Final - Part 1: 8th December 2012
We open on the train to Manchester, of all places, as Jahmene, Christopher and James all enjoy a first-class ticket on Virgin Trains up to the final. First-class seems curiously empty: either Syco bought all the seats for the purposes of filming, or Virgin Trains need to sort their seating allocations out. Jahmene talks about wanting to win this to prove to people that you can overcome any struggle, while Christopher thinks it's incredible that he's in the final having started out as the wildcard (it is, in a very literal way, not credible), and James opines that he was nothing before this show, and if he wins, he'll finally be someone. I'm not sure there's much you can do to help someone whose entire sense of self-worth is wrapped up in The X Factor - I think they might be too far gone.
Before we can get on with the important business of this year's final, the show invites us to have a look back at how we got here, other than "unburdened by several million of the viewers we had two years ago". There were some great auditions, and some less-great ones, and ultimately we ended up with a Top 13. Hey, remember when everyone thought that Rylan making the live shows was the biggest crock of shit in the world? They can apologise whenever they like. I'll wait. In the meantime, we get the obligatory parade of those that have fallen on the way here: Carolynne, Melanie, MK1, Jade, Kye and District 3. Then of course everything comes to a temporary halt so the show can flagellate us all some more about not voting properly and causing Ella (RIP) to go out in sixth place. Then we speed up again for those unimportant losers Rylan and Union J, whose eliminations were fated in the stars or whatever, and that brings us up to the present day. Then we see our top three getting off the train in Manchester and clips of what is yet to come tonight as they visit their hometowns and the arena team get Manchester Central ready for an audience of 10,000. I think that's the number of people in the auditorium rather than the number of people watching at home, but I'll make sure I check that later. Anyway, one of these three polite young men is going to win - which one will it be?
Titles. Giant X hurts through space on a Saturday for the last time this year. We'll miss you, Giant X. You've been a delightful constant in unpredictable times. [Except it seems to have landed in London and not Manchester. Poor Giant X, did no-one invite it? - Rad]
We begin with a musical montage of Dermot, in dinner suit and dicky-bow, making his way to the venue - a journey that takes him down Coronation Street (flanked by models wearing Manchester City and Manchester United kits), into the Rovers Return (where Nicole is tending bar and no doubt hoovering up pork scratchings), outside the arena where Gary and Tulisa are deep in conversation (bet that was thrilling for both parties), into another backstage area where he's flanked by sequin-covered sexy dancers, into Louis's dressing room where he's apparently mid-way through getting a lapdance from Lorna Bliss (REALLY, X Factor? REALLY?), through a clothing rail which outfits him in a sparkly onesie (still a better fit than most of the suits he's worn this year), and finally onto the stage where he busts out a few moves for us with the aforementioned sequinny dancers. Once he's finished, he dismisses them with "begone, you harlots!" Well, that's a lovely way to present women on a primetime family entertainment show, isn't it?
Dermot declares that "2012 has been a year of great finals" (still not finished trying to clamber on the back of the Olympic goodwill, then?) but this is the big one for Jahmene, Christopher and James, who will have to "pull out the performances of their lives to win" - or at least just make sure they're a little bit less shit than the other two. The judges are welcomed onto the stage: Louis is all in black, Tulisa is wearing a knee-length black leather dress with a sheer covering over her cleavage and her arms, Nicole is in a clinging high-necked floor-length red number, and Gary's in a black dinner suit with a white shirt and a black tie. Dermot tells us that we have Kylie, One Direction, Rihanna, Rita Ora, Kelly Clarkson and Emeli Sandé to look forward to tonight, and hopefully they're going to distract us from the general will-this-do? nature of this year's finalists.
First of all, though, let's revisit those who didn't quite make it this far via the medium of a big group number: starting with 'Gangnam Style' performed by (who else?) Rylan. How amazing would an all-Scherzinger final have been? Very, I'm telling you. [I hear you - Rad] We then switch into 'Payphone', which is being performed by Union J, Kye and District 3, who are all arriving on scooters. Not motorised scooters either - old-school scooters. Let's take a momentary break from recapping to laugh heartily at Kye essentially being reduced to a grafted-on Frankenband member for the purposes of tonight's event. Then we get the return of Lucy (I'm quite surprised she came back, to be honest, but good on her for doing so, I guess) singing 'Titanium' with Carolynne, Melanie and Jade as her back-up singers. Not to get too "that's showbiz" about this, but I genuinely didn't recognise Carolynne at all when I first saw her. For a minute I thought she was Mitzeeee from Hollyoaks. Then the song changes to 'Spectrum (Say My Name)' by Florence + The Machine, led by Union J and an increasingly shamefaced-looking Kye, before they hand it over to The Reanimated Corpse Of Ella Henderson. You know who's conspicuous by their absence? MK1. [It took me ages to figure out who was missing. Jade was still there despite snarking to DS the other day that she wasn' going to turn up - Rad] Then finally James, Jahmene and Chris enter singing 'Read All About It', with Jahmene giving James a friendly little fist-bump on the arm as they finish.
