Sunday, September 30, 2012

International developments

Judges' Houses 1: 29th September 2012

Well, the show gets off to an excellent start with me this week by flashing up the caption "JUDGES HOUSES", completely lacking an apostrophe anywhere. I mean, I know the judges do not own these houses, but for the purposes of this show they are still the judges' houses for this weekend. Personally I quite like referring to this part of the competition as "Judges. Houses." as they're really the only two parts anyone cares about. Anyway, the show persists with the idea that something screened over two evenings is a "double bill" and teases us with lots of shots of glamorous international locations, as well as the arrival of special guests Tinie Tempah, Ne-Yo (who everyone sounds like they're calling "Neil", so I shall call him that), some irrelevant bint who used to do this show years ago and OH MY GOD THE LONG AWAITED RETURN OF MOST IMPORTANT WOMAN IN THE WORLD CHERYL COLE. 25 acts are fighting for a place in the live shows - and since 25 is not a number equally divisible by four, those of us who haven't been reading the gossip columns this week already know that there are shenanigans ahead. There are previews of the judges making their final decisions, which seems to involve Rylan crying like a sealion, or Rebecca Ferguson. "HONK HONK HONK!"

Titles! It has literally just occurred to me that the giant X we see in the titles is Going On A Journey. How very apt.

We join Dermot in a rather nice stripey polo in what appears to be a sun-drenched island location, the specific identity of which will be revealed shortly. He tells us that everyone's vying for a place in the live finals, and we see everyone heading to what looks like Heathrow Airport, not knowing their final destination. I would love it if everyone had packed bikinis and shorts only for Tulisa to announce that this year she'll be holding court in Greenland. Speaking of Tulisa, the Girls are the first to find out where they're going - Jade Ellis opens the envelope and reveals they're off to St Lucia! Everyone celebrates, including Amy, who then confesses that she doesn't know where St Lucia is. If only it turned out to be in the Outer Hebrides, eh folks?

Over with the Boys, Rylan proves that he's smarter than he looks, telling us that he's packed swimming trunks AND fleeces, since he doesn't know what their final destination is. Rylan opens the envelope, and they're off to Dubai. He seems awfully excited for someone who...might not be terribly welcome there? I mean, it's just a vibe I'm getting. Jahmene interviews that knowing they're going to Dubai is all well and good, but he still doesn't know who their mentor is.

Next we have the groups, and Dermot reveals that Rough Copy have been bounced - voicing-over dismissively that "one of them has had a visa issue". Presumably not the sort where he hadn't paid his credit card bill. So, for reasons that are not entirely clear, Louis has replaced them with two groups: Times Red (you know, the Abercrombie & Bitches) and Triple J, who have been frankenbanded into a four-piece with someone called George Shelley, of whom I have no memory but apparently he was a (wait for it) brunette white male with a guitar. Stop the presses! Obviously they cannot be called Triple J any more, so they are now called Union J and are presumably the preferred act of the BNP. They're still doing the whole "hoodies with the strings tied in a bow" look, which I saw a few people doing in the streets of trendy Soho the other day, so I'm guessing that's an actual thing now. I need to learn their actual names at some point, but one of them definitely has a Scott-Lee thing going on, and one of them is basically Resentful Direction's identical twin [Scott-Lee J, Resentful J, G-J, Other-J - Rad]. One of Times Red says they're the "underdogs" now, so they've got to work twice as hard. He asks the check-in clerk where they're going, and she tells them it's more than her job's worth to reveal that. She later brings over an envelope when they're all assembled, and the card inside reveals they're off to Las Vegas. The one of Poisonous Twin who isn't Steph from Big Brother suggests a fundamental misunderstanding of the show by trying to figure out who their mentor is based on who might actually own a house in Vegas.

Finally, the Overs are not gathering in an airport, but rather at the Savoy, so it would appear they're not getting any international travel experiences courtesy of the show. An archetypal snooty butler tells them that their judge is waiting for them at "the exquisite Belton House". Everyone cheers, though nervous Christopher admits he didn't really understand the Snooty Butler so he's not actually sure where they're going.

A bit of travel-based filler. Jade Ellis says that she's sure the Queen is the only person who gets the sort of treatment she's getting right now. Somehow I doubt the Queen ever flies Virgin Atlantic, first-class or not. Some of them hang out at the bar, even though we now know courtesy of Funsponge that alcohol is bad for your voice.

A blue line follows their trajectory from London to St Lucia, and for one glorious minute I think there's going to be an awesome format change where they ditch the singing competition and turn the show into The Amazing Race instead. Like, they're going to land and get told to form teams of two and immediately have to choose between carrying twenty crates of chickens up to the fortieth floor of a tower block or looking for the only egg with two yolks in a batch of a thousand, then racing to the pit stop where Dermot will eliminate the last team to arrive. I'd far rather watch that. Instead, we arrive in St Lucia and the Girls run around in the sea, which looks kind of murky. The girls wonder who their mentor will be, and entertain the unlikely possibility that it is Simon Cowell. Instead, they huddle on the beach as a motorboat turns up containing...Tulisa! She has to be lifted out of the boat by the burly captain, and almost gives us an upskirt in the process. Jade Ellis interviews that she's really pleased because she always wanted Tulisa. And who's going to be Tulisa's guest judge? Her "good friend from back in the day", Tinie Tempah. Tinie does not need to be lifted out of the boat because he is a man, and capable, unlike girls, who need to rely on men because they wear silly dresses that leave them incapable of doing things like getting out of boats. Girl power! Tinie tells the contestants that there are so many talented female artists in the UK right now, "Tulisa being one of 'em" (Tulisa gives a meek little "yeah, me" shrug at this, because she's awful) but he thinks there's space for one or two more. "Lessaveit!" yells Tulisa. Jade Collins is excited to have met "two celebrities". Obviously she wasn't that impressed by the line-up during all of the other auditions.

Meanwhile, the Groups have landed in Vegas, where they're shepherded over to Caesar's Palace. A limo pulls up and Louis appears, and everyone pretends to be excited. Louis tells them he's only going to pick "the three people" (oops) who work the hardest. He tells them he wants 100% tomorrow. One of GMD3 thinks it's great having Louis as their mentor because "he's done boybands before". [Joke redacted. - Telly Bitching Lawyers] His very special guest is Elvis! Oh no wait, that's just someone in a costume. It's actually Sharon Osbourne! She tells them that superstars from all over the world perform here (when they're tired of actually being relevant and just want to collect ALL THE MONEY) and that could be in their future. The bloke from MK1 says that Sharon's experience speaks for itself. Yes, with four series of the show under her belt and not a single win to her name (and only one runner-up, for that matter), it really does. Louis reminds them he wants 100% tomorrow, and Sharon, of course, says she wants 200%.

Over to Dubai with the Boys now, and James Arthur thinks it's amazing that he's here because of "my music". Oh, so he's going to be that asshole. Right. Rylan says it's the "ult place to be". Because polysyllabic words are just too much eff. They await to see who their mentor will be, and a yacht arrives with Nicole casually posing on the bow railings. Rylan shouts something about Nicole looking like Titanic, which is not a comparison I'd imagine she'd welcome since her X Factor career has already hit one iceberg and claimed countless lives. Jake says that she's "like an oil painting", at which point my boyfriend remarked "yeah, Whistler's Mother." Nicole tells them that she's so excited to be their mentor, and introduces her guest judge: Neil. Neil looks thrilled to be there, and tells them that Nicole has told him terrible things about them all. Nicole laughs, because the idea that she'd even spoken to him at any point before the last 30 seconds is hilarious. Neil reminds them of the stakes: "six bodies, three slots", which sounds like a very uncomfortable porno. Jahmene is excited because Neil is a brilliant songwriter, apparently.

And back in Britain, the Overs arrive at Belton House, which is gentrified and lavish and could not be Barlow's House more if it had a giant "no fun allowed" sign above the front door. Given that Gary's category aren't required to go overseas, I bet Rough Copy are FEWMIN that he wasn't their mentor. Carolynne doesn't know who could live in a house like this. David, it's over to you. Sorry, wrong show: after a bit of alleged "comic business" in which somebody called Brad who I have absolutely no memory of arrives on horseback and Carolynne is all "oh, YOU", it's time for their actual mentor to arrive. Nicola imagines if Gary is their mentor and how he'll be all "oh god, it's HER", since he was not a fan of her audition. A helicopter approaches (of course, motor cars are for plebs) and out pops Funsponge himself. Five of the contestants look thrilled, Nicola smiles wanly and claps feebly. "I felt sick when I saw Gary," she interviews. I think we can all relate to that. Gary tells them he wants amazing vocals today. Oh, and of course there's his special guest: Cheryl Cole. Brad rushes over to embrace her, and you can clearly see Cheryl politely but firmly not committing to the hug. I wonder what expertise she'll have to lend as far as the Overs are concerned. I mean, she can't refer to any of them as "Mawliddle [Insert Name Here]" so she's on the back foot from the word go. Cheryl says she knows how they're feeling, "because I've been there and I've been here". Yeah, she's a regular Carmen Sandiego. Christopher interviews: "Cheryl Cole! I couldn't take my eyes off the two of them!" Perve.

Ad break. Apparently Emmerdale is having an anniversary of some sort soon. That'd be fun if anyone cared.

After the ads, we're back in Vegas, because the Groups are the least important category. Dermot runs us through the shortlist and asks Louis why he's got seven groups instead of six, and Louis says that he just couldn't decide between Times Red and Union J, because of the immense talent, and also because one is ripped and one is twinky, and what is life if you don't embrace diversity? He and Sharon are conducting the session on the roof of the Rio Hotel, all the better for the contestants to throw themselves off if it goes poorly. A shirtless bartender comes up (classy!) and Sharon asks him if he's ever considered doing a commercial for teeth. Sadly, he does not reply "no, because nobody advertises teeth for sale on television, you mad bitch." Louis thinks the topless bartender is a "good start". Hell, put him through to live shows! Or just frankenband him into Times Red. (Yes, "frankenband" is now a verb. Deal with it.)

Speaking of Times Red and their abdominals, here they are. They recall being booted at boot camp and how that made them realise just how much they wanted this, so now they want it even more. Louis asks why he should pick them today, and one of them replies that he hasn't seen the best of them yet. I ache for a judge to reply "well, why not? You've had plenty of chances" in response to that particular banality, but regrettably neither Louis nor Sharon does. They're singing 'Ain't No Sunshine' (/'Anal Sunshine', if you're puerile like me) which they mix into 'Let's Get It Started' for some reason. For reasons that aren't ever explained, it is dark when they sing but light again as they walk off and congratulate themselves. Louis and Sharon think they look good and sound good, but Louis thinks there's a lot of work to be done.

