out.

Amy is a 22-year-old personal trainer from Gateshead, and she is auditioning because Cheryl inspires her. Oh dear. Still, Cheryl is all happy to have someone from her neck of the woods singing, so that's something. Amy sings Fallin' - the beginning cadenza is awful, and the backing track is cheap and nasty, and the whole performance is nasal and affected. Cheryl says she looks like a pop star but the song was too big for her; Louis agrees. Simon says she has a good voice, not a great one. Amy begins to cry. Cheryl tells her not to (in a nice way, not a telling-off way). Simon tells her to think about the right song to sing, and Amy reveals she nearly sang a Girls Aloud song. Everyone applauds. Simon asks Amy to sing that then. DO YOU THINK THIS WILL BE BETTER, EVERYONE? Amy says she is worried she might forget the words. Cheryl says, "I'll help you!" In fact, the Girls Aloud song she wants to sing is I'll Stand By You, which is not a Girls Aloud song so much as a Pretenders one, and she blubs and forgets the words, so Cheryl goes on stage to help her. Oh, fail. They dance, and Cheryl tells her, "Go for this big bit, right?" Cheryl holds her hand and sways back and forth and this is bloody terrible. [And worse than the first song she did - Rad] Make it stop now please. AND THEN SHE GETS FOUR YESES. This fucking show. [Good job NATIONAL BLOODY TREASURE CHERYL COLE was there to fix everything. I actually hate this show for how much it's made me hate Cheryl, whom I previously liked very much. - Steve]

Ads! How much sodding longer?

16-year-old Curtis gets to meet Dermot; a few years ago, he Got Into Trouble (not pregnant, criminal trouble) and is on a tag. He has been in and out of care, and he has a brother Who Is Dead. [Hooray! He's like Rachel Hylton, ZombiEmily and any number of DeadRelativeContestants rolled into one - Rad] He admits that he's been an idiot, and now he wants to make himself proud. If I didn't have a cold, dead heart, I would cry at this point. Cheryl asks what his motivation is; Curtis says that he wants people to hear his music. Simon asks what he's been doing over the past 12 months; he lists all the things he's done, including "chill with girls", and at that he waggles his eyebrows at Dannii. Then he gets bored with this cross-examination, which is fair enough, and demands, "OK, let me sing now." He does, singing Let Me Love You, and when he finishes he asks, "Did you like it?" Cheryl likens him to a man convicted of domestic violence. Or maybe that wasn't what she meant. Simon has a little tete-a-tete with him about his attitude, telling him, "If you don't want to be here, you can go." But Simon tells him that he likes him, and needs to listen to what people say and work with them. Curtis admits that he has a problem with that. Simon says he's one of the most current artists in the audition process so far, and he gets four yeses. Hooray!

A nonsensically long montage of the previous month's worth of auditions, and that's it. Thank fuck. Join us next week for boot camp!

End of a Century

Audition Show 5 - 19 September 2009

Show 100

Welcome back to The X Factor, and have ITV got a treat in store for us this week?! Yes, that's right, there are TWO-count-em audition shows this weekend. Can't you just smell our excitement? I'm guessing this is to prepare us for the joy of having overblown results shows on a Sunday this year, which I just can't wait for. Oh, ITV, with all these changes you are really spoiling the show us.

Opening voiceover: we've already seen the 'good' (Danyl, Olly, a couple of girls whose names I've forgotten), the 'bad' and the 'indescribable' (everybody else). This weekend, 'it's an X-Factor double bill'. Oh, E4 sarky voiceover man, you make that sound like the joy it will surely be. O Fortuna plays, at about a million decibels, and there are lots of screaming singers and judges pulling faces. It is, apparently, the 100th episode of this show. Only 100? It feels like it has taken up much more of my life than that. How many X-Factor cliches can they fit in to 'celebrate' this milestone? Please don't play drinking games tonight, kids. We don't want to be held responsible for ensuing liver failure. Coming up - lots of perving over hot boys (Dannii and Cheryl) and lots of crazy women perving over Simon and Louis.

Dermot the corporate drone welcomes us to-wouldya believe it-London, for the eightybillionth time this series. There are the usual obligatory shots of the judges arriving in different clothes from the ones we then see them wearing in the studio.

Our first contestant apparently wants more than fame and success, he wants to make a difference. Can you hear the background music? Why, it's our blessed Saviour Michael Jackson with 'Earth Song'. Is it soon enough for this show to be using his songs as background music for the comedy contestants? It's not that I have any particular reverence for the guy, but I imagine later episodes of this thing are going to pull out the schlocky 'doing it for Michael Jackson' type tropes so I just want to flag up right now how much 'respect' they have for him (mind you, nothing can be as disrespectful as last year's MJ theme week).

Anyway, meet 30-year old Richard. He's balding, ginger-haired, a security guard, wears glasses, has bad teeth and wants to spread a message of humanity. I don't see him being the shock Susan Boyle contestant we're inevitably due at some point, do you? Ooooh, he's singing 'Word Up' by Cameo/Gun. I like the originality, at least. He starts by some comedy dancing and a little bit of almost-moonwalking in honour of our dear departed etc. His vocals can hardly be described as singing, although this is more of a shouty/sneery song anyway. There's more dancing, and the crowd go wild. Poor the crowd. He's rubbish, but probably a lot more entertaining than what you've got coming. The judges tell him they like him but he's rubbish (well, Louis, Cheryl and Simon do - Cheryl even getting a boo! Dannii as always, is silent). He is sent packing to the strains of 'Beat It'. Can you see what they did there?

