Monday, August 29, 2011

Mersey shore

Auditions 2: 27th August 2011

Sometimes, unexpectedly, life deals you a lucky break. This weekend was one such example: I wasn't actually at home this Saturday, I went to Wales for my godson's first birthday party. We were staying at his grandparents' house, which was right out in the countryside (I hesitate to use the phrase "in the middle of nowhere" because it's such a cliché, but it was definitely pretty remote) and one of the first things my friend told me when we arrived was that they had no ITV1 reception, so I wouldn't be able to watch The X Factor. [I was also in the middle of nowhere this weekend, and I only got round to watching this on Tuesday morning because quite frankly I had more important things to watch when I got back. Like Doctor Who. And Neighbours. And Big Brother. And paint dry. - Rad] So I actually had a calm, relaxing Saturday evening where my blood pressure stayed at a perfectly healthy level. Of course, you can only dodge a bullet for so long and I'm still on recap duty for this episode, so I'm here now, ready to watch and hoping that it will at least be slightly less appalling than last week. Ready? Here we go.

So, last week: the show continued to waste our natural resources by flying each of the four judges to auditions in a separate helicopter. Kelly ROWLAND is shown taking responsibility for putting that monstrous Ellie Goulding tribute act through, TuLISA's recap is obviously taken up with George calling her chav scum or whatever awful thing it was he said, Louis WALSH lies that he doesn't hate everyone else on the panel now, and Gary BORELOW had no charisma whatsoever. Tonight: more lunatics, by the looks of it. Oh, boy.

Titles. Seriously, Giant X From Space, please land on me now. I won't even try to run.

There's a bit of Coldplay honking on the soundtrack ('Viva La Vida', and if it didn't make you think of Cher Lloyd and Jerusalem bells a-ring-a-dinging, you've clearly done a much better job of forgetting last year than I have) and it all gets a bit like a Hovis advert as we're treated to shots of UNASSUMING SIDESTREETS where people are getting up, pulling back the curtains and brushing their teeth, all the while dreaming of SOMETHING BETTER. There's a HIGH-RISE BLOCK in there too, because this show is INCLUSIVE. Obligatory chatter from somebody who doesn't like his day job, despite the fact that in this economy he's lucky to have one. People still seem to think that this show is a fast-track to selling out stadiums, despite the fact that poor Mawliddle Jor McEldree was reduced to appearing on another ITV reality show within two years of winning this thing. People with BRIGHTLY DYED HAIR, and oh God, ENOUGH WITH YOUR MONTAGE NOW. I do not care about any of these people. Show me them singing, and then I'll decide if I care. An OLDER MAN talks to his mother about doing it for HER AND HIS DAD (WHO MAY OR MAY NOT BE DEAD, WE HAVEN'T ESTABLISHED THIS YET). People ride on PUBLIC TRANSPORT and queue outside the O2 Arena. Finally we get our first sighting of Derwood, who tells us that we're in London, just in case the shot of Battersea Power Station, the BT Tower, the River Thames, and the former Millennium Dome had left us in any way confused.

The judges arrive (in separate cars, naturally) and we're treated to a shot straight down Tulisa's cleavage as she steps out. Tulisa is excited to be in her home town. Louis reminds us that the O2 is where people come to see their favourite artists (shots of Leona Lewis and Take That), so this is going to be nerve-wracking for the contestants. Gary drones that he wants to see someone who gets them all up and clapping or he'll be disappointed.

First auditionee of the week is Johnny Robinson (45, Harrow, unemployed because of the economy, innit) who's a bit camp, and asks the cameras if he looks all right ("I know I'm ugly, please let me look a bit more decent, get rid of them bloody wrinkles"). He lives on his own in a bedsit, he tells us, before correcting that to a "studio" and then a "small flat". Heh. See, already I'm growing to like this guy, and I didn't need to see his living room window or him brushing his teeth. Told you that montage was a waste of time. He'd like to be taken seriously as a singer. On this show? Good luck. Then there's a moment where his interview appears to be over, and the camera stays on as a member of the crew stands up and moves out of the shot. Johnny stage-whispers "he's quite cute", just to clear up any lingering doubts about his sexuality. At first I wonder if this means a general relaxing of the rules on gays on this show now that Simon's got a less hands-on role, but given the edit, he's probably a comedy audition anyway, so I doubt it really matters. Then we get a shot of him camping it up some more in the "make-up room" (worst addition to the show since the live audience at auditions) and talking about how many of his idols have performed on the O2 stage, like Kylie on her "Aphrodisiac" tour. At least he remembers pretty quickly that it's "Aphrodite", not Aphrodisiac. But they've got their footage now, the damage is done. Derwood sends him out onto the stage.

