Sunday, October 10, 2010

My super swelled 16

Top 16(!!!): 9th October 2010

Previously on this damn show: auditionees came in their thousands! And somehow Katie Fucking Waissel still made the live shows. After a gruelling boot camp and a dramatic judges' houses, Gamu's citizenship was revoked, Cheryl lost her damn mind, and the top 12 were revealed. OR WERE THEY? We see endless tabloid headlines and TV reports about the controversy, including one in which Kate Garraway appears to call her "Gamo" (this in addition to Christine Bleakley referring to her as something that sounding like "gnu" on Daybreak earlier this week, like, is her name really that difficult to pronounce?) Cheryl insists it's been a tough week, but she stands by her decision and her girls, at which point the haters are all "suits us, that'll make it even easier to take you all out in one go." Tonight, they will sing LIVE! Fighting for your votes are Dannii and the boys Aiden GRIMSHAW, Lazy DECORATOR and Nicolò FESTA. "I know I've got a strong category," Dannii insists, just to remind us that she missed all the auditions and really has no idea what she's been lumbered with. Louis and the over-28s Mary BYRNE, Storm LEE and John ADELEYE. "This is where the competition really starts," says Louis, vowing he's going to win despite clearly knowing he has about as much chance of surviving as Katie has of developing any degree of self-awareness. Cheryl and the girls, Cher LLOYD, Katie WAISSEL (whose intro VT features her doing a facepalm, summing up her presence on this show more succinctly than mere words ever could) and Rebecca FERGUSON. "Forget everything you've seen before," says Cheryl, in an abortive attempt to manipulate the audience. Derren Brown is having precisely no sleepless nights. Simon and the groups, Belle AMIE, FyD and One DIRECTION. Simon thinks they're "genuinely the best groups we've ever had". We'll see, shall we? And the much-anticipated BIG TWIST, which everyone has worked out already. It's time to face the music, folks.

Titles. Now more than ever, I wish for the giant space X to land on my house and put me out of my misery.

We're live from London in the colossal studio, and Dermot is gurning rabidly. As always, he salutes and tells us that the live finals start right here. Someone has apparently had words with his tailor, as his suit seems to be slightly better-fitting than the boxy messes we've all known and mocked up to this point. I'm disappointed, but then I remember that Tess Daly looked quite nice on the first night of Strictly only for it all to go horribly wrong on the second, so I live in hope that I will still be able to scorn his sartorial decisions this year.

Dermot tells us that for the next ten weeks, we are in charge, which is as much of a lie as it ever was: we have no say in the themes or the song choices, and the judges still get the ultimate decision in who goes home. We're sleeping partners at best. Dermot introduces the judges, "reunited for the first time this year", and they stride out onto the stage. Dannii is looking fantastic for a new mum, by the way. [I think most new mums would look pretty good with a crate of Botox and a team of stylists. - Carrie] Dermot and his burgundy shoes remind us of The Twist, and finally reveal that each judge has picked a wildcard. So let's find out who they are, shall we?

SPEEYACK! Bloody fucking 'Hometown Glory', otherwise known as the one song guaranteed to hit my berserker trigger in just about any circumstances, plays as Simon intones that he could've made a case for three or four of the groups, but that this is the one that sprang into his mind when he was asked to make a decision. I hope that whoever asked him to make this decision called him a "turtle-faced bitch" in the process. Cheryl says that it's always horrible to say no to someone (the apparent exception being whenever any of the rest of Girls Aloud ask her if they can get back together now) and it was apparently very tough so say no to this girl in particular. Dannii says that giving "this guy" a second chance is an incredible feeling. Louis reveals that his choice is different and "very unique" (AAARGH) and there's never been anyone like this person on the show before. To compound my musical misery, sodding 'Never Forget' is lined up on the soundtrack, and this show seriously needs to find some new musical cues. The judges all arrive at their destinations and are followed across muddy front gardens by long-suffering camerapeople. Dannii has to go through a big iron security gate with a load of bags of rubbish behind it to access a block of flats, whereas Simon appears to be approaching a fairly swanky looking house in the country. Poor Dannii. Louis rings the doorbell of his wildcard, and it's...WAGNER! I don't say this very often, but excellent choice, Louis. Dannii also rings a doorbell, and we can see Paije appearing in the hallway and shouting "oh my God" in a not-terribly-surprised-sounding manner. Although he is wearing Crocs, so if he did actually know she was coming, surely he would've put on some more dignified footwear? Cheryl taps on a letterbox and the door is opened by...TREYC! Thank God for that. Treyc's first words to her are "are you serious?" I love Treyc. Simon rings the doorbell and when it's opened, immediately holds up a finger to his lips to shush the person who opens it. Two things about this anger me: first of all, how did he know the person opening the door wasn't the person he'd come to see? Second of all, I don't care if you're Simon Cowell, you do not have the right to shush people in their own homes. Anyway, Simon walks through to a living room almost entirely devoid of furniture but containing both of Diva Fever and a selection of pals. There is a montage of all of the judges informing their acts that they will be joining the live shows as a wildcard, and there is much screaming and hugging. Wagner kisses Louis. Louis calls him "Wanger". Heh.

Back in the studio, Dermot welcomes the sixteen finalists. Who will all be singing tonight. I hope you're sitting comfortably, because it is going to be a LONG night. And before we even get going, there's an ad break. Sigh.

When we return, Dermot reminds us that 782 contestants are waiting backstage to perform, and wonders how they're feeling right now. Why don't we get Dave Berry to ask them? This week's theme is "number one records from anywhere in the world" (remember that, it'll be important later) and all of the studio performances will be available to download, if you really hate yourself that much. Also, the more I look at Dermot's suit, the boxier it looks.

We're starting with the groups and therefore with Simon, who's sacrificing FYD to the opening slot of doom. They introduce themselves as Matt, Ryan, Kalvin, Alex and Jordan, and let's hope they're around long enough to make learning their individual names worthwhile, eh? Matt says that they're all from different backgrounds and jobs, and that he was a sausage for a job once. He goes on to add that they have lots of levels to their performance tonight, such as dancers, choreography, harmony, making sure the vocals are right. So, "singing and dancing", then? Dannii says they've got to stand out. Matt says they're going all out because the pressure is on.

