Wednesday, September 28, 2011

These boots were made for squawking

Boot Camp, Part 2: 25th September 2011

PREVIOUSLY: 187 acts came to boot camp, and everybody did a lot of yelping, though only some of this was judged to be "good yelping" by the panel. As a general rule, I find it best not to try to work out how they determine this; last time I tried I woke up in Putney with a pounding headache and wearing nothing but my underpants. Only 61 of those acts made it through the impenetrable elimination process. "Tonight!" exclaims Peter Dickson. "It's the boot camp finale!" Calm down, dude, it's only two episodes long in the first place. The contestants will be facing a new challenge: performing to an audience of 5000 in Wembley Arena. Oh, great: so now not only are the auditions in front of an unnecessary audience, but now boot camp is as well? Where will it end? Will there be live audiences watching the producers filter out the initial applicants? Live audiences in the production meetings? Live audiences at ITV HQ on Monday morning where they celebrate the arrival of the ratings with a bottle of bubbly? (Bubbly's in the fridge, by the way.) END THIS MADNESS NOW [Maybe in a new SHOCK! TWIST! there won't be any audiences in the live shows? Please? - Rad]. Only those who succeed will make it to judges' houses, and win that all important trip to Dublin with Louis. Also tonight: the judges find out who they're mentoring. They should've looked on the internet; the rest of us knew weeks ago.

Titles. Giant X is knocked out of orbit by a piece of satellite debris. Oops.

Derwood tells us that we're at Wembley Arena, which is unnecessary because Peter Dickson already told us that less than a minute ago. Arsetat is the first to get a confessional interview: "It's just so exciting, sometimes I have to sit here and think 'I'm actually at boot camp'." Presumably all that thinking about being at boot camp is what's been distracting him from having a wash. For about the past four years. Amelia waffles on about having been born ready for The X Factor, which is at once deeply sad and oddly plausible. Derwood reminds us that there is an audience of 5,000 people. Again: Peter Dickson has already told us this. If there's ever a round of redundancies on this show, I think Derwood's just demonstrated he should be first out the door. Lots of people in varying degrees of twattish headgear discuss being either excited or terrified or both. Derwood, in his first piece of non-redundant information, tells us that all 61 acts will perform, but only 32 will make it to judges' houses.

Before we can begin proceedings, all the contestants are called onto the stage to hear from the judges. Louis tells them that this is make-or-break and everything for them depends on this performance. Tulisa says that the panel need to see emotion in their performances. Borelow tells them all to stand out and make the song their own: "Do your version of the song you're going to sing." Because it's not like half of this year's frontrunners got through their initial audition with a note-for-note cover or anything. Fuck you, Borelow. Kelly is not permitted to speak. [I demand a recount - Helen]

Up first is Misha Bryan, otherwise known as the only chance this show has of producing an entertaining and original pop star. Which means she'll probably finish about 9th if she makes live shows. She's taking a risk with her performance: there's a self-penned rap at the start which is all about her life. Remember last year, when Cher Lloyd "wrote her own rap" at boot camp? And it just involved reading out the contents page of Us Weekly and then repeatedly saying "bells-a-ring-a-ding-a-dinging"? Then you can understand why I am nervous right now. A tearful Misha says that she's never been so ready in her life. She's singing 'Survivor', plus aforementioned self-penned rap. The good news is, it's pretty awesome. The rap's a little on-the-nose and could use some finessing, but it flows well, scans properly, and gives Misha a chance to sing tunefully, which puts her three counts ahead of Cher Lloyd. This entire performance, actually, is one giant middle finger directed at Cher Lloyd, who only wishes she could jagger some swagger like this. Having said all of that, I hope Misha doesn't do this sort of thing every week, because it strikes me as the sort of thing that could become massively self-indulgent if you don't keep it in check. Eventually, she gets on to the actual 'Survivor' part of the song, doing the Michelle Williams middle-eight bit, which is pretty good, and Kelly throws her hand up in the air, waving it around like she just don't care. Afterwards, Kelly likes that Misha did something different and original with the song, and Louis loves the effort that she put into her performance. Gary has liked her every time he's seen her. Tulisa, on the other hand, didn't see her as a contender - UNTIL NOW. [Oh spare me the utter, utter tedium of manufactured drama - Helen]

Montage of people who are not as good as Misha: Chelsea Redfern, singing 'True Colours' in a manner that leaves me indifferent, but Gary and Louis are impressed. Amelia Lily is dressed like Katie Waissel's less cool younger sister (seriously, just imagine that for a while) and bleats her way through Pink's 'Nobody Knows'. Gary thinks it's 'incredible', and Tulisa says that Amelia makes her want to mentor the girls. More people who get about one note's worth of screentime, and the editing effect on them all together is somewhat cacophonous. Jade Richards has still stolen Caitlin Moran's hair and is also singing 'Nobody Knows', better than Amelia but not enough to make me care, or to make me forgive her for trying to be Britain's Next Top Adele. Louis thinks Jade doesn't know how good she is. I suspect she does, Louis, or she would not have applied to be on this show. Melanie McCabe is an intense perfectionist (these people are my people, so I can't judge) and howls 'Feeling Good' into the room, looking quite old and a bit mental in the process. The judges love her, though. She cries all over Derwood afterwards that it was "the best thing I've ever done in my whole life", which tells you all sorts of deeply tragic thing about Melanie McCabe's life. Now there's a sob story that's yet to be fully exploited: "My life is so empty that being on this awful show is my personal peak."

Adverts. I'm recapping this using the STV Player, so they are for a lot of Scottish things, and also Daz. [Did you learn about BARREN FIFE? - Helen]

After that, we're back in Wembley, waiting for the next act to take the stage. Those who have not been on yet are rehearsing in the dressing rooms, in front of mirrors. Next up is David Wilder who, we are reminded, sang 'Life On Mars' at his audition and ran all around the arena like a crazy person, and provided yet another reason why live audiences at auditions are a deeply flawed concept. David hams it up for the cameras and discusses himself in the third person. He runs onto the stage like every glam rock cliché you've ever seen in your life and attempts to work the room, snubbing Gary Barlow in the process. If that was a bid for my affections...well, mission accomplished. He's going to sing 'The Edge Of Glory' by Lady Gaga, poorly. He stops mid-song to run up to the judges and inform Gary that this is the biggest gig he's ever done in his life, but he also wants to make clear that he's the greatest unsigned songwriter in this country. Gary's all "yes, dear". On returning to the stage, David finds himself being booed by the audience and attempts to counter it with a glory note. Or an Edge Of Glory note, if you prefer. It seems to work, sort of. The judges thank David very much for coming, and Gary declares himself confused by the reaction of the crowd. THEN GET RID OF THE CROWD. Louis points out that at least he's getting a reaction. Derwood asks David if he thinks he's through, and David replies that he thinks he's "a contender".

Montage of further delusional fools employing cheap tactics: Chrissie Pitt sings 'One' on top of the judges' table to distract from her off-key singing. Gary is not hoodwinked by such tactics. Francis Cardoso (Brian Friedman with an '80s surfer perm) sings an acoustic version of 'Survivor' and does a bit of interpretive dance with it. The crowd is unimpressed. Gary, in an early bid for Cunt Of The Year, looks at the production notes on the table and sneers "let me just check, OH YES I DID SAY NO IN THE AUDITION". You've also said yes to all manner of utter shit, Barlow, so don't go thinking your copybook is thus far unblotted. Outside, Francis cries on Derwood. Kendro are inexplicably still here and are also next, and sing an original composition entitled 'Do The Kendro'. I think it is not entirely unfair to say that no one watching, either in the room or on the television, wishes to do the Kendro. Because audience members on this show have impossibly low standards, they get cheered and applauded. Borelow still hates them, which is good. Kelly uses his dislike of Kendro to sonically torture him, which is even better.

You know who is about to school all of these bitches in the art of grabbing attention? Kitty Brucknell, that's who. Kitty admits that she couldn't pay her rent after buying this costume, which cost £2,000. Let me point out here that it is a leotard that does not contain £2,000 worth of fabric [Topped off with a cardigan. That, ladies and gentlemen, is CLASS - Helen]. She regales us with some of her performance art ideas, and the show clearly wants us to hate her guts, but I don't care: I am totally Team Kitty. A Kitty/Misha/2 Shoes final would suit me just fine. She takes to the stage, and tells Louis it would mean everything to her to get through to the next round. She's singing 'Feeling Good' and begins perched on the piano. She's still not a great singer (though she's a better singer than Katie Weasel or Cher Lloyd ever were), but she noodles along quite contendedly in her own little world, putting on one hell of a show, ripping off her jacket and revealing that her teeny leotard contains lighting strips that flash, thereby explaining (if not necessarily justifying) the cost of construction. The crowd love it. Tulisa awards her 10/10 for effort, and Kelly thinks "you cannot deny looking at her". Gary admits he can't stop looking at her (staring at her, be what she be, etc). Kitty tells Derwood she isn't sure the audience gets her, but "it takes a lot to break the norm, and I really don't care." It's all shamelessly affected, and I adore her. TEAM KITTY FTW.