Next up are Mitsotu. "That sounds like something from a Chinese menu," squeaks Sharon, trying and failing to channel Dame Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey. Mitsotu sing an acoustic version of 'Hey Ya!', but most of their performance is eclipsed by an interview in which they talk about having been dancers behind big stars and now they want to be at the front themselves. The performance seems decent, if a bit lifeless. Louis likes them. "Great likeability," agrees Sharon. So far all she's done is parrot Louis's opinions back at him. Louis isn't sure who the lead singer is, though, because God forbid a band divide the work out evenly.

After them are MK1/New Look/Quality Seconds/etc etc etc. Dermot reminds us that their initial audition was "bittersweet", most of the bitterness coming from Will who was forced out of the band, but nobly agreed himself a 33% cut of all future royalties in the process - a part of the story that the remaining members seem curiously reluctant to mention. Simeon is on crutches because of a football injury, so they perform on stools, which I'm sure is only going to increase their chances of gaining Louis's approval. He loves a good stool. They sing 'Just Be Good To Me' with what appears to be an original rap. They have pretty good chemistry together, even sitting down. Sharon like their confidence. "But not overconfident," cautions Louis, just in case anyone watching still remembers last year and how confidence is BAD, especially for young girls.

Then we have Union J, preparing for their debut as a quartet. "Three have become four! What the hell's going on! You're freaking me out!" wails Dermot, who appears to be coming down from some strong hallucinogens. He reminds us that Triple J were initially sent home only to be spectacularly brought back with a new member. Resentful J says that George has only been with them for a few days, so it's been a bit of a rollercoaster. Scott-Lee J says that they feel like brothers, and George has made them ten times stronger. Louis asks them what it means to them, and Resentful J talks about how having to go back to their normal jobs was so awful and demeaning. They sing an achingly earnest acoustic rendition of 'Call Me Maybe' that strips all of the lighthearted fun out of the initial, and repeatedly insist on dragging out the "maybe" to uncomfortable lengths just so they can showcase a particularly shaky harmony. Sharon thinks a few of them have picked up bad habits, and Louis agrees that some work is needed.

Poisonous Twin are next. "Hi, Doublemint!" says Sharon, in a quip that's lost on the vast majority of the UK audience and certainly on Poisonous Twin themselves [and on me - Rad]. Very little of their performance of 'Freak Like Me' is shown, and what we do see seems a bit amateurish, so I doubt we'll be seeing them again. Sharon thinks they need a lot of work.

After them we have relentless tune-fiddlers Duke, who are meddling with 'The Way You Make Me Feel' this time. "Sharon, what was that? What was that noise?" asks Louis, seeming genuinely distressed. He thinks they're "of today", for better or worse.

Finally we have GMB3, who look like TopMan sneezed on them, and who want to prove that they deserve a place in the live shows. They sing 'Bless The Broken Road', which is an unusual choice, and there's something infuriatingly cheesy about them which probably means that they're an absolute shoo-in for the live shows. Sharon thinks they're "a delight" and that you can tell they take it seriously. Louis asks if there's anything she dislikes about them, and Sharon replies "yes, the name: it sounds like a virus and it doesn't say anything about them." Sharon Osbourne in "concise and useful feedback" shocker! She tells Louis that he's overloaded with boybands and asks which one he is going to pick. Hahahaha! Which one. Oh, good one, Sharon.

Time for Louis and Sharon to deliberate. Sharon thinks that all the groups were "equally as special". Well, her usefulness didn't last long, did it? [I too had thought she was more use than she had been, well, ever, until this point - Rad] There is much angsting over the decisions, and occasional product placement in which Louis shows Sharon various first auditions on a Samsung tablet. Louis says that one group is a definite yes from him. "You're wrong," says Sharon. I'm fairly certain Louis knows which groups he's going to say yes to better than you do, Sharon. Louis tells her her that "the show has moved on from when you were a judge". I feel that this show is vaguely insulting my intelligence by pretending that Sharon Osbourne ever had any idea of how to win The X Factor. Especially since her attempt to turn viewers against Steve Brookstein is largely credited as being the driving force behind his victory. Louis and Sharon think they've come up with a winning category. I doubt it, but I'm happy for them all the same.

Ad break! That's a really nice beaver in the Netflix advert.

Upon our return, we're in Dubai with Nicole and the Boys. Nicole thinks this category is very strong (so strong that she was hoping to get the girls?) and that winning means getting the best out of her contestants. Nicole and Neil are holding court in a very opulent hotel, and James Arthur is the first to sing for them. We're briefly reminded of his audition where he was so dull/"authentic" that Gary had to go into a quiet room afterwards to calm up. He talks about being afraid of putting himself out there as a person, and being afraid to pursue his dreams of music because of his appearance. Oh, take it to The Voice, you dullard. Nicole asks what it would mean to him to go through to live shows, and James says that he's never wanted anything more. He sings 'I Can't Make You Love Me', and because I watch so many reality shows I am completely impervious to that song since I've heard it so many bloody times, so I genuinely can't tell you if it's a good rendition or not; all I'm getting is white noise with the occasional chesty grunt. Neil thinks James "sings like he doesn't have a choice" and that there was pain in the performance, but worries that the anxiety might take over.

Nathan Fagan-Gayle is next. My boyfriend informs me reliably that he was on Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack. Nathan sings 'Beautiful Monster' (originally by Neil - how convenient!) though we don't see much of the performance, as it's spliced up with interview footage of Nathan talking about how much he wants this. Neil thinks it felt like a "look how cool I am" performance which detracted from the singing. Nicole thinks Nathan would sound great on a record.

Adam Burridge follows, singing 'SOS' by Abba. His performance is also only partly shown, as it's apparently more important for us to know that he does not want to go back to his day job of (gasp!) making coffee and answering phones. What we do see of his performance is so overwrought that even Pierce Brosnan is like "dude, try to sound a bit less like a dying walrus". Neil thinks Adam has a good voice and a great tone. Nicole thinks this is all very tough.

Jake Quickenden is next, and apparently it is relevant for us to know that the health of Jake's terminally ill younger brother deteriorated shortly before he flew out to Dubai. Jake sniffs that he wants to give his little brother "something to live for" and wow. I don't want to make any jokes here for what I hope are obvious reasons, but sometimes it really worries me when people put that sort of expectation on a TV entertainment show. Nicole asks Jake what it would mean to him to make the live shows, and fortunately for everyone we're spared any mention of terminally ill siblings at this point, and the show moves straight on to Jake singing 'Back For Good'. I would give anything for Nicole to say "I remember the original. It's nice to hear it sung in tune for once." Instead, she just thanks him and sends him off, while Neil thinks the vocal wasn't as strong as it could be. Jake is aware that it didn't go perfectly, but he's happier than he was at boot camp, which he thinks is "something". Nicole isn't sure if he's ready.

Ad break. I'm quite impressed that the Argos aliens are still a thing that exists in the face of widespread public indifference.

We're still in Dubai when we return, as Nicole marvels that Neil is "a tough judge". The less said about that the better, I feel. Rylan's the next one up to sing, and the show makes a big deal about how this is a long way to come when you're from Essex, because as we all know people from Essex aren't usually allowed out of the county boundaries in case they mess up the breeding stock. One of the others asks Rylan if he's ever been anywhere like this, and Rylan quips that the closest he's been to this before is "on Google Earth". He admits that the others think he's here to have a laugh, but they couldn't be more wrong. "I've got to prove that I can sing now; I've got to prove that I can be serious," he tells Dermot, while wearing a 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head'-esque hooded shawl. Rylan is straight-up trolling, and I love him for it. Nicole asks him what he's wearing. "I don't really know," admits Rylan. "But when in Dubai, you know..." He's totally won me over. Rylan for the win! He sings a drastically slowed-down rendition of 'We Found Love'. At the end, Nicole asks him how he did. "I don't know, Nic," admits Rylan.

Up next is Nervy Jahmene, whose journey we're reminded of again (works in Asda, impressed at first audition, stunk up the place at Boot Camp, had panic attack) and he tells us that singing is his means of expression because talking is not his strong point, but this show is helping him to grow, apparently. Nicole tells him to "sing your heart out", and Jahmene delivers a rather strained rendition of 'Titanium'. I think that's a classic case of prioritising a song that has a message you relate to over a song you can actually sing. Also, he really needs to work on those unpleasant faces he pulls when he sings. Afterwards, Neil tells him that the nervous energy will either make him or break him, and he shouldn't let it be the second one. Nicole thinks he has a brilliant voice, but isn't sure he's ready for the pressure of the competition. Dermot asks Jahmene if he's done enough, and Jahmene thinks, on the basis of that performance, that he probably isn't.

That's it for Dubai, performance-wise, so now it falls to Nicole and Neil to decide who's advancing to the live shows. There are lots of vague statements that could easily apply to anyone - frankly I really don't care about this group as long as Rylan gets through. Any other outcome is well jokes. Nicole and Neil fist-bump to celebrate the making of a decision. [Also: you can clearly see James and Jahmene in one of the two lists - Rad]

Ad break. Ooh, a new series of Monroe. I like that show.

We return to St Lucia, with Tulisa and the girls. 'Wings' by Little Mix plays on the soundtrack - is it me, or does the "mama" in that song sound like she's trying to get rid of them? All that "spread your wings my little butterfly" stuff sounds like a polite way of saying "it's time for you to move out". Also, I heard the Amelia Lily single the other day - what an utter pile of garbage. It really wasn't a vintage year last year, was it? [I kind of like Wings.  And Misha B's new one.  I'm sorry.  With you on Amelia Lily though - Rad] Tulisa vows that she's won before, and she can win again, because she thinks the girls are a strong category this year.

Jade Ellis is up first, and reminds us that she lives in a tower block. I quite like her, but she really needs to stop going on about that, and stop pretending that "I want to make a better life for my child" is a good reason to apply for this show, because it really isn't. Jade manages not to be blinded by Tulisa's peed-on-snow hair and hot pink dress, and launches into a rendition of 'Stand By Me'. I still really like her voice, I must admit. Tinie likes her, and Tulisa agrees there's something about Jade's energy and her "swag". But does she have the X factor?