'Beat It' continues over a montage of comedy contestants. Next up Maggie, 'an airline personnel' who flirts a bit with Simon and squeaks out 'When a Child is Born'. A little unseasonal, perhaps, but there are only 96 shopping days left, people! And the Perfume Shop where I live has had its decs up since mid-August. Anyway, Christmas is coming, and 'your' X-Factor 'winner' will be hawking some dreadful cover of a song you used to like, so get ready...

We see 76 year old Morriss, who wears a fluorescent Spanish-dancer type top (Carrie will probably know the proper terminology what with her love of the dancing and all). [Oh, God, I wasn't even watching at this point. Was too awful. - Carrie] He sings 'Delilah' badly and we are onto a Maggie Gyllenhaal/Kelly Clarkson hybrid lady called Chelsey (though I swear she said Petra). Louis asks her if she wants to go 'on tour' (is this how they get the rubbish ones to agree to do the X Factor Live travelling circus?). She loves it apparently, then squeaks very badly through 'Fighter'. The judges look genuinely disappointed that she can't be the token rock chick candidate this year, as she could definitely look the part with a make-over. She's only 16, apparently, though looks old enough to have got served at her local offy, easily. Well, until she told the nation she was 16.

Dermot chats to a hunky scarf guy called Ethan from Chicago. He goes on stage and the audience go wild. Dannii gives a deliberate perv look to the camera which is kind of funny. He's going to sing 'Use Somebody' by Kings of Leon, who have been dedicated this series' contemporary rock act that our judges have heard of. By which, I mean they all had a copy of 'Only By the Night' thrust at them and were told to listen to tracks 3, 4 and 10 a few times. He has a decent tone to his voice but he can't enunciate for toffee and he's not as amazing as he will be made out to be, but hey, see also: every other 'good' contestant this series. [At this rate, I'm going to be watching the rest of the series on mute, but hey, at least now there's something nice to look at. - Steve] He also goes off key a little bit, but he's good looking, young and 'edgy' so there's no question here, is there? Cheryl had decided he's really sweet and humble even though they barely spoke to him. Dannii says he's a superstar and she wants a piece of that. OK, enough with the Dannii=perv thing now. Deliberate comedy looks are one thing, but she's not "Mrs O". Louis wants someone that is modern, up-to-date, understated, good-looking and talented, and also the moon on a stick. The girls are going to love him apparently, cue producers making the girls scream. Simon says Ethan 'knows music' because he sang a top 10 hit from one of the biggest bands in the world rather than 'the usual'. Oh, Kings of Leon, I do quite like you, but I fear I may hate you by the time Christmas rolls around. The judges love him and try to do their talking about the contestant thing, but doing it in front of the audience just feels ridiculously awkward and stilted.

We're "back" in Birmingham, with the biggest crowd we've ever had, apparently. Dermot doesn't specify if that's the biggest audition crowd in Birmingham, the biggest audition crowd ever or simply the biggest crowd in the world EVER, though. We are reminded how much we must all love Cheryl by them giving us a special bit where she is signing autographs and having her photo taken for her 26th birthday, and there are some people half-heartedly chanting her name. Her husband (BOO! HISS! - a nation) is also with her and Simon has 'a birthday surprise' in store - it's a cake with those candles that don't blow out like you used to have at parties when you were a kid. We get lots of shots of flowers and gifts - and it's all so "whyyyyy?" I mean, I can't imagine them doing this segment for, say, Louis, can you? [It's because she's a national treasure, innit. We must not be allowed to forget this. It is the party line. We have always been at war with Eastasia. - Steve]

Anyway, apparently it's time to get back to the business of finding a superstar (sic). A business we should have never fucking left in the first place. Faye is Lea from Big Brother 7 meets Joy from My Name is Earl meets a Barbie-doll gone to Ann Summers, wearing a basque that's too small for her boobs. Her dream is to be worldwide famous and she's use her fame for good (o hai, Richard from part one!) and would, ahem, save donkeys. She'd also like to be in heat magazine, which is probably very easy to achieve simply by virtue of being on tonight's show. Anyway, she comes on stage all basque and suspenders and Simon's all 'you look cute'. He asks her what she does for a living and she's 'a teacher in a prison'. The judges do the jaw drop thing and so do I, I'm afraid. Curse you, show. Simon is shocked and says 'I bet you're popular'. She jokes that all her classes are well-attended and I am beginning to warm to her a little more. Louis asks if she wears that for work. Yes, Louis, of course she does. She says she dresses like Margaret Thatcher for work. There is a whole weird niche of men around the country who have probably just exploded at this thought. The audience boo the Thatcher. Ooh, political. Simon tries to ask her 'what's the reason...' but collapses in giggles. She's going to sing 'River Deep, Mountain High'. She's apparently 28 but I would have put her several years older. Either this show gets very old-looking people on it generally or TV ages people dramatically, or I am a terrible judge of ages because I always think contestants are way older than they are (see also Richard and Chelsey tonight). She's OK - a bit squeaky and off-tune in places, though (and I still prefer the Nicola Roberts version from Popstars: the Rivals). Dannii says she's full of surprises, Cheryl is stuck for words and eventually comes out with 'I enjoyed it'. [This pissed me off. It was like she was waiting for the audience to laugh at Faye some more before she said anything, and when she did deign to comment it came off as really condescending. - Carrie] Simon says she's picked up some bad habits like singing through her nose and she doesn't sound yet like a recording artist. One lone man in the audience boos. Simon continues that she's interesting and people will like her and she stands out. Anyway, she's easily through to Boot Camp, then in the booth of light and dark tells us she's one step closer to being in Heat magazine and blows all the goodwill she'd previously built up.

