Monday, September 27, 2010

All Beyonced out

Boot camp fuckery
Tx: 26th September 2010

Last time! Some shit happened! Tonight! More of the same, with added lady judges!

We've got 100 acts left, fighting for a place at judges' "houses". People talk about not knowing what they will do if they don't make it. And Cheryl and Dannii are back! Dannii is looking good, by the way; Cheryl looks an odd colour but healthy.


So, we're still in that London, and Dermot's wandering round outside Wembley Arena. He reminds us of the ladies' absence, and introduces Simon, Louis and Our Official Favourite Guest Judge Ever Nicole Scherzinger. Today, the 108 acts (which is not 100) have to go on stage and sing one song out of a list of 40 chosen by the judges.

Oh, here's Katie. Steve hates her, don't you know. She does not Beyonce. She is unbeyonceable. She wants to be a legend and create a legacy and do other things starting with the syllable "leg". [Make legwarmers, pursue legal career, write legibly. - Steve] To be fair to her, she does admit she likes her job as a receptionist, which is infinitely preferable to the usual O NOEZ I HATE WORK bullshit. She sings To Make You Feel My Love quite nicely, trotting up and down the stage like a little billygoat. She needs NotLouis's input. And maybe some roller-skates. She goes off and whispers to Dermot. He kisses her. Bitch.

Diva Fever are camping around on some stairs, and we are reminded of their not-set-up-at-all first audition in which Nicole faghagged to an extent that even I may balk at. They go on stage and have coloured shapes stencilled on their faces, looking a bit like the Play School house has attacked them. They sing Bad Romance, beginning rather weakly but it warms up, and Louis looks utterly confused by the whole thing. He does however deem them "likeable". They squeal about never wanting to stop.

Justin Vanderhyde does a lot of musical theatre. Why would you admit that? Simon will burn you. Twem are crazy about music and do a really rubbish dance routine. (NB, take it as read that everyone is bad at singing unless we state otherwise.) Wagner wants to please others with the sound of his voice. Simon thinks he looks like Louis in a wig. What?


More people practise. Aiden and his lesbian hair and scarf did an audition that apparently created expectation, but he likes the song he is singing and is looking forward to singing it. He has been working hard with NotLouis, who is wearing a white trilby. NotLouis tells him he is liable to look self-indulgent because he is shit at performing, or something. Aiden goes on stage and tells us he wants to have an imprint on the world. His method for doing this is apparently to cover This Year's Love, while singing with a fucking sidegob. Oh Aiden. He does seem to forget his words. And the tune. And sounds a bit like David Gray channelling a sheep. Nicole mutters that he does not do "good eyes".

And more people practise. Nicole beams at Annastacia, who still looks 30 if she's a day, rather than the 21 she claims to be. Husstle have a bizarre routine to Walk This Way, which must have been choreographed by NotLouis but does not incorporate any seating or glitter, so maybe not. Rebecca demands sympathy from us once more because of her lack of confidence, which apparently began when she became a mum, because becoming a mum young affects your confidence, and now she wants to make sure they have a nice life, and she can do that through singing. Yeah, whatever. Anyway, she sings, and it's affected, warbly, and dull as anything. She looks pretty, though. Simon whispers about it being "a recording voice". Yes, if you have the autotune in the studio. And then he reminds us that she has no confidence. And frankly, I do not give a tiny rat's ass. [She really is the most boring contestant that they're trying to milk - Rad]


Here is Nicolo, who looks awful and he complains a lot about air conditioning, going in and out of the building, and not sleeping much, and then bemoans the lack of a microphone stand. Whining little gimboid. He is going to sing Life On Mars [I thought the choice of songs at Boot Camp was about 50% more interesting than usual, albeit with 50% the same old schlock - Rad]. But then he might not. Even though it is quite late to change the song, he says. Oh shush. He tells the judges he has wanted to perform since he was in the womb, and then stutters his way through his speech intended to convince them why he would be a good pop star. Credit to him, he can actually sing. As he walks off stage, he grimaces at Dermot. [The entire thing was worth it for this tweet. I love him now. - Steve]

Paije begins his song (To Make You Feel My Love) and misses his top notes. Rather an ambitious choice. Jo Beetlestone has a lovely tone, which is so much unlike her speaking voice it's lolarious. John has a black trilby hat, perhaps the twin of NotLouis's. He would like the residents at the care home where he works to see him "singing [his] little heart out on telly". Aw. And here's Mary Byrne. I'm so over her already.

We're reminded of Gamu's first audition in which she tore the ass out of Walking On Sunshine. It's significantly more shit without autotune. She tells us about her childhood in Zimbabwe and says she wants to be a singer because it's the thing that she's good at, and then changes that to "it's the thing that I love", which is perhaps more factually accurate. She's very pretty, though. She sings that bloody Adele song as well. It's not too bad apart from when she forces from her throat, which happens too frequently for my liking. Louis is so moved that he weeps. Then Gamu cries as Dermot paws at her arm. He then tries to hug her, but she clearly does not want him to touch her in any way, shape or form. (The fool.)

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Right, apparently it is D-Day. Gamu is nervous and cannot eat or sleep. She says she has never seen so many good singers, ever. Fuck knows what she was watching. All the hopefuls lug their cases back to Wembley Arena. Nicole lies that there are "so many talented people". Simon has thoughts. Well, good. The three judges deliberate over the polaroids of their auditionees. Harry Styles has a stupid hat on and should be kicked out just for that. Nicole thinks the girls are the most talented group this year. Cher thinks the competition are amazing, and Nicole comments in passing, "The reason why I like her, she is at least original." Cher? She's derivative of about eight different artists, and not good in the slightest. Mary Byrne says not to go through would be a disaster. Husstle talk about how going through might change their lives. Simon brandishes a banana at Louis (fnar) and says, "They. Can't. Sing." Chloe Mafia is proud of herself for going this far (fnar). Katie would be gutted if she got a no. Princes and Rogues, the world's gayest boyband, mutter platitudes. Simon teases Louis about "loving" some male contestant. Paije reminds us that he has a job he doesn't like. Stephen weeps about waiting a lifetime for this opportunity. I note that someone is called 'Vicky Jackson', which is the name of a character from Topsy and Tim. Bloody Rebecca cries a-sodding-gain. Last night, Storm dreamt he went to Manderley Madonna tried to eat him (fnar). Simon waves the pic of Storm at Louis and Nicole saying, "He's AN IDIOT." Like that's ever stopped anyone on this show.

But wait! What is this? Can it be A SHOCK TWIST? Why, yes, I believe it can!

Nicole: Simon, why do you have a cut-off age of 25?
Louis: It's just...a rule that had to be there. (Nicole utterly ignores his existence)

Anyway, Nicole wants to shove a couple of the over-25s into the boys' category. Nicole felt that category didn't make sense because "there are a couple of young people in there competing with 50-year-olds." But...that would be the point of the show? Oh, I don't fucking know any more. [I would get this twist more if, as last year, the Over-25s had a lot of good people in it - not that any of them made the live shows - but when Mary is your best shot of those over 28, then... yeah - Rad]

So they tell the acts that there's now an over-28 category, and that eight acts will go through to judges' houses this year, which is something to do with Cheryl and Dannii not being there. What? That makes NO SENSE AT ALL. All the acts enthuse about these tweaks to the rules.

And now it is the MOMENT OF TRUTH. Girls through are: Katie; Raquel; Keri; Treyc (who screams); Annastasia (which makes Nicole cry); Rebecca (who cries again, of course); Cher (who's fucking awful, in case you overlooked that); and Gamu (who looks like she's been beaten with a metal cosh). Simon thanks the other girls, as they cry with disappointment. Nicole sobs too: "You'll never have me back. I'm a freakin' mess. I suck at this."

Old people through: Stephen, Yuli, Storm, Wagner, Justin, John, and Mary. Which is seven. Which is not eight. What? I mean, what? [The rumour I heard? The missing eighth person who got through was Shirlena, who was subsequently quietly edited out of boot camp entirely for being a mental. - Steve]

Groups through: Twem, The Reason, Diva Fever (who screech and fall to their knees), FYD, Princes and Rogues, Husstle. Which is six. Which is also not eight. (But there's a reason for this. Can you guess what it is yet?)

Boys through: John (and his straw hat), Nicolo (who thinks he may have an aneurysm), Paije, Aiden, Marlon, Carl, Matt and Tom (who looks even less like a pop star than Eoghan QUIGG did). Harry weeps on his scarf.

And mysteriously, the judges call back some of the boys and girls. What do you think they might say? Well, who'd have known, they ask them to become a boy band and a girl band and enter the groups categories. Because that has worked so well and successfully previously. [And also, some of those boys really didn't seem like they'd mesh together vocally. The girls were all very anonymous so that might work in their favour. They seemed to gloss over how they kept adding people to Husstle as well - Rad]

Much rejoicing ensues for everyone. But if you thought that was the end, no such luck - we have to now wait to find out who's mentoring whom. And we also have to wait for Dermot to recap what we've just seen over the previous hour, of course. Simon's in London, Louis in Dublin IN IRELAND WHERE HE IS FROM, Cheryl's in LA and Dannii is in...all of Australia, apparently. [I did like the suggestion that Dannii lives in Sydney Opera House. That is now canon as far as I'm concerned. - Steve] She says she was gutted to miss the auditions because she feels out of the loops. Louis would love to get the boys this year. Hmm. Cheryl thinks she might get the groups. Simon thinks the girls are the strongest. Dannii wants the winning category. HA.

They all sit around looking at their mobiles. Dannii's phone rings first, and the producer tells her we're looking forward to her coming back. TRUE FACT. She's mentoring the boys. She was not expecting that, but she is happy. Cheryl's phone rings next. She answers it tentatively. She is mentoring the girls. Louis whinges about the possibility of getting the old people, because that would be a lot of work. Tosser. And of course, he has the over 28s, while Simon gets the groups. Louis sobs. Simon makes the producer repeat what he just said, and then whines, "Thank you for repaying all of my hard work on the show this year." [If your hard work was the level of phoning it in you've been doing this series and for the past several series of this and American Idol, it's more than you deserve, Simon - Rad] Although he is consoled a little by the knowledge that Louis has the old people. "They don't turn up at the auditions, and they get the boys and the girls!" wails Simon of the lady judges, and concludes, "Stitch-up." Oh, gentleman judges, stay classy.

Next week! Judges' non-homes! And Sharon fucking Osbourne, the least successful mentor in X-Factor history! Join us then!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Das boot camp

Boot Camp 1: 25th September 2010

So, prior to all this, there were auditions. Y'all were there, right? And you read the recaps? Well, even if you didn't, the show's now going to recap the entire series so far, presumably to ITV can justify including another ad break. I'd complain, but maybe they'll spend the revenue on some quality drama or something. Hope springs eternal, and all that. Suffice to say the recap includes all the usual suspects that have been hammered into the ground already: G&S, Skinny Cher, Lazy Decorator, Paije, Irish Susan Boyle, Nicolo, and of course that old standby, She Punched Her In The Face.

Tonight, however, it is boot camp. The next five minutes of the show essentially give you enough information to make watching the rest of the episode entirely unnecessary, but I think the fact that this show and this blog are both still going strong proves that none of us are actually strong enough to switch off. But: there will be changes! The 200 remaining acts head to Wembley Arena. There are "literally" no second chances. (Unless you're Treyc. Or Irish Susan Boyle. Or Annastasia. Or...well, you get my point.) There will be dancing! Lots of people will cry! And best guest judge ever Nicole Scherzinger will be back, eventually, though it will take far too long. It's time to face the music, it's time to light the lights, it's time to meet the muppets for The Muppet Show tonight. Titles!