Essex Amy is next, and talks about her whole life leading up to being on this show in a way that makes me feel incredibly old. She does the "I'm just a girl from Essex, things like this don't happen to people like me" schtick in an ill-advised attempt to airbrush Stacey Solomon out of history. She sings the Emily Sunday version of 'Read All About It', and Tulisa thinks that Amy has "so much soul for someone so young". Amy weeps that it was the best time of her life. Tulisa thinks Amy let her nerves seep into her vocal.

Next is Leanne Robinson, whose performance of 'Hurt' gets almost no airtime, so I doubt she'll be getting any good news tomorrow.

Jade Collins sings 'It Must Have Been Love', so I'm sure Rad will have a great many opinions about that. [To be fair, I didn't hate it as much as that girl band who did it on live shows that one time, or whatsisface who inexplicably won Superstar - Rad] Jade interviews about her mum again, reminding us that she has a tough background. Tinie thinks she's "raw talent", but Tulisa wonders if that's enough to stand up against the girls with more powerful voices.

Our penultimate performer is Lucy Spraggan, who runs us through some of the jobs she's had (plumber's apprentice, magician, tour guide, trainee firefighter, boxer, mascot, astronaut, baby proofer, imitation Krusty, truck driver, hippie, plow driver, food critic, conceptual artist, grease salesman, carny, mayor, grifter, body guard for the mayor, Country/Western manager, garbage commissioner, mountain climber, farmer, inventor, Smithers, Poochie, celebrity assistant, power plant worker, fortune cookie writer, beer baron, Kwik-E-Mart clerk, homophobe, and missionary) but informs us that this is her dream. Her first audition went well, but she doubts herself because she's just So Different from the sort of people who normally apply for this show. She sings a plaintive rendition of 'I Will Always Love You', which is nice enough but doesn't really play to her strengths, by which I mean doesn't put her in the sort of one-trick-pony box that the show needs her to be in. Afterwards, Lucy frets that she missed up the notes, while Tulisa notes that Lucy has her niche, and wonders if there is room for Lucy's niche. Fnar.

Finally we have Ella Henderson whose self-penned, grandfather-inspired song won her lots of fans at auditions. She is sporting some seriously heavy makeup on her upper eyelids; I'm surprised she can open them. She talks about being young and away from home and how exciting that is. I can't wait for the inevitable hilarious VTs during the live shows where Melanie Masson shows her how to use a washing machine. [Oh God.  This is so going to happen - Rad] Ella sings 'I Won't Give Up' by Jason Mraz and clearly has one of the strongest voices in the category. Tinie is dumbstruck by how good she is. Tulisa thinks this is all getting too tough because they're all worthy, apparently. Even Leanne, who apparently wasn't worthy of airtime.

The sun sets in St Lucia, and Tulisa and Tinie must decide which three are going through to the live shows. Tinie asks Tulisa who she'd have as her support on tour. Surely the answer to that is always Little Mix? They do, after all, represent wimminz everywhere. The deliberations go on for a long time, and Tinie requests a look at Lucy's first performance so we can get the product placement in. Lucy thinks she might have blown her chances. Tulisa decides she needs to sleep on it. Make a decision, you turtle-faced bitch!

After another ad break, we're back in the English country with Gary. Blur's 'Country House' plays on the soundtrack, since no one on the show seems to have realised that Gary's the sort of person that song is supposed to satirise. Gary talks about how the overs are a strong category this year because they're full of talent - they're not club singers, they're dead relevant and that! Yeah, we'll see.

Once we get a bit of comic business out of the way in which Gary and Cheryl try to prove they're still in touch with the commoners by clicking their fingers and summoning an underling to bring them a scone, Carolynne arrives to sing for them. Carolynne reminds us that last year was the worst year of her life, with the IVF failure and the marriage break-up and the rejection. She knows that everyone wants it really badly, but she reckons she wants it more. She talks to Gary and Cheryl about being "gutted" last year; Cheryl asks who her judge was and, upon hearing that it was Louis, replies "I'd have been gutted too." HO HO HO. Incidentally, it's clearly not nearly as warm as the show's trying to pretend it is, and you can tell from the way Cheryl's sitting that she really wishes she'd brought a coat. Clearly her life got cold. It happened many years ago, when summer slipped away. Carolynne sings a barely tune-adjacent version of 'When You Say Nothing At All' that gets away from her to such an extent that the string section providing her accompaniment looks rather panicked. Gary thinks Carolynne needs the confidence boost that a yes will give her. Cheryl claims that Louis is somehow to blame for Carolynne's lack of confidence, as opposed to the fact that Carolynne has been trying to become a famous singer since at least 2003 and it still hasn't happened.

Next to go is Nicola, and Gary explains her backstory to Cheryl and how he's not been Nicola's biggest cheerleader. Gary asks Nicola how she is, and she replies "anything that's not very good, I'm feeling it at the moment". Gary asks if he can speak to her for a second, and takes her to one side and gives her a little "just because I'm a fun-hating charisma vortex who loathes you and everything you stand for, don't think you haven't got as much chance as anyone else. Okay, GO!" pep talk. Surprisingly, it's not hugely effective and Nicola's bizarre acoustic performance of 'Tragedy' is still a bit of a mess. See, this is what happens when you try to change who you are to impress Borelow: nothing good, that's what. Dermot asks Nicola how it went, and she hesitantly says that it was good. Gary tells Cheryl that Nicola was full-on and high energy in her audition. "I bet you I would have loved it," Cheryl says wistfully, with an unspoken air of "nice job breaking her, GARY" beneath it all.

Brad is next. I have no idea who he is, but apparently he sang 'Walking In Memphis' at his audition in Cardiff. He sings an acoustic version of 'The Final Countdown'. Clearly the memo given to all contestants in Gary's category is "take fun, amazing songs and drain all the life out of them" (I assume Carolynne mistakenly thought 'When You Say Nothing At All' fell into that category). Brad blusters about this being the biggest day of his life, apart from the one when he was born, which he doesn't remember. He thinks this is his year to go through. I think he's wrong. Gary asks Brad if that's his own version of the song, clearly not being entirely convinced by Brad's answer in the affirmative. Cheryl likes his voice, but isn't sure if Brad would instantly connect with the public. You know, like Katie Waissel did.

Melanie Masson is next, and Cheryl's all "I don't know you, do you have a family?" Melanie talks about her children and Cheryl simpers "Cute. Aww." Well, all credit to her for still managing to be monstrously patronising even when the category she's dealing with involves people older than she is, I guess. Melanie cries that she wants to go home and tell her children she got through. She sings 'Everytime You Go Away' very loudly, to the point where I understand why the person she's singing to was quite so keen to leave in the first place. Gary thanks her smugly at the end, clearly thinking she's his trump card. Cheryl thinks Melanie looks different to how she's going to sound. Gary thinks it'll be tough for Melanie, being away from her family, and wonders if she's fully thought it through. How disgustingly sexist of him.

Ad break. I don't want a smart TV in case it turns out to be smarter than I am.

Just two contestants left, and the first one to face Gary and Cheryl is Kye Sones. Is it just me, or is he the most anonymous contestant of all this year? I swear I forget about him the second he's off screen. He talks about having been in loads of bands that haven't worked out and supplementing his life plans with crappy jobs, and then wonders if he should worry about facing more heartache or "suck it in and go for it". He does know that Louis isn't his mentor, right? He sings 'Payphone' competently but unexcitingly, and completely biffs one of the top notes. He goes off to tell Dermot that it was all going well until he hit a "funky note" and Dermot's all "but funky is good!" because he's a total cretin. Cheryl thinks Kye seems really natural, and Gary says he's excited about him. Kye tells Dermot he'll be disappointed if that one note counts against him.

Finally, it's Nervous Christopher. We flash back to his audition where he had Tulisa hollering "Y'ALL RIGHT? ARE YA SHAKIN'?" at him with all the sensitivity of an episode of Law & Order: Sexy Victims Unit, and Christopher reminds us that he has a nan whom he loves and who has always believed in him. Apparently the show has put the sparkle back into his nan's eyes - so I guess it really does have life-giving powers after all. I wonder if he's told Jake that. "What's the deal with the nerves?" Gary asks him irritably, and tells him that he shouldn't be nervous and apologetic because he's made it this far and beaten so many other contestants. Yeah, that's really helpful. Thanks, Dr Barlow: Medicine Moron. Christopher sings 'All Out Of Love', and seems fairly happy with how it went. Gary and Cheryl are impressed with the power of his voice, but concerned about his nerves. Cheryl thinks the public will love him.

Deliberation time: Cheryl thinks this is the best Overs category in a long time, because that's what she read in the script. Nicola interviews that the judges are deciding her fate, and thinks it's nerve-wracking. Gary tells Cheryl she's doing the nos and he's doing the yeses. Oh yeah, entrust Cheryl with the responsibility of rejecting people. That always ends well. Cheryl tells Gary she's so glad she's got a car coming soon. I wish I did. Gary, like Tulisa, is going to sleep on it.

And there we have it. Tomorrow night is decision time: join Helen for absolutely fuckloads of tears!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Jah know what I mene

Boot Camp 2 – Sunday 23 September 2012

Last night 200 came to boot camp, 190 of them were acts you’d never seen before, including some actual groups. Most of them went home, most of the rest will go home today and a few will be dumped at Judges’ Houses only to return next year for a more high-profile appearance, whilst the few auditionees we’ve seen get through will end up at live shows. Suspense, this show has none.

 Only 70 acts remain! They have 24 hours to shine! The show does a 24-style counter and then shows us a massive load of fake-out clips of people looking like they might not go through – all of whom are – spoiler alert – people who go through. Especially Jahmene. They show Jahmene about six times. Dermot reminds us that 130 people we have never seen before and never will again just went home. Oh well, it’s not like we had anything invested in them anyway. Melanie Kook is nervous, Mark One want to set bombs off in the place. Careful, Primark, if you said that on Twitter you’d be in all kinds of bullshit trouble. Melanie McCabe will never forgive herself if she doesn’t get through.  Many brunette white boys are nervous.   The arena is full of an audience even though the audiences at auditions and boot camp remains one of the shittiest things this show has ever done.

