Saturday, October 31, 2009

I said ROCK, not SHOCK

ROCK week \m/
Tx: 31st October, 2009

Right, children, there's a hell of a lot of rubbish to watch tonight, so let's begin, shall we? The voiceover man recaps last week for us - big band, competition, backflips, sparkles, actress, bitching, cheating, twins. All you really need to know is that Danyl and Miss Frank were the bottom two, and the girls left.

This week! Mad teenage girls have gone to Golders Green to stalk the twins in the X Factor house. Tonight! Our remaining acts will "sing" "ROCK" "songs"! The judges, by the way, are all proud of their acts, and think they could win. Dermot stomps out on to the stage doing the devil-horn fingers thing, and welcomes us to our "X-Fictor weekend" which apparently starts here. He warns us that we should be scared. I already am.

Here are the judges. I really have no idea what Cheryl is wearing. It looks like she has two dinner plates over each breast. Dannii is sitting on the end tonight, so the panel looks like a dinner party of exemplary etiquette with its girl-boy seating pattern.

First up tonight is Joe, who doesn't know how Simon expects him to have had Latin flair last week with Sway because he is FROM SOUTH SHIELDS. He is worried by the media attention and also by rock week. Louis and Simon don't think Joe will be able to sing rock. Cheryl is all bolshy and promises that he will. Joe is realistic about the possibility that he might totally cock up.

He's singing Don't Stop Believing, and weirdly, it does kind of work. He does have a lovely voice. He tries to work the crowd a bit and keeps scrunching his nose in an attempted sneer. Then two dancers wander on and begin to do an interpretative routine. Please take this as a warning - I've looked ahead and NotLouis is on fine crack-addled form this week.

Dannii says his voice is exceptional, and he is a star. She loved seeing him work the crowd because he looked comfortable and they love him. Louis was won over - "the little boy has become a man." Ew. Simon says that Joe is consistent; "a little bit limp and stage-schooly" (this from the man who championed Ray Quinn), and then mocks the dancers, which is fair enough. Joe tries to pretend he's not laughing. Cheryl snaps that Simon doesn't appreciate contemporary dance. [I love her a little bit for saying that with an entirely straight face. - Steve] She begins giving her comments, and then Simon interrupts to tell her to sit up. She is all wide-eyed and outraged, and then hoicks her boobs up. Dermot reckons the panel was "a literal love-in". Literally not, Dermy.

Next is Lucie, who was accused of singing like an actress last week, and is still upset. She thought she performed really well last week, and then we are reminded of Simon's comment which we saw TEN SECONDS AGO. Simon VTs that he didn't kill a puppy. Lucie says she doesn't sing rock, but Dannii is sure a rock chick is inside her. Insert joke here. Lucie is adamant that Simon will change his mind about her, and he points out that it's the public she needs to think about impressing.

She's lying on a sofa with headphones. Why does she have headphones, please? [For a minute I thought she was on the phone, and wondered if she was voting for Jedward. - Steve] However, I am delighted to note that NotLouis's eclectic seating collection has returned to the show. She's singing Sweet Child O' Mine and she too is scrunching her nose up. On first listen, I liked this; on repeat viewing, it's really not that good in the verses, though she's decent in the chorus and when she gets to move into the upper register.

Louis says Lucie is versatile, consistent and professional, and owed an apology from Simon. Cheryl started to think that jazz was Lucie's direction last week, but now she thinks Lucie could be like Avril Lavigne. Simon says that Lucie was boring last week, which was frustrating to him, because she was too old-fashioned and not relevant. Simon, it was FUCKING BIG BAND WEEK. You remember, the one where you normally make people sing that hip, contemporary number Mack The Knife. Dannii was taken aback by the rockiness is Lucie's voice, and is proud and happy.

Time for the first old person - Danyl. Last week he was in the bottom two even though he and Simon both thought he was amazing. He was very upset; Simon was shocked. Danyl weeps about letting everyone down, and the nasty press that he's got - "Someone posted on Twitter that I was more hated than Hitler." He is wondering whether it's all worth it. NotLouis has told him to stop being such a whiny little bitch. Cheryl says that he's not connected with the audience, and Louis says Simon's attempts to force the audience to like him have failed so far.

Danyl begins singing I Don't Want To Miss A Thing, and has totally failed to pick up the notes he should be singing from the string-laden backing track. It's embarrassing. When it gets all loud and overblown, he realises what he should be singing. He's standing behind the mic, hands in pockets, and he looks like a sulky child who's had his wrists slapped for stealing sweets. It's dull, over-earnest and a too-obvious attempt to show a more "human" Danyl. Oh, and there's a key change.

Dannii tells him not to be a whiny little bitch and that wasn't his natural performance. Louis claims that The X Factor is a talent show. It SO isn't. He then quotes lines from That's Life to tell him not to be a whiny little bitch. Cheryl says it was uncomfortable to watch Danyl, because he's being a whiny little bitch. Simon says that when Danyl is confident, people think he's cocky, and when he's not, people complain. He adds that negative media is horrible but if you're in the spotlight, you have to suck it up and not be a whiny little bitch. Danyl whines some more, and Dermot sympathises with being compared to Hitler. [On TWITTER. A little perspective here, please. - Steve]

Last week, Lloyd did a backflip, and was excited to have 35 musicians playing for him. Louis wants to do a boyband with Lloyd; "I was a bit offended by that, like," says Lloyd. He thinks it is mad the amount of attention he's got. Yes. Cheryl says this week Lloyd has a young, cool song to sing, but it is for a girl, not a boy. And I think we've been here before.

Oh. Dear. Me. Lloyd Kissed A Girl, and he liked it [and he hoped her boyfriend didn't mind it. Missed opportunity for some mad gender-bending lyrics, there - Rad]. He's on a throne, being spun round by two besuited men in top hats. NotLouis is on FIRE. Not literally on fire. Though I wouldn't put that past him at some point. Lloyd is really very poor vocally. Dannii diplomatically says that Lloyd was drowned out by the backing vocals. Louis says that being in a boyband is a COMPLIMENT. Except not. Then he carps on about Katy Perry being pop, not rock. Simon mocks Louis's jobsworthness, and then declares that performance was a million times better than last week. Simon says that if Louis were in charge, Lloyd would sing My Way every week, and Louis cites Robson and Jerome as evidence that Simon is a big misery with no contemporary sense. They continue to bicker until Cheryl shouts at the pair of them. Then Dermot decides to get in on the act and tell Louis to shut up.

Stacey was nervous before she sang last week, and Simon told her to learn performance skills. Dannii thinks Simon is a fool. Stacey isn't comfortable on stage and doesn't know what she's doing, she confesses. And so the way round that is to go to NotLouis for a masterclass in performance.

She is draped across various packing boxes (which aren't strictly seats, but are close enough) and singing Somewhere Only We Know. Which isn't really rock. But there we go. It's fine, for a really quite boring song, and her high notes are beautiful. Louis says he liked everything apart from the song choice. Cheryl loves the song choice, and Simon thinks Stacey's walking was an X Factor miracle. Dannii loved it, obviously, and demands that we all vote for Stacey. Dermot talks to Stacey about her outfit - "I breathed! And I walked!"

Jamie Afro was disappointed with last week - apparently he doesn't like doing things averagely. Wow, life must be one HUGE disappointment for him, then. Simon is sure that this week is a great one for Jamie. Jamie is worried about the Pressure Of Expectation. Personally I'm not expecting that much. Neither is Louis. I am fearful when Louis and I agree. Jamie wails that it is "almost too much to bear". Oh, shut up, you whiny little bitch. Why has Simon got SO MANY WHINY LITTLE BITCHES in his category?

Ah. Jamie is singing Rocks Off. Complete with pole dancers and dreadful diction. [And, weirdly, he is allowed to sing the "bitches keep a-bitching" line, which makes me laugh. Sadly no "clap just keeps a-itchin" though - Rad] ["Bitches keep on bitching" was clearly an official endorsement of this blog from the show, and I refuse to believe otherwise. - Steve] Simon is singing along. Jamie is clicking his fingers. It's all a bit blah and just the same kind of stuff that Jamie always does. Dannii says that if Simon really wants artists to be contemporary, he'd have picked a contemporary song for Jamie. Louis says Jamie is unoriginal and like a Lenny Kravitz impersonator, and then says, in one of the most bizarre sentences EVER on The X Factor, "In the words of Kerrang! and NME, you're not a real rocker." Cheryl thinks it is weird that the show's first rock week has come in a series when Simon has a rock singer in his category [Ha! I loved that. I've not been a big fan of Cheryl's lately, but she's well on course to winning me back at this rate. - Steve], but she thought it was comfortable. Simon asks her if she is accusing him of picking the week "deliberately" - "NOT AT ALL," she deadpans - and then says that Louis has never been in a pub, only wine bars. Simon thought Jamie was authentic; Louis disagrees; and then they're back in their stupid fighting groove. [Note that Simon is all "it's rock week, what was he supposed to sing?", having apparently missed the enormous contradiction that brings relating to his comments to Lucie last week. - Steve]

Dermot lies that we are loving rock night, and then Dannii introduces Rachel. She was scared last week, when she pretended she was Stacey in order to fake a personality. Dannii is excited about this week, when Rachel is going to sing a U2 ballad beautifully. Oh, she's going to sing One, isn't she? Yes, yes, she is. It's fine. Just I don't like the song. Still, Louis thinks she made it her own and it was the most emotional performance of the entire night. Cheryl talks about Mary J Blige a bit. Simon says that he liked the last third of the song but Dannii is trying to turn Rachel into her, with the hair and the dress. "She tried to get the hair like yours but there wasn't enough hairspray!" snorts Dannii, and then everyone laughs at Simon, including Simon, to be fair. Dannii thought it was an amazing performance, of course.

And now. John and Edward. There is booing already. Cheryl called them a guilty pleasure last week, when they banged. They thought last week was their best performance. "Best" is such a relative term, isn't it? The twins have realised that they will never please Simon. Louis is gleeful because the public love them so much and the media attention is scaring Simon. The twin on the right says, "I think rock week is John and Edward's week," and that's really weird because it's like he's talking about different entities, but he's obviously using it as a group name rather than their own names, and...oh, holy hell. They've just lifted the instrumental version of We Will Rock You from 5ive's single (complete with J yelling HAHA!) and are FUCKING DREADFUL. I miss 5ive. Oh, noooooooooooo, and then they miss out the bit that says, "AND IT DON'T STOP" (after "as long as 5ive bring the funk Queen bring the rock"), meaning they start the next verse too early and it's a hot mess.

Dannii says it was scary and they needed a satnav to find their way back to where they were supposed to be. Cheryl seems to be a little at a loss, but tries to be positive. Simon thought it was like the night of the living dead and possibly destroyed Queen's career forever. Not so much. Louis loved it, obviously. Dermot tries to say John and Edward do really well with the routines. Louis thanks NotLouis for all his hard work. Then Dermot gives out the number and says, really oddly, "Don't worry if you don't have the number, it's on Simon's speed dial." But - we haven't all got Simon's phone, have we? So if we wanted to vote for them, that would be no help?

