Take That/Elton John week
Tx: 28th November 2009
Last week! John and Edward left! Bizarrely, we're reminded that 200,000 people originally applied for this show, and Cheryl thinks the competition is on NOW. Simon believes everyone left deserves to be there.
This week! The judges don't get to vote at all! Our remaining contestants sing two songs, one by Messrs Barlow, Orange, Owen and Donald (and formerly Williams), and one by Mr Reg Dwight (and more than likely Bernie Taupin)! Dannii wants Stacey to win; Simon guarantees that Danyl and Olly will both reach the final. Obviously, it is time to face the music.
I do believe Dermot has a three-piece suit on tonight. [I just want to know what the fuck was going on with his lapels. That shit was weird. - Steve] He welcomes us to the show and explains the concept of the show - "celebrating Great British Pop Royalty" - before utterly cocking up his autocue reading to introduce the judges. Dannii is wearing a bed sheet with a belt slung round her. Dermot then reminds us to buy the X Factor charidee single; I remind you that if you want to support GOSH, you can do so without having to listen to that travesty, and what's more, you can do so at any time of the year.
Quick VT explaining who Take That are, and then it's time for Simon to introduce Danyl. This week he is going to sing a song that's very different for him. One that's in tune, and one that he doesn't whine about having to sing? Plinky magical music in the VT as Danyl talks about having a number one single for such a great cause. Then scary dramatic music as NotLouis shepherds a gang of dancers into the rehearsal room ready for a mad big production number. Muchos panic about whether Danyl can keep up with a high-energy routine.
Heh, he's singing Relight My Fire. He yelps the opening bars a little before the number begins properly and the lights comes up on a load of gold Lycra-clad dancers in a tableau. Whenever he sings the word "fire", a load of flames flare up from the floor. Oh, NotLouis, you are INSPIRED tonight. The Lulu break is a bit flat in terms of melody and energy. Danyl's throwing his head about and his earpiece has fallen out, which may explain some of the tuning issues. Then there is a KEY CHANGE as fire-eaters EAT FIRE and then RELIGHT IT. By the way, all the way through this, Danyl is HUMBLE, lest you have forgotten.
Louis has refound his book of tedious anodyne statements, and ludicrously claims that Danyl has "won round one". Danyl to his credit points out that he is the only person to have sung so far tonight. Dannii liked the choruses, not the verses. Cheryl says it is HARD to sing and dance at the same time and he did well. Simon says it was very complicated and Danyl was PERFECT, proving that he is the type of artist who can do anything.
Cheryl introduces "the baby of the competition...little Lloyd Daniels". Lloyd VTs that he was awesome last week. Seriously. That's what he says. This week he is doing a big ballad, and Yvie says if he sings badly, everyone will notice. Well, Cheryl probably won't. She hasn't so far.
He sings A Million Love Songs, beginning by sitting on the steps. NotLouis clearly does not realise that this is an ill-fated piece of choreography. To be fair to Lloyd, this is fairly inoffensive, but he's not performing it as a big ballad; it's a pleasant, relatively tuneful pub singalong, drowned out in most places by the backing vocals. Oh, and a KEY CHANGE.
Louis says obviously other people like Lloyd more than he does, but it was pretty good rather than great. Dannii begins the LLOYD LIKES GIRLS AND GIRLS LIKE LLOYD whitewashing by saying that a million girls want his phone number, and suggests he doesn't overcomplicate melodies for himself. Simon says it was OK, and thinks that in his second song he needs to show that he has fire in his eyes. Cheryl says that he will. Simon starts to talk to Dermot a bit, and the morons in the audience drown him out with their idiotic heckling and whooping. Lloyd assures Dermot of his dedication to the X-Factor cause.
Simon introduces Olly MURS. He had to sing off last week, and NEARLY cried about the potential loss of his dream. He fails to point out that he was singing off against John and Edward and there was no way he was going. NotLouis has given Olly a stripped-back performance this week, possibly because he's splurged his budget on scores of dancers and gold Lycra.
Ew EW. Olly begins by serenading a woman in the audience. [I'm just grateful there was no crotch thrusting - Rad] He is singing Love Ain't Here Any More, and he is NOT a natural ballad singer. The stripped-backness of the performance exposes the weakness of his voice - he hits a big note and he's got nothing there to support it, so it's in his throat and there's a massive wobble in the middle of it. C'mon, Yvie, you should have sorted that out. The tone is nice, there's just no power. Anyway, that was not a classic.