When we return from another ad break, Derwood reminds us where we all are again, and leads us into a montage of people who are, unsurprisingly, feeling nervous. Unfortunately, this is all leading up to the reappearance of Arsetat - and in case we've forgotten, we're "treated" to a flashback of his first audition in which he sang poorly, got his bum out, and attempted to singlehandedly crush the feminist movement. Frankie interviews that he's always wanted to be a "famous artist". There's a suspicious audio dip between the two words that leads me to wonder if the word "piss" wasn't between them at some point. Arsetat walks onto the stage, and Kelly leans back in her chair. "Hello Frankie," she purrs. "We're not going to see any of your butt today, are we?" "Not unless you want to," Arsetat replies, and I just hate everyone involved with this entire wretched sequence right now. Arsetat is to sing 'Iris' by the Goo Goo Dolls, because it's one of those songs that people who don't know much about music think is cool, because they don't know it's been covered by Ronan Keating. Arsetat hisses his way through it affectedly, and something about the look on his face makes me think that he, not Kitty, is this year's Katie Waissel. It's all faux-earnestness and a transparent desperation for approval. Arsetat finishes and leaves the stage, getting mobbed by a girl sitting in the front row in the process. I would like to find this girl and sit down and have a very long talk with her about how actions like this are setting her up for a whole world of disappointment. Louis thinks he's got charisma, but Gary and Kelly think his voice needs to be stronger.

Montage of hipster dickheads getting panties thrown at them. Seriously, if this show just had a blanket "no hats" rule, they could spare us all from watching a lot of tossers. James Michael performs an absolutely appalling rendition of 'The First Cut Is The Deepest', all hoots and squeaks and no soul whatsoever. He sings it with a big grin on his face, for fuck's sake. Kelly thinks he's handsome. Joe Cox is, as previously established, the bastard lovechild of Olly Murs and Jeff Brazier, and is possibly the most shamelessly affected performer to poison this show since the heady days of The Claw, since his performance of 'Iris' is 99% spasms and 1% actual singing. An idiot grabs him on his way back to Dermot and screams "I want you to win!", demonstrating more so than ever why anyone who voluntarily goes to a live X Factor performance should have their music buying privileges revoked permanently. Marcus Collins yelps 'Kiss From A Rose' but is less offensive about it than most of the other people in this montage. John Adams/Ezra Fitz sings 'Nobody Knows' and still has no neck. John Wilding goes for the cheap vote with 'When Love Takes Over' and is wearing a hat, so he is officially disqualified. "I want the boys!" declares Gary at the end of this. "I want them more!" replies Louis. And I think we all agree that joke is beneath us, so let's move on, shall we? The Keys sing an absolutely appallingly-harmonised version of Taio Cruz's 'Dynamite', but no one cares because they're all well fit innit.

Enough of this shit: let's get to the really good stuff. It's Goldie! (Or, if I may quote the marvellous Heidi Stephens, Goldie Lookin' Cheung. We're reminded of her amazing first audition, and she talks about how she's been surprising herself so far. I have to say, when I read the reports that Goldie had pulled out of the show I was sad, but not as sad as I was when I read it was because she'd realised she was a joke contestant. I genuinely thought she'd been in on the whole thing from the beginning. I don't know what to believe in any more. Anyway, Goldie worries why Gary didn't like her at her first audition: "I'm so friendly, I won't bite - I'm not a tiger, I'm not a leopard. I'm only a Chinese woman, a little bit." Erm, quite. Goldie will be singing 'Feelin' Good'. She has entirely invented her own lyrics/melody/time signature, and she climbs onto the piano, which is being played by a man whose general handsomeness was being largely appreciated by the good users of Twitter. I assume he will be heat magazine's Torso Of The Week any day now. Handsome Pianist enjoys Goldie, anyway, as we all do. Gary rests his head on the desk, the better to reveal his thinning hair. Goldie leaves the stage and goes to embrace Gary, but pulls back. He then leaves his seat, and she chases him around the arena. As this was broadcast, I knew that someone watching was bound to edit the Benny Hill wacky sax over it and put it on YouTube, and lo and behold. Ideally it would've been sped up and maybe looped a few times, but the basic idea is there at least. Eventually Goldie catches Gary and gets her embrace. Kelly loves Goldie, and cannot see the competition without her. Gary is concerned, because he sucks.

Competition: Cher Lloyd honking her way through 'Empire State Of Mind', including the line "there's nothing I can't do". Except, you know, sing in tune. Or put a sensible outfit together. Or behave with dignity on Twitter.

On our return, we're reminded that the decision was made to create more mutant groups from the offcuts of the solo artists. Quite why they don't just do this from the very beginning these days is a mystery to me. There are now six new groups, who've had roughly 24 hours to put together a career-saving performance, and the first group is Nu Vibe, who look like H&M threw up on them. They're very much of the One Direction school of "pretending we've been a group for ages, even though there is still much bitter resentment under the surface". Tulisa asks them how it's going, and one of them bores on about the music coming together. They're doing 'Grenade' by Bruno Mars, and unfortunately for them, any group performance of this song on a talent show must be judged in comparison to this one, and they are found wanting. By me, anyway. Their harmonies are decidedly wobby, and in going for the whole acoustic vibe, they've drained the entire performance of any energy it might've had. Also, the guy who has the first line of the chorus really cannot sing at all. He'd do well to become the Tiny Nicholas Hoult of this group if they continue in the competition. Gary thinks they were the surprise of the day, and Louis thinks they definitely have the look, because obviously that's his primary concern. Oh, Louis.

Montage of Frankenstein's Groups: the hilariously named Faux Pas justify their name with an ill-thought-out Cher Lloyd-ified version of 'Survivor', The Lovettes do a saccharine version of 'When Love Takes Over', The Risk do 'Yeah 3X' by Chris Brown (BOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!) and Gary is impressed with what they've achieved in a small amount of time. Misfits (not to be confused with Miss Fitz, or indeed with Miss Frank) sing a scat version of 'True Colours', but the panel doubts their chemistry, and Orion also have a go at 'Yeah 3X' but their attempt looks seriously under-rehearsed.

Up next is 50-year-old scaffolder Terry Winstanley, aka Brookstein 2011. He interviews that he didn't have as much time to prepare his upcoming performance as he would've liked (thereby indicating that he is totally ready for the hand-to-mouth nature of the live shows). He continues that if he doesn't make it this time, he's never singing again. Fingers crossed, everyone! He's singing 'One', and sings it exactly like a pub singer would. He fluffs his lyrics, and tries to cover by getting the audience to sing along, a trick Gary must surely recognise from years of working with Robbie Williams. After his performance, Terry is lost for words. Louis is disappointed, and Gary is "gutted". Terry thinks he might as well go home now. Tulisa: "I'm devastating." If you say so, Tules.

More adverts? Don't mind if I do.

On our return, we must face Janet Devlin, whom I loathe. She's the little shithead who did the note for note cover of the Ellie Goulding cover of 'Your Song' and somehow got praised for being a fresh talent in the process. Of all the heinous copycat contestants this year, she's by far the most insidious. Also, as the excellent Kat pointed out on Twitter, Janet's own Twitter bio reads like that of an arsehole. Janet interviews that it is the biggest thing she's ever done, because she's, like, six. She has apparently picked a song that Means A Lot To Her. It is 'I Don't Want To Miss A Thing' by Aerosmith. Oh yeah, she's that girl. She probably thinks the Twilight books totally speak to her as well. Janet squeaks a vague approximation of the song. I really wish that someone would force her to down a pint of water to cure her of those damned hiccups. And that someone would refer her to a speech therapist to get all that sibilance sorted out. The audience, as they have been trained to do, applaud every time she does a loud bit. It finishes, and Kelly mouths something at Janet. Kelly is smiling, so whatever she was saying, it's probably not the same thing that I'm mouthing at the TV right now. Just to add insult to injury, they cue up Ellie Goulding's 'The Writer' to pay over Janet's triumphant exit. This fucking show, I swear to God. Gary thinks she sings everything like he's never heard the song before. Oh, COME ON. Even a whack to the back of the head with a two-by-four would never make anyone think they'd never heard 'I Don't Want To Miss A Thing' before. Louis thinks Janet is "the one to beat in this competition". I agree, and plan to do so with sharpened sticks. Janet simpers at Derwood.

Montage of people who apparently did well: Lascel Wood, singing 'Angel'. Sian Phillips (no, not that one) sings 'Feelin' Good'. Sophie Habibis has the worst diction in the world, but Kelly wants her to sing at her hypothetical wedding. If I went to Kelly Rowland's wedding, and the singing was not being done by Beyoncé and Michelle Williams, I would be asking some serious questions. Johnny Robinson hits a shaky falsetto. Craig Colton is horribly out of tune. And seriously - these are 20 second clips of the performances, which I assume were the best bits. Sami Brookes swallows 'Grenade' whole, and begs the audience to cheer loudly for her in the hope of convincing the judges to put her through. It's kind of gross. That's it for the performances - now the judges are left with the task of pointing at some photographs.

While the judges deliberate, the contestants spout trite soundbites about how this is their only chance, how they're totally in it for the music, and so on. Meanwhile, vague phrases about individual performances are heard from the judges, with helpful pictures to illustrate who we're supposed to think they mean. The judges bicker. Kelly seems to be more reluctant than most to put certain people through, which is rather unexpected. It goes on forever, and there is literally nothing in this section that is worth preserving for the ages, so let's just say that they come to a conclusion and work on. Kelly says: "It's time to deliver the news." I would love Kelly Rowland to deliver the news, on BBC1 at 10pm. I think I would find her authoritative yet reassuring.