Dermot's standing outside Wembley Arena, telling us that "this is where the next phase of the competition begins". There are 211 acts remaining (interestingly, in the pre-titles VT they said there were 200, though 211 is a less exact and therefore more believable number). There are shots of planes landing and the Eurostar arriving and Cher even gets a dedicated camera crew capturing her as she walks into Birmingham New Street station with her pink wheely suitcase. I would pay serious money for someone to be trailing one of those behind them on the upcoming series of The Apprentice. Gamu tells us she's been practising hard and is very excited. Treyc is going to give it her all. Mary thinks it is fantastic that a 50-year-old woman is on her way to boot camp. Is it really that remarkable as a concept? Dermot tells us unnecessarily that Wembley Arena has played host to "some of the biggest names in the business", as though some viewers would be sitting at home going "oh, Wembley Arena. I was thinking of Wembley Drum Centre." (No offence to Wembley Drum Centre intended; I'm sure they've had many celebrated visitors of their own too.) [Is this so all the happy campers can claim they've performed at Wembley? I so would, if I was them - Rad]

It's 12.33pm on Day 1, and the acts all miraculously arrive at the same time despite having travelled from all over the country, such is the harmonious synergy that is the X Factor experience. Twem are very excited to be at boot camp. Aiden loves singing, which is fairly handy, all things considered. Marlon goes one better and insists that he needs this. Dermot tells us that the acts head "straight into the arena", though the on-screen clock says 2.09pm. I would say that going "straight into" something does not normally take an hour and a half. I realise the security checks at large venues can be fairly protracted, but even so I find myself wondering what exactly happened in those lost 96 minutes. Anyway, everyone assembles on stage, while Dermot reminds us that Cheryl and Dannii are "away", so Simon and Louis are in charge, God help us all. Louis tells us that boot camp is tough becaue showbusiness is tough. Simon reminds us that he's looking for a star. He's also looking for someone to sew some buttons back onto his shirt if the amount of chest foliage he's got on display is any indication. At 2.25pm, Simon and Louis walk through the arena doors, and the assembled contestants applaud. I'd feel sorry for them, having been stood on a stage for the best part of 20 minutes while precisely nothing happened, but that's also a part of showbiz they'd probably best get used to sooner rather than later.

Simon welcomes the crowd, and congratulates "one of [them]", because obviously the winner is on that stage somewhere. I know: try to contain your excitement, eh? Simon tells them that half of them will be going home by the end of the day. The first cut is the deepest, kids. He explains that they will be split into their categories, and will get a chance to perform one song. Louis says they're only going to pick the best. Simon tells them that there are no second chances. Though, if you think about it, this is actually everyone's second chance, because their initial audition was their first chance. (Yes, yes, I know, six or seven auditions with production staff before you get anywhere near the telly, but let's try not to puncture that well-crafted televisual illusion, eh?) [and the extra song they all seemed to get this year when their first performance sucked - Rad]

Dermot elaborates on the details for us: they're split into girls, boys, over-25s (interesting - I thought it was over-28s this year. I assume that little revision will be happening later, perhaps in a Shock Spontaneous Twist like the time[s - Rad] they decided to put some of the rejected soloists into groups). Each category is given one song, and a team of "industry experts" (as well as NotLouis). The categories are all taken off to work through their songs with the vocal coaches: for the girls, it's Beyoncé's 'If I Were A Boy', for the boys it's Fergie's 'Big Girls Don't Cry'. Oh, of course not: it's Michael Jackson's 'Man In The Mirror'. The groups are singing Starship's 'Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now' and all the over-25s will sing Lady Gaga's 'Poker Face'. By having everyone sing the same song, we're told it'll give Simon and Louis an opportunity to judge the singers directly against their competition. This seems awfully lazy. By these standards, you might as well make all the contestants in the live shows sing the same song as each other as well, so the voters can compare things more easily. After all, if this is the only way that music industry bigwigs can judge fairly, what chance do the rest of us have? Simon tells us that the challenge at this point is "fairly simplistic". Yeah, no kidding. Cher thinks the competition is heating up. Liam likes competition; he thinks that it is good. Hatey is daunted because she's surrounded by people who are "Beyoncéing it out", and as much as I loathe her, I can't be entirely against anyone who uses Beyoncé as a verb. The verb "to Beyoncé". I Beyoncé, she Beyoncés, we have Beyoncen.

At 3.37pm, it's time for the first set of performances from the over-25s. Conveniently enough, Stephen is up first, meaning that our first bootcamper was also our first auditionee of the series. Whoever arranges the running orders for these shows apparently has "a touch of the OCD", as Cheryl would put it. He goes for the time-honoured trick of changing the tempo, notes and structure of the song to hide the fact that he doesn't sound good singing it. Montage time! From this we are expected to deduce that things are not going well. "Is it the song?" Louis asks Simon. "It's not the song," Simon insists. To be honest, I think it is the song, a little bit - in the same way that Rachel struggled with 'With Every Heartbeat', some songs are kind of dependent on the charisma of the original artist to sell them, and don't really function that well as vocal showcases - I suspect 'Poker Face' might also be one of them. Not having any backing music isn't exactly helping matters either [the lack of audience, however, is refreshing - Rad]. Backstage, Simon confesses that "this is one category nobody is going to want to have". So, the same as every other year then? Cheryl needn't worry anyway; they'd never give her this category in a million years because she wouldn't be able to preface every contestant's name with "maw liddle" during the live shows. Simon mentions that there were some good people in there, and montage suggests that they include Lazy Decorator, Marlon, Storm and Irish Susan Boyle. Louis notes there are "some very strange" voices this year. Well, don't look at us, you weasel: you had the chance to reject them at least once already, and you chose not to take it.

Groups now. They seem to be faring better than the over-25s, but we don't get to see much of them. The boys all sound incredibly nasal. Tobias's voice completely cracks on the chorus. Backstage, he cries on Dermot. "I've been practising all day," he sobs. Well, perhaps that's the problem; your vocal chords are probably shot. Tobias skulks off to await the news of his fate; two other contestants pat him feebly on the back as if to say: "we ostensibly feel your pain, but realistically-speaking, we are thrilled that you just fucked up because it increases our chances of success."

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We return, and it's time to check in with the girls, because presumably they're the only category the show cares about this year. We see them with the vocal coach again, and Dermot narrates that "already, some are taking it more seriously than others", as Chloe shuffles in at the back, clearly late and seemingly not giving one tiny fuck. Chloe explains for the benefit of the cameras that she went out last night (and, we assume, got hammered) and has been throwing up all morning. Excellent.

Tough shit for Chloe, then, as she doesn't have time to get her shit together, since the girls are off to perform for Simon and Louis. Annastacia is up first, and tells us that she wants to show the judges that she deserves to be in the competition. Her performance sounds a little sharp to me. The rest of the line-up trundle through their versions, and I can't help thinking how tricky it must be to prepare your own take on a song, but then to have to listen to six people sing their own version of it before you do. I'd probably have forgotten what I was planning to do with it by the time my turn came. Hatey is worried that she's going to forget her words (again) and is freaked out about it. Judging from her performance, I think her time would've been more profitably spent on worrying about remembering the tune. More girls, whose names we are not given and whose faces I do not recall. Eventually nervous Rebecca turns up, and is nervous some more, and Gamu turns up, and much to my disappointment does not reverse the lyrics of the song so it becomes about not wanting to be a boy. Then there's Chloe, who tells the judges that she needs a wee because she's so nervous. But don't worry, she'll "save it". For a special occasion? She oversings it, and is as tune-adjacent as she was before. Incidentally, the adorable six-year-old niece I mentioned earlier? Yeah, Chloe's her favourite. Not quite sure how or why, but there you go. Backstage, Chloe tells Dermot that she wishes she could've done better, but she gave it her all "at the time". The girls are dismissed. What, no Cher? I'm a little surprised.

So now the 211 acts must sit and stew in a holding room while Simon and Louis decide who they're keeping, with a little help from the "experts". At this point the show does that annoying thing of showing one of the judges going "this girl was great" while showing a footage of a favoured contestant and trying to make us associate the two things. I hate that so much. Nervous Rebecca says she doesn't want it to end here. Simon and Louis evaluate the groups; Louis thinks Cheryl "would love" a particular act. FYD think they did the best that they could, and they've "got the chops to back it up". They're not bragging about their singing ability, by the way; they sent a hamper of pork products to Simon's dressing room as a bribe. Husstle have their fingers crossed. Then the boys are reviewed, and Tobias sobs some more about having to wait to hear what he assumes will be terrible news. Louis interviews that he sees a lot of potential in people where Simon perhaps does not. It's a fair point, but then Louis also saw potential in The Unconventionals and The Conway Sisters, so draw your own conclusions. Louis then attempts to curry favour by invoking the spirit of the absent Cheryl, and swearing that she'd agree with him if she were there. Finally, a decision is made, and the contestants are summoned back to hear their news. It's bad news for Tobias, who is indeed going home, and presumably looking for job number 22 now. Multi-coloured Wojciech is also sent packing. It's good news, however, for Husstle, Princes & Rogues, and Diva Fever, who are all through. So are Harry, Liam and Tom, Marlon, Gamu, Hatey, Cher, Twem, Aiden and Chloe, amongst others. There are celebrations. Mary calls Dermot "Dermy-Wermy". Shudder.

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When we return, it's Day 2, and there's a brand new challenge in store. Rather than tell us what this challenge might be, however, we're shown the assembled remaining contestants discussing how they don't know what's happening. It's 2.15pm, and they're all brought onto the stage. Cabin fever has clearly set in, as they applaud Simon and Louis rapturously upon their entrance. Simon congratulates them on making it this far, and tells them that he sees a star in every category. Wow, four whole stars. The 12-strong live finals are going to be fun this year, aren't they? And then, of course, there is the bad news: today they will be dancing. This is the cue for NotLouis to enter, dressed like an absolute fool as always in a green two-piece (I think -- or rather, I hope) hooded tracksuit, with the hood up over his head and the top unzipped to a frankly indecent level. This does little to allay my fears that NotLouis is, in fact, a close relative of the lady from the 'Doublemeat Palace' episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer who was in fact concealing an alien penis monster on the top of her head. NotLouis tells the acts that they will be learning choreography, because if they make it through to the top 12, they will have to walk up and down the stage a bit "do staging". [NotLouis is increasingly insane but I am beginning to look forward to his random appearances. - Carrie]

The contestants are walked through a routine which they will eventually perform to the soundtrack of Lady Gaga's 'Telephone', and they'll have to perform in their categories for the judges. NotLouis tells us that his job is to break down any walls that they have. ActualLouis says that this demostrates how the show is not just about singing "any more", it's about being entertaining. This is revisionist history: If the show had ever been solely about singing, then they wouldn't have called it The X Factor, would they? Simon admits that they've never done this before and he has no idea if it's the right thing to do or not. Simon and Louis then piss off for a fag break or something while NotLouis commands the rehearsal. Diva Fever tell us they will "give it 110%" (drink!). Nicolo thinks the dancing looks all wrong. Husstle are happy because dance is a big part of their performance. Steven is pleased because he will lose weight from the dancing. NotLouis singles out one group near the front who are "killing it" and have "the right swag", and he says that he would love to choreograph a full routine for them. I'm slightly more distracted by the fact that one of them is wearing shorts that appear to give him a very obvious Visible Penis Line. Wow, that's the second time I've said penis in two paragraphs. I'm such a pottymouth. Mary says that she's "forgotten how good it feels to exercise" and is enjoying herself. Wagner thinks it isn't hard to pick it up, because it's like karate sequences.

After all that, they try performing it to the music. NotLouis tells some of them they look pretty, and therefore they are not trying hard enough. Zain Malik, who I don't think we've seen before, tells us that he's not from a dancing background and he's finding it frustrating because he can't pick it up. Mary's struggling because of her knees and her arthritis.