Dermot lies that it is sad that the night is nearly over, and indeed Simon picks him up on it. Now it is time for Olly, who apparently knows what sort of artist he should be now. He is singing a song by those new, contemporary artists the Beatles. Louis and Dannii fear that he will come unstuck. Olly doesn't want to lose his personality, but would like to be more edgy, and he hopes everyone at home will like that.

Hmm, he is singing Come Together and there are girls writhing around on a perspex tables. It's serviceable, but it's not a very difficult song. And fucking fuck, he rips his shirt open at the end. Why? WHY? Dannii liked it. Louis thinks he is a dark horse, and is always getting better. He predicts that Olly will be in the final three. Is there anyone Louis DOESN'T think will be in the final three? Cheryl talks about Olly rehearsing ripping his shirt open, and there is something SO wrong about having to practise presumably rock'n'roll moves like that. [He NEEDS to stop dancing. He terrifies me - Rad]

And that is IT. Dermot invites us to vote, but frankly I couldn't care less. Join Rad tomorrow for the results!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Frankly my dears...

Yesterday! There was "big band" nonsense and a lot of bitching! Tonight, another one of these losers will be going home. Yes folks, it's TIME TO FACE THE MUSIC.

Dermot welcomes us by doing some of his 'trademark' silly dancing, and whilst this may have come across vaguely sweetly on BBLB many, many years ago, now he just feels like the ITV Brucie. Or Rather Tess.

Dermot tells us that Sunday night's got explosive: cue pyrotechnics. Interesting point here - my brother knows someone who works in pyrotechnics. Since that curtain of fireworks thingy they did on this show last year, all anyone who has ordered pyrotechnics has wanted is that curtain of fireworks thingy 'like on The X Factor'. Such is the scary power of this show. [I'd take a million curtains of fireworks over Cheryl's bobbins single being number one. - Steve]

He tells us to welcome the biggest selling UK band of the decade, then quickly blurts out that it's Westlife before we get shocked by the sight of Coldplay or something. I'm not sure if his comment means in terms of UK record sales, or includes worldwide. I'm assuming the former, but who knows, the world is a scary place in THESE TROUBLED TIMES, after all.

We welcome back our judges: Louis looks chirpy and kind of young with his 'new look' and his hair tousled and slightly trendy shirt undone. Dannii has a croissant on her head. Cheryl is wearing a silver robot-meets 80s-power-suit outfit. Simon is Simon.

The joy of the group song is next, and they're doing Alphabeat's Fascination. Again, they've pre-recorded the vocals to avoid week-one style car crashes with the vocals. However, it's been so over-processed in studio the only place you could make out who was singing if you weren't looking was John and Edward doing the speaky 'the word is on your lips' bit. They're all dressed in black and white, and mostly look fine, though Stacey wears a dress that's way too big for her. This is one of the most bouncy songs I know, yet there is no energy in vocals whatsoever - they're supposed to sound excited, but they sound bored. The dancing is energetic, though, and there are some pyrotechnics, so at least my brother's friend will be kept in work for the foreseeable.

Then we have a very long recap of yesterday, and if you want one of those you can merely look a bit further down the page. Although! Simon believes Danyl "won the night". Hahahahahahaha is all I'm saying. He also believes Louis was being a pissy little shit for telling Jamie off for doing U2 despite the fact he'd have done THE EXACT SAME THING if it were the other way round. Oh, and we get to revisit the HORROR of those inflatable thingies John and Edward have on stage with them. Yeah, thanks for that, NotLouis.

Anyway, it's Westlife, and for once ITVPlayer's fast-forward button works. I'm assuming they didn't say anything of note. [They just covered a DAUGHTRY song, and no, I don't know what any of us did to deserve that. - Steve]

We come back and big up Alexandra being number 1 in the albums chart and Cheryl being number 1 in the singles chart. Dermot accuses Louis of being a grumpy old man last night, which, compared to Simon: notsomuch. Oh, and lucky us! It's time for Mickey Bubbles! I catch the end and he does a dramatic bit with his head being thrown down and I thus now blame him for Danyl as much as I blame him for Leon Jackson. [Mickey Bubbles has a nice voice. I don't understand why he kept wandering away from the mic, though. - Carrie] Sorry for not watching our SPECIAL GUESTS tonight, but a) I have bronchitis and don't have the energy, and b) It's Westlife and Mickey Bubbles. So, you know, who cares?

Unlike our previous special guests, he has been reading his notes on The Party Line and was impressed with 'everybody'. Dermot pushes him to single someone out and he chooses Rachel.

Ads, and the tedious business of getting everyone up on the stage.

Anyway, safe are: Stacey, Olly, Rachel (who screams like crazy and causes Simon to pull an 'uh-oh' face as well he might), Joe, Lucie (making Dannii BEST MENTOR EVER and pissing Simon who wants a male winner RIGHT off), John and Edward, Jamie and... Lloyd.

This means poor old Miss Frank are in the bottom two against Simon's chosen one, so we all know it's a foregone conclusion, but HA! Maybe Simon needs to back a different horse after all. Or, you know, choose some different songs like he's always telling everyone else to do. We are ALL pig sick of 'Feelin' Good' and 'And I Am Telling You'.

Ads: What the hell is this Coronation Street: Romanian Holiday DVD thing, and who would buy it?

Louis, knowing he's doomed, introduces Miss Frank as three girls singing their hearts out to stay in the competition. Now, they could do the best performance ever, and Danyl could simply burp into a mic and we'd still all know who'd be leaving. They're singing 'Love Don't Live Here Anymore'. My TLC dream is dead. It sounds perfectly fine (although it's a boring song) but they look pretty uncomfortable up there. As they get into it they look more confident but sound a bit more screechy. Not that any of this matters.

Louis stands up to applaud them, knowing full well he got shafted again by having the groups category.

Simon says he wasn't expecting to say this, but 'welcome back Danyl'. And he's not very welcome, but seeing him in the sing-off is still tantalising. He's singing 'With a Little Help From My Friends' and it's as DRAMATIC! and SHOUTY! and OVERBLOWN! as we'd all expect, and he does a horrible bit where he sinks to his knees them smiles at his own brilliance. Then he nearly puts the 'you and you and you, you're gonna love me' bit from 'And I Am Telling You' into it as if he hadn't over-egged this pudding enough. Then he does all the whooping and wailing and punching and other gimmicks we have become accustomed to, and it's just horrible.

Louis can't believe these two acts are in the bottom and thinks it's 'unfair', which is one thing it isn't. He sends home Danyl, of course. Simon says he has never, ever been so surprised in his life and he's never ever heard anyone go out on such a high if it's Danyl's last performance, and he thinks it's a joke Danyl's in the bottom two. Simon still hasn't quite got the hang of this 'public mood' thing, has he? Anyway, he saves Danyl. Dannii does, too, wary of being the wicked witch again. Cheryl is 'confused' by the public's decision so sends Danyl home to go to deadlock. [I loved that total logic bypass Cheryl experienced right there. "I think the public made the wrong decision, therefore I am going to deliberately not use the power that I have been given to overrule just such an occurrence and hand that power back to the public. Whose decision making I just said I didn't agree with." Um, okay then. - Steve] If Danyl went out, this would be the most awesome moment EVER, but, the act leaving us are... Miss Frank. As we suspected.

Miss Frank's best bits: a mishmash of being awesome and never quite living up to that awesome.

Dermot says, 'Whoever was going home tonight would have been a bit of a shock.' Well, I'm guessing not if it was Olly, Rachel or Lloyd, but hey. Louis says he hopes they stay together as a group. Dermot asks if they will. They say they are going to have their own factor, which makes no sense.

Still, 'Louis's most successful X Factor Group' (apart from G4 in the series that never happened), JLS, are here next week, along with Bon Jovi, of all the random guests. Join us then!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bubbles and Squeak

Big band night
Tx 24th October 2009

Last weekend! People sang! Cheryl screeched and mimed and cried! Simon was an insufferable bitch! Rikki went home and I'd entirely forgotten about him already!

Tonight! It's the inevitable car crash that is Big Band Night, with added Mickey Bubbles!


Dermot is under the misapprehension that he is a James Bond-Dean Martin hybrid, and postures around the stage accordingly. For Big Band week we must think Vegas, swing, Sinatra - remember this definition, as this will prove important later.

He introduces the judges, now with the returned Louis, who, much as I dislike him, it is nice to see back. Cheryl's white gown is too long for her, a la Whitney Euston. Dermot welcomes Louis back to the show, and Louis witters about how he watched the show at home and thanks everyone for their support, and this feels a little uncomfortable because it's like he was off with flu or something. [Yeah, I thought so too, but then I think subtlety and class is entirely too much to expect from this show. - Steve] Anyway.

Simon introduces Olly Murs, who wore a stupidly tight and shiny suit last week and did not sing a diva song. He has always felt the least experienced in the category, but now he feels like he belongs there. His parents think the house is quiet without him, and point out that he owes them rent. Wait, he still lives at home? This week, he met Mickey Bubbles (as did the others) for a masterclass. Mickey says Olly is a nice, good-looking boy. He fails to mention the quality of his vocal. I believe this is telling. Simon says the song isn't the best known, but he loves this version. Cheryl and Mickey are unconvinced. Olly feels under pressure to get it right, otherwise he may go home. Yeah.

Oh, my. He comes on and says, "Good evening, ladies," and he has two lady dancers dressed as witches. And then he sings the theme tune from Bewitched. Who knew it even had words? He keeps licking his lips, and looks a bit lizardlike and sinister. There's a hideous quasi-tap break, with fake laughter. Oh, and it ends with a dreadful high-kicking jazz-hands chorus line and really dire forced vibrato. But I guess it's melodic. Ish.

Louis likes that it was an unusual song - "You're the boy next door, you can sing and you can dance." Simon is audibly laughing at this. Dannii calls it "classy", and then talks about the craft of Buble. Cheryl says Olly is coming into his own (fnar). Simon loved the dancers, and says, "I know what it's like working with two witches." Ouch. [I love that the other three were all 'hang on, which one of us was he not referring to?' - Steve] Apparently they've been trying to work out what sort of artist Olly should be. I'm still trying to work that out.

Dermot does an inept impression of Cheryl's dancing, and throws to her to introduce Lloyd. Last week he sang Bleeding Love and failed to sing any of the "keep"s properly. Lloyd reminds us that he is only 16, and his parents wheel out his baby sibling. Didn't Eoghan try this last year? His older sister says her friends are asking her to pass on their propositions to him. Ew. Lloyd goes to meet Mickey Bubbles who has apparently never met anyone who is 16 before - "16? Wow! I'm two times older than you!" Lloyd has apparently never met anyone who is older than him before because he has a look of utter disbelief on his face. Mickey suggests that Lloyd should enjoy himself; Cheryl is sure this is the right song choice for him.