Dermot asks James how he's feeling, and he's honoured to be here. Jahmene is just really excited to perform. And Christopher is just humbled and grateful to be here. What a thrilling top three, eh readers? Dermot declares the voting lines officially open, but warns us that they will be frozen later in the evening in order to kick off whoever's in third place.
Time for an ad break! Asda want you to remember that women do everything at Christmas while men are entirely useless. [Morrisons likewise but with the mum from This is England because THA NORF/MIDLANDS - Rad]
When we return, Dermot shills the app before informing us that Jahmene will be performing first, and handing over to Nicole. Nicole declares that Jahmene has graduated from her little lamb chop to "a whole lamb shank". Nicole's mind is a terrifying and amazing place. Jahmene's VT begins with him and Nicole arriving in Swindon in a helicopter. Now there's a sentence I never imagined I'd write. First stop, naturally, is Asda, where masses of people have gathered to welcome him home. Lots of his former colleagues are all appropriately weepy and pleased to see him. Jahmene introduces Nicole to Carmel who works on the meat counter, and Nicole is very interested in Asda's butcher counter, ordering herself some meatballs. We really do owe Nicole a hell of a debt for single-handedly making this series entertaining - can you imagine Cheryl Cole pretending to be this excited about Asda? Because I can, and it's a horrifying thought. Nicole and Jahmene do the usual "look how far you've come!" chat to remind us that Jahmene is a real live boy now, and then they get back in the car to head to church.
The choir is there singing 'O Happy Day' as they arrive, and they great Jahmene enthusiastically. Jahmene explains that church completes him, and he gets Nicole into some purple robes, and "forces" her to sing with the choir. Yeah, I bet she took loads of coaxing. Jahmene expresses his gratitude to the congregation for keeping him going through the dark times, and Nicole points out that he's a completely different person in church - he's happier and more comfortable. This is sweet, actually: I'm not religious personally, but this little segment demonstrates exactly what religion should be like: a community being there to support each other through thick and thin without judgement. Jahmene explains that church is his "favourite day of the week" (he must have a very odd-looking calendar) and although he's had lots of counselling and therapy, church has been more help to him than any of those. I think it's a shame that counselling and therapy didn't help him, but I'm glad he at least had something to fall back on. [I can't believe he didn't say it was The X Factor that saved him. Way to go off-message, Jahmene! - Rad] Following that, Jahmene performs to a crowd of over 28,000 in the middle of Swindon, with his mum and Nicole looking on adoringly. Jahmene hopes he wins the competition so he can have this sort of experience all the time. Oh Jahmene. I don't think you need to win this competition to get yourself a regular gig in Swindon.
So Jahmene's opening the show (if you can call a performance that begins 20 minutes in "starting the show") with 'Move On Up' by Curtis Mayfield. It's an unusually uptempo choice from Jahmene, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but he gets awfully screechy on the high notes. The picture cuts out several times during the performance, though I can't tell you for definite whether that's a problem with Manchester's feed or a localised issue in my flat. Jahmene does his usual vocal jahmnastics in the second half of the song, and at this point you either have a tolerance for that or you don't. Personally I can stand it, but I don't like it.
Louis tells Jahmene he's in the final because he's talented, and he's an amazing role model, and he reminds him of a little Luther Vandross. Blimey, you know it's going to be a long night when even Louis is phoning it in for the final, don't you? Tulisa remembers how shy he was at his audition as well as how awful he was at Boot Camp, before telling him that he's on stage in Manchester, in case he hadn't realised. She thinks he deserves to be here, and she wishes him the best of luck. Any chance of some actual feedback, anyone? Gary makes a stab at "I didn't like the song choice" but focuses mostly on how Jahmene's really grown in confidence as a performer. Nicole says it was great to see him loosen up, and she thinks he was "blazing" as he opened up the final. Dermot arrives and says that we shouldn't focus on what the judges are saying "because the feedback's all going to be so good at this stage in the competition". Yeah, I'm sure they're going to be falling over themselves in a minute to praise Christopher Maloney's subtle vocal techniques and his extreme relevance to the music industry in 2012. Jahmene was pleased to do an uptempo track and let loose for once, and Dermot says it was great to see him move around and interact with the dancers a bit. Jahmene jokes that he might attempt the splits next week before realising that there isn't a next week as far as the show's concerned, and Dermot moves him along by assuring that whatever he does in the privacy of his own home is up to him. Heh.
