Sunday, November 04, 2012

I don't understand how you're number one

Songs That Have Charted Somewhere, Probably Week: 3 November 2012

LAST WEEK! It was Fright Night - and if you think I'm above making a cheap "shite night, more like" joke, then you're very much mistaken. According to Borelow, Kye came back with a boom and a crash - that is, presumably, a boomin' awful performance that was crashingly inept. Meanwhile, Christopher's cruise ship ran aground and the crew started to assemble all the passengers at the nearest muster station, and Gary smiled throughout Rylan's performance then subsequently claimed to have hated it, because that's what pantomime villains do. Ultimately, however, the final showdown was between Jade and Union J, and because "moderately attractive boyband" is invariably a more attractive option than "lesbian mother with invisible girlfriend", commercially-speaking, Jade went home, leaving Nicole as the only mentor with all of her original acts still in the competition. Seriously: who saw that coming four weeks ago? Not me, that's for sure. The show hilariously pretends that Jade's elimination was shocking and unexpected, even though she'd given a fairly mediocre performance and got fairly lukewarm feedback for it. It could not have been more heavily telegraphed if we had received the news directly from a post office in the 1960s.

So, here are the remaining acts: for Louis, we have District 3 and Union J; Tulisa and "the last remaining girl, Ella" (and if you're wondering what happened to the Spraggan Wagon, we'll address that matter shortly); Nicole and the boys: Jahmene, Rylan and James; and Gary and the last two Overs (incidentally, I love that the over-25/28s category inevitably gets shortened to "the Overs", because that handily describes their career prospects in the music industry), Christopher and Kye. Gary suggests that Christopher should give the other judges even more of what they don't like, because the public vote is supporting him and that's what counts. You know, the same public vote that sent home Carolynne and Melanie, two decisions that Gary heartily endorsed at the time. Still, it amuses me that it barely took any time for Gary to drop all pretence of "I'm restoring dignity to the Overs category" and resort to "TROLLING LOLZ" instead.

Titles. Rumours that the Giant X plummeting earthwards is in fact a missile sent by the population of a distant planet, desperately trying to get Christopher out of the competition at any cost, remain as yet unsubstantiated.

Dermot enters to 'Firework' by Katy Perry, and does not bother with any dancing this week. Suitwatch: a colour that my boyfriend and I eventually settled on describing as "a deep aubergine", complete with matching double-breasted waistcoat. It's one of his better efforts, but the sooner Dermot realises that the cut of his suits makes him look shorter and stockier than he actually is, the happier we'll all be. He tells us that we're halfway through the live shows (hooray!) but there's still a long time to go before the live final (boo!). This week's theme is Number 1s, which presumably means that all the performances tonight will be pisspoor. He's pretty vague about the theme, just saying that every song will be a "hugely-loved number one", so I'm guessing any song is up for grabs as long as it's been a number one in some sort of chart somewhere, even if that happens to be the Serbian Alternative Country Hot 100 Countdown or something.

The judges enter to 'Gangnam Style', a meme that is now officially so old it's even been picked up by Strictly Come Dancing and therefore should probably be retired. [Still haven't heard the whole thing. Winning- Helen] Nicole, of course, is the only one who's even listening to the music and shimmies delightfully as she walks across the stage. Louis is wearing all black, Tulisa is in what appears to be a flesh-coloured translucent minidress covered in sequins (it's actually a pretty cool dress, so it's a shame that she's decided to accessorise it with tired-looking Ringu hair), Nicole's wearing a leather bodice with a matching skirt (complete with her Remembrance Day poppy stuck to one of her tits - classy!) and Gary's in another drab dinner suit with a strange tiny brooch poppy on the lapel. I don't think I've ever seen one of those before.