Johnny arrives on stage and his mic is not working. Excellent start. Maybe it's Justin Bieber's old mic? The technical issues are dealt with, and Johnny greets Louis, Gary, Kelly and Tulsa in term, saying it's nice to meet them. Such lovely manners. Louis asks him which artist he can be as big as, and he says Lady Gaga. He'll be singing 'At Last' by Etta James, trying to undo the damage done by Weasel last year. Johnny begins singing and singing well, while Gary and Kelly share incredulous "but you're an ugly homo, you're not supposed to be a good singer!" looks. Johnny's performance is a bit karaoke-in-a-tiny-pub, and his voice goes rather thin on the high notes, but already he seems more encouraging than any of those trendy shitheads we were forced to sit through last week. To be honest, the longer his audition goes on, the less convinced I am that he has any chance in this competition whatsoever because his voice isn't actually *that* great - this is no Susan Boyle moment, he's just someone who's a bit better than we were led to believe he'd be. Still, having said all that, it's clearly more than enough to get him through to boot camp, surely? He finishes, and Louis claps excitedly. I kind of hope for Johnny's sake that he gets Louis as a mentor, because that's probably his best hope of actually progressing much further in the competition. The crowd cheers, and Johnny seems quite overcome. A bit of Take That cues up on the soundtrack ('Greatest Day', mercifully, not 'The Flood'). [Steve still has a slight nervous tic every time you mention that song. Last year nearly killed him, people - Rad]

Louis tells him that he's "very unique" (AARGH), Tulisa says that he's got "the shock factor", adding that she was expecting this little person to pop out from under his hat and say "coo-ee, that's me singing!" I think Tulisa needs to lay off the hallucinogens. Or stop watching cartoons with Michigan J Frog in them. Kelly calls him "sugary, lovely, delicious" and congratulates him on being able to sing despite his debilitating ugliness. Gary thinks Johnny has a wonderful personality and that it was an amazing audition. It's four yeses for Johnny. I think if we'd started the series with this guy instead of ArseTat, I might have been slightly less angry last week. Although only a little bit, because there's still the "it is a surprise when ugly people are not worthless!" angle to work through. I'm choosing to put that to one side for now, or I'll be here all day.

Johnny exits and tells Derwood he's just glad he had the chance to audition. Back in the arena, Louis says that he shouldn't judge the book by its cover, and Gary consoles him that we all do that. Yes, because that is CONDITIONING CREATED BY THIS FUCKING SHOW AND OTHERS OF ITS ILK. (Okay, fine, I lied about putting it to one side. But they baited me.) Gary simpers "straight out of a Carry On film, wasn't he?" Fuck off, Borelow. Fuck right off. God, I hate Gary so much, and we're only on the second episode. [I was actually quite impressed it took the show this long to try and attempt a 'Su-Bo' moment - Rad]

Adverts. I drink a lot of Lucozade, and yet that advert with the Feeder song makes me want to switch to a brand that doesn't have so many obnoxious customers.

Upon our return, we're still in London, and people are eating each other's faces while they wait to audition, and we're treated to a ridiculously staged conversation between two people in the line ("Imagine winning The X Factor! That would be so cool!") All of the love being displayed is heterosexual love, obviously, because the first part of the show reminded us that gays are unemployed, single and live in bedsits. People are actually auditioning despite all this schmaltz: Samantha Hallam (graphic designer, 37) sings 'Sex On Fire', and as she finishes her audition, her boyfriend walks out onto the stage and proposes to her in front of everyone. Samantha cries, and accepts. She gets through to the next round as well, though it'd be hilarious if the judges were all "well, that was very romantic, but you're shit and we're sending you home." Louis jokes that she was happier getting through to the next round than she was at getting the proposal.

The next auditionee is Derry Mensah (20, Croydon) who thinks Kelly is beautiful, and gets lovestruck whenever he hears her name. He dreams of being a superstar and walking the red carpet with Kelly. In theory this should all be quite stalkerish and creepy, but am I wrong for finding it kind of awkward and endearing? I get the impression he quite wanted to look cool on the cameras, and instead they've made him into a goofy besotted adolescent. Those evil editors! He greets the judges, and greets Kelly separately, and then there's a moment where he doesn't say anything else, just sort of leers at her. Okay, now it's a little less endearing and a little more creepy. Tulisa: "...hi?" Hee. Derry tells Tulisa that he works in Burger King, and that he's here with his family, friends and his little nephew. Tulisa asks him who he'd most like to impress, managing not to look like there's a producer holding her by the hair and forcing her to ask that. Derry says that he really wants to impress Gary. Kidding! He says Kelly, of course. Derry: "Straight up, I love you Kelly Rowland." Hee, I'm really enjoying this. He's about as good at chatting people up as I am. And about as subtle. Kelly calls him "cute", and Derry pretty much giggles. Tulisa tells him that he's under pressure now because he really has to impress Kelly, and Derry says he'll be singing 'Can You Help Me?' by Usher. I'm not familiar with the song, but Derry's oversung rendition of it kind of makes it hard to tell if he's any good - there's so much switching from his lower register to a falsetto that I don't have any clear indication of whether either is much good. It doesn't seem awful, though. His audition is intercut with shots of Kelly looking equal parts impressed, amused and terrified. Derry gets down on his knees halfway through and spreads his arms wide. Eventually, the song ends and the crowd applaud.