Nicole begs to have the floor to beg for votes for Jahmene, and then Dermot throws to Caroline Flack, somewhere near the back of the room, who's with Pastor Tim from Jahmene's church. Pastor Tim says that the church is very proud of Jahmene and totally knew he'd make it this far. Then we go to Carmel from the butcher's counter, and the poor woman has been forced to wear her work uniform tonight. She says that Jahmene's got a lot of confidence, and he should be on the stage. She doesn't clarify whether this is because she's got a friend who has an eye on his old job in the freezer section, but frankly I wouldn't rule it out in this economic climate.
Next up is Christopher, introduced by Gary who tries to make "The Maloney" catch on. Good luck with that. Christopher gets on another Virgin Train to Liverpool and heads straight to the call centre where he used to work from eight till six (what a way to make a livin'). Christopher talks about how he used to work here "every day", though I'm not quite sure where his other employment history as a cruise singer fits into all this. His workmates lay on a spread for Christopher including some cakes and lollies with his face on them. People seem to avoid eating the image of his face, presumably because they fear the wrath of The Vengeful Maloney. Then we go to Christopher's nan's house, where the neighbours talk about how brilliant he is (I do quite like the sign someone's waving that says "it's going to be Maloney this Christmas" - that's quite a good pun), and shortly after Christopher arrives, Gary turns up to express his appreciation for Nan's Proper Food (sausage rolls, sandwiches, chocolate eclairs). Christopher's nan is very excited about having Gary Barlow in her house, and thinks she'll be the talk of the neighbourhood tomorrow. Christopher goes off to perform in Liverpool where one very enthusiastic woman says that we don't ALL want to listen to hip-hop and bang our heads, we want to be able to SING ALONG, dammit! [I love the insinuation that James and/or Jahmene are hip-hop. And ponder some more about the whereabouts of MK1 - Rad] (I also like the woman who says that she supports Christopher because she knows his mum and his nan and all of his friends and goes to bingo with all of them. You can't really argue with that.) Gary invites everyone to "turn around, it's Christopher Maloney!" I thought perhaps he was suggesting they avert their eyes from the horror, but no, it's just Christopher entering from the back of the room. Although frankly they missed a trick by having him sing 'The Rose' instead of 'Total Eclipse Of The Heart' at that moment.
Christopher's singing 'Flashdance... What A Feeling', approaching it with all the nuance and subtlety of a tabloid newspaper responding to Kate Middleton's successful conception. The show does its standard gentle sandbagging of Christopher by having him perform in front of a giant 1980s stereo, highlighting the cassette player (I can only imagine terrified children screaming "WHAT'S THAT?" as they encounter a "rewind" button for the first time in their lives), though most of the hard work in ruining Christopher's chances of surviving to tomorrow is done by Christopher himself with his atonal hooting.
Nicole tells Christopher that doing what he just did is not easy, and he should enjoy the moment, BECAUSE IT'S HIS LAST. Except she didn't say that last bit. Louis calls him "the people's champion", even though the people's champion will be the winner, surely? Louis applauds him for always coming out fighting and of course for doing it for his nan. Tulisa respects him for being a fighter and "always doing you". Gary says that he got it wrong by not having him in his final three, and he's had masses of criticism to overcome every week. Gary does not mention that he probably made this situation worse by being such a pompous arse about Credibility and Integrity for the first few weeks of the competition and inviting such criticisms of his own acts.
