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!


seminaranalyse said...

Given that Jacks brother really died shortly after judges houses, i gave Jack a pass for that. I would think he wasn't really in a great state of mind.
I have to say the standard is vastly improved this year, but i hope to god thaat borelow fails the overs and gets fired

monkseal said...

Nathan on Celebrity Hijack was by some distance the most inert reality contestant I've ever seen. He just sat there, apparently thinking that merely notionally being on a show on E4 would help his career somehow. And then he was surprised when he was turfed out first in the final when nobody cared.

StuckInABook said...

I saw a YouTube clip of Rylan's song, and loved him for the "I don't really know what I'm wearing" comment. I'm also a huge fan of abbrevs.

Rest assured that the washing machine 'skits' will be left entirely for Xtra Factor, so you should be safe.