It is Fly Me To The Moon. It's about a third too low for him, and he has some very suspect breathing. C'mon, Yvie, sort that out. Also, does he have a tattoo on his right wrist? I thought you had to be 18 to get ink. Whoa, and then he does a backflip in the instrumental break. On what planet is that suitable, NotLouis?

Louis claims to be a big supporter of Lloyd. "If I was doing a boy band in the morning," he begins, and for some reason nobody in the studio finds this as childishly hilarious as I do, "I'd put you in it as the lead singer, but I think you need to be in a band." I can see what he means. There's not that much magic or charisma about Lloyd, tuneful though he can be. Dannii thought it was entertaining, and suggests that Lloyd should fill in every phrase of the song right from the start. So - sing, then? Simon says Lloyd needs confidence, and shouldn't be looking at Cheryl for guidance. And nor should he be backflipping - "it's like eating a sandwich while you're swimming". Cheryl says lots of crowd-pleasing things that make the morons in the audience whoop. Dermot tells Simon and Louis that they ought to get on stage and backflip. Oh, shush. And then he witters about Lloyd being only 16. And THEN Simon says the stupidest thing ever said on The X Factor (and he certainly has some competition) - "The one thing we don't do on this show is patronise people." THE POOR BOY'S 16, SIMON! [See also: "maw liddle Diana Vickers", "your dead father would be very proud of you", any time anyone above the age of 35 has ever entered the over 25s category, etc. - Steve]

Last week, Miss Frank warbled and tried to out-diva each other. They agree they were dull and unoriginal last week. Their parents talk about how proud they are of their girls. Louis says he was disappointed in them last week, but this week he is going to give them a song they already know, ie That's Life, the one they sang at boot camp. Mickey Bubbles admires their synergy, and revels in a group hug. Cheryl fears them failing to recapture their magic.

Their mic levels are rather uneven. Graziella has a walking cane. I like Miss Frank but they're not as good as they want to be; there's not enough power or control in any of their voices to be doing the duelling they're attempting at the moment. There's a rap bit in the middle. Of course. Overall, sloppy but entertaining.

Dannii thinks they are back in the race and playing to their strength, and thanks band leader Nigel for permitting the rap. Cheryl says they added attitude to a classic, and this is what makes them original. Simon says this is the first time he's believed in Miss Frank as a group, and they look completely different to last week. He likes that they can take criticism on the chin and have come back fighting. The girls murmur inanely, while Graziella talks madly about how she wrote her rap.

Rachel weeps about her repeated bottom two appearances. Dannii wonders why she is not connecting with the audience, and Rachel points out that she is amazing at singing so she doesn't understand why people don't like her. Hmm. Her family talk about being proud of her. Mickey Bubbles says when he grows up he wants to sing like Rachel. Heh. Simon wants to see fun, personality and performance, and less self-pity.

She's singing Proud Mary, and looks prettier this week, even though she's saddled with another dress decorated with an explosion in a paint factory. There's some mental choreography, but Rachel's joining in with it and having fun. This is the first time it's actually looked like she wants to be there, and that comes across in her performance. [I really liked Rachel this week - Rad] There are pyrotechnics, and there is much happiness from Dannii.

Louis says he can't understand why people don't vote for Rachel. She's beaming and looking pretty and young, blowing kisses to the panel, and if she'd been like this for the past two weeks people WOULD have voted for her. Cheryl admires her guts and determination as well as her voice. Simon says that for the past fortnight Rachel has acted as if she is Louis's age, but now we are seeing the person she really is. Dannii blames herself for bad choices with Rachel before, but now they are getting it right. Rachel scurries across to kiss her before returning to Dermot and doing a rather weird Stacey impression that's quite uncomfortable to watch.

Simon introduces Jamie Afro-Archer. Jamie's family talk about how proud they are. Yawn. Mickey Bubbles wants to touch his hair. Yikes. He advises him to be himself. Simon didn't like Jamie's song in soundcheck on Friday, so they change the performance with 24 hours to go. Jamie is worried, but trusts Simon's judgement. [Oh Jamie, you fool. - Rad]

So on Big Band Week - you remember, swing, Vegas, Sinatra - Jamie Archer is singing Angel of Harlem by well-known Rat Packers U2. Let's face it, Big Band Week is now just "Songs that can be accompanied by a big band" Week. They've been playing fast and loose with this definition for ages now (in fact, with the definition for EVERY theme week), so let's give up the pretence, right? Also, this song is rubbish.

Louis judges the song choice unfavourably, and thinks it is cheating because everyone else has sung a big band song. [To be fair, my brother, who likes Jamie the best even went 'that's just cheating' - Rad] Dannii says Jamie is a true pro, but the performance didn't have the magic of last week. Cheryl says it did not excite her, but well done anyway. Simon agrees it wasn't as good as last week because he only had 24 hours to prepare, and then takes on Louis for sounding like someone from the council with a silly little rulebook, tellling him that he cannot dictate musical taste when he is mentoring John and Edward. Dermot comes on to be a corporate whore and say that if there's a horn section in a song, it can be used in Big Band Week. Oh, fuck off, O'Leary.

Last week, Stacey was scared before she went on, and then it was the Best Thing Ever. She gets to see her son every week, and her family say what a great mum she is. Clip of Zac being adorable and clapping Stacey on the television. She meets Mickey Bubbles and declares him to be "such a nice man". He suggests that she sing her song to Zac in order to convey her emotion. She cries in her VT: "I'm going to sing it to Zac because all I ever want in life is for his wishes to come true." My eyes have gone a bit misty.

She looks like a Disney princess [I thought she looked more like a Batman villain, personally - Steve], and sings When You Wish Upon A Star. She's a bit sharp in places, including the key change. Louis says that everyone loves her; Cheryl says she looks beautiful but it wasn't her best ever performance; Simon thought it was robotic and that Stacey needs some performance skills; Dannii says everyone should know that this was Stacey's hardest week - "Stacey came to me yesterday in my room and we locked the door," and again I laugh childishly, "and she was in floods of tears." Stacey sang anyway, and even though the comments were bad tonight, she is happy because she looks pretty. Dermot asks whether her breathing is restricted in the dress, and she says yes, she can barely breathe, and she can't bend. Not a great choice for live performance, that, then, is it, wardrobe?

Dermot lies that we are having "a storming Big Band Week". Simon is very excited to introduce Danyl Johnson. He VTs that he was nervous about Dannii and Cheryl's comments last week, and that his mum drives to London from Kent every week to see him perform. Wow. That's dedication. Danyl reminds us that they have all had a masterclass with Bubbles this week. Mickey wonders if Danyl will Bring It To The Table tonight. Yvie seems a bit dubious about his vocal capabilities for tonight's song.

Ah, he's singing Feelin' Good. Could have been worse, could have been Mack the sodding Knife. Ooh, he goes a bit pirate-sidegob every so often. Also, he seems to lack the capacity to sustain on his lower register. When he switches up, I'm slightly concerned at his moving from proper singing to raspy throaty growl on his long notes. That can't be good.

Louis reckons Danyl was born to entertain and is unstoppable in the competition. Dannii says he made it his own, Cheryl enthuses about the song choice. Simon reminds us that we are seeking someone to represent this country all over the world. Are we? He adds that Danyl is in a different league to everyone else so far tonight. Then Danyl does a vomit-inducing spiel about how much he loves his mum. [At which my entire family got confused because she wasn't DEAD - Rad]

Cheryl introduces Joe. He's from SOUTH SHIELDS, you know. She thought he was the star of the show last week. Joe misses his family. His dad says that he was blessed with a lovely child. Aw. Joe meets Bubbles, and says it was an amazing experience. Mickey recommends being sexy. Ew. Louis scrunches up his nose at the thought of Joe being sexy. Ooh, and we have a VT from NotLouis, who talks about the complexity of the choreography, obviously. Cheryl assures us Joe will have no trouble at all. Joe fears looking stupid. Too late for that.

Joe has DANCING BOYS! Sadly not shirtless, but I'm sure NotLouis is just saving that for later in the series. He doesn't do too badly with the dancing, but the vocals aren't as strong as usual, though he never veers horrendously out of tune.

Louis says Joe is one of the nicest contestants in the competition, and will be there until the very, VERY end. Dannii concurs, though she thinks he looked very young this week with the older dancers around him. Simon says Joe rises to the challenges that are thrown at him, but he has as much Latin flair as a dolphin. Louis snipes that "at least he sang big band". Ha. Cheryl says she enjoyed it. But then she would.

Here is Lucie. She is going to work harder, apparently. She misses her mum and dad, but they are happy the house is tidy and there is food in the fridge. She squeezes Mickey Bubbles and has a bit of a crush on him, evidently - she keeps smiling and nodding in a really vacant way, which is quite endearing.

Ooh, she's singing My Funny Valentine. And it's beautiful. She's committing to it and really selling it - and I bet this'll get called "musical theatre" or something equally nonsensical. That was by far the best performance of the night for me. Though obviously John and Edward haven't sung yet.

Louis plays the regional card because Lucie is a singer FROM WALES. Cheryl says that tonight Lucie proved her wrong with a stunning, authentic performance. Simon thought it was a good vocal, but "you sang it like an actress". What? Is that a bad thing? Dannii interrupts to say she does not appreciate Simon's comments on a faultless performance, and then Dermot wanders on to talk on Lucie's behalf, like that's his place. Shut UP, O'Leary.

And finally, they are here - John and Edward. They are a novelty act, but don't seem to have realised it. They want to give memorable performances and sing in red suits, or something. Their parents are proud. Really? I mean, really? Louis says people always ask about him. Bubbles says they are really sweet kids. He does not comment on their singing. NotLouis dons a vest and choreographs a mad dance routine for them. Simon does not want to say anything any more because nobody listens to him, but he says that if J&E win, he will leave the country. Oh, like you're here for more than three months a year anyway. [My dad made this exact same point. Also, Simon is LOVING the attention these two are getting, because they're the only act keeping this show in the public eye right now, other than National Treasure Cheryl Cole - Rad]

They kneeslide on to the stage and begin to Rex Harrison their way through She Bangs. They do an odd bit of headbanging with a lady dancer. There are inflatable Johns and Edwards at the side of the stage. They crawl through dancers' legs. They mime handcuffs. There is a key change. There is glitter and then there is booing from the audience, and yes, they're awful, but don't boo. So rude.

Dannii says their singing isn't of a standard to follow Alexandra BURKE, but it was entertaining. Cheryl says they are really nice kids and they are fast becoming her guilty pleasure. [That's not what she said last week. - Steve] Simon says he is unsure about whether he can do this any more, and is struggling to be constructive. He gives them credit for putting on a show and having fun, but as it's a singing competition, they are appalling. Louis says Simon once founded an act called "Zig and Zag", and John and Edward are better. HA. Best backhanded compliment ever.

So a recap - Olly was bewitched; Lloyd has not yet been flown to the moon; Miss Frank reprised their musings on life; Rachel channelled Stacey; Jamie channelled Bono; Stacey was a Disney princess who couldn't breathe; Danyl felt good, but our ears didn't; Joe swayed with a troupe of dancing boys; Lucie was amazing and actressy, apparently; and John and Edward banged.