Fuck Yourself Daily take to the stage, and they're singing 'Billionaire'. Ugh. They change the line about "smiling next to Oprah and the Queen" to reference Simon. Double ugh. The harmonies are rather hit-and-miss and thin-sounding, and I hate to invoke the dread word "karaoke" so early on, but that is a little bit what it sounds like. Decent karaoke, but karaoke nonetheless. Alex is wearing khaki trousers with red spots on them. On what planet is that a good idea? On the plus side, it's nice to have a song on the live shows that was actually released within the last 10 years.

Louis opens for the judges and loves the song choice, styling and choreography. His only negative is that he thinks they're better dancers than singers. BOO, says the audience. Dannii also loves the song choice, but warns them to be careful not to dance so much that it gets in the way of the singing, which she thinks was happening during the chorus. "You don't need to move that much," she summarises. Newly-single Cheryl Cole thinks they should move more. Also, this wasn't really noticeable when the judges first walked out, but now they're in their seats, Cheryl is fucking yellow tonight. That is quite the tanning fail. She says that it's harder to teach a good singer to dance than it is vice versa, and she thinks "the singing will come". Simon snarks that Louis would direct Fame and tell the cast not to dance, and then claims that Fuck Yourself Daily are relevant to today's charts because people are singing AND dancing nowadays, at which point The X Factor is finally dragged kicking and screaming into the 1980s. Hey, it's progress, right? Simon congratulates them on (his) song choice and tells them they did well. Well, actually he tells them they did "great", but if I were to pick up on all the poor grammar, I'd be here all night. Not that anyone ever complains about Simon's poor grammar in the real world, because everyone's saving those brickbats for poor Alesha Dixon. It is at this point that I realise Kalvin has a bowtie somehow attached about two inches below his collar. How is it hanging there? More importantly, WHY IS IT THERE? It saddens me to warn you that this is a drop in the bucket in terms of questionable wardrobe choices tonight.

Matt says that they came out to show what they're about, and they sing first and foremost, Louis. Dermot reads their number out, gabbles the small print, and they make the obligatory "use your phone to save us!" gestures.

We're over to the boys next and their mentor Dannii, who Dermot reminds us has just had a baby: "so you won't have missed the whinging, the crying, the tantrums - you'll have had it all summer." Dannii rewards this non-joke with a non-laugh and says that she's got lovely guys to work with in her category, and loves having a wildcard too. "Have you got a winner?" asks Dermot. Dannii replies, "I think we're going to try our best." So that's a no, then. Her first contestant is Lazy Decorator, who uses his VT to complain that he lives with his parents, which is not cool when you're 27. Well, perhaps if you weren't such a LAZY FUCK you'd be able to afford to move out. Dannii says that there is no question that Lazy has the voice. Lazy admits that he needs to stop closing his eyes when he sings, and says that NotLouis has been screaming at him for doing it. Cheryl Cole, Amateur Psychologist, says that closing your eyes when you sing is a way of taking yourself off, but what Matt needs to do now is bring us in. Well, at least she's making Dr Pamela's insights over on Strictly Come Dancing seem profound.

Lazy takes to the stage to sing 'When Love Takes Over'. His eyes are closed. Excellent start. I'm not sure that this general theme of having him sing songs originally performed by female vocalists is a terribly good idea, because it forces him into his upper register, which is weak and whiny-sounding, and tends to result in him shouting rather than singing, which is not only unpleasant sounding but is probably going to fuck his vocal chords by about week five. That said, the rearrangement of the song into something sub-Coldplay is more effective than I expected. Then again, the entire melody is lifted from 'Clocks' so it's not like it was a huge logical leap to make.

Louis tells Lazy that he's proved he's the real deal, and that if he was at home, he would download that song now. What a lovely, spontaneous, entirely non-scripted way to remind us that we can download tonight's performances in our own homes! Louis loves everything about Lazy because he's a music man. Cheryl thinks it was a fantastic song choice for him, and she always imagines him "painting a skirting board, whistling along to the radio." I think the part where you're imagining him actually doing any work was your first mistake, Cheryl. Simon remembers Lazy's first audition and not being genuinely convinced, but then he did "the Roberta Flack song" at boot camp which was great, and this topped that. Simon thinks that if he put this song out in a week's time, he'd have a monster hit record. Well, yes, because he's just performed it on a live TV show with an audience of around 12 million people. Simon tells Lazy he needs to believe in himself more. Dannii thinks he's "really versatile" (if you say so) and can't wait to hear his next performance. Dermot asks him how it was for him. It was great. I'm glad we get these illuminating insights into people's characters.

Ad break. I hate myself for quite wanting to watch The Only Way Is Essex.

We're back, and only 1/8 of the way through the contestants. Sob. We now move to the over-28s and Louis, and "the soulful voice of John Adeleye." John says that being in the live finals is "so amazing", and tells us that he lives with his mum in North London and works in an old people's home as an activities co-ordinator. He really enjoys his job but deep down he wants to take to the "world stage". That won't do, quite frankly. Your job needs to be HIDEOUS and SOUL-DESTROYING and THE MOST UNTHINKABLE TORMENT EVER FACED BY MANKIND. "I quite like it, but I'd rather be a pop star" is not going to cut it around here. Louis thinks John is the dark horse of the competition. Racist! Simon thinks John needs to be more visible. Tell your editors to give him some of Katie fucking Waissel's airtime, then.