Kelly's the first to comment, and calls it a really good audition. "Seriously?" he asks. "I love you!" Heeheehee. Kelly: "We're serious right now. Come on, let's get to business." The crowd has a mental age of twelve, and cackles, and Kelly realises how that sounded. She really liked his voice, and would like to see him in a group. Louis thinks he could be in a UK version of Boyz II Men, showing us that Louis's cultural references are as current as ever. Tulisa disagrees: she likes Derry as a solo artist. Gary thinks Derry has a great voice and really enjoyed his audition. Four yeses for Derry, and a request from Kelly for a kiss on the cheek. Derry obliges and she gives him a little peck on the cheek in return. Derry heads backstage and has basically forgotten everything that happened apart from the point when Kelly kissed him. He walks out going "Four! Four! And a kiss! Kelly Rowland kissed me!" Hee. Bless.

Montage of people who love Kelly. None of them are as good as Derry, so let's not waste our time. Someone called P. Knowledge ("but you can call me Perry" - clearly if your name ends in "-erry", then you'll have a thing for Kelly) [I can't believe real people who aren't in sitcoms are called Perry (except that bloke who plays Billy Mitchell anyway) - Rad] flirts and tells Kelly he wants to lift his shirt up. She wants him to as well. Squealing as he reveals his abs. A man called Joseph Castle (IT company director, 24) sings 'Let There Be Love' right to Kelly and Kelly's all "I'm so embarrassed!" COLD SHOWER FOR ROWLAND! Kelly flirts with Stefan Romer (unemployed, 19) until she discovers he's a leeeeetle too young for her. His version of 'Come Together' is rubbish anyway, but he gets through, presumably to be put into a boyband at boot camp. Probably with ArseTat. Finally we get to hear P. Knowledge sing - Perry Devonish (unemployed, 29) with a tuneless rendition of 'I Have Nothing'. It's a no for him, but Kelly will be dreaming about his abs. I feel like we finally have a spiritual successor to Sharon Osbourne and that wet and warm thing she kept under the desk.

More ads. Red Or Black? looks seriously dull.

Now we're in Liverpool, for what Derwood tells us is the very first time in the show's history. Presumably because they were so in love with Rebecca Jazznoodle and her inability to move on stage last year. Borelow is excited to be in Liverpool, because his mum's a Scouser, while lots of Liverpudlians talk about all their talent and berate the show for not coming here sooner. There's an exceedingly strange interlude in which Tulisa attempts to teach Louis how to speak in a Liverpool accent (she's quite good at it, he doesn't even bother).

Up first is Mark Byron (21, sales assistant) and he tells Kelly that if she can't understand his accent, he'll try to slow it down for her. Kelly's all "no, that's fine, I'm in your territory, it's my job to adjust". Bless Kelly Rowland. He wants to show the judges that Liverpool has the X factor. Unfortunately, he demonstrates this with an off-key and off-tempo rendition of Rihanna's 'Only Girl In The World'. The judges stop him after a few lines, and Gary declares the singing "truly horrible". Mark says "If I get nos, I'm leaving the country." He gets four nos. Bye Mark! I hear Canada's nice.

Up next is Craig Colton (biscuit factory worker, 22) from Kirby. He lives at home with his dad, and likes it because it means he gets his meals and his ironing done. He reveals to Derwood that he's here with friends, but his mum and dad are in the audience and don't know that he's auditioning. Craig talks about having to impress not only the judges, but also his parents. His parents look bored in the audience, at least until Craig arrives on stage. Craig relates his story to the judges, and Louis asks where his parents are. They wave from somewhere near the back. Craig tells Louis that he told his mum he had to work today, and made her iron his uniform so it was believable. I am getting shades of Lazy Decorator from this guy. Learn to do your own damn ironing. By the time I was 17, I was doing mine and my brother's. Craig works in a biscuit factory, with his dad. "What does he do?" ask Louis. Craig doesn't know: "Dad, what do you do?" Craig is singing a song called 'Hiding My Heart Away' by my mortal enemy Adele. The song is overwrought and shit, because it's Adele. Craig's voice is like a man singing Adele, pretty much. It does not appeal to me. The audition goes on FOREVER. Craig pulls lots of annoying faces, just like Adele does. Great, so now we've got an Ellie Goulding tribute act and Mandele on the roster. I'm starting to dread the live shows.

Gary tells Craig that everyone was on their feet, and he deserves all the applause he got. Louis tells Craig he's got a recording voice. Tulisa didn't expect him to sing like that, and likes that he's funny as well. Kelly loves that he's a true performer who wooed everyone with his voice and wit. He's through, just to torment me. Craig's proud parents leave the arena and go to hug their son backstage. [Get used to the Adele, Steve. Every single episode from now until the end of time - Rad]

More adverts, then we're back in Liverpool. Derwood reminds us that the Beatles were from Liverpool (I'm surprised it took them so long to chuck that one in, to be honest)[I was in Liverpool the other week. You actually can't escape Beatles stuff when you're there. It's weird - Rad], which is a segue into some groups, who for some reason have turned up to audition as groups, rather than auditioning as soloists and waiting to be sorted at boot camp, which I understand is how we prefer to do things these days. Derwood voices over that it'll be harder than ever to get past the panel, as it features "some of the most exciting group members of this generation". Deliciously, the "exciting" part of that speech features a shot of Borelow.