That's it! Join Rad for the results show...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Euston, we have a problem

Divas week – the results show Tx: 18th October 2009

Last night! There were divas! There were judges! There was this year’s must-see moment as John and Edward did “the talking bit” in Oops! Cheryl cried for no discernible reason! Titles!

Tonight, fuck the contestants – Cheryl is plugging her solo career, and Whitney is being wheeled out. Oh, and yeah, whatever, Dermot, “it’s all about our eleven contestants.” We’re reminded that Louis isn’t here, and this constant balance between reminding us that Louis isn’t there and not straying into maudlin territory sits very uncomfortably with me. Anyway, Simon, Dannii and Cheryl are there. Dannii is in a cerise dress, Cheryl is in a very skimpy white dress.

I am going to climb into my TV and punch Dermot if he doesn’t learn to say “Houston” sometime during this show. The finalists are singing a Whitney Euston classic – Queen of the Night. Well, at least, they’re miming to it. Then there are pyrotechnics. Then it is over.

Corporate drone Dermot patronises and congratulates Alexandra BURKE for her number one single, the fastest selling of the year. Then it’s time for some filler backstage with the finalists – Lucie is pleased that Simon complimented her; Olly did some shadowboxing; Miss Frank look a bit disheartened after Simon being mean; Rachel assures us she had fun; Joe is speechless; Danyl is glad to have the lady judges onside; Lloyd mutters something or other; John and Edward are bewildered about being on live TV and then thinking, “Oh, I shouldn’t have done that,”; Rikki believes in Cheryl (what, that she exists?) and did his best with the song she gave him; Jamie Afro was delighted that the crowd responded to him and hopes the audience at home will too (well, I responded to him, just probably not in the way that he means); Stacey feels good and is happy. Heh.

Dermot then introduces Cheryl Cole. Look! There are three-fifths of Girls Aloud (did nobody invite Nadine?). Oh, and look, there is Cheryl’s horrible husband. Not sitting with the Girls, mark you. Cheryl is wearing an old-fashioned soldier uniform that appears to have been savaged by some passing rabid big cats, exposing net mesh underwear not dissimilar to that displayed by Kandy Rain last week. She is not singing; she is gyrating. I don’t really like this song. At the end, Dermot comes on to talk to her, and her lipstick has melted rather unattractively all over her chin. She does a weepy thank-you speech for all the support she has had since she started The X Factor (subtext: PLEASE BUY MY RECORD). Simon is very charming to her and says that she will be number one next week. [Sigh. - Steve]

The judges pontificate about their acts – Cheryl’s family and friends think she did a really good job last night with her boys, and she doesn’t think she should be too worried (oh, Fate, how she tempts thee); Simon says something about him having to put a smile on Cheryl’s face, which is probably not as innuendo-laden as I interpret it; Dannii thinks it is tough for the girls to sing diva songs; Simon is not worried at all about his acts, but he thinks the first half of Lloyd was better than he initially thought. Dermot asks, “The top half or the bottom half?” and we’re back into rather creepy homoerotic territory. Then it is time to introduce Whitney Houston.

Oh, Whitney. Her silver dress is too long and her heels are too high. She’s staggering around the stage, holding her skirts up to avoid falling over. And then the strap across her back pings open, and flaps around as she continues her circuit of the stage. She realises that she’s in dire danger of a wardrobe malfunction, but like a true pro she carries on anyway, with two half-hearted attempts to do it up again. Dermot attempts to interview her. I shall transcribe it verbatim.

Whitney: I sang myself out of my clothes. Hello, how are you?
Dermot: I’m very well, thank you, Whitney. Thanks for coming on.
Whitney: Thanks for having me.
Dermot: First things first, thanks for all the money. [There is paper money all over the stage] Secondly -
Whitney: It’s all mine.
Dermot: We’ll pick it up afterwards, don’t worry. New world tour, new album. When’s the album out?
Whitney: The, um, the album? [pause, like she has never heard the word before] Should be out this weekend. Or this week some time. I’ll be back here in April on tour.
Dermot: The album’s out tomorrow, and you’re back here in April. I know you did a masterclass, you did a little mentoring for our contestants. You don’t take any punches. You get straight in there. You tell them what you think. I love that about you.
Whitney: Is that why you call me lippy? Simon calls me lippy. Cos I say what’s on my mind, like he does.
Dermot: Simon, a woman after your own heart?
Simon: A hundred million per cent. [desperately trying to get it back on track] How incredible is it, having Whitney Houston back on this stage?
Whitney: Thank you.
Dermot: [failing to take Simon’s hint] Whitney, what did you make of our contestants?
Whitney: I thought that they were, um [long pause while she stares at the floor]. Really good. They’re young, they have a lot of room to grow. Like Clive told me, practise, practise, practise.

And that is Whitney Houston’s triumphant return to the UK. [Best evarz. I want Whitney to be on the judging panel permanently. - Steve]

Time to face the results, apparently, whatever that means. The acts return on stage with their mentors, except for the groups, because Louis isn’t here. Have they mentioned that? The acts through to next week’s show: Olly; Miss Frank; Joe; Danyl; Lucie; Jamie; Stacey; Lloyd; and finally, of course, John and Edward. How could it not be? There is comprehensive booing from the audience.

Rachel is in the bottom two again, singing off against Rikki, and she is in bits. She’s weeping on Dannii’s shoulder; that is, until Dermot drags her off and makes her stand centre stage. Time for a quick ad break, and then Dermot tries to get helpful advice from Simon regarding the best way to approach a sing-off. Cheryl is staring at Dannii with a total bitchface on – I’m sure Dannii is also pissed off a massive amount about her act being in the bottom two, but at least it’s not in view of the cameras.

Rachel is singing With Or Without You. It’s OK, as far as any U2 song performed by someone who’s trying not to cry is OK. Rikki is singing “his favourite song”. This turns out to be Flying Without Wings, a ballad I’m actually quite fond of, but as my friend Chris pointed out via text, “Is anyone’s favourite song really a Westlife one?” More to the point, this might endear Rikki to Louis, but as we’ve been reminded, Louis is absent this week. Anyway, Rikki wimps out on the big note (you know, the “And it’s like FERLYING without wings” bit that JLS didn’t get to sing either) and it’s all rather weak and dull.

Dannii and Cheryl save their own acts, obviously; and then Simon squeezes as much drama as he can from the moment, criticising the material they have been given to perform, before eventually revealing that he is going to save Rachel.

So Rikki is on his way, after a brief montage of his best bits (most of which incorporate a hat) and Cheryl – fresh from her “difficult” week she cried about last night – decides to be a total cow and say that her act should have stayed in over John and Edward. Who, admittedly, are short on talent, but then the rules of the game are that if you don’t finish in the bottom two with the public vote, you’re safe. And nobody – not even Scotland, evidently – voted for Rikki. So deal with it. Bint. [Cheryl's little strop amused me greatly. Things should not go her way more often. - Steve] Dermot does his corporate yes-man schtick to smooth over her rant.

Next week! It’s fucking BIG BAND week. And Mickey Bubbles will be there! As will Westlife! So presumably Louis will also return. Join us then!

Are you disrespecting me?

Performance Show 2: Divas week

Broadcast: 17/10/2009

Last week! Pretty much everyone sucked! Kandy Rain went home for being sluts! There was some CONTROVERSY! Tonight on the X Factor… Louis isn’t here but his acts are going to ‘do him proud’. NotLouis is not being Louis tonight though, or rather not being NotLouis. Except he IS NotLouis. *Brain breaks*. Simon says they’ve thrown down the gauntlet. Cheryl cannot wait. Dannii flagellates herself for our benefit. Oh, no, wait, that was last week.


Dermot ‘welcomes’ us to 'our' X Factor weekend. Has there ever been a phrase so dispiriting? The judges enter to ‘One Moment in Time’. This week, Cheryl is wearing a plastic lampshade [or possibly the skin of a Weeble - Steve], Dannii is wearing a reasonably nice gold and black dress ad is working a slightly bizarre hairstyle circa Kylie’s ‘2 Hearts’ period. Simon has his chest hair out again. Put it away, Cowell, or I’ll get Tess Daly onto you. [Or Camilla Dallerup - just see what Kevin Sacre looks like these days... - Steve]

Tonight’s theme is Divas – songs by the biggest female voices (what no Elton)? Dermot says we’re talking Aretha, Beyonce, Tina Turner, Leona (um…) and Whitney who is BACK tomorrow. The audience go nuts at this, like seriously mental, and they keep going nuts even when Dermot tries to talk to Simon.

We are told to welcome ‘the legendary Clive Davis’ who discovered Whitney and others and is sitting in the audience. The audience still go mad despite not actually knowing who he is. [I spat in his general direction - I felt that's what Kelly Clarkson would've wanted me to do. - Steve] Right here folks, right here is the moment you know this week’s double bill is going to be insane. So on with the show…

Opening the show in style, and, apparently ‘Whitney wouldn’t have it any other way’, though I presume she didn’t get to determine the running order is Lucie. This week we get the barrage of sickly I wanted this as a child bits in the VTs. I don’t think I’ll have the stomach to recap all of these, but anyway, Lucie was cute and blonde as a child.

We see Whitney and Clive (who looks like Kojak and Mike Reid’s love child) in a rather fancy room coaching the contestants. At first I think Whitney looks good but then I remember that I thought that about Robbie last week when he was guest mentoring, so I am assuming this is the calm before the crazy. She’s going to be doing ‘How Will I Know?’ which is possibly my favourite Whitney song ever, but NotLouis and Cheryl think she can’t do the high bits or the dancing.

The lighting effects are all ‘80s fluoro splashes and there are some dancers on stage, but compared to NotLouis’ usual standards, it’s rather normal. Her singing is a bit squeaky, and she does indeed struggle with the high notes, but then this is a deceptively hard song. I’m assuming Steve is just glad it isn’t ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody. [Damn straight. - Steve] Still, she’s wearing a nice blue dress.

In the first of many stupid comments tonight, Dannii thinks Whitney would be proud. Simon says she’s never going to be Whitney so it was stupid to try a Whitney song. In pseudo-Whitney week. This really is going to be one of those nights. He then has the audacity to say ‘we are back to the talent now’ when referring to Olly.

His VT has some footage of him being a kid and dancing stupidly – he reminds me of one of those boys you get in every class who think they’re really funny, even though they’re the only ones in on the joke. He tells us that’s where he got his moves… and doesn’t sound like he’s joking. Whitney does some random Tina Turner impression at him in the posh rehearsal room. Whitney as Tina on Stars in Their Eyes, please?