Dermot arrives and does some damage limitation by scolding Louis for mentioning that Christopher would be able to "escape from Liverpool" after tonight [Because that makes it so much better, Dermot - Rad]. Louis clarifies that he meant it was going to be life-changing and Christopher would make a record and go on tour. "Then that's what you should have said", admonishes Dermot. He then asks Christopher how it felt to get positive comments (I think that's going a bit far - they weren't openly negative, but they were still a long way from positive) and Christopher is, as ever, humbled. They talk a bit more about how Christopher loves the 80s, and then we go to "Caroline Caroline" again, as she has the misfortune to be in the audience with Christopher's fans. She is, of course, with The Nan (or "Pat", to use her real name) and Caroline Caroline asks if Christopher can win, and The Nan replies "well, what will be will be." Poor Christopher - even his own nan knows he's boned. Christopher's neighbour Valerie declares him "another Tom Jones" and says how proud everyone in Liverpool is of him. Dermot invites Val to audition next year based on how much she enjoyed having the microphone (although looking at what happens to Jahmene later, she might not want to bother) and then encourages us to vote for Christopher. Yeah, no thanks,
Adverts. Tom Lenk's still selling Pepsi Max. That must be a nice little earner for him.
When we return, it's time for James's first performance. He and Nicole head back to "the north-east", which Nicole later clarifies is Middlesbrough, and their first stop is the pub where he used to do acoustic gigs. The pub's rammed with people and Nicole's in there drinking a pint again. James then unveils a nan of his very own (take THAT, Maloney!) and his very proud parents before he and Nicole head off on the back of some bikes to his old bedsit, which he says was "an eye-opener for Nicole". You can pretty much see the look of "...where's the rest of it?" on her face as she goes through the door. Nicole asks James if he's had some tough times there and he replies "well yeah, but now I've brought a Pussycat Doll back here, so it's all good". Okay, maybe not. He cries a bit and says that life was like hell for him back then, and now he finally feels like he's achieving something. Nicole reminds him that he never gave up, and James says that he's finally got his life back. They head out to the adoring crowd waiting for him in the cold and the rain, and then James performs 'Hometown Glory' to his hometown crowd, because apparently he's That Guy. Oh, James Arthur. I had kind of hoped you were better than that. [James had grown on me, but the I live in a bedsit sob-story is so shit it makes me rage - Rad]
James's entire walk through the backstage area of Manchester Central is all part of his performance as he does Muse's version of 'Feeling Good' while reminding us all that he is totally an authentic person who exists offstage as well as onstage. The performance is exactly what you might expect "James Arthur sings 'Feeling Good'" to look and sound like - it's overwrought, angst-ridden and marinaded overnight in misery, but it's the sort of thing you can probably imagine quite a lot of people enjoying nonetheless.
Louis declares him a "unique talent" and somebody who deserves a break, and says that the public have to vote to change his life and keep him here tomorrow night. Tulisa says that James is "everything this competition should represent in 2012" and that she wants James to take his music worldwide, which she then illustrates with a toe-curlingly bad American accent. She thinks Britain should be proud of him and voting for him, so we should pick up the phone AND VOTE FOR LITTLE MI---sorry, James Arthur. She got a bit carried away there. Gary Barlow trots out the "it's just like being at a James Arthur concert!" line for the ninetieth time, and congratulates him on his best performance so far. Nicole finishes by calling him a "ma-HOO-sive superstar" and saying that she hopes he is feeling good. Dermot arrives and asks what the biggest crowd James played to before the competition was - a couple of hundred? "Nah - 50, 60," James answers with possibly overstated modesty. Anyway, now he's here performing to 10,000 people, and you'd better believe he feels blessed. He mumbles his thanks to the judges for their encouragement each week and helping him to improve.
We then go to the very busy Caroline Flack (why isn't Olly Murs doing any of this? Hell, was Jeff Brazier busy?) who's with James's fans, including his little sister, who's very proud of him. We then go to the obligatory X Factor Finalist Pizza, just to show how far this show has fallen from the heady days when Stacey Solomon couldn't wait to get the Matt Cardle meat feast into her mouth: a raw-looking bit of dough with some peppers and olives around the outside with "Vote James" written on it in what I hope is Primula squeezable cheese and not in fact Play-Doh. Dermot teases the upcoming mentor duets, and while everyone wonders what would've happened if Union J made the final, we go to an ad break.
After ITV1 tries to persuade us to watch its other shows once this one has finished, we're back in Manchester with Dermot, who reminds us of the numbers if we want to vote for any of these contestants. To provide a bit of a break before the next performance, here's an actual talented and charismatic singer: Kelly Clarkson singing 'Breakaway' to promote her current Greatest Hits collection, in front of a video featuring memorable moments from the series so far. It's mostly the finalists' auditions, with a bit of Dermot being cute with the kids waiting in line outside the various arenas. I feel a bit bad for Kelly who was invited onto the show and doesn't even get to be the star of her own song, but then I don't think Kelly needs this stupid show for validation these days. She doesn't seem particularly bothered, anyway. Thanks for coming and brightening up the show, Kelly! Now: when are you going to do that country album you keep teasing us about? Because I for one think it would be amazing.
