Top 6: George Michael/Wham week
21st November 2009
Last week, we had Queen week, Lloyd and Jamie were in the bottom two and the Afro was shorn.
This week, rather randomly, it’s Wham! and George Michael week. Is there a new best of out this Christmas or something? Now, between Wham! And George Michael’s solo stuff there are a lot of great songs (and some dross, too). Nevertheless I am not convinced that this will be a classic night, and suspect there will not be enough Wham! and too many George Michael ballads done badly. I hope NotLouis has been given enough crack to produce the urinals set from the 'Outside' video. Or the swimming pool from 'Club Tropicana'. [Or to somehow recreate the 'Shoot The Dog' video. - Steve]
Dermot enters to Young Guns wearing a beigey suit. I have no idea whether Steve will approve or not, but I suspect not. [I tend not to even notice Dermot's suits these days. They're not as offensively ill-fitting as they used to be, but I've come to the conclusion he's just not a natural suit-wearer. - Steve] He describes the judges as our very own George, Andrew, Pepsi and Shirlie, though doesn’t specify which is which. They enter to… I Want Your Sex. Inappropriate much? Cheryl’s hair is piled up with a big bow and she has horrible huge Pat Butcher earrings on. Louis looks rather odd in a spotty bow tie. Dannii has curly short hair which looks really nice. Dermot says ‘such a weird choice of music!’ You’re not kidding.
We have some George Michael is great spam, and here’s where you expect a big reveal that he’s a surprise special guest or something. But no, apparently he has ‘called the show’ and is watching it at home. If that was really the case, surely he could be here? If nothing else, I miss the A-list mentors being snarky about the acts and then providing a car crash performance. Speaking of which, not only have we no George Michael masterclass, we are also denied another Mariah one, and even a Susan Boyle one. Surely they could have got ONE of them to do it? Sadface. I miss the crazy.
First up is one of the boys: Lloyd. I am guessing they’ve put him in the ratings fail slot of the show (i.e. the bit that clashes with Strictly) because they’ve decided his time’s up. In the VT we learn that this week their single went on sale and they walked into HMV and saw it. It’s a physical single, like they had in days of yore. Remember kids! You can do a good thing and donate to GOSH direct without buying that abomination (also: why is the video for it EXACTLY THE SAME as the hero one except with the soldier montage being replaced by a sick kiddie one?) We are also reminded of his hometown which is small. His family miss him, but I assume they’re not to worry as he’ll probably be home by Monday. He is singing one of George Michael’s favourite songs apparently and Yvie tells us it’s important to breathe. Thanks for that expert vocal coaching, Yvie.
Oh my. It’s Faith. He’s been styled with a Nick Carter style crop which would suit him if he was living in 1995. [I actually quite like his new hair, as much as it pains me to admit. - Steve] The staging is simple, with just a backing band. To give him his credit, he seems to have improved; I mean, it’s Lloyd so it’s never going to be sensational, but he’s got a better grasp of the tune than usual and it’s by no means his worst performance (nor the worst of the evening. Whoops, spoiler).
Louis, with his boy band head on, loves the hair and the dress but not the voice. He then says Lloyd’s a pop star but his time was up. Um? Anyone? Simon enjoyed it – the vocal wasn’t all that but the performance has improved. Cheryl feels like he’s turning into a little man (??) in front of her eyes and then she says he looks adorable. Poor Lloyd, he’s just like a little puppy isn’t he? Sara Cox called him a little boy made of rainbows and origami today on the radio which was a bit strange but nonetheless rather fitting.
Dermot tries to fight with Louis, though it feels even more half-arsed than usual. Louis says Lloyd’s a great performer but there are better singers. Dermot calls Louis Professor Yaffle, which isn’t much of a burn considering how fabulous Professor Yaffle is.