Next up: Tracey, a pretty black lady with big hair. Through, surely, on looks alone? She's 25, and the last of 14 children. On behalf of all women everywhere, I say OUCH. She sings 'I'm Every Woman' and apparently her name is spelled 'Treyc'. Sigh. Dannii 'grooves' because the producers have decided she is 'down with this kind of thing'. Simon gives his perv/money-making smile. Cheryl says it was the best audition of the day. Four yeses, as if it'd be anything else.

Carl has his nan, WHO IS ALIVE, backstage and looks a bit like a trimmer, younger, Dead Wife Daniel. He sings 'I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing', which is one of the 25+ male standards and one of my least wanted, especially as they all sound like they're straining when they do it, so boo to him. Anyway, they bring Marjorie, his nan, on and Simon does his old lady sweet-talk act which must occur at least once per series so hopefully that cliche's now done with for another year. Random filler of Treyc calling her family.

Four young people (two men, two women) with dayglo 'How hood are you?' T-shirts on. Louis Walsh's 'groups with matching clothes-ometer' goes CHING! They are called Harmony Hood, which is a name of pure arse, but do a decent version of 'Love Lockdown' and they have lots of energy, so good for them. Definitely one of the best groups so far - and the only non girl-group I can actually remember. Through to the finals, let alone Boot Camp, surely?

More gubbins about Cheryl's birthday which is too tedious for words. Ads. We're not even halfway through. I may weep.

Montage of the judges arriving and a focus on Cheryl and Dannii wearing nice clothes - cue a 'Simon only wears jeans and a t-shirt shocker fluff piece' for which there really is no point considering this is the SIXTH series. Make the point in series one if you must, then move on. Le sigh. Anyway, that bit of fluff over, we have Natricia, "29", who wants to be a superstar. She is singing 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody', and I can just picture Steve hiding behind his sofa right now considering this song is notorious X Factor audition death [technically it's live show death, but the point is much the same: deploy with extreme caution - Steve], but anyway, cue more mixing desk shots. Wouldn't you know it? She comes in at the wrong point, is out of time and out of tune. Well, colour me shocked.

The audience laugh like the programmed morons they are and they just keep letting her carry on for way too long. Simon calls it one of the worst versions of the song he's ever heard, and we all know he's heard some pretty bad ones. Do you think we might be in for a few more bad auditions, anyone?

Gianni, 42, sings 'Vogue' without vogueing. Jackson, 17, sees himself as a pop prince (it's all in the name!) and sings 'Billie Jean' badly. Now MJ's finally in his grave he can look forward to an eternity of spinning in it. Simone is a model and Cheryl asks if he's hot. If you have to ask, love, the answer's probably no. Oh, she means warm hot. And the other kind, presumably, as the producers make her tell him to take his top off. Anyway, he isn't very good, so we move on.

Cue comedy Glenn Miller music and Eileen, an older lady in white fur and pearls who used to practise singing in an air raid shelter. Her dream is to make a record and boogie away to it. Cheryl asks her how old she is, and she says 20 years ago I was 60. So 80, then? I don't understand the logic here. There is some mock flirting with Simon and the audience lap it up. She gives him a hug. She tries to tell us what she's singing and Cheryl talks all over her. She's singing 'The Wonder of You' and I am guessing it is that standard X-Factor old person who can sing OK but is long past their best and is a bit wobbly but will go through to Boot Camp then get kicked out trope, so I think we all know where this is going.

Simon tells Dannii she could be in a group with Eileen because they both have dark bobbed hair. This time Louis and Dannii say no and get to be the bad people and Simon tells her she has to get a piece of music together and come back tomorrow, which is presumably this year's 'learn a new song and come back' - but also sheds some interesting light on things - do this year's contestants have to provide their own backing tracks? I just assumed the producers had a stack of the things. Or maybe they do, but they only have your standard 20 favourite X Factor classics, plus (new for this year!) the last Kings of Leon album. [My $0.02, if anyone cares - I think once they get to this stage, they have to pick songs from pre-approved lists, to some degree. Certainly several different contestants have used the exact same backing track, so I would think they're producer-supplied. It's odd, because some people get very professional-sounding tracks, and others get obvious karaoke versions. And some have randomly been performing acapella. - Steve]

Apparently now 'up and down the country' more hopefuls face the judges. We see the much touted in the pre-publicity Kandy Rain, who sing 'Don'tcha'. One of them is wearing some very unforgiving leather trousers. Anyway, they're not even the best girl group on this series so far, never mind the best group EVA. Hype - bite me. In fact, they're kind of like Hope without Phoebe i.e. completely unremarkable. They're through though.