Simon says that it's not about judging them on their dancing ability, but to get the contestants experienced at performing as a whole. As he and Louis return to the arena, NotLouis lines the under-25 boys up to perform first. Many of them seem to struggle, and only Tom of being-saved-by-Pixie-Lott fame stands out in a good way. Someone called Niall is all over the place. Most of these boys' attempts at freestyling are cringeworthy. Then Simon spots that Zain is missing, and it turns out he's gone off backstage in a strop because he can't do the dancing. "I just feel like an idiot on the stage," he tells the camera crew that are waiting for him back there, apparently unaware that "idiots on the stage" was the working title for this show. Simon decides to go and find him, in a moment that I am sure is entirely spontaneous and genuine. "You can't just bottle it. You can't just hide behind her. You're ruining this for yourself," Simon tells him. Of course, these magic words are all that Zain needs to return to the stage. "Don't do it again," Simon scolds. They pass a random female contestant on the stairs who looks decidedly unimpressed with all of this fuckery. Zain returns to his group and fumbles his way through the dance, staring at his shoes the entire time, though I think we're supposed to see this as some kind of triumph of the human spirit. Zain vows to try to polish up his dancing skills for future purposes.

The girls go up next. Simon thinks Gamu looks cute, and Raquel is banishing her nerves. Then the groups go up, and Simon is impressed with Husstle. NotLouis thinks it's funny that the group containing the boy with the distracting bulge are all trying to outdance each other. Then it's the turn of the over-25s; Mary vows that she will not let her arthritis beat her. She forgets the routine halfway through, and makes a "I haven't got a fucking clue!" face at Simon, but styles her way through it rather charmingly. She tells Dermy-Wermy backstage that she didn't let herself down, or Louis. Because they are both IRISH. [Wasn't this the part where she called Louis 'that Irish fella' because she'd forgotten his name? That made me chuckle - Rad]

Simon attempts to psych everyone out by pretending they're about to make more cuts, but they're not. Challenge number three is singing another song (shocker!), and more than half of the people remaining will be cut in the next 24 hours, with those who survive getting through to judges' houses. That makes it sound a bit like the big cut is happening after this challenge, but it's just enigmatic wording on Simon's part - I think the big cut is happening in like 23.5 hours time or something.

Still to come: more booting. Adverts!

When we return, we get a recap of the challenge facing the remaining contestants: to pick one song from a list of 40, and stand out from the crowd. Only 108 acts remain, and the judges' houses are tantalisingly close. The contestants arrive at Wembley Arena again at 12.33pm, trailing their luggage behind them for reasons that are never fully explained. The contestants line up on stage again, ready for Simon's latest big annoucement: they've called in reinforcements for today's judging, which is the cue for My New Favourite Judge Nicole Scherzinger to make her triumphant return. "This is where we separate the boys from the men and the pussycats from the dolls," she says rather nonsensically. But it's okay, Nicole! I still love you!

Some of the contestants file off into the audience to watch the day's performances, while others head backstage for some last minute fine-tuning. I suspect they were not given any choice regarding which of these two options they pursued. First up is Cher, and we're shown her awful first audition again. Cher tells the cameras that she's put a lot of thought into her song, but she'll be putting a twist on it: she's including a rap and some self-penned lyrics at the beginning. She admits to Dermot that it's a bit of a risk. Vocal coach Ali tells her to use the swagger that she knows she's got, because what she's about to do hasn't been done yet. Cher's worried the judges might not understand what she's about. As far as I can tell, she's mainly about dressing like a tit and making cringeworthy attempts to sound gangsta, but perhaps I'm one of the people not 'getting' her. She's singing 'Viva La Vida', and the self-penned rap is a load of old bollocks, quite frankly, about Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods and Oprah [I missed all of those references because the Jerusalem bells-a-ring-a-dinging line has been going round and round in my head ever since. Thanks for that, Cher - Rad]. Then the backing track scratches and restarts and she segues into the actual lyrics, and I think she's the most irritatingly affected contestant since The Claw. And her singing, to be frank, is not brilliant - she's sharp most of the time and her phrasing is rather mushy. [She's FUCKING AWFUL. Even the Claw was better than her. - Carrie] Simon loves it, despite his professed loathing of all things self-indulgent. Nicole liked her originality. Backstage, Cher tells Dermot that she's only just realised how much she wants it.

More people flow through. Club singer Keri Arrindell, who is 23 but looks about 16, sings 'Creep' [rather flatly - Carrie] and says that the process is bringing her out of her shell. Rogues & Princes sing 'Party In The USA' (+5 points) badly (-2 points) and changing the lyrics to reference the Pussycat Dolls (-50 points). Hard luck, chaps. Also, one of them still looks like David Spade, and that's never going to end well. They're now giving it 1000%, though, which is quite impressive. Harry sings 'Stop Crying Your Heart Out' down his nose, and has realised how much he wants to stay. 17-year-old Charlotte Dawson is adorable and sings 'Pack Up', but I have no recollection of her prior to this moment so I suspect she's not getting much further than this. Treyc also sings 'Creep' and is awesome, so I really hope she makes the finals because she's about the only contestant I can see myself actively supporting so far. I mean, I don't think she's got a hope in hell of winning, but she could possibly scrape top five if she plays her cards right. Then again, I'm fairly certain that I thought Alexandra Burke had no chance of winning when the 2008 live shows started, so we all know how much my opinion's worth. Nicole wants to take her on tour. Simon thinks she's one-dimensional, because this is the year of The Kook, sadly.

Storm Lee is next, and we're reminded of the tedious business of Simon hating his name. I'd feel more sorry for Storm if he weren't wearing a bowler hat and a fucking white blazer, mind. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if the whole Birmingham/Cardiff/Dublin/Glasgow/Manchester thing turned out to be a sham and this year's auditions were all held in bloody Shoreditch. Storm tells us that every moment is a creative moment for him. Except for the moment of getting dressed. Storm takes to the stage and tells Nicole that she is gorgeous, then babbles on about being destined for all of this from a young age, and says that if they will let him, he will show them his charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent. I'd say this was the first time they'd let a cunt slip past the compliance managers, but then I remember that Sharon Osbourne used to be on this show. Then he wails his way through 'Sweet Child Of Mine'. Simon thinks he's annoying. Nicole and Louis think he deserves a shot.

Commercials. My adorable niece thinks that Sky's "The Spenglers" advert is the most brilliant thing she's ever seen.

When we return, the infamous Chloe Victoria is next to perform, and we relive her unpleasant audition and her failure to turn up on time for the first day. Dermot asks her if she's putting the work in, and Chloe swears she is because it's "always on my mind". Maybe that's what she'll be singing? Chloe and her mad extensions take to the stage. She tells Simon that she wants to show everyone she can be what she wants to be, and make a better life for her daughter. She's singing 'Wishing On A Star', and of course because she has a backing track, she's completely off-key and singing down her nose. Simon pulls a face. The camera pans up her exposed torso - stay classy, ITV! - including the "I am nasty" tattoo around her belly button. Oh dear. Nicole is clearly finding the awful singing fairly hard to tolerate too. Then Chloe loses the words as well as the tune, and it's clearly all over for her at this point. The crowd cheer supportively, and Simon gestures for the music to be cut off. Chloe heads backstage and murmurs that she should "pack [her] bags now". Simon feels sorry for her. Nicole thinks she needs to work harder. [I agree to a point, but she's also clearly tone deaf. No good can come of pursuing a career in music. Best stick to the stuff she knows, right? - Carrie]

More acts filter through. FYD sing 'Pack Up' and seem to be both excellent and awful at various points. Chrissie Pitt sings 'The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face' rather blandly. Karl Brown sings 'Like A Star' like every male R&B singer you've ever heard in your life. Simon thinks he's not ready. Then Tom Richards -- here by the grace of Pixie Lott, though for some reason Louis is the one who gets the credit for it now -- says that this time last year he was singing at school and karaoke nights, and is really pleased he's made it this far. He expresses nerves that there's a long instrumental that he'll need to fill with ad-libbing or dancing. He returns to the stage, and Simon nudges Nicole, 'this is Louis's boy'. We don't see the bit where Nicole jumps to the wrong conclusion, but we all know it happened, right? His singing is still rather mannered in the way it was last time, and he angers me by singing "in this ever-changing world in which we live in", because not only is that grammatically incorrect, but those aren't even the correct lyrics. His ad-libbing is frankly embarrassing, amounting to a series of increasingly desperate "whoa-oh yeah"s, but he gets a good response from the room and a hug from Dermot. Louis thinks he has improved. Simon tries to take credit for these alleged improvements. Nicole is asked for her opinion and is clearly thinking "he was shit" judging from the look on her face, but remembering that she's the constructive member of the panel, she offers: "I thought he would be really great in a boyband." Simon cackles.

More ads. Don't worry, we're nearly there.

Dermot's in a different shirt to the one he was wearing before the break, and the remaining contestants are waiting to go on. We flash back to Liam's ill-fated spell on the show in 2008 again, and back in the present day, he's worried about living up to his first audition, which he had a whole year to prepare for. NotLouis tells him that the worst thing he can do on stage if he fucks up is attempt to start over. He tells the panel that he's got the X factor because he hasn't given up on the enormous challenge he set himself two years ago. He'll be singing 'Stop Crying Your Heart Out' by Oasis. He has a nice tone to his voice, but the synthetic backing vocals on the track are rather creepy. Also, he's the latest in a long line of people this evening who are dressed as an absolute tit. Louis is impressed. So is Nicole. Simon thinks he's one-dimensional. You've already used that line tonight, Simon; I'm beginning to think you're one-dimensional. Stephen returns to tell us that he's bringing the fun to the competition, and that failure is not an option for him. He sings 'A Song For You' - well, I say "sings". He strains and groans and I had to google the few words I recognised to figure out which song it was, but apparently the show has not cottoned on to how awful he is yet. Dutch Yuli sings 'To Make You Feel My Love', and says that it will be hard to find another chance as big as this one. Marlon sings 'Like A Star' and reminds us of the importance of working the stage. The Reason sing 'Bad Romance' mashed up with 'Just Dance', which doesn't work as well as you might think it would.. They feel it's their last chance, so they've got more to lose than other people. John Wilding appears to be wearing leggings and is also singing 'To Make You Feel My Love'.

Lazy Decorator is up next, and complains that he still lives with his parents in Essex. Perhaps he wouldn't have that problem if he stopped being such a lazy fuck, then. He makes a confusing driving analogy, and then tells us that he's chosen "a girl's song" and that he's the only guy in boot camp singing it. Yep, it's a song only for girls that has never been sung by a man. Jesus wept. His performance is shamelessly affected and kind of screechy, but in the way that this show seems to think is awesome and ground-breaking. Simon thinks he has "no confidence and self-belief", as though that is a good thing.

Coming up in part two! More of the same! The judges decide who stays and who goes! Cheryl and Dannii will make very brief appearances! And lots more crying!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sobs for the boys

Auditions 6: 19th September 2010

Previously on The X Factor: They came in their thousands, the judges have seen it all, Pixie Lott nearly fell off her seat, she punched her in the face, and I can’t remember anyone particularly good.

Still, tonight it’s the final auditions in MANCHESTER and some of the preview shots are people who we’ve already seen on last night’s show and last night’s Xtra Factor which doesn’t give me great hope that Manchester has it, to be honest. IT’S TIME TO FACE THE MUSIC (AND WEEP).