Sheffield lass Lucy reminds us she had a good first audition and a terrible Moos Like Jagger performance yesterday, but now she has her magical guitar back, it’ll be alright.  Tulisa asks about her ‘tracks’ – Lucy says she’s chosen some songs that mean a lot to her – interesting, presumably, like in auditions, they have several songs prepared. In a not-at-all staged exchange, Tulisa says she wants to hear one of Lucy’s own songs. It’s called ‘Tea and Toast’. Tulisa is pulling a total ‘I don’t get this’ face throughout. It’s a better song than the one she did about drinking. I know it’s probably the Sheffield thing, but I really like her. She’s pretty much got to be favourite right now, as she’s the only one I’ve heard anyone talk about (though again, this could be the Sheffield thing) – but early favourites never win, and I can’t see how she’ll manage in the theme weeks. [I really want to like her because sometimes her songs are quite funny, but I can't help finding her just a bit saccharine, and 'Tea And Toast' only made that worse for me. - Steve][I like her but it's the wrong show for her. They're going to chew her up and spit her out - Helen]

The audience go mad anyway, and Lucy cries and Gary says the song was beautiful. Louis says he’s never seen a reaction like it. Gary calls her a total one-off and she collapses into Dermot for a few hugs, as is the wont of contestants on this show.

 Ads! 2 of 7 that I can’t fast-forward? ITVPlayer you are the absolute worst.

We’re back, and it’s Rylan’s time as the sole remaining keeper of the Chico/Wagner/Diva Fever flame. He’s wearing a jacket with spikes that could cause serious injury if deployed correctly. He says he wants to do dance and he’s no Whitney. Louis says it’s a good thing. He does ‘Dontcha’ to a Hi-NRG beat and Nicole loves it like the fag hag she is. Funsponge? Wearing a ‘hmmm, this is far too much fun for my tastes’ face, whilst the other three judges all dance. He actually scowls when it ends. Rylan says he’s ‘100% serious’. Only 100? Gary whines that Rylan will haunt him throughout the show, for he is the inheritor of the Simon Cowell gay panic mantle. Tulisa says his charisma oozes off the stage. Nicole is ‘sold on the spikes and sparkle’. Of course you are, Nicole. Just wait until you meet NotLouis and see his staging. And can I say a big THANK FUCK he’s back this year? Rylan spikes Dermot in the face. Fnar. 

Gathan over-confident-monster-and-therefore-loser-edits that he can sing, dance and act, that he’s not just one thing etc. To top it off, he refers to himself in the third person. His ‘Payphone’ is screechy and awful, much like the original, badumtish. Nathan Fagan-Gayle dances and raps to ‘Earthquake’. Eddy String briefly re-emerges from our nightmares to do a sub-Cocozza ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ for one line. Rough Copy do a shambolic ‘Earthquake’ and we get more Gathan boasting.

Jahmene stands about backstage being nervous and reminding us how much he sucked yesterday. I really, really hate him and I don’t know why he inspires such abject loathing in me. He DOES have a Derren Brown voice – since Helen pointed this out yesterday, it can’t be un-noticed.  Maybe Derren Brown is tricking us all into hating this guy whilst the judges love him. Not sure what his reasons would be, but does Derren Brown need reasons?  He’s scared he might pass out and the producers send him to the medics as he’s apparently having an anxiety attack. (Maybe he genuinely was, but to film it all and him not look remotely that panicky the whole time… call me cynical, but I used to have panic attacks and they didn’t look like his…) [So did I, so I'm loathe to criticise anyone else for having them, but...yeah, this really isn't what I would recognise as an anxiety attack. - Steve][Agreed - Helen]

New Look are up next. They do a version of Gnarls Barclay’s ‘Crazy’ in a different tune and the show cuts over them with Jahmene attention-whoring all over the place. FUCK OFF JAHMENE. FUCK RIGHT OFF. Matalan meanwhile finish their somewhat ropey performance and then we see Jahmene some more. Nicole and Louis go backstage to give him some more attention and tell him he’s wonderful. He then does a fuckawful version of ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’ which has about a thousand notes in the place of one. Everyone in my Twitter feed hated this, which proves I’m following the right people. He has a couple of good notes but he also has a lot of bum ones. Gah, he is SO PUNCHABLE. Steve, can we have him as our new ‘NO’ avatar on Twitter? Please? [I don't see why not. Let's wait and see who makes Top 12 just in case there's anyone worse, but he can be at the top of the shortlist. - Steve] Gary loves him, Nicole thinks it might be too much for him, the producers don’t give a shit because having a ‘vulnerable’ sob story and a ‘will they be a car-crash tonight’ contestant might be good publicity.

Ads. Now I want chips, McCain, you bastards.

Triple J are next and do a not-especially-astounding version of ‘Sweet Child O Mine’, with Resentful J being particularly poor. Dermot reminds us that the Over 28s exist. Melanie Masson is up first, wearing double denim, which has been the sartorial choice of many acts this series for unknown reasons. She wears a plectrum bracelet because she is this year's designated kook. Nervous Chris is up next, looking like a one-man Robson and Jerome. He does a boring pub singer version of ‘A Million Love Songs’ and Funsponge shows us his orgasm face. Vile.

Carolynne from Fame Academy is next and does some country thing I don’t know because I’m uncultured like that. She says if it doesn’t work out this time, she won’t come back to X Factor (but hasn’t ruled out The Voice). She has the worst crocodile tears this side of Jahemene as she says she’s waited fifteen years for this. Tulisa says she barely noticed her last year, but this year she’s a main contender (because the pickings are so slim).

Kye, who looks like the bastard love-child of an unholy four way tryst between Tabby, Matt Cardle, Shayne Ward and Steve Brookstein, says he needs a break and his luck has been awful. He says he should win because there’s never been a Kye before (because, yes, that’s a reason) and that male singers are doing rubbish unlike Adele and Emily Sunday. Kye, being the male white brunette winner of this show is almost a guarantee NOT to be successful, you do realise this? Why do you think I’m so vehemently team anoni-white-brunette-bloke? It certainly isn’t to line my CD racks… and then he’s doing ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’. The jokes are just too easy, show. It starts OK but quickly gets very thin and weedy – it’s nowhere near the standard of this show’s previous male winners, which is probably about the only standard we can judge these people on. But he namechecks Liverpool in the song to ensure a big cheer. Cheeky.

Competition! That new James Bond film actually looks OK, for a Bond film (I don’t do Bond except for some of the theme tunes. I know I’m a total heathen, burn the witch etc). Ads. is in every advert break on ITVPlayer tonight.

One of the dreadful girl bands, From Above, are doing some silly positivity claptrap. It’s utterly hilarious:
‘Breathe in positivity’
‘Breathe out negative’
‘Breathe in confidence’
‘Breathe out nerves [girl 1] / fear [girl 2]’
At least get your script right. The Twitters tell me this is the girl group Beyonce’s dad was managing. Oh dear. They all stand as far apart from each other as they can on the stage. They’re doing ‘Payphone’ and the first one can’t sing it at all, her voice cracking all over the place. Nicole offers her water but she declines. Then the ‘harmonies’ come in and it’s a hot fried mess. One of them says that every time they come on stage they speed it up. Oh love, timing was the least of your worries. Nicole is indignant that the girl should have taken water. I can just imagine Nicole marching around the contestants’ dressing rooms ensuring they drink their full eight glasses, eat their five a day and have enough fibre to keep them regular.

Single mum Jade Ellis is up next reminding us that she misses her daughter, because she is a mum, who has a daughter and she is doing it as a mum for her daughter. She’s doing Jason Mraz’s ‘I Don’t Give Up’, which I don’t know, but it’s not ‘Use Somebody’ so I’ll take it. She chokes, but recovers it. She’s incredibly pretty and has a slight Rihanna tone to her voice, but she’s not exceptional. I guess she’d be marketable in a sub-Rihanna kind of way though. Gary says there was something not right there. Jade says she feels gutted backstage. Dermot lies that making a mistake could have cost Jade a place at judges’ houses, like messing up at boot camp counts for shit on this programme.

Next up is dad Joseph, the one who is one of those ones who’s clearly there for the ovary vote. He doesn’t want to go back to his job. He says everyone who’s watched this show has been crying out for a good rock singer, not a mediocre one. He then does ‘With or Without You’, which is mediocre as a rock choice. His voice isn’t bad but it’s not anything much more exciting than, say, Jamie Afro, or any of the others who’ve fitted the mould of what this show passes off as a rock star in previous series. That fucking Aerosmith song which shall not be named plays in the background. Tulisa says he’s cute, Gary tries to claim he knows rock. Nicole can see herself sitting round the campfire singing with him but isn’t sure that makes him a star. 

Ads. Only one this time, thank goodness.

Next it’s Times Red, who look like they’re comprised of one of Brother Beyond, one of Bad Boys Inc, and some randomer they accidentally met who has a guitar because they heard that was the new X Factor thing [It’s not new – Journey South]. They’re doing ‘Ain’t Nobody’ with a mixture of beatboxing and acoustic guitar and they’re just generally so 1992 it hurts. Tulisa asks how it went. One of them said it wasn’t perfect but there are things that could be worked on. Tulisa replies ‘We didn’t know, you shouldn’t have told us’. Isn’t it your job to know these things, Tulisa? Give me strength… Nicole says the guitar one is cute and looks like Richard Gere. Funsponge says they have good harmonies. Nicole says Gary loves a good harmony in a way that sounds a bit like it might be taking the piss but it's hard to tell with Nicole.  She has real potential to be snippy and funny and then ruins it all with emotional crap.

James Arthur is up next, doing ‘A Million Love Songs’ with a guitar and no connection to the tune. Standing ovation, perhaps because he wore some NHS glasses or something.  EDGY. Leanne (who also has a Rihanna vibe going, but more in terms of her hair than style or vocal) does a boring ballid. WGWGWH Adam (White guy with guitar with hat – brunette, naturally) does an awful acousticified version of ‘Ain’t Nobody’. Funsponge calls it different – except on this show, it’s basically the opposite.

Ella Henderson is on next, the 16 year old who did her own song last time. She’s doing Cher’s ‘Believe’, which is the song my French housemates played on a loop when I was at university for the whole first semester. Oh, the 90s. She’s doing a slowed-down version (of course), albeit with piano instead of acoustic. Her vocal is actually quite nice and not a bad approximation of Cher’s without the autotune thing (I remember when that effect on this song was unique, not the sound of every bloody song in the charts. /oldmanrant). Fun facts! Ella would have been two when this was in the charts. TWO YEARS OLD. Yes, you are old and so am I.

Nicole pretends to cry because the producers told her she’s supposed to be the emotional judge. Funsponge says the original is in one of his top five most annoying songs of all time because it’s fun. Or maybe because he once had French housemates who played it on a loop for three months, who can say? He thought the boringified version of it was amazing though because it got rid of all that dance beat nonsense. Nicole then starts to cry and says they have to be in awe of Ella. Oh, Nicole. You were doing so well tonight, as well.