As the judges take their seats, Dermot announces that the phone lines are open - as usual, this gives us the night's performance order, so for those of you who cares, Rylan's on first, then Union J, then Kye, then James, then Ella, then District 3, then Jahmene, and Christopher's closing the show, God help us all. Dermot addresses the absence of Lucy - she is once again not well enough to perform, and has decided to withdraw from the competition. (Dear readers: I realise that there are rumours suggesting that this is not the whole story, but for legal reasons I'm not going to speculate about them here, and I politely request that you don't speculate about them in the comments either. I don't generally declare anything out of bounds on this blog, but in this case I'm making an exception because I don't want to get shut down or sued or anything like that.) Dermot suggests that no one is more disappointed than Tulisa to see Lucy exit the competition, and Tulisa responds in her usual bored I'd-rather-be-in-Nando's voice about how Lucy was an amazing person to work with and they're still in touch, and this is not the last we're going to see of her. I think I'd have felt slightly more moved by that if I didn't have the distinct sense that Tulisa was reading all that off a cue card. I'm surprised she didn't say "sincere voice" at the beginning, to be honest. [I'm going to miss Lucy, she and Rylan were the only ones I at least vaguely liked - Rad]

Dermot turns to Louis and asks, in the wake of Union J's near-miss last week, whether he's taken both of his boybands off to "a weird Louis boot camp and given them a good talking-to". Yeah, I'm sure that talking would be the only thing going on in Louis's Weird Boot Camp For Young Boys. That place is getting shut down as soon as the undercover Panorama exposé airs. Louis (who's got a padded, glittery poppy on, naturally) says it's been a reality check for both of them, and they've seen how hard they have to work now. He's "slightly" confident. Dermot trolls Gary by reminding him that last week was the first time he hadn't had any of his acts in the sing-off. Gary replies that when an act ends up in the bottom two, they come back with a more positive outlook. And also, if history is anything to go by, a zero per cent chance of winning the competition. Dermot drools over Nicole's tits, and Nicole says that the competition is STIFF so everyone has to GO HARD or go home. Nicole Scherzinger: giving the ITV compliance department sleepless nights since 2012.

Speaking of Nicole, the boys are on first: Rylan and his ginger beard have decided that it's time for Nicole to see his roots. No, not the ones on his head: they're gahhin' Essex, mate. "What is Essex like?" asks Nicole, in a voice so full of wonder and excitement that she sounds like a five-year-old trying to imagine Santa's workshop. Rylan tells her that it's basically the Hollywood of England, in that everyone there is a peculiar shade of orange and lies about their age. They head off to Amy Childs' salon (is that actually a real thing? It kind of looks like it's been assembled solely for the purposes of this VT) where there's a "totes vote Rylan" sign in the window. The wheely-cases, meanwhile, are all voting for Christopher. The pneumatic Amy Childs is there to greet them at the door. "Lovely to meet you," says Nicole. "You're reem." Rylan thinks he deserves an award from the mayor (of Essex?) for getting "The Scherzinger" into the county.

As Amy plucks at Rylan's monobrow, they decide to teach Nicole some Essex slang, the outcome of which is that Nicole (with a wobbling but passable stab at an Essex accent) declares Amy "a beaut", Rylan "well fit" and the three of them "reem". Sadly, giddied by her initial success, she then declares that the three of them are also "well jelled", so there's still a bit of work needed to be done before she's ready to join TOWIE as Arg's new girlfriend. From there, they move on to spray-tanning, where Rylan explains to Nicole that after being pale last week for Halloween, he's desperate to get back to his more satsuma-y roots, which cracks Nicole up. "I don't even know where I've landed!" she wails. "Is everybody here like you two?" Rylan and Amy agree that, yes, they are very much an accurate representation of everyone in Essex, which I'm sure will go down well across the county. Eventually they get around to talking tactics, and Nicole, bless her, is keen to stick to Rylan's promise to Gary last week that he'd do a ballid, while also pleasing the fans who want the typical Rylan schtick. Once that's been sorted out, inevitably they decide to give Nicole a vajazzle. I tend to assume that nothing on this show is genuine, but if Nicole doesn't genuinely enjoy spending time with her acts, then at the very least she's by far the best at faking it in all nine years this show has been going. For that alone, they should sign her up for at least another year.[The sooner she gets her own ITV2 show the better - Helen]

Rylan's in a red suit with enormous feathery epaulettes, and singing a slowed down version of 'Hung Up' by Madonna (number one in: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Holland, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and US Hot Dance/Club Play) mixed in with 'Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)' (number one in: Belgium, Finland, France, Ireland and Switzerland). I have to admit, I'm disappointed that this is as imaginative as Rylan's mashing-up gets this week. When you're doing something that Phoebe And The Woo Woo Girls already did five years ago, I can't hand out many points for originality, however bizarre your staging and/or outfit might be. Once again, the slow bits prove that Rylan's actually a decent enough singer when he wants to be, though vocal ability is never really going to be the point of Rylan anyway. Also, I love that the show's gay panic is such that even someone as open as Rylan has to sing the chorus of 'Hung Up' rather than ever admit to wanting a man after midnight. Oh, and halfway through he dedicates the song to Lucy and tells her he loves her, which is rather sweet. [I misted up a bit - Helen]