He’s singing ‘A Fool in Love’ which I vaguely knew but had to look up, and I suppose it’s a brave option to do a song not everyone would know. Here endeth the damning with faint praise. This is awful. He has some 60s dancing girls on stage with him. He’s wearing a horrid, horrid silver suit and singing it in a pub-singer-does-rock’n’roll-karaoke style. But that’s nothing compared to the atrocity of his excruciating, bandy-legged, horrible, creepy dancing. I feel soiled just watching it. I don’t know why people are singling out John and Edward for such flak when there’s dross like this still in the final 12 – I’d genuinely say this was more excruciating than anything they’ve done so far.

The audience go wild – I swear someone has spiked them tonight. Dannii is pretty inaudible but I think she liked it. Cheryl says he absolutely smashed it. Note that smashed it. I assume by it, she means my sanity. Simon says it was really really really good and in a different league (to?) – yes, the Vauxhall Conference League. Ithangyoo.

Dermot asks him about his dance step. Don’t encourage him, Dermot. Olly says, ‘I feel it when I move’. He also has an annoying squeaky speaking voice as if there wasn’t reason enough to feel disgusted with the nature of the human race right now.

We are then reminded that there are ONLY TWO GROUPS LEFT, although with it being the second week, there would always be one category there were ONLY TWO LEFT of, so it’s no biggie.

Miss Frank are next, and they are so clearly Louis’ anointed this year, as they have the matching Tshirts. At least he waited until one of his groups got eliminated this week rather than making it blatantly obvious who his favourites were like he did with JLS and their coloured hoodies last year. Also: memo to JLS – why no coloured hoodies any more? I hope you’ll put them back on especially for us this year so the yellow one can wish us a MERRY CHRISTMAS. [Lulz. - Steve] [Epic lulz. - Carrie]

Funnily enough, they wanted to sing since they were children. The captioning people can’t spell Graziella’s name. NotLouis says if they get their song right it’ll be the best of the night. Simon says they need to act like a group more. I feel a bit sorry for them always having that storyline rammed down their throats – I mean, they’re clearly trying to act like a group, and it’s never going to be easy when you just get thrown together. We all know this, can we move on now? Poor Shar says they completely trust Louis (with his impeccable record of working with girls) and going to do it for him. Aw.

Shaniece is first on stage with a bright green light behind her that looks like the plumbob logo from The Sims. She starts out squeaky but improves: as do the other two. Shar has new straightened hair, and Graziella is wearing some odd tartany dress, because she’s the kooky one, right? They’re singing ‘All the Man I Need’ and, hmm, well, it proves why very few people can do Whitney. Anyway, Cheryl says there are no bookends in this band (and presumably putting Shaniece in the middle was to help prove this). Simon thought they were mainly terrible and out of tune. I’d have more respect for this if he didn’t completely ignore certain other acts (*cough* his category) when they frequently lose the tune. Anyway. Cheryl tells them not to be too downhearted as it took Girls Aloud two years to connect with each other with harmonies and so on. Simon says, ‘I think it was more like three’. Whuh? [God, Simon really is being a dick this year. - Steve] Simon says Miss Frank should have done an original version of the song, not a Whitney version – though I imagine that’s a hard song to rework, and if Simon’s idea of reworking is the hell-on-toast way he got Austin to rape Michael Jackson’s best song last year, then I’d rather not. [I don't think David Cook did any Whitney songs on American Idol. - Steve] Anyway, show people, if you’re reading, can they do some TLC soon, please?

Last week Rachel was on first and was thus in the bottom two. She was very excited that Whitney and Clive clapped for her. Pshaw. Simon VTs that her confidence has taken a huge knock, ‘So what has Dannii done? Given her a Beyoncé song’ and gives this massive eye roll. So, choosing a song by a young, contemporary female singer for a young, contemporary female singer in ‘Divas’ week is a bad choice? Simon has so many logic fails tonight it’s almost making me long for Louis to balance out the cuntishness a bit. Oh, and according to the whole of Twitter, she falls over again in the VT, although I missed it. [It was in the group scene, where they all saw Whitney for the first time. I'm starting to think she might want to see a doctor about all this falling over. - Steve]

She starts lying down on the floor, though I’m not sure if this is in homage to her constant falling over or nor. She is singing ‘If I were a Boy’. Ugh. Beyonce has an amazing singles back catalogue. Pretty much every song in it is awesome. Except this one. [I bet Rachel would've rocked 'Single Ladies'. - Steve] NotLouis is clearly feeling pissed off about last week’s steps incident, because he’s got her standing on a Perspex box. Uh oh. She’s a bit off-key in the big notes but generally reasonably good (though she sounds a little hoarse) – at least compared to several of her ‘competitors’ tonight. Simon liked it but didn’t love it because it was too close to the original. Can we all please remember this for when Olly does a dreary, by-numbers version of ‘Mack the Knife’ next week? He says he doesn’t think Dannii is getting Rachel’s personality out enough and he’s frustrated. Dannii says Simon would have liked it if she was in his category. Simon says it’s all about the audience who vote, which is esentially a burn on Rachel and yet the audience cheer. Weirdos.

Cheryl rubs hands Sharon-style as she introduces ‘the first of my boys, little Geordie Joe’. Sigh. That sigh is not meant for Joe, by the way, he’s inoffensive enough.

When Joe was a kid, he used to recreate Wham!’s Last Christmas video. I shall leave you to think of your own comments. Already I want to revise my opinion of Whitney, as she seems less and less sane with each contestant – though to be fair, they’d drive anyone a bit loopy. Clive says Joe’s alert. Whitney, all animated, goes, ‘Yes, yes, he is.' Cheryl says Joe has no problems. Simon says if he makes this work with this song then we’ve all got a problem. Well, presumably apart from Joe and Cheryl unless that comment is meant to confuse the hell out of us.

He’s singing ‘Where do Broken Hearts Go’, and it’s very boyband. It’s fine, it’s tuneful, it’s not exactly exciting. There’s no real emotion, although there isn’t any Danyl fake over-emotion either. Simon is singing along. Heh. He’s a shoo-in for the final, isn’t he?

Dannii says he nailed it and when Whitney says sing from the heart she doesn’t think there's anything else he can do. Simon says it pains him to say it but it was absolutely note perfect. To take on one of the big W songs, what are you 18 19? His only criticism is Joe needs to raise his shoulders a bit. Yes, Dad. Cheryl says she is going to echo what Whitney said ‘that was absolutely beautiful and I love you to bits Joe’. Did Whitney REALLY say that? Wowsers. Dermot throws over to Clive to give him another ego stroke (seriously, he is getting even more bigged up than Whitney herself) and says, ‘You produced that? Thumbs up?’ I’d love him to say no, not because I hate Joe, but you know, it’d be funny and all. Clive says, ‘Two thumbs up.’ Simon then raises the spectre of latent homophobia once more by saying, 'One final piece of advice: burn the films we saw before.' Now whether Joe is gay or not, I’m not going to speculate, but it’s pretty clear what the undercurrent to that comment was given the camptastic nature of those films.

Next up is Danyl. Last week he was a cock. Who is BISEXUAL and thus also likes cock. But that caused controversy. And the other judges called him cocky. For that is what he is. Simon says, ‘They lied about him, they’re threatened by him.’ Yes. That’s exactly what it is. In the most fakeass bit of promotional fakery ever, Simon says they are giving him a Whitney song no-one’s ever heard of, from her new record, and they had to get permission. Come on. Everyone knows the deal would have said they had to promote the new album for Whitney EUSTON (thanks Dermot) to appear. In the rehersal room, things take on a whole new level of awesome. Clive says he’s losing melody. Whitney says he needs to go back and listen to it and know the melody and stuck to it. Whitney and Clive put the burn on Danyl. Excellent. Cheryl says she stands by what she said, he had got to point where he was verging on cocky. Simon says it’s not cocky, its confidence. Because he himself is cocky and thinks it just means confident.

The song is a bit nothingy, which doesn’t act as a great advert for the album, and of course, he majorly oversings it all the way through with no light and shade whatsoever. We have the obligatory dry ice, meaningful walking round stage and lights. And lots and lots of warbling.

Dannii [Burn the witch! - The Public] toes the corporate line, which this week is that they thought he might peak on his first audition but that was flawless. Cheryl likewise does what SyCo Limited have contracted her to do and says singing a Whitney song that was not well known is a big challenge but he delivered. He says, ‘I’m trying to impress you guys.’ Simon says you didn’t exactly get rave reviews in that room did you (Meaning Whitney and Clive) and sounds rather cheesed off about this. Then he says, ‘But of course it’s a precious song to Whitney?’ Did Simon just diss Whitney? Because if that was a precious song to me and that twat ruined it by losing the tune and warbling through it and turning it into a monstrosity, then, ya, I’d be pretty unimpressed, too. But of course, no matter what Whitney thinks, it was BEST EVARZ.

Next up with a massive massive challenge is little Lloyd. Gee whizz. Is this thing still going on?

Clive says Lloyd has the challenge to make the listener feel like you’re feeling it. Oh, Clive, it was all going so well and suddenly you sound like you’ve been taking lessons from the Cowell school of inarticulacy. Whitney sings ‘The Greatest Love of All’ at him and my jaw hits the floor. Surely he isn’t? He IS a child, he can’t be singing about children being our future. Fortunately, that’s not the case, and he’s got probably Leona’s biggest hit. Well, except the one that was ACTUALLY her biggest hit, but anyway. Yvie understands why Lloyd feels worried. Gee, two songs in two weeks (last week’s co-written by a certain S Cowell, by the way) – has Leona got a new album out, do we think?

Too many of the song choices invite their own puns tonight – and here he is attempting ‘Bleeding Love’. Um, the paisley patterned lights are kind of pretty. He is just kind of vacant. Badumtish. Now, can someone clarify for me? I always thought Leona was singing that her heart was crippled by the thing that she keeps on closed in, but that it sounded very much like the vein that she keeps on closing, in the same way as ‘Call me when you try to wake her up’ in REM’s ‘The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite’ sounds like ‘Calling Cheryl Baker up’. [My album sleeve says "closing". Yes, I own a Leona Lewis album. WHAT OF IT? - Steve] Anyway, I digress. The point is that Lloyd sings the vein closing bit tonight. So can anyone tell me what the real lyrics are? So, it’s not as bad as last week. But that would be hard. It’s still incredibly rubbish and dull. Then he stops singing for a bit and the backing singers do it all, which is a bit better.

Simon says, ‘It’s very very lucky that you’re cute and the chicks will love you.’ Chicks? He says the song would have worked if it was 15 seconds, and it was like a mouse climbing a mountain. He’s going to put blame on the girl [WOMAN - Carrie] sitting on his right who is not understanding Lloyd or working with him. Two burns on National Treasure Cherly Cole in one night? Me-yow. Cheryl says she’ll take full responsibility for the song she gave him. She stars crying that Diva week was hard for the boys and she makes Lloyd hug her. [And here I was thinking there'd be LESS self-indulgent behaviour from the judges after Sharon Osbourne left. - Steve] Dermot then gives him a manly backslap (why no hug, Dermot?). She says she hopes she hasn’t let him down. He says in a droll voice ‘I ‘preciate your comments, I’ll take them all into consideration and hopes Cheryl won't be too upset’. Dermot says it’s THE X Factor song, which: no, and ‘he deserves credit doesn’t he Simon’? Simon says ‘you can’t make me feel smaller than I do already’ then ‘come here darling’ to Cheryl and he kisses her on the cheek in a patronising way. Seriously, the judges are ODD tonight.

