Top 6: 19th November 2011
LAST WEEK: "You" voted Amelia Lily back into the competition! (Whether any of our readers were responsible for this unwelcome turn of events is something I don't know, but I resent the show telling me that the result of the public vote is anything to do with me; the last X Factor contestant I voted for was Alexandra BURKE and I plan for it to stay that way). The finalists sang live (or some approximation thereof) for our votes and everyone was fucking tedious, but only Janet was called on it. In a sadly predictable bottom two, Kitty faced off against Misha, and the judges decided that it was finally time to put the cat out, but then Kitty got hugged by Lady Gaga and everything else became completely irrelevant. More so than usual.
Tonight is Movie Night [which is always shit. Also, it's FILMS in this country. British people just sound stupid when we say 'movie' - Rad], which hopefully means we'll get to hear the entire soundtrack of Gummo, and the top six will be fighting it out for a place in the grand final. You might think it a tad odd that the final is being mentioned so early, but the show would just like us to remember that this year it's coming from Wembley, in another example of scorching X Factor originality, just like when Austin Drage did that entirely original version of 'Billie Jean'. (God, even linking to David Cook brings me out in hives, but sometimes my editorial integrity requires it. That's how devoted I am to this blog, viewers!) Anywhere, where were we? Oh yes, everyone really wants to win. That's nice, isn't it?
Let's remember who's still here: Tulisa and her last remaining group, the inexplicably popular BixMIX, still presumably REPRESENTING WIMMINZ EVERYWHERE; Kelly's girls, Misha B, Janet DEVLIN and Amelia SHOEHORNEDBACKIN; and Gary's two remaining chaps, Craig BISCUIT and Marcus THROWBACK. It's time! To face! Acute tedium!
Titles! I consider taking up a less sadistic hobby, like base jumping or listening to Justin Bieber.
Live! From London! It's movie night, and here's our host: O'Leary, Derwood O'Leary. Peter Dickson's weird pronunciation of Derwood's last name made me think we might have Ulrika Jonsson as a special guest host for one glorious moment tonight, but ultimately I was disappointed. Derwood appears with some gold-catsuited Bond girls, nearly all of whom are taller than he is. Suitwatch: single breasted, drab grey, jacket looks about three sizes too big for him, BOXY BOXY BOXY. They do a little dance down to the front of the stage, which Derwood could not look less invested in if he tried. And we all know that as a former T4 presenter, he's had plenty of practice in attempting to look like he doesn't care about anything. Remember when you thought Derwood was cool? It's nice to know it's not just the judges and contestants who get completely ruined by this show. [I haven't thought about that you know, but you're right. He was awesome on Re:covered - Helen]
Derwood reminds us that for a change, nobody's resigned, there's been no power cut, it's almost like this show is staffed by actual professionals. Let's see how long that lasts. He blathers on about how the contestants will be going home if they flop, because if there's one thing that we've learned from the votes so far this series, it's that people are definitely voting for the best performances on the night, and emphatically not for who they fancy, or who they are told REPRESENTS WIMMINZ EVERYWHERE, or whoever is not a confident black woman. The judges enter to the overture from Star Wars (oh, the irony) and Kelly's chest appears to have popped open, exposing the crude circuitry inside. Oh, my mistake: that's just her outfit. Tulisa's actually looking quite nice tonight in a simple black belted dress, Borelow's still in country estate tweed and Louis is in his usual dinner suit. Tulisa does that weird arm salute again, having committed too much to it to stop now, even though no one in the country knows what it means or cares about it in the slightest.
