Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Bar humbug

Top 10 Results: 30th October 2011

In a manner not entirely dissimilar to an educational film starring Troy McClure, a static camera catches Derwood walking on and informing us that last night, ten contestants performed for our votes in the Hallowe'en "special" (I weep when I think of the songs that were passed over in favour of irrelevant offerings like 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go'. Where was 'Black Magic Woman'? 'I Put A Spell On You'? Anything at all by B*Witched?), but now's where it gets really scary. Don't worry, it's not Sharon Osbourne coming back, or another guest performance from Whitney Houston: it's just the results.

Turgid video highlights, anyone? Craig Custardcream gave the alleged performance of the night, BixMix had a new name, Johnny copped a feel, Future Head Judge Alexandra BURKE threw some sass at Louis, Sophie Hadherchips was "a secretary that sings at the weekends". Tonight, someone will leave the competition. Those remaining acts in full once more: BixMIX, SugaBLOKES (thanks Rad), Johnny ROBINSON, Kitty BRUCKNELL, Misha B, Janet DEVLIN, Sophie HADENOUGHOFMAKINGUPNEWSURNAMES, Marcus COLLINS, Craig CUSTARDCREAM and ArseTAT. Also in amongst all this will be the triumphant(ish) returns of Cher LLOYD and Nicole SCHERZINGER. Shall we get on with it? It's time! To face! A Phonecall!

Titles. X marks the schlock.

Derwood makes his way onto the stage and runs through everything we've already heard. He informs us that Kelly is still not well, therefore Future Head Judge Alexandra BURKE is with us on the judging panel once more. Hooray! I can take or leave the other three. Tulisa is wearing a long dress that she has to actively hike up in order to walk, and makes her look like a sort of space-age Dorothy Gale. Alexandra is in a much shorter dress that is a variety of marine colours. Tulisa is still doing that weird Stormtrooper salute, having not realised that "so fetch" has more chance of happening. Derwood reminds us of the phone numbers once more, and then it's time for something truly terrifying in honour of Hallowe'en. FUCK YEAH, GROUP SING! It's Cee-Lo Green's 'Bright Lights Bigger City', and naturally Marcus gets to do opening duties on it, in his role as the one whose voice is clearly suited to such a song. Such good work is quickly undone by the appearance of She-Beast Janet, who yelps her way through her lines, and then Biscuit Boy turns up wearing a blazer with its collar popped. This series could honestly sustain Go Fug Yourself for months single-handedly. The Sugablokes struggle once again despite being clearly pre-recorded, noted anarchist Arsetat mumbles his way through it and is obviously TOTALLY PUNK ROCK in the process, and Kitty is actually sounding quite cabaret tonight, so I'm beginning to think that Future Head Judge Alexandra Burke might have been fairly astute in her criticism. Marcus, Kitty and Misha pretty much support the weight of the performance between the three of them, and everyone else is just window-dressing.

Another recap? How unexpected! Sugablokes went first and were an absolute mess, not that the judges noticed, and backstage Louis thinks they've come back as a better band. Johnny was so dull that he drove Gary into paroxysms of glee. Sophie was wretchedly bad and unexpectedly cockney, and was disappointed by her comments. Marcus overcame a naff arrangement of 'Superstition' and loved it so much that he wanted to do it again - Borelow opines that Marcus delivers every week. Misha was amazing again, and Louis did a Kelly impression, while Tulisa was still an utter cow. Misha thinks she belongs onstage. Someone who belongs as far away from a stage (and sound amplification equipment) as possible was Janet, who Borelow found predictable, and backstage Janet worries that she was sweating the small stuff. Arsetat bucked the theme and spoke The Clash, and the judges decided to encourage him, because Gary never got to be Robbie Williams the first time around and wants a chance to live it vicariously. Kitty was bonkers and brilliant, but Alexandra worried that she was cabaret. Kitty thanks Louis for letting her be insane. BixMix were actually one of the best of the night, as much as it pains me to say it, though there were still some wobbly vocals, and Borelow liked hearing their individual voices. Backstage, Tulisa says that "Little Mix did the best performance they've ever done tonight," overlooking the fact that technically it was also the only performance they've ever done - as Little Mix, anyway. Biscuit decided to show his versatility by doing a slightly more uptempo Adele song this week, and backstage Borelow decides that everyone sucks but him. God, Borelow is just the absolute worst, isn't he? [I'm just grateful the panel is not him, Sharon Simon and Cheryl. That's the kind of stuff I have nightmares about - Rad]