Next up, John and Edward. Last week, they felt like James Bond, apparently. Um. They VT that telling them they can’t sing is like telling Beckham he can’t play football. They used to love 5ive when they were growing up. Can we have a rethink on ‘Musical Heroes’ week, plz? They weren’t as cute as kids as you might expect. This week they turned 18.

The boys make NotLouis laugh and he can’t get enough of them. They’re doing Britney. Does Britney qualify as a diva? I mean in her behaviour, maybe, but in her vocals? Simon says, ‘No way it can work’, but surely it can’t be as bad as when they made G4 do Britney back in the series that never was.

They are in red PVC suits, and being wheeled on in metal frames. Obviously they still can’t sing in tune, nor in time. They are trying to do Britney moves but they’re pretty stilted. It’s like Big Fun never happened. Then there’s some fire on stage and a whole troupe of Zovirax/Judoon dancers. They even do the talky bit in the middle incestuously to each other. They miss the key change. Actually, to be fair, the odd bit is in tune. But only the odd bit. [More of their performance was in tune than Lloyd's, if you ask me. - Steve] They end standing in the metal frames. NotLouis, you are a fruitloop. Simon is giggling.

Dannii and Cheryl say, um, words. I still haven’t gained my composure enough to hear them. Simon says his initial reaction was what the hell was that, and it was arguably, no not arguably, THE worst live performance he’s ever sat through (what, worse than Olly or Danyl? Cos I’m not sure. And it definitely was better than what’s coming next) but he’ll give them this, like the first time he saw The Exorcist, he didn’t like it but then he wanted to see it again. Though he was appalled by the performance he likes them as people cos they live on another planet but are sort of entertaining. Like NotLouis.

After the break, Jamie takes on Christina Aguilera. My money’s on her.

Dermot welcomes us back with that portentous statement ‘It’s only week 2’. Kill me now, Dermot.

Next up is the SCOTTISH lad, Satan. Sorry, Rikki. He tells us he’s been an attention seeker all his life. O rly? His mum looks a bit like Daphne from Neighbours in photos. Whitney says he needs to do Aretha well, as she’s one of the greats. OH NO HE ISN’T. She pulls a face when he sings and says her mum sang on that record and nobody can mess with Aretha. In other words, Whitney is telling him there is no way he should be performing an act of indecent assault on such a classic and it’d basically be desecrating both her mother and Aretha if he dares to do it. He VTs that he thinks he did it well though. Rikki: READ THE ROOM.

OH NO NO NO. Can we have a pun on the lack of RESPECT he is showing this? The backing dancers have OK dresses on. This is the worst thing I have seen in a long time. My eyes, my ears, my soul. I feel violated. The song will possibly never recover.

Dannii says she sees a little bit of Will Young’s performance in him. In that he has brown hair and a suit? She didn’t like it much though. Simon says what he did took guts but it was quite clear Clive and Whitney weren’t supportive of the song choice – unfortunately they were right. So why couldn’t they change the song?

Next up is Jamie, and in his VT, he actually says, ‘Mr cool guy Jamie Afro went out the window and was replaced by a nervous wreck’ at meeting Whitney. These people dig their own holes. Simon says he has one of the hardest songs in world to sing. Dannii says he’s out of his comfort zone. He is scratchy, better than Olly/Danyl, obviously, but still. He is way too shouty though. Oh, and by the way, he’s singing 'Hurt' which they do all the time on this show so I can’t be doing with all this HARDEST EVAR schtick. The ending is awful.

Cheryl and Dannii damn him with faint praise and Simon says they’re so unenthusiastic tonight. No, only about your acts, Simon, and also: pot/kettle. Simon adores it and says that works in the real world outside of this competition, whatever the hell that means.

The Diva of Dagenham is next as Stacey takes on Beyoncé (again?)

Stacey had to sing Celine Dion at a wedding when she was twelve and looked the same as she does now but with braces and it was so embarrassing. Whitney says to use her arms. Clive says to get into it from the start. Simon says it’ll hopefully be a bit easier when she won’t have Whitney and Clive staring her in the face. Cheryl loves her but if she forgets the words nobody’s safe. Dannii’s not worried.

She sings ‘At Last’, which I always associate with Eva Cassidy, even though I’m sure hers was a cover. I have never heard of Beyoncé doing this. [She sang it at President Obama's inauguration. - Steve] Anyway, it’s not particularly great. Still love her, though.

Cheryl loves it. Simon says there’s both a positive and a negative: she was so out of her comfort zone, in an odd dress (which looked fine to me), singing song she doesn’t know, but in the last twenty seconds got it together. I think that was the positive. He then butts in to thank Clive and Whitney and tell Louis they miss him. Dannii manages to say Stacey smashed it at the end, and Dermot bigs up the dress.

So, to recap, everyone was mediocre, except Simon’s acts who were brilliant (apart from the bit where they completely sucked). Whitney and Clive, however, proved their worth as guest mentors by dissing Danyl and Rikki. Tomorrow, the results, with special performances from Cheryl COLE and Whitney EUSTON! Join Carrie for all the “action”.

Monday, October 12, 2009

In which irredeemably slutty girls get what's coming to them, as mandated by National Treasure Cheryl Cole

Top 12: Results
TX: 11th October 2009

Last night! The final 12 sang live for our votes, and aside from Stacey and Miss Frank, they were all terrible. This is not the recap that the show itself gives us, naturally. Instead we recap the seeds being sown for this year's obligatory X Factor feuds, such as Cheryl pulling a squinty face when Simon pointed out her Giant Feminist Fail (about which I chucked in my two penn'orth in Carrie's recap yesterday, but the title of tonight's recap serves as a handy reminder of my feelings on the off chance you've forgotten). Interestingly, the saga of Dannii vs. Danyl and the tabloid-friendly swarm of kneejerk-reactions calling for her to BE THROWN INTO THE STOCKS for cracking an entirely harmless joke about one of this show's more egregious self-promoters that just happened to backfire is entirely ignored, and by the way I am sure that Simon Cowell and ITV are horrified that so many headlines were generated as a direct result. THIS. FUCKING. SHOW. God. It's just as well Carrie recapped last night's show instead of me, because I probably would've exploded with fury before the closing credits and it would've remained unfinished forever.

Anyway, tonight, one act must leave, and we will see the return of Alexandra BURKE and Robbie WILLIAMS. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Titles!

We begin with lights flashing everywhere, and that besuited, saluting berk Dermot O'Leary, demonstrating how utterly out of his depth he is with this show when he attempts a segue from "agonising wait for the contestants" to "the tragic death of Stephen Gately" and doesn't really succeed, throwing to Simon with a "terrible news" in much the same tone of voice that he might say "bit of a mixed bag for Eoghan, there". Simon says on behalf of the show and everyone there that their thoughts are with Stephen's family, and of course with Louis, who will not be attending tonight, since obviously this is a matter of considerable personal relevance to him. And if you're looking for any kind of crass joke here, you're not getting one. I'm not that tasteless. So, yes, Louis is not present tonight, but Simon says, "The show must go on", and Dermot responds, "Thank you very much, Simon. 'Preciate that." Do you, Dermot? DO YOU REALLY?

The voting lines are still open at this point, and Dermot reminds us that Alexandra will be back tonight, and Robbie will be giving an exclusive performance of his new single. But to really start the evening off with a show of high quality, we have a group sing from the top 12. Oh dear, oh dear. It's 'I Gotta Feeling' by the Black Eyed Peas [oh, is that what it was? - Carrie], starting with Jamie sounding somewhat flat, then cutting to Olly, who looks desperate and is off-key, then cutting to Danyl who is even more off-key than the first two. And this is supposed to be the category with the winner in it? Then the boys and girls enter at the same time, sounding considerably more in tune, but looking demonstrably more as though they're miming. I'm not going to walk you through every stage of this, but if I say that it makes last year's recording of 'Hero' sound like a tasteful, understated work of considerable harmony, you'll have some idea of how truly, embarrassingly dreadful this is. The only redemptive factor is John and Edward occasionally leaping into the air, Busted-style, to moderate comedy value. Also, I can't help thinking that this song was a bit of a poor choice given the tragic news they were just addressing. I know that the song would've been chosen far in advance, but it's a rather uncomfortable mood whiplash.

Time for a final reminder of the performances "and all the drama" from last night: Rachel is awesome but was made shit by having to perform a Robbie Williams track, KANDY RAIN DRESSED LIKE EVIL SLUTTY WHORES AND WERE RIGHTEOUSLY SHAMED BY QUEEN OF HEARTS AND GUARDIAN OF OUR NATION'S MORALS CHERYL COLE, Olly struggled his way through 'She's The One' and got vaguely backhanded compliments from Simon for his troubles, bloody Rikki did an appalling, gender-confused version of 'Back To Black' and got torn a new one by Simon, Stacey's performance of 'The Scientist' was the only enjoyable performance of the evening and she continues to squeak excitedly backstage, Miss Frank sang the obscure (for this show, anyway) 'Who's Loving You', but got props from the judges, Jamie was barely audible throughout 'Get It On', though no one on the panel seemed to notice, Lloyd's smiley interpretation of 'Cry Me A River' was an affront to humanity, but since quality control went out the window long ago on this show, he was praised to the heavens, Lucie cracked her way through 'Footprints In The Sand' and committed the cardinal sin of not being Leona Lewis (though this is not so severe a sin as WEARING SHORT SKIRTS OMG), John and Edward were predictably shit but at least vaguely amusing, and Simon worried what would happen if they won, Joe's blandly competent 'No Regrets' went down well, and then, of course, Danyl's tediously cynical rendition of 'And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going' prompted a witchhunt of epic proportions because heaven forfend anyone's liking for same-sex action ever be acknowledged on this show, though once again this is not shown. Hmm.

While the votes continue, it's time for a performance from Alexandra BURKE. Her intro video reminds us of her Journey and the epic win of her meltdown on the final. She now has the fastest selling single from a female artist in UK chart history to her name, and is here tonight to perform her new single 'Bad Boys'. I say "perform" because there has been much debate over whether she sang live or not. As far as I can tell, this looks pretty mimed and I can't understand why, since at no point during last year's finals did Alexandra suggest she lacked the chops to sing live for the duration of one song. Also, it may interest you to know that Alexandra, mentored by one Ms Cheryl Cole, is wearing a dress that barely skims the tops of her thighs. Demure being the watchword that it currently is, you understand. Still, it's nice to see her back, and it serves as a handy reminder that even in week one, Alexandra would've made mincemeat of every last act in this year's Top 12.