Dermot says we have steamed into Manchester and we have the usual audience blurb about how they’re going to win. With Dannii and Cheryl away, the panel is “once again” joined by Nicole Scherzinger. Simon tells Louis he’s putting on weight. Nicole says if he tells her she’s putting on weight she will knock him out. Weirdly, Cheryl is all over tonight’s Xtra Factor as if she’d never been away, which is a bit jarring. [And she gets a judges' credit at the end of tonight's show, despite having not been there for any of it. Also weird. - Steve]

Damien Devine, 19, from Derry has been flown in. He wears a lot of ruffles. He wants to be the biggest person to ever come out of this industry. Somewhere, Elvis, John Lennon and Michael Jackson are quaking in their graves. He says that he’s here to win the X Factor and put on a fabulous performance. He makes his own clothes, apparently, which explains why he looks a bit like he just threw on the school rag bin. He puts on some shades and his dancing is somewhat Jedward-esque as he ‘performs’ ‘Poker Face’. He gender-switches the lyrics and I wonder what Dannii would make of this, as my eyebrows were certainly raised at it. Backstage he has a couple of female friends in Damien Devine T-shirts. Simon says it was horrendous. Nicole says he put on a great performance but the vocals weren’t there. Louis says he’s really talented at making clothes. Three noes and he waves at the audience. Simon says he’s a nice polite guy. Awww. [At least he had an awesome popstar name. Unlike Eoghan Quigg. - Steve]

‘I Don’t Feel Like Dancing’ cues up some dreadful dancing. Joe, 24, has a pig in a bumbag sticking out of his crotch and thrusts it during his performance. Blee. Lifeguard Dean, 39, did ‘Blame it on the Boogie’ on Xtra Factor last night and we see it again with added footage of Simon saying he looks like someone who comes out of a nightclub drunk and sings Blame it on the Boogie. A nightclub on a seaside holiday camp circa 1989, perhaps. Wojciech wears a horrible technicolor jacket that clashes with his denim-blue bandana and is dreadful but gropes his groin a lot, and Louis and Nicole put him through for unfathomable reasons.

Ads, including the Super Mario 25th anniversary one where everyone gripes on Twitter about how it’s not really 25 years because they’ve ignored Donkey Kong. [Which is entirely missing the point, because it's the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros., which came out in 1985. - Steve]

‘Fire with Fire’ plays as we return from the break. The Scissor Sisters are doing well out of this episode. Tobias from Hull is next and he tells us about his many jobs, all of which were shit. The X Factor apparently feels like a massive job interview for the best job he’ll ever have. He’s 20, and has had 15-20 jobs. He also claims he doesn’t like singing in front of people. Simon suggests the audience leave, which is the most sensible thing anyone will suggest all series. [Seriously, what is the point of this tosspot? (NB not Simon) - Carrie]

He’s doing the Moulin Rouge version of ‘Your Song’. He stands with his arm smugly folded across the other. Haaate. It’s alright, at least by this series’ standards. Some bits of it are on, some are off, but I really don’t like his personality and that overrides everything else for me. Louis says he has a nice rock voice but needs to work on his interview technique as he didn’t come across well. Nicole likes him. Simon says he has a good voice but is worried about him, given he’s 20 years old and this is his 21st potential job. Tobias says he’s punctual, and I’m not really sure that this works as a gag. Simon says ‘it’s not going to change my life but it could change yours’ and tells him it could have been so much better. Nicole says there’s a reason he’s here (because he’s slacking off work and about to lose another job?) and she’s going to say yes. Louis says he’s going to have to start taking things seriously as very many people would love to be in his place but he gets three yeses anyway. The Moulin Rouge version plays. Ah, I love Moulin Rouge. I wish I was watching that instead of this right now. His all-female family pile on him backstage. He says this is the biggest thing he’s ever stuck to. What, a five-minute audition? That’s some commitment, right there.

Ramena Fahari, 17, is from Southport, which she says is a ‘small town’ in the hope of picking up those Lucie Jones-style “tiny village” points. She sings sings You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me, and it’s OK, at least given the standard on offer, and gets three yeses. In a clear attempt to curry favour with Carrie, she has a nan. [Yet in a clear attempt to piss me off, she's only just average. - Carrie]

Chrissie Pitt, trainee dental nurse, 25, sings the opening of ‘Ain't No Mountain High Enough’ although I’m not entirely sure she’s au fait with the tune. She’s through anyway. Next up is Karl Brown, who’s 19. Simon says he reminds him of someone and points at Nicole. I presume he means the boy looks like Lewis Hamilton, although there are shades of ‘they all look the same to me’ here because he doesn’t look that much like him. [I thought they were suggesting he looked like Nicole. Your interpretation makes more sense. - Steve] He’s cute as a button but not a great singer - still he’s better than Lloyd DANIELS and Eoghan QUIGG. Three yeses. By the way, Nicole’s outfit keeps changing throughout. Good to know the continuity on this show is as robust as ever.


Next up is Charlene. She’s 17 but looks younger, and is a tiny little thing. According to the Xtra Factor, she auditioned before when she was 14 but Simon said she was too young. She sings ‘Listen’, which is a bit too big for her as she goes screechy in places, but there’s a decent voice in there that could be worked with. She goes through. [Nothing will ever be as good as Alexandra and Beyonce's duet of Listen, so nobody should ever sing it again. - Carrie]

House of Fun plays as we meet Harry Styles, 16. Apparently he used to be in a group that won a battle of the bands competition. He’s wearing a scarf and cardi in a laddish hipster annoying precocious way, and I already hate him. We learn that he works in a bakery (hopefully not Angela Maher’s) and is going back to college in September to do his A-levels. Simon asks why he’s there. He says he’s always wanted to audition but has always been too young. Is this a vague sob story about the cruel age changes this show put in place the other year? He is doing ‘Isn’t she Lovely’, which is a song about a baby girl. Has someone informed the Daily Mail of this potential advocacy of teen parenthood? His mic goes weird halfway through, which is a bit offputting. He’s singing in a nasally American accent, and I hate it when British singers put American accents on like that. He’s alright but nothing particularly special - but then I feel I could say that about every ‘good’ contestant this year. Bootcamp better be an improvement on this. Nicole loves him, Louis says he’s a bit young and needs to improve in time. Simon says that someone in the audience said rubbish when Louis said that and he agrees (normally he’s the one to tell people to come back when they’re older so whatever, Simon). Louis says no “for all the right reasons” (DRINK!), and the audience boo like the cretins they are. Come on, audience, do you really look at Harry and think he’s going to set the charts alight? Simon says they haven’t booed loud enough, and encourages more boos. I’m all for boos for Louis normally but I’m kind of on his side with this one, and I also hate the audience even more than Louis, so this puts me in the awkward situation of sympathising with him. Nicole and Simon say yes, so Harry’s through.

We then have an extended VT of Louis being ‘doom and gloom’ in greyscale, as ‘Always look on the Bright Side of Life’ plays. Louis looks good in greyscale. Anyway, he rejects a load of mediocre crap (although the woman singing ‘Enough is Enough’ was OK and you’d think that song would be a Louis shoo-in), including some pretty but tuneless girl called Lucy who goes through as Nicole and Simon call Louis grumpy. Dear show, stop making me agree with Louis Walsh.

Will the next act turn Louis around? Well, we’re over the Louis4Nicole4Eva shenanigans of last night and back firmly in the LouisIZGAYLOL camp as YMCA plays and we meet duo Diva Fever. [I must admit, the part where Louis suddenly snapped back into colour as the twinks appeared was the first genuine laugh this show's given me all series. Well played, X Factor. - Steve] They say that there’s been no-one like them since Wham! and Wham! were a long time ago. Hee. They have hairstyles like Sims. Their names are Craig and Joseph. Craig has a Don’t you Want Me Baby t-shirt on and is a student, whilst Joseph works for British Gas. They're going to sing ‘Let it Be’, and given that this is the least appropriate song for a couple of sparkly (presumably) gays called Diva Fever, do I smell a change the song coming on?

They go for the none-more-stereotypical Proud Mary, because no little twinks have ever sung this before, except they do a shitty slowed-down version. I want dancing and jumping about from you, Diva Fever. Their harmonies are a bit shit to start with but as they get into it, it gets better. Nicole gets up and dances, the big fag hag. They’re not as fabulous as they should be yet, but NotLouis could have a lot of fun with these guys come the live shows.

Ads. Long ads.

We’re back with Richard Thomas, 28, from Hull. He sings in pubs and clubs but tells us a lot have closed down BECAUSE OF THE RECESSION. Or possibly the smoking ban. He tells us that it’s hard for ‘artists’. He met his wife through singing and if he wins this they can have the life they really want but he doesn’t want to say this too much in case it doesn’t work. He and Simon have a bit of a sob story chat about how hard it is to make money singing and Simon tells him to choose the song to prove he’s a recording artist not to please the audience. One shot one song?, he asks. Yeah, because ‘one shot one song’ has totally been the motto for this series, hasn’t it?

He says he’ll do something fun, and goes for ‘(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher’, which is a very cabaret choice, so he clearly hasn’t listened to Simon’s rants about cabaret every bloody year. He has a terrible karaoke backing track that drowns him out, although his voice is pretty weak anyway. He sings in a whiny, sub-Bono style. Louis says the song choice was good but everything else was all wrong. He has picked up too many bad habits from singing in clubs, and he doesn’t think it’s there any more. Simon says it was the wrong song and he thinks he knew it at the halfway point. Simon sounds sombre and here we go, let’s brace ourselves for a song change.

Richard says he doesn’t want to come across as boring. Nicole says he doesn’t come across as boring at all, he has great spirit and she wants to come where he’s at and hear him sing but when it comes to a recording artist’s voice she didn’t hear that at all. Nicole is very good at doing the letting people down gently thing, isn’t she? [She occasionally veers into the patronising end of the sphere, but on the whole I agree. Nicole Scherzinger: only guest judge all series to be actually worth the effort. Who saw that one coming? - Steve] Louis says no. Nicole says no. Simon says no. Downer. Considering he had a kind of sob story (albeit a rubbish one) and he has kids, everyone was expecting him to go through, but he didn’t even get a second song. That’s a twist of Sixth Sense proportions for this show. He then cries. Not one person gives a shit.


We return to the mega-queues and discover that Manchester has a wheel. Has everywhere got a wheel now? I know Sheffield has one and we’re usually pretty behind the times at these things.

Next up is someone wearing a stupid hat, though not at a jaunty angle. Marlon Mckenzie is a receptionist. He has cute children, but his job is shit. Presumably he will counter Richard, as the can’t piss on the dreams of two fathers in a row, can they? He started singing at seven and wanted to be like Tina Turner. As Carrie pointed out, he has a hat, he wants to be Tina and yet he has kids. Surely the very definition of metrosexual there.

In another vague sob story moment, he has been trying to get a record deal since he was 15 and keeps trying. He is, everyone say it... Doing it for his kids. Simon asks why he’s not had the break, and Marlon says he always used to fall at the last hurdle. Simon says the show is here for people like him. But not people like Richard, clearly. He’s singing ‘Ain't no Sunshine’, though he doesn’t sing the actual tune, and is utterly shit. He’s attractive and has cute kids, so the audience whoop like deluded fools. To be fair, if he sang an actual tune he might be good, but I am having Danyl flashbacks right now and we all know how far away from the tune he liked to stray. Simon said that when he said he was going to do that song he thought ‘oh my god we’re going to hear the same version we’ve heard a thousand times’. What, the correct version, the one with a tune? Simon says him making it his own made it current - which clearly doesn’t say good things about the state of current music. Nicole says everything happens for a reason, Louis says he made the song his own, and the big book of X Factor clichés gets a sound beating. Three yeses. Backstage, his cute little boy says ‘daddy was very very very fantastic’. Awww.

‘Nothing's Gonna Stop us Now’ plays as Dermot gives us a ten-minute recap of the series so far as if to rub in how much time we’ve all wasted. We see: the biggest auditions ever, Simon wanting a world famous star, Cheryl VOs about it having happened to her (Cher footage plays as she says this). We see loads of footage of shit auditionees, then Gamu, I think still with autotune. There are a couple of other ‘good’ people I don’t even remember, more shit people including the High Street Boys and the Jacko wannabe. The good are represented by Mary, Cher, and some standing ovations. There’s some bloke I don’t remember in a scarf who Simon calls a pop star, more shit people, Ablisa, Lisa asking who Natalie Imbruglia was, then the punching in the face plays in tune to the ‘hey’ in the music. Classy. We see some bloke getting an almighty yes, Liam getting a massive fat almighty yes, and Hatey getting a yes. The group of plumbers are the only ‘good’ group we see. I call shenanigans on the ‘they want a group to win’ theory and predict they will be setting up a female winner again. We see Geri, Pixie, the guest judges saying they enjoyed it, and Katy Perry saying it was ‘err, a fun show to be part of’.