A very cute seeming 19 year old Indie sings 'Summertime' and it's a yes, too. Also 'good' are Stacey McLean [from S Club Juniors! - Steve] who seems a bit affected but to be fair we only see two seconds of her performance because who cares about the people that get through, right? Next up is Dominic who got through to judges' houses in 2007 when he was only 15 (unlike anyone this year though I haven't heard any mea culpas from Simon over the whole 14 and 15 year olds thing). Dannii asks him what's changed since he was last here and he says he's more mature. She says it takes a lot of guts to come back. He's singing Chris Brown's 'With You' which I don't especially like, but it's contemporary and hasn't been killed on this show yet, so that puts him in my good books. He sings well and though there isn't anything spectacular about him, you can see how he would be a hit with the teenage girl demographic and a bit of polish might get him to the mid-way through the live shows point. Cheryl and Louis say he's improved, though Cheryl thinks he needs more swagger. Simon says it's not incredible. Louis butts in and says 'it's good, Simon'. Simon points out he didn't say it wasn't good, he said it wasn't incredible, which it wasn't. Simon thinks he's trying to be somebody else and he's better than he was two years ago. Cue the 'I want it all or nothing at all' Westlife song of guaranteed success. Dermot says 'it's finally Dominic's time' - although clearly not yet, as he got to judges' houses last time, so there's still some way to go to beat that.

'Ain't No Mountain High Enough' is the cue to meet 31-year-old Nicole who wants to sing with a full orchestra at the Albert Hall one day. Fair enough. She's very smiley. Simon asks why things haven't worked out for her musically in the past few years. She says she used to sing in pubs and she used to sing with her father. Can we guess what's coming, folks? Actually, seeing as it's the 100th episode and we've recycled every X Factor cliche and standard piece of backing music so far, it would feel remiss if we didn't have this, so I'm secretly pleased. Anyway, altogether now.... HER DAD. WHO IS DEAD. Do we even need to hear her sing? She sings 'Take a Little Piece of My Heart' and it's fine and all but very cheesy, but we only hear two seconds because HER DAD IS DEAD. Simon then tells her to sing her other song, Alicia Keys' 'If I Ain't Got You' (sigh). Cue piano. It is, of course, better than the first performance, but who cares? She has a DEAD DAD. Hooray!

Simon says she's not all that good, and gives her a no. Louis says she's better than Simon thinks she is. Cheryl likes her. Dannii says she agrees that she has bad habits but it is a yes. Louis says the over 25s is a difficult category this year - which is probably true, I can't name many acts in the other categories at the moment. Anyway, clearly it's an overall yes.

Apparently the 'X Factor competition' is only every two weeks this year. I hadn't noticed that before. How odd.

Dermot welcomes us back with a salutory reminder that the way not to get through to the next round is to be a duo. Unless you're 2ToGo or Journey South, but OK, the point is generally true. We see clips of some of this year's failed duos, and next are two people who 'are convinced they can turn it all around' - Russell and Katie. He wears glasses. She's in a purple frock. He has a matching tie. They are a couple. They're called 'It Takes Two' or, probably 'It Takes2'. They used to perform at Pontin's (like Scott). They've worked so hard for so long, and 'It Takes Two' (I think the Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston version?) plays in the background. If it was Bruno and Liz's version, I might actually LOL. Missed opportunity. They now work at Alton Towers, and before they came on stage, they made it sound like this was as entertainers, but no, they operate the rides and trains. Oh. Oh my, It's 'It Takez 2'. Ulp. They're singing 'I'll Be There' and in a reveral of 2ToGo's fortunes, she's pretty good and he isn't really that great. I wonder if either of them are blind. The judges agree that she's a lot better than him. We haven't seen them break a group up yet this series - could this be the one? Dannii says no because of Russell, Cheryl and Louis say yes because of Katie. Simon gives the pause of eternity and says yes. Cue 'I've Had the Time of My Life'. Cheryl cries a bit, then they come offstage and Russell bursts into tears hugging his mum saying he thought he'd let Katie down.

Tomorrow - the auditions come to an end. Hurrah! Someone is sailing through to the next round. Simon can't help but be emotional. Some people are good, lots of people are bad. Some boys take their tops off, and Eileen is back. Whooop. Join Carrie for all the fun!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The good, the bad, and the Olly

Audition show 4
TX date: 12th September 2009

Previously on The X Factor: the auditions moved into a bigger venue! The producers began to doubt themselves! Tonight: the auditions continue, and the judges pull no punches! Or so they would have us believe, anyway. I remain unconvinced. It is time to face the music, just in case you weren't aware of that by now. Cue titles!

The trucks are rollin', and to begin with, we're in Glasgow. "It seems the whole of Glasgow has turned up for the auditions," says Dermot, displaying once again his inadequate knowledge of the populations of the UK's major cities. Back to school with you, O'Leary! It is busy, though, I'll grant you that. And of the thousands of people gathered, I'm guessing we'll maybe see about ten of them on screen? If we're lucky, of course. Hope it was worth those hours out in the cold, Glasgow!

Louis complains that it is raining. Sigh. I hate to bitch him out so early in the episode, but you have just been driven to the venue, and now you must be exposed to the elements for about 30 seconds, after which you will remain indoors for a considerable period of time. The weather should really not be your concern right now. Idiot. Apparently the judges have a really long walk once they're inside the venue to get to the stage, and somebody thought this would make for entertaining television. It doesn't. This is why you don't see Coronation Street being moved out of the schedule to make way for the International Long Distance Walking Championships. It's very dull. Eventually they get there, and the crowd cheer.