Louis tells Rylan that he's "still standing" and everyone in Essex must be proud. It was camp and over the top, but enjoyable, and he "almost" put a smile on everyone's face. Tulisa declares it "totes amaze" and says that he stripped it back before "dropping it back in, Rylan-style". She thinks that everyone is starting to see what they all see behind the scenes, which is that he's an entertaining performer and person who deserves to be here. Gary says that the vocals at the top "weren't too bad this week", but after then it was just all chaos and drama, and he enjoyed everything apart from Rylan. "I have a feeling that might be your last performance on The X Factor," says Gary ominously - and unless they're planning not to have a sing-off this week, he can't possibly be correct. Nicole dips into her Essex lingo to tell Gary to "shu' up!" and says that people have underestimated Rylan, because he can sing and he was "effortless" and "beautiful" up there, and he's proven that he's earned his place in the competition. She finishes by telling Gary that Rylan's "reem" and he's just "well jel". To be honest, I think Gary might be right in the broader sense that this is probably Rylan's last week on the show, but then I've been predicting that every week so far, and I've always been wrong, so who knows? [My guess?  Next week or the week after they'll make him be serious and that'll be the end.  They may let District 3 go first if they hit the bottom two again - Rad] Rylan's happy that he got the closest thing to a compliment that he's ever going to get from "Gal", and then he and Dermot completely ignore Gary's attempts to say anything further. Hooray! Rylan, bless him, says that Gary's right - any week could be his last, and he performs every time as if that's the case.

Time for an ad break. Apparently the show's resorted to using those TalkTalk karaoke ad bumpers to plugging the new BixMix single. I like how they've had to identify "Perrie - Little Mix" at the bottom of the screen, since they don't trust us enough to actually recognise her without prompting.

Upon our return, it's time for Louis and our first group of the night: singing "a brilliant Taylor Swift song", it's Union J. They have a crisis meeting in their VT about their "shock" bottom two appearance, and George J says it was "a numb feeling" and they didn't know what to expect. Scott-Lee J says that it's hard to sing in that situation because your mouth goes dry and you want to be sick. I think everyone watching this show is suitably familiar with that feeling. In a desperate attempt to BixMix them into likeability, the show goes overboard in pointing out their ordinariness as well as the fact that apparently they all have real names and personalities: Other J is JJ from Newmarket and used to be a jockey, Scott-Lee J is Jaymi from Luton, who likes to be the dad (to be honest, from the look of him I would've thought he'd prefer the other guy to be The Dad, but I guess that's why it doesn't pay to stereotype), Resentful J is Josh from Windsor, who apparently gained new powers of comedy when they cut his hair, a bit like Samson in reverse, and George J is George from Bristol, who lives in a small house. Since they've got a love song, Scott-Lee J thinks they should all "remember the first time we was all in love" - and if they're struggling to remember that feeling, I'm fairly sure there's a slashfic about it somewhere on the internet.

They're singing 'Love Story' (number one in: Australia, US Adult Contemporary, US Country, US Pop Songs), starting with Resentful J singing while George J accompanies him on the guitar. Then Scott-Lee J and Other J come in with some wobbly harmonies before Scott-Lee J takes on the main burden of singing as always. They're on a raised platform with no dancers or anything like that, so I guess they're all about being Authentic this week. I really miss NotLouis. Things get a bit scratchy on the vocal front when they have to do the key change, but overall it's one of their better efforts. Unfortunately, George J's creepy puppet smile is still scaring the crap out of me. [MAKE IT STOP - Rad]