Dermot's standing by the judges' desk, and Nicole's seat is empty, so we know what's coming next: it's Jahmene and Nicole! We get another VT to lead into this, where Jahmene talks about how amazing Nicole is a mentor, for treating him as a friend first and then a singer, sending him random encouraging texts when he least expects it. Aw. Part of me wants to enter the competition next year just in the off-chance I might end up with Nicole as my mentor/best pal as well. Jahmene thanks Nicole for getting him this far, and Nicole says she can't wait to sing with him.
They're singing 'The Greatest Love Of All' together - Jahmene really does love a bit of Whitney, doesn't he? Nicole arrives in a silver dress to do her verse, and it all seems to be going well, until she starts making gestures that imply her microphone isn't working and, well, this happens:
YOINK! So much for Best Friends Forever.
(Apparently although we could all hear the sound fine at home, they couldn't hear it in the arena, and Nicole and Jahmene had nothing in their earpieces either. With suitably huge thanks to Born This Gay on the Popjustice forums for making possibly the best gif of 2012.)
She does give him the mic back in the end, and then he holds it and they both sort of lean in awkwardly to share it until Nicole snatches it back to bring it on back for the chorus and throws her supposedly-defunct one on the floor angrily. I love that Nicole spent the best part of four months endearing herself to the British public only to remind people why they hated her to begin with. Still: best part of the final by a country mile, for all the wrong reasons. When it ends, Dermot apologises profusely for the mic problems and Nicole is FEWMIN and somehow Jahmene still thinks that Nicole is "a blessing as a human being", so...no harm done, I guess?
With the unenviable job of having to top that epic diva showdown are Gary and Christopher. Christopher tells Gary he's the best mentor anyone could ever hope for, and Gary says he's so grateful he picked Christopher as his wildcard. We have a right old folie à deux going on here, don't we? Christopher attempts a gracious thank you by buying Gary a present, but it looks like a particularly egregious bit of brown-nosing when the present turns out to be "a frame for your OBE". Still, it inspired this tweet, so it wasn't a complete waste of time. [Does Gary have an OBE? WHY HAS NOBODY EVER MENTIONED THIS BEFORE? - Rad]
Gary and Christopher are singing 'Rule The World' together. You can pretty much grasp Gary's thought process here: "I'm going to lose all of my self-respect, but I might as well get some royalties out of it." And hey, at least it wasn't 'The Flood', eh folks? Also, this whole thing is giving me fond memories of when Take That performed with Leona on the series three finale and Gary warned Simon not to fuck her career up in front of 10 million viewers. A warning that Simon appears to have ignored given how things are going for Leona these days, but then Gary doesn't appear to have done that well on the artist-management front himself. Is this performance over yet? Oh it is, jolly good.
Dermot asks Christopher how that was for him, and Christopher says that Gary's been his idol forever. Dermot expresses his own jealousy that he's never had a chance to sing 'Rule The World' with Gary, and Gary tells him "any time". I think I'd probably have preferred to watch that duet than the one with Christopher, to be honest. Still, there's always next year. (Assuming Gary's still here next year, which seems...doubtful.)
Time for another ad break, in which we are reminded that expensive things are nice at Christmas. I'm glad about that, I'd almost forgotten.
When we return, Dermot learns the dangers of interacting with the public by saying that the only way we can ensure our favourite act wins is "if they're voted for by..." and he hands his mic to a random woman in the audience who was clearly expecting an entirely different question and says "beautiful!" Hee. Poor woman. Still, it could've been worse - if she'd made that mistake two years ago, people would actually have seen it.
Time now for our final mentor duet with James and Nicole. James tells us about going to the video shoot for Nicole's new single, which appears to be called 'Boomerang', and how cool it was to see her putting all of her own advice into practice. Nicole actually appears to be having fun on set, unlike when Tulisa took Ella, Jade and Lucy to hers and acted like making videos was the worst thing in the world. Of course, this was the end result of that, so you can sort of see her point. THE END! Anyway, James talks extensively about how Nicole spend a lot of time working out what sort of person he was and what sort of music he wanted to do and how best to move forward from there, and Nicole says he's been the easiest person to work with and the hardest worker, and admires his balls in a slightly figurative sense.