The first auditionee is Diana Watson, 59, a nursing assistant. She says that she and her singing partner are up there with the great Jews. Oh, sorry: duos. Her singing partner is - wait for it - her dog Jazz. See, shit like this is why you will never catch me watching Britain's Got Talent. Together they're called All That Jazz. Dermot asks what kind of music Jazz likes, and apparently her tastes are extensives. Diana says that you don't see many duets involving a dog. And I'm sure we're about to see why. As they wait backstage, Jazz snaps at Dermot. I know he's turned into a bit of a toady, Jazz, but that's a slight overreaction.

There follows the obligatory bit where Simon and Cheryl pretend they haven't been briefed extensively as a result of the three or four auditions Diana and Jazz would've had with the production team, and so we're subject to the tedious "does the song sing?" / "no, of course not" / "yes, she does" / "fucking hell, the dog sings?!" exchange. It gets even more hilarious (your mileage may vary, mine certainly did) when Simon asks how long they've been a duo, and Diana answers that Jazz is seven, and Simon's all no, how long have you been singing together, and Diana is all, very firmly, seven years. The dog has been singing since she was born. Oh God, why am I even recapping this bit? I feel like God is looking down on me right now and saying "if you really can't find something more constructive to do with those fingers, you really should look into masturbation."

Let's cut to the chase. They are singing 'I Will Survive', except Jazz appears to be camera-shy, because she just looks a bit bemused while Diana fumbles her way through the lyrics. Oh dear. "Your dog doesn't sing, does it?" asks Simon. Diana insists she does. Louis said he'd be happy if the dog even barked. Well, that explains why he was so fond of Niki, I guess. It's four nos from the judges (incidentally, Dannii is looking stunning tonight) and Diana leaves, finally.

Oh God, there are more of them. 22-year-old student John Cassidy is about four octaves too low for 'My Life Would Suck Without You', and can't even sing those notes right anyway. Dannii pronounces it "diabolical". John agrees he needs singing lessons. Gisela Lee (18, student) manages to make 'If I Ain't Got You' sound even worse than when Alicia Keys sings it. Dannii is full-on headdesking at this point, by the way. Hee. Gisela attempts to explain her woeful performance by saying that she's "got a jetlag". Oh dear. Gordon Rush (31, support worker, dressed in terrifying shiny blue and gold romper suit) sings 'Achy Breaky Heart', gets on telly just like he wanted, and gets a "resounding never" from Simon. Incidentally, these auditions are all intercut with shots of Diana out in the corridor trying to get Jazz to sing. No, stop! My sides! I cannot take all this hilarity!

Adverts, and not a moment too soon.

Dermot welcomes us back by reminding us of all the deranged people who went before. Next auditionee Carla Schettini walks onstage clutching a carrier bag, and Cheryl ask how old she is. "36" is the reply, but it sounds a bit like "76", prompting Cheryl to ask her to repeat herself, and then to explain exactly what she thought she'd said, which does kind of sound a bit rude. She doesn't look "76", so y'know, a polite person might have worked out what she'd actually said in their own heads and left the matter at that. [OH! I actually thought she was 76. Even when she repeated it. This programme is making me stupider. - Carrie] In the bag is a present for Louis, because Carla works in a kilt shop, so she's brought Louis a tie that goes with his clan, apparently. She'd like to be as big as Madonna, and explains this while Dannii puts the tie on Louis. Her singing of 'If You Don't Know Me By Now' is tuneless. Is this week's editor new or something? Surely the formula for this show is that the "everyone's been shit so far" voiceover is followed by someone good, who then triggers, as if by magic, a sudden run of good auditions. I feel like my entire world has been shaken by this turn of events. Meanwhile, in the time it has taken me to type all of that, Carla is STILL SINGING. That's what's wrong with this format, right there. By all means show some terrible auditions and laugh at people (I don't enjoy it, but I'm aware I'm in the minority there), but for the love of God, don't devote the entire show to it. Carla is STILL SINGING, by the way. Cheryl looks suicidal. I know how she feels. The crowd bursts out laughing when she adds her own backing vocals into the chorus (you know, the whole "IF you don't know me" bit), and Simon asks her how she thought it went, and Carla replies that the crowd seemed to be liking it, which is entirely true (even if they were liking it for slightly uncharitable reasons), and another reason why this format change is a dreadful, dreadful, idiotic idea, because it completely destroys the audition dynamic. Anyway, Carla is finally dismissed. Louis votes no even though she gave him a tie, which now means I respect him more than I respect Cheryl, and that makes me taste sick in my mouth a little bit.

Sad piano! What does this mean? Our next auditionee is 21-year-old Rikki Loney, a full-time singer who does the clubs and that, but wants to be on a bigger stage. Dermot's voiceover reminds us that we first met Rikki last year, at which point I go "oh yeah", because I'd completely forgotten about him. [Did we hate him last year? I seem to hate him and I'm not sure why - Rad] He was also a "can this person be the one to change the sucky auditions into good ones?" contestant last year, by the way. His sob story was that his parents didn't support him and that he kept cocking up his auditions, and then he got cut at boot camp, as you do. Rikki says it took him three or four months to recover from last time, but he wants it so much. Oh, well, that's all right then. He hasn't even told his mum, WHO IS UNSUPPORTIVE, that he is here today. That's how nervous he is, folks. Oh, and he's still wearing stupid hats, in case anyone was wondering. On stage, Rikki tells the judges that he's grown in confidence, and he wants to prove he can go the whole way this time. Oh, apparently his mum is in the audience, [with a camera on her - Carrie] but didn't know he was auditioning? Oh, what a load of old shit. Anyway, Simon wishes him luck. Rikki sings 'These Arms Of Mine' by Otis Redding (thanks, Google!), and has quite a nice voice, but really needs to work on what he does with himself on stage, because that strange marching-on-the-spot thing is just weird. His pitch is a little ropey too, though he does seem to be able to get himself back on fairly quickly when he goes off. 'Chasing Cars' cues up on the soundtrack, so I think we all know how this is going to end up. Louis loves his determination, Dannii thinks his mum is going to be really proud, Cheryl thinks he's brave to come back, Simon thinks they made a mistake turning him away last year, but still thinks he can perform better than he did in this audition. It's four yeses. I'm surprised we haven't had more of a resurgence of "returners" this year, actually, given what happened with Alexandra. Rikki is reunited with his mum [on stage, but she didn't know he was auditioning, right - Carrie], and it is intended to be heartwarming, I understand.