Up first is Craig Biscuit for Gary, singing a "Bond classic". We're reminded that last week he proved there is no song so amazing that he cannot completely suck all the life and joy out of it with his Adelified version of 'Paparazzi', and Biscuit points out that he didn't think he'd get past the first audition, and yet he's made it all this way. Yes, top six! Wow siree, that really is something. You're joining such luminaries as Lloyd Daniels, Bellowing Beverley, Eoghan Quigg, Mary Byrne, etc. He explains that his life is PRETTY SHOWBIZ right now, because he was invited to a charity gig in Manchester. He neglects to mention that it was organised by his mentor. Biscuit witters on about how being recognised doesn't get any easier. MY HEART BLEEDS FOR YOU. He also says that they had a shock announcement from Tulisa this week. That announcement is...that they're all on the tour. Wow, the word "shock" really has lost all currency on this show, hasn't it? I mean, Olly and Caroline told Kitty on Xtra Factor last week that she'd be on the tour, so you'd think everyone still remaining in the competition would've taken it as read. (Also, the BixMix revisionist history extravaganza continues. They will not be the first girl group to make the tour. PHOEBE AND THE WOO WOO GIRLS WERE ON THE TOUR, FOR FUCK'S SAKE.) Biscuit then plays the JUST A NORMAL BOY FROM KIRKBY card, and I really could not care less. We see his parents blathering about how they just KNEW he was going to be a singer from an early age, and this is backed up with a video of Biscuit, aged two, doing something that could be vaguely described as "singing". I'm not exactly an expert on two-year-olds, but don't most of them do that? Borelow reminds us that Biscuit is NORMAL NORMAL NORMAL. Perhaps he is REPRESENTING NORMAL PEOPLE EVERYWHERE (but not the WIMMINZ, obviously, that's still BixMix's job).
He's singing 'Licence To Kill', from...Licence To Kill, oddly enough. He is giving it serious sidegob with an extra dose of the mumble factor. Because Biscuit is one of Borelow's mentees, the song has been "tripped back", i.e. has had all the interesting bits taken out, so the chorus is a disappointingly damb squib, and the less said about the Adelification of the middle eight the better. I am quite angry right now, because this is my favourite of all the Bond themes, and I hate Biscuit for draining all of the drama and urgency out of it.
Louis remarks that Biscuit is "a great person". Thanks Louis! However, he didn't like the song choice, because Biscuit is better than that song. He really, really isn't. Tulisa is slumped over the desk looking half-cut, so I'm going to assume that that is indeed the case with her tonight (she's clearly taking the same approach to getting through this show as the rest of us), slurring that he SHHHOUNDED ABSHHHOLUTELY AMAYSSSHING, but she agrees with Louis, that it was a bit predictable. Kelly: "You always come here, and you always deliver vocally." Odd how "you always come here" is a compliment. Maybe I have higher standards than most people, but "actually turning up" is pretty much the least I'm looking for from these people. She would like to give him some constructive criticism: "man, you know what? I just love you!" That is neither constructive nor criticism, Kelly. Sort it the fuck out. She wants to see more personality from him. Borelow whinges that this is "lazy critique from judges tonight". Sound the hypocrisy klaxon! He then moans that "this is a singing competition" (it really isn't, Borelow. The clue is in the title, if you bother to pay attention) and it's not a "song-choosing competition". Just as well. Tulisa starts clambering on the desk and waving around a bottle of shandy and screaming about how it was fine for him to say this sort of thing about her acts last week before bursting into tears and calling the audience a bunch of slags. Borelow tells Biscuit that it was an "incredible" performance and that he nailed it "as usual". [I only saw half a chorus of this - bless the fast forward button - but it was incredibly out of tune - Rad]
Derwood turns up and is all "it's movie night, though, Louis?" And Louis and Tulisa suggest that he could've done a much better Bond song. Yeah! He should've done 'All Time High' from Octopussy! Biscuit blands that it's the best Bond theme and that he and Gary chose it together, so haters to the left, and so on.
Time for an ad break. I like that even in the ads, the people playing on a Nintendo 3DS have got the 3D switched off because the games are much easier that way.
On our return, it's time for Kelly and the girls. Kelly is very keen to place her song choice, as her intro runs thus: "Singing a song from the 2003 box office hit How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, it's miss Janet Devlin." I love that we're really covering the classic films. Last week, Janet was ALMOST BORING for Borelow, and she's horrified by this, so this week she's trying to be a bit more uptempo. Janet explains that she's not a pop artist, and while she's not against pop music per se, "it's difficult to find songs that I like in the pop industry". Oh, do please FUCK OFF FOREVER, you tedious try-hard. "I'm not boring, I'm just weird," she insists, apparently unaware that there are few things in the world more boring than people who like to tell you they're weird. Janet goes to London's trendy Corinthia Hotel to get ready for the Twilight: Breaking Hymen premiere, and the stylist Laury Smith says that styling Janet is "always quite tricky" (read: a total soul-sucking nightmare). At the premiere, Janet says that people calling out her name is weird: "how do you know my name?" Possibly because you're on a show that's getting just under ten million viewers a week, love? Just an idea. Kelly insists that Janet isn't boring, and this week's song is a great one to showcase her personality.