After the last ad break, it's time for the results to be made public. The boys' category is the first one to learn their fate, with only eight progressing to judges' houses. First through is Twitchy Joe. Then Arsetat. God, this category is a trainwreck. Luke Lucas is next, then John Wilding, then Marcus Collins, then Max (who?), then James Michael, and the final boy through is Craig Colton. Notable faces cut at this point include Lascel, and Ezra Fitz, who is wearing red trousers and unfastened braces, and is therefore no loss whatsoever. Lascel vows not to give up.

Up next are the groups. Those remaining in the competition are: The Lovettes, Girl Vs Boy, Nu Vibe, The Keys, 2 Shoes (hooray!), The Risk, and The Estrelles. I don't think I've ever seen Girl Vs Boy before [me neither, I'm surprised boy/girl duos can still get this far nowadays when it's all about the girl groups/boy groups - all those fake bands, and not one was mixed-sex - Rad], and The Estrelles are similarly a mystery to me. Kelly tells everyone else to leave. Kendro take it poorly, as you might expect. EXCEPT! This fuckery is not over yet, because that's only seven groups. Instead, they've decided to take some of the groups they constructed from the leftover soloists, split them up AGAIN and build another new girl group from the castoffs of the groups so they can get eliminated in week one of the live shows. Seriously, why even bother? So four people are called back: Jessie Nelson, Perri Edwards, Jade Thurwell and Leanne Pinnock. Kelly tells them that they're a new group now, and they're through. Or at least she tells them the first bit and then screams, leaving Tulisa to clarify what's going on.

Then we have the over-25s. Going through are: Sami, Joseph, Carolynne, Goldie, Jonjo, Johnny, Terry and Kitty. I genuinely didn't realise until this moment that Kitty was one of the overs - I just assumed she was in with the girls. Anyway, ever the drama queen, Kitty drops to the floor and weeps, promising the judges that she'll make them proud. Everyone else is sent home, including David Wilder and Michelle what wasted her life having children.

Last to be put through are the girls. Those with a place at judges' houses are: Amelia, Misha, Polly, Drunk Sophie, Sybilant Janet, Jade, Sian and Melanie, who has only ever been awful in what I've seen of her. *shrugs*

The final 32 are unleased into a room together to see who else made it to this stage of the competition, and there is much screaming and hugging. All that remains at this point is to discover who will be mentoring which group. The contestants are shepherded into various holding rooms in a posh hotel while the judges travel to meet them. For some bizarre reason, Tulisa wants the groups. Gary does not want the groups or the overs. Louis would like the boys, but doesn't care as long as he doesn't have the bloody groups. The first reveal is Gary, who's got...the boys. He tells them he's going to be on them 24 hours a day. Insert your own Louis Walsh joke here. They're off to LA for the next stage of the competition. John and his hipster hairdo and stupid hat are very excited.

Next up, Louis opens his door to discover he's got...the overs! Again. He's happy enough about it, though. They're going to Dublin! No, not really, they're going to Barcelona. I miss when he always took them to Dublin, though. Kelly gets the girls, and screams loudly. She instructs them to have confidence and win this, and to communicate with her at all hours of the day. Kelly is very very lucky she didn't join this show a year earlier and get Cher Lloyd as a mentee if she's going to start saying things like that. They're off to Miami for her judges' houses stage. So this means Tulisa has the groups, and there is a ridiculous number of people in her room. She's taking them all to Camden! Kidding. They're all going to Greece. Shame, I wish they'd gone to the actual house we saw on Being NDubz. Tulisa vows to be the first judge to win with a group. Yeah, good luck with that one. Derwood says "Mykonos" to 2Shoes and confuses them thoroughly. They call him "Derm", which still amuses me.

Next weekend: judges' houses! Stress, and crying, and Arsetat clawing at his ridiculous hairdo like he's got nits. Which isn't that remote a possibility, to be fair. Helen and Ruth will be here to guide you through it, while I take a week off to prepare for recapping the three-and-a-half-hours' worth of shows the following weekend. *sobs*

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Putting the boot in

Boot Camp: Week 6, Part 1

Broadcast 24 September 2011

So the torturing of the mentally ill and the smashing of young dreams is mainly over. We are just smashing the dreams of the moderately talented now at Boot Camp. Instead of the brilliant and the terrible, we just have the brilliant and the mediocre. How exciting. [We have the brilliant? - Steve] Stretched out over two nights too.

We have the obligatory “they came in their thousands” speech and see the judges with the fire behind them. The ‘Next Generation’ of judges which is basically ‘Saved By The Bell, The New Class’ starring Louis Walsh as Screech. Montage of the good and the bad. We’re promised new highs and crashing and burning. We see Tulisa being told to shut up again and Louis Walsh telling someone they can’t sing. 187 acts are left. I87 ironically being the US penal code for murder. There was a film with Samuel L Jackson in it and everything.

One thing stands in the way of these 187 acts. BOOT CAMP. It’s a double bill. There’s a party, hot tub and promises of the MOST BRUTAL BOOT CAMP EVER. There’s a Minority report wall of faces and EVERYTHING. These 187 are going to be cut down to 32 and some people are not happy about it.

“Great isn’t good enough” warns Tulisa ominously, “these people are going to have to be amazing”

It’s time to face the music!

*Solves the banking crisis during the titles*

We see a shot of the O2 and the Gherkin, so we must be in London. Dermot welcomes us and we see everyone get ready to leave their houses for that London. Someone has a really dirty bathroom tap. JadefromFife tells us that she’s never seen big buildings before. I’m sure she’s lying. I’m from near Fife and there’s plenty. She’s used to fields and sheep. Someone has never been away from home before. ArseTattoo’s dad wishes him luck and he feels that every day he’s a little closer. Misha seems to be taking part in the world’s most ridiculous weave competition, and tells us that she can’t believe that she’s in bootcamp. Kitty Belter will do anything to stay in the competition. Luke Lucas says that singing is his life, Derry KellyStalker tells us that performing is his life and he doesn’t want to go back to Burger King. The soldier who thinks that the X Factor is WORSE THAN WAR [in fairness, he might be right, just not in the way he thinks - Steve] can’t believe that he’s here. Lascel BipolarMum wants to tell everyone that he is someone and this is his one opportunity and he doesn’t want to blow it.

The number of acts has gone down to 186 during the titles. Perhaps someone has died of boredom? Dermot tells us the acts are being delivered to a luxury hotel in the outskirts of London (Croydon, the glamour) and that during bootcamp they will face a series of challenges and at the end, only 32 will survive. It’s not all bad though, there’s a welcome party been laid on for them “by the judges” where they will get a chance to mingle.

Party montage! Stacey Duomon are living the dream. There’s a chocolate fountain and everything. Some random people without interesting stories talk about how great it is. Dermot tells us that this is the chance to size up the competition. I hope this means contestants spiking each other’s drinks and engineering some falling on faces. The hairdresser from a couple of weeks ago reminds us that it’s nice to make friends but he’s here to do a job. It’s just like a normal party, except there’s cameras everywhere.

BUT, THERE’S DRAMA AFOOT. On the other side of London the judges are worrying that there may be a few too many people in bootcamp. Gary interviews that they’ve seen hundreds of people and not everyone at bootcamp deserves to be there. Tulisa thinks she may have been swept up in the moment with some people and some of the people she put through weren’t amazing. Louis just goes for the more straightforward “we are reviewing the tapes and we’re going to send some people home”. It comes to something when Louis Walsh is the voice of sense. Kelly goes off on a tangent about the music industry being tough and now it’s time to get serious.

At 10.05pm precisely the judges file into a room to watch every single audition tape and make cuts before boot camp has even started. Gary steps into the voice of sense role and basically makes a big deal out of saying that they’re now grading on a curve. There’s a big touch screen with all the auditions loaded on to it. They go through it and shout about who they love. [Although this was ridiculous, it was worth it for the amazing touch screen. That needed more screen time - Rad]

Cut to Goldie throwing some awesome shapes on the dancefloor and Dermot giving us the Voiceover of DOOM saying that they’re blissfully unaware that their place isn’t guaranteed. Kendro – All similarities to Jedward are entirely coincidental are getting drunk. Another lady COMPLETELY BY ACCIDENT has her bikini on under her clothes and shouts that she’s getting in the pool. It’s not a pool, pet, it’s a hot tub. NuBo man says he’s not getting in the tiny hot tub because the guys that are getting in look like Chippendales and he looks like a chipolata. Luke Lucas stands by the hot tub watching the girls frolic, marvelling that all of his masturbatory fantasies have come true and filling up the wank bank. He bites his fist and tells us how happy he is.

45 minutes later and the judges are STILL REVIEWING all the auditions. This mainly consists of them rubbishing all the auditions and wondering what they were thinking.

At 11.35pm PRECISELY lots of the acts decide that it might not be a good idea to get pissed and party all night. One group are all in one room together, like the Monkees, and sit round the mini kettle to rehearse. Frankie ArseTattoo gets a room number texted to him before jumping in the hot tub fully clothed. Cue lots of snogging in corners.