Stacey is next. Last week she was popular, this week she saw her single in the shops next to “proper famous people”. She went home but reveals she goes home every week to see her family, so essentially it’s no big deal. I’m quite glad the show actually lets her see her child as I wouldn’t put it past them to ban her from doing so. Mind you I suppose she only has to go to Essex. Her son is cute. She went back to her old college and her friends are supportive. She wants to do good. Steve explodes at the grammar abuse. [Well, they are releasing a charity single this week, so I suppose technically they are all doing good, in a passive sort of way. I'll let it slide THIS TIME. - Steve]
She’s doing ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’, and to be honest I find George Michael’s version of this incredibly dull, and Stacey’s isn’t that much more exciting. She’s mostly fine, though a little flat in some places but maybe that’s the fault of the song. I’m fed up of Stacey getting ballads all the time. I want to see something with a bit of life in it from her. Also: she looks too Leona lite with her curly hair. Simon thinks she’s nice, which is not something you’d ever hear them describe a certain other contestant as, however much that person is being portrayed as HUMBLE DAMMIT. He doesn’t think it was as good as last week but everyone likes her. I do too but it was kind of forgettable. She babbles at Dermot some and he says that she brought the Dagenham militia with her. The thought of militia from Dagenham is quite frankly terrifying. Dermot says she can’t make you vote for her, I don’t think she needs to - surely her militia will do that for her?
MORE ADS? Bloody hell. If we’re having a break in between each act I’m going to need a lot more wine.
And we’re back. Those were long ads.
Dermot badly attempts a snark on Louis caring about the rules which was so rock week, and aren’t we over this yet? Or is he hinting at some terribly scripted argument that is to come later in the show? The audience drown Louis out in boos and a handful of cheers when the twins are announced. They go home like everyone else and we learn they were doing exams before the show. Oh, boys. What is it with this show and preventing people from doing useful stuff with their lives? One of their classmates lies that she wondered if they would be famous when they were at school. Going home gave them loads of spirit and pride apparently. NotLouis wants intense focus from them. Simon thinks Louis is doing too much with them – surely he means NotLouis is doing too much with them, not Louis (head explodes). Louis says they practise more than anyone else. [I loved how in all the choreography rehearsal footage, every single time we saw NotLouis he was literally shoving them into place. Hee hee hee. - Steve]
‘They’re doing ‘I’m Your Man’. Even though I know it won’t be good, I’m just grateful for some Wham! They’re dressed in white suits with white T-shirts with Choose LIFE on in fluorescent pink. Many people on the internet complained it was the wrong song for those T-shirts. I’m not sure historical accuracy is entirely NotLouis’ forte, people. They’re dancing on a podium, surrounded by dancers with terrible bleached hair and ugly silver bomber jackets. It actually starts OK but they can’t do the deep bits and then it descends very quickly. There’s a break in the middle for Wham Rap, but the two songs do not mesh well together in any way. The camera then reveals they’ve been standing on perpex staging with John & Edward written on. Oh, NotLouis. How you will miss these two when they go. The high bits in the chorus are done entirely by backing singers, I suspect. Someone on stage is breakdancing and he gets more attention than the boys. Their dancing is as bad as Olly’s. This was not even fun in a ‘Ghostbusters’ way, it was just a mess. I still prefer them to Olly and Danyl but really, I suspect the joke is over.
The audience are screaming, so much for the boos they gave the twins earlier. Dear X Factor cue people; get on message. They’re so noisy that it’s hard to hear Dannii over them but she says something about it being out of time, which it was, not least because the two tracks they tried to merge have completely different tempos. Louis says it’s what young kids like. Dermot says you’d know and Louis says yes I’m working with two. Was this a failed burn on the judges, or an unintentional burn on 18-year old John and Edward. Louis is a strange man. Cheryl says they’ve been on a journey. DRRRRRRRRRRINK! Simon says it wasn’t George and Andrew, it was Andrew and Andrew and you just know he coined this week entirely so he could deliver that 'joke’. He says they were good but Louis is giving them too much to do and has turned them into Action Men dolls, giving them crazy choreography. Again, he means NotLouis, surely? Or are the two indistinguishable in Simon’s mind? It would explain a lot about series four. Louis says they can do it, everywhere he goes he hears people shouting Jedward. I don’t really see Louis as a man of the people, more a man of sitting in his big house in Dublin counting his money, so does he get his accountant, Ronan Keating and Kian from Westlife to ring up and shout Jedward down the phone at him everyday? The audience shout ‘Jedward’ like the morons they are. Simon says they have converted a lot of people as if they were some sinister cult, that they are nameless (insert huge dollop of WTF here) and unstoppable. [Except that two weeks ago they were seventh out of eight in the public vote, and could quite easily have been stopped had Simon chosen to do so. - Steve] Louis says the public love them and the show would not be the same without them. One of them (I feel sad I don’t know which is which, but the show hasn’t exactly made any effort to distinguish between them) says Louis always chooses the right songs, songs that have never been done before (except by the original artists, one assumes).