John is singing 'One Sweet Day' by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men. He has a nice voice, but the song's a bit too low-key to get attention on a show like this, and he looks awfully alone on that gigantic stage, and the gospel choir that appears halfway through does little to alleviate this. I don't think John is long for this competition, I'm sad to say. [This performance seemed so out of place compared to everything else in the show - Rad]

Dannii loves his composure and his passion, but isn't sure that the song choice made him current, though it was a beautiful performance. It's one of Cheryl's favourite songs ever and she thinks he sang it beautiful. She thinks John is gorgeous, but isn't sure she knows much about him yet. That's because he wasn't on this show before tonight. Simon thought the final note was good, but John wasn't given the opportunity to do much with the song. Impending Tedious Mentor Wank: Simon says that Louis was going to pick this song whatever the theme was, and asks Louis where it was number one. "America," Louis says. "No, it wasn't," Simon replies. "It was definitely number one somewhere," Louis retorts ineffectively. Simon sneers that this song was number one in New Zealand. Right, let's tackle this one, shall we? First of all, if you, the creator and executive producer of this show, have okayed the theme week "number ones from anywhere in the world", then a song that was number one in New Zealand is no less valid than a song that was number one in the UK or America. Second of all, Louis was right, this song was indeed number one in America. Third of all, where was 'Billionaire' number one, Simon? The Netherlands, you say? Is that higher or lower than New Zealand on the world ranking scale? Simon is so full of shit. I can't believe he's got me defending Louis. Louis says that it's an amazing song, and no one but John could take on a song by Mariah and Boyz Eleven Men. He says that John has lots more to give, and needs people to vote for him. Ain't that the truth. Dermot tells Simon that a number one is a number one. "I think New Zealand is stretching it a little bit," says Simon. Not according to parameters Dermot gave at the top of the show less than half an hour ago, it isn't. Dermot scoffs that this is rich coming from Simon after last year, and he's got a point. Dermot says that John said to him he wanted to put his personality out there, and John gives him the most personality-free answer in return. Poor, doomed John.

Over to the girls and the "reigning champion" (ugh), Cheryl. Rebecca's on first. Rebecca interviews that it only kicked in that she was on the show "when we were doing the glamour shoot, and we did that thing where you turn your head." HA! If she's going to hang lampshades on all of this show's tropes like that, Rebecca can stay. She talks about how hard it's been to leave her kids behind, but she's had a massive opportunity to change their life. Louis thinks Rebecca is shy and unassuming, but must deliver on the stage. Rebecca is excited to give the best performance she's ever given. From what I've seen of her so far, that's setting a fairly low bar.

Rebecca is singing an odd arrangment of 'Teardrops' and is completely off-key, but sadly I suspect the show is trying to justify it as just her unique, unconventional approach that's totally different to everything else that's out there. She claws it back on track a little bit as the song goes on, but there's no variation in her tone at all which makes it all rather boring - and it's not even like she's doing anything worth watching on stage apart from pacing up and down nervously. And then she loses it again on the key-change, meaning she's been off-pitch more than she's been on, and then it's over. Thankfully. [I did enjoy the pointless key-change though. It was just a shame Rebecca was singing over it. - Carrie]

Louis calls her "a class act" and loves everything about her. He thinks she has an amazing recording voice (the implied insult of "but a shitty live one" remains hanging in the air) and that she reminds him a bit of Sade (or possibly Shara Day, he's mumbling, it's hard to tell) and Norah Jones. Dannii loved watching (the tapes of) Rebecca's audition and seeing how Rebecca has learnt to look up since then. High praise indeed! Simon asks Rebecca how old she is. She's 24. He thinks she's been "pigeonholed by us to keep talking about things which are sad" - on this show? Surely not! - when she's not really that kind of person. "You've got kids, fantastic, but you're a fun girl and a great singer." I am annoyed at how Simon is suddenly trying to pretend that this show is not all about the sob stories. Actually, I'm just annoyed at Simon in general tonight. He wants to start seeing the person who he thinks Rebecca really is. I don't even know who that's meant to be. He thinks the song was a safe choice, but he thinks Rebecca could really surprise them. Cheryl thinks that the amazing thing about Rebecca is that everything is real. So, no boob job then? "And you're a scouse, and I love those," she finishes. Wow, culturally sensitive! Dermot asks Rebecca if she's enjoying herself. Yes, she is. Rebecca goes to walk off before realising Dermot hasn't read her number out yet, and spends the rest of her time on stage cringing. Heh.

After another ad break we're back, and now it's time for the second of the over-28s. From Scotland, it's Storm Lee. Storm tells us that he was born in Edinburgh but at the age of 17 he sold all his things and moved to the US to pursue his music career. Storm says that someone told him not to give up: "it's like a revolving door - at some point it's going to open, and when it opens, just run." Revolving doors don't really open as such, do they? Also, if you run at a revolving door it tends to get very confused and come to an abrupt stop, so I'm not sure this particular simile is a terribly effective one. [I think he's thinking about scary portcullises in video games, maybe? - Carrie] Storm talks about the part in his performance where he has to fall backwards from a 15ft platform. He thinks it's the sort of performance you do at the Grammys or the Brits. He vows to keep singing even if he injures himself. More's the pity.

Storm's singing 'We Built This City' by Starship and has some inexplicable sort of glitter mask sprayed across his eyes. When he reaches the chorus, about thirty dancers emerge from under the aforementioned platform in rubber catsuits with white rubber gimp masks over their heads. Oh, NotLouis. Never change. Storm drops off the platform, and is not horribly injured. Not that I was hoping for that or anything. His singing's actually not too bad, but I'm struggling to see what is relevant about this performance, since "relevant" seems to be the key word this year. He finishes, and the gimp dancers depart. [You missed the bit where the camera does a horrible close up on his crotch. Mine eyes - Rad]

Dannii wonders where Louis got those costumes from. I think it's better for us all if we never know. Dannii tells Storm that he sang well and the audience loved it, like they're supposed to be any kind of effective barometer of taste. She thinks he definitely put on a show "and you can return those costumes to Louis's wardrobe after the show." Cheryl thinks the image is a bit much and he doesn't need to push it that far (so speaks the woman who dressed as M. Bison to promote her first solo single), but she thinks he's the prime example of someone who never gives up on hope. But who gives up on dignity all too quickly, am I right? Simon thinks Louis has turned him into "something out of Batman" and the performance was very "'70s glam rock", but he thinks that without that he's a failed rockstar. He thinks it's absurd, but perhaps it will work. Louis loved it, and says that Storm has waited all his life for this moment, and he loves that Storm took a chance - "you did your hair red!" Simon clarifies that he thought Storm sang it well. Louis wants everyone in Scotland to vote for Storm. Does anyone even have any alcohol left at this point? Dermot asks Simon if he's going to give Storm a chance, or if he's going to call him a failed rock star every week. Simon dodges the question. Storm speaks directly into Dermot's mic, for some reason, because it's not like he has one of his own in his hand, or a radio mic attached to his jacket or anything.