At 11.46PM, or thereabouts, the judges are STILL making cuts. They’ve put ONE HOUR AND ONE MINUTE into these decisions. Gary says that “if we had a record with that face on it, it would have a reduced price tag”. Yes Gary, because you’ve always been HOT STUFF. There’s a group montage. They are mostly terrible. Gary reasons that by getting rid of a lot of the dead wood it gives them more time to work on what’s left. There’s a table full of people that are going home. Louis asks the group if they’re happy with that. Gary only wants to work with winners. That’s why he had Howard Donald and Jason Orange in his band. Er...He thinks they’ve made the right decision because none of the table faces are going to win. Everyone agrees. There will be over forty acts cut tomorrow. Gary doesn’t care though, he’s looking for cars. Kelly and Tulisa basically say the same thing. Louis says it’s going to be the toughest bootcamp in X Factor history. O RLY?

Advertising break. The “Terribly Clever” range really taps into the pretentious part of your customer base, doesn’t it, M&S?

We’re back. It’s 9am and Dermot’s been sent to Croydon, which is a bit like being sent to Coventry, only slightly less classy. Dermot tells us about the party and reminds us that the judges are about to deliver a bombshell. Montage of people telling us they don’t know what to expect, including a girl in a Cowardly Lion costume. Someone in a checked shirt and rosary beads says, and let me get this verbatim to see if it makes any more sense written down, “I’m more apprehensive about what we’re going to be doing. I don’t, I don’t, not nervous about what we’re doing but just wanna know what we have to do”. Answers on a postcard.

Dermot reminds us that the audition tapes have been reviewed and the contestants are being put into groups. Samantha cruise ship has come as a Red Indian stereotype and tells us that she’s a walking cliché. I could have told her that. Everyone is standing on the lawn in four groups as the judges exit their separate cars.

Louis welcomes them all to bootcamp. Tulisa tells them it’s down to business, cos she’s the LADY BOSS. She’s there to find a worldwide star and it’s time to make some decisions. Kelly tells them that whilst they were partying, the judges were rewatching the auditions and there are some very talented people and the bar is set high. Gary, as if he’s telling everyone to get on with it, tells the assembled hopefuls that the judges don’t believe everyone that is on the lawn stands a chance of winning. Lots of shocked faces. Gary tells them that it’s been a tough decision and some are going home right now. Chrissie Sisterhood Betrayer cries.

Kelly points to the group on the far left. Her far left, just to make things more confusing for the assembled hoards. They are staying. ArseTattoo is sadly in that group. The group on Tulisa’s far right get a bit of a fakeout but they are staying. This group contains Kendro. The group to the left of centre, Gary’s left that is, are going home. Cue blonde Brian Cox blowing a kiss. Dermot heads into the loserpile to do some hugging. I don’t recognise anyone who’s going, apart from the cowardly lion.

Tulisa talks about how hard it was whilst Louis and Gary are all they were shit anyway, love, pull yourself together. But someone’s not happy about going home and that man is 24 year old Curtis Ray White who roams the hotel like an angry ghost from The Shining demanding to talk to the judges. He shouts at the world’s most uncomfortable looking runner that he just wants an explanation and that reviewing the tapes isn’t an explanation. He wants to know WHY. Gary and Kelly come out with a massive security guard to explain to him. He fronts out Gary Barlow and asks why he’s been sent home without an opportunity to show what he could do. I’m sensing he doesn’t want to hear “because you’re shit”. Gary tells him that the opportunity was his audition and there were people better than him and they don’t want to lead him on for a week if he’s not going to make it. “it’s a tough business” says Louis, Les McQueen style. “It’s a tough LIFE” says Curtis. Now you know what to do for your next audition, don’t you? Tulisa puts her best street voice on and tells him that they did see something in him, but other acts were stronger. Louis tells him that it’s not the end, and Curtis agrees. The judges go back into the hotel and make faces. Curtis is placated and now he knows what he’s got to do. He’s coming back. The losers leave.

The remaining contestants are still on the lawn. Kelly does the obligatory “the winner is here” speech. Louis warns them that they’ve just seen how tough he’s willing to be. Gary gives them their challenge. They’re going to put them into groups because he’s a great believer in working with other people. Kelly tells them that although they’ve got to work as groups they’ve got to shine as individuals. Gary warns them to spend their time wisely because they’re performing at Wembley later. So a big chunk of that time they’ve got to spend wisely will be spent on a two hour drive across London? Still, they got a good deal on an Out Of Town hotel.

Dermot reminds us that the morning has been tough and that in four hours they will be performing at Wembley arena. Exciting! There are 152 acts left, meaning that 34 have been cut, not the ‘Over 40’ that the judges have been peddling. I resent being treated like an idiot, but I do watch this so I’ve got nobody to complain to. They’re going to be divided into 30 groups. According to the X Factor, some of the top acts in the world are Lady Gaga, Cee-lo Green, Katy Perry, Jessie J, Florence and the Machine and, er, The Script. [Bet you the only reason Jessie J's on that list is because she's one of the judges' houses mentors. There's no other sensible explanation. - Steve] They’ve all got to sing a solo part so they can be judged individually. So it’s not really a group then, you’re just singing a song like you’re on a charity record.

ArseTattoo tells us that they’ve chosen their parts and they’re getting on with it. Some of the groups are finding it hard to see eye to eye. Samantha Cruiseship resents someone being the boss off her. Kitty Belter and Honey have a ruck about singing the waily bit of Florence and the Machine. Kitty Belter was so lost in music that she didn’t even notice that Honey was pissed off. Helen enjoys the fact that people called Kitty and Honey are fighting.

Luke Lucas thinks his group have a great chance. Kitty and Honey are still fighting as they all board the bus to Wembley Arena, which has hosted acts like Pink, Westlife and Beyonce. Most people seem to have changed their clothes. Two thirds are being sent home after this challenge. They are so eager that they are practicing in the halls.

First group up are Kitty Belter, Lascel BipolarMum, Honey and Terry UsedCarSalesman. We’re reminded of their behind scenes ruck. My money is on Honey. She looks scary. They arrive on stage and Kelly asks them if they agreed on who should sing what. Honey replies that there are two really strong singers in the group (snerk) and they argued over who got the warbly bit. Yes, we get it, TENSION. Kelly wants to know who was fighting. Louis replies that it was two girls. Well, it must’ve been, Louis.

They begin. We get some actual names. Terry waves his hands around like he’s trying to put out a fire in his suit. Candice is average whilst Lascel makes meaningful faces. When it’s his turn, he adds in about 20 extra notes. Kitty growls her bit whilst Honey looks bored. Kitty returns the favour during Honey’s turn whilst Terry does some EPIC dad dancing. There’s a man who looks like Nick Grimshaw on the end doesn’t get a look in. Tulisa remarks on the looks between Honey and Kitty. Backstage, Dermot remarks that the judges picked up on the bickering. IT’S BECAUSE THEY TOLD THEM ABOUT IT, DERMOT. Kitty says it was silly, but she would. The judges all seem to love Terry.

Florence Montage time. We see Sian Phillips, Sophie Habbis, Joseph Gilligan and Amelia Lilly do their best Florence Honking. Max Vickers is last in this little segment. He has not a claw, but a pointy finger and has got the love to see us FREW. This makes Gary excited. Nobody is looking at Louis so he hops on the table. Gary gives him the side eye.

*advertising break*

We’re STILL AT WEMBLEY (arena). Frankie ArseTattoo and his gang are waiting backstage and AWKWARD, he’s in the group with the girl that he pulled who is called Becky. ArseTattoo’s phrasing is all wrong. At this point my other half looks up at the telly, says “Twat” and goes back to what he is doing. Eskimo Smile (who?) are pleasantly gruff and harmonise nicely. ArseTattoo gets another bit and makes all the same mistake whilst the girls in the group harmonise badly. I think one of these girls might be Chrissie the betrayer of the sisterhood, but I’m not sure as she doesn’t get a close up. The judges agree that it’s all about ArseTattoo, Gary thinks he oozes charisma [that's what twattishness is called these days then? Good to know - Rad] [He's definitely oozing SOMETHING - Steve]. A table looks charismatic next to Gary though.

Next up, is James Michael and his group, who sings the song exactly the same as ArseTattoo so they love it. Janet Devlin does her breathy thing whilst Kelly makes her FEELING THINGS face. Tulisa thinks she’s a star and Gary has tingles. Janet is intimidated because everyone has the same dream. Next up is Lemuel Knights, which sounds like an American Midwest College football team. He’s got a gigantic afro and he makes Louis smile. Gary likes him whilst he reminds us that he’s ONLY 16.

Derry KellyStalker next. We see his audition and he interviews that he loves Kelly and that he’ll be shattered if he says anything negative about his performance. Kelly cringes as he arrives on stage. He starts singing Price Tag. It’s far too high but he’s also out of time. Gary asks him what happened. He says that he had to fit in with everyone else. The judges make jokes about Derry rhyming with merry.

Next group! Richard Milford bores them, someone hits a bum note. A group of misfits, one of which is called Beverly Birtles, are “depressing” and what’s worse, they haven’t seen Kendro yet. Kendro do not disappoint. Alejandro Kendro sings “Forget you” in a comedy accent which is ALWAYS FUNNY. Kelly isn’t happy. Louis reassures her that it’s going to get better.

Next up is Luke Lucas. He messes it up a bit and he’s gutted. Montage of people saying how nervous they are, including Misha and Johnny Chipolata. Johnny Chipolata sings through his nose in homage to Katy Perry and forgets the words. Gary doesn’t think people should be letting their nerves get to them at this point.