Dermot asks Simon for his comments on the performance, as though any one gives one tiny crap at this stage, and Simon's praise is fulsome, which I'm sure has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Alexandra is signed to his record label. An out-of-breath Alexandra (see? Totally miming) tells Dermot that she wants to thank everyone for voting for her and making her dreams come true. She doesn't cry again, sadly, but it wouldn't be as much fun without Beyoncé there anyway. Alexandra is very excited that Flo Rida was there for her performance. I always think Flo Rida sounds like a slang term for someone who enjoys having sex with women during their menstrual period, but perhaps that's just me.

Post-adverts, the phone lines have closed. Ooooo. Dermot tells the judges that he thinks last night was perhaps the strongest opening night ever - if that's true, then it's a pretty sorry comment on the state of the show over the years. Cheryl says she's feeling good - even more so after Alexandra's performance. I'm sure Cheryl's good mood was bolstered considerably by the modesty and conservatism of the outfit Alexandra was wearing. Dannii, of course, is forced to use this time to apologise for her comments last night, not that she should have to, and clarifies that she and Danyl had been joking about it before the show, and he was not upset by her comments. She gets a round of applause for her troubles, at least. Simon pretends that the drama on this show is entirely unscripted (please, this shit makes The Hills look spontaneous) and says that he possibly overreacted last night, and that Dannii is the last person in the world who would ever wilfully offend anyone, and clarifies once more that Danyl was NOT OFFENDED, and hopefully everyone who decided to be monstrously outraged on Danyl's behalf can now put a much overdue big fat fucking sock in it.

And now it's time for Robbie Williams, who I kind of hoped was done for good after the colossal embarrassment that was 'Rudebox', but no, it's time for a comeback. He gets the obligatory intro VT touting how many records he's sold worldwide, which only serves to show how volume of sales is not even close to an indication of quality, and it goes on for far too long. I don't want to get our lawyers involved in this (largely because we don't have lawyers, and we certainly can't afford them), but he looks rather bleary and his eyes are out on stalks, so draw your own conclusions from that. The whole thing is a big mess, and I'm not sure if that's because this single is terrible, or this performance is terrible, or some combination of the two. Largely, I don't care, I just want it to be over. Oh, look! There's the fast-forward button. I haven't been so glad to see you since Ray Quinn was on Dancing On Ice. Eventually, Dermot thanks Robbie for his mentoring, and Robbie says that he really likes Olly, Rachel and Stacey, but he can't pick a favourite. Except for those three he just mentioned. He squeezes in a plug for his single, which is out the same week as Alexandra BURKE's.

Back from the ads, Dermot is about to reveal the results, but first, we welcome back the judges and the contestants. Well: they return, at least. I don't feel especially welcoming towards most of them.

The following contestants are safe, in no particular order: John and Edward (shot of Simon looking annoyed, even though he obviously knew this would happen), Lucie, Lloyd, Jamie, Rikki (thanks for nothing, Scotland), Stacey, Danyl, Joe, Miss Frank, and finally Olly, whose name the crowd have been chanting for about five minutes prior to this. I don't know whether this is just due to Louis's absence or not, but the acts' mentors are not with them on stage this time, and it looks really weird to have them up there without that support that we're used to seeing.

So, the bottom two are Rachel and Kandy Rain, a result that will surprise no one. Rachel is in the bottom two because she was on first, and only one act in the entire competition has ever managed to escape being bottom after performing first in week one (Robert in series three, and God knows how he of all people pulled that off), and Kandy Rain are there because they are DIRTY DIRTY WHORES who should be ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES for daring to stray from the GREASY POLES WHERE THEY BELONG. (Did I get that right, Cheryl? You wanted copy approval on that bit, I seem to remember.)

As we return from the break, the first act is singing for survival. It's Rachel, and she has chosen Pink's 'Nobody Knows' as her song. There are some tuning issues here, though I rather think it's due to a clash with the shitty pre-recored backing tapes they use and the general absence of sound balance. However, it's a million miles better than last night's performance, because she's singing an actual song and not a three-minute slice of "entertainment". She looks kind of crushed when it's over, as well she might.

Then we have Kandy Rain, who've chosen the rather apt 'Fighter' by Christina Aguilera. Again, there are tuning issues and more sound level fuck-ups (seriously, who's in charge of this? Perhaps all the people who've been calling out for Dannii to lose her job should turn their attentions to that joker), and they're clearly being carried by the backing vocalists, though this is still probably better than almost everything we saw them do prior to the live shows. [They go A BAR OUT at one point. How? - Carrie]

Time for the judges to vote. Dermot shows up the obvious flaws in the elimination process by explaining that even without having seen the sing-off performances, Louis would've voted to save Kandy Rain. Heh. Dannii votes to send home Kandy Rain. Cheryl (doing super squinty face once more) votes to send home Kandy Rain. Simon says that he's surprised that Rachel ended up in the bottom two, even if not so much about Kandy Rain. However, he doesn't think Kandy Rain have been given a fair chance, so he votes to send Rachel home because he wants to see Kandy Rain perform again. The audience boo, prompting that obsequious toad Dermot to scold the audience: "Please respect the judges' opinion, guys." Cram it, flathead.

And so we go to DEADLOCK OMG. The public vote is king once again, and the act that's going home is...Kandy Rain. They hug Rachel, who is promptly ushered off the stage and goes to hug Dannii. She doesn't fall over this time, at least. In possibly the most appropriate piece of inadvertent editing ever seen on this show, Dermot invites them to look at their X Factor journey, and we cut immediately to the credits. HA! It's quickly sorted, though, and we see them being largely unimpressive throughout the competition, though they seem like nice girls and it's not their fault that they are HIDEOUS, SOILED SLUTS who no SELF-RESPECTING WOMAN could ever consider voting for. I liked it better when it was "you don't need to dress so provocatively", as Dannii put it in their first audition. Really, that's as far as it needed to be taken.

Dermot pulls a constipated face watching the video, looking alarmingly like Olly Murs. He then idiotically says that they gave it "a fair crack of the whip", like that isn't just like pouring the entire inventory of BP onto the fire, and Azi (I think) says they couldn't have done any better, and they were hoping people would give them a second chance, but it wasn't to be. And there go Kandy Rain, though we're spared the sight of Cheryl running up to the stage with a mop, bucket and industrial-sized bottle of disinfectant.

Next week, Cheryl will be performing her mediocre new single, and Whitney "Euston" (Dermot's words, not mine) will be returning to British TV. I can definitely wait.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

And I am telling you - you all suck.

First live show, final 12
Tx: 10th October 2009

200,000 applied. 12 remain. Tonight, for the first time they sing live for our votes, but don't worry, I'm sure the auditioning live in front of an audience will have settled their nerves. It's Time. To Face. THE MUSIC!


Live from London, here's Dermot! He greets us and welcomes us, while the sheep in the audience bleat. Tonight the theme is "musical heroes" (which: not a theme), and the contestants must impress "the fantastic four", ie the judges, overlooking the known FACT that at least one of them is not fantastic in the slightest. Holy fuck, what is Cheryl wearing? It is like a dress worn by a very slutty angel on top of a Christmas tree, with a see-through net skirt.

Dermot tries to excite us by telling us that Alexandra BURKE and Robbie WILLIAMS are going to appear this weekend, and pointing out the new stage and all the shininess. He wishes Simon a happy birthday, and Simon tries to shame Dermot about his behaviour at his party - "You have me where you want me!" growls Dermot, and it's all gone a bit homoerotic. For a change.

First up, Dannii, who teases Dermot about the party too. What the hell went ON there? Rachel is the first girlie to sing. She thinks being in the final 12 is incredible, and she lives with her family, whom SHE LOVES. Earlier this week, Robbie Williams walked into the room and Rachel turned into a dizzy bint while singing for him. He tells her to go easy on herself and pretend while she's performing. She's singing and dancing. DANCING, people. We know what that means, don't we? Yes - the RETURN OF NOTLOUIS. Oh, NotLouis, how we have missed you, you fucking lunatic.

I hate what Rachel is wearing - a weird white and blue-striped sequinned top (complete with hideous shoulder pads) with leggings. She sings a version of Let Me Entertain You, with a totally different tune in the verse. And bloody hell, the choreography is dreadful, with a troupe of black lycra-clad face-painted interpretative dancers. Louis liked it though - "Rihanna sings Robbie". Cheryl says it was entertaining and that seasoned entertainers can't contend with perspex stairs. Right. Simon thinks he "misunderestimated" Rachel. THAT'S NOT EVEN A WORD. But then he also liked the choreography, and that was shite. Dannii recommends that Rachel does not take any style advice from Cowell. She is proud of her. So far, so much the same.

Louis introduces the bunch of cheap slappers who are known as Kandy Rain. He chose them because they are sexy and sassy. The girls reckon that the press have focused too much on their past jobs as strippers. Because of course the show hasn't pushed that at all [I loved the way they illustrated this bit with the most provocative pictures of the girls from the press as well. Classy, show - Rad]. Robbie thinks Kandy Rain were the surprise of the day. Simon says, "Their problem isn't the press. It's the way they sing." HA! One starts to cry. I'm not going to bother learning their names, by the way. Louis wants them to prove him right.

Oh my. They are dressed in tacky outfits from Ann Summers (one of them has her hair in what looks like mouse ears, like Karen in Mean Girls. DUH) and are singing Addicted To Love. The chorus isn't too bad cos that's when the off-stage backing singers kick in. And y'know, good song and all, but is Robert Palmer really those girls' musical hero? [I assumed the girls from the video were. - Rad]

Dannii suggests if they want to be taken seriously as singers they need to stop flashing their boobies, and Cheryl agrees - "I would have brought you out demure." They're right, you know. Louis can witter all he wants, and Simon can disagree all he wants ("The pole-dancing is a great thing!"), but girls are not going to like them. Cowell tells Cheryl and Dannii they've both performed half-naked, and Cheryl points out that it's something you might do in a video when you're established, but you can't come out and say you want to be taken seriously as singers when you're still dressing as strippers. [This left a really bad taste in my mouth, personally. I can't help thinking that if anyone else had come out dressed like they did, no one would've batted an eyelid, but because the group's angle is their SHOCKING PAST, suddenly they're dressing like whores. It felt like a particularly unpleasant variety of feminist fail that Cheryl and Dannii were the ones scolding them for it, too. - Steve] Simon says, "I'd give them a shot!" and Cheryl mutters, "I bet you would." Louis changes his mind from last week and says that boys will like them but the girls at home won't. But the TEENAGE GIRLS AND THE GAYS ARE THE ONES WHO WILL VOTE. Dermot then tries to pick a fight with Dannii and Cheryl. They're having none of it.

Simon tries to bitch at Cheryl and Dannii too, but has no more success than O'Leary. He introduces Olly who is from Essex and lives for the weekend and wants to be as big as Robbie Williams. Robbie reckons Olly hits the big notes better than he does [not difficult - Steve], and would like to be his mate. Oh whatever. He starts to sing She's The One, rather sharp, actually. Girls are screaming. It's tedious and inept.