Louis says it will be tough to get 70 acts down to 24, because they can only think of about 10 acts they even know the names of. Louis and Gary reiterate that it’ll be tough. Nicole says she has a top ten and she’s going to fight for them. Tulisa has no opinion. Montage of ‘she/he/they is/are going home/through’ alongside pictures which bear no relevance to their choices, apart from one: Gary: ‘Can I throw this one out now?’ The others: ‘No!’ Louis: ‘He’s light entertainment’ All of which is accompanied by a picture of Rylan, obviously.

Jade from last year whom we haven’t seen sing once (ITV2 doesn’t count) is shown looking grumpy. Joseph the dad will let his son down if he doesn’t go through. Amy is nervous as are Melanie and Carolynne. Nervous Chris says the decision will change his life (except presumably notsomuch if he isn’t though).

Boys time – through are James Arthur, white, brunette, glasses; Jahmeen, mixed-race, brunette, annoying as fuck; Nathan Fagin-Gayle, black, brunette, dances, has Fagin in his name; Adam Burridge, ultimate WGWGWH, brunette; Rylan, orange, brunette, our sole Komedy Kontestant and Jake Quickenden, white, brunette, don’t remember a thing about him. So Eddy String is gone – no surprise, given his lack of presence in Boot Camp. More of a shock is the loss of fit dad Joseph, who is this year’s Gamu/Jade and already has a bunch of Facebook groups set up calling for his return. One of the other rejected ones was at judges’ houses in the past but as that's been several people's story this year, he's ignored. Dad Joe says he’s let his son down… it’s really not that important, love. Besides, think of all the pity sex you’ll get now. Although I guess you won’t be telling your son about that.

Ads. of course.

Girls. Through: Ella, Amy, Jade Collins (who I don't remember very well), Sheffield Lucy, Leanne... and then they do this stupid thing where they say Jade... and pause before the surname, panning from Rihanna Jade to Jade from last year wot wuz robbed, except they've never shown her this year, so to know she was called Jade would be to make a huge act of remembering, and an even huger act of caring. Anyway, as we never saw her (again, ITV2 doesn't count), there's no suspense whatsoever and Rihanna Jade is through. Speaking of Rihanna-esque contestants, I miss Rachel Adedeji. Jade from last year looks a bit pissed off, as does Melanie McCabe - bit mean to make a big thing of her returning to pull that trick on her, show. 

The over-28s (did we miss the decision of why this was over-28 and not 25 this year?  Did Nicole just decide it again?): Kye; Melanie; Nicola Marie (the OTT one Louis loves); some bloke I don't remember called Brad; Carolynne from Fame Academy and nervous Chris because they're making him wait till last again, meanies. I don't remember a single one of the six other people who don't go through.

Groups are up next, many of whom we never saw before Boot Camp, some of whom we didn't even see during Boot Camp. Through: Mitsotu, who have barely featured; Duke, who I swear we've never seen; H&M; Poisonous Twins, who we've never heard sing (for good reason, having just seen them on YouTube) and who feature Stephanie from BB9; and Rough Copy. Not one Frankenband for the first time in years (although of course some of these could have been formed off-screen by the producers anyway).

They then have to choose between Triple J and GMD3. Everyone in the world thought this would mean a super-smashed-together group, but apparently not, so kudos to the show for pulling off one surprise. Instead they're doing a sing-off 'battle'. Triple J have pastel hoodies on with the lace bits tied into bows. As a 'look', it's lost on me. Triple J are OK in a sub-One Direction kind of way. GCSE likewise, plus they're not wearing matching clothes like Triple J (who are total tryhards by the way). I haven't the foggiest what the song is they're doing. The beginning was better than Triple J's but they end in a bit of a state.

Judges' banter. Nicole says one group has a 'shine'. Tulisa says one brings out emotion in her. Going through is WMD. (Did we see them audition?) Resentful J cries a lot back-stage, whilst looks-vaguely-Scott-Lee-ish-J is more philosophical.

Assigning categories time! Simon is back, hairy chest and all sitting at his judges' house. Funsponge has the overs and pretends to be happy about it. 'Lou Lou' has the groups and goes 'Oh... OK' even though he always gets the groups or overs these days, and a group won last year so they probably don't care. Nicole and Tulisa want the girls. Nicole gets the boys because she's the only one other than Louis who could be guaranteed to put Rylan through. Tulisa screams for ages at having the girls. Nicole lies that she's 'super-stoked' to have the boys. Nicole says the boys might have the winner in. As might the others. Funsponge thinks the overs have become a joke since the show decided they didn't want another Brookstein (but ended up with a Warde, a Jackson, a McElderry and a Cardle instead) and wants to restore the category to what it should be: boring crooners in the mould of Andy the bin-man. Except all-white. Louis thinks he will have fun with the groups, and Tulisa screams some more.

Next week, the show 'goes Global', except it looks like the poor overs are still in Britain or Ireland because as is traditional from the days of Louis mentoring them, they rarely get to go on a proper trip. Guest mentors: Tinie Tempah, Ne-Yo, Sharon Osbourne and THE GRAND RETURN OF CHERYL COLE (even though I thought she was just Cheryl now?). Hilariously, the show presents her return as the thing that will save them all but doesn't give two shits about Sharon. Heh. Anyway, join Steve and Helen next week to see which eleven acts will join Rylan (surely Not Louis' favourite already) in the final twelve!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Rylan of hope and glory

Boot Camp 1 – Saturday 22 September 2012

Hello and welcome to Boot Camp! I’ve always wondered why they call it Boot Camp. It’s not like they’re training or anything, though they are weeding out the wheat from the chaff so I suppose it’s more like the Long Walk or The Hunger Games or something, but they can’t call it that. [I always assumed it was because they're booting out contestants in great numbers. - Steve]

SO ANYWAY. “The judges” have been scouring the country looking for talent. This talent includes lots of generic White Boys in Hats With Guitars and Missus Possibly Only One Song From Sheffield. The search is over now, and now it’s time for Boot Camp. There are 200 of them going to Liverpool. They kept that quiet. Well, I suppose that “You’re going to Liverpool!” doesn’t have the same ring as “You’re going to Hollywood!” (Soz Liverpool, you’re lovely but, YANNOW) but only 24 are going to judges houses and this promises to be the toughest 72 hours of their lives and for some the pressure will be TOO MUCH. Really? I understand it will be hard but we’ve got at least two people who’ve spent time on the streets and some of these women have been through childbirth so I think that’s a pretty broad claim, X Peeps. We’ll see. It’s time to face the music etc.

(They show us what we’re going to see at this point, which is lots of people crying, but we’re going to see that in a minute anyway) TITLES.

We begin proper with one of those pointless filmed segments which consists of people getting ready. I recognise Rylan who seems to have sorted out the white hair situation, and Amy who they sniggered at because she’s a bit chubby. She says that the X Factor is a dream and she finally feels special and like someone. Rylan can’t believe he got to bootcamp. That makes two of us. Mr Shakey Orange Liverpool (I can’t wait until there are less names) hugs someone goodbye and leaves in the twilight. Surely of everyone he lives the closest? I don’t even know with this show any more.  He’s feeling like he’s going to burst. Someone who I’ve never seen before is going to rock the house. I think he’s being shown because he’s not a generic white boy. This fixes EVERYTHING! Well done, team X!  GHB do a little dance in their car as lots of other generic white boys come down the stairs. OOH, SO CLOSE. Someone else needs a break and the fairy lady can’t believe she’s going.

Dermot tells us that ‘they’ have been scouring the nation looking for the next pop sensation and now everyone has come to Liverpool to face a massive challenge.  This bootcamp is the TOUGHEST EVER because they’ve put 200 through and they only have three days to cut that down to 24 for judges’ houses. Yes, Dermot, we’ve had all those numbers before from the shouty man. Keep up! Before the hard stuff starts there’s a party for everyone! Yay enforced fun!

We’re told that this party is happening at 1pm and everyone is drinking Mojitos and high fiving each other because they’re so cool.  Rylan notes that there are other good looking people around so he’s worried about the competition. Yes, because that’s what it is. A pretty competition.  Everyone is dancing. It’s ONE O’CLOCK ffs.  A few people talk about how daunting it is that everyone is so pretty, including what looks like Hayley Evetts.  Could it be?

Across town, the judges have such a big job on their hands that they’re standing on a balcony waiting for a helicopter to come past and take their photo. The pressure is on, apparently.  Gary is being a funsponge by sending people home before they’ve even had a chance to sing again. Louis agrees.

Back at the uncomfortable afternoon party, they’re being treated to JLS who bound on stage like the adorable puppies that they are and tell everyone that the winner is in the room.  Thyroid JLS tells everyone to take the opportunity with both hands and tells them that the person who wants it the most will eventually be the winner. YEAH, COS THAT’S HOW IT WORKS. [Yes, that's why Katie Waissel won in 2011. - Steve] Sheffield one song girl has got herself a microphone from somewhere and asks them to sing because she wants to know if they’ve still got it.  They have, clearly, as they bust out some COMPLETELY UNPREPARED acapella.  Marvin (I know him) [I know all of them.  Marvin, Oritse, Aston and Yellow - Rad] [MERRY CHRISTMAS! - Steve] reminds them all that they’ve only got ONE SHOT SO MAKE IT COUNT. We all see what you did there, Marvin. There now follows a montage of orange people who like JLS.

Meanwhile, back at the Death Star, the judges are still carving up the numbers by saying who they thought was good.  They’ve obviously decided Rylan is the star of the show so we linger on him for a bit and Tulisa says IBEEFA again. They then all slag of some twins that Tulisa isn’t sure why she put through. She argues that they are fun and Louis jumps to their defence, because if it wasn’t for Louis, this show would be more beige than a Damart catalogue. Nicole can’t take her eyes of someone, they all love someone else. There’s been a decision made.

Back at the awkward afternoon party, the acts are summoned to the arena. Nicole tells us that they’ve cut a third. Funsponge tries to tell us that this is a good thing because giving one third of the people absolutely no chance this gives the other two thirds more of a chance. Nice scumbag logic, there. [I believe he lifted this policy directly from David Cameron. - Steve] Louis knows he’s doing the right thing. Tulisa thinks that every category is strong and she’s never seen so much talent. Funsponge heralds the beginning of the competition proper.