Dermot says, ‘For now there’s John, there’s Edward, they are the enigma that is John and Edward.' There are many things John and Edward may be, but I wouldn’t have considered enigmatic to be one of them. Still, who knows what goes on in Dermot’s head, especially recently when he’s been seemingly going into meltdown. You want to watch yourself, Dermot. Kate Thornton went a bit wobbly in series three and was never seen again.
Next up, we’re promised what I swear sounds like no thrills (though it could be frills) [I think you were probably right first time - Carrie], no gimmicks, just singing. Then we’re told it’s Danyl. No gimmicks. Danyl. Those two things together? Does not compute. By the way, has anyone else noticed how we have two of Simon’s acts at the end? Hmmm. He went home like everyone else, and his mum seems nice - how did she spawn that? He feels that he’s really lucky to be here. [I liked how he said he was going to see "all [his] friends", and there were...five of them. - Steve] Sorry, I forgot OH HUMBLE DANYL, YOU’RE SO HUMBLE. NOT A COCK AT ALL. Nope, still not working. Simon says this song is what everyone thinks of when they hear of George Michael – and there’s no mention of the song change hissy fits that have been all over the media this week. Because as we all know, Danyl is HUMBLE. Anyway, it’s Careless Whisper, and I can totally imagine Danyl demanding the BEST SONG be his; the only surprise is Simon not requesting it in the first place. As for the performance, it’s too slowed down and he adds in a random long note on pain is allllllll you find. I wish he’d just sing things properly sometimes so I could work out whether he can actually sing or not. As usual, it’s too over-emotional and lacks enunciation, not to mention any pretence at subtlety. Randy Jackson would call it ‘pitchy’: it’s squeaky, he’s stretching his voice, there’s no subtlety, and not even in the right key half of the time. Simon will say it’s the second coming, of course.
Louis thought it wasn’t the right song choice. Cheryl says he was flat in places. Dannii continues her Cowell-dictated rehabilitation by saying it was a good arrangement, which is the last thing it was, and shame on you Dannii for towing (toeing?) the party line so obediently. Simon says that is called respecting the song: taking it and doing something different with it. Like when Austin raped Billie Jean, Simon? I know pointing out Simon’s contradictions is a fool’s game, but if any other act had done this he’d have told them to stick to the original. Whatever this was, it was not respecting the song. And the thing is, I’m not entirely sure it’s all Danyl’s fault. For all his cockitude, he’s clearly been encouraged to behave that way by Simon and no-one’s reining him in or teaching him proper vocal technique. I doubt Yvie dares criticise him, but with some training and toning down maybe he could actually be good – but LOUDNESS, no matter what Simon thinks does not equal either talent or emotion. Le sigh. We say this every year and do they listen to us?
Louis says they tried too hard with it. True dat. Singing it properly might actually have worked. Simon says Danyl was right to make that decision about changing the song. See, I can’t imagine Simon being pleased with his act changing the song, no matter how much he wants us to believe Danyl is the second coming. The audience autocue instructs them to shout “Danyl! Danyl!”. Danyl says they sat down and chatted about the song choice. Here my notes simply read: Simon is such a wanker. Dermot says Danyl’s been making the news about disagreements. I find the dynamic interesting this year. Louis and Cheryl clearly hate Danyl. Dannii is biting her tongue since lyrics-gate, and now Dermot seems to be expressing a dislike for Danyl too? Wow. Of course, Humble Danyl is just pleased to be here and grateful for everyone’s support.
Ads. Time for alcohol.
It’s time for the last of Simon’s acts and it’s the incredible Olly Murs. Incredible as in not credible, I presume. Last week he ‘did great’ according to Simon and now he’s going home to Essex where people have posters saying Vote for The Ollly. Yes, THE Olly. Oh my. Do they have a flip side that says ‘Vote for the Stacey?’ The nation needs to know. There then follows a toe-curling segment where Olly has been told to play up on his Jack-the-Lad persona as much as possible ‘because the public like it, innit?’ He brings his washing home to his mum, despite being in the OVER 25s CATEGORY and not the 19-year old boy they seem to want to make out he is. His dad has bad hair and calls him Oliver, which suspects he might not be that much of a Jack-the-Lad after all. He plays footy with his mates, THE LADS. They are called laddish things like Lee and Ryan (and are better looking than Olly). He goes to a pub with THE LADS. He goes to work and says he always dreamed of being an entertainer.