Tulisa congratulates Louis on an excellent song choice and does her best Mrs Doyle impression: "ahh, will ya have a little Taylor Swift, Father? Go on, go on, go on..." - or something like that, anyway. Louis says that he and Union J chose the song together. Tulisa says that song choice is key, and Louis knows his boybands and he's trying to find their market. Tulisa, in a rare moment of perspicacity, says that Union J's fans are teenage girls who just want to see the boys singing beautiful love songs to them beautifully. So much so that I expect next week's performance to be a cover of 'Lovely To Love Your Lovin'' by The Simpsons. Gary tells them that he was worried they'd made the wrong choice in the sing-off last week, but now he sees that they were right after all. Hooray! He likes that he can hear their voices at last, but he has a small criticism, and a poorly-worded one: "George, you fit beautifully in the band, visually, I think you could work on your blending just a little bit more." I mean, I know that Borelow's dull enough that he's talking about blending vocally, but Dimwit Dermot doesn't work this out, as we'll see in a minute. Nicole thinks it's nice to see George reunited with his guitar, and she thought it was a "solid and sweet performance", and that Tulisa's right in that they're performing to their fanbase. She then adds "that's your cue, girls" and the girls in the audience scream on command. Ha! I love that she's got them so well-trained. Louis likes that they came back fighting with new energy and new haircuts. Just like Malibu Stacy! Dimwit Dermot arrives and asks Gary what he meant: does he not like George's top? "No, I'm talking about his haircut," Gary deadpans, slightly too successfully because Nicole and Tulisa try to defend George's hair so he clarifies that he meant "vocal blending", and that George would've known what he meant because George is An Artist. Resentful J says that they've given it their all this week, and they hope it worked. Dermot asks Other J a bit more about being a jockey, and compliments him on having "the David Essex thing going on". Other J smiles, probably because he thinks that David Essex is Joey Essex's little brother. Well reem! Union J exit in an incredibly stage-managed fashion with teenage girls all reaching out to grab their ankles - it's supposed to look like a teenage sex riot, but it ends up looking more like Shaun Of The Dead.

Up next is Gary, who makes an unfunny joke about Geri Halliwell that even Dermot can barely muster any enthusiasm for, and then introduces Kye Sonezzzzzzz. Kye was excited last week because when he came off stage, he saw via the magic of this HANDY, FUNCTIONAL AND ATTRACTIVE SAMSUNG TABLET that Robbie had "tweeted me". Except he didn't - he posted a tweet that mentioned Kye, which is not the same thing. Dear television: please do not talk about social networking if you can't get the terminology right, because it demeans us all. Gary thinks they've unlocked the door to Kye now. This week, Kye goes back to see his brother at work, cleaning chimneys. Kye's brother's anguished "noooooo!" when Kye walks in is a nice parallel with my reaction every time Kye performs. They go out for an all-day breakfast and Kye's brother talks about how proud they are of him, and how he's supposed to be on stage and not sweeping chimneys. Can't they just erect a little stage in the chimney? That way everybody's happy.

Kye is singing 'You Get What You Give' (number one in: Canada and New Zealand) in a poor pastiche of punk rock even by this show's standards, and his quiff has reached near-beehive proportions. The whole thing is so unbearably milquetoasty, I can't look directly at it. So while we wait for it to finish, here's a kitten having a little nap. Awwwww! Oh, and if you're wondering if he does the "fashion shoots with Beck and Henson / Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson" bit, he absolutely does, right up to and including the "kick your ass in" line. Hilarious not only for the risible idea of Kye kicking anyone's ass in, ever (I have an eight-year-old niece who I'm fairly certain could take on Kye with both hands tied behind her back and still win easily), but also for the show deciding to focus exclusively on that part that Gregg Alexander apparently only included to see whether people focused on trivial celebrity feuds instead of actual important issues. *golf clap*

Nicole asks if Kye was inspired by Robbie Williams' performance last week. She means it as a compliment, but I think "cheap knock-off Robbie Williams tribute act" is about the best Kye can realistically hope for. She thinks he did a really good job, though she says so without much certainty. Louis thinks Kye delivered and worked the stage just like Robbie. Tulisa says that sometimes she checks in the rehearsals, and when she saw Kye was doing this, she thought it was "maybe a bit safe", but tonight he changed her mind with his energy and vocals and made the song his own. Gary can't believe they got a compliment off Louis, and says that with Kye, it's all about finding he's lame. Sorry, that should be "finding his lane". Easy mistake to make. Dermot comes out to admire the size of Kye's hair and asks "are you seeing Louis's guy?" Now there's a love triangle I'd love to read about in the tabloids. Kye's pleased for everyone's support and respects everyone so much, blah blah blahzzzzz. Oh, and it's Kye's mum's birthday this weekend, so he wants to say hi to her because apparently this is now a local radio phone-in.