The next group has Lizzie from Manchester in it. She’s little and has blonde hair. She does an excited piece to camera about meeting the judges and how amazing it all is. Kelly pretends to remember her. Marlon McKenzie does a rubbish bit. Lizzie has the talky bit on “Born this Way” and forgets the words. Gary just says “Lizzie. The words” and Lizzie just bursts into tears. The judges tell her that it’s alright. Dermot is on hand to give her comfort hugs whilst Lizzie asks for her mum. She wipes her nose on someone’s hipster scarf [ha! It would have been better if she'd thrown up into one of the many twat hats on show though - Rad].

Yet more adverts. I can’t be the only one that has issues with McDonalds being the official restaurant of the Olympics? And that new Adrian Chiles show? NO.

We’re back, and we’re STILL on rubbish group auditions. It’s 11pm. The remaining groups are making the most of their extra preparation times. A Leona clone can’t wait to go out there. Someone else is buzzing. The lovechild of Paloma Faith and Caroline Flack called Carolynne Poole [formerly Carolynne Goode of Fame Academy - Steve] hams it up tremendously to eyerolls from Kelly. Someone called John Wilding sings out the corner of his mouth, 4Real go in far too high and Melanie McCabe has an outfit on that I would have coveted when I was six and living in the eighties. The Estrelles make it far too easy for me by sounding like Kestrels (do you see what I did?) The judges love it.

Next up is Goldie, who was sick in a Morrisons bag at her last audition and her group. Louis asks if there are any Divas in the group. Goldie answers that they all are before breaking out into the funky chicken. Ashley Pridgeon [that's almost as good a name as Eoghan QUIGG - Rad] has styled himself as an Aldi Guy Garvey and tries way too hard. Marcus Collins is wearing a hipster hat AND scarf and goes in a bit high. Goldie is dancing them all into the background. Goldie’s turn to sing. She sings in Pidgin English and does the talky bit in her native language whilst rolling on the floor. Gary asks her if they were her own lyrics. She says it’s a direct translation but this theory falls down because it was the same line over and over. Goldie says he must’ve understood it because he’s a very clever man. Louis loves it and wants to see more of Goldie. Kelly thinks he’s seen enough. Gary says he was waiting for the leg. Backstage, Dermot asks Goldie if she thinks she’s done enough to get through. “I believe in you”, she answers to Dermot’s confusion. Louis says he loves Goldie madly. So do I. Barlow does a *face*.

Next group contains Samantha Cruiseship. We see her audition. She’s still SIZE SEXY but she’s wearing a turban . She’s worried that she’ll look like a whale as she’s a size 18 and the other girls are tiny. She also gives us far too much information about her bra situation. She’s going to sing to the best of her ability though. Roxy Yarnold has a name that sounds like a spoonerism and is a budget Frankie from the Saturdays and is average. Sami Cruiseship then decides to channel Matt Lucas doing Shirley Bassey (*hasn’t got the range klaxon*). She doesn’t do the key change as everyone dances in formation behind them. Louis remarks on how strange the group is. They all love Samantha Cruiseship, who doesn’t think that it’s her best performance. Samantha Cruiseship shouldn’t have had her top lip waxed so close to boot camp is all that I notice. All she can do is pray.

Eventually, we’re on the final group. It’s 1.02AM. A group called the Keys would be upset to be eliminated and they’re in a group with Jade FromFife. She thinks it’s an amazing experience to be there. Louis is excited to see Jade again. The generic one in this group is Nicole Simpson. Next up is Jade FromFife. She rocks it. The Keys add in far too many notes and don’t harmonise very well. Louis likes it though. Joe Cox sings like he’s having a seizure, but I can’t treat him because I really want to put something in his mouth and you don’t do that when someone is having a seizure. I love Jade FromFife. [You're fired. - Steve] The judges love her. Kelly calls her a beast and they all remark on how she doesn’t know how good she is. They all think that Joe is unique. YAWN. Unique in that he’s just like the million other young lads with two different haircuts on the same head in this competition.

Everyone is shunted back to Croydon. Tulisa says its 1.30AM, Louis says it’s 1.10AM. They’ve got lots of decisions to make and are going to sleep on it. Kelly remarks that it was tough, Louis has been disappointed by a few of the acts and feels a bit let down. Gary is marvelling that the people he thought were mediocre being good and the people he thought were good being mediocre. He finds this interesting. Tulisa remarks that the decisions they have to make are big because they’re changing people’s lives.

Fade to black.

Adverts! There were some adverts that weren’t narrated by Matt Berry.

Back in Croydon, we see everyone get on the bus to come back to Wembley. They’re going to be cut by Two Thirds. Terry UsedCarSalesman wants it even more. Luke Lucas didn’t expect it to be so tough. Misha wants to go all the way. The judges stand around a table and look at the acts in the groups they were singing in. Surely they didn’t have to be at Wembley for this bit. Kitty Belter doesn’t think she could’ve given more. ArseTattoo thinks it would be amazing to get through to the next stage. Janet Devlin wants it more than she thought. Derry KellyStalker thinks he could’ve done better. Kendro can’t do anything now. Little Lizzie hopes that the judges remember the audition she didn’t mess up. Tulisa and Gary agree that the lack of groups are a problem. Gary says he likes someone and Kelly tells him to shut up. Everyone’s waiting backstage to hear their fate. Kelly’s stomach is turning flips.

The groups come back onto the stage. There is a fat man with a walking stick that I’ve never seen before. There’s a speech about standing out from the group.

Luke Lucas steps forward. Kerry had high hopes. Derry KellyStalker is told he lost it. A single tear rolls down Luke Lucas’ face as he’s told he’s through. Derry KellyStalker is sent back to Burger King. Some people I don’t recognise are through, including Amelia Lilly and Soldier Boy. ArseTattoo is through but his one night stand is sent home. The Leona Clone is sent home. Honey isn’t through and tells the judges they’ve made a big mistake. Someone cries so much Kelly gives them a speech. Not even the power of Dermot can help her out. Lizzie gets ditched though is told she’s got potential. Her cries are so high pitched they can’t be heard by human ears. An Olly Murs lookalike is gutted. Someone else cries into their teddy. Kitty Belter, Tony UsedCarSalesman and Lascel BipolarMum are all through. Goldie is also through. As is Janet Devlin and Misha and her weave that makes her look like she’s in Lazytown. Biscuit boy who we have seen nothing of this entire episode is also through. Jade FromFife, The Keys, SeizureBoy and the other one from that group are all also through.

More Adverts!

It’s 8.26pm and we’re still at Wembley. Over 80 people have been sent home. Everyone sadfaces about missing their chance or wishing they could do another song or about how much they wanted it or having to go back to their rubbish lives.

But wait! There are not enough groups! And the groups are rubbish! ‘The Judges’ decide that some of the failed soloists could do well in a group and some are called back. Gary has to leave. The reason stated is family commitments but I sense that it has something more to do with the fact that this section may need some positivity. Louis thinks that there’s big potential. The voice of the group talks of everyone’s confusion. The cowardly lion is there. Tulisa comes in and explains the situation. The judges don’t necessarily see them as solo artists. She tells them that if anyone doesn’t want to be in a group they should leave. Nobody moves. A girl called Coralie doesn’t look excited enough for Kelly so she singles her out and asks her. She’s just a bit shocked.

Helen falls off her chair laughing as Tulisa says that she understands that some of them may have integrity as solo artists that they may not want to compromise, but there’s nothing wrong with being in a group as she and Kelly can demonstrate. She leans into Kelly. Kelly Rowland does not like this. Louis thinks that sometimes you’re better off in a group. They then play a gigantic game of popstar Barbie by getting people to stand next to each other and forming them into groups. Age and looks are important, claims Tulisa. That’s why she’s in a group with Dappy. The groups will then have 24 hours to prepare for tomorrow.

Back in the Arena, Louis congratulates them for getting this far. Tomorrow, they will be learning one song, MAKING IT THEIR OWN, and perform it to the full arena. The winner is on the stage! Tulisa wishes them luck.

Luke Lucas can’t believe he’s singing in front of thousands (since his last audition) Lascel BipolarMum is trying not to think about it. Mr Chipolata is feeling the pressure but thinks a cup of tea will help him out. Misha is giving up to 160% [She's currently this year's leader in the game of ridiculous percentages then? Sigh, I used to like her, too - Rad]

Tomorrow night! More Bootcamp! Making songs your own! Who’s staying? Who’s going? Why is Misha dressed up as Grace Jones?! Join Steve next time to find out.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Something old, nothing new, many things borrowed, I feel blue

Auditions: Week 5, part 2
Broadcast 18 September 2011

As usual this series, I wasn’t in when this episode was broadcast. But I checked Twitter, and I was sore afraid, for verily not one tweet about this show was good. And lo, I did quaff much wine and say my prayers.

But, hey, it’s the last audition show, so that kind of means this whole thing is halfway over, right? (Well, no, not really, but pretending that’s the case might help me for now).

Oh look! My DVR cut off the pre-credits recaps/previews. I’m sure they showed some crap singers, some crap singers they’re pretending are good and some mugging from the judges. [My God, it's like you're PSYCHIC. - Steve]

Onwards, and we’re back with the silly contestants at home, on the bus and in cars on the way to auditions nonsense. Oh these random new innovations that they only put in some episodes when they need EVEN MOAR FILLER are really spoiling us.

Dermot reminds us that lots of people have shared ‘one dream’. To be a star, apparently. We’re back in London, although geography became meaningless many, many moons ago.

