Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tour de farce

Auditions 6: 15th September 2012

"So far," declares Peter Dickson. "The search has uncovered this." I can't help thinking he seems as unimpressed by the footage that accompanies this statement as I do. I mean, sure, we've found a lot of loud people, but that's about it. And I can usually do that in the town centre at closing time on a Saturday night without the aid of an extensive casting process, so forgive me for not being that enthused at this point. Still, Peter tells us in more certain terms that less positive things were found, like the violent Pink impersonator and Lorna Bliss, who's been on every TV show known to man at this point (I already knew her from Britain's Got Talent and Snog, Marry, Avoid? before she turned up here, although I doubt that paints me in a favourable light, so I'll just be quiet now). This weekend, it's yet another double bill to finish off the auditions process, so let's hope someone really brilliant (either in a Leona Lewis way or in a Wagner way, at this point I'm no longer fussy) turns up and quick.

After the titles, we're in London again this week, as some girl in the queue tells the chap next to her that she's been singing since she was four and she's 16 now, which he responds to with the excellent backhander "you're only 16?" Lots more "candid" conversations follow peppered with phrases like "recording artist", which either means that these are entirely scripted by the producers or that the sort of meaningless waffle churned out by the judges under the guise of "constructive feedback" has actually entered the national lexicon. I'm not sure which of those alternatives depresses me more.

The judges are summoned to the arena, and for a minute I thought they'd had to send someone to get Tulisa out of the toilet, but it appears that the dressing room doors just look a lot like toilet cubicles. Guest judge Rita Ora is with us again (/still, depending on your preferred interpretation of events). Also, Gary is really tiny. Rita talks about finding someone who knows themselves, which I'm sure is a quote we've heard before. [We have. It made me think of Lady Aisleyne a few weeks back - Helen]  Tulisa says she's got high expectations for London because there are all different kinds of people here, as opposed to the monocultures that exist in Liverpool or Manchester. Gary is hoping for a great big diva voice. I hope the great big diva voice arrives in the form of a fundamentally unmarketable person, like it did on The Voice UK.

Due to some heavily manipulated editing, we are to believe that our first auditionee of the day has brought the entire crowd to silence, since they are young whippersnappers making noise and he wants those damn kids off his lawn already. He is Nick Buss (as in "thrown under the", presumably), he's 70 years old, and he's retired. He gives us a brief history of his life (tried to get on Stars In Their Eyes, they claimed never to have received the tape). Nick thinks he's got a pretty good chance with Louis (that joke's far too easy, I am going nowhere near it) and that Tulisa is all right, but she can be a bit you-know-what. Ooh, don't tell me. Facile? Incomprehensible? Tyrannical? Full of shit? I could be here all day. Nick proceeds to be cantankerous with the crew as the theme from One Foot In The Grave plays, and I feel this is not going to be an enjoyable experience.

Nick walks out onto the stage and tells Gary and Louis he's been a fan of theirs for ages. "What about the girls, do you know the girls?" Louis asks. "I know that one, Tulisia," Nick replies, and Tulisa and Rita fall about laughing. Nick gets a round of applause for being 70 and not dead yet, and tells Louis that he's looking good for his age as well. Heh. Louis asks Nick who his idol is, and Nick says that he has only one, the late, great... "Elvis?" Louis interrupts. Nick is not impressed, and taps his thick black-rimmed glasses to point out that they are a clue. "Is it Elvis?" Louis persists, until the audience clue him in by shouting "Buddy Holly", with "you dickhead" presumably being edited out by the sound team. Honestly, when you're less clued-in than an X Factor audience, you have to ask some serious questions about what you're doing with your life.