Adverts. O HAY U GUISE LITTLE MIX HAVE GOT A SINGLE OUT. Still, I like that the random dancer they've got to play St. Jesy's body is wearing awful trousers. Not leggings, admittedly, but it's still more attention to detail than I expected.

When we return, Dermot does his contractual shilling of the show's official app, and then we're back to Nicole and the boys - in this case, James Arthur. He's very excited, in a muted, grumbling James Arthur sort of way, because the show has changed his life and even got his parents speaking to each other again. See, who needs the Surprise Surprise revival when you've got this? As part of his rehearsals for the week, James attended a masterclass with No Doubt - well, with Gwen and Tony, anyway. Gwen looks amazing, though to my slight disappointment her outfit does not seem to feature any sort of ill-advised cultural appropriation. Oh well, never mind. James greets them both with "I'm a big fan", and when Gwen thanks him for that, he replies "no problem". Heh. I guess it was a bit much to expect starstruck-James to look any more enthused than regular James. Coincidentally, he'll be singing a No Doubt song this week (which is why at first I assumed this was just another case of Nicole calling in a favour from her famous friends) - he performs for them and Tony likes the darkness to him, and Gwen thinks it's very flattering that he chose her song. She's seen his performances (presumably on a GLAMOROUS AND INEXPENSIVE SAMSUNG TABLET) before where he does a lot of ad libbing, and thinks it's better on this occasion that he stayed closer to the melody. Man, I hope Jahmene's getting a mentoring session with Gwen as well, because if anybody needs to hear "just sing the bloody notes as written, you goon", it's him.

So, as you've probably guessed, James is singing 'Don't Speak' (number one in: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Holland, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, US Billboard Pop Songs and US Billboard Adult Pop Songs) in his typically overwrought fashion, as though at any moment he might just decide he's had enough and leap headfirst into one of the neon light tubes. Despite Gwen's advice, he's decided to add a rap into the middle of the song, which combined with his appearance gives him the air of a lesser Professor Green - a Visiting Lecturer Green, if you like. Then it's back to the melody, of sorts, and James Arthur sings the agony of the human condition, just like he does every week. I mean, I can see why people like it, but I can only think that an entire album of it would be enough to drive even the most optimistic of people to wonder if it's even worth getting out of bed.

Louis loves that James took a gamble with a well-known song, and he thinks he's a real talent who deserves a record deal. Tulisa thinks the performance was stripped back and relaxed from his usual stuff (it was?!), but because he's established himself so well, that's not a problem. The obligatory "I felt like I was at a James Arthur concert" gets wheeled out here, with the slight amendment of "you were performing an album track". Gary thinks James is his own worst enemy because he gets better every week. That doesn't really make sense as a critique, but whatever. Nicole says even though she's his mentor, she's in awe of him because he brings so much authenticity to the show, and every performance feels like the first performance.

After the break, Dermot promises "two actual chart-toppers performed by two potential chart-toppers". I'm not holding my breath for either of those things to be true.

When we return, it's the return of the last remaining girl (literally - there are no other women left in the competition now): Ella. Last week didn't go quite so swimmingly as usual, so Ella's worried that she's lost herself and has let the themes take over, so she wants to go back to who she was at her first audition. Tulisa says that nothing else exists when Ella has a moment, and the world has no other meaning than Ella. Ella then goes in to meet No Doubt, which means that this was clearly a mentorship set up for more than one act, in which case: why didn't Rylan, Union J and Kye get to go? It all seems rather odd. Anyway, Gwen loves Ella, who has been in tears this week over her song choices because she just couldn't decide what to do, other than being sure she wanted to do a piano ballid. She's chosen some Katy Perry (because Lord knows when you hear "piano ballid", that's EXACTLY where your brain goes first), and Gwen and Tony like what she's done with the song, and Ella's feeling very much reassured about things.