Dermot tells us that all the acts are on stage and the judges are about to deliver some potentially devastating news. Like you don’t know, Dermot. The judges arrive and everyone cheers. Tulisa ‘congradulates’ them on getting through to boot camp and reiterates that this will be the toughest 72 hours of their lives. Nicole tells everyone that this is three days and by the end of it they will know who is going through to judges houses. Funsponge tells them all that they’ve reviewed the tapes and the bar is extremely high this year and some of them don’t have what it takes. Louis apologises and tells them that some of them are going home now. Ridiculously, they’re calling out the names of the people who are staying, because it’s easier to read out 124 names than it is to read out 66. CLEARLY.  First through is Jade Collins whose dad is in prison. Dermot catches a few nondescript people backstage and they all talk about how hard this bit is. They’re whittled down until there are only 20 places left as people get less and less gracious as they are called. This goes on until the last person is waiting to be called and it’s the nervous man. How could they do that to him? His nerves must be on a knife edge! I’ve seen some cruel shit on this programme but this takes the biscuit. Tulisa is honestly sorry to everyone else but they’re going home. They’re understandably gutted but Nicole is here to justify it to us all by saying that it had to be done. One girl cries about having to go back to work. Funsponge says that they have to concentrate on the ones that got through because it’s their shot now.

Everyone is called back to the stage for Louis to inform them that this is where the hard work starts. Tulisa tells them that there’s going to be a sing off tomorrow and Nicole reminds them that in 72 hours there will only be 24 of them. This is illustrated with a gigantic ticking clock.  Dermot reiterates the numbers before telling us that the first challenge will be being put into line ups and trying to out-sing each other in a segment that’s not at all ripped off from that other singing programme on the other channel. The first one to say that he’s not here to make friends is an Irish boy wearing a hat that we haven’t seen before so whoever had that on the sweepie collect your winnings.  Each line up has to agree on a song so everyone is doing their best to force the song choice in their favour.

One such line up is Rylan who is in a group with people called Gathan and Octavio. They’re singing Respect by Aretha Franklin which is fine with Gathan but he fears that the others in his group have underestimated it.  I notice at this point that Rylan is wearing SILVER UGG BOOTS. The phrase “KILL IT WITH FIRE” has never been more apt here. Octavio interviews that Gathan trying to tell them that they have no business singing Aretha is him thinking he’s better than them because he can sing in falsetto but Octavio can do stuff that he can’t do because he has breathy whistle tones.  Gathan sings the song whilst Rylan gives him the side eye and Octavio doesn’t even look at him. This will no doubt be the highlight of the evening.  Octavio then goes on to say that he asked Gathan if he thought that Rylan could sing Aretha and he said no. I think that anyone with ears would come to that conclusion. Rylan tells Gathan that he can take the competition and if he’s going through, he’s going through.

Dermot tells us that it’s four hours since the challenge has been set and Rylan and Octavio head off to bed whilst Gathan stays on to rehearse more. Octavio tells Rylan that he sees Boot Camp as a job interview and in an interview there will be candidates that you don’t like. Gathan says that Rylan and Octavio don’t have the drive and that’s all good for him because he’s singing with them and can only do better than them mainly because he has a work ethic. This is interspersed with shots of Rylan drinking wine.

Oh god, adverts. Thank goodness.

When we return, Dermot tells us that it’s now the next morning and the judges arrive as the acts rehearse backstage. Funsponge thinks it’s great to hear everyone singing. Tulisa can only imagine how everyone is feeling.  Dermot then appraises us of the rules for the forthcoming section. Solo acts will sing in groups of three and each will have their own section of pre arranged songs.  Have we got that? Good.

First up, Tasha, Amy and Maisie who seem to have been grouped together because they’re all a bit chubby and their faces don’t match their necks.  They’re singing Stronger by Kelly Clarkson. Maisie hits a couple of bum notes. Dermot tells us that the decision will be instant and it is. Tasha and Maisie are sent home and Amy is told she did “fantastic”.  Nicole wonders whether this whole thing isn’t all a bit brutal. It is. Some of the people in this segment aren’t even given names. Those that do are the ones we are supposed to like so that’s handy. The chosen ones are the hitherto unseen Leanne Robertson, Harriet Marsland, Mia Sylvester, Jade Ellis, Carla Jaye, Eli Cripps and Melanie McCabe who I’m sure has been in something else.  Every one of these girls is excited and can’t believe they are through.

Backstage, Jahmene is nervous. He’s got a new song and new people which is nerve-wracking but he’s got a nice group which helps. At this point I realise that he reminds me a lot of Derren Brown.  The rest of his group tell him he’ll be fine.  We’re reminded of Jahmene’s audition which I remember liking at the time.  Jahmene and his group arrive on stage and Tulisa asks them how their night was. Jahmene says he spent a lot of time trying to get the lyrics down. Tulisa advises them to try and enjoy it. Lazy s*x tape joke.  Jahemene and his group are singing Moobs like Jabba and the first boy who doesn’t even get a name is terrible. The second boy Jae Walters is mediocre and Jahmene stuffs it up. The first terrible boy gets a name and it’s Craig. The whole thing is so bad that Craig resorts to some terrible camp arm waving to try and save it. It doesn’t. Funsponge calls the sorry mess to a halt and Louis asks Jahmene WTF he’s doing. Jahmene explains that he wasn’t confident with the song and he chose it because there wasn’t much else he could do.  They deliberate. It’s full of words like potential and comfort zone. Jae gets another chance because they think he’s still got potential. Craig is sent home. Funsponge tells Jahmene that he was his favourite audition and based on today’s performance he should be going home but SURPRISE! He’s getting another chance. They all go on about how gutted they are that his audition was crap. Jahmene interviews that he wanted to sing Respect but the other boys didn’t and he should have stood up for himself as he could have impressed with that one.  He cries and says it’s nice to be appreciated.  Bless.

More adverts, and when we return we are unnecessarily told that we are still in Liverpool and there is a montage which includes lots of randoms and Cheese String. It culminates in Funsponge doing some terrible rapping  because he’s down with the kids and not a tedious funsponge. Look how whacky he is. He’s so RANDOM.  GHB are back though and it seems this show is still insisting that they are good. They’re going head to head *snigger* with Triple J which is like Jessie J only WORSE. Much to the chagrin of Triple J, GHB start their Rubes like Jafar with a backflip. The backflip seems to be in lieu of any actual singing and Triple J blow them out of the water.  The judges deliberate about which mediocre three piece get through. It’s both of them yay.

The girl bands are taking it seriously too. As we all know the girl groups on the X Factor represent women everywhere so it’s not just about singing and dancing.  Voxe and From Above go head to head on some Kelly Clarkson and it’s hard for me to tell which one of them represents me better. Voxe go home because they look like they’d steal your boyfriend.  A pair of trios, Times Red and Duke, face off next. Duke are aware that their thunder may potentially be stolen so they’re on the lookout and have the weapon of terrible beatboxing in their arsenal. Both get through. Tulisa declares it the strongest year for groups EVER.

MK1 MK2 show up next. Remember them? They’re the ones that auditioned with their creepy ‘producer’ and he demanded a third of their earnings when they ditched him.  They’re up against a band that look like they’re a Black Eyed Peas tribute band named Heinz Baked Beans. They’re the Lightbulb Thieves.  MK2 do what sounds like Plan B. This lot seem to be the only ones that understand the concept of Battle and MK2 fight dirty. The Lightbulb Thieves get sent home and one of them wants to know how on EARTH the judges could have arrived at this clearly erroneous decision. Nicole replies that they decided from the audition that they just did. STOP MAKING ME LIKE YOU, NICOLE SHERGAR, I WON’T HAVE IT. [I loved that. If Nicole can bring that level of cutting criticism to the live shows, she's got the position of my favourite judge sewn up. - Steve] MK2 openly laugh in their faces as Funsponge tells them  that they did a good audition. Then Nicole chooses that moment to tell everyone why the Lightbulb Thieves got sent home, which she should have said to them (crap rapping, being off point and lateness) so I dislike Nicole again and all is well with the world.  The Lightbulb Thieves insist it was skulduggery, shenanigans and thunder stealing that was their downfall as MK2 just insist that they were better and they came out on top because that’s what the industry is about.

Back with the soloists, the next trio is Farrah, Jessica Beckett and Lucy Spraggan. Remember Lucy? She sang a song about getting drunk.   We’re reminded of her audition. There is some fake jeopardy shoved in around Lucy for some reason. Apparently, she’s NEVER SUNG WITHOUT HER GUITAR before and this is a DIFFICULT THING.  I’m quite pleased about this section because this should mark the bottom of the sob story barrel being scraped.  They’re singing Rude Like Shabba too. It’s not Lucy’s song. She really struggles. In fact, they all do. Lucy is probably the world’s most uncomfortable woman. I suspect that this has more to do with singing someone else’s song. Nicole calls it messy and Lucy admits to messing it up. Funsponge doesn’t think that she picked the right song. That’s why he’s getting the paycheque, folks, insight like that.  Nicole notes that they’ve taken her out of her comfort zone. Farrah and Jessica are going home and Lucy is left on her own. She insists that she was rubbish because of her lack of guitar. Nicole tells her that even though she was rubbish there’s something special about her so she’s getting another chance. Lucy interviews that she does five gigs a week she’s never felt like that after one of them. Louis says she has to deliver tomorrow.  Adverts!

Funnily enough, we are still in Liverpool and the judges are getting their makeup done on their break. Funsponge moans about being stiff *snork* and tells Tulisa she really should get into yoga. Mainly because you’re on your knees a lot in yoga and we all know she’s good at that. (I will stop these jokes eventually.) Although it’s all fun and games with the judges, backstage it’s TENSE.  The next contestants, Britt Love, Diedre Lawler and Collagen Westwood who are three of the most amazingly named people I’ve ever come across have a problem.  Collagen is drunk and Brick and Diedre are annoyed that she’s letting the side down. Collagen don’t even care anyway because she’s a solo artist and not in a group so haters are just gonna have to hate.  Brick thinks that you shouldn’t get drunk in a competition and bandies about the accusation that some people are there just to be on telly. HOW DARE YOU!  They arrive on stage. Collagen looks like Pete Burns with boobs in the most clanging case of irony ever. She sways as she stands and Louis asks if she’s ok. She says she’s nervous because she wants it so badly.  They’re singing Kings of Leon. Brit starts and is shockingly bad. Diedre isn’t much better.  Collagen is her ACTUAL NAME and she sings the song in the club style, slurring and stumbling. Funsponge declares it the worst audition ever. Louis remarks on the lack of chemistry. Britt blames the lack of time together. Louis straight out asks Collagen if she’s been drinking. She says she’s had a drop of whiskey for her throat and Britt shakes her head. Funsponge tells her that drinking doesn’t help your throat and she says ‘Whoops’ in a manner which could only be made more drunky if she burped afterwards and she had her pants on her head. The judges deliberate and Louis insists on keeping someone that turns out to be Britt. The other two are going home.  Collagen says she’s got plenty more opportunities and Dermot says that she wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t important to her. He asks her if she thinks her boozing was her downfall and she says that it was for her voice.  Dermot reminds her that Funsponge disagreed with that theory and she says that he’s not the Holy Grail of singing. BRILLIANT. Collagen thinks he’s mean and horrible.