Nick is going to sing 'Maybe Baby' for his audition. "Do you have anything else?" asks Louis. Nick says he does not, even though the producers keep telling us everyone's supposed to have five prepared options. I don't know why I even bother paying attention to this sort of thing, I get the impression nobody else does. The music strikes up, and Nick sings along, hacking a bit as he does so. It's an okay performance for a 70-year-old, but that's about the most positive thing I can really say. Eventually Gary brings it to an end ("I was enjoying that!" Nick protests) and Tulisa says she wasn't sure his performance was right for the show. Gary tells Nick that they're here to find someone who'll sell records all over the world, and asks if Nick can do that. "Yes!" scream the audience, because they've had their moment of being right for the evening, and they're bored now. It's a no from Gary, and Nick mutters something profane under his breath. It's a no from Rita as well, because Nick is not hot right now. He gets a yes from Louis, but Tulisa thinks it would be unfair to bring him down to boot camp or put him through for the wrong reasons, so it's a no from her. "Typical!" fumes Nick. "I'm not surprised." This prompts the question: so why bother auditioning, then? Nick tells them he's done talent contests for 15 years, and he's done "...better than here." I note he didn't say that he actually won any of them. Nick walks offstage, flipping them the bird, and Disingenuous Dermot tells Nick that he's sorry. "I'm not sorry," replies Nick. "I knew that Tulisia was going to do it! She spoilt it!" If you say so.

With one whole audition over, you'd better believe it's time for an ad break.

When we return, we're still in London, but this time the guest judge is Leona "Amazing" Lewis. I'm sure she's going to identify with all the strong female protagonists that are to follow. (I know that's old, but it never stops being funny.) Up next is 25 year old Jade Ellis from Greenwich who works in a bike shop, and is also very good at giving you a succinct biography from the outset. I like people like her, they make this so much easier. She has a six-year-old daughter called Kayden who is adorable, and we see lots of shots of Jade doing Mum Things. She currently lives in a tower block on the eighth floor and is frequently the victim of a broken lift, and if she wins she would like a nice house with a garden. "I live in a flat" is a rubbish sob story, but at least Jade is attempting to deliver it more like an amusing anecdote. She wants to inspire her daughter, etc etc.

After a brief intro with the judges, she launches into a rendition of 'I Need' by Maverick Sabre. I'm not too familiar with the original, but Jade's version seems decent enough. Not earth-shattering, and a little rough around the edges, but if she can work through the nasal parts of her voice there's a lot of promise there. Leona thought she was SOOOOO GOOOOOOD, and Tulisa likes that Jade hasn't given up on her dreams. Four yeses for Jade, and she's through to boot camp. Jade rushes backstage to hug her adorable daughter, who seems fairly unexcited by the whole audition process (Team Kayden!), and Jade's success is the cue for a Montage Of Womanly Success. One of the subjects is 24-year-old Madeleine Wilson, who went to school with Tulisa when they were 12, and remembers going up against her at auditions for the school musical. Tulisa clearly remembers none of this, but enjoys it all the same because everything Madeleine says is complimentary. I like Madeleine, but I do not like her almost unrecognisable version of 'It's A Man's Man's Man's Man's World'. Still, the crowd like her and so do the judges, so she's through. Following her is Salena Mastroianni (26, wedding singer) who has wanted to do this for years but only just worked up the confidence. Her performance of 'Lady Marmalade' is unoriginal but pleasingly raspy and shows potential. Four yeses see Salena through to boot camp. Leanne Dlamini (27, "full time mum", although I hate that phrase) has been singing since 2003 (her throat must be sore, and so on), and gives the judges a fairly anonymous version of 'If I Ain't Got You'. It's still enough for a unanimous vote through to boot camp though, complete with a spot of child-pandering.

Then Rita Ora rejoins the panel (good god, editors, you have really given up this year) and why, look who this is coming out to audition - it's Bianca Gascoigne. Louis double-checks that she is indeed connected to The Gazza (not Barlow, obviously) and that Bianca wants to be a singer, just so they don't accidentally humiliate the wrong person or anything. Apparently Bianca has Gazza's full support, since we're supposed to care about that. Bianca fills in a bit of her backstory for us, including how she was on Love Island, the mention of which I'm surprised to discover is still allowed on ITV [Wasn't she also on I'm a Celeb...? - Rad]. (My boyfriend watched both series, so I asked him how she came across on that. "Fine," was his answer, and apparently she won, so there you go.) She now wishes that she'd not got quite so publicly bladdered quite so often, but then who doesn't wish that from time to time? She tells Dermot that she loves singing and she hopes people really realise that when she turns up on stage.