First up, married couple Neil and Margaret. He’s 55, she’s 52 and looks bloody good for it. Could this be the boy/girl duo to finally end the boy/girl duo curse? I’m guessing not. They met online. Dermot asks the name of the band and they reveal a SHOCK! TWIST! that they’re not really a band, but soloists.

Margaret (a teaching assistant) is up first, doing ‘Superstar’ by The Carpenters. Do I need to mention how this goes? If I mention she has slightly unkempt hair, glasses and an unfashionable big pink jumper, would that help? Tulisa says it’s very sweet but not to the ears. Margaret says she’s nervous and her singing teacher told her she sings well so she won’t take that criticism. Kelly asks how the audition went. Margaret says there were some bum notes but she thought it was OK. Four noes, surprise.

Neil’s up next,in a no-way contrived moment. He’s a ‘credit controller’ whatever that is. He’s doing Crocodile Rock, it’s also not good but to be honest, this series has lost all perspective of what’s good and what isn’t (well, as much as this show ever had that perspective) so for all I know they could send him through. Gary says he always hated the song and now he detests it. Louis says they should just sing at home to each other and it’s not what they’re looking for in the show. Except of course it is, or you wouldn’t have given them ten minutes of airtime. Margaret looks really upset as they leave. I hate that the producers let people audition who are clearly going to be a bit damaged by it. This fucking show.

Ads. Lots of toothbrush/toothpaste ads for some reason.

Next up is Bradley, 16, whom Dermot tells us wants to turn his life around. Bradley hung around with ‘scallies’ and was expelled from three schools. Apparently this is his parents’ fault for getting divorced. Anyway, he’s allegedly been well behaved for a year and wants to show people he can turn his life around. [I think most of the people he offended in his previous life would've probably just settled for him to stop being a twat, to be honest. - Steve] He’d better hope he has no happy slapping videos kicking about, eh, ZombiEmily? He does Ed Sheeran’s ‘A Team’ which is at least vaguely contemporary [Ed Sheeran = Male Adele. Mark my words - Helen], but he can’t actually sing several of the notes and he goes very quiet in places as well. I mean, he can sing a little bit but that’s all. There is not one remarkable thing about this performance – it’s utterly, utterly average, and not even on the good side of average. Tulisa loved the song and now loves it even more (see what they did there Neil?). Kelly could ‘listen to that voice on an album from top to bottom’ whatever that means. Gary lies that it was distinctive. Dermot calls him a ‘hell of a guy’. It’s not entirely clear how he’s ‘turned his life around’ but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on that one until the inevitable tabloid scandal. Still a rubbish singer though.

Next up is Matt Vickers (no word if he’s related to The Claw) who works as a squirrel at an amusement park. He does a terrible squeaky version of ‘Price Tag’ [so, probably a yes on "related to The Claw", then? - Steve] and gets four yeses because there is no rhyme or reason to this show. Tulisa wears a whole heap of weird outfits in this segment, including a Cleopatra thing and a Transformers thing. BT engineer Anthony does a version of Aloe Blac’s ‘Dollar’ that sounds just like the original. This series should really just admit it’s copying Stars in Their Eyes and have done with it [I knew there'd be HORRIBLE CONSEQUENCES for ending that show - Helen]. Joe from Essex gets ‘straighted’ by Tulisa forcing him to admit he likes girls. His audition sounds NO BLOODY DIFFERENT from the terrible auditions, yet they all love him. I do not understand this programme. Gary says ‘all of a sudden the boys’ category is becoming desirable’. I think you all know what kinds of jokes were filling my Twitter feed at this point.

Competition time! Win the ‘X Factor judge lifestyle’ which involves sitting in a draughty auditorium, trying to pretend terrible/average singers are the second coming and being picked to pieces by the tabloids…. Sorry, involves going shopping in New York. I’d say this was a bit tenuous, show. The guess the lyrics clip involves a really out-of-tune Cher Lloyd doing ‘Empire State of Mind’. Oh, the aspiration.

Ads. That Sunday Night Show will surely be dreadful, but guests include Margaret Mountford, Shaun Ryder and Catherine Tate. If it was on BBC Two I’d be all over that bitch.

Terry, 51 is next. He tells Dermot he’s a singer. Dermot asks, ‘what, for a living?’ No, he’s a scaffolder and looks like he could be in Auf Wiedersehen Pet. His speaking voice is rather weak and breathless and he’s got the whole ‘I used to sing, gave it up, my kids grew up, this is my last chance’ edit, although at least he seems pretty philosophical about the whole thing rather than desperate. Kelly asks why he gave up singing, he says he thought he was too old. He’s doing Michael Bolton’s version of ‘To Love Somebody’. Every karaoke bar has a Terry. I mean, he’s fine, he can hold a tune, and his high notes are actually quite good. He’s certainly fine for boot camp but he’s just a pub singer. I can see him making live shows though because he has that ‘everyman’ appeal. This show should be careful though – the last one of these they put through turned out to be Steve Brookstein [And we all know how that ended - Helen,]. In fact, if he goes through and 2Shoes don’t, we should all vote Terry to win just in case he really does turn out to be the new Steve. Although he seems nicer and I don’t see our very own Helen getting into Twitter wars with Terry as she does with Brookstein. [it still could happen. If he has a degree of Z-List fame I could end up in a battle with him - Helen]

Guess what folks? There’s a reason they have an ‘over categories’ (oh GARY), and it’s for… altogether now…. ‘People Like You’! (TM The X Factor 2004-the end of time). Surprisingly, he ushers in some more brilliant old people! Beverley, a very good looking 35, is a chef, does a good ‘Loving You’ but hasn’t got enough of a story for us to need to invest in her. Judges’ houses at a push. Joseph, 26, who won the British championships at wrestling, does an uneven ‘End of the Road’ – some bits good, some dreadful. They play Kylie’s ‘Wow’. Thank you DIY and Weight Watchers ads for ruining that song for me forever. Carolynne, 30, former Fame Academy contestant (is that sort of thing allowed?) sings ‘The Climb’. She was good then, is still quite good now, but has picked up a truckload of bad habits and a terrible hairdo since. Anyway, don’t get attached, she’s had minimal airtime. And she’s now an antique furniture restorer, which sounds pretty cool. Also: I miss Alex Parks. Remember the days when lesbians were allowed on singing competitions?

Deep is a big fan of Take That. The Kylie song ends so we know he’s not in the montage of good auditionees. He does a very squeaky ‘Back for Good’. Just like Gary Barlow then (badumtish). I saw worse in that boys’ category segment earlier. Gary says there were some notes in it he doesn’t remember writing. Kelly says Gary should put it in the show. Louis says he didn’t just copy the original ‘like some people’ and here, he very very nearly says ‘that have auditioned this year’ before some rabid producer screams ‘NO’ in his ear and we get a long overdue ‘you made it your own’. Louis says yes, because he’s an idiot, or because he, like me, has no idea how the quality control is working this year. The others all say no and all four of them start to sing ‘Back for Good’. Really tunelessly, given three of these people make a LIVING from singing.


We’re back in BEAUTIFUL CARDIFF and have lots of shots of buildings that used to be featured in Torchwood before it went all American and forgot to make things happen in half its episodes.

Dermot recaps a potted history of The X Factor so far because they don’t actually have enough material to fill an episode and he reminds us that faces have come and gone. Simon! Sharon! Cheryl! Dannii! Guest Judge Paula Abdul! The old auditions! I only miss half of these things. Alexandra Burke! Shayne Ward! Because we’ve remembered him again? Leona Lewis! No other winners because there have never been any other winners, ever. Then the auditions went to shit and they did them in an arena! Pyrotechnics! New judges! But, ‘one thing never changes’ – returning auditionee Ceri. Really? All that build up was for a contestant who’s been on the show a few times whom you keep taking the piss out of? Content, where art thou? She looks really odd, like Sharon’s loaned her her plastic surgeon for the day. Dermot says he’s pleased to see her again ‘after all this time’ – wouldn’t she have met Kate Thornton before? [Memo to Rad. Dermot has always been the presenter. The live auditions are marvellous. The age categories have always gone from 16 and we have always been at war with Eastasia. MattRebeccaOneDirection – Love, The X Factor]

She says she’s been three times before. I don't recall three, but apparently 2005, 2006 and 2008. Was Dermot the presenter in 2008? [Yeah, he took over in 2007, I think. Series four, whenever that was. - Steve] Maybe she did meet him then. She reckons Simon might have been the problem and brings some flowers for Louis as he’s now her favourite judge. Louis kind of forgets who she is and Tulisa looks at her prompt sheet and reminds him. He says she’s looking different: ‘have you had something done?’ She says her hair. You know what? I would actually love a SuBo moment here. Mainly because I can’t face this. She says she’s been to a singing tutor later and thinks she can be as big as any of them. Louis asks what songs (plural) she’s prepared, she says ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ from ‘Lez Miserables’. I shouldn't have even mentioned the S B words earlier in this paragraph, should I? I have but myself to blame. The music starts and she doesn’t join in – to be fair, the backing track’s got the world’s longest intro. Gary patronises her and says ‘those Lez Miserables ones have got those big long intros’. She tried ‘I Will Always Love You’. Kelly has nail varnish with one finger painted differently from the others. I don’t know if that’s some really weird design statement or just appalling manicuring. This audition goes on and on and on. Because perish the thought we see any good singers. Or any groups whatsoever.