After that, we're back to Simon and the groups, with Belle Amie. Named after David, presumably. They introduce themselves as Geneva, Sophia, Rebecca and Esther. Simon says that he didn't want to do "girlband does girlband" this year, and chose a song that's done really well. Geneva likes the song, and thinks it's "current" and "girly". They are very nervous at the soundcheck, which doesn't go unnoticed by Louis. "They should've gelled by now," he warns.

They're singing 'Airplanes' by B.o.B. featuring Hayley Williams, and oof, this is not a promising performance. The harmonies just sound nervous and unrehearsed, and Esther is lumbered with doing all the rapping parts. There are isolated moments where individual members (mainly Geneva and Esther) pull off good notes, but the overall effect of the performance is just a bit clumsy.

Louis tells them it looks like they're having a good time, and they have a great image and chemistry, and "we need a new girlband, don't we?" Because they always do so well on this show. He singles out Rebecca for praise, despite her not having really done anything. Dannii thought the song choice was great, as was the image, and admits that it always takes longer to get to know the groups, "to know who's the fun one, the cheeky one..." The gay one, the racist one... Cheryl says she felt uncertain and unsure watching them, and thinks they need time to simmer together and get their chemistry together, but she thinks the song choice saved them. Simon agrees, "that's exactly why they're here, because they need time." Except "you need more time to develop" is generally used as a reason to send people home, isn't it? Simon thinks that of all the girlbands out there in the market at the moment, there's a place for this one. However, they need girls to put them through to the next round, and that's as clear an indication as ever that boys do not cast votes on this show. Sophia says that they're just happy to be here and don't want to go home. "Girl bands never do that well, we need a girl band to do well." There really is some excellent lampshade hanging going on tonight.

After another ad break, we're back with Cheryl and the girls: specifically Cher Lloyd, who is RIGHT UP HER STREET. Cher says that she keeps having to pinch herself that she's actually here. She talks about living in Malvern with her family, and she has just finished her first year of sixth form college. Cheryl thinks she's picked a cool, young and fresh song for Cher. Cher says that she knows some people out there don't think she's strong enough to be here. And one of them is Louis, apparently. Cheryl says she's got a strong instinct on Cher, and she's going to prove to everyone why she's in the competition.

Cher is singing 'Just Be Good To Me' while dangling from some sort of climbing frame, which is quite mad as staging goes, but still not quite up to the insanity of The Claw on a swing. Cher struts around the stage looking for all the world like a mini-Cheryl, and makes a decent, if flimsy-sounding, fist of the opening, before suddenly deciding it would be a good idea to break into the rap from the Professor Green version. Which has not been a number one ANYWHERE. The fail, it burns. [She should have done the rap from the Beats International version. That WAS number one and also had a more entertaining rap - Rad] I can't help thinking that Cher's actual singing voice is rather weak, and that they're trying to make up for it with sass. I am not fooled.

Louis thinks that when she sings, it's very powerful. Looks like she fooled at least one person, then. He also loved "the staging, by Brian Friedman". Heh. Dannii loved it too, and can't take her eyes off Cher, who "commands that stage like no one else in the competition". That's true, at least. Simon thinks any doubts anybody had about why "this one" (rude) picked her have just been blown away. The thing is, we all know why she was picked, it was just that a lot of people didn't agree with the decision. Cheryl stands up and applauds, the silly bint. Simon thinks she's exactly what they're looking for - "a new little star". He loves her, "which is probably the wrong thing to say because I'm 51 years old." I'm not quite sure whether he means that he shouldn't "get" her as a concept because he's too old, or he just doesn't want people to make paedophile jokes about him like they do about Louis. On this show, who can tell? Cheryl says that Cher is a star, and she's so proud of her. "You're cool, you're current, you're young, you're exactly what this competition needs." Dermot says to Cher that she probably needed that performance. Not as much as Cheryl did. "Yeah, I really needed that," Cher replies. God, this year's contestants are fascinating, aren't they? Dermot asks her how it felt. "That felt wicked," Cher replies. "I think I've proved myself now." Yeah, I'm sure the fact that "HATE CHER LLOYD" was trending on Twitter last night was a total coincidence.

Ads. JLS circlejerk!

When we return, it's time for the first wildcard of the night - Diva Fever, batting for Simon. And for Louis, he claims, though I can't imagine what he could possibly mean by that. If their VT is anything to go by, they have taken to referring to themselves in the third person, which is never a good sign. They don't introduce themselves by name, but Wikipedia informs me that the twinky one is called Craig and the one with scene hair is called Josef. Craig lives with his parents (in the house we saw Simon go to earlier) and Josef lives in a flat with his flatmate and a Jack Russell. Dogs in flats = rarely a good idea. Giving us an indication of the tedium we'll have to endure as long as Diva Fever remain in the competition, Louis tells us that he's not surprised that Simon put them through because "they're very him. They're very camp." And thus began the obligatory "you're a homo" "no, you are" Simon/Louis bore-off for the year 2010. Josef says they're going to go out there and put on a show "with a little bit of a swing in our hip." Louis doubts whether they can be popstars. "Bring it on," says Josef.

They're singing 'Sunny', which is oddly ubiquitous on reality shows right now. They're both wearing oversized sparkly pastel-coloured suits, so you know something hilarious and costume-related is going to happen. Craig appears to be the only one doing any singing. A dancer appears wrapped in a large silver blanket, which is unfurled across the front of the stage, and behind it Josef and Craig remove their suits (Craig seemingly having a lot more trouble getting his clothes off, and I'll leave you to invent your own jokes on that one) and when the sheet is pulled away, they're now just wearing the t-shirts they had on under their suits and some neon-shaded cycling shorts. That is far more of Diva Fever than I ever needed to see. There's a wonderful cut to the judges just after this, where Simon and Louis are finding it all very amusing, while Cheryl and Dannii are clearly trying to work out if they're allowed to be amused by it or whether frankly it's all a gay joke too many for them. Josef joins in the singing occasionally in the second verse, but is jarringly off-key. It ends with a couple of misjudged glory notes, and Diva Fever fan themselves in an arch sort of way.