Apparently Funsponge is being a funsponge today and this is illustrated in the form of a montage. Joseph Daniel and Matt Daley are told their missing a melody. Electrick Punkz and Array are told they are the actual worst and AKA are stopped for not knowing the words and they cry and are sent home. Lase are a tepid girl group who Louis enjoyed and this is met with a curt “you would”.  Next up for the chop is Max Tuohy who is told he is depressing and he’s using the chance of his life to look like he’s standing at the bus stop. His dream is over.  He then has a grumble about nobody having the passion. He gets so annoyed he comes backstage and tells everyone to come out like they are winners and they should go out and mean it. [I only just watched this yesterday and already I don't remember who any of these were.  Vintage year. - Rad]

Let’s see how Flick White and Charlotte Howard fare. They’re terrible. NEXT. He’s extra specially annoyed at them because he’s been backstage and  told them specifically. Can Rough Copy and MITSOTU change the editing of this section? They’re going to give it everything they’ve got and enjoy it. They’re doing Plan B too. They work together and it’s to both of their credits and benefit. It works really well and it’s probably the first performance today that doesn’t irk me beyond reason. They’re both through. Funsponge tells them that they did it properly and they should do it backstage for the other children so they know how to behave. Competition blah blah.  I love how there isn’t even a question any more. Adverts!

FUNNILY ENOUGH, we are still in Liverpool and its still boot camp. Two girls who are in a group and one of them looks very like Steph from Big Brother in the year that Dogface won says that she thought it was going to be like a holiday and it wasn’t.  Jade thinks it’s  brutal. Joseph Whelan is through, Cory Spedding is out. I’m not invested in any of those people. The man who couldn’t say Tulisa properly isn’t through.  4th Avenue are terrible as are Eli Prime and they make Nicole do Smell The Fart acting before they’re sent home.  I need some people to care about. HERE THEY ARE!

We have James Vickery, James Arthur and Curtis Golden who are anonymous, Asbo divorced parents boy and wide eyed fun cover nervous boy respectively.  Curtis needs the toilet and is scared to make eye contact with Tulisa. They do The Fray and over egg it so much it’s practically custard. James Arthur even pulls at his shirt. I really like Curtis but he’s more murdery than Aidan Grimshaw which is a feat that I never thought I’d see pulled off.  James Vickery does a Vickers claw and some trendy falsetto. The judges eat it up and all three of them get through.   It’s the most emotionally draining moment of James Arthur’s life. Oi! Storyliners! He’s been homeless and has been a tearaway, remember?

We’re back with Rylan, Octavio and Gathan. Rylan and Octavio have lost their voices from arguing. If we didn’t already agree that Rylan is the actual worst human being ever, let the fact that he’s wearing a t-shirt of himself sway you.  Gathan is using this time to rehearse. Dermot asks if they’re confident. They’re not any more. Tulisa  wants to know how they’re feeling. Rylan and Octavio are ‘fine’ while Gathan is pumped. Tulisa then asks them about the last 24 hours. Rylan says they’ve been eventful and sharing a room didn’t help but they’re loving life now. Rylan now has wings made out of hair extensions.  Octavio vogues until Louis cries with laughter. Rylan isn’t as terrible as I think he’s going to be and asks for some respect from Gary. Gaythan does some freestyling at the end and Octavio doesn’t want to be outdone so adds some of his own much to my amusement. Louis is the only one laughing on the panel. I don’t understand why the others aren’t. It’s hilarious.  Nicole describes it as a ‘Diva Hoedown’ and I like her again. DAMN YOU SHOWANDTELL. Octavio and Gaythan are through. Octavio actually says “oh em gee”. Rylan and his wings are left alone on stage. He’s through too. He can’t believe it either. He thanks them all and declares them “real”. Octavio and Rylan hug backstage and Rylan is happy not to have to work with them any more.

There now follows a party political broadcast for the Nicole and Gary have personalities party. They do a little skit about how Nicole isn’t whooping and a’hollerin like normal. She threatens him with “it”. Ooh er.

Next up are Hayley and Nicola who’ve lost their third member Tammy. I think that is Hayley Evetts from the Pop Idols. They’re all prepared to go on by themselves though. It seems Tammy has left the show for personal reasons, so they’re going to have to. Nicola is just going to have to count out Tammy’s beats. They arrive on stage and say they can’t find Tammy but are going to go on bravely. They just leave out her section and dance through it awkwardly. Nicole stops them and tells them to sing through it. What’s wrong with them?! You’d think they’d want to steal all the lines for themselves. Nicola does this and steals ALL THE LINES! They’re both through. Louis calls them survivors. Yes, filling in for one missing girls makes them survivors.

Crap clap app and adverts! Are we nearly there yet mum?

Look! We’re still in Liverpool to see Carolynne get through, along with Melanie the fairy lady and the nervous Scouser, Kye Sones and Callum Malcolm.  Nicole thinks they were singing for their lives. Next up and hopefully last is a group which contains homeless Robbie, who didn’t attend the party but chose to drink a can of special and chill by himself instead. He’s decided to have a kip instead of practicing which causes his team mates Jake Quickenden and Adam Burrage annoyance because they can’t practice and they do some pop psychology on him. They grass him up in about 2 seconds to the judges and he rightly gives them a sarcastic thank you.  Robbie says he feels prepared to an extent. The other two are totally prepared.  Robbie messes up and giggles.  He messes up again on his next line and mouth s that he’s going home. Messing up the third line, he puts down his microphone and walks offstage. He blanks Dermot and the other two look appallingly pleased with themselves. They say they feel let down as Robbie interviews that he’s not waiting around for the inevitable. Jake and Adam are through. Robbie interviews that he’s got more to lose than everyone else but (heartbreakingly, in one of the only genuine emotional moments in the show) self destruction is what he does.  He’s milked for a story about how much he regrets messing up and he obliges then walks away. [They really, really should not have put him on telly - Rad]

If that wasn’t bad enough, we have a montage of people who have been chucked out. 70 acts are through and will sing tomorrow with a full arena. They choose the song. There are 48 hours left before we find out who’s singing at Judges houses. Tulisa is already mentally picking categories, Funsponge is looking forward to tomorrow, and Louis is spoiled for choice and doesn’t know who’ll be picked tomorrow. Kye is feeling his last shot, Amy knows how much she wants it. James Arthur’s life is in the balance.  Puhleeze.

Tomorrow, the acts will sing in front of everyone in the performance that could change their lives forever. Join Rad to see how that one pans out. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Say you'll be swear

Auditions Show 7: Sunday 16 September 2012

It’s *wheeze* the *splutter* final *sigh* audition show.  Like that poor unfortunate marathon runner who did it in that diving suit that one time, I have been charged (/lumbered) with bringing up the rear on this blog.  But hallelujah, folks, the end is in sight.  If we just prop each other up, we can do it. 

As an opening gambit, the show tries to baffle us with stats.  There have been 86,145 singers, 86,144 of whom swore at the judges/audience/producers/futility of life, 86,143 of whom were bland white brunette men with guitars and 0.086145 of whom were any good.  We’ve had 6 cities, 5 ‘guests’ (but only Geri and Mardy Mel were worth the trouble), 4 judges – although you wouldn’t know Nicole was on the panel what little we’ve seen of her, 3 “yes’s” and countless grammar fails.

As if banging on about the Twitter was not enough, The X Factor has now been sponsored by YouTube apparently as we have a clip of people getting hits which looks just like THAT satchel advert.  I’m assuming this is product placement but I don’t even know with this show any more, it’s desperate enough to give Google free advertising.  Which would be a bit of an own goal given they put clips on the ITV site and ITV Player – although maybe the show has just accepted what the rest of the nation has known for years about the usefulness of those particular technologies…

First up, Rita Ora is back because I don’t know why, and it’s a lesser spotted group!  Quick, don’t frighten it, or it might go away again.  Anyway, this one are a three-piece called Rough Copy.  One of them gets inappropriately touchy-feely with a poor woman in the audition queue.  Sexual harassment is going to be a theme tonight.  Just warning you.

They’re asked which band they want to be as big as.  No one, apparently, they want to be 'the biggest band'.  What, bigger than The Polyphonic Spree?  Or St Winifred's School Choir?  Or Gary Barlow's funtime Commonwealth band feat Gareth Malone and the Military Wives?  Can they dare to get more people on the X Factor stage than The Unconventionals managed?  Ambitious [it's like the Magic Numbers died for nothing - Helen].  There’s an initial whoomp at the start of their performance that makes it sound like they might be doing something exciting like dance music or hip-hop or pop or… well, anything except yet another bog-standard cover of ‘Use Somebody’.  Three black guys doing it is, I suppose a twist on the brunette white bloke with a guitar, but nowhere near enough of a twist.  They’re not even in tune/time for much of it although one of them exhorts us to ‘make some noise’ at one point, which makes it edgy, right?  Nope, it was hella boring – so guess who absolutely loves it?  Oh yeah, Funsponge looks like he’s about to orgasm (which is a whole heap of do not want that’s stuck in my head now in that uncomfortable space occupied by Edwina Currie and John Major).  He says they’ll be difficult to manage.  Rita Ora says what they’re doing right now is what everyone loves.  Yes, bland, MOR carbon copies of carbon copies of a very overdone song is just what this show has been crying out for.  So original.  So clearly  getting four yeses.  They start flirting with Tulisa.  One of them calls her T-T for… reasons, I guess.

Their audition is the cue for… a spate of groups?  More Kings of Leon covers?  Nope, it’s an uncomfortable montage of Tulisa being sexually harassed HOORAY.  I have no idea if this is the editors’ sly reference to the S*X T*P* which shall not be mentioned, but I suspect they're not that bright.  