After the break, we're "back" in London. Dannii does a little dance as she gets out of the car. The "first" in to see the judges is someone who's been holding onto his dream for longer than most - which normally I would dispute, but since this guy is 82, maybe Dermot actually has a point this time. William Hooper is very excited about meeting the judges. He tells the cameras that winning the competition would be the answer to his prayers. Hey, Vera Lynn's number one in the album charts this week - anything can happen, right? William tells Simon that he's here because it's his last chance. That feels awfully morbid, suddenly. In the second of tonight's outbursts of totally unwarranted rudeness, Simon asks William "where will you be in seven - no, actually, I'll shorten that" and gets booed by the audience, rightly so. William will be singing 'Come Fly With Me'. He sings in that old-person way which is lovely if they sing at a family reunion, but it's not really chart-quality, if I'm honest. Louis calls him "a born entertainer", and hopes he looks like him when he's 82. There's a good chance, Louis - you look quite like him now. Dannii thinks he's got the X factor. Cheryl enjoyed his audition. Simon likes William, but wasn't crazy about his singing voice. [If he'd sung 'Mack The Knife', he'd have been straight through. - Carrie] [Heh. I was thinking exactly the same thing - Rad] "Simon, he's 82!" Louis thepoorboysblinds. Simon correctly asserts that this is immaterial. They vote - yeses from everyone except Simon, so the lovely old man is through to boot camp. Simon calls the other judges soppy. He is correct. [But also: every single bloody year there's an old person everyone except Simon puts through. In fact every single moment of this episode was X-Factor by numbers - Rad]

17-year-old Lydia Kabasele sings 'Saving All My Love For You', sounding kind of scratchy in places, but definitely has potential. She's through. [Although I didn't get the 'ZOMG! You're only 17 and you're singing Whitney' thing. Wasn't Whitney really young at that stage in her career anyway? - Rad] Also 17 years old, Alistair Nwachukwu sings 'The Way You Make Me Feel' acapella and gets through. Girl group The Secrets sings 'Black And Gold', sounding okay. They're through too! [I can only remember seeing girl groups - mostly girl trios - getting through this series - Rad] Heshima Thompson (22, musician) wants to represent for the boys because the girls have been dominating, and sings 'Breakeven' by The Script. Guess what? Yep, he's through.

Next up is 18-year-old Shanna Goodhead (hee). The judges have all changed their outfits by the way, continuity fans. She wants to sing to help her family. Drink! Leona's cover of 'Run' starts playing, and here comes the sob story: she lives in a council house and shares a room with two of her four sisters. Yeah, but do you share a bed with one of them? Otherwise, no dice. She wants to escape this lifestyle and give her little sister something better. Now we're back to the present, and she's singing Eva Cassidy's cover of Fleetwood Mac's 'Songbird'. I don't really like all the melisma she puts into it, because her voice isn't really powerful enough to get away with it, and it just seems to be hiding the fact that she's not really up to this song. Either way, she's going through, of course, and the crowd are going nuts. Dannii wants her to know how good she is, and Louis thinks she has amazing potential. Cheryl thinks she's a natural raw talent, and Simon is concerned about her self-belief, for which he gets inexplicably booed. Four yeses for Shanna and the tracks of her tears, and then some adverts. [Gah. I am as sick of the young black/mixed race girl who lives in a council house trope as I am of the comedy foreigner, token pensioner and dead relative ones. Every series. - Rad]

Afterwards, we're in Birmingham. 16-year-old Amordeep Ghataura likes guinea pigs, and then eviscerates Britney's cover of 'I Love Rock 'n' Roll'. She doesn't go through. David Francis (45, classroom assistant, should know better) fails at the only decent Katy Perry song. Hey, at least the seats in Birmingham look comfortable. Michael Pottenger (34, part-time therapist) sings 'If I Could Turn Back Time' and is rubbish, but still doesn't manage to kill my burning desire for there to be a Cher week on this show. The only amusing part of this is how pained Cheryl looks throughout. Abraham Akpoyibo (25, student) says that singing is his lifelong ambition. It will have to stay that way, sadly.