So she's singing 'Firework' (number one in: Canada, New Zealand, US Billboard Hot 100, US Adult Contemporary, US Adult Pop Songs, US Hot Club Dance Songs, US Pop Songs, Venezuela) which is both thematically and seasonally appropriate, although trying to do an earnest interpretation of a Katy Perry song is rarely a good idea. I mean, her lyrics are so asinine, there's a reason why she basically dresses for Halloween every day of the year and parades around on stage surrounded by giant lollipops and human-size dildos. There's also the fact that this is a very, very difficult song to sing, as proven by Katy Perry herself on this very show two years ago, as well as by me and my friend Claire in Lucky Voice on my 30th birthday. Anyway, Ella handles the build-up well, but makes some very unpleasant noises indeed on those top notes, and because it's a stripped-back, just-being-me performance, the biffed notes are pretty impossible to ignore. [I hated this.  Mainly because it was SO BORING.  I'd have had much more respect for Ella if she'd attempted it up-tempo, as foolhardy as that would have been.  Or in yellow trousers - Rad]

Gary congratulates Ella, saying that "simplicity is the key to this competition for you", though he thinks the song was too high for her, and echoes Nicole from last week saying she needs to look over the keys of her songs more carefully. Nicole's all choked up and says that she felt like she was in a movie watching that, and she saw fireworks everywhere - though she did think that on one of the notes, Ella made a noise like a car engine failing to turn over. (Those are my words rather than Nicole's, incidentally - Nicole actually imitates the noise, but me just writing 'nhnhnhnhnhnhnh' here wouldn't be terribly illuminating, so just take my word for it that that's what it sounded like.) She doesn't mind, however, because it's not about perfection, it's about being in the moment. Louis thinks she's a little recording star in the making, and he thinks it was a brilliant song choice from Tulisa - who, he adds, is "smelling gorgeous and looking smoking". Hee. Tulisa thinks Ella's had another of her moments, and everyone in the room felt it and connected with it.

Dermot arrives, and says that Ella wasn't sure about her song choice this week, and squeaks "are you insane?" in a really strange way. I mean, I'm used to Dermot's questioning being vacuous at the best of times, but I don't think it's that surprising that someone really wanting a vocal showcase of a performance would wonder if a Katy Perry song was the right way to go. Ella says blah blah prove a point blah blah back to basics blah blah just like my audition. Dermot gives us the number to vote for Ella if we want her to be the show's youngest winner ever. Hang on - youngest winner ever? How old is she? WHY WON'T THEY TELL US?

Time for the last group of the night: District Cubed. Their VT is all about how they met at school, back when Dan (the one who looks a bit like Luke from The Sarah Jane Adventures) had blond hair. OH MY GOD, BLOND HAIR! Such scandal! Anyway, they formed a band two years ago, and their first song they posted to YouTube was a cover of 'Crawl' by model citizen and all-round nice guy Chris Brown. If the version of it that we then get shown is the original, it's had 150 views in those two years. I bet Justin Bieber's quaking in his boots. (To be fair, I don't know how accurate the clip is, because the scrolling bar at the bottom that shows where you are in the video doesn't move at any point.) Louis tells them that their best asset is their natural chemistry because they all know each other so well. They then go off to meet No Doubt, and Gwen's all "were you the guys who were in school together?", almost like she knows or cares who any of these people are. We don't see them singing for Gwen and Tony, just discussing the fact that this week they'll be dancing. With girls. Heterosexuality rules! They discuss how they're not very good with girls, and Greg and Mickey demonstrate some of their lame chat-up lines on each other, much to Dan's obvious horror. Not least because he's seen what the slash fans were like with One Direction and knows that it's generally not sensible to encourage them.

They're singing 'Dynamite' by Taio Cruz (number one in: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, UK R&B, UK Singles, US Pop Songs, US Hot Dance Club Songs) and vocally, it's an absolute mess. The harmonies are all off, they sound uncomfortable, and the chorus is too high for them. They do all right at the dancing With Girls though, which is surely the most important thing? Dan does a handspring-backflip thing as well, which is pretty impressive. He also appears to have something tattooed on the inside of his arm. I don't know what it says, but I hope it's "The Female Boss".

Tulisa is already cringing, and says that Louis got the song all wrong this week because it felt really awkward - "bless your poor little souls, you're thinking of the choreography and you're trying to sing at the same time you're coming out of backflips and trying to hit notes - you just looked awkward and like you were struggling". Dayum, girl. She thinks it just didn't happen for her this week. Gary says that when we first met them, they were a vocal harmony band and somewhere that got really lost. Maybe around the time that people realised vocal harmony bands don't really sell many records? He thinks the song was bland (pot and kettle, meet Gary Barlow) and he doesn't know who they are any more. I guess the memory's always the first thing to go. Nicole resurrects "no baby, no" just for this occasion, and thinks that Louis got it all wrong. She thinks if they were at the Mickey Mouse Club, this would be "shermazing", but those boys will be eaten alive in the real world. Louis, of course, thought it was fantastic, and he thinks the people at home will vote for them. Tulisa, just as her microphone is being turned off: "I hope they do! So you can't make the same mistake again!" Hee. District 3 are hanging their heads a little bit, and promise to (sigh) strip it down to just the vocals if they're here next week.