Louis witters on about girls wanting to marry Olly. Dannii says there wasn't any sparkle in the eyes. Cheryl says it was nice to hear him sing. She is wrong. Simon makes inappropriate comments about the girl Olly sang to at the start, and then reckons not having sparkle is OK for this song. Interestingly he adds that Olly doesn't sulk or complain. NOT THAT ANYONE ELSE DOES, OF COURSE; EVERYONE IS HUMBLE AND IS GRATEFUL FOR THEIR CHANCE. Dermot mocks the girl as well.
Cheryl introduces "Geordie Joe". Last week he was technically superb, and he says it was amazing. His VT has Cheryl's song as the backing music, by the way. The editing of his comments is very scratchy. In practice with Yvie, he keeps going flat. She says this isn't good. THAT is why she earns the big bucks. Simon says the song Cheryl's chosen is obvious. Joe says he cannot afford to let his chance go.
Joe has a wardrobe full of people behind him. Or maybe on second viewing it's a picture frame. I'm unsure. Anyway, he's singing Could It Be Magic, which is a Barry Manilow song and I wonder if Louis will be producing the rulebook shortly. [I note with interest that every time this song is used on this show, they use the exact same arrangement, and it ain't the Take That arrangement. - Steve] When the beat kicks in, the dancers begin to move. Some of them appear to be dressed as peacocks. And some of them appear to be dancing like peacocks. Joe, meanwhile, sings beautifully, with the occasional dodgy piece of breathing, and he doesn't even have the excuse of dancing, because all he's doing is walking across the stage every so often. He hits the big note just before the end magnificently, and everyone claps.
Louis says words. Dannii says Joe "absolutely smashed it". Simon says Joe was in control all the way through, and thanks NotLouis for his production. Cheryl says it was flawless. Joe thanks everybody who has voted for him so far, and then beams into the camera.
And finally, Dannii introduces "the beautiful Stacey Solomon". Stacey was nervous last week; Dannii assures us that Stacey is the best singer left in the competition. Stacey and Yvie fret about the fact that the song Dannii's chosen is "a man's song" and "low at the beginning". Here's a thought. CHANGE THE KEY. Bump it up a tone or two. What's the problem?
Stacey has a lovely voice and is certainly talented, but the start of Rule The World is weak and wavering. However, she does walk along a platform that lights up as she sings the relevant words. I'm a bit disappointed with Stacey's performances and song choices for the past few weeks, y'know. She's nice, fun and likeable, and she can really sing, but they don't seem to know what to do with her apart from shoehorn her into a Leona LEWIS big ballady belt box.
Louis hopes people will vote for her; Cheryl says it is very HARD to sing a man's song and urges her once again to "represent"; Simon says at least it doesn't sound like karaoke. And then he congratulates Robbie on his engagement (that never existed) [and was exceptionally poorly-worded even if it did exist - Steve]. Dannii is pissed off at the spotlight-grab from her act and promptly turns the attention back to Dagenham Stace. Dermot does an impression of Stacey which is scarily accurate. Then she says, "I think I'm growing. Not in height. In confidence!"
Right, round one over. Time for the Elton John singalong to begin. Not before a recap and the judges giving their thoughts on who was best first off, though (Simon and Cheryl pathetically say their own acts; Dannii says Joe and Stacey; Louis says Joe). Oh, and a montage of Elton John songs.
Cheryl introduces "lovely Lloyd", who has a tough song to sing. In the VT, Lloyd wails about having to do a lift, and he is scared of heights. NotLouis says that it keeps going wrong because he always thinks it will go wrong. Louis chortles that Lloyd will never have to deal with the dizzy heights of stardom. Cheryl says Lloyd is going to prove that he deserves a place in the semi-final.
Ooh. He's singing I'm Still Standing, and sadly Jill Halfpenny and Darren Bennett are not there to jive. Instead, Lloyd and the dancers each have canes. This isn't a bad song, mostly because he doesn't have to sustain anything, but his diction is fairly poor. Louis attempts some wordplay and thought it was too karaoke. Cheryl retorts, "You haven't got ANYONE still standing!" and Louis bleats, "In the charts! In the charts I have!" [Oh Louis. You started out so well this series. - Rad] Dannii says it was shaky but better than the first; Simon thought it was a silly song and worse than the first. Cheryl says it is hard to come back week after week when you're getting tough criticism, and she hopes that Wales will vote for him.