Speaking of the absolute worst: here's Cher Lloyd, who Derwood describes as a "feisty, determined, brilliant contestant". It's great, you can't even see the gun pointing at his head as he says it. Obviously we relieve her X Factor experience via a VT, including her audition, and I'd like to remind you that when that first aired, people were sharing it on Twitter and talking about how a star was born etc etc, while this blog dared to opine that both she and it were FUCKING AWFUL, and I like to think that history has proven us right. Her intro states "DEBUT NUMBER 1 SINGLE" and "OVER 100 MILLION HITS ON YOUTUBE", but does not mention that at least half of those were people who promptly responded "what the shit is this mess?" Anyway, tonight she's back with her new single 'With Ur Love' [UR when people mean 'your' as opposed to 'you are' is one of my many pet hates. It makes my flesh crawl - Rad], and looking as much like a Minipops version of Cheryl as ever. She's dressed like an idiot and sounds like crap, but I understand that in saying this, I am jagging her swagger, and that I am a hater who must let it go. The song finishes, and there's just enough time for Derwood to ask her about her big year and for Cher to act like a character from The Fast Show in response. [I'm gutted there wasn't a Louis/Cher stand-off, given how much he's slagged her off since last year's show - Rad] Then she's gone. Hooray! Derwood gives us a five minute warning for the impending closure of the voting lines, and then it's time! To face! The ad break!

Upon our return, the lines are closed, and Derwood asks the judges for one name on who smashed it and who failed miserably. Louis fails to read the instructions and names Kitty and Marcus as those who smashed it, and Sophie and Arsetat who failed. Tulisa thinks BixMix smashed it, but thinks that no one was bad, apart from Craig doing another ballid. Alexandra liked Misha B, and thought that Arsetat was an abomination against humanity. The audience cheers this, which is amazing. Borelow liked Craig, and thought that all Kelly's acts had a bad week, because she's not here to defend herself and he's a spineless shitbag.

Time for our second performance: Nicole SCHERZINGER, who's currently getting grief from viewers and critics in the US for not being Cheryl Cole, after having received widespread praise over here last year for precisely the same reason. It's a funny old world, isn't it? (I still laugh until I literally cry when I see all those American viewers on the internet demanding the return of the "likeable, earnest" Cheryl Cole. Little do they know that the Cheryl in question was last seen in 2008 before being usurped by someone bearing the same name, but with a L'Oréal contract in place of her sense of humour). Anyway, Nicole has sold 37 million records, gone multi-platinum in 31 countries, had 141 million hits on YouTube (why is this suddenly a thing we're supposed to care about?), and had number ones in 19 countries. I'm assuming she may not have achieved all of these things as a solo artist, but let's just go with it. [Also, I saw her on Chatty Man the other night and she was hilarious and adorable. Some of her singles are a bit boring but I adore her - Rad]

So, remember when she came on last year and sang 'Poison' and was so completely amazing that she made everyone else on the show look completely ridiculous? Yeah, this isn't that. I mean, she's still a far reach above all the contestants on this show, but the song ('Try With Me') is not nearly as good, and the performance itself not as dynamic. I still love her though, and still think that 'Don't Hold Your Breath' is one of the best pop songs of the year. After she's finished, Derwood rushes the stage and asks her when she'll be back over here on tour. Nicole, God love her, answers the question by turning her back on him and facing the audienc. HA! Gotta love a good Derwood-snub. Derwood pretends he wants to go to the concert, even though we know he'd far rather listen to dreary shit with guitars and wouldn't be caught dead anywhere where actual fun might be had.