Up first for the groups are Charity and Goodsun (I think), collectively known as The Duos. They're a married couple, and dream of being recording artists and on TV and that. They sing at each other a lot at home, he tells us. On stage, Tulisa asks him how he proposed, and Goodsun says that he didn't really, he just said "will you marry me?" Is that not generally how it works? I mean, I know I'm a gay and we're still not technically allowed to get married, but that's how I understood the breeders go about starting it up. Apparently, they were in bed, and she kept asking, so he proposed. They compare themselves to Beyoncé and Jay-Z, apparently. They're singing 'If I Were A Boy', badly. She holds her stomach the entire time that she's singing. [In a cunning spoiler for Beyonce's VMA announcement? - Rad] Well, "singing". They're not even singing along to the right part of the backing track. The judges let them continue far too long. Ahh, this is The X Factor that I know and hate.

Louis: "Kelly, did you like that?" Kelly, appalled: "No!" Heh. She asks incredulously if they really thought that was Jay-Z and Beyoncé. "That didn't go well at all," she concludes. Borelow wonders if this was the rehearsal. Louis decides to take it to a vote. It's four nos for The Duos. Kelly is still utterly baffled by their folie à deux.

The search for a group continues, and Borelow doesn't want "to settle for second-best". Montage of groups that have not impressed the judges. Broman5e (aged 17-18) strip off their plaud shirts to matching white vests before groaning their way through 'Black And Gold' with some literal chorography that NotLouis probably had a hand in somewhere. Borelow calls it "very unique". AAAARGH. It's a Noman5e for Broman5e. They're followed by duo Poetic Justice, and upon hearing that one of them is called Lindsay, Louis responds "oh, so you're a girl?" Oh dear. Louis explains that he "wasn't sure", and Tulisa tells him off for being offensive. Oh Tulisa, just wait until he starts comparing contestants to other famous black people. Poetic Justice fumble their way through 'Rolling In The Deep', singing in entirely different keys, neither of them being the correct one. Borelow thinks they just met at a bus stop or something. More hopeless groups. I'm beginning to think we should just make it properly official that all groups are created from soloists at boot camp, and spare ourselves this really painful part of the process [Or axe the category altogether. Or let actual bands apply rather than silly vocal groups. Eight years and they're still the weakest link, that should be a hint - Rad]. Borelow is getting fed up with the bands too, which of course is the cue for an act to turn it all around: The Keys, a clean-looking boyband who want to be like Take That. They certainly look old enough. They harmonise their way through Aloe Blacc's 'I Need A Dollar' and mash-up a few lines of 'Independent Women' for good measure. Borelow is impressed at long last. He loves "Mark Owen in the middle" (FNAR) or "Charlie", to give him his proper name. Louis thinks they've been waiting for a group like them. Tulisa commends them on being well-rehearsed, and Kelly thinks it was a great audition. They're through with four yeses. [They were quite good, but I am sick of all the 'good' groups on this show doing essentially the same thing. Series one and two's groups might have been a load of misfits but they seem positively radical these days - Rad]

After what is hopefully the final ad break, we're back, in an unspecified city. There are a few more pointless sections in the Make-Up Room (KILL IT KILL IT NOW) [Oh, the fast-forward button, how I love you - Rad] as dreams are shattered on stage. We join Misha Bryan (student, 19) as she prepares for her audition. She's always dreamed of being a singer, and dreams of being an international recording artist. She rides the bus because she's VERY NORMAL (she thanks the bus driver as she alights), and tells us that she was calm on the way there but her heart started racing as she queued up. You can just tell from the set-up that there's a sob story coming, and here it is: when she was three months old, her mum was unable to look after her, and she's never met her father, so she was raised by her auntie. She says that she doesn't know where she'd be without her auntie's support, and gets a bit teary. She says that if she gets four yeses today, her auntie will be very proud, and she'd do anything for that to happen. I'm sure your auntie's proud of you whatever happens, love. You don't need this silly show for that.

She'll be singing 'Respect' by Aretha Franklin, in a sort of jazz-lounge manner. I'm assuming this is a moderately famous existing arrangement by someone else, because I don't generally expect originality from this show, but I'm unaware of this particular one, and it's pretty good. Misha's good too, she's got a pleasing rasp to her voice and really vamps on the stage. Kelly has a little dance in her seat, and is the first one to get up when Misha sings "ladies, get on your feet" instead of "take care, T-C-B". She even does a little MC-ing breakdown, which I assume actually is an original work, since it involves her own name quite prominently. I like it, though - it's like the sort of thing Cher Lloyd would've done if she hadn't been unrelentingly shit and awful. It's definitely an attention-grabbing performance (as opposed to an attention-seeking performance, though to be honest it's a bit of that as well), and I love it. I'm quite glad I ended up recapping this episode - it's been so much more encouraging than the first one. [She was good. I expect the show to sap all that out of her by the live shows though - Rad]

Tulisa loved Misha's audition and her style, and thinks she was the best audition of the day, whatever day and whatever city this was. Gary thinks we haven't seen a lot of performers with Misha's confidence. Louis thinks this is how you do an audition. Kelly's still dancing in her seat because she's so happy. It's four yeses for Misha, and hooray for that. Misha heads offstage and hugs her auntie before dissolving into tears. The judges are all very excited about Misha. Derwood patronises her relatives.