Time for Danyl's second song. Classic bit of VT where Yvie tells him, "You CAN'T start in the wrong key!" Danyl panics about not hitting the notes. Simon thinks if he sings it properly, he will go right through to the semi-finals. [The VTs really didn't disguise how much Cheryl and Yvie apparently hate him, did they? - Rad]
Danyl gets the big note at the start of Your Song, but then chooses to veer into the wrong key for the rest of it. And THEN a choir of small children trip-trap on to the stage to provide a nauseating cute factor for the end. Still, Simon liked it, and he hauls Cheryl on to her feet for a standing ovation too. Louis admires that Danyl always bounces back from criticism, but he did not like the choir. Dannii thought it was better than the first song, and Danyl replies, "Thanks, babe." Ugh. [Seconded. - Steve] [Thirded - Rad] Cheryl says we are now seeing the Danyl we fell in love with back in the audition process. Simon claims that performance was what the entire show is about, and then picks a fight with Louis about the children's choir - "They are little children who want to be on the show! Let them!" Danyl says the children were polite. Everybody applauds. I feel we've moved away from the point somewhat.
Simon re-introduces Olly, after an appalling bit of business about Louis being Scrooge. For this round, Olly is doing "the only butch Elton John song" [fuck off, Simon - Steve], because, remember, he is an ORDINARY BLOKE. And of course that means he's doing Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting. Girls in bikinis strut around the stage with cards announcing the rounds in a boxing match as Olly stands in a one-dimensional boxing ring. The band and backing singers are so loud that you can't hear Olly (in fact, the backing singers are on the melody line rather than a harmony for most of the way through).
Louis liked the "funny dancing" but thought there was something missing. Dannii thought it was "an absolute knock-out" and that the sparkle in his eye has returned. Cheryl doesn't know how Olly concentrated with all the lovely dancing girls around him. Simon thought it was brilliant, obviously, because Olly added an "extra ten, 15, 20 per cent".
Joe has sung this song before in the judges' houses round. Simon thinks that means they're playing it safe. Cheryl, Joe and the guru that is NotLouis do not. And they are right. When Joe sings Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word, it's low-key and compelling - no lightning striking in the background on that line of the song, as you'd expect with NotLouis' productions, just a spotlight on him as he begins to put some emotion into the words.
Louis says Joe has it all and was born to sing. Dannii admires the passion with which Joe sings. Simon is gobsmacked and reminds us that his day job is that he runs a record label and that Joe has become a man. Total non sequitur. Cheryl is proud to be a Geordie. Joe beams a bit more.
And finally, "saving the best till last" (a la Dannii), Stacey's final song. NotLouis is making her lie down while singing, which is hard because you can't breathe. What is with these attempts to restrict her lungs? Not that I am implying that this series is set up for a male winner, of course. Simon says that all Stacey's performances are starting to sound the same to him now, and I sort of see what he means. [Yeah, me too. But then so do most of Danyl's, Olly's and Joe's. I do wish they'd given her one upbeat song, though - Rad]
Anyway, she's reclining on a sheepskin rug on top of a piano, which looks weird. She's singing Something About The Way You Look Tonight. She gets up and tries to do "slinky" and just looks awkward. Louis thinks Stacey deserves to be in the final, but didn't really like the song choice. Cheryl thinks she looked uncomfortable but did well in the circumstances. Simon says that he didn't like it because Stacey isn't a belting singer (which is what I thought about the first song too), and getting these kinds of songs makes her into a dull identikit vocalist, or a "wedding singer", rather than the singer with originality we saw at first. Dannii says that she pushes Stacey and doesn't know what Simon's talking about. Stacey doesn't want to be a wedding singer - "no offence to any wedding singers, they're very good" - and then giggles about loving sheepskin rugs. Dermot looks nonplussed.
So a recap - Danyl lighting fire with a gold Lycra troupe and singing a song for YOU in a HUMBLE manner; Lloyd putting together a million love songs and remaining standing; Olly imploring girls in the audience to love him even though love don't live there any more, and then assuring them Saturday night is alright for fighting; Joe speculating on magic and the difficulty of saying sorry; and Stacey hoping for world dominance and assessing appearances tonight.
Tomorrow night, Alicia Keys and Rihanna, and Rad taking you through the results! Join her then!