Last week! The theme week wasn't as terrible as usual! Lloyd went home! Joe had some dancers in a picture frame! Rihanna curled up on a big armchair!
Tonight! Michael Jackson week AND songs to get you to the final! Oh GREAT! IT'S! THE! SEMI! FINAAAAL!
Gah. I would have to be on recap duty for this week: not only do we get Michael Jackson week, which was by and large a car crash last year, it's also lame-o 'Songs to Get You to the Final Week'. The themes alone have already put me in a bad mood so they're going to have to work extra hard to impress me.
There are lots of opening VTs about how this is the most important night of everyone's lives and the judges bigging up their acts. Simon says talent like Danyl does not come around very often, and that's why he deserves a chance, and I've still seen no particular evidence of this talent. Maybe it'll arrive tonight.
Simon, in all seriousness, says 'they have to give it 150% tonight'. I've given up pointing out the flaws in Simon's logic but I still sigh every time he opens his mouth.
Dermot is wearing a black suit. It's OK for a Dermot suit, I guess. Tonight, 'we pay tribute to the legend that is the King of Pop himself'. He's dead, Dermot, surely you don't need that much hyperbole again. The judges enter to 'Thriller', which, if last year is anything to go by, will be the best MJ song we hear all night. [I genuinely thought for just a second that the judges were going to break into the Thriller dance routine. - Carrie] Dannii is wearing a nice enough long reddish-orange dress. Cheryl is wearing an odd thing that looks like a tight black mini dress, covered with half a bit of a peach rag. Simon and Louis are in boring suits but at least Simon's chest hair is hidden away. Small mercies.
Dermot tells us Michael Jackson was the biggest pop star of ALL TIME. I don't know if he has quantifiable evidence for that. Footage of some good Jacko songs (Smooth Criminal, Bad, Thriller etc) and then some toss (Heal the World, Scream). Simon says it's unbelievable that Jacko's not here any more but he's excited for Janet being here tomorrow. No guest mentoring again? This series is such a rip-off.
The sacrificial lamb this week (please God) is Olly MURS, who is doing 'Can You Feel It'. Now I'm in two minds about this. On the one hand, I criticised them last year for too many ballads, so it's nice to see uptempo stuff on the list. On the other, this has huge potential to be a car crash. His VT is all about how he used to work in a call centre and it was the worst thing ever. As sob stories go, it's no MY DAD WHO IS DEAD. [I sympathise to some extent, because I've worked in a call centre too and it's not pleasant, but I absolutely hate this 'working a normal job is beneath me' angle they always peddle every year. - Steve]
He starts very wobbly and is singing a white suit that is presumably a cast-off from Boyzone/Westlife/Jedward. Immediately we have a problem. Because this song was sampled on this:
and thus all I can think about is this (go to 2.56):
All of which gives the impression that NotLouis has been out drinking with Peter Kay, which would be the weirdest thing ever.
Anyway, back to the performance. He is standing on some steps and has a bunch of dancers, one of whom has hair that is very Jedward-esque. In fact, Olly's hair is getting that way a bit as well. His vocal is pretty shaky throughout - some bits are better than others. There are a lot of unnecessary 'huh's and he sings 'now tell me' in just the same way as Peter Kay does on that Children in Need song. He dances though, so it's all over as far as I'm concerned. The thing about Olly's performances is that I really don't think they know what to do with him any more so they keep rehashing the same old schtick. In terms of a winner, he would be the least marketable in terms of selling albums, and they know it.
Louis says something I can't hear because of the crowd and goes on about how Olly is the likeable guy from Essex. He is - guess what? An all-round entertainer. Louis and Dannii say he has to be in the final and Dannii talks about him grabbing his crotch. Cheryl repeats what they just said. Simon says he has the presence of a star.
There's an ad for Madonna's 'Celebration'. I want a Madonna week with Madonna as guest mentor.