Louis tells them that they bring "the fun factor" to the show (drink!) and asks them if they know who they remind him of? Everyone in the viewing audience braces themselves for one of Louis's predictable gay jokes at Simon's expense, and sure enough: "Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan". Tee hee, gays are so funny. Dannii makes an odd comment about how this would be track one on her Christmas party playlist, and she's looking forward to what track two will be. Cheryl: "I'll tell you what it was like for me - you know when you turn on the TV at 6am and there's people motivating you to get up to exercise?" Apparently Cheryl lives in 1992. She enjoyed it, anyway. Simon says that putting them through "might create a few raised eyebrows" but he thinks the world's become a boring place in the last few years. Again, he acts like he's had no part in this when he sits on the judgement panel of shows that turn out endless supplies of boring, rote-learnt performers. Anyway, he thinks music should be fun and entertaining, and these two make him smile when they're performing. Dermot asks them how it felt to be wildcards. Craig says that when the doorbell rang, they actually thought it was the pizza man. Snerk. Dermot asks them what they'd be doing now if they weren't on the show, and Josef says they'd probably be back at work, and both of them agree that they'd "not be doing much", because they are also lazy, though not as abominably lazy as Lazy Decorator, naturally.

To get the show back on its usual boring track, we go back to the boys category as Dannii introduces Paije. Paije talks about living in a maisonette with his mum in London: "it's enough for us." Again, this WILL NOT DO. Where are your TEAR-FILLED STORIES OF POVERTY? Do you think we watch this show to see people being CONTENT WITH THEIR LOT IN LIFE? Simon says Paije is like a yoyo, having been in and out of the competition so many times. Well, it's better than the "unflushable turd" simile that I was expecting, I guess. NotLouis thinks that being the wildcard and having to prove he belongs in the competition is a lot of weight on Paije's shoulders, and then adds "the weight is making him insecure", which probably made several people who weren't paying attention thinking we're going to get a fat-complex storyline. Dannii thinks he just needs to keep it all in control.

Paije will be singing 'Killing Me Softly With His Song'. For reasons best known to himself, he has decided to genderswitch the lyrics, despite there being nothing sexual about this song whatsoever. I know this show runs on a delicate balance of gay panic at the best of times, but this really wasn't necessary. It's not like the lyrics are "fucking me senseless with his cock", are they? The song goes all Fugees halfway through, at which point Paije loses what little grasp he had on the tune and the whole thing becomes rather strained. The final note sounds, as loath I am to descend to scatological references yet again, like he is trying to pass a particularly difficult stool.

Louis tells Paije that he's glad Dannii gave him a chance to come back to the show, which he deserves, adding that he reminds him of a "soulful little cuddly Luther Vandross". I believe Louis making a thoroughly outdated pop cultural reference is another check for the drinking game [Louis was on fine drinking game form last night. The only cliche he didn't use was 'The Poor Boy's Blind, Simon'. If only someone had thought to put out one of the contestants' eyes beforehand - Rad]. At this point, I'll need to send out for more alcohol. Cheryl tells him that he owned the stage, and that he sings like a diva "with soul and passion." Simon says that he was praying Paije would be Dannii's wildcard choice, and though he doesn't like Paije's outfit, he's pleased that Paije has come back without an attitude - "there's nothing surly about you, you've come back to prove a point", which sounds like a bit of an oxymoron, and it's odd that Paije is the only one of the wildcards who gets this comment tonight. Is there any reason why he would be surlier than the others? Dannii welcomes Paije back "again" (heh) and says that he stamped his personality all over the song. Dermot calls him "the comeback kid" and Paije says that he's so grateful to be here and have these comments and "have everyone love me". Don't get carried away there, kiddo. Dermot says he's glad Paije is back "because you work in the cinema around the corner from me, and I was dreading bumping into you there." Well, consider your middle-class guilt officially lessened, Dermot.

More ads. Robbie Williams on Daybreak. As good a reason for a lie-in as I can think of.

Up next - oh God - is Katie. We see snippets of her ridiculous journey so far in which Katie tried to manufacture some sort of kooky personality for herself and succeeded only in pissing off half of Great Britain. "Being in the live shows is amazing!" simpers the Kooky Monster. She tells us that she lives in Harefield, west London, with her mum and dad. So for those of you who blame the parents, now you know where to find them. She reminds us that she works as a receptionist in a hair salon "and I love my job. Obviously this is better." The Kooky Monster understates that there has been a lot of controversy about her category and that her performance at judges' houses was "emotional". Simon thinks she doesn't have the best voice, but she does have a point to prove, something that's echoed by NotLouis and Cheryl. Her performance intro VT is intolerably contrived.

She's singing 'We Are The Champions', again, and let's take a moment to discuss the staging. She's dressed like a LaRoux tribute act in a ridiculous silver coat and pink leggings, with a [Daft Punk-style - Rad] helmet and several visors to accessorise. She's also "playing" a keyboard which is both suspended from the ceiling and balanced on the heads of two dancers. It is the least convincing playing of an instrument on this show since Tabby and his obviously unplugged electric guitar back in series one. The Kooky Monster cannot hit the lower notes any more than she could the first time around, though at least she remembers her words this time. Like most of the other girls in her category, she's mistaking an inability to sustain a note for having a distinctive, interesting voice. Once the key change kicks in, the song overwhelms her, but she gives a hugely self-satisfied sigh of relief when it's over all the same.