Adverts. I wonder exactly how big the truck full of money that EE drove to Kevin Bacon's house was.

When we return, Dermot is in the audience with the families, including a bunch of assholes in bright yellow "Team Kye" t-shirts. Dermot sexually harasses Kye's brother before turning to Lucy from 2Shoes (NEVA 4GET), who's here supporting the totes amaze Rylan.

Then we go to Nicole, who introduces Jahmene. The show would like us to remember this week that Jahmene used to work in Asda, and Nicole begs him to take her there so she can see what his life used to be like. So she ends up in an Asda uniform, restocking the chiller cabinet. LOLZ! (Again, Nicole's commitment to the bit is what sells it: everybody on Strictly needs to watch Nicole Scherzinger to see how to make a comedy VT less awful.) Nicole does an inventory check and gets very excited about the electronic device that holds all the information, because they do not have these sorts of things in her world. Then they do a roleplay where Nicole is the employee and Jahmene is the customer, and he asks her about rhubarb yoghurt and Nicole is all "oh, why did you pick the most difficult one?" I love Nicole so much - the fact that she can take something that is normally the most excruciating part of a team training day and actually make amusing television out of it is a sign of the value she adds to this show. Seriously, producers: pay her whatever she wants when it comes to negotiating contracts for next year. Do not let this woman slip through your fingertips again. [Agreed - Rad] Jahmene says that having Nicole as a mentor is like having a best friend, and then Nicole does a PA announcement to get everyone to vote for Jahmene, and they scarper before they get caught. She says that she's had a lovely time at the supermarket with Jahmene this week, but it's her job to ensure he doesn't end up back there. I rather like that outlook.

Jahmene is singing 'Listen' by Beyoncé (number one in: precisely nowhere, as far as I can tell. Oh Nicole, you were doing so well), and it's arguably his worst performance to date - he can't cope with the high notes even at normal pace, and when he starts Jahmening it up all over the place and noddling away, it just gets strained and awful. Let's just pretend this never happened and watch Alexandra and Beyoncé one more time instead.

Ahh, that's better.

Louis tells Jahmene that this was the vocal performance of the night by a mile, and that he's a world-class recording artist who is going to the final rather than back to the supermarket. Tulisa is "speechless", and says she'll see him in "Manny" (really? "Manny"?) at the finals, adding that she's never heard a woman sing that as well as Beyoncé, let alone a man. At home, Future Head Judge Alexandra Burke begins work on the Tulisa-shaped effigy that she'll be throwing on a bonfire on Monday. Gary tells Jahmene it's an enormous song with an enormous range, and he killed it tonight. I know people complain that the comments on Strictly often sound like they were scripted without seeing the performance, but seriously, Len, Bruno et al have got nothing on this show. Nicole tells Jahmene that song was meant for him to sing, and he's just lighting the torch for "all the other people". What, like in Survivor? Does it represent his life on the island? Will he be forming an ill-advised alliance with Boston Rob, who'll stab him in the back the first chance he gets? Is he about to produce a hidden immunity idol? (Sorry, I've just been getting really into Survivor lately.)

Adverts. We've run out of members of BixMix, so we're back to the general public again. And if you didn't even notice the difference, that's just because they REPRESENT PEOPLE WITH TELEVISIONS FOR HEADS EVERYWHERE.