Janet's singing 'Kiss Me' by Sixpence None The Richer, and I know that quibbling the source of songs from Movie Night is asking for trouble, but surely this is better known for being on the She's All That soundtrack? Anyway, in a strange sort of way, this song kind of suits Janet because it allows to her to yelp and be "whimsical". I'm going to ignore the fact that "kiss me beneath the milky twilight" sounds really disgusting, by the way.[Don't get me started on the "We'll take the trail marked on your father's map business *shudders* - Helen] She's moving about a bit while not actually straying away from the same spot on the floor, in some sort of Rebecca "Single Mother Goose" Ferguson tribute. She is also sidegobbing, thought not as badly as Biscuit did, and the conspicuously dropped consonants start to grate quite quickly, but this is probably the most I've enjoyed one of Janet's performances since the trainwreck that was 'I Want You Back', which I liked for possibly the wrong reasons. [Janet's was actually my favourite of the night. Kill me now before it becomes that time when the Claw did Michael Jackson and Blondie and made me vaguely like her - Rad.]
Louis is on full autopilot: all about the voice, natural Celtic charm, great recording voice, etc. Tulisa is so drunk that she's happy to see Janet back in her comfort zone, and also happy to see the smiley green leprechaun next to her, but her only "advice" is to "pull some big songs out of the bag" next week if she's through. So having told Janet to get out of her box a few weeks ago, then telling her to get straight back in it when she did that, now Tulisa's telling her to...get out of her box again? I'm not even sure what "big songs" is supposed to mean, exactly, but I'm guessing it means "do more uptempo shit", which was precisely what got her into trouble last time. I'm guessing Tulisa is running out of places to go with her judging, and fast. Gary thinks Janet has been performing "below average" over the last couple of weeks (depends on what you mean by "average" - this show's curve skews a lot lower than most of us would generally recognise by the term). He then goes on to say that it's all about song choice for her, and that when she gets the song choice right, she really soars. Or saws. Or sores. Any of the three could be applicable, quite frankly. Also, I note that Gary's "YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO COMMENT ON SONG CHOICE" regime went right out of the window the minute it wasn't his act on the stage. He is such a twat. Kelly thinks it's been a tough few weeks for Janet, but this was a great time for her to bounce back.
Derwood arrives and asks Janet if she's turned a corner. Janet says she was comfortable in the song. Derwood complains that Janet is now taller than him, like that isn't true for everyone in the entire world. "What are you, on stilts or something?" he asks. Kelly responds deadpan: "Yes. I like for my girls to wear stilts." Everyone involved is so very over this show, aren't they?
Time for another ad break. ITV is planning music specials with the following: Beyoncé (hooray!), Michael Bublé (boo!), Westlife (hiss!) and Justin Bieber (THERE IS NO GOD).
Once we're back, Derwood shills the official app, with a game on it that looks utter bobbins, and then it's time for Amelia Lily. She recalls being voted back in last week, and then standing with her legs apart bellowing into the middle distance, which is what passes for talent these days. Kelly pretends that she had to make a tough decision to send someone home in week one, rather than admitting it was idiotic of her to keep Sophie "Hilarious in Islington, honest" Habibis in the competition. Amelia tells us that she's been doing gigs all over the country since being eliminated, and has definitely not given up or anything. She goes on to say that Kelly took her category to a spa in London to relax (as opposed to Tulisa, who took BixMix to a Spar in Camden for MOAR BOOZE), and then they all went to Twilight. Amelia wants to prove that she should've been in the competition all along.