17-year-old student Demi Cullen is next, and has been singing since she was four. She's very excitable. She doesn't want to do a nine-to-five job, she wants to sing. This programme means the whole world to her. I worry about where this is going. She's really sweet when she talks to Cheryl on stage, and will be singing 'Saving All My Love For You'. Simon wishes her good luck, and Cheryl gives her an encouraging smile. She sings, and I still can't tell if this is a good audition or not. Her phrasing is weird and some of the notes are iffy, but she does appear to be able to sing to some extent. Dannii tells her that she's very cute. Demi says, "I don't want to get through because I'm cute, I want you to tell me that I'm good as well." Hahaha! [This made me uncomfortable simply because Demi was obviously expecting to go through at this stage. - Carrie] Louis says if it were a personality contest, she'd get through, but her voice isn't good enough. Simon agrees. Demi says, "Okay", and then cries. God, this show is EVIL, sometimes. Louis keeps harping on about her great personality, like that's going to be any comfort to her, but then National Treasure Cheryl Cole gets up to give her a hug, of course. Whatever - they've put through people far worse than Demi before. "I thought you were good," Cheryl tells her. Demi doesn't go through, and collapses backstage. I bet you anything she comes back next year, though. Seriously, I don't think there's any wrong with her voice that a decent singing teacher couldn't fix. [I thought she was Boot Camp worthy, but maybe it was kinder to kick her out now as she'd never get past Boot Camp. She at least took it reasonably well, rather than having a big strop - Rad]

Adverts. I have something in my eye.

Apparently the yeses just keep coming at this point, which is a rather tasteless segue considering how we just left Demi. A girl group called Yellow Brick Road sing an excruciatingly harmonised rendition of 'Poker Face' and get through, somehow. Eliotte Williams-N'Dure (22, unemployed) sings 'How Come You Don't Call Me' and gets through. Jaide Green (23, part-time singer) sings 'Street Life', is also through. Wow, I'm so pleased we spent all that time on the terrible auditions at the top of the episode.

25-year-old Olly Murs from Essex is the last audition of the day. He sounds like Jeff Brazier (speaking, at least). We're supposed to think he's some kind of wideboy, I think. The judges have changed outfits once more, just to let you know. He sings 'Superstition', and is pretty good, I guess. Again, there's potential there, certainly. The dancing leaves a fair bit to be desired, mind. The crowd love it, at least. Cheryl loved everything about it, Dannii thinks he has the whole package, Simon really likes him and thinks he's very cool, and Louis calls him a natural performer. A clean sweep for Olly, including the easiest yes Simon's ever given (hasn't he said that about a hundred times by now?). Backstage, Olly is floored by the response from the judges, and some audience members talk to the camera about how much they liked him.

Next weekend: a double bill! Dear God, that's going to take some effort.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Vision of horror

Audition show 3 (only 3?! HOW?)
Tx: 5th September 2009

"The dream has always been the same!" says scary voiceover man. And we look back on those X-Factor winners who have fulfilled their dream - SHAYNE! LEONA! ALEXANDRA! Obviously no Brookstein, because he's burnt his bridges with Cowell, but I almost feel sorry for Leon, who's a big fat failure no matter how you try to spin it. "But this year! The bar has been raised!" I know it's their job to hyperbolise, but I have really not seen any act that has been good this year, rather than mediocre or good by comparison to the rest of the talent voids.

Anyway, obviously it's time to face the music. Titles!

Dermot welcomes us to "THE NORTH", which is Manchester. Police officers on horseback do the X thing. I am ashamed that my taxes pay their wages. There's a totally superfluous bit where we meet the judges, like we don't know who they are, but perhaps they're more interesting than the sacks of shite they're going to wheel out on stage today. Cheryl mocks Louis, though, which is always good for a laugh.

Barman Alan is twitchy, nervous and high-pitched, and has brought his mum along. This is not going to end well. He says what makes him different from everybody else is that he is better than them. He sings When The Going Gets Tough in a whiny voice. His dancing looks like a broken marionette puppet. He forgets the words. Everyone sings along. Simon does not. He rolls his eyes. Dannii says it looks like Alan was being electrocuted. It's four no votes, obviously. "Ah've never seen a rhythm like it," concludes Cheryl.

Oh, and apparently now we are around the country, rather than in THE GENERIC NORTH. Gurdip, a police admin officer, emulates a Pussycat Doll. Louis loves it, as much as he pretends he didn't. Tom Idelson sings falsetto to Kiss, and Louis loves that too. Steve Loczy performs 9 to 5 in the style of a drugged Billy Ray Cyrus. Ian's alias is "G W S - Guy With Style" and he picks U Can't Touch This as a suitable song to showcase his talent.

Time for a break already.

Ooh, it is BEAUTIFUL CARDIFF! You can tell because Charlotte Church is the music being played over Dermot's VO, and because the auditionees like Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones. Louis Walsh pretends that he has heard of and likes the Manic Street Preachers.

OH DEAR GOD. A trio called 2 Gorgeous 4 Words come on and do some gymnastic posing. They inform the judges that they were put together via auditions at college. "How many people auditioned?" asks Dannii. "About 12," comes the answer. They sing Let's Hear It For The Boy, miss out the second half of the first verse, and reach the chorus too soon. The look of abject horror on their faces is painful. When the judges tell them to jog on, their supporters backstage try a spot of bolshiness, but it's really quite unconvincing - "I don't care what they think, I think you're MARVELLOUS anyway." Well, perhaps, but you're not the one with a record contract on offer to them, are you?

Ashanti Webbe is a full-time mum (still object to that description) and she sings I'm Goin' Down to a hideously tinny backing track. I think there's a nice voice in there somewhere but it's not the big diva belt she's trying to emulate. Cheryl liked it, anyway, and so did Dannii, and Louis, and even though Simon is still wavering she gets four yeses altogether.