Next week! Boot camp! Two more shows! There are literally no second chances! Someone ruins it for themselves! Nicole comes back! [Yay! - Steve] NotLouis does some mad group dancing bollocks! Join us then!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A change will never, ever, ever, ever come

Tx: 18th September 2010

So far on the X-Factor! The judges have seen it all! That's if "it all" means "men dressed as tigers" and "girls punching each other" and not "people who can sing"! They have been to places and people have auditioned. BUT! Behind the scenes, all was not well - cue montage of Cheryl saying, "I don't feel well," and people saying to her, "Are you ill?", all cut across with tabloid front pages about her MALARIA HORROR OMGZ.

This weekend it's a double-bill as Cheryl is AWAY WITH MALARIA O NOEZ and Nicole Scherzinger is hauled in as the fluffy girly judge. Oh yes, it's time. To face. The MUSIC!


Dermot promises us "more talent" and "more drama" as he welcomes us to a tickertape-strewn Manchester. Simon and Louis arrive, sign autographs, and generally bask in their own self-perceived wonderfulness. Dermot wonders who will join them on the panel. Welll, it'll be Nicole Scherzinger. because we saw that pre-titles. Anyway, a bit of blurb about her. She claims to be excited to be here and she's looking for the x-factor, which is apparently star quality. I fear she will prove disappointed. I like that she is planning to represent FOR THE GIRLS, though. She arrives and looks impossibly thin with huge breasts. The boys air-kiss her. She looks horribly uncomfortable. Then she proclaims, "I'm ready to see ALL THE TALENT in Manchester!" Oh, Nicole. I almost feel sorry for how your illusions are about to be dashed.

Our first auditionee of the day is Rachel. Her inspiration is Lady Gaga for her originality. Rachel smiles a lot and is very sweet. She has her friends and a cute baby waiting for her. Dermot says to the friends, "Is she good?" The friends look a bit reluctant and say, "Um - very powerful." Oh, this isn't going to go well. She reveals that she is 44. She does NOT look that old. [I was floored. I thought she was in her twenties at the most. - Steve] She sings Saving All My Love For You. Predictably, it's awful. She misses the first note and the first beat. Seriously, why do I sit here singing along in a vain attempt to help the really bad auditionees? Simon tells her it's a million per cent not for her and that her singing ought to be done behind her walls. She looks a bit like she's going to cry. I hope she doesn't cry. Nicole says that Rachel and music were not in the same room. Louis says, "We like you, we just don't like your singing." Rude. Three no-way-not-evers. And brilliantly, Nicole asks in an aside: "Do you...find a lot of stars here?" Oh Nicole. You had no idea what you were signing up for, did you?

Jon has just left Doncaster University with a degree in performing arts. He has a moderately decent falsetto, but performs Mika's Relax, Take It Easy in a weird bowed-over stance. It's a no. John has a "unique difference in [his] voice". Yes. Yes he does. No to him too. Divided are attempting four-part harmony. They fail. Nicole declares Manchester "a freaky town". It's a CITY, bitch. Candy Rose sing the Pussycat Dolls' When I Grow Up very badly. Nicole suggests they record themselves performing and listen back to it. Reflecting on the day so far, Louis says, "There is something missing. What is missing?" Any number of things, Louis. Melody? Talent? Helpful judging? Dannii? But no, Simon opts for "star quality".

Time for a break.

Ooh. Mancunian trams. I love Manchester. We're reminded of what happened three minutes ago and that Nicole is on the panel, and then we're introduced to adorable little gay Aiden, who is wearing a scarf and tells us about his primary school triumph in Grease. Seriously. Inappropriate choice for a school show much? [That's nothing. My primary school final year production was The Little Mermaid. Ten-year-old girls wandering around the stage in seashell bikini tops. - Steve] He tells Simon about his preparation - some gigs, some weddings and "stuff like that". And then he announces that his "sang" is Kanye's Gold-digger. As performed by Mr Schue [I haaaaaate Mr Schue - Rad] on Glee. It's...really not that good. And it's without a backing track. And I'm unconvinced he has any performing chops based on this rather static karaoke. [It was absolutely the whitest thing I've ever seen. - Steve] Louis admires his "swagger"; Nicole loves his voice and "soul" (and Aiden rather subtly fanboys her, which she acknowledges with a gracious incline of the head); and Simon concludes: "That's what I call a pop star. You're one of the best we've had." Though, of course, as we know, that is not saying much. Three yeses.

The Huhas come on stage and I am never not going to laugh at their name. They are two girls and a boy, found via Facebook. Louis says there is something fresh about them - "not overrehearsed". So...a bit shit then? Three yeses, including Simon explaining that it's "one of the easiest yeses [I've] given today". Ade sings Never Too Much with an out-of-control vibrato. Three yeses. A little boy that looks like a mashed-up Ray FUCKING QUINN sings Leona's version of Run and sounds more like her than she does (despite Louis claiming that he is "different"). His vibrato is even more out-of-control.


And back in Manchester again. Well, at least the continuity is improving. 69-year-old Hazel Jackson is clad in leopardskin, and as everyone on Twitter pointed out, she has a passing resemblance to an older Sharon Osbourne/Sharon Osbourne on drugs/Sharon Osbourne before the cosmetic surgery [I genuinely can't believe the show didn't make a joke about this - Rad]. She, distressingly, is adopting the patented Win-Back-Your-Errant-Husband-By-Humiliating-Yourself-On-A-National-Scale Plan, for her man done left her last September. Still, she might meet someone new. Like Louis, is the implication. Seriously, show? You're still trying to sell me the idea that Louis is a lady-magnet? Anyway, Hazel dances round her handbag (literally) while singing The Best. Louis, of course, thinks it was very entertaining. Hazel replies: "Thanks, Louis. I can be more entertaining." EEEEEEEEEEEW. Nicole proclaims herself Hazel's biggest fan. Simon breaks the news to Hazel that nobody is going to buy an album of her singing. No from him, no from Louis, yes from Nicole. Sap. Hazel says to Dermot that the judges have made a mistake. Nicole sighs, "I love her."

Savannah is 18 and is a student with hobbies like bell-ringing, which is apparently the most hilarious thing Simon and Louis have ever heard. Louis, in fact, snorts like a pig, making him even more odious than usual. She warbles Angels in hideous off-key fashion. Nicole did not even recognise the song, "God bless her". [So much for Robbie cracking America, then. - Steve] Valerie has long white hair and goes into great detail about her extra work in movies. She actually has quite a sweet, bell-like soprano voice, but clearly that's deserving of laughter. Simon tells her she should be outside, naked, hugging a tree. She seems quite happy with that. Stephanie sings Top Of The World in a key far too high for her, but even if it was lower it would still be terrible. Nicole suggests some work on her vocals might be helpful. Stephanie looks crushed as Louis continues to cackle, the cock.

Ads. And then back to Manchester, where they are trying to convince us still that Louis is a heterosexual man who wants to have sex with Nicole Scherzinger. Our next auditionee is 32-year-old Yuli, who is originally from THE NETHERLANDS (hooray!) but came here because England is best. She has a big belty voice, of course, because that's what larger, older, black women do on this show. Nicole LOVES her and stands up and whoops and does the whole girl-power-thing at her. Simon enthuses that people like Yuli are the reason there is no upper age-limit on the show (yes, the OLD DECREPIT COW) because he LOVES finding older singers who've not had the right break (yes, JUST LIKE STEVE BROOKSTEIN). Yuli gets yeses and tells Dermot that she had a lot of fun.

But! Can Manchester's run of success continue? Amy Louise has an adequate karaoke voice but gets three yeses, mostly due to the fact that she is very pretty, I think. Connor and Gabriel sing Heard It Through The Grapevine in a rather flat way but still get three yeses. John Connolly is a schoolteacher and has his pupils in cheerleading outfits backstage while he sings Haven't Met You Yet in subpar Mickey Bubbles stylee, complete with egregious "C'mon!" to the audience. Three yeses and his students run on to the stage to hug him in entirely unrehearsed fashion. Is that kind of physical contact allowed in schools these days? I think not. [I can't wait for him to abandon them all for the Butlins circuit, just like Bellowing Beverly. - Steve] To Nicole's credit, she manages to look surprised at this hideous piece of predictable scripting.

And our next contestant - 19-year-old Chloe. Not wishing to spoil any of the future tabloid revelations for you, but here's her website. I'm sure her child is very proud that SHE'LL DO ALMOST ANYTHING and has 32 sex tapes available for download. I particularly like the pictures where she's posing in what seems to be her child's nursery. She doesn't want to be a person who lives and dies and isn't remembered. That's...really sad. Her hobby is partying. She admires Beyonce, Shakira and Tupac, but has had no singing experience. "Don't laugh at me!" she beseeches the audience. She then sings two lines of a vamped-up acapella Summertime, which is relatively OK, if technically weak. Has she copied that from someone? When she's asked to sing something else, she struggles to think of anything, and when she begins to sing Shakira's Underneath My Clothes, it is increasingly evident that she has no ear or pitch - she can't work with the backing track. She's all mouthy and wails: "I don't want to make excuses but I've just split up with my boyfriend!" She then sings acapella again, and that's all very well but YOU HAVE NO EAR. Nicole says: "I'd like to see a little bit more you underneath all this." Just go to her website, Scherzinger, you can see as much of her as you like there. Louis says no, anyway, possibly the only sensible thing he's said all evening; Simon tells her to shut up and listen to them; Nicole looks pained but is convinced to put her through; and Simon finishes by telling her she's screwed everything up for herself but he thinks there is something there. So two yeses, and she screeches and thanks them. Louis is, of course, hideously uncharitable and the crowd boo her off. Lovely. She weeps at Dermot that she has totally embarrassed herself. Well, yes, dear, but what did you expect when you came on this show? Still, she gets the payoff of Dermot escorting her off the stage holding her hand, so she wins for that, I guess.

Ads, then back to Manchester for a strangely-coloured montage of what we've already seen in this episode. We have 23-year-old Rebecca, whom Dermot flatters outrageously. She has two small children. Do we think she might be doing this for them? She cries as she tells her life story and being told that she wouldn't be able to do anything once she had a baby. Don't cry, Rebecca, you'll ruin your perfect make-up! And it's not like there's a professional make-up team on hand to ensure you look lovely on stage to fit in with your sob-story narrative! Eh? Oh. She sings A Change Is Gonna Come, and really, this is the point at which I give up on this show. Because this is warbly, weak, affected, caricatured, insular and rarely in tune. But of course, Rebecca is going to go through, so they turn up the backing track and zoom in on the judges' faces looking joyful and transported to another dimension, and they tell the sheep in the crowd to cheer, and Nicole says her voice moves her, and Simon tugs on the heartstrings (or the pubic hair in the pocket) one more time by telling her he wants to restore her confidence and her voice is on the money. Three yeses. Though by rights it should have been none. [Yes, she was awful. THIS FUCKING SHOW. - Steve] There are tears backstage as we go all soft-focus and fade out.

But fear not, bitches! Because tomorrow we'll have more screaming queens! People who can't sing! People who mistake volume for in-tuneness! And the lovely Ruth will take you through it minute by minute! [Will the auditions be over then? Please let them be over then - Rad] Bye!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lott's landing

Auditions 4: 11th September 2010

Clouds. Peter Dickson: "Over the years, The X Factor has auditioned people from every walk of life." Translucent images of Leona, JLS, The Claw, Alexandra BURKE, Olly fucking MURS, Mawliddle Joe McElderry, floating through the clouds. Er, are they all dead? Did I miss a major news story? No, apparently we're just getting a rhetoric-filled intro VT, showing us how these people turned their dreams into reality. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it seems a slightly odd way to start episode four. I'm guessing this episode came in a little short of its agreed running time. Peter Dickson reminds us that past contestants are currently dominating the charts, with Olly's dreadful single currently at number one, and Alexandra's also-dreadful new single set to replace it this weekend, and others one step closer to achieving that goal (quickfire shots of people who've already been put through this year, including Honking Racket Cher, The Lazy Decorator, Hatey, Gamu and a bunch of others who've already faded from my memory), the auditions hit London (again?) and Cardiff, with guest judge Pixie Lott sitting in for Dannii at the latter. Some people will be good! Some people will not! It's time. Y'know, to face the music. And then we're treated to a preview of Louis being outraged at Pixie rejecting someone, and Pixie sitting there, chewing her fingernails and staring into space, as though someone's just asked her what "vapid" means.