She's performing 'Think' by Aretha Franklin, from Bridget Jones's Diary, apparently, with the vapid expression of a blow-up doll plastered all over her face. She fluffs the lyrics early on ("oh, think! Let's go back and mnahmnahmnah free!") There's not much to get excited about here - she's completely dead behind the eyes, the staging is lifeless, and Katharine McPhee managed to do a lot more with a lot less on American Idol. Amelia's performance isn't even particularly tuneful.
Auto-Louis: you are the comeback girl, you are the one to watch, you're the next big UK female, oh Kelly, why did you get rid of her, etc. Tulisa, tipping her vodka bottle up high in order to suck those precious remaining drops of ambrosia out, thinks that everyone is pleased to have Amelia back, but she didn't like the song choice, because she didn't feel the song is well-known enough. "I don't know that song!" she exclaims. Well, that's next week's theme sorted: Songs Tulisa Knows. (Tulisa is so hilariously out of her depth at this point, and I'm officially calling for her removal purely based on having never heard that song before. Fuck's sake, Tulisa, get wider pools of reference.) Borelow thinks it was a fantastic performance, and trying to be constructive, he thinks it was all "a semi-tone too high" for her. Sure, whatever. Kelly thinks she did a great job and "not everybody will know the song, but...yeah, I'm just going to leave it at that." Sheesh.
Derwood asks Amelia how it feels to be back. Amelia is all IT IS HARD TO RETURN SUDDENLY, I AM JUST TRYING MY BEST, ALSO WHEN CAN I GET MY HAIR CHANGED BACK TO A NORMAL COLOUR PLEASE?
Competition time: win tickets to see Olly MURS! This is presented as a good thing, despite the new competition clip being Olly completely massacring 'Don't Stop Me Now'. Then time for more ads, including the John Lewis Christmas ad, which is amazing whatever the heartless people might be telling you.
When we return, Derwood is in the audience with Giant Ham David Walliams, who is introduced as being a BixMix fan, because they REPRESENT LAYDEEZ EVERYWHERE, presumably. Russell Tovey's next to him as well, though he's not got his arse out so I barely recognise him. Derwood asks David Walliams who his favourite remaining act is, and BixMix fan David Walliams says that it's BixMix. Well, that was edifying.
Up next, with a track from The Bodyguard, it's Misha B. Last week, she was bottom two again, and Misha VTs that she doesn't know what she's doing wrong. Ooh! Ooh! I know! You started off being a confident black woman, which is always an obstacle on this show, then Tulisa threw you under the bus, then you reinvented yourself as someone tediously humble who gives low-key performances, thereby alienating the small but appreciative group of people who liked you in the first place. I think that covers it, right? We're reminded of Misha's sob story regarding her birth mother, WHO IS NOT DEAD BUT ABSENT, since this week she wrote a letter to the press saying she wanted to get back in touch. Would it not have been easier to send it to The X Factor, Misha's Birth Mum? Kelly shares her own troubled family history with Misha, and Misha cries a bit. Misha says that she doesn't know how her mother would've felt at the time, so she's not going to hold grudges. More crying from both of them. DEAR AUDIENCE, MISHA HAS VULNERABILITY, PLEASE VOTE FOR HER, LOTS OF LOVE FROM THE X FACTOR. Kelly says that Misha will be able to use everything she's been through this week in her performance.
It's a performance of 'I Have Nothing' by Whitney Houston. It's not that great, to be honest. HumbleBalladMisha is not all that exciting, and for all that the word "predictable" has been overused to the point of losing all meaning this year, this does feel like the absolute most obvious place they could've gone with Misha at this point, and it's pretty much just made her just another generic little girl with a big voice. Such a disappointment, considering the sort of performance she used to be capable of before this awful show chewed her up and spat her out.
