Judges' houses, part one
Tx: 3rd October 2009
200,000 mad deluded characters auditioned, and now they've been whittled down to the final 25. Or 24. They're going to travel THE WORLD with their respective mentors who are going to either put them through three months of live TV purgatory, or put them out of their misery now, crushing all their dreams.
Dermot welcomes us to Hollywood, and explains the whole concept of this stage of the competition. The final 24 acts have gone to the airport to fly away to their judge's house. This is NOT a holiday, we are reminded, and then we are told very briefly about Trucolourz being kicked out and Harmony Hood replacing them. [Being kicked out for one of them being 15, which last year and the year before would have been perfectly fine, although the show skips over that little thorny issue - Rad]
Right - the old people are off to LA, the girls are going to Dubai with Dannii, the boys are going to Morocco with Cheryl, and the groups are expecting to go to Ireland with Louis. And why wouldn't they be? But it turns out they're going to Italy instead, and they are all very happy about not having to go to Dublin. Random shots of aeroplanes - do the contestants really fly on easyjet?
In Italy, it is raining. Louis is highly amused. The groups wander around the house and keep touching things. Louis comes out onto the balcony for his Eva Peron turn, and reveals that his lovely assistant this year is Ronan Keating. THE WORLD HAS GONE MAD. No Dublin; no Westlife; what's going on? [No Kate Moss, though. Always thought that rumour was too mad to be true. - Steve]
In Morocco, the boys are looking nonsensically young as they wander round. Cheryl is looking wistful in the big house. She's got her own lovely assistant - Will Young. The excitement of one or two of the boys is so blatant; I can only draw my own conclusions from that. You draw yours too.
In LA, the old people pile out of the car into Simon's new house. He is wearing a see-through shirt unbuttoned to the navel. Of course, he's got Sinitta with him, and she is clad only in four plant leaves, fanning herself with a fifth. Sinitta is awesome. [I love Sinitta and all, but I can't help thinking this year might be where she officially crossed the line from "eccentric dresser" to "attention seeker". - Steve] Simon sends her back into the house.
The girls are playing in a water park in Dubai, cuddling dolphins and so on. Dannii points out that this is not in fact a holiday. She is dressed a bit like a peacock. Her lovely assistant is Kylie - "I'd like to introduce [major pause] my sister." And the girls scream ridiculously and are so totally in disbelief it's funny. Kylie's accent is a weird British-Aussie hybrid. I like it.
Dermot's now in Marrakesh, and the backing music is that bloody awful Jai Ho thing that the Strictly singers killed last week. Joe is first up for the boys. He wants to make his family proud. Cheryl and Will whisper to him, for some reason, rather than talking to him like normal people. Joe sings Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word [Ugh. This song. Every bloody year. - Rad] . I really want to send him to a good teacher to show him how to control his vibrato and high notes properly. But then, I could say that of most people in this show. Oh - Will Young says that Joe needs to control his belting properly! I could be a lovely assistant on this show!
Lloyd is the youngest left in the competition, and he is nervous. He doesn't know how to use a microphone, and he shouts Jason Mraz's I'm Yours. [The same song he fucked up at his first audition, if I'm not mistaken. HATE. - Steve] Cheryl looks inclined to cry at his youth; Will is dubious that he'll be able to cope.
Oh, Daniel is the musical theatre gay who'll be kicked out for being too musical theatre. He sings Without You in a very G4 way. If he could control his facial scarletness when he sings, he could sell records. Will points out to Cheryl that just cos he's a different kind of singer, it doesn't mean that he won't do well.
Ethan assures us that he loves the UK and really wants to be a singer, even though he is American and wouldn't do anything at all if he was on Idol. He devises an entirely new melody to I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues. Not unpleasant, though. "He didn't do a great vocal. But he's quite handsome," opines Will, encapsulating this whole show in those succinct sentences.
Duane wheels out a sob story about people he knows BEING DEAD due to CRIME in DANGEROUS LONDON. Then he sings about three lines of Ne-Yo's Closer before wandering off to weep into the camera. Will says he was off-pitch; Cheryl retorts that he is a really nice guy. Oh. That's all right then.
Rikki is widely hated by your Bitching team. He was the one who lied about his mum not knowing he was auditioning. He does stupid affected dancing while wearing a cap and yodelling You've Got A Friend. Oh, I loathe him. He has such a punchable face. I don't think Will likes him either. [I am trying to steel myself for him inevitably getting through, but I just have rage when I think about it - Rad]
Cheryl and Will deliberate. She complains about it being the worst part of her job. While they chat, the boys sob to camera about how worried they are. Then Cheryl and Will reach a conclusion and high-five. But we won't find out what they've decided until later!
Ronan says Louis was like a father to him. Ick. Project A want to be a proper group rather than just a bunch of cheerleaders. Well, start developing some harmonies then, rather than just sticking another line a third below the tune. Oh - they have. They've got some oohs and aahs underneath the melody of What's Going On. Grim. Ronan admires their chemistry; Louis admires their likeability.
Kandy Rain are simpleton ex-strippers who dressed provocatively for Louis's benefit without considering what a waste of effort that might be. Louis asks stupid questions about them being strippers, including, "Did you see Simon at any of those clubs?" They sing a fuckawful version of Paparazzi. [I loved how the editors neatly snipped out the really high-pitched part of the chorus. I bet that wasn't pretty. - Steve] Ronan and Louis think it'll be hard to get girls to vote for them. True that.
De-Tour have too many necklaces and perform Tiny Dancer like they have itching powder in their three-quarter-length khaki combats. Ronan and Louis are unimpressed, though not as unimpressed as I am with Harmony Hood and their "How Hood Are You?" t-shirts and their utterly uninspired rendition of Never Can Say Goodbye. Ronan and Louis look a bit confused.