Time for another ad break, and The X Factor competition. Have we officially established that the "HONK!" that silences the lyric we're meant to guess is supplied by singing goose Rebecca Jazznoodle? It'd be the best use of her dubious talents.

Upon our return, Derwood announces that the result is in. Time to welcome back the contestants: Future Head Judge Alexandra BURKE looking after Misha, Sophie and Janet on behalf of Kelly, Gary with Arsetat, Biscuit and Marcus, Louis with Johnny and Kitty, and Tulisa with Sugablokes and BixMix.

In no particular order, the following acts are safe: Kitty, Sugablokes, Biscuit, BixMix and Marcus. You'll note that we have now named five acts out of eight, and none of them so far are from Kelly's category, so the seasoned viewers amongst us will have twigged at this point that it's totally an all-Kelly bottom two this week, and most likely Sophie and Misha, because the world is not kind enough to put Janet at risk of elimination so soon. Sure enough, also safe are Johnny and Janet, leaving Sophie, Arsetat and Misha with their fates undeclared. Who's the last one through? Arsetat, of course, leaving Sophie and Misha in the bottom two. "YES MATE YES MATE YES MATE!" screams Borelow, apparently *this close* to climaxing there and then, while Alexandra Burke silently mouths "oh my God", and it is a thing of beauty. [Funsponge was so ungracious at this point I was praying for Dermot to have done an AusNTM and read out the wrong name, but still, we got to see FHJ ABurke being awesome, so *shrugs* - Helen] Someone must please make that into a gif for me immediately. The crowd are furious, as Derwood asks Misha and Sophie what they will sing for the final showdown. Misha, barely audibly, tells him she will sing 'Use Somebody', while Sophie will be singing 'Shelter'. And after a whole SIX MINUTES of thrilling television, it's time for another ad break.

Derwood welcomes us back, and Alexandra gives her an intro like a complete pro. (Serious sidebar: I know she was patronising as all-get-out yesterday, and broke all the rules about black women on reality shows needing to be humble at all times, but I was genuinely impressed with Alexandra's natural warmth and charisma on both shows this weekend, and I think if they're looking for new mentors next year - and dear God, I hope they are - then they could do a lot worse than pick her.) Apparently Sophie's song is a cover of The XX by Birdie, but that is not relevant. What is relevant is that this is the absolute worst performance on this show in weeks. Worse than Cher Lloyd earlier on. Worse than Luke Lucas attemping 'Impossible' at judges' houses. Even worse than any Arsetat performance you'd care to mention. Worse than all of those, possibly put together. It's basically two minutes' worth of someone failing to hit any of the notes she's aiming for, and frankly Sophie would've had about as much chance of staying if she'd simply walked out, produced a duck from behind her back, and just let it quack away merrily until her time was up. The duck would probably have been in tune, at least. She finishes, and Dermot invites us to give it up for Sophie, but there is no need, because Sophie has already given it up for herself.

Alexandra introduces Misha, and Misha proceeds to give an assured, excellent rendition of 'Use Somebody', all the while looking thoroughly defeated because she has learned the sad truth about what people will and will not accept from women on this show, and discovered that the only way to succeed is to pander to the lowest common denominator and pretend that nothing about you is special or worthy of admiration, exactly as Tulisa is doing with BixMix, because no matter how talented you are, you must always, ALWAYS know your place. And this week, that place is "somewhere below Arsetat in the voting public's affections". That's enough to break anyone's spirit, and it has obviously broken Misha's. She ends her performance in tears. Thanks, British public!