When we return, Dermot is delighted to tell Nicole that "no baby, no" is trending worldwide on Twitter. Great news for Nicole, possibly less good news for District-Cubed. Our last act of the evening is Christopher, and his VT contains hubris of the sort we've not seen since Katie Waissel. Gary smugs it up all over the place about how great it is that all the other judges hate Christopher but the public keep voting him back in. "Everything they don't like, let's give them more of it," declares Gary. Christopher decides that the other judges see him as a threat and that's why they're giving him negative comments. Oh please, please, please let this mean he's singing 'Swagger Jagger' this week. That would be so amazing. He meets No Doubt, and tells Gwen that the other judges call him cheesy and they JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND HIM. Gwen's all "uh, yeah, it's really not that they're jealous, they're just really doing everything they can to try to convince you not to suck so much next week." Christopher thinks that it doesn't matter what the judges say, only what the public think, and they've voted him in as the wildcard and kept him around. He then starts whining about all the negative stories about him in the papers, which he thinks all started when Louis called him a "diva" on The Xtra Factor. I had no idea that had even happened until this very moment, so somehow I think Christopher is rather exaggerating this whole "Louis is out to get me" schtick. From there, he goes into full "it's not true, I'm dead humble me" mode and throws in a bit about "I've never denied that I haven't sung before" (sort your syntax out Maloney, please) and that while he's performed on a few cruise ships (OH MY WORD I AM SO SURPRISED), it was nothing as high-profile as this. Gary tells Christopher that they're giving the people who are voting for him what they want. What, sectioning?

Christopher is singing 'All By Myself' (number one in: Canadian BDS Adult Contemporary Chart, Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary, US Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks, US Billboard Hot Latin Pop Airplay), beaming the performance directly from 1986 as he always does. There's no giant cruise ship being displayed on the screens behind him this week, but there might as well be.

Nicole tells him she's a sucker for that song, and it pulls on her heartstrings. Right on cue, Christopher reaches into his pocket to find the tweezers and that hole he cut earlier, starts yanking away, and hey presto! Out come the tears, because he just moved himself so very much. Nicole tells him that he did an amazing job, and that he was hitting money notes that made her see eagles' wings spreading open in slow motion. Louis thinks it was a big song to pick and he hit all the notes, but they're looking for someone who's going to sell records internationally. Hang on, how about we settle for finding someone who can sell records in this country first? That'd already put them in front of Steve Brookstein, Leon Jackson, Joe McElderry and Matt Cardle. Tulisa says that for the first time, she actually loved his song choice and his vocals, but as far as she's concerned, it's five weeks too late and she's wondering if it's just a lucky one-off. Gary talks about how much fun they have together each week and Christopher is delivering to his public, so basically fuck everyone else. Louis asks Gary if he honestly thinks Christopher can sell records internationally. Gary dodges the question. Christopher tells Dermot he loved singing it, and he got some great comments tonight, and he wants to thank everyone that's voting for him.

Endut! Hoch hech! All that remains now is to point out that guest judge Rita Ora will be here for tomorrow's results show, as will No Doubt, and two more acts will be heading for the sing-off. I'm really hoping this is the week I get the All Barlow final showdown that I'm dreaming of, but realistically I think it might be Rylan vs District-Cubed. Join me tomorrow to find out whose dreams of pop superstardom are now even less likely to come true than they were before.


Lia said...

Back from a lovely week in Portugal enjoying their Autumn that feels like British Summer. No X Factor planned. Found out it was on a repeat Sunday afternoon but the weather was so lovely I skipped it. Watched again this weekend and have only one word for it: BORING!!! Hell, this is the worst year. EVER!!! Missing NotLouis like mad (cry like a baby)

Anonymous said...

I really like your recap of the X-factor. It's quite hilarious, really! I love that show especially, Nicole.

Blake 1990 said...

Damn, if it weren't for that fucking "Wildcard Twist!" (Which surely can't be considered a twist at this point?) Borelow would set a record as the first judge to have all of his acts voted out as early as week 5!

(Unless you count Sharon in 2007, but then, one of her girls was forced to leave, wasn't she?)

Lucy Thackray said...

Ha! I had totally forgotten how much Alexandra ugly-cried at Beyonce. Those were purer days. Makes Jahmene's shrill amateur riffing sound even worse.

Rad said...

Blake - As Gary didn't choose Christopher, I count this as Gary losing all his acts and thus being the official WORST MENTOR EVER, even worse than Sharon.

Blake 1990 said...

Good point Rad, but I just remembered that Paula Abdul lost all her groups on US X Factor last year by week 5. In fact, if you don't count the first week where there was no public vote, then she only mentored acts for four voting rounds! That puts her below Gary and Sharon, damn it, I like Paula a lot more than the two of them, not that being more likeable than Borelow and Sharon is a particularly hard task.

Rad said...

X Factor USA doesn't count I think we all know it's better that way.