Daniel Williams plays rugby but thinks singing is more important "100 per cent". He sings Let It Be. He's quite decent, but then Simon voices my thought - "What type of record would this guy make?" Louis answers, "Middle of the road, Michael Ball, for mammies and daddies." Oh, fuck OFF, Walsh. I hate the way he can take the name of one of the FINEST SINGERS IN THE COUNTRY and make it sound like an insult, even if he is trying to argue that Daniel is good. Anyway, four yeses.

Randoms talk about the importance of the opportunity they are being offered. Simon PTCs that people need to take advantage of the opportunity they are being offered. One girl, who looks a bit like she's trying to channel Gabriella at the end of High School Musical 2, is from a small village in Wales (where all her friends ARE DEAD? No? Sorry, wrong series), and gets plinky-plonky piano music of meaningfulness as she takes her audition number from the desk people. Lucie's sob story seems to be that her village IS SMALL. It has a school and a village hall and some sheep, and that's about it. This is the worst narrative ever.

She's going to sing the single-noted dirge that is Whitney's version of I Will Always Love You. We have the obligatory delay while the man with the mixing desk puts the right CD in the slot. Her voice is quite pretty, but there's something about it that makes me think she'd have been better doing the Dolly version, with a more country feel. [I thought that too. I realise this is a slightly pointless comment since all I'm doing is agreeing with you, but she was one of the very few people I actually had anything to say about one way or the other because this series has been SHIT so far. - Steve] She sings with her head tilted, looking away from the audience - a bit like a singing Princess Di. Cheryl loves the vulnerability "because it makes me think that you don't realise how amazing you are." Yeah RIGHT. Louis tells her she was born to sing. Simon likes her. Four yeses. Cheryl wanders backstage to give her a hug.


Back at the auditions, there is a crazy man with a goatee beard; a scary lady who screeches; the same crazy man singing a song about a lonely llama. What? I am sad for chef Gareth Evans who wants to change his life because he dislikes all of it. Can someone get him some CBT? [Sure, if you think learning to ride a motorcycle will help... - Steve, A Fan Of Hilarious Misunderstandings] The crazy man sings a song about shepherds' pie, and Simon pretends it wasn't all a total set-up.

Lloyd Daniels has only ever sung karaoke and performed at school shows. But he has pop star bleached blond hair and gets a manly hug from Dermot, so I think we can be sure he'll do well. He's not that comfortable on stage while he waits for the introduction to his song (a Jason Mraz one), and when he sings it's perfectly melodic, but the judges do some fakery and pretend they don't like what they're hearing. Seriously, Cowell, you did this fake-out with Shaheen Jafargholi on BGT, and it was unconvincing then. [I thought he was SHIT, so I was totally with them at this point. - Steve] Anyway, Lloyd sings acapella, and then they all beam at him. Everyone cheers. Lloyd smiles. Four yeses. [He was no better the second time either. If he gets past boot camp, I suspect he may become my nemesis. - Steve]

Combined Effort consists of the notorious couple who were once engaged and have now broken up. Three days prior to the audition. The audience laugh. And oh my fuck this is the most uncomfortable piece of viewing I have ever seen. Oh it's dreadful. They make them VT about the reasons for their break-up. And then Simon grills them both on stage about it. Jack says he ended it. The audience boo. Oh oh oh it's horrid. They both reckon they are still friends. Simon appreciates this because he is always friends with his exes (actually that's one of the main reasons I love him). Anyway, they are singing Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now - Jack forgets the words, Kirsty can't reach the high notes, they hold hands and it's just terrible. Simon smiles, as if the power of his smile can mend the awful inappropriateness of this song or their broken relationship. Then all four judges try and get them back together again, and they cry. Jack does a really unconvincing plea to Kirsty to give him another chance. Everyone applauds. They kiss in the booth of bitterness. I hate this show.


Jade is doing her A-levels and taught herself to sing; her friends and family tell Dermot she is AMAZING. She sings And I'm Telling You... acapella. Dermot looks a bit misty-eyed. She could be good with a bit of training, I think; this performance is based entirely on Jennifer Hudson's, obviously, so you can't really tell what she'd be able to do with another song. In fact, they then play Hudson's version over the judges' comments, and the gulf between the vocal capacities (at the moment) is made very very plain. Regardless, four yeses. Jade has a lovely smile.

Lots of randoms come to the UK just to audition for The X Factor, as we've seen over the previous fortnight, and this makes me very sad as well. Catering assistant Fouad moved here from France six months ago to follow in the footsteps of his idol Mariah Carey (srsly). He sings Vision of Love, and he is clearly not at all serious about this - he gurns his way through it, mocking all of Carey's affectations, and is evidently trying not to laugh. They ask him for his next song, and he says, "Hero." The audience whoop, because they are morons, and Fouad plays up to them. The judges laugh into their mugs of water. Simon goes a funny puce colour. If Sharon was here, Fouad would be going through on the basis that he is "entertaining" and "foreign". Just sayin'.

Have we seriously just spent ten minutes on a comedy contestant? Why, yes, I think we have. Next week! More terrible auditions! Simon snogging randoms! A dog! Join us then! [Apparently this show is going to the dogs in more ways than one. Oh fuck, I'm down to recap next week, aren't I? Christ on a cracker. - Steve]