Next up, it's Joe MCELDERRY, and he's introduced by his mentor and, I quote, 'Geordie soulmate' Cheryl. If we're going by the same geographical logic, I am soulmates with Julie Peasgood, Patricia Hodge and Mrs Mangel from Neighbours. Cheryl tells us he is performing a Michael Jackson song. Thanks for that. His VT is soundtracked by twinkly music and is all about how he wants it and how the judges like him. He's surely the clear favourite, so surely the question is whether his outcome will be that of David Archuleta or of Gareth Gates? [Or someone who actually wins. - Steve] [Oh YEAH, I had completely forgotten about David Cook until you said that - Rad] He is sitting on a stool, wearing white again, and singing 'She's Out of My Life'. The song isn't my favourite, but he sings it very well. I still think the West End would be a better showcase for him than the charts, though, and one that probably offers more longevity. Louis says there is a big, big gap in the market for him, which I'm not convinced about but the judges all love him, and he's clearly so much better than everyone else in this competition that it looks a bit embarrassing.
Dannii is wearing earrings that look a bit like the BlockBusters grid. Anyway, Stacey SOLOMON is next. Her VT is all about her being from Dagenham but still being a good singer, SHOCK HORROR. Simon says 'in a world where so many people are aware of themselves, she's the opposite, she's just herself'. Um? We see more of her cute son.
She is dressed in a hat and jacket, with what looks like a leotard underneath, surrounded by a load of 1920s-styled men. She's doing 'The Way You Make Me Feel' which is an odd choice. I'm all for seeing her do upbeat but this isn't the best song. It doesn't showcase her voice particularly and sounds a bit pedestrian. There is some mad choreography with her walking across chairs that keep getting removed a la musical chairs, though. [I rather liked it - it was the only performance of the night where they'd done something interesting with the arrangement and choreography. So naturally Simon hated it. - Steve] Louis and Simon thought it was a bit gimmicky but Cheryl loved it. Simon, he of mentoring Olly and Danyl, felt it was too cabaret. Dannii says it's about showing she could do a live show, and Stacey had infected teeth. Infected teeth? That sounds unpleasant. Stacey says she likes the song but the comments were fair enough.
Danyl JOHNSON is doing 'Man in the Mirror'. Last year, Diana Vickers' performance of this was one of the only things I liked about MJ week last year so it's interesting to see that it's not just Ruth Lorenzo's good performances they're determined to shit all over this year. Fortunately he's doing a version closer to the original, which might not be a bad move since 'Relight My Fire' is widely regarded as his least twattish performance yet. His VT is all about how he is SENSATIONAL and HUMBLE and a STAR and did the BEST FIRST AUDITION EVER. Simon thinks he is the best singer, because he is deaf. [Every time Simon says "best", I just mentally substitute it for "loudest". It makes things easier. - Steve]
He starts out really badly and the camera looks to Simon putting his hand over his mouth, appalled. Heh. There's a lot of pointing and EMOTIONAL throwing the mic around and his gob and his staring and MEANINGFUL stomping. There's also a load of random photos of nature being projected behind him, becasue it's a song about changing your ways, and we need to change our ways with regards to the environment. At least I assume that's NotLouis's logic. He could simply have been trying to recreate this:
Anyway, it's a Danyl performance, so it's as overblown and fake and unsubtle as you'd expect I really, really hate his performances. I'd genuinely like to see him do a simple, stripped back song without BIG SHOUTY notes in it to see if under all the gimmickry and ego there actually is a nice voice. I suspect there might be, but he and Simon are still determined to confuse VOLUME for sincerity and BLAH and he's not even very good at that stuff, although at least he wanders away from the tune less this week, though his breathing is awful. Oh, and of course, our blessed lord and saviour gets the gospel choir and gets to go on last AS BLOODY USUAL. To be generous to him, it's one of his more competent performances, because he's singing the actual melody for most of the time for a change, but it's still utterly hateful.
Louis says he's had a REALLY TOUGH TIME from the press and he slags Simon off for the images, calling it a Benetton ad. He like Danyl though, as did Dannii, but she also thought the images were distracting. Cheryl said it was like 'The Earth Song' but he was good. Simon snips at them all, despite them saying they liked it and weren't sure about the visuals, which is constructive criticism, no? Of course, it's the second coming as far as Simon is concerned and I really don't know why Simon's so keen to back this horse. Just because a few Americans talked about his YouTube audition clip does not mean he's the new Susan Boyle. The judges bicker about the visuals and Simon looks for NotLouis in the audience to give him a death stare. Heh. Danyl tells us all how HUMBLE he is.