Louis says that he thought she was more style than substance when she auditioned, and that performance hasn't changed his mind. He thinks the song was too big for her. I think 'The Cheeky Song' is too big for her. Dannii thinks it must have been hard for her to get up there and sing after everything that's happened this week, but she thought it was "fierce", vocally. She doesn't get the look, though. Simon disagrees with Dannii, he likes what she's wearing (but Paije's jacket was not acceptable? What is Simon smoking tonight?), because she's different. I quote, "I am so bored of all these people coming out onto these competition shows, trying to look like somebody else, not having anything original about them, and that's what I've always liked about you, I think you're original." I realise Simon likes to consider the people who watch this show to be complete morons, but I'd be sincerely surprised if anyone out there believes Katie has ever had an original thought in her entire life. Apart from possibly "Katie Waissel is brilliant", because I doubt anyone else has ever thought that. He says that she's got an interesting voice and reminds him of Cyndi Lauper. Following up "you're so original" with "you remind me of" doesn't exactly strengthen your opinion, Simon. He says that despite the bad press, she's been great fun to work with, and he thinks she's a pop star. Cheryl says that a lot of people out there who won't get the styling, but there's a whole new wave of people out there like Lady Gaga who are allowing themselves to be expressive. Cheryl, Lady Gaga has already been on this show. She was amazing. We can distinguish the original from the pathetic me-too imitators, thanks. Cheryl then lathers it on thicker and thicker by claiming that the Kooky Monster is "helping me embrace difference" and SERIOUSLY, WE GET IT. Cheryl snips to Louis that there's still time for him to get to know her, and Louis gets all three years old about it: "I have an opinion, Cheryl, it's not all about you!" Dermot asks The Kooky Monster how this week has been for her, and she says that everyone has been wonderful and supportive and she just came out here as herself, like anyone even has any idea who that is, and tried to rock it. The Kooky Monster looks forward to proving to Louis that she's not just style over substance [HA! On The Xtra Factor she asked Kelly Rowland if sometimes style could be more important than substance - Rad]. Don't hold your breath. Or maybe do. Dermot asks Cheryl for her opinions on Her Terrible Week, and Cheryl blathers that she's proud of her girls and they've all done her justice. I really hope Cheryl doesn't win this year.

Up next, "from Dublin, Ireland" (can you guess who said that?) it's Mary Byrne. Mary lives with her daughter, who is now going to be "watching Mammy up on stage." Tesco Mary talks about how a few months ago, she was still working at an unspecified supermarket, hoping and dreaming. Louis reveals that Mary contracted laryngitis (anyone else waiting for a VT of her yelling "toffee apples!" at this point?) this week, which was pretty poor timing. Dannii says it'll be devastating for Mary if she doesn't make this work. Mary vows to give it her all.

Mary is singing 'It's A Man's Man's Man's World' and her singing, like Lazy Decorator's earlier, is on the shouty side because she's really having to strain her voice to hit some of the notes, but her performance outside of that is brilliant - all finger waggling and dramatic gestures. I'm tempted just to mute the show and enjoy the performance that way.

Mary finishes, and the crowd goes nuts. Dannii tries to speak, but can't make herself heard over the screaming. The crowd gets louder. Dannii waits for them to finish. The crowd continues screaming. The viewing audience shifts restlessly waiting for the show, which has already been on for over 100 minutes, to get the fuck on with it. EARTH TO DERMOT: shut the bloody audience up. That's what you're paid for. Finally, they quieten down, without Dermot's intervention (he's almost as indolent as Lazy Decorator), and Dannii finally gets to speak. She says that was one of the best vocal performances on the show, and she thinks Mary is a new wave of popstar. [Lie. Mama Morton, maybe. - Carrie] She thinks it would be a crime if Mary went back to her day job, as this needs to be her day job. Cheryl says that you can feel the energy in the room, and she felt every single word of that performance. Simon says that he can see how Mary's developed her image from Cheryl's (because they're both wearing black and have their hair pulled back, lolerama). "I'll never be as pretty as her," says Mary, right on cue. Simon tells Mary that they've had "real diversity" on the show tonight, adding "every little bit does help." Oh Simon, that was shameful, even by your standards. He tells her that people love a trier (note to the Kooky Monster: a trier, not a try-hard), and gives Louis credit for believing in her. Louis tells Mary she's become a diva, and he wants everyone to vote for her because she's got the X factor. Dermot asks Mary how it feels to be here (drink!) and Mary thanks "these four gorgeous people" for giving her the opportunity.

Mary departs, and Dermot throws to Dannii, who isn't ready. Heh. Dannii scrambles wildly before introducing Nicolò. Nicolò explains that he's originally from Italy, but now he lives in east London and is taking a break from his studies. Dannii says that Nicolò makes things interesting. Nicolò says it's crucial to make an impact and he wants to entertain people. Simon says that with a guy like that you don't know whether it'll work or not. Louis adds that you'll either love him or hate him.

Nicolò is wearing sunglasses and singing 'Just Dance' by Lady Gaga. He's kind of nasal, but there's still something appealing about his voice that I can't quite pin down. To add further confusion to this evening's genderswitch soup, he does not alter the line "can't find my drink or man", although he does change "we're all getting hosed tonight" to "we're all getting it tonight", for what that's worth. I'm not convinced that he's a great singer, but I think he might be quite an awesome pop star given half a chance.

Louis tells Nicolò that he might not be everyone's cup of tea, but he's definitely his because he's a diva (drink!) and he's quirky (drink!) and he was in tune (that would be a drink if anyone on this show was ever in tune). Cheryl, presumably having a traumatic Girls Aloud flashback, calls him "Nicola" and simpers that she didn't love it, largely because he was wearing sunglasses so she couldn't see his eyes. Simon thinks he's gone nuts because he quite liked that performance - he thinks Nicolò looks better than he sounds, but it's an improvement from his first audition. Dannii thought he sounded fantastic and though he's her "big risk", that's what she loves about him. And, she adds, "people say diva like that's a bad thing. It's a good thing!" And then this bit's amazing: Louis chimes in: "I agree! I'm working with three!" DEATHLY SILENCE. Seriously, not a single person in the entire room is laughing. There is a very awkward pause, and complete dead air. HELLO DERMOT, THIS IS YOUR CUE. EARN YOUR FUCKING WAGES. LEARN HOW TO RUN A LIVE SHOW. GOD. Dermot arrives, far too late, and asks Nicolò if he's a diva. "No," says Nicolò, clearly uncomfortable. "I'm normal." Dermot tells Cheryl that a popstar is about the façade and the dress (adding "you should know", which I'd love to think is a burn, but I suspect was not intended as one). Cheryl sighs that she knows that, but she thinks we need to get to know him before he goes that fast. Dannii agrees, and says that Nicolò has a quirky sense of humour that she didn't get at first, but we'll love him when we get to know him. Nicolò, like Rebecca, tries to walk off before Dermot's read the number. I'm not sure I blame him.