Coming soon: lots more mental people. And we were doing so well, too.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Why don't you get a job?

Week one: 20 August 2011

Welcome back. I have to say I’m feeling rather nervous, and wondering if replacing the entire Bitch Factor team would have been the way to go this year. I’m not sure any of our nerves can take this.

First things first, the puppets on the TalkTalk bumpers are creepy as fuck. They are going to give me nightmares if they carry on all series. But at least there’s no karaoke.

Time to meet our new judging panel then. Kelly ROWLAND. Tulisa CONTOSTAVLOS. Fuck you Peter Dickson and your inability to pronounce long names. All-new Louis WALSH, now with added swearing! Gary BARLOW!

Other than that, it appears to be business as normal – comedy mentals, people wanting it so much, bland girl bands, boys with identikit hair and O Fortuna. The crappy in-front-of-the-audience auditions are still here, and apparently the judges are still arguing. Joy. *Clutches Dannii autobiography which we were mentioned in tightly*.

Someone wants to be as big as Adele. Given I’m not exactly a skinny girl myself, I will stuff my fist in my mouth here.

Someone else wants to be as big as Usher – why not? Why not indeed? Someone else wants to be bigger than Pink. What is this, 2003?

Dermot welcomes us to London and introduces us to the judges again via the means of helicopter. We see lots of clips of Kelly’s hit records and she blabs that it is hard to ‘stay at the top’ as the male winners of this show weep silently. She lies that this show can find international stars, although I did hear that Jedward were now big in Germany, so, er, whoop?

Tulisa still doesn’t have a surname. Dermot tells us she’s the youngest X Factor judge ever, not like that old hag Cheryl Cole. They only play clips of that Never Ever Get Better N-Dubz song, because that’s probably the only one anyone knows. [I didn't even know that one. - Steve] Louis Walsh is soundtracked by Westlife and lots of Girls Aloud. Didn’t they fall out? [Well, as I understand it, it's a bit generous to say Louis "managed" Girls Aloud. According to Dreams That Glitter, he was their manager in name only for the first few months, and it ended up being Kimberley's job to ring up the record company every couple of days and find out what they were supposed to be doing, and then eventually Hilary Shaw took them on. I know, I need a hobby. - Steve] There are clips of the videos from last year’s mob. Whither Matt Cardle? He smugs about being the ‘last judge standing’ as if it had anything to do with his quality.

Gary tells us his mum will be proud of him being on this show. Oh, Gary’s mum. He wants to find a superstar. He’s looking rather slim, so I’m guessing it’s Robbie’s turn to eat the pies at the moment. [Never forget. - Steve]

Lots of filler as they tell us where they’ll be going for auditions. Liverpool instead of Manchester this year, apparently. If this means we get the sodding Beatles rammed down our throat that week, I won’t be happy.

At the Millennium Dome (I’m too retro to call it the O2), various old people snog and Frankie, a boy who looks like One Direction’s little brother who one day heard a Biffy Clyro album and now thinks he’s indie, reckons himself to be a ladies’ man and smugs about a bit. He’s wearing horrible grotty white sandshoes. He says he’s entered to get ‘lots of girls’ and the audience scream like the soulless shills they are. He’s an unemployed scrounger, which worked well for Matt Cardle, and says he has seven girls’ names tattooed on his bum. He moons to prove he does. Oh show, you are so classy. Tulisa and Kelly egg him on, like two little Sharon Osbournes.
People, this is the FIRST auditionee of the FIRST SHOW. And he’s a giant arse (badumtish).

Gary Barlow asks what his grandchildren will say about the tattoos. [I'm entirely unsurprised that Gary looks at matters from a grandfather's perspective. - Steve] Frankie replies that he doesn’t know why his grandchildren would be looking at his bum. I’ll give him that one. He sings ‘Valerie’. It’s rubbish, although the chorus is better than the verse. Ish. I suppose. It matters not because he’ll be through anyway. His surname, by the way? Cocozza. Like we’d ever get to hear that in the finals. This fucking lazy xenophobic show. Tulisa thinks all the girls will fancy him. Kelly says she likes the ‘bad boys’. Bad in terms of vocal? Because if so, you’re in for a real treat on this show. Gary enjoyed his ‘Rod Stewart’ vocal. Is Gary the new Louis? Louis, robbed of his ‘you remind me of a young…’ line just gets to call him a cheeky chappy. Four yeses. Le sigh. I’m already through my first drink. Louis then tries to reclaim his ctachphrases by telling Gary he’s like a ‘young Robbie’. Given how much Gary hated young Robbie, this can't be a flattering comparison. [Jesus Christ, what a way to start. His voice was even weaker than Lloyd Daniels', and he's such a COCK. Don't even get me started on Kelly offering to pay to be the next name tattooed on his rear. You have let me down, Rowland. - Steve]

Ads. The Inbetweeners Movie. I liked the first two series, wasn’t so keen on series three and am worried I might end up hating myself if I go to see this. Thoughts?

We’re welcomed back and “treated” to some sort of sketch of people in the never-before-seen make-up room pulling faces and arguing. This lasts longer than your average audition. I worry that this says something about the quality of the series, if we’re getting pointless filler like this already.