I spy a red dragon on a flag, ergo we must be in Beautiful Cardiff. Wales is a nation of singers, Dermot tells us, though I'm sure most of the ones with any ability will have had the good sense to steer well clear of this show. A Welsh lad claims he'll be the first Welsh winner of the show. I bet you ten quid we never see him again. The judges arrive: Simon, Louis, a not-dead-yet Cheryl, and "one of the UK's hottest new popstars", Pixie Lott, who despite being a mere 18 years old, has had five top 20 hits, three Brit nominations, and a double-platinum selling album. And yet still, Geri Halliwell continues to have outsold all these bitches. Pixie walks into her dressing room. She's chewing on her nails, just like we saw in the teaser. Is nail-chewing going to be tonight's leitmotif? Am I going to end up mailing her 20 bottles of Stop 'n' Grow before we hit the second ad break?

The appeal of sitting in the audience during the audition process for this show continues to elude me, and yet the great British public file in in their thousands to watch the spectacle, while Pixie gets acquainted with the regular judges backstage - except for Cheryl, who is instead wandering the corridor telling us she's got a good feeling about today. Louis tells Pixie that they always get somebody in Cardiff; in fact, they got two people last year. Those two people, by the way? Lucie Jones and Lloyd Daniels. So, totally worth it, then. [West End Leading Lady Lucie Jones, to be fair. - Carrie]

Our first auditionee of the day, Kash Dholliwar, saunters up to the counter, and introduces himself. He's 21, and a sales executive for T-Mobile. He drives a white BMW convertible, wears sunglasses indoors, and is apparently some sort of part-time model. This is all reality TV shorthand for "loves himself", of course, though to his credit he acknowledges that he will need to "deliver with the voice too". Kash high-fives his entourage backstage, and tells us that he's the sort of person who makes things happen. He heads out onto the stage, and is greeted by Pixie. He prefaces his audition performance by saying "let's make some music". Oh dear. He'll be singing Ne-Yo's 'Closer' and, as we all suspected, he's not good at all. Nasal, weak, whiny, all the usual stuff. Backstage, his mates have the decently to look faintly embarrassed. Conveniently, just as he's at the "I just can't stop" part of the chorus, Simon signals for the music to cease.

Cheryl is lost for words. "I wasn't really feeling it, to be honest with you," she says. Kash, displaying an unusual level of genre savviness, wonders if he might perhaps be able to sing something else for them - perhaps something acapella. Simon's disappointed, because he thought at first that Kash was going to be good. "I am," Kash insists. Simon tells him he's got a whiny voice, and he sounds like he's got a really bad cold. It's a no from everyone, and suddenly Simon's not feeling optimistic about Cardiff.

Next, Cheryl admires eccentric 37-year-old event manager Diana Zavina's sparkly headband. Diana sings Ms Ross's seminal 'I'm Coming Out' shrilly and tunelessly. Simon thinks she's like something out of a workout video. It's a no for Diana, but a fairly gracious one. Next up a man called Vivian, who declares his love for Cheryl and sings 'Moon River' even worse than Emilie. Next up is two-piece band Danomic, alias Dan and Dominic. "I see what you've done there," Pixie confirms, just to make sure we all know she's paying attention of a sort. They want to be as big as JLS, but their atonal rendition of 'Everybody In Love' earns them instant dismissal. A girl in Elphaba-style green face paint who was clearly just out to get her veridian visage on the telly by looking like a doof prompts Simon to ask Cheryl if they're sisters. She's gone, too. It's 55-year-old Rob's birthday today. He's divorced, because of "musical differences" - he liked "soul" and she liked "heavy metal". He sings 'I Feel Good' poorly and scares the shit out of Pixie with his opening note, who is defeated by words once again when it comes to delivering her judgement. It's a no from Simon, but a yes from the other three, so Rob's through to boot camp. Backstage, Simon asks Louis if he's optimistic. Louis is. Simon says he'd like to be in Louis's head just for one day, because he's always happy. That's not exactly my recollection of events.

Ad break. THERE ARE KITTENS IN IKEA! *ded from teh cute*

When we return, we're still in Cardiff. A girl onstage who is not named oversings her way through 'And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going' [why can't this be on the list of songs Simon tells people he doesn't want to hear yet again? Rad]. We segue through to posing 16-year-old artiste Tom Richards. [The moment I saw him I knew Louis would love him. Waistcoats and white T-shirts are like Louis crack - Rad] He talks about being from a small town where there are no career opportunities, which on this show usually means five minutes away from Cardiff city centre. He thinks that if his music career takes off, he will leave his home town. That's how it works for most people, yes. His parents have given up a lot for him, which his dad thinks was entirely worth it because his son now goes out singing instead of turning tricks, or something. His parents seem proud. We cut back to the oversinging girl, while Tom waits (ha!) in the wings, and Cheryl delivers oversinging girl the entirely meaningless when taken out of context report: "you need to come back as you". Thanks for that, editors! I totally understand how that audition went now! Anyway, oversinging girl gets three yeses and will be returning, and Tom is shoved out onto the stage behind her.

Pixie waves vaguely at him, and is excited to hear that he's 16. "You look like you should be in a boyband," she tells him. Tom is unsure whether this is a compliment or not, but takes it as one all the same. Tom sings 'The Man Who Can't Be Moved' by The Script, much to Pixie's delight. I'm not sure quite why she's getting so much of the judging face time because the more I see of her, the more I'm convinced that she's being operated on strings by an unseen technician. Brian Friedman, perhaps? Seriously, she's so lifeless. She's almost making me miss Katy bloody Perry. Anyway, Tom is singing his song, passably enough, strutting up and down the stage, doing some rather old-fashioned crotch-grabbing dancing. The crowd applauds him enthusiastically enough when he finishes. Cheryl tells him that the movement was a bit contrived at times; hilariously, several parts of the crowd scream joyously at this point, apparently unaware of what "contrived" means. Then again, they have voluntarily gone along to an X Factor audition, so I can't say I'm entirely surprised. Apart from that, however, Cheryl thinks he was the best in this category so far today. Louis liked the voice, but not the "silly stage antics". Simon thinks the market has moved on for a singer like Tom, and his performance felt like a boyband from five or six years ago. He thinks Tom needs to know the sort of gap in the market he needs to be filling. Louis suggests - you guessed it - that Tom sing another song. There's an awkward pause, before Tom makes the spectacularly poor decision to introduce his next performance by saying that "nobody here has ever made it in musical theatre" [this makes no sense given how many of them do indeed go ontp work in the West End and such, unless I missed his point - Rad], and he's "going to try something a little bit different." Simon's jazzhands alert starts honking in his head, and he asks Tom if he listened to what Simon just said. Tom's all "...erm." Tom looks pained. Tom's family and entourage shout from offstage for him to sing 'This Is The Moment'. Tom tells the panel that he's going to stick to his guns. Louis, displaying an impressive inability to read a room: "I like him a lot."

So Tom sings 'This Is The Moment', which is of course the absolute worst song he could've chosen given Simon's critique of his first performance. There are a lot of copycat musical theatre affectations to the performance; it's not a bad vocal, but it is annoyingly affected, and I rather want him to fail now just for being pigheaded enough to think that he could somehow ignore a direct instruction from Simon and still survive his audition. I mean, come on. Five years ago I might have felt compassionate enough to call that naivety; these days, it's just idiocy. Simon stops him, and says that he couldn't have chosen a worse song. [The poor boy's SIXTEEN, Steven! /Louis voice - Carrie] Louis asks Simon if he doesn't think Tom has potential; Simon thinks he possibly does, but he's not what they're looking for in a pop star. Cheryl clarifies that they're looking for someone with a clearer artistic identity, when Tom chose two completely different songs. Pixie thinks he could have a career in the West End, but Tom assures her he wants to be a pop star. So what was all that "nobody here has made it in musical theatre" bollocks about then? Oh, he angers me. Louis, of course, thinks Tom is fantastic and a bit of rough rough diamond.

Simon kicks off the decision-making with a no. Louis votes yes. Cheryl Cole, dreammaker and people's princess, votes yes of course. Pixie Lott, making her sole sensible decision of this entire debacle, votes no. Of course, then Louis decides to work her over, telling her to "give him a chance". For fuck's sake, he's already had two. And he's not going to win this competition. He'll be lucky if he makes judges' houses, quite frankly. Pixie, initially, sticks to her guns. "Please say yes! Please say yes!" the audience chants. [This is exactly why the fucking audience should fuck off - Rad] Pixie, looking for all the world as though she is reading from an autocue, then decides she's going to "give him a chance" and changes her mind. I'd say that I lost all my respect for her at this point, but I think we all know I never had any respect for her to begin with. Mika's 'Happy Ending' cues up on the soundtrack, because no one on this show cares enough to look at the actual lyrics and realise that they actually say "no happy ending". Backstage, Dermot tells Tom that he owes Louis a big drink. It's best we don't think about that sentence too closely.

17-year-old student Katie Smith will be singing Pixie Lott's version of 'Use Somebody', which sounds uncannily like Brooke White's version if Katie is to be believed. Four yeses for Katie. More yeses for a girl with no name. 18-year-old barmaid Lauren Francis sings 'Heard It Through The Grapevine' and is orange. Louis thinks she has likeability. She's through as well. An atrociously-dressed girl gets through, as does a three-piece boyband. Pub singer Lee Vaughan, 29, sings 'Come Together' while dry-humping the lighting rig. He's through as well.

And then we're done with Cardiff, and with Pixie, who will hopefully now be taking her annoying vapid personality far away from me.

Ads. Teaser of Louis Walsh storming out in a huff. Again.

When we return, we're in London "again". No guest judge here, of course, because it's the same set of auditions we've seen in every episode so far. Louis and Simon exchange small talk in a lift, and then we're onto our first audition of the day, three-piece girl group Bun 'nd Cheese. They're named after their favourite food - a spiced bun with processed cheese on top. Okay then. One of them tells us that they've done about 12 gigs, "mostly karaoke", and they aspire to be like Beyoncé or Mary J Blige. We discover their real names - Mary, Ebony and Debbie - and Simon is rather nonplussed by the band name. They'll be singing 'Listen' by Beyoncé. During the song's intro, we can hear them discussing something about how they're going to perform it, and if there hadn't been enough THIS IS A BAD AUDITION signifiers by now, I think we can remove all doubt at this point. They're awful, of course - they can't sing, and they don't know the words. They stand there like lemons for a while, then tentatively pick up the words halfway through the chorus, but they're still awful. Simon tells them that they didn't even try, and laughs in their faces. He says that he likes them because of their bad attitude. Louis thinks it's like they just walked in off the street. "No, we're a really good group, trust me," Debbie insists. Cheryl can't work out if it's a joke or not. At this point, who even knows any more? It's a no for Bun 'nd Cheese. Backstage, Disingenuous Dermot says that they were all rooting for them. He's such a toady.

Who's next? It's annoying hipster Nicolo Festa, or Nic for short. He's 21, and lives in London, but he's originally from Italy. He wants to be an icon who gives people goosebumps just at the mention of his name. He claims that modern music is too predictable, and that he can't tell the difference between Madonna, Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga. I'd say he's not trying very hard, but I think we all know that's a lie. He vows to show the judges "how big my X Factor is". Eww. He goes onstage, and Cheryl asks if he is French. Louis asks him what brought him here today. "It's pretty obvious," scoffs Nicolo. He tells the judges that he's good at different things, and he'll be singing 'A Song For You'. He sings it straight down his nose, which is annoying because it's clear he'd have a nice voice if he bothered to sing properly. The audience lap it up, like the mugs that they are. Cheryl thinks he's "charming", but she doesn't know why. Perhaps it's his Italian accent, she wonders. You know, the one that she thought was French a few minutes ago. She thinks he's "diva-ish". Simon likes Nicolo because he's weird. Simon tells Nicolo it's not the best version of the song he's heard. "No?" asks Nicolo, "genuinely" surprised. It's three yeses for Nicolo. He exits, and Cheryl's clearly smitten, because we all know she has terrible taste in men.