We then have an overlong recap of all the performances so far.
Olly next. Guess what his VT's about? He wants it and he hates his job. O rly? Why have you never mentioned this before?
He's singing 'We Can Work It Out' and his mic stand looks like it's made from a chain. He has a better grasp of the tune than in his first performance, but it's marred by BLOODY DANCING and stupid head flicks and annoying pauses. Oh, and the song is awful. He really, really doesn't deserve to be in the final. Unless Danyl goes home tomorrow which would be fun just for the look on Simon's face.
Louis says he has the likeability factor and is a bit like Jay Kay from Jamiroquai, who isn't the first person that comes to mind when I think of 'likeability factor'. Dannii says it wasn't the best song choice and you know what, if I was at home right now....' and I'm expecting her to say 'I wouldn't be excited enough to vote' but she says she'd pick up the phone and vote.
Joe's VT is about how his family are proud, but his nana wishes he'd put as much effort into his science and maths as his singing. Love her.
It's his turn for the perspex steps this week. He's singing 'Open Arms' because our youngest X-Factor contestant, and favourite to win, is sponsored by Journey and Elton John (feel the contemporary references!). As for the performance - well, it's a Joe performance. By this stage, no-one has any surprises left, so it's clear, tuneful, competent and all the things we'd expect from him. There's an unintentional comedy moment when a light shines directly onto his crotch, though.
Louis thinks he's a natural pop star and would have a number one with that song. He makes a point of Joe being likeable, presumably unlike some other people? Dannii and Simon love it, and Simon says he's polite and listens. He attempts a joke by saying 'on the most important night of your life, your mentor picks a sing no-one knows...' and Cheryl looks like she'll lamp him but then he says 'it was 100% (only 100?) the right thing to do'. Simon offers Joe's nan a place on one of his shows. Joe's nan for American Idol 2010! [Or Joe's Nan to take over from Simon when he gives up on this show in a year or two, please. Either's good. - Steve]
Stacey's family want her to get into the final so she can be a proper sister. [Que? - Carrie] Her sister has the exact same voice as her. She's singing 'Somewhere' and I can't hear the first 'there's' but after that it's perfectly melodic and nice, and more subtle than anything Danyl could dream of. Her dress and hair are very Leona-esque, though. She nearly loses it on the last 'Somewhere' but gets it back for the big note. The judges all love it.
Dermot asks her if she even dares to dream about the final or just takes each day as it comes. She says 'Dermot, I dream about it all the time'. Heh.
Danyl's final VT reminds us that he is GIVING and HUMBLE. Simon says he is the best singer and it'd be WRONG if the best singer didn't make the final. Oh, Simon. A) No, he isn't and B) It would be HILARIOUS.
Nonono. He is singing 'I Have Nothing'. It's not quite as heinous as I expected to start with, but then all the famous Danyl performance tics come into play. [Also, the best reality show arrangement of this song was Katharine McPhee's from season five of American Idol that just cut straight through the wimpy bit at the beginning straight into the strident second verse, which makes the song so much better. So essentially, this was automatic fail very early on. - Steve] One of the big NOTHINGS is actually quite good for a second when he slips out of his horrible nasally American drawl and I get a glimpse of what might be a nice voice under all that after all. Then he puts the nasal drawl back on, so whatever. To be fair, this might all be just as much Yvie's fault as anyone's, because he desperately needs some vocal coaching. Simon snipes that he hasn't had fair criticism so far, which? He gave him a girls' song so it would be deliberately more rebalanced, which is a whole phrase made of WTF. Danyl reminds us he is HUMBLE.
So, to recall, Olly felt it and wanted to work it out; Joe was sponsored by 70s MOR rock again, Stacey sang whilst walking across moving chairs, and Danyl had nothing.
The results show will feature Janet JACKSON and Lady GAGA! Join Carrie for the recap!