Oh well, time for our second auditionee. Kitty is the one who everyone’s comparing to Katie Waissel apparently. She’s “26” and says she’s been singing what sounds like ‘cage jobs’ since she was fifteen. That sounds like she’s at the mercy of some pervert, to be honest. She has created her own “brand” called Diva Glam Pop which she’d want to call her album. Girl, Dana International is shaking her head so hard at you right now. We see her putting make-up on in the audition lounge which already reveals the whole WE HAS MAKE UP ROOM NAO skit we just witnessed to be a total fucking sham. I hate this show. She apparently has a ‘team Kitty’ made up of ‘a couple of producers that I like recording with’ as well as make-up artists and choreographers, none of whom seem to be here to represent. FOR SHAME, TEAM KITTY. Oooh, the disembodied voice of a runner actually asks if her make-up artist is here. Breaking that fourth wall there show. So innovative that you can be like the Big Breakfast and all those wacky ‘posse’ radio shows we get thrust upon us first thing in the morning to make us feel terrible about the day ahead.

Her make-up, by the way? Unremarkable and too shiny. Kelly asks her what it’d mean to win the X Factor. Kitty says she’s had a lot of noes in her life and she’ll just give it her best shot. That’s a bit… flat. She said all her friends were working and couldn’t come, but she thinks they were just too scared. Or ‘going to the X Factor audition with someone I know’ isn’t a good enough reason to get the day off work. The caption calls her a ‘singer’. So – unemployed? She’s doing a slowed down version of ‘Edge of Glory’. I can feel Steve’s teeth itching already. She doesn’t pronounce the G in Glory. ['The Edge Of Laurie'. Kind of sounds like an indie film. An erotic indie film. - Steve] Her voice is so average, but she does very loud growly bits which this show always mistakes for emotion, so she’s presumably going to be adored. She really is no Katie – there’s not much personality, not much in the way of forced wackiness… it’s all just very beige.

Kelly psychobabbles about her needing not to lose the girl inside her. Tulisa reads the ‘we don’t really have a Katie Waissel this year but this is the best we have so make out like we do’ script she’s been given, calling her ‘quirky’ and saying she likes to talk a lot. Bugger off, she’s just some bored unemployed girl from Gloucester who thought rocking up to the audition with a ‘diva’ story would get her some camera time, but then couldn’t live up to it very well. [I actually quite liked her in a Weasel-lite sort of way. Her voice is horrible, but she has this excellent Alexandria-from-ANTM quality that could serve us well if she ends up being this year's designated villain. - Steve]

Louis looks a bit old. Has he stopped with the Botox? Gary gives a 100% yes. The others just give a yes. Oh show, if you’re not even going to play the game of ridiculous percentages then what is to be done with you?

Kelly lies that she saw ‘two different people’ in Kitty. You know what I saw? BEIGE. Gary says ‘some of the biggest acts in the world are the most complicated’. Kitty is about as complicated as the two times table.

Lots of footage of people being rubbish which we don’t see. Gary has this year’s grump on about it. It won’t be as fun as that time when Diva Fever made Louis Walsh’s grey life all colourful and gay. Oh help me, I’m almost beginning to defend the abomination that was last year’s shit shower of a show.

Time for our first comedy auditions. Sondesh wants to be like Jay-Z, Lady Gaga and Prince. He’s also unemployed. I’m torn – should I shout ‘get some fucking jobs’ at these auditionees, or blame the government for the unemployment figures meaning these people have nothing better to do with their lives than appear on this show? He does a version of ‘On the Floor’ with some comedy dancing. He leaves clutching a Sainsbury’s carrier bag. 47-year old ‘housewife’ (AKA unemployed) Ellen CHETCUTI squawks through ‘What a Feeling’ and dances badly. Gary says his wife was a dancer and he’s attracted to dancers, but he likes singers more. He’s not really succeeding at channelling Simon with the flirting yet. Lots of LULZ GARY SEZ NO montages. Wendy Davies, 30, ‘full-time-mum’ (AKA unemployed. I’m sensing a theme here) wants to be Britney Spears and screeches her way through that well-known Britney hit, ‘Wuthering Heights’. To be fair, that song can only be performed through the medium of screech so *shrug*.

There isn’t even a person who comes in and turns it all around. I guess they’re saving that for Birmingham or somewhere.

Ads. Creepy toadstool Coca-Cola nonsense. Advertisers are MESSING WITH MY MIND tonight. Guzzle Puzzle porny nonsense (also: lies. I had a packet of them the other day and notsomuch with the old ‘bubblegum’ and ‘cola’ flavourings). Also: ITV think it’s ‘ten years’ since Will Young won Pop Idol. Which is as much a lie as that stupid '1980s' classics ‘Back to Life’ and 'Buffalo Stance' are from the 1990s' lying advert of lies. People making up falsehoods about pop culture history makes me unspeakably angry.

Some mic-ed up runners over-egg their part by telling the judges the next auditionee is feeling sick and it’ll be a few minutes. Yuck, this really is going to be *that* type of show this year, isn’t it? I’m already fearing for the live shows, especially if NotLouis’ commitment to the American show means he won’t be choreographing. Man, I wish we were recapping that series instead. Especially because it hasn’t started yet.