Gary says it’s maybe time she stopped auditioning. Tulisa loves her but not her voice. Louis says she’s a great woman but won’t be a recording artist. Ceri thinks the four noes are a bit unfair. She’s not sure whether or not she’ll come back next year. Depends if the producers ring her up because they’re desperate for people to be on the show or not like they clearly have done every other year except 2005.

And that’s it. Downer ending.

Also, this episode: Not one group. Not one 16-24 girl. Not one standout singer. Not even a decent sob story. This episode really was the dregs of the dregs.

And then we have TEN FUCKING MINUTES of the judges saying they’re looking for a star and recaps of the previous million audition shows. I am not recapping those. Seriously, there was NO POINT to this episode.

Anyway, thank fuck that’s all over. And nary a group in sight. This series is BLOODY WEIRD. Join us next week for Boot Camp. Er, hooray?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Shoe 'nuff

Auditions - Week 5, Part 1: 17th September 2011

Welcome back to another double-bill weekend of The X Factor. I think we probably all have to accept that this is the beginning of the end, and soon it will spread out across the entire week, forever. With the news that Fox in the US is considering launching an all-Simpsons channel, I don't think it's outside the realms of possibility that one day we will have a whole channel that runs nothing but The X Factor and its various spinoffs. If that ever happens, expect to find my corpse on the kitchen floor, next to a note saying "I just couldn't face it, sorry." [Isn't Sky one the all Simpsons channel already? - Helen]

ANYway, let's get on with things while that is still (hopefully) only a remote possibility. The "next generation of judges" (and Louis) have scoured Britain in the hope of finding a global superstar (you know, like Joe McElderry or Leon Jackson), and have repeatedly been wowed by average pub singers. The flashbacks remind us that the judges were occasionally aware that some people were genuinely shit and didn't put them through, although frankly it's a bit of a lottery which contestants will fall into which category on any given day. I think you just have to turn up and hope the judges were smoking something that made them mellow on the day of your audition.

THIS WEEKEND: it's the last of the auditions, thank God. The judges will apparently be fighting amongst themselves, and facing some more genuinely terrible auditions as well as some people who might be half-decent. It's TIME to FACE the ENDLESS COVERS OF ADELE SONGS!

Post-titles, we open with lovely shots of lush green countryside as Derwood informs us that, for the first time in the audition run, we're in Wales. Cardiff, to be specific. Various hopefuls state their case for hoping to be the first Welsh winner of the show. On the bright side, we are not "treated" to any shots of them all washing their faces before heading out to audition and telling us that this is their year, although I cannot guarantee we won't be facing similar bollocks in the dreaded Make-Up Room later. The judges arrive at the venue and are greeted by a male voice choir (Gary informs us that they're Only Men Aloud, so I'll take his word for it), who sing Destiny's Child's 'Survivor' for Kelly's benefit. They'd have got more points from me if they'd sung the Freemasons remix of 'Work', quite frankly. Louis gets an original composition about how much they love him; Gary gets 'Rule The World' (what, no 'The Flood'?) and Tulisa gets 'Number One', noting that they must've worked very hard on this because they're "clearly not NDubz fans". Don't judge a book by its cover (version), Tulisa - this lot look like they enjoy nothing better than throwing some shapes to 'Playing With Fire' at the local discotheque.

The judges greet each other, and it feels appropriate at this point to note that Tulisa has apparently come straight from auditioning for the title role in the long-awaited Xena: Warrior Princess movie. Kelly reluctantly approaches a member of the catering crew to ask about the "Welsh rabbit", apparently in disbelief that there is no meat in it. Ah, culture-clash hilarity. You can't beat it.

Our first contestant of the day is a lady in a purple dress that her tatas seem ready to escape from at any second, never more so than when she runs out onto the stage. She has a bit of a thing for Gary and declares him "drop-dead gorgeous". She is Natasha Paton Ali (mum, 23) from Swansea, who explains that she has prepared for today by having singing lessons to stop her from singing through her nose. Already this puts her ahead of about 25% of people who make the live finals in any given year, assuming she's telling the truth. Gary asks who watches her when she rehearses, and she answers a different question by saying that she rehearses in her bedroom or her living room, so that she has space to do her "sexy dancing" (read: squatting and showing us all her hoo-hoo). Gary warns her that she's a little bit higher than them (in OH SO MANY WAYS) and when she does moves like that, he stops focusing on her voice. "You're 'avin' it!" Natasha growls in response. I don't think you're giving him much of a choice, love.

She's singing 'Every Time We Touch' by Cascada. The backing track begins, and she's amazing. No, of course not: she's absolutely dreadful, as we all knew she would be. She's singing off-key, so high that Cardiff Council is considering recording this and playing it in the city centre to discourage gangs of youths from loitering, and of course, she's shaking those knockers. Then she has a wardrobe malfunction, causing Kelly to make frantic "COVER YOUR SHAME!" gestures from behind the desk. Incidentally, there is a guy sat behind Gary in the audience who is LOVING THIS, and constantly straining for a better view. When the end arrives, far too late for most of us, Gary scolds her that it's "a hot day as it is". That kind of shit will only encourage her, Gary; I strongly recommend that you stop. He tells her that what worries him is that she looked at him throughout the song. Kelly says that "you gave us all quite the show today - there was a lot happening on stage, babe, that we couldn't really pay attention to the vocals so much". I dunno, Louis probably managed it. Tulisa doesn't understand why no one has told Natasha how bad she sounds, and thinks that it's unfair that they've allowed her to embarrass herself. Natasha, proving that you must first be capable of shame to feel embarrassment, says that she is entertainment, and that's what this show is all about. Louis tells her she doesn't have a voice, and "I'm not saying 'no', I'm saying 'never'." It's a no from everyone else, with Austerity Barlow advising her to check the refund policy next time she takes singing lessons. [Ah, didn't take long for GrumpyGutsBarlow to raise his funsponge head - Helen]

Kelly announces that she is "scared", which is the cue for another montage of hopeless, tedious people who basically aspire to little more in life than appearing for five seconds in a montage of hopeless, tedious people on this show. Now that they've got their wish, I hope they will try to make better use of the precious time that they have left. Dafydd Morgan (unemployed, 41) convulses to 'Bat Out Of Hell' to the point where everyone watching considers calling NHS Direct for advice, and is stopped by Louis who asks if he might indulge them by singing at some point. He agrees, and then everyone wishes he hadn't bothered. Tulisa expresses genuine concern for his wellbeing (I can only chalk this up to her being a newbie; I can't see her humanitarian concerns surviving prolonged exposure to working on this show) and Dafydd gets a definite no. A mad woman arrives wrapped in a Welsh flag and scares the living shit out of Kelly: she is Ceri Hoey (mobile hairdresser, 42) who screeches her way through 'Wuthering Heights' in such a manner that I wonder if she has a howler monkey secreted in her larynx. Gary declares her voice to be not human, and it is a no for Ceri. Kelly considers calling her agent and checking the small print on her contract to see if it's too late to go on Strictly Come Dancing instead.

Backstage, Kelly and Tulisa wonder what the fuck is wrong with Welsh people, which is surely the cue for someone to arrive and Turn It All Around? That person is John Adams (maths teacher, 23), who looks more like Hollywood's version of what a maths teacher looks like than any normal person's interpretation of what a maths teacher looks like. Remember when Tina Fey was a maths teacher in Mean Girls? Yeah, like that, except younger, male and with a dazzling grin and a Bieber haircut. He's basically Wales' answer to Ezra Fitz from Pretty Little Liars. I resolve to remain immune to his dubious charms, however, since my feelings about teachers on this show are well-documented after the likes of Bellowing Beverley and Man-Loving Daneeeeeeeeel decided that Z-list celebrity and doing PAs in suburban nightclubs is a more fulfilling vocation than providing children with an education.

Anyway, Mr Fitz tells us that he's only been teaching for a year, so it's a relatively new world for him, and "obviously if I done well in The X Factor, I'd love to follow the dream of becoming a singer". At least now we know why he didn't become an English teacher. He adds that being in this competition means a lot to him, and he wants strangers to know his music and sing his songs. He heads onto the stage and is declared "quite handsome" by Tulisa. He will be singing 'Cannonball' by Damien Rice. As has become the standard this year, it sounds like a straightforward cover of the original, inflections and all, but everyone's lapping it up. I'm more focused on the fact that he appears to have no neck worth mentioning. By far the highlight of the entire performance is the cut to backstage, where Derwood is MOUTHING THE LYRICS AND PULLING SINCERE EMOTIONAL FACES. [Gimmie some stones. I'll teach them all to fly - Helen] Oh Derwood, you utter gonk. I bet he spends the whole of his Radio 2 show doing that. Maybe all that hair is weighing him done. Tulisa thinks he has a beautiful tone, and that he connected with the song emotionally. Louis wasn't expecting him to have such an "unusual" voice (for "unusual", read "indie and whiny", and I don't know about Louis, but that's exactly what I expected) and thinks he could make great records. Borelow says that it's one of his favourite songs of all time, and he hates people singing his favourite songs, at which point his transformation into Simon Cowell is officially complete. Stick a toilet brush on his head, and we are officially DONE. Luckily for Mr Fitz, he nailed that vocal, so Borelow has forgiven him. Kelly wants to hear a whole album of his voice. Gary expects to find a whole new world of women taking a sudden interest in maths, because (a) I'm sure firing quadratic equations at him is totally the way to get him into bed, and (b) women wouldn't be interested in maths in any other circumstances, apart from using it to work out if they can afford any more shoes. FUCK OFF BORELOW. They take it to a vote, and it's a unanimous yes. Mr Fitz runs off excitedly to break the good news to Aria. [Now, if he actually changes his name to Mr Fitz and Miss Fitz come back and they get spliced at bootcamp, THEN I will be interested - Rad]

Adverts. It's about fucking time that sodding Bird Eye polar bear opened his fridge and was freaked out to find a polar bear in there staring back at him.