More ads. Are we nearly there yet?

We're still in London on our return, and we're greeted by barely functional five-piece boyband FYD, who sing Plan B's 'She Said'. It's too abstract for Simon, but Louis and Cheryl put them through. Some more people we barely see get put through. Amusingly giggly 19-year-old McDonald's employee Raquel Thomas sings 'Superwoman' by Alicia Keys acapella, and pleasantly surprises the judges. She's through to boot camp. A random girl sings 'At Last', and is through. Jo Beetlestone, 23, is a student of equine dentistry - "horses' teeth", she supplies helpfully, because they keep on growing, unlike human teeth. Cheryl is intrigued and horrified by this revelation. She sings 'All The Man I Need' by Whitney Houston, which Simon thinks is very brave, though not as brave as singing the perennially cursed 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody', if you ask me. Jo's through. [I liked her. And she had a nan! - Carrie]

19-year-old Paije Richardson is a cinema usher, but dreams of singing superstardom. He seems sweet; I hope he's not awful. He sings 'Fly Me To The Moon' for the judges in that sub-Bublé ske-boop-skiddleybop way that everyone does these days. Again, there'd be a nice tone there if he weren't so determined to make a mess of it. Louis likes the jazzy tone of his voice, and thinks he's the one of the best singers of the day. Cheryl, on the other hand, declares herself "on the fence". Simon's with Cheryl. The audience boo and jeer. Continuing his thought from earlier, Simon says that he feels like he could be at a wedding right now, but given the audience's current state, it rather sounds like Simon attends a lot of rowdy weddings. Louis comes to Paije's defence and says he's not a wedding singer. Louis votes yes. He didn't connect for Cheryl, so she says no. It's a no from Simon as well. What, no "try another song"? Louis attempts to defend Paije and get Simon and/or Cheryl to change their minds, though not as much as he harangued Pixie the weathervane. The audience continues to jeer and then - in a clear sign that we are now through the looking-glass - starts to chant Louis's name enthusiastically. Louis walks off, and heads backstage to Paije, telling him that he's got a great voice, and that he should try going away and coming back again to sing something different later in the day. Louis promises to try and talk Simon and Cheryl in the meantime.

More ads. I'm quite impressed the Sunday Times commercial isn't hidden behind a paywall. Surely it's only a matter of time?

After the break, we're still in London, and get more black and white flashbacks of previous auditions, good and bad. They really must have been short on material, mustn't they? Paije has been waiting all day for his second chance. Bloody fucking 'Hometown Glory' plays on the soundtrack as the show helpfully recaps the events that we saw not more than 10 minutes ago, because presumably this show takes its viewers for drooling simpletons. Dermot wishes Paije good luck and sends him back on the stage. Wow, it's fortunate that no noteworthy acts came on to audition in all that time Paije was practising, huh? That would've screwed up the narrative something chronic. Paije returns to a hero's welcome. Simon tells Paije that he appreciates him coming back, but he'll have to do better than he did earlier. Louis asks what he'll be singing. Paije has chosen 'It's A Man's Man's Man's World' by James Brown, and he has also decided to chop the last few consonants off every word he sings. We get a reaction shot of Cheryl, looking studious. Simon, looking impenetrable. There is what I am entirely sure is a spontaneous standing ovation for Paije, and Simon tells him that he's got a good voice and great taste in music, and this was definitely a better performance than earlier. Cheryl agrees that he stepped up his performance from earlier. Louis thinks he's special. They take it to a re-vote. It's a yes from Louis. It's a yes from Cheryl. And a yes from Simon, so Paije is through. Simon and Cheryl high-five in a rather self-indulgent way. Paije is grateful for the chance to progress to boot camp and prove himself.

Next weekend: it's a double bill! (Dear God.) Cheryl's away, and the auditions hit Manchester with Nicole Scherzinger, who seems very enthusiastic. We'll be here, as always. Join us, won't you?

Monday, September 06, 2010

The Hit Factory

Third audition show
Tx: 4 September 2010

Previously, on The X Factor, Autotune! Hasty autotune removal! Oh, sorry, apparently the search reached fever pitch! Geri! Katy! 'The worst group we've ever had!'

Tonight the competition hots up as it hits London (again) and Birmingham with guest judge Natalia Imbruglia and that girl who punched her friend in the face. It's! Time! To! Face! The! Music!

Dermot welcomes us by saying that the search has hit the capital (as if we haven't already been here plenty already) and the whole of London has turned up. He doesn't use the word 'literally', but still, thin ice, O'Leary, thin ice.

We only have three judges in London again. Louis VOs that he wants something that'll sell millions of records. Thriller plays in the background as we are told that more twins than ever applied. This is all Louis' fault of course, even though he couldn't have put John and Edward through without Dannii and Cheryl also giving them yeses. We then see a montage of Louis saying yes to rubbish twins, most notably scruffy-haired teenage twins Bejon. Bejon get through on both Cheryl AND Louis' say so, though you wouldn't know it by the way Simon snips at Louis, 'what IS your problem?' All of which: come off it, show, you give us a set of quirky twins this time each year - and the international versions also love this gimmick. (I was checking the MacDonald Brothers' Wiki to see whether or not they were actually twins and though I didn't find out, it made me chuckle when it said they 'tour the country to sell-out[citation needed] crowds in Scotland'. Hee).

Next up are French twins Samir and Medhi, aka Twem (or is it 'The' Twem, which Samir seems to say when they go onstage?), which is Arabic for twins, apparently. Anyway, they are 'determinated'. They are each wearing a solitary glove (as is the fashion on the show this year. Was it the anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death when they filmed these or something?), except they’re each wearing them on a different hand meaning they bought a pair and split them. I suppose if you have to do the Jacko one-glove thing, it’s more eco-friendly if both gloves get some usage.

Simon eye rolls as they walk on. Louis asks them where they’re from (Paris) and Simon gets a little snitty that they haven’t gone on the French show. They say the UK one is better. If so, I really don’t want to see the merde they peddle over there.

They’re doing Lady GaGa’s ‘Just Dance’ and the one on the left is slightly better, and though they’re being built up as a crap act they’re actually a mediocre act with the gimmick of being slightly scary twins, one in white, one in black. Hang on a minute, haven’t I seen mediocre twins, one in white and one in black somewhere before?

Simon says it’s the effect Louis had on Europe, the two monsters he created are now spreading. Harsh words to say about Boyzone and Westlife, but I can’t disagree. Louis and Cheryl both say yes again like the tired retread of series three that they are.

Next up is a middle-aged bloke (and then the captions tell me he’s 37? Hard knock life my friend) called Storm Lee, in a leather hat and jacket. He apparently wants to prove Sting wrong. A noble aim in life at any time (but sadly his reason for wanting to prove Sting wrong is that Sting slagged off this show. I could think of better reasons). He then performs Every Breath You Take, presumably with the aim of insulting Sting by ruining the song?

Anyway it’s incredibly meh, and that should be an end to it, but what’s this? He has another song you say? The ‘sing another song’ gimmick is this year’s WHO IS DEAD and I am so, so over it already. [It gives me fond memories of Spirit and Destiny, though. "Sing 'em a song, Della!" - Steve] It’s clear many of them have always sung multiple songs given we have, in previous years, seen clips of this on The Xtra Factor, but we don’t need to see several acts an episode do two songs. This gimmick can bite me.

He does ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’ and I am longing for it to be appalling because I am desperate for this show to one day pull out a genuine SHOCK! TWIST! But nah, it’s pub-rock sub-Jamie Afro bollocks and the judges proclaim him the third coming of Christ (Cheryl being the second, of course).

Cheryl says Simon rude for calling him Lee and not Storm. She changed her name to Cole after all and look where it’s got her. OK, a cheating husband and a divorce, but what price is that compared to being the Queen of all Our Hearts? On that issue, by the way, I had a living X Factor nightmare yesterday. I was in Meadowhall and it was its 20th anniversary party. The headlines on the papers were mostly about the Cole divorce, one of which, I kid ye not, was ‘Simon: My Battler Cheryl’ [*rage* - Steve] and as I saw these, Lloyd DANIELS was ill-advisedly ‘singing’ a bizarre arrangement of ‘Chasing Cars’ live. A couple walked past me muttering: ‘Ooo’s that?’ ‘I dunno but he can’t sing’. Poor lamb. He is, however, quite pretty. [Oh Ruth. - Carrie]

Next up is sixteen year old (sixteen like Lloyd DANIELS! See, it wasn’t a tangent!) Ruth-Ann St Luce and I feel like I should support her because my name is Ruth Anna. Anyway, she sings a really awful arrangement of Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow but she’s cute as a button and her voice is OK so she’s through.

John Adeyele sings ‘You are so Beautiful’ and goes through. My notes on him read thus: Blurgh, boring, hate. Porkpie hat. [Ah, but he is a Nice Man. - Carrie]

Elesha Moses is next. She’s very pretty and 29. She sings ‘She Said’, though it’s the Plan B version not The Longpigs’ one, which would be awesome. She’s very good and goes through. I realise that Twem got twice as much airtime as these three singers put together, but that shouldn’t really be any surprise.

Ads. Everyone on Twitter simultaneously tweets that £20 isn’t enough to make them buy the Daily Mail. Heh.

We’re at Birmingham NEC, and treated to some dreadful people outside singing. Natalie Imbruglia is here. Apparently she’s Dannii’s friend. According to the BIG BLURB, she’s a platinum record seller and a Brit award winner. For all the ripping Geri got, not one of the other guest judges is going to come close to her sales are they? They play ‘Torn’ and ‘Shiver’ in her VT. Now, you may think she only had those two hits, but if so then you are clearly not thinking hard enough about the bubbles of love we made (my favourite Imbruglia track, fact fans). [Mine too! - Steve]

Dermot tells us that no-one’s been waiting longer for these auditions than Liam who auditioned way back in the dawn of time, otherwise known as 2008 and had to wait two WHOLE years to come back. I think Rory from Doctor Who might have something to say about this longest wait ever claim. This is not explicitly stated but basically he got through to judges’ houses when he was fourteen but then the show quietly changed the age brackets back up again the next series so he couldn’t audition again. Not sure what point the show is trying to prove here - ‘He was great at fourteen and got through to judges’ houses which proves how right we were to put children through, but then we sent him home because we realised we were wrong and then he had to live through the horror of not being on the show last year even though that horror was entirely down to us fucking with the ages again and now he is back at sixteen to prove that we are right to keep the age at sixteen and would never do anything silly like audition fourteen year olds’. He looks just like Justin Bieber.

He sings ‘Cry Me a River’ (not the Timberlake one) in an awful stagey American voice. [I blame Bublé. - Steve] [The Timberlake one would have been better. This was mediocre karaoke at best. - Carrie] And I really thought he was someone else begging the change the song treatment, because while his voice might be OK the boring song choice and horrible OTT style seem like the kind of thing the judges might gripe about. But no, Simon is overcome by his inner OMGSOMEONEWHOCANSINGMACKTHEKNIFE and everyone erupts in applause, Simon and kissass Natalie even giving him a standing ovation.

Cheryl says, and I quote ‘You’ve definitely got it, whatever it is you’ve got it’. Is the ‘it’ a) The X Factor b) ‘Mack the Knife’ in Big Band week or c) The role as the new Ray Quinn? I told you this was a series three retread (although Liam was a swinging teen back when he first auditioned as well, to be fair).

