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!