We then see the next auditionee vomiting into a Morrison’s bag. So. Fucking. Classy. Show. Goldie is a Tai Chi instructor. I don’t know if that’s a proper job, but it’s the best we’ve got so far. She reckons she can be as big as Tina Turner. If she means 2010s Tina Turner who hasn’t done anything of note for about twenty years, then maybe. Gary asks if she’s ‘from the area’. This is, I think, meant to be a joke, because hur hur she looks foreign and has a funny accent hur hur. She says she’s from Hong Kong but is based in the North West now. Hmm. Based in the North West, Morrison’s carrier bag. I don’t think we’re in London any more.

Gary asks how old she is and she says ‘half century gone already’. Wow, she looks a good few years younger than 50, so good on her. She says she’s going to sing something called ‘Copper Bell’ and we get the fakeout ‘no-one knows this’ thing with the audience and Dermot backstage with her friends/family and wearing a hideous blue polo neck that makes his suits look good. If this turns out to be some racist ‘ho ho she has a funny accent, she ACTUALLY said ‘Poker Face’’ type joke, I might punch my telly. And seeing as my telly delivers me lovely things like Doctor Who and Only Connect, that would be a shame.

The caption says she is called Goldie Cheung (excellent name) but says she’s 48. So either she’s lying, the caption is lying, or she doesn’t know what a half-century is. She dances madly and already I can see her in the ‘overs’ group at Boot Camp. Her singing voice isn’t actually that bad. I mean, it’s not great, but it’s only The X Factor, she doesn’t need to be great. She sings a song in Chinese (I assume? I feel about as racist as the show for not knowing) and then bends over and waggles her arse. This whole show tonight is a bunch of arse. God, it’s even writing its own jokes now.

Louis pulls the first ‘do you have a second song?’ of the series. It’s ‘Proud Mary’. Louis sings along because hur hur gay anthem. It’s alright, I suppose. It's no Wagner. It's not even Icaro. She’s still the best person tonight. Kelly asks if you love ‘soul artists like Tina Turner, Chaka Khan?’ Not the first two names that I associate with soul, but anyway. Goldie says ‘I love all artists. All of you’. Bloody fence-sitter. At least throw in an ‘except for Cher Lloyd and Olly Murs’. Although to be fair, they would be stretching the term ‘artist’ a bit far. Tulisa thinks she’s original. Louis loves it. Gary feigns grumpiness because this is his appointed role, like all those times when everyone else puts a wacky over-25 through to Boot Camp and Simon says no. The judges, they may change, the script it stays the same. [Gary can fuck right off. What, he's suddenly developed standards since he put Frankie and Kitty through? - Steve]

Kelly racisterviews that ‘once you understand the words coming out of her mouth it could be quite nice’.

You remember in series one and two, you could win the ‘lifestyle’ of Simon or Sharon, but it petered out when it got to series three and no-one would want to win the lifestyle of Louis Walsh? Well it’s back. Only instead of winning the lifestyle of Kelly Rowland (because let’s face it, she’s the only one whose lifestyle might be worth winning), you can win the lifestyle of, erm, Britney Spears. OK? And this is sponsored by... M&S. Because the first place I associate with Britney Spears is that most British of shops. I can just see Britney rocking a slightly-too-loud blouse from Per Una like your auntie who thinks she can pull off the Susan Kennedy look, and eating olive tortillas dipped in Moroccan houmous rather than Dunkin' Donuts or whatever it is that heat magazine tells us she eats when they're having a 'LOL Britney is white trash' week. Sigh. Even this show’s competition misses Dannii. You can also go to Paris, that well-known Britney haunt. But you can watch a Britney show SO THAT’S THE SAME AS LIVING HER LIFE, RIGHT? The guess the missing word clip features some bloke with a guitar singing a girl’s song (‘Baby… One More Time’). I think he might have been on this show once. [Was it Tabby? - Steve]

Ads. Natalie Casey voicing Pizza Hut. Isn’t she due to be on Strictly Come Dancing by now?

Welcome back. They now have a sodding podium for people to dance on and Dermot snarks about them being show-offs, despite this show ACTIVELY ENCOURAGING THIS. I fear about how much rage I am using on this first show. We still have months and months of this ahead of us.

Various people want to be legends. Dermot tells us that some girl with big hair called Jenna (although apparently it’s Janet and he can’t pronounce for toffee) finds it hard to stand out in the crowd because she IS SO HUMBLE. She blahterviews about how LITTLE CONFIDENCE she has. She’s from Northern Ireland, from a SMALL TOWN in the COUNTRYSIDE like Lucie Jones who came from the middle of nowhere despite living on the outskirts of Cardiff. She is wearing a truly dreadful cardigan, but she’s incredibly pretty so it’s not exactly Susan Boyle we’ve got here. She’s doing ‘Your Song’ and is very Ellie Goulding. But we already have one of those, and she already did this song. Way to make yourself stand out, Janet. Her voice is OK in places, but then in other places she puts on a fake little girl voice, which is a tic I especially hate. She also exaggerates her accent a bit, but as someone who adored The Cranberries, I’d be a hypocrite to complain about that. I do wish she’d sung Promises instead. A pretty sixteen-year old going on about tying kids with heroin eyes to the bed and cleaning their heads would have been a bit more interesting.