Derwood returns to the stage and informs us that we will have Kelly Rowland on the phone for the ultimate verdict. Interesting. I'm guessing they must have lined this up as soon as they realised a Misha/Sophie bottom two was likely, so I'm guessing the vote wasn't terribly close. I wonder, if the bottom two hadn't both been mentored by Kelly, whether they would've even bothered with this? I doubt it, personally: I'm sure if it had been just one of Kelly's acts in the sing-off, or none at all, they'd have been quite happy to let Alexandra vote, but with the show's fortunes being the way they are right now, they couldn't let pass an opportunity to milk maximum drama out of Kelly's Choice. Kelly talks down the line from LA, at which point an entire nation suddenly obtains an MD and diagnoses her as a TOTAL FAKER, because that's TOTALLY A PUT-ON PHONE-IN-SICK VOICE! Really, have we nothing better to do with our time? (Writes the person sat here at 11.39pm on a Tuesday blogging every last syllable of a reality TV show.) [I thought she sounded genuine, although that doesn't mean I think she's necessarily going to come back and see the series out, and I'm very doubtful she'll do this show next year - Rad]

Derwood goes to Louis first, and Louis says he's going to save the person with star quality, and that this just goes to show that nobody's safe on this show. He votes to send Sophie home. There is booing from some quarters. Tulisa is next, and babbles about how neither of them deserved to be in the bottom two tonight, and WHAT THE FUCK EVER TULISA, THIS IS ENTIRELY YOUR FAULT FOR BEING SUCH AN UNPROFESSIONAL WRETCH LAST WEEK, SO YOU CAN TAKE YOUR DISINGENUOUS SUMMARY OF CURRENT EVENTS AND STUFF IT WITH CRANBERRIES, OKAY.COM? (You may have noticed, I don't much care for Tulisa these days.) Tulisa has "always got along with [Sophie]" (GIVE ME STRENGTH), and while she's had her issues with Misha, "last night we talked, and we dealt with them, and me and you are cool now." ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? YOU CALL HER A BULLY WITHOUT WARNING ON NATIONAL TELEVISION AND GIVE HER NO CHANCE TO DEFEND HERSELF, AND NOW ONCE HER REPUTATION HAS BEEN EFFECTIVELY RUINED YOU SUDDENLY DECIDE YOU'D PREFER TO RESOLVE YOUR ISSUES QUIETLY OFF-CAMERA? God, Tulisa is a PIECE OF WORK. I'm sorry for all the capslock in this paragraph, but JESUS H CHRIST. [It really is Cheryl vs Wagner again isn't it? Did they just recycle last year's scripts and change some of the names? - Rad] Anyway, The Worst Woman On Television Right Now decides that she has to go with the person she can represent "the music from [her] roots, and votes to send Sophie home." We then go to Kroaky Kelly on the phone, and Kelly says that it's so hard, because she knows how badly they both want it, but one of them wants it more. What is this, America's Next Top Model? "Wanting it" shouldn't come into it, just send home the girl who just took a giant shit on the stage. Which she does: Sophie's going home. Derwood asks Gary how he would've voted, and Gary claims to be "amazed and shocked" (what the fuck ever Gary, about ten minutes ago you were saying what a terrible night it had been for Kelly's contestants, so don't start pretending this is in any way a surprise to you) but he too would've sent Sophie home. Misha gives Sophie one last hug, and departs.

We see Sophie's time in the competition: nobody knew who she was for months, then she got Dobby from Peep Show's haircut, then she was FUNNY IN ISLINGTON, and then she was eliminated. Such a journey! Alexandra's on the stage to hug Sophie, and Kroaky Kelly tells her that she's remarkable and that she just has to continue to developing as an artist, and she can't wait to see what the future holds for her. Pulling pints, I'd imagine. Sophie vows to keep working hard and prove that she should've stayed in the competition. Bye Sophie!

Next week: it's "big dancefloor hits". That should be fun. We'll also be meeting up with JLS, who've got kind of super-boring lately. Rad will be here to guide you through the whole sorry mess. Join us then!


Anonymous said...