When we return, Derwood tells us that one category in particular "has extra incentive to succeed". The groups? Nah, it's the over-25s, who are all worrying if They Have Left It Too Late. One of them is Randy Roxx (musician, 45) - Borelow thinks he has a good rock voice, but wonders if he's missed his chance, having apparently missed the memo about why this category exists in the first place. Lina Roma (mum, 43) drones her way through 'Hallelujah' and begs for "one chance to prove it", unaware that that's exactly what she's just had. Finally, the point of this montage arrives: Michelle Barrett (mum, 31), who is being portrayed by Sharon Small in tonight's performance. She says that singing is in her blood, but having four kids meant she had to delay her dream, and now she feels the time is right to pursue it. She doesn't think she'll get this opportunity ever again. You know, except for the auditions next year. And the year after that. And the year after that. And the...well, you get the idea. She arrives on stage, and tells Gary about how her children are her biggest accomplishment. Gary asks why she hasn't made it before, and she admits that she hasn't tried hard enough up to now because she was too busy with competitive child-rearing. She's singing 'All The Man I Need' by Whitney Houston. She's...all right, I guess? It's one of those "can hold a tune but is otherwise unremarkable and in no way the global star they claim to be looking for" performances that means the judges are going to feast upon it like manna from heaven regardless. She's really flat in the chorus, too. [She picked a song that was way too big for her. I mean, she was fine, but she wasn't any more than that, and a more subtle song wouldn't have shown her weaknesses so clearly - Rad]

Tulisa tells Michelle that she reminds her of her mum, whom she has made a BBC3 documentary about, and Tulisa cries. Michelle does "awww" faces from the stage. Tulisa sobs "just like you, she had a beautiful voice, and she didn't do anything with it", although I think it's safe to say that Tulisa's mum's reason for not pursuing a singing career was probably a bit different from Michelle's, and then Michelle starts crying, and Leona Lewis warbles on the soundtrack, and GOOD GRIEF, JUST GET ON WITH IT. Kelly loved Michelle's voice. Louis says it wasn't 100% perfect, but it was good enough for him. Gary can't believe she hid that voice away while having "four lovely children" *gag* and it's four yeses for Michelle. Michelle runs backstage, and Tulisa explains her relationship with her mum to the other judges, possibly promising to hand them all a DVD each to take home at the end of the day.

Adverts. Shouldn't it be 30 Minutes or Fewer?

When we return, Derwood informs us that "the girls are out in force". I bet you can't guess which song's on the soundtrack. Here's a hint: the band's name rhymes with "Booger Snabes". Next to audition are band 2 Shoes, alias Charlie (23) and Lucy (21). Both of them are wearing so much make-up that they can barely keep their eyes open. I could offer you a witty description, but frankly nothing that I could come up with would even come close to Helen's absolutely perfect description of them on Twitter last night as "Stacey Duomon". [It only got retweeted twice! What's wrong with Twitter? - Helen] They hug Derwood, and explain the genesis of their name: apparently it comes from a saying of theirs that "every party needs two shoes". No, I don't understand it either. Maybe you had to be there? There being Essex, naturally. They call each other "Shoe", and at this point I feel like my persistence in sticking with the show throughout all these cod-indie-wannabe auditions is finally being rewarded, because if these two can sing, they are clearly going to be my favourites. Frankly, even if they can't, they're still in with a really good shot. Derwood asks them if the tan is at all natural, and Lucy admits that they had something of a malfunction, offering up her left hand as evidence. It is a tone that can best be described as "mahogany". They want to be the first group to win. I want them to be the first group to win too.

They troop onto the stage. A Matt Cardle lookalike in the audience puts his head in his hands, clearly hoping to be the new That Bitch Who Rolled Her Eyes At Susan Boyle. Louis asks what they'd do with the money if they won: Charley says that Lucy wants a micro-pig (points to Tulisa here for being the only person on the panel who knows what one of those is). They sing 'All My Life' by K-C & Jojo, and actually aren't that bad. The vocals are a little shaky, but they harmonise well together and with a bit of practice and training, they could have potential. They really come into their own on the chorus, and the crowd goes wild. Tulisa tells them she's pleasantly surprised. Gary tells them that he was expecting the worst, but he loves their harmonies and that they were well-rehearsed, and thinks it was a great audition. Kelly also loves the harmonies, but thought it was "a bit karaoke". Louis loves their personality and their chemistry, and things they bring new energy to the show. It's a yes from Gary, a yes from Tulisa, a no from Kelly, and a yes from Louis. They're through, and are officially this year's Bitch Factor Approved Contestants. I'm making that decision unilaterally. [I'm fine with this. There's no-one else worth caring about, is there? - Rad]

This leads to a montage of girls who ostensibly done good: Melanie McCabe (student, 17) does an awful version of 'Only Girl In The World' that is inexplicably enjoyed by the judges. Sarah Watson (student, 17) yelps her way through Taylor Swift's 'Love Story' and is equally awful, and equally adored. THIS FUCKING SHOW. They cut from note to note of several apparently successful auditions, and it really is becoming impossible on this show to tell where the wheat ends and the chaff begins. Sophie Habibis (barmaid, 19) sings 'I Got Trouble' by Seahaguilera (TM my boyfriend) and is all right-ish, and gets through. Everyone decides that the girls are the strongest category, and the judges argue over who gets them. Such fun.

After more commercials, we jump straight back into the action. Meg Rose Jones (student, 16) sings 'Sunny Afternoon' and is loved by Gary, but Louis thinks she's not ready for the competition. Fight! Fight! Fight! Tulisa thinks she needs confidence. It's a no from Louis, a yes from Tulisa. We don't ever find out what Kelly voted, but I guess she voted no, since otherwise we'd have seen Meg getting through? Maybe we might see her in the background at boot camp and find out one way or the other. Anyway, Meg's fate is left in the balance as we continue with girl group Indigo Rose, who perform a heavily-choreographed rendition of 'Show Me Love' by Robyn S, and Gary doesn't think they look or sound like a band, while Tulisa really likes them. Kelly thinks their energy is only all right, and gets all Kitty Farmer about it, arguing that you can't put someone through if you doubt their unyielding commitment to Sparkle Motion. Tulisa argues that it's about liking it and believing that other people will like it. Kelly is unimpressed, and says that an act has to be 100% perfect to get through. She would have a stronger case if she hadn't voted for the likes of Arsetat in episode one. They take it to the vote, and again the ultimate result is unconfirmed, but was probably a no overall. Perrie Edwards (student, 17) tackles 'You Oughta Know' - Kelly loves it, but Louis thinks it's "safe" and Tulisa can see his point. Kelly tells Perrie that she blew the roof off and that she doesn't know what Louis and Tulisa are hearing. Louis spits that Kelly is being "difficult" today; "how dare she!" YAY, MANUFACTURED DRAMA!

Derwood voiceover: "With the judges not playing happy families, the next auditionee is more desperate than most to unite them." Yes, because the next auditionee would've known all about this shit. He's auditioned before, and his name is John Wilding (student, 18). He got to Dannii's house in Australia last year, but didn't make it through. I remember literally nothing about him [He was one of the two or three we never, ever saw, and then they got two seconds of screen time at judges' houses. Oh, the suspense this show creates about its chosen ones - Rad]. He's wearing a bowler hat at a jaunty angle, so frankly I do not wish to remember anything about him. John says that he's spent the year working on his voice, and with the new judging panel this year, he's hoping for a fresh start. As always, it's down to Louis to do the unconvincing "you auditioned last year! I totally remember that happening!" bit, and John explains that he's been studying where he went wrong last year. He's singing 'Love You I Do' by Jennifer Hudson. He's got a pretty good voice, but I can't take him seriously when he's dressed like Agyness fucking Deyn. Also, I fear his particular brand of oversinging everything is going to grow tiresome very quickly. [I swear he didn't do "fashion" last year and looked vaguely normal. So I blame this fucking show for making him think he needed a cunty hat to get any further - Rad]

Nonetheless, he gets a standing ovation from the judges, and Tulisa says that she loves people like him who get knocked back, use the experience to better themselves, and come back. She'll be regretting saying that at next year's auditions when Michael Lewis comes back for a third go. Louis loved that audition, and that John is a fighter. "Nobody can sing Jennifer Hudson," he declares. I think Jennifer Hudson might have something to say about that. Kelly says that he has a beautiful voice and belongs on the stage. Gary thought it was a sensational audition, and is very grateful that John came back. No surprises here: it's yeses all round. Backstage, his entourage scream that he got a STANDING OVATION FROM THE JUDGES OH MY GOD!

Tomorrow night: singing, growling, fighting back. Ruth will be here to guide you through it. I hope she's got plenty to drink. [Having read the tweets about it, I am terrified - Rad]