More ads, and then when we return, it's time for Simon to introduce the final group of the night, the Bieberiffic One Direction. They introduce themselves as Louis, Harry, Niall, Liam and Zain, and Simon says that you wouldn't connect them normally with the song he's chosen, but strangely it works. Zain admits that he was off time with the music when they rehearsed, and the others had to help him out. Obviously, he notes, he can't afford to make that mistake on the live show. Cheryl notes that they're under a lot of pressure.

They take to the stage looking like they've been diving in the bins behind H&M to sing a rather sickly-sounding version of 'Viva La Vida' [which is made to sound exactly like The Wanted's 'All-Time Low' - Rad]. Perhaps Wan Direction would be a more apt name for them. Kiam's on lead vocals to start with, and sounds decent enough. Zain comes in on time, but has such a featherweight voice that it's barely audible. Niall gets a verse to himself, and probably has the best voice of the lot of them. Harry is doing lots of hilariously enthusiastic shoulder pumps. They get to the chorus, and it seems that three of them are singing the melody while two are attempting to harmonise by going "ahhhhhh ahhhhhh", and one of the people harmonising is REALLY off. I think it's Liam, but I can't be 100% sure. It also doesn't help that I keep expecting Cher to burst on and start rapping about how the Jerusalem bells are ring-a-ling-a-ding-dong-dinging. They're all terrifyingly telegenic, though, and I fear they're going to be completely unassailable once the teenies start voting.

Louis says that he was worried when he heard they were doing Coldplay, but he thinks the song worked. He loves how they're gelling, and takes the credit for forming them into a group in the first place. Simon disputes this. Louis thinks they could be the next big boy band, but they have a lot of work to do, and he's not sure about the styling. They have all got, as Rad texted me to point out last night, crotches right down to their knees, so I do see what he's getting at, but I guess that's how the kids are dressing these days. Dannii thinks they got it together like a perfect band, and she thinks they made it their own. Cheryl agrees, and thinks they look like they were meant to be a group, and she thinks the girls at home will be going crazy for them, but she thinks they need more time to develop as a group. Simon snips that they'll review the tapes over Louis's involvement in putting them together. Simon says that they were put together because their boot camp auditions weren't good enough, but they were too good to throw away. He says that what was so impressive was that when one of them started to screw up at the end (and he doesn't name names, possibly because he doesn't actually know names), Liam came in to help get them back on track, and that's what bands do. As for styling, he claims he doesn't want to style them, and allowed them to style themselves. Dermot chips in, with a look on his face like this is the funniest thing the world has ever heard, "Louis, how do you know what 18-year-olds should be wearing?" and then quickly realising he's inviting far too many kiddy-fiddler jokes and swiftly moves on, to ask them how it felt. Harry says it was the best experience of all their lives. Their very, very short lives. I feel so old. Sigh.

Over to the over-28s, and Wagner. Yay! Wagner interviews that having a second chance is "like being resurrected from the dead." Heh. He explains that he was born in Brazil, "and now I live in a bungalow in Dudley." I love Wagner. I want him to stay forever. Louis likes Wagner because he is different. Wagner was worried about the song, because he doesn't know it, and he forgot the words in rehearsal. Cheryl says that "forgetting your lyrics is the worst thing that can happen." This from a woman who selected two people for her top three who were incapable of finishing a song. Wagner realises how important it is not to mess up. His intro VT simply says Wagner. I am sad, as I was looking forward to Peter Dickson screaming "Wagner FIUZA-CARRILHO!" every week. Or even just once.

Wagner is singing - tee hee - 'She Bangs'. They've got him in a velvet jacket. He looks like Tony Ferrino. He hasn't got a terribly good handle on the lyrics, and his accent makes him sound like he's singing "I'm teaking away like a bum" instead of "I'm ticking away like a bomb". At the chorus, the screens part and reveal a set of bongo drums behind them, which Wagner promptly trots behind and begins to play arrhythmically, at which point the song suddenly changes to 'Love Shack'. This is amazing. I could watch this forever.

He finishes, and Dannii looks stunned. "Just when you think it cannot get any crazier...Wagner! A medley! With a bongo thing in the middle! ... Yeah!" I love Dannii. She says that it was entertaining, but they're looking for a recording star. "It was fun, but it was very karaoke." Cheryl says "you're very earthy. And nice. I like you, Waggoner." Patronising bint. Simon says the show feels like they've made a milkshake out of a sausage, an onion, a strawberry and a lemon. He calls Wagner's performance "bonkers", but he's embracing the madness. Which is a good cue for Louis. Louis calls him "Wagner" with a soft W, at which Wagner protests that it's pronounced 'Vagner'. Louis says that everyone will be talking about "Wagner" tomorrow. Wagner, getting distressed: "It is 'Vagner', Louis!" Dermot comes on to clear it up, and Louis makes an unconvincing attempt to say it correctly. Wagner tells Dermot that with all these women around him, he didn't know what he was doing. He forgot his name (he forgot his telephone number), he forgot everything. I want Wagner to be here every week. I suspect I'm going to be deeply disappointed. Dermot reads out the voting number, and pronounces Wagner's name correctly.

Final ad break. We're nearly there, folks!

On our return, Dannii introduces the last of the boys, Aiden Grimshaw. Aiden tells us that he lives in Blackpool with his mum, stepdad and little sister. He says he's quite a mummy's boy. Dannii thinks he has something unique, and there's a vulnerability to him. Aiden says that he needs to "externalise" his performance, and Louis agrees that he's "introverted". Cheryl thinks he needs to get over that fast. He models the TopMan A/W 10/11 collection in his VT.