God this show. Why is it that Gary is the only judge with three boys left? And why out of those three is it Marcus that they keep trying to throw under a bus - on first on the Saturday night, name called early in the eliminations. And, more importantly, why, oh why do they keep trying to make ArseTat happen, on late in the running on Saturday night and that ridiculous charade on Sunday where he was "almost" in the bottom two. Was he bollocks.

Lia said...

I don't get the UK love for Nicole Scherzinger as a judge. Cheryl Cole having a horrible year looking like she was about to cry all the time does not make Miss Scherzinger a good judge. I hate Nicole's babble and her babytalk is utterly irritating, so I have to go with the Americans on that one. And believe it, I do like some of her music and think she's a good live performer. Bless my soul!

Steve said...

Anonymous - Gary is the only judge with three boys left because he's the only one who had three boys to start with, unless we're counting individual group members as separate entities, in which case Tulisa still has three boys left as well. :)

Lia - I haven't seen X Factor USA (because despite what this blog might suggest, I am neither insane nor a masochist) but personally my love for Nicole Scherzinger as a judge was based entirely on...thinking she was a good judge when she was on this show. She was fair, and reasonable, and even had some good ideas of her own to contribute. The fact that she wasn't Cheryl was merely the icing on the top of an already perfectly acceptable cake.

Rad said...

I've seen her on X Factor USA. That show is weird - it has some good bits, like actually showing more decent contestants than just the finallists, and a lot of horror (Autotune at judges houses) as well as the worst excesses of this show. AND it's hella boring too. It needs a Louis Walsh act. Nicole is one of the better judges on it (Simon and LA Reid can both fuck off), although she was better on this show than she is on the American one.

MaC said...

Great blog, as always.
Janet 'banshee' Devlin is now the bookie's favourite. Can she really win this thing? I thought the rule was that either women with great voices OR good looking bland boys win? Please god let this not be the year that this (already pathetic and fairly sexist) rule gets over-turned thanks to Janet's faux humility.

Lia said...

What Steve??? You don't watch it??? I was hoping to read The Bitch Factor USA here over the next few weeks. How sad... :-)

Patrick said...

Can I give a big shout out to Johnny's reaction? 2:45 to 2:50 of this clip:


Simply amazing.

fused said...

I'm pleased Sophie has finally gone. I could not take another week of her tuneless wailing. Worst of all, she was BORING.

Misha being in the bottom 2 wasn't that big a surprise sadly. Last week she was on last and was a big talking point, which are 'good' things in a one day vote to save, but in the longer term there IS such a thing as bad publicity.

Her performance of Use Somebody was fantastic. I think that despite her talent Misha would have had an uphill struggle anyway, but the sabotaging of one of the strongest contestants, and this early on, is baffling. Last year I got why they wanted to keep Cher, Katie and Wagner around, I wanted them to last on the show a long time myself, but I have no idea what they are playing at this year.

I agree entirely that Alexandra was a great addition to the panel. She has a history of improving The X Factor immensely. There is the Beyonce duet of course, and her duet with JLS being by far the highlight of the series 6 final.

Kylie O'Reilly said...

I have just found this page on facebook - you have to check out the cartoon pic they are hilarious xx

Rad said...

Kylie O'Reilly - wow, thanks for that. Those cartoons are actually brilliant.

Anonymous said...

I laughed all the way through the post, just discovered this blog read a few articles even from last year, you are hilarious, but I just can't forgive you for hating poor Sophie, I thought she was brilliant, best recording voice this year, but really disliked and neglected by producers I can't even be bothered to watch the show tonight that she's gone, but i'll surely read your review :D

Anonymous said...

Would love to hear your thoughts as the programme airs - do you guys have a twitter feed?

Steve said...

Anonymous - I wouldn't go as far as to say we (or I, at least) hated Sophie, I just wasn't particularly interested in her one way or the other. Sometimes my indifference comes across as hatred in the heat of the moment. :)

As for Twitter feeds, absolutely - our collective one is at @tellybitching, or if you'd prefer to follow Rad, Helen or me individually, we're @RadShef, @helencairns or @stevenperkins respectively.