The audience whoop like fools and Kelly blabs about how beautiful her voice is. Everyone loves her, obviously. She has nice eyes, I guess. She looks like she should be in Dorothy Farm or something though. The Moulin Rouge version of ‘Your Song’ plays. They choose the bit where Ewan McGregor goes really tuneless, presumably to make Janet’s version sound better. [Oh, this made me so very angry. It was practically a note-for-note cover of Ellie Goulding's version with a few Claw-esque affectations on top with absolutely nothing of substance to it, and already people are wetting themselves over her on Twitter. Then again, around this time last year everyone was all "have you seen Cher Lloyd? BEST AUDITION EVER, STAR OF THE FUTURE", which I was similarly baffled by and...well, look what happened there. - Steve]

Ads, because it has been so very long since we last had any of these. Marc Warren being an annoying twat. Spy Kids “4D”, which looks like the worst film of the summer – and I say this having seen the Horrid Henry trailer six times.

Roxy, from Essex, works in Domino’s. Someone with a job, hooray. She says, in the most uncomfortable way possible, that she ‘slaps’ the pizza. She’s not at all been made to say that by a producer so Gary can uncomfortably say ‘she’s from Essex and she’s a slapper’. This show, it demeans Roxy, it demeans Gary, it demeans me having to type that and you having to watch it. She warbles through something that I think might have been ‘Georgia on My Mind’ but was essentially just one annoying warble with little tune. Kelly says she and Tulisa will have to fight over her because Kelly has no idea how this show works. That, or they’ve changed the category assignment process.

The show is one hour and four minutes in… and we have a group. I guess that’s going to be the strongest category for the eighth year in a row then? *Double thumbs up*
SOSO Status blush that Destiny’s Child inspire them and they’re doing a slowed down (sigh) version of ‘Do it Like a Dude’. Their harmonies are pretty dodgy but there might be one or two of them that can sing and the others can just be their woo woo dolls. They look charmingly ramshackle and kind of cute. This show will slick all that out of them and make them a bland girlband who get sent home at judges’ houses, so I refuse to care.

Heshima, 24, “singer” (AKA unemployed) does a decent ‘OMG’, from the one line we hear of it. He dances a lot, which is apparently his “thing”. Gary says ‘he is off the chart. Can you imagine, just a nip and a tuck?’ Given he’s a lanky beanpole of a man, I don’t know what Gary’s thinking needs surgery. Louis says he needs a haircut, because he has an afro and that’s only cool and edgy on this show when it belongs to a white guy, which Heshima is not.

Dermot reminds us of a group called ‘Triple Trouble’ who were awful in 2009. I don’t remember a thing about them. George who was in that group says he was awful and now he can take criticism without getting angry. He’s grown up, matured and wants to do something with his life. Bet you anything he hasn’t got a job. That I can see exactly where this is going makes me want to weep. I'm half tempted to write this blog without even seeing the episode next time - I bet I'd get it spot on, other than the contestants' names, and I can just google those. His surname sounds exotic so he’s not getting through.

Tulisa unconvincingly reads off her script of lies that she knows him: ‘he’s the one that slammed the mic down and told Simon to shut up’. The audience boo, like they wouldn’t all dream of telling Simon to shut up. George blahs about how much he’s changed in that horrible faux Jamaican ‘street’ accent the young people of today adopt. /old /patronising. George’s surname is GERASIMOU. Bet you can’t guess what his occupation is.

He does a terrible version of something I don’t know that seems to be called ‘Give Me Everything’ and it goes on far too long to be comfortable for anyone. He goes into the audience and it takes forever for someone to stop the music. He whines about the music stopping and another runner over-eggs his part by pushing him back on the stage for the audience to shout ‘Off Off Off’. George says ‘don’t start’ although he’s not giving off half the angry vibe this show wants him to have. The judges all tell him he’s angry and aggressive and Gary sells he’s matured like an old curry. His level of arrogance and anger is so lame in comparison to previous contestants. He then says he’s going to speak and snits about Tulisa replacing Cheryl. He then calls her ‘some scumbag from the block’ (like Jenny?) and swears at her. Thing is, he’s an unpleasant little scrote but he wasn’t being like that until the show deliberately goaded him into it. He calls her a dog offstage and Dermot goes ‘don’t call girls that’, the chivalrous hero that he is. Dermot’s done next-to-nothing today. As have the groups. We’ve only seen one all show. [For what it's worth, my friend was at the auditions that day and she said they cut a lot of it out - apparently he was really going for Tulisa, and Kelly basically stood up and went mad at him. I wish we'd seen that. - Steve] [The producers clearly knew he'd kick off, then they goaded him. They shouldn't have put him on. But then we could say the same about everyone, I guess - Rad]

Coming up – a load of old toot and Louis crying. Next week I’ll be in a field getting pissed, but poor old Steve will be here suffering along with you. It’s going to be a long, long journey until Christmas, folks.