She sings 'I'm Goin' Down' by Mary J Blige (and her career is listed as "DJ", just FYI) - her vocal is, to my ears, perfectly acceptable, if a bit affected. Her performance is a bit lifeless, but that's the worst of things - but the shots were getting of the judges looking bored and, well, judgemental, suggest that this is not going to be a successful audition, presumably because Bianca is one of those women who needs to be Taught A Lesson. I'm sure Tulisa will enjoy that anyway, since if we took anything away from the previous series, it's that Tulisa has very strict ideas about acceptable behaviour for women, which mostly involves having no confidence and getting dressed in the dark. There is polite applause from the crowd when Bianca finishes. Gary asks how old she is (25), and tells her that she's not good enough compared to the other 25-year-olds they've got. This is clearly complete bollocks because we have seen those other 25-year-olds, but the narrative has been pre-planned and there's no stopping it now. He thinks she should be a lot better than that at her age, and it was mediocre. Louis thinks she hasn't got a bad voice and that her image is good, but it's a tough category. Tulisa appreciates that Bianca wants to "try something different" and change the public's perception of her, but she feels the vocals weren't strong enough. Rita agrees that there have been better singers. It's a no from Tulisa, Rita and Gary (Louis's vote wasn't shown, but I'm wondering if he might have actually said yes?) and Bianca leaves and Tulisa cringes that she found that whole experience very awkward. Yes, Tulisa, truly you were the victim in all of that. Backstage Bianca is a bit tearful but seems more or less okay, just assuming she sounded worse than she thought she did. And with that, another young woman is taught to Know Her Place and the world becomes that little bit more Daily Mail-approved. God, I hate this show sometimes. [I think she was very likeable, which is a rare beast in this show these days. Opportunity missed there - Helen]

Hey! Get an X Factor app! It does stuff, apparently.

After the ads, I'm feeling a bit travelsick which means we've hopped up to Manchester and that Mardy Mel is back. Hooray! Up first is 17-year-old Lauren Smith, who wants to do an acoustic cover of 'American Boy', if that's okay. It is certainly not okay by me, because I am fed up of fucking acoustic covers at this point, but my opinion is not sought. It's exactly what you'd expect: anaemic, whiny and earnest, which is everything that song should not be, but the crowd love it because it is Authentic. Tulisa thinks we've found "a recording artist". Mardy Mel hated the fact that Lauren kept her eyes closed throughout the song, and Tulisa's all "normally I don't like that either but Lauren is SUCH A SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE THAT WE MUST PERMIT IT." I am already deeply concerned that Tulisa and Lauren are going to end up in some sort of Cheryl Cole/Cher Lloyd symbiotic relationship if Lauren gets far enough in the show. Louis isn't sure Lauren is right for the show, and Tulisa is aghast because did he not hear what she said earlier? They have found A Recording Artist. They bicker unentertainingly and then get their musical dicks out (I don't mean Westlife and NDubz, just to clarify) and wave them around for a bit. Meanwhile Lauren makes "CRIPES ALL THIS FIGHTING OVER LITTLE OL' ME" faces on stage and Gary and Mel grab some popcorn and settle back to enjoy the show. Eventually Gary stopped the fighting and tells Lauren that he loves her because she's tedious like he is. Mel didn't love it but she liked it, so it's a yes from her too. Louis is on the face, but sees potential so he gives her a yes. So Lauren is through and will survive to Janet Devlin her way into our nightmares, while Tulisa continues to act super-classy by asking Louis when Westlife's last number one was, "because mine was a couple of weeks ago. Aahhh! Aahhh!" Seriously, she actually does the "aahhh! aahhh!" thing that 14-year-olds do when they're losing an argument. How embarrassing for her. [Tulisa, Louis has forgotten ten times the amount of stuff you know about the music business and he still knows more than you so STFU. Honestly - Helen]