Miss Frank are the cobbled together solo rejects. They sing Respect. The middle one's facial expressions reminds me of the gospel choir soloist in Ally McBeal. Do you know who I mean? Probably not. Louis admires their chemistry; Ronan is impressed.
Oh, fuck, it's fucking John and Edward who I hate more than I hated Eoghan QUIGG. And I laugh a lot when Dermot says, "They're wondering what a yes from Louis could lead to." They want to go out with Christina Aguilera (who's married) and Britney (umm...). Hang on, they sing I Want It That Way in unison. What's the point of being a group? At least they know they were bad. Ronan thinks they should have more chemistry because they are twins. Louis thinks people will like them. WHICH PEOPLE, WALSH? Ronan, to his credit, looks unconvinced. John and Edward cry A LOT in a stroppy sulky fashion at Dermot. Time for Louis and Ronan to make their choices. [They should just offer Dannii and Simon's categories their places and send all of the groups home - Rad]
Now Simon and Sinitta must do their selections. Olly gets For Once In My Life as backing music, rather than Minder. He sings one of my favourite songs ever, A Song For You. I'm sure if you'd never heard Karen Carpenter sing this (the definite version, as far as I'm concerned) you'd quite like this. As it is, I think it's mannered and fake. Simon thinks he was too nervous.
Treyc sings All The Man That I Need, and wow, she actually is pretty good. Simon's hiding a smile; Sinitta is beaming. That is a great performance. Simon thinks that she lacks star belief.
We are reminded that Daniel is a big old failure, while Cheryl is a big success and National Treasure. He says that he has to provide for his family. Well, get a proper job, then. How many more years must we fucking say this? Also, Dermot, he didn't do Rivals "as a boy" - it was seven years ago, and he's 31 now, making him 24 then - perfectly grown-up. Um, wait a minute, why does Daniel have backing singers for his version of Praying For Time? [And why are they all lounging around against the wall as though they just popped in for a cocktail on their way out for the evening? - Steve] Simon likes him. Sinitta says she has liked everyone so far, and asks, "Are there any bad ones?"
Nicole originally auditioned in Birmingham, and was mediocre at boot camp with her performance of the song that will henceforth be known as that bloody song from Dreamgirls. Her dad IS DEAD. She bellows Up To The Mountains, and also has some backing singers. She has mistaken volume for ability. Simon and Sinitta are under the impression that it was fabulous, though, and want to put all four through so far. [To be fair, though none except perhaps Treyc were all that, I'd still rather put them all through than any of the groups and most of the boys - Rad]
Danyl sings that Alicia Keys' song with the metronome. What's it called? Fallin'. That's it. He takes a really weird breath in the middle of the word "keep". I don't even know how that's possible. Simon thinks it was over the top but good. He and Sinitta concur that Danyl is a "Marmite" artiste.
Stupid Jamie Afro and his stupid Jamie Afro is the last one in this category. He over-emotes Stop Crying Your Heart Out. I wouldn't put him through just for his stupid tearful face. Simon seems to like it, though. Now he and Sinitta must decide which three are going through. Daniel reckons his life rides on Simon's decision. Really, really not.
Over to Dubai with the girls and the sisters Minogue. Kylie is excited to be working with her sister and making important decisions. Stacey S wants to be good at something and make everyone around her happy. I can't even bring myself to be cynical about Stacey S. She sings Somewhere Over The Rainbow, because that hasn't been overdone on this show at all. Kylie loves the tone she has to her voice; Dannii is concerned about her self-belief. Stacey talks to Dermot about her nerves and demonstrates how wobbly her legs felt through the medium of mime.
Stacey Mc pretends that she has never sung before in her whole life, and has noticeably over-applied the fake tan to her face. She yelps her way through Britney's Sometimes. Kylie wonders how she'd cope with a big range of songs, like she'll have to do in the live shows [Oh Kylie. I love you, but clearly you don't watch the live shows - Rad].
Rachel is shocked to have made it this far. She sings Nobody Knows. Dannii and Kylie nod benignly. She comes out shaking. Kylie thinks she was engaging; Dannii agrees but suspects that she was holding something back.
Despina has a brilliant name and is very pretty, and is worried that she will let her family down - "I can't go home with a no." She tries to take on The Voice Within, which is too much for her - her belt doesn't stretch that far, which is fine, very few people's do, but it lacks some impact. Dannii thinks it's a hard song to sing; Kylie thinks she made it sound easy. Hmm. No.
Lucie comes from a TINY VILLAGE (right next to Beautiful Cardiff). She is not quite sure where Dubai is. She talks about living in a TINY VILLAGE ON TOP OF A HILL. [The quality of sob stories has really gone down this year - Rad] She doesn't think she could go home and tell people if she got a no. Sigh. She sings Anything For You. She's very good at the ballads, but I don't see any versatility from her. If I were Simon, I'd say, "What's she going to do in Disco Week?" but I am not, so I shan't.
Nicole is nervous about singing the song Dannii has picked for her, and then snivels horribly about not being in touch with her dad. Seriously, show, that's cruel, making a teenager cry about the dad she's lost. Oh - the song she's been given is Lately, and she entirely falls apart in the middle, clapping a hand over her mouth and trying to pick it up. She does, but in a different key. Kylie says, "I feel like crying for her." [Ha! I'd love to see her try. Her face didn't move a single millimetre throughout the whole of this segment. - Steve] Nicole weeps as she goes down the corridor to meet Dermot.
Dannii shuffles the cards around, and then declares, "I have made a decision." Kylie smiles at her in a big sisterly way and replies, "Well done." Heh.
Tomorrow! We will find out who's through! Join me then!