Aiden will be singing 'Mad World', ANGRILY. Seriously. In his battle not to internalise the whole thing, he is clenching his teeth and looking like he's about to snap and kill everyone in the room. There are some ridiculous close-ups of his face, and attempts to create atmosphere with moody lighting, but let's be honest, no one is ever going to out-Adam Lambert Adam Lambert where this song is concerned. Nice try, though. Aiden is actually shaking on his final close-up. I'm almost as concerned for his mental wellbeing as I am for Cher's. [I loved it. But then I love the Tears for Fears and Gary Jules versions of this song, and I'm very much into 80s electro/goth music. I'm far from being a teenager, though, so not sure if it hits the target market - Rad]

Louis thinks they've found something special. He thinks it was one of the best performances of the night. He thinks Aiden is the "next big male popstar". Cheryl is taken aback, and Aiden was the surprise of the evening for her - "that was of popstar level already". Simon says that this is the second time he's been on one of these shows and been blown away by that song. He loves that Aiden is so "current, in this whole Robert Pattinson, Twilight" thing (so, Aiden is really pale and looks like a foot?) and his voice reminded Simon of Michael Stipe. It was Simon's favourite performance of the night. Dannii says the performance had real substance, and she loves that he has both strength and vulnerability. "Blackpool, turn the lights on, Aiden is here!" she finishes. Dermot asks Aiden how it was for him. Aiden cannot summon actual words. Where did they find these people? Aiden eventually manages to thank Simon for his kind words. Dermot vows that Aiden will get better at the interviews. Let's hope so.

It's the final act of the night. "Last, and by no means least, it's Treyc Cohen," Cheryl introduces. "By no means least," my arse. She wasn't even on your original shortlist, you disingenuous witch. Treyc says that she lives in a two-bedroom semi-detached house with her boyfriend Nick, who she's been with for nine years. [I suspect Nick will not make an honest woman of Treyc. I suspect on first glance he may not be the marrying type. - Carrie] They work in a call centre together. Treyc says that walking into the studio to meet the final 12 was difficult: "you could've cut the tension with a knife." Cheryl pontificates that it's hard for everyone when the wildcards arrive, as the Top 12 have to accept them. Treyc: "Cher and Katie, their reception weren't great. We'd been to judges' houses together, so I was expecting a little bit more from them." Did she just call them both bitches? I think she did. TEAM TREYC! We see rehearsals, and Cheryl telling Treyc she needs a big power moment in the song.

Treyc is singing 'One', which is a bit of a let-down song-choice wise, but I love Treyc so much I don't even care. She's perhaps drawling a bit too much for my tastes, but she's singing well and she's got real stage presence. Also, I'm loving the artful bedhead that she's rocking. The final performance is definitely not lacking "power moments", so it looks like she took Cheryl's advice to heart. Also, there are no dancers, no (visible) gospel choirs or anything like that - just Treyc, on stage, by herself, and yet she doesn't look dwarfed by it at all. Awesome.

Louis says that Cheryl did a good thing picking her as a wildcard, because she's got so much soul and she's a fighter. "This is your time, Treyc," he finishes. Dannii says there have been so many incredible performances, and to start with one like that means Treyc has set a very high bar for herself. She thinks her voice is phenomenal, and she wants to see Treyc's stamp on it every time. Simon says that Treyc's body language makes her look vulnerable, and she doesn't have any confidence, and he's amazed that they overlooked her in this competition (for Jamie Afro, Humble Danyl, and OLLY FUCKING MURS, which just makes it even more insulting). He hates what she's wearing - and again, Katie gets a free pass for dressing like a space hooker, but a blue dress is apparently a no-no? - but it doesn't matter, because that was the best vocal of the competition "by a clear mile". Cheryl tells Treyc that she feels like the luckiest judge tonight to be able to welcome her back, and she's so happy to have her here representing her category. Dermot welcomes her to the stage finally, Treyc says it feels like home. He asks if she feels like she belongs, after all the controversy, and Treyc says that she does, and she wants to thank Cheryl and promises not to let her down. Dermot asks her for her opinions on what Simon's wearing, and Treyc comments tactfully that she thinks Simon looks beautiful. "You're playing the game early on," Dermot notes. You're a fine one to talk, you soulless corporate shill.

Dermot opens "the vote" and reads through all the contestants' numbers, getting a bit confused by the time he gets to Aiden and Treyc, perhaps understandably. 16 is a big number to count up to.

Video recap: Fuck You Daily performing about six weeks ago on an entirely different series, Lazy Decorator not doing any decorating and therefore feeling right at home, John being completely doomed, Rebecca trying to remember how to move, Storm and his army of angry sperms, Belle Amie needing a lot more than a wish right now, Cher hanging out in the playground, Diva Fever giving us a song between exercise class appointments, Paije needlessly genderswitching a song, the Kooky Monster having delusions of relevance, Tesco Mary flailing like a mad thing, Nicolò not providing Cheryl with the requisite amount of eye contact, Wan Direction winning this damn thing whether the rest of us like it or not, Wagner making the most of his only performance on this show, Aiden On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown, and Treyc showing us what a damn fool Cheryl was at judges' houses.

"Now that was a show!" says Dermot. Actually, I think it was at least three. Dermot then breaks the non-surprising news that tomorrow's show will be a double elimination. I would think we're in for quite a lot of those. We'll also have a homecoming performance from Mawliddle Joe McElderry, and a performance from Usher. Join us later for the results!


gummygobbler said...

I just deleted a massive essay that I wrote haha
Seriously though - I love this blog - but it is better when we get to read it b4 the people are eliminated cos it isn't as funny

Anonymous said...

In more "Simon loses his grasp of the English language" news, he didn't actually say Rebecca was "pigeonholed", it was "you've been pigeoned-hole by us". I'm not even sure how he managed that one.

Fiz said...

Steve, I only watch X Factor so I can understand the background to this! Congratulations on last night, too - I hate smug Mensoids, even if I hadn't wanted your team to win - very well done, all of you!

Anonymous said...

I cant believe Ive only just discovered the best thing ever. Which is your blog by the way. Kudos on the lesbian vampires could you see if my...hilarious x factor opinions are any good..? Yours is funnier though obviously. And better. And with nicer font. I'd appreciate it, really. you guys are my kings.

Sophie. xx