After some more "candid" bollocks (can we just agree at this stage that we'll just gloss over that every time it happens?) we're on to our next auditionee, Tammy Cartwright, 33, from Derby, who looks a bit like the love child of Julie Graham and Coleen Nolan. For some reason, Tammy's pre-audition interview is interspersed with shots of Tulisa whining about her lunch, because they put the fish on top of the chips and not separately like she asked for. It's a shame ITV seem to have given up on the moment-specific hashtags, because this was crying out for them to flash #firstworldproblems up on the screen. Tammy has brought her comedy nan along, who's her biggest fan. Tammy's nan May clearly fancies herself as being A Character, but at this point I'm grateful for even the thinnest slivers of entertainment. May sexually harasses Dermot, and Tammy goes up for her audition. Once Tammy's on stage, Mardy Mel insists on meeting May, and May proves to be a giant ham once she gets in front of the crowd. Eventually she goes away (in the wrong direction at first) and leaves Tammy to actually get on with the nitty-gritty of the process. Tammy sings 'One Night Only' from Dreamgirls, the proper disco version, and there's something very Jane McDonald about her. I'm not entirely sure if that's a good thing or not, but we need a disco diva somewhere in the finals, surely? [If only for Louis' sake - Rad] Gary finds it puzzling that Tammy is 33 and they've not heard of her before, so there's time to squeeze in a quick sob story about her brother "doing something he shouldn't have been doing" (the mind boggles, but I'm guessing it wasn't running, petting or bombing in the local swimming pool) and her mum having breast cancer. Apparently she made a deal with her brother, who told her to stop preaching about his life and do something with her own. He sounds like a real charmer, doesn't he? Anyway, that's how Tammy got here, and that's why she's even more through to boot camp now than she was already. [Covering all the bases there, Tammy. I like it - Helen]

With one last ad break out of the way, we've moved further north to Glasgow, where Anastacia is with us once more. Our final auditionee is the very nervous Jade Collins (17, student) from Belfast, who tells Tulisa that she's here with her mum and friends. Tulisa asks in a clunkingly obvious fashion if her mum and dad are supportive, and Jade says that her mum is, but her dad has never been there for her. This leads us into a montage where Jade tells us that singing is her life, and her mum explains that Jade has been practising all day every day when she's not asleep or at school. Jade goes on to explain that her dad has been in prison ever since she can remember, and then she breaks down. She admits she'd be happier if her dad was here, but he is not. Jade sings 'Sweet Dreams' by Beyoncé at a slowed-down tempo, and it's far more angst-ridden than it needs to be, but that's the sort of emotional pornography that drives the very heart of this show after all. I'm not thrilled about her vocal, but she might be more enjoyable once she calms down a bit. Borelow tells her off for not warming her voice up properly before her audition, while Tulisa sees a real spark in Jade. Anastacia loves the passion in Jade's heart. It goes to a vote, and it's four yeses for Jade, who squeals with delight and rushes backstage to hug her mum.

And that's it for this episode! Tomorrow (well, tonight) is the final round of auditions, and Rad has the tough job of guiding you through that one.


thiago said...

leona lewis looks so severe, she was so lovely before. i miss it!
tammy and ellis could be good and likeable contestant.

nice recap!

StuckInABook said...

That Leona Lewis ad is hilarious! How I have not seen it before?

I've given up watching the show this year, but I did watch a few auditions on YouTube (it's like watching the show, but takes ten minutes = win). Bianca Gascoigne seemed really nice and wanting to mature etc. Shame she thought that might be respected on this show. (Also, I hate that the only way I can tell between 'good' and 'bad' auditions is by shots of Gary's eyebrows.)