Auto-Louis: you look incredible, that is a hard song by a great artist, I want people from *INSERT HOMETOWN HERE* to vote for you. Tulisa summons Derwood over and, mistaking him for a waiter in that ill-fitting suit, orders another round of cocktails for everyone before telling Misha that she looks beautiful and has an amazing voice. Misha is crying at this point. Borelow says nonsensically: "I can't tell you how sad I was last week to see you twice in the bottom week", and he disagrees with everyone watching the show, because he can't believe no one's voting for her. He's an absolute mass of incoherence tonight, isn't he? He thinks the worst thing about all of this is that it's affecting her song choices (WHICH WE ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE COMMENTING ON, GARY) and her performances because she's being too safe, and he wants the old Misha B back. As much as it goes against every fibre of my being to agree with this man, I have to say: word, Gary Barlow. He thinks that if she's going to go out that way, "who cares? Go out with your integrity!" Kelly thought it was a great performance, and thinks everyone needs to vote for Misha to stay in.
Derwood arrives and gives her a hug. He asks her how she's feeling now, and Misha says that she set herself up to expect the unexpected, but she's glad to still be here living the dream, etc. Derwood asks her what the tears are for. The Misha Of My Dreams: "They're for votes, Derwood. I mean, it doesn't seem to have been doing The Chubby-Faced One from BixMix, who represent wimminz everywhere, any harm to constantly appear on screen sobbing about how the world is SO MEAN, so I figured it was worth a shot." The Actual Misha: "It's just everything."
All-New All-Boring Misha departs, and it's time for BixMix. Tulisa informs us that they're singing a song from the movie Set It Off. Ah, this year's Gummo. I'd never heard of this one, so I looked it up on IMDB and discovered that it's about "four black women, all of whom have suffered for lack of money and at the hands of the majority, [who] undertake to rob banks." Yeah, that totally sounds like a film this show's audience would have seen and also totally relate to.
BixMix's VT is about how being in a girl group is hectic. So hectic that they managed to spare some time to meet The Saturdays, all the better to understand how to continue being a poor man's version of them. Mollie From The Saturdays ruins herself forever by signing up to the BixMix "look how well you get on! That is so surprising considering you are all women attempting to work together!" line of offensive bullshit. Vanessa thinks they are just like The Saturdays were at the beginning of the career, by which she presumably means "a less good version of something that already exists". Rochelle says that they can't wait to have another girlband on the scene with them. Yes, what the Saturdays definitely need now is someone encroaching on their share of the marketplace. Idiot. They go to the Twilight premiere where they meet some women, WHOM THEY REPRESENT (this is totally the new WHO IS DEAD, isn't it?) and where Taylor Lautner gives his very best "I heartily endorse this musical act and/or product" down the camera. Meanwhile, RPattz indicates that he enjoys The X Factor about as much as he enjoys films about sparkly vampires. Oh, RPattz. NEVER CHANGE ♥. Tulisa complains that last week Gary called BixMix predictable, so this week she's going to prove their and her skill for spontaneity by doing an En Vogue song, which I'm sure had absolutely nothing to do with Kelly making a comment relating them to En Vogue last week. REPRESENTING UNPREDICTABILITY EVERYWHERE!
They're doing 'Don't Let Go (Love)', which is an AMAZING song, so points for that, at least. That's about all the credit I'm giving them though, because this performance is such a fucking liberty that it's actually embarrassing. The chorus is done almost entirely by a pre-recorded backing track, incredibly obviously so (particularly since on the rare occasion that you can hear an actual live BixMix vocal during it, it's because someone's gone out of tune), to the point where I consider submitting a case under the Trades Descriptions Act, because there is nothing Little whatsoever about the amount of Mix being deployed in this performance. To demonstrate how the confident, full-sounding vocal was clearly not spontaneously produced, all of the individual, live vocals during the verse are thin, reedy and kind of pathetic. Still, this sort of shit got Wand Erection to third place last year, so I'm kind of resigned to BixMix being in the final this year. I'm thinking Jesy is the Phoebe of the outfit, since she's the only one capable of producing anything that sounds even vaguely accomplished when required to sing solo. [I thought it was OK, as far as Wand Erection memorial backing singer-laden performances go. But they get no points from me because they didn't have nice day-glo lighting this week - Rad]
Auto-Louis: you have grown so much, you're the next great girlband, I loved everything about it. Kelly says that they did everything she wanted to do, "y'all look so much polished". She thinks they could be the best girl group to come out of the UK. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. *wipes tear* Borelow thinks it was their (/the sound engineer's) best performance to date, but he still has a request - he wants them to do something stripped back. Y'know, something really fucking boring. Tulisa pauses, lets out a giant belch, wipes the drool from her lips with the back of her arm, and tells BixMix that she is VERY PROUD OF THEM, NO REALLY I LOVE YOU, YOU'RE MY BESSSSSSHHHH MATESHHH. She also insists that they are not safe: "if you're a [BixMix] fan, pick up the phone and vote, they need it!" I think this tweet of mine from last night sums up my feelings on this matter fairly succinctly.