Natalie says he’s impressive, really really impressive. Louis says he has a brilliant vocal. Louis tries to jib Simon about not putting him through before, Simon says Liam wasn’t ready and he said to him to come back in two years’ time. The fuck, Simon, shut it up.

Simon gives him one massive fat almighty yes. No word if this is valued higher or lower than 1 million percent though. We see his family backstage, Dermot manhugs him and witters some gibberish about how the boy becomes a man. His Bieberness is mentioned.

Ads. Already?

Britain’s second city is looking for its first ever win, and apparently many people want to be like divas, none more so than 41 year old Patty who wants to be like Celine Dion or “Mara” Carey. Everywhere she goes she wants to her people say her name, Patty Patty Patty. She should team up with John Barrowman John Barrowman John Barrowman. She has four kids and likes singing.

She’s singing ‘For Your Eyes Only’, and of course it’s out of tune, squeaky etc. I really hate them prolonging agony like this. Simon and Cheryl say no, Louis ‘was gonna say yes’, Natalie says nowt.

That Americano song that was in the charts the other week plays, so get ready for the LULZ. One guy is laughed off for having an unusual name (I can’t tell you what because ITV player has crapped out on me as usual). Seriously, X Factor? Chad Kennedy, aged 19, reads from a sheet and is tuneless singing something I don’t know. His excuse is he had a chesty cough. Simon says even with a chesty cough he could have learned the words. The guy says ‘put me through and you’ll see’, and the judges all take the piss out of him. Oh The X Factor. Laughing at the borderline mentally ill since 2004. The High St Boys are next, and are two bespectacled skinny white blokes in white tops looking a bit vacant, singing ‘I Want it That Way’. If you can’t guess how that goes down, you have never seen this show. Elton John lookalike Scott in a piano hat, wants to stand in Reg’s footsteps. He has performed when he’s been walking all over and also at two family funerals. He does a ropey ‘Your Song’. INSERT CRAPPY JOKE ABOUT FUNERALS HERE.

Brenda, 67, a retired chemistry teacher, thinks she can win The X Factor, and I am slightly too ashamed to type what my first thought was when I saw her but I bet most of you terrible people thought the same thing. She sings ‘So What’, and I kind of love her until she wiggles her hips. Simon says ‘we already have a Kylie, do we need another?’ and I’m not sure if he was deliberately trying to burn Kylie, but I’m offended on her behalf.

Next is Katie Melua, oops 16 year old Cher, who, we’re reminded, is only just old enough to be on this show, because she is SIXTEEN and not FOURTEEN or FIFTEEN, because this show would never have such young people on. She’s wearing jeans that are more rip than jean (Oh God. I have become my mother) and a Madonna-esque jacket. She also has one glove on. Le sigh. I don’t yet know Steve’s opinion of her but based on her appearance I am guessing it’s not high. [I currently want to slap her, and then feed her several sandwiches. - Carrie]

Louis asks ‘is that your real name?’ She says it is. He asks ‘Did you call yourself that ‘cos of the popstar?’ She replies, ‘I think that’s why my mum called me it’ because, like most people on this show who aren’t called Storm Lee, she didn’t actually give herself her real name, Louis, you twerp. Louis says she looks older than 16 (I don’t think she does, but she is wearing too much make up). Sings ‘Turn my Swag on’ by Soulja Boy but Keri Hilson’s version. At least, unlike 99% of people on here, she acknowledges the original and the cover artist, so props for that, I guess. She sings a lyric about her ‘haters’ and I was about to question whether a 16 year old girl has any, but then I thought about what Steve would say to that. Anyway, well done her for doing a different song to everyone else, but I really don’t believe her performance. She’s like one of those posh kids that pretends to be ‘street’ (O hai Lily Allen and Jaime Winstone) and she’s OK but this performance is very overdone. Still, give me hip hop week over big band week any day. [Admittedly I have no idea what the original is meant to sound like, but I thought she was awful. A horrid, tuneless mess. - Steve] [Ditto. - Carrie]

Cheryl says she is right up her street and her favourite audition so far. The Lord hath spoken, everyone. Twitter is split right down the middle, with 50% declaring her the best audition ever and 50% crying that we don’t need inauthentic, wannabe Cheryls. This year’s Marmite contestant then?

Simon says there’s something special about her. She gets a lot of 100% yeses, which is clearly less than a million percent, but is it as much as one massive fat almighty yes?

Cheryl says backstage, ‘She was made for me, she even had a tattoo on her hand’. [Looks like Cheryl's mentoring the girls this year then. - Steve] Louis says Simon is gonna want her. Cheryl says he’s not getting her. Louis sings ‘you gotta fight fight fight’ and though it’s scripted to all hell it’s still quite funny. [I liked Cheryl's attempt to pull a bitchface, which went a bit wrong because she started laughing. - Carrie] Seriously, though, if Cheryl gets the girls and Louis gets the groups again, I will cut a bitch. Mix things up a bit, show! I really think Simon or Louis should have the girls and Dannii or Cheryl the groups, just for a change.

Ads. Cheryl tells us we’re worth it. Alexandra tells us her deodorant keeps working for 48 hours, the shower-avoiding weirdo.

Back in Brum, and we’re with Keri Arrindell, who is an impersonator. She’s asked if she’s fed up with impersonations, and then, hilariously, does ‘Midnight Train to Georgia’ sounding like every generic black female singer ever but Louis says she’s special. Some annoying bloke gets through. Wagner Fiuza-Carrilho, a retired PE teacher with wild grey/white/black hair sings something operatic [not very well - Carrie] that I didn’t catch, and Simon says his mum would really fancy him. Four yeses, although I really don’t see why he’s not on Britain’s Got Talent instead.

Justin Vanderhyde is next. He’s Dutch, Portuguese, West Indian and Indian. Simon says this is ‘great’, so it’s clearly only the French he hates. He does ‘Superstition’ and dances like a better Olly. Cheryl says he looks like an action figure, and he gets four yeses. Have they made JLS action figures yet? Treyc, who was mostly awesome last year, but who Simon sent home in favour of the cock-fest that was Jamie, Danyl and Olly fucking MURS. (Number one? I hate you Great British Public) and is back to give everything. She does ‘You Got the Love’, which The Xtra Factor led me to believe was not allowed because everyone does it. She’s actually a bit screechy, and I think she’s worse than last year, to be honest. Sorry, Treyc. Love ya really.

She gets 3000 yeses, and I would really appreciate clarification on the order of ranking of a million percent yes, a hundred percent yes, one massive fat almighty yes and 3000 yeses. Any mathematicians out there?

We then have Xtra Factor style footage of Simon in the dressing area with his head down. Louis and Cheryl wonder if he’s meditating, doing yoga or praying, and some upbeat sitar style music plays, so I’m not 100% sure which religion they’re going for here as my extensive research into religious documentaries identifies this as the regular telly background music for Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and several Eastern faiths (trufax folks). He says he was steaming, not praying, and jokes that it’s good none of them have got weird. I’m taking it he doesn’t mean praying is weird, or Sinitta will be after his guts for garters. Come to think of it, she needs a sensational comeback outfit after she was allegedly sensationally axed from this year.

Abi/Abby/Abbie/Abbey and Lisa are next [what happened to those happy times when we got names put up on screen with ages and occupations? - Carrie], and they tell Dermot backstage they are called Ablisa, but in an earlier VT they say they are called ‘Abi and Lisa’. No word whether they chose the name change or whether the show foisted it upon them to make them look even more stupid. They VT about how BFF they are. Remember kids, this is LOLarious, as we all know in a bit she punches her in the face. Lisa, 17, is like Pandora from Skins only less clued up, whilst Abi, 18, is more gobby (in terms of attitude, I mean: they could both talk the hind legs off a donkey). They want to live the dream.

Lisa gets on stage and is clearly incredibly nervous and overwhelmed by it all. She says ‘oh my God it’s Cheryl’ then Abi says the same about Louis. Lisa says that Abi was saying Louis was really fit and she said ‘he’s a really old man, he could be my granddad’. Louis says, ‘What do you mean old?’ Simon tried to establish relationship between them and asks if they’re sisters. Rather hilariously, they both look offended at this. They say they’re friends, well, cousins, well Lisa’s sister is Abby’s cousin. Then Simon snarks ‘well, you’re either friends or sisters’, which: they just told you what their relationship was, SIMON. [Also: you can't be both? Still also, if Lisa's sister is Abbey's cousin, then wouldn't that make Abbey Lisa's cousin too? Oh, never mind. - Steve] Simon asks why they are here, and Abby says, ‘I dunno’.

Lisa, clearly flustered, says ‘Will everybody stop laughing at me?’ and it’s clear she’s got major self-esteem issues and should never have been put on the stage, PRODUCERS. The audience keep laughing, they keep babbling. Lisa tells the audience to shut up and becomes my new hero. Essentially she’s not angry shouting at them, more panto-style, but then we see shots of everyone agape. How dare someone tell the stupid fuckwits in the audience they need to shut the hell up? Ugh. This entire episode shows exactly why the live audience is a bad thing. Well, that and the utter tedium of nothing but live audience performances since they fucked up both this round and bootcamp until we get the slight relief of judges’ homes.

Abi thrusts her mic at Lisa and walks off, Lisa following, and one of them swears. They’re then sent back on, presumably by the producers, who are fuckwits. Simon tells the audience to hang on. They’re going to sing Shayne Ward. Poor Shayne, no longer seen as an X Factor success, now doomed to be used as crappy contestant fodder. Abi tells Lisa to stand on the X and it’s kind of clear who the bitch is in this friendship, and who’s the needy one who does what her friend says. In other words, it genuinely is like watching a working-class version of Effy and Pandora from Skins. Abi stares at the back of the stage all the time while they are performing ‘That’s My Goal’, except for a bit where they try to do the creepy X Factor duo looking in each other’s eyes thing. The singing? Funnily enough, not good. They shout ‘change the song’ and the audience boo. Well, it worked for Gamu, Hatey and Storm amongst others, so it was worth a shot.

Lisa then babbles that they don’t really care, they just came up here, and whilst this is a sucky attitude, it’s clear she’s trying to put a brave face on and the cockiness is just an act. Hey, I’ve watched every series of Big Brother. I can do cod psychology. Abi says Lisa was being a bit over the top. Simon says they have the worst attitudes of any contestants on these shows, and I think the previous six years have taught us that this is not in the least bit true. They’re just two stroppy young girls hideously out of their depth, and I can think of many older contestants with far worse attitudes. [*cough* Danyl *cough* - Steve] Lisa calls back that it’s hard when they boo. After Nadia’s eviction from UBB on Friday I have even less sympathy with hateful TV audiences than usual so I agree.

Abi tries to get it back on track and says the audience have to have their opinion. Natalie says her third line of the show (nowhere near as good judge value as Geri or Katy Perry, though she did look pretty) and tells them they weren’t very good. Lisa asks Natalie who she is, and whilst this is pretty classless, she seems genuinely confused, and if I were a naïve 17 year old I don’t think I would know who Natalie Imbruglia was, because when she started as Beth in Neighbours, Lisa WASN’T EVEN BORN.

Abi then walks off and thumps Lisa in the face. Cheryl does her shocked bit, and security are called as they storm off. This is not hilarious, despite how many LOLs ITVPlayer are trying to wring from it. It’s just vicious and kind of sad. Maybe it’s because I work with young people but I really find 17 year old girls being thumped in the face as part of prime-time family entertainment rather distasteful. Sorry. [Also, Cheryl reacting like someone being smacked in the face is the most surprising thing she's ever seen is a bit disingenuous, isn't it? - Steve]

They VT – Lisa says that she genuinely didn’t know who Natalie Imbruglia was, and Abi that she would never do anything with Lisa again and how dare Lisa call out one of the star judges (even though she blatantly doesn’t know who Natalie is either). Downer ending, no?

Coming up soon, Simon sitting on a pile of cash, and Cheryl expiring FROM! EVIL! MALARIA! Join us then!