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...