Louis says he made it his own. Dannii says everyone wants to be his friend. Cheryl says he was nervous at the start but he dragged it back. Simon reminds everyone that Olly SOLD ELECTRICITY and has no PERFORMING EXPERIENCE and blah blah blah. He reckons Olly has a charm similar to Robbie's, and neither of them are the best singers but they are both very entertaining. [Way to butter up the star guest, there - Rad]

Cheryl introduces Rikki, who I believe we're all agreed on hating. He wears a hat throughout his VT and talks about Scotland, where he IS FROM and where he sings IN PUBS. Rikki squeals with excitement about getting to sing with Robbie, who tells him to stop crumpling at the middle and to open his eyes. Simon wants him to stop crying. Word, Simon.

Oh, this is the most hideous thing I've seen and heard. He wiggles out through the magic doors, in a purple suit (and an ill-fitting hat perched on top of his head, making him look ridiculous), clicking his fingers, and warbling Back To Black. I miss Phoebe and her Merry Band Of Skanks. [And! He fluffs the gender-changing of the lyrics so badly - keeping in 'you go back to HER' and the funniest: 'with her, er......' in the place of 'with his dick wet' - Rad. Regardless of how poorly Dannii made that joke further down the page - gender-changing songs is generally fail so she was right]

Louis is glad Rikki is back. I am not. He thinks Scotland will vote for him. Dannii likes the jazzy sound of his voice, and thinks that he should progress from Level 1 to 10. Simon thinks it was a silly song choice, a silly style, and a silly hat, with no star quality or confidence. "I can see why you were singing in those pubs," he concludes. Ouch. Cheryl says that she has Rikki's back and will help him recover his confidence. Rikki is adamant that he has star quality. Excellent display of lack of confidence there, hatboy.

Stacey is adorkable - "You know when people are just like heads and you don't think they're real, and then they're there, and you're real?" she asks Robbie. He VTs, "I love Stacey. I want one. I think every home should have one." Heh. Stacey thinks this performance could determine THE REST OF HER LIFE. Not putting too much pressure on herself, then.

Oh, she does have a lovely voice, though. Also, she has an acoustic guitarist on stage with her, as she almost manages to make Coldplay sound thrilling and dramatic. Louis loves Stacey, she is the girl next door, and she didn't pick an easy song. Cheryl says that with Stacey, what you see is what you get. Simon reckons Stacey has no idea how potentially good she could be. He thinks there is more to come from her. Dannii is glad that everyone got to hear her sing beautifully. Stacey squeals at Dermot about really enjoying her time on stage and then proclaims, "My mouth is SO DRY!" Dermot is going to get bored of her by the end of the series.

We're reminded of the genesis of Miss Frank. The girls pretend they are happier as a group than they would have been as soloists. I admire them for saying that they like their day jobs but think they would like singing more. They are excited to meet Robbie. NotLouis fears that they won't come across as a group. Simon thinks three good singers should gel automatically. Why exactly does he think this? What evidence is there? Idiot.

The ladies sing Who's Loving You. They have extensive help from the off-stage backing singers, but their solo bits are all incredible (if a little bit liable to veer off-key with enthusiasm at the top of their ranges). Dannii thinks they look amazing and she wants Graziella to do some rapping. Cheryl says they're her favourite group (but seriously, there's not a great deal of competition). Simon thinks it was a great song choice, and a great decision of his to put the girls together as a group. Then he totally embarrasses himself by pointing at Shar and Shaniece and calling them "bookends", and pointing to Graziella and calling her "the one in the middle". Why not just say they all look the same to you, Simon, you fool? [Because Simon never bothering to learn the individual names of the groups' members - even when he's mentoring them - is one of this show's favourite running gags. - Steve]

Simon just about remembers Jamie Afro's name. Jamie cannot believe he is in the final 12. Nor can I, James Afro. Simon thinks that because he is 34, this is his FINAL SHOT. 34 is, after all, very very old. Robbie suggests not to start low-key because it is boring and will not hold the audience. Never mind, the stage is laden with creative direction! Golden griffins and a drum kit and all sorts, to accompany a really dull version of Get It On. Oh, and Robbie is right; it's much more engaging once he kicks up an octave.

Louis purports to love T.Rex. He wants Jamie to be more versatile. Dannii waves her arms around and says that Jamie is brave to sing on the show after having sung in pubs. What? Cheryl thought it was authentic, but Jamie needs to believe in himself more. Simon thought it was much better than everything else so far tonight, and if Jamie was Louis's act, he'd be in a blazer singing Father And Son. Which is true, to be fair.

Cheryl gleefully introduces "my little Lloyd Daniels", who is hated vehemently by at least one of your Bitchers [After tonight's performance I'll add myself to that list - Rad]. Lloyd wails about being from a SMALL HOUSE near CARDIFF, which is BEAUTIFUL. Robbie reminisces about being 16, when he joined Take That, and suggests that Lloyd shouldn't sing the high notes. NotLouis is bewildered by Lloyd's inability to perform his insane choreography. Well, we're bewildered by your inability to get a job you can actually do, Friedman.

Gosh, this is an offensively bad version of Cry Me A River (Timberlake version). And if NotLouis choreographed in the hand gesture for "phone", he needs to be taken outside and kicked. [In defence of NotLouis, he also choreographed the crazy mad stalker dancer, who is officially the only good thing about this performance, so he gets a pass from me. - Steve] Louis says Lloyd can't sing but that doesn't matter because he's a pop star, or something. Dannii says that Lloyd is better than Robbie was, or something. Simon thinks Lloyd has done really well, and is back on the map, having proved he is young, or something. Lloyd says many things, none of which are comprehensible.

Dannii introduces Lucie. Know where she's from, guys? The MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, in WALES. She rang her dad from the supermarket to ask him what potatoes to buy. Now I want to slap her a bit. Robbie tells her worry won't do her any good, and hugs her. She screeches, "Anyone got a camera?" Lucie - this is going to be on telly, you know? I don't think you'll be short of documentary evidence.

I thought we'd already established that Lucie could sing ballads, and we'd had a debate about it the other day? No matter, she's got another one, Footprints In The Sand, and she does a fine job, particularly with the wind machine that blows her hair into her face. Still not a patch on Leona. Louis says that the show has found another great female singer from Wales (in addition to who?) [I assumed Shirley Bassey and Bonnie Tyler and such - I think the emphasis was on "great female singer from Wales" rather than "this show has found". - Steve]; Cheryl says that Lucie has a lovely voice in her own right; Simon says that Lucie will be compared to Leona, but she can't hit the big notes. And then Louis ludicrously says that Leona was not as good as Lucie in her first show. Dermot enthuses with Lucie over the key change. Fair enough.

And here's what we've been waiting for. JOHN AND EDWARD. Louis is likening them to Boyzone still. "I know I'm not wrong," he says. John and Edward are from a SMALL VILLAGE IN IRELAND. [I miss dead parents. SMALL VILLAGES that aren't really small villages just don't have the same effect - Rad] They talk a lot at Robbie and he seems a bit pissed off, though he says nice things to the camera. John and Edward are adamant that they are really nice boys and that people have been really horrible to them. Alternatively, one might say they are not very nice boys, and people have said the truth about them.

Fuck. Did they just abseil on to the stage? They karaoke their way through Rock DJ with the help of invisible backing singers and some sparkly dancers. Dannii says that the boys have the whole country talking, and her girls have told her that they are nice boys except when they steal the food from the fridge. Cheryl says she admires them for even getting on the stage because of all the stick they've received, they can't sing, but it's not their fault they're in the final 12 - "good for you for coming out here tonight." Ooh, burn. [People in glass houses, Cheryl. - Steve] Simon is trying to find nice things to say. Epic pause. "For your are amazingly thick-skinned. To succeed in this business, you've got to have thick skin," he says. But then he calls it a musical nightmare, and accuses Louis of putting them through because they're Irish. Which is true. Louis then strops about "people in Ireland can't vote for some reason" (probably because it's a different country?), and congratulates John and Edward for being nice people. "Not all the pop stars in the chart are great singers," he concludes. Wow, brilliant reassurance from your mentor there, boys. [Whatever, this performance was infinitely less offensive than Lloyd's, and he got a tongue-bath for it, so everyone is on crack tonight. - Steve]

Time for the other regionalistic selection - Cheryl's Joe. He's from South Shields, y'know. He lives in a small flat with his mum. Joe was nervous to sing one of Robbie's songs to Robbie himself - "It's a goodie, isn't it?" agrees Robbie. Joe whines about only being 18 and not knowing how to deliver a big song that needs feeling and conviction.

Ah, it's No Regrets. He's mistaken conviction for TOO MUCH VIBRATO. He can hit the notes really nicely, but Yvie's going to have to rein in the warble because it's dreadful to listen to. Louis notes that it's an effortless vocal, and thinks Joe is one to watch. Dannii says that he nailed it and that he is a superstar. Except not. Simon thought it was absolutely brilliant, and a fantastic choice of song. Cheryl is very happy, for she needs validation.

Right, down to the last one, then. Dermot barks, "Simon!" to catch his attention, because he needs to introduce Danyl. Yes, he of BEST FIRST AUDITION EVER. Simon says Danyl is like a singing puppy. Danyl was excited to meet Robbie; Robbie suggests that he tone some things down. Simon has given him a big diva song to sing, and Cheryl, Louis and Yvie all seem a bit dubious about it because it's a WOMAN'S SONG. Sexists.

Oh FOR FUCK'S SAKE HE IS SINGING AND I AM TELLING YOU. Fuck off. I'm fucking sick of this fucking bastard song and this show. And it's not even a very good version of it - there's too much in his low register, and it only becomes at all interesting with his final note, when he shifts up an octave and the pyrotechnics go off. Louis thinks he is a great performer, but he is over-confident and needs to be more likeable [Dammit, Louis, stop making me agree with you - Rad]. Oh, right, like John and Edward. Dannii says it was a great X-Factor performance changing a girl's song into a guy's song - "but if we're to believe everything we read in the papers you didn't need to change the gender references." There's a silence. Simon asks her to repeat it, which she does. Set up much? Danyl is grinning away. As well he might. And for all the people shouting, "Don't believe the papers!" from the audience, wasn't it Danyl himself who flogged the story about his bisexuality? Cheryl butts in, and says the atmosphere was tangible, and he has to walk a fine line between confidence and cockiness, and he needs to take a tip from Simon. Heh. Simon reckons it was one of the best performances he's ever heard in his life. Simon is odd tonight. Danyl starts to sob. Simon says to Dannii that she is not to play "any of those games with him". Oh, whatever. WHATEVER. [Simon really doesn't believe anyone is going to vote for a contestant who's not 100% heterosexual, does he? I hardly think Dannii repeating something that was already seen and discussed by millions when it appeared in a tabloid is going to affect things one way or the other. As far as I could tell, it wasn't even intended as sabotage, just as a bit of a matey joke that misfired enormously. - Steve]

I'm sick of this sodding show already. Join Steve tomorrow night for the results!