Derwood asks BixMix if it's their best performance. Perrie says that they enjoyed it, and hopefully showed a different side to themselves. Judging by the styling tonight, I think that side is "the cast of Pretty Little Liars dressed as zombies for Hallowe'en".
Final ad break of the evening. Woo-hoo! Also, Jimmy Choo are doing perfumes now. I wonder if they smell like feet.
Back in the studio, it's time for the last performance of the night: Marcus, with a song from Ghostbusters. I can tell you now, he's got his work cut out if he wants to top this. Last week, he enjoyed himself on stage (FILTH!) but got "mixed comments" from the judges, because Tulisa called him predictable. Imagine that! Borelow complains that they're criticising Marcus for who he wants to be and making him feel unsure of himself. This week, Marcus got to meet Single Mother Goose, because she's got an album coming out. He tells her that he's been trying to find his niche in the show, and he knows that she remained the same throughout the competition. Yes: shit, boring, noodley, and leaving scientists scrambling to invent a scale on which to measure negative levels of stage presence. HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK, Single Mother Goose advises him. This makes Marcus feel a lot better. Borelow hints that they're changing things up a bit this week, but it'll still be Marcus doing what Marcus does.
He's singing '(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher' (which, incidentally, is from Ghostbusters 2, not Ghostbusters), which is his second Jackie Wilson song in the space of three weeks. Someone needs to explain to Marcus (and Gary) the difference between "settling into a genre that suits you" and "establishing yourself as a tribute act". He's got a gospel choir behind him, presumably because the show wanted to save money by using them for something else beyond pre-recording the vocals for BixMix this week, but aside from that it's all fairly standard. I can't believe how quickly I went from quite liking Marcus to finding him pretty dull. [Me too. Poor Marcus - Rad]
Borelow gets to his feet and tries to rally the audience into a standing ovation. It doesn't happen. Auto-Louis: you're definitely a star, I love your energy, I have no criticism for you. Tulisa fumbles in her bag for her phone, tapping randomly at it in the hope of somehow getting through to a cab company, and tells Marcus that he understood the theme this week (well, that makes one of us) and he's back on top. Kelly says that Marcus has shut the building down. If only. She feels like she's levitating, because Tulisa is now so wasted that even the air around her is 30% proof. Either that, or she quite enjoyed Marcus this evening. Borelow calls it the "preformance" (a work colleague of mine pointed out earlier in the week that he always says it wrong - I hadn't noticed before, but now I know about it, it's super-irritating) of the night, and no other contestant has improved the way he has. Apart from all the other contestants who they keep saying have improved.
Derwood asks if he's "the only one who's not a little bit disappointed that wasn't the theme from Ghostbusters", which I take to mean he didn't want that to happen. Sort your double negatives out, Derwood. He asks Marcus how he's feeling, and Marcus is very happy to have good comments, adding that Single Mother Goose helped to confirm who he is as an artist and now he's got his confidence back.
That's it - hooray! Derwood declares the public vote officially open, and reminds us of all the numbers. Recap time: Biscuit having a licence to bore, Janet asking us to kiss her beneath her milky twilight, Amelia telling us to think in a "do as I say, not as I do" moment, Misha having nothing, The Backing Track (featuring BixMix), and Marcus's voice getting higher and higher.
Derwood promises that Single Mother Goose will be back on the show to honk at us while not moving even a tiny fraction tomorrow night, and also Rihanna will be here. Also, someone's going home, but who? The bookies seem to think Biscuit, interestingly enough, but I suspect Misha is more likely. We'll find out soon...