We have more of those KILL IT WITH FIRE KILL IT NOW WHY IS IT STILL HERE uncomfortable staged TOWIE backstage bits of boys saying how sexy she is (including a couple of boys for whom I would think it was "somewhat unlikely" that Tulisa would be their pin-up of choice) and then a bunch of auditionees.  First up is Shizzane who says she can call him baby, then tells Louis not to whisper to her because she’s his baby – yes, Shizzane, Louis Walsh is your competition there.  He gives her a scratty old flower and she feigns gratitude then he demands she kiss him and she looks scared – even more so when he raps asking her to be his ‘mistress’.   She puts him through and presses the panic button under her desk at the same time.  Louis says he’s perplexed that everyone loves Tulisa when last year he didn’t even know who she was.  Dale sings a FUCKING OLLY MURS SONG dedicated to her, which on its own should be cause for a restraining order, and then he gets right up in her face, like seriously close, to the point where she should seriously consider suing for the producers for sexual harassment by proxy, and she keeps looking away with a terrified grin on her face.  She lies that she loved it and he is cute.  (Clue: he isn’t).  Somehow, he gets four yeses.  (Or should that be yes’s, show?)  Backstage, Louis joins in and ribs her about the attention, saying that she ‘loves it’.  Good to see this show’s progressive attitude to women remains as strong as ever.  DOUBLE THUMBS UP.

Ads.  Proctor and Gamble trying to wring the last drops out of Limpic fever with ‘Victory’ scented Febreze.  I mean, what does Victory smell of?  David Weir’s sweaty gloves after the marathon?  Victory V sweets?  Matt Cardle’s bitter tears?

We’re in London now, and to try and balance out that last horrible segment with a bit of ‘look, men can be sexual objects too’ sentiment, we have a montage of men grooming themselves and taking their tops off.  But that’s all just filler.  It’s time for the main event…. BORING WHITE BRUNETTE GUY OVERLOAD.  And, calm yourselves people, SOME OF THEM HAVE GUITARS!

The first one is Adam Burridge, who works in a family double glazing firm and whose mention of a girlfriend elicits boos from the audience because god forbid women can be seen to be anything other than rivals.  Funsponge implores him not to mention his girlfriend (and they can’t mention their boyfriends either, eh, Marcus Collins?).  Adam is wearing a woolly hat and is doing an indified version of ‘Titanium’.  I can feel Steve’s teeth grinding from here.  He’s through to the Bland White Brunette Bloke Boot Camp of Borelow’s Boring Dreams (and certain, sweet, sweet victory for this category for the sixth time).  Next up are Triple J, which I swear has been a band name on this show before.  They initially seem to be doing same indifying trick to We Found Love although the beat kicks in eventually.  They are also all white and all brunette, although sadly they’re a boy band so they’re not going to be the new Leon Jacksons any time soon unless the show de-groups them.  A boring white brunette guy who’s also a Harry Spence lookalike indifies Toxic – with a guitar as well -and is also through.

Interrupting our parade of identikit men is a man the great Public Benjamin on Twitter dubbed Marvin Gayle for his mash-up of soul with the type of reggae beat not seen since ‘Sweetness’ and I can’t better that nickname, so I won’t.  After that non-white, non-genre, non-guitar (although he was at least brunette) moment, we’re sort of back on track with another beardy white hat-wearer, although his hair looks a bit blonde for my liking.  Robbie’s sob story is that he’s homeless after a hard time in care and he often sleeps rough, which is an actual sob story, but does make me slightly concerned that the producers went round the streets of Londoncastlechesterpoolfastdiff (the show has given up trying to tell us where we are now) looking for homeless people who looked a bit handy with a guitar.  He has a hat.  It looks exactly like the one Ian Beale wore when he was homeless.  I don’t want to suspect the producers of making him wear that deliberately, but…

Also, I have to interrupt his audition for a big fat WTF is Gary wearing?   It’s a powder blue jacket, the likes of which have not been seen since the days of Mr Humphreys.  It’s coupled with a brown T-shirt, though, of course.  

Robbie is doing a Damien Rice song, but not one of the famous ones, which is possibly a good thing.  It’s called ‘Coconut Skins’ and sounds like all Damien Rice’s other songs.  It’s OK in a slightly boring kind of way.  He has a sob story that the show will treat like the best journey narrative they have ever had.  He is white.  He has a hat.  He has a guitar.  His blonde bits look like they might be dyed over brown hair.  He is so through to the Brunette White Bloke Live Shows of Destiny, never mind Boot Camp.  Judges’ comments are the usual blah about his hard life and him not having had a chance to live up to his potential.  Funsponge says 'we're going to take it to a vote Robbie' which cued up a million jokes on my Twitter feed about it not being the first time he's said that.  This tale does seem to have had a bit of a sting in it, given the reports that he disappeared recently (although has turned up again since).  That’s sometimes the problem with people that have genuine sob stories, show.  Their chaotic lives might not suit your pre-ordained narratives.

Anyway, ads.  Please get the app and ‘join the party’… hang on a minute, it’s bright red, ‘join the party’... MattRebeccaOneDirection, BixMix represent real wimminz everywhere, we have always been at war with Eastasia.

My rough notes tell you all about the next auditionee, so I don’t feel the need to punctuate them with needless extra words: Camilla Small, 26.  Any relation to Heather?.  Eyebrows.  ‘Emotions’.  Scream.  Clearly deliberately bad.

What did Camilla do today to make herself feel proud?  Well, she ushered in a series of bad auditions – or at least half-heartedly bad in the way all the comedy auditions have been.  O, Wagner/Jedward/Goldie/evenbloodyChico, where art thou?  Alex Mireles is 17, ‘from England’ and has big hair.  He does ‘Halo’ in a very high pitched, voice breaky way. Louis asks ‘Did you ever record yourself to listen?’  He says yes, and he needs improving.  Alan who looks like Shrek is next, with a screechy ‘When You Believe’.  I say next but the judges’ clothes and the guest judges keep changing of course.  I swear these were all deliberately bad, but that’s better than laughing at the mentally ill.

Next up is Scouser Danielle Scott who looks like the lovechild of Beth Tweddle and Emma from Big Brother 5.  She says she gets compared to Amy Whinehouse and Adele although I am guessing she doesn’t mean in looks.  She questions, ‘Is this the best that life has got to offer when you’ve got such a talent?’  Truly a question of Shakespearian depth, and I’m sure it’s a question messrs Brookstein, Ward, Jackson, McElderry and Cardle ask themselves a lot.  She does a wobbly ‘Turning Tables’.  Note that she is 25, and I hope she’s not one of those allegedly wonderful 25 year olds they were  banging on about last night when they were teaching Bianca Gascoigne to KNOW HER PLACE.  Geri says she’s just an Adele tribute.  Danielle protests that she’s versatile.  So versatile she’d like the chance to do an uptempo song.  They let her.  She does an acoustic version of ‘Price Tag’.  VERSATILE.  It’s rubbish.  Gary says she didn’t sound like Jessie J but she didn’t sound like anything good either.  Was that a subtle burn on Jessie J, Funsponge?  Nicely done if so.  Danielle becomes our next auditionee to flip their shit, swear, kick things and call the show a joke.

Next up, almost as unseen as the groups, it’s the overs, which contains Michelle McManus and Lisa Maxwell lookalikes amongst others.  We see two brief clips – Tanya, whom Borelow calls ‘a really mediocre singer’ (which is normally his favourite thing, but only if it has XY chromosomes) and white brunette Jason Patrick Pritchard who has given up his job to do music… yikes.  He does a snoresome Adele and doesn’t go through because Adele is so last year.  Claire does an anaemic and out-of-tune ‘You Learn’ by Alanis and doesn’t understand what went wrong.  Lack of effort, love?

However, the only one we get to see properly is Carolynne Poole from Fame Academy.  She was at judges’ houses last year and because she just can’t give it up despite not being successful on the back of reality shows not once, but twice now.  Anyway, she felt she was a bit anonymous at judges’ houses last time - but then, who wasn’t except Goldie?  This time she’s bucked her ideas up and got herself a new Mitzeeeeeeeee from Hollyoaks look and a big ol’ sob story to ensure she gets further (this one is failed IVF and separation from her husband, which is kind of sad but also rather calculated).
She comes on stage and Louis does the ‘I remember you’ spiel.  He says it was like she was just ‘there’ last year, and she says she was.  She said she brushed it off but it broke her heart – oh give it up, Carolynne, you’re no Alexandra Burke wreaking vengeance for the series two Louis Walsh-inflicted travesty of Chin-Eye and Philip whatsisface and that brunette white bloke who won it and maybe a fourth one I don’t even remember.  Anyway, after being a bit depressed – presumably about the IVF/husband thing, although it sounds like it could be about judges’ houses, rer rugby-playing cousin dragged her out of bed (we can has cousin pls?) but instead of doing something useful, she decided to hawk herself out to reality shows YET AGAIN.  At least she’s in the same job as last year – antique furniture restorer, which gives me some hope that she has a life outside of telly.  She does a fairly dull Emily Sunday track (‘Clown’) but misses a trick by not peppering up her performance with references to the Olympic opening ceremony.  (I don’t care if that joke is supposed to be over.  It’s not over for me).  She’s fine, but you know that already.  Fine isn’t going to do that much for her.  The judges (including Mardy Mel again – where on earth is Nicole??) love her and she’s through. [With all due respect, I feel it's a representation of how limited the talent pool this year when permanent ITV2-dweller Carolynne off Fame Academy gets a full audition shown on the main show. - Steve]

And that’s the final audition (and we hear a little bit of mawliddlejaw on the soundtrack because the show has remembered he exists now he’s back in the charts) – but there’s a good few minutes left, so what are we to do?  I know, let’s have a montage!  I swear at this point there have been so many of these that the montages are actually montages of montages now.  Anyway, featured in the montage we have Older Vickers, a couple of last year’s judges’ houses rejects, dozens of anoni-white brunette bloke WINNERS (most with attendant guitars), several people I don’t remember, one group (Rough Copy) and two thirds of one group (that one who brought their weird geeky mate ‘songwriter’ along), then loads of people swearing because it’s all about the swearing this year.  RATINGS GOLD!  We have Nicole’s mouth opening even though we haven’t heard her say a word since episode one I don’t think.  Essex girl, then more white brunette blokes, someone dancing, a family mobbing the stage whom I don’t recall at all, Geri being an amazing Borelow troller, more and more anoni-white brunette blokes, Nicole crying, the Sheffield lass, and some more people I don’t remember much about.  WHAT A VINTAGE YEAR EVERYONE.

Next week: boot camp!  Some of these people will be going home!  Some of these people will be staying!  Barely any of these people will be memorable enough for you to care!  Join Helen and me then!