Simon chose the song for Olly to make him contemporary. In George Michael/Wham! week? And we’re told this is the kind of record Simon thinks he should make. I wonder if this statement had anything to do with how things went this week (whoops, spoiler)? NotLouis and Olly go on about him being sexy. NO NO NO. It was bad enough when they tried to make maliddleJoe sexy – I think I might rip out my own insides if they’re trying to do the same to Olly.
Your contemporary song, ladies and gents? Fast Love. From 1996. Before a large section of the audience were born. It’s an odd choice for Olly really – surely some Wham! would be more his thing? His singing is really off in places and he stands with his legs apart and wearing black shirt buttoned up to neck and tightish black jeans. It goes without saying that he is not in the least bit sexy. Then there is some truly horrible stuff where he gyrates against a dancer (the dancers all have ribbon things in their hands, a bit like reduced pom poms, which doesn’t exactly conjure up sexy ether). He sidestep skips across the stage like a clumsy 6 year old. Then he does a nasty nasty grinding motion. MY EYES MY EYES MAKE IT STOP MAKE IT STOP. Danyl should be grateful, because his performance suddenly looks bearable.
Dannii said there were tuning problems. No kidding. Though I would put up with the bad singing if it meant they would take away the horrible horrible dancing. Louis says he has the potential to be “a new pop star in the UK” (note not worldwide) and there’s nothing fake about him, everywhere Louis goes girls ask if Olly’s single. Louis is going a lot of places this week. [Harry Hill take note - if The Knitted Character ever retires, I think we've found you a replacement. - Steve Cheryl says people like him: lads want to knock about with him and girls like him. Why are people buying into this story still? I feel like the only person in Britain who’s repulsed by him. Cheryl really likes him. She says nothing about the performance, then Simon nudges her and makes her say she likes it. Simon says he will have no trouble with “the chicks” when he gets out. Yep, just like this guy. Apparently Olly is a fearless performer and the song had a dance break in the middle which made it original, but I didn’t notice that bit because I was too transfixed by the HORROR to feel the originality.
The audience whoop for him as Dermot says it was a hard song. Olly goes on about just swinging his hips, in all seriousness.
Ads AGAIN. Bloody hell.
Dermot welcomes us back by saying it’s a strong night tonight. Strong DRINK night, maybe.
Cheryl tells us to be ‘ready for a beautiful ending’. It’s Joe. Last week he was the same as always; competent but a bit dull. He went home to the NORTH EAST and he was pleased to see his grandma who seems nice enough but isn’t a patch on Alesha’s nans. [To be fair, nobody is. - Carrie] Then he went to college and his ‘classmates’ (I’m sure college students love being described thus) were chatting and he VTs that he ‘think[s] they got a shock when they seen us’. Or not, given the camera crew and all. Cheryl has apparently chosen him a massive song. Yvie has seen him stumbling over a BIG NOTE in rehearsals. Simon thinks he’s guaranteed a finals place if he nails it. Like he isn’t guaranteed one regardless. Cheryl thinks he can do it a million percent.
It’s ‘Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me’, at which point the whole internet goes IT’S AN ELTON JOHN SONG. Considering he is doing the George Michael version, I am really hoping for a Mister Elton John bit in the middle. C’mon Elton, that’s two of your songs the boy’s done now. As you might expect from Joe, it’s all very musical theatre, which isn’t an insult, but it’s not very pop-starry, and it’s quite overblown and dramatic: both him and the music. The lighting effects are big balls of sun flare that hurt the eyes. Of course, it’s probably the best of the night but there’s nothing new here, nothing surprising or even very interesting. Louis snarks about it being an Elton song. Cheryl said George Michael sang it. Simon says, “Here’s a new rule we’re gonna stop you from speaking” (to Louis) – whilst I endorse that rule, I think it should only be applied if the same is true for Simon. Simon says Joe nailed it and Louis has the AUDACITY to sit there with his rule book. Who cares? Everyone on Twitter, pretty much, but whatever. Simon takes the credit for Joe for some reason I can’t fathom. Cheryl loved it.
Dermot says Louis should have come out and done the Elton John bit. Dannii is shown hitting him Louis on the head with her script. [Which I assume just says "DANYL IS HUMBLE AND LIKEABLE" over and over again on every page. - Steve] I kind of get the feeling the people working on this year’s show have given up.
Simon thanks George Michael for letting them use his songs and for being an amazing songwriter, which is pretty funny, coming after the last song. Tomorrow! Susan Boyle! Mariah Carey! Hopefully lots of crazy! And someone will be going home! Hooray!