Oh cripes, they're singing 'Make You Feel My Love'. I know this song had an existence pre-Adele, but anything that's even associated with her just brings me out in hives. I can't help it: it's Pavlovian at this point. This time the stage crew have very sensibly given Nicole a microphone that definitely works, lest she go full Katie Ka-Boom on them. Also, Nicole is dressed entirely in leather, which I'm sure appeals to a certain section of the viewing audience. Assuming straight men watch The X Factor. They do, right? After the middle eight it starts raining fireworks, lending the whole thing a pleasingly post-apocalyptic atmosphere, helped in no small part by the way Nicole is dressed. Afterwards, Dermot asks Nicole how far James has come, and Nicole says she's very proud of him. Dermot asks James how the experience was for him, and James thanks Nicole for bringing his confidence back and being the best mentor he could've asked for. D'aww.
So that's it in terms of competition performances for tonight, however there is still half an hour's worth of airtime left. Hoo boy. We get a quick recap of tonight's six performances (not including Kelly Clarkson, regrettably) and then it's time for our second special guest of the night: former guest judge Rita Ora. She gets one of those fancy intros: NUMBER 1 DEBUT ALBUM! BREAKTHROUGH ARTIST OF 2012! 4 CONSECUTIVE NUMBER 1S! I notice Kelly Clarkson wasn't afforded one of those. How very rude. She sings a medley of 'RIP' (which is obviously a tribute to Ella Henderson) and 'How We Do (Party)'. [I choose to take the medley as a tribute to Rylan. Or possibly Jive Bunny - Rad] After a bit of banter about the car wreck she bought with her, which is in no way a metaphor for this show, Rita says that she's been following the show and thinks Tulisa and Nicole are doing a great job on the panel. Dermot asks if she has any advice for the finalists, and Rita says they should just have fun. She plugs her tour for February 2013, for which tickets are on sale now, and then Rita Ora departs and Dermot turns to the very short satellite link to chat to the finalists backstage. James says that they've done all they can do, but he'd be lying if he said he didn't want to still be here tomorrow night. Jahmene says he feels blessed to be here. Christopher hopes he's done enough to stay, and hopes people will keep supporting him. Edifying.
Dermot warns us that we have five minutes left to vote before the vote lines freeze, then we get an invite to audition for next year's series which takes us straight into an ad break. Apparently the hosts of Loose Women will be auditioning for The X Factor as part of Text Santa. They can't be much worse than several of this year's live show finalists, can they?
When we return, Dermot thanks us for voting and announces that the voting is temporarily suspended, and while those votes are being counted, here's Kylie. 25 YEARS IN MUSIC! 70 MILLION WORLDWIDE RECORD SALES! 17 UK TOP TEN SINGLES! (I find your maths questionable, X Factor. I make it at least 27) 13 UK TOP TEN ALBUMS! She's here peddling that wretched new album of hers where she tries to somehow make her music more valid by making it less poppy, and speaking as someone who has been a Kylie fan ever since I was a tiny proto-gay, I view that as the biggest betrayal imaginable. Still, on the bright side, at least this orchestral version of 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head' is one of the more palatable abominations. Anyway, I shall just do what I always do when Kylie's career takes a turn that I disapprove of: I blame William Baker. I don't know if it's actually his fault, but neither do I particularly care. [I love Kylie more than most things but... she needs to have a good rest in 2013. I think this year has driven her a little bonkers. Although Abbey Road is worth it for 'Flower' and 'Where the Wild Roses Grow' alone. Also: I liked the lights her string players had - Rad]
Kylie invites Dermot to lean on her handsome male dancers, and Dermot asks her why she wanted to do this to all of her brilliant pop songs, and then appears to be not terribly interested in her answer. Right on, Dermot. There can be NO explanation for this.
After a plug for the Amazing X Factor Questionless Competition, it's time for a final ad break, which puts Ikea and Littlewoods right up alongside Valentino. I guess this show attracts a pretty diverse audience.
We rejoin Dermot as he invites the top three finalists to return to the stage along with their mentors. The first act through to the Final Final is...Jahmene. And the second and final act through is...James. Tulisa leaps to her feet, Nicole starts screaming uncontrollably, and Dermot points out that we are now guaranteed a SCHERZWINNER whatever happens. That's the right outcome, I think - I don't particularly care for James or Jahmene, but I think Nicole's been the best and most dedicated mentor this series, and it's only right for one of her acts to take the overall prize. Meanwhile, we look at Christopher's best bits: ME NEEEEHVES, ME NAN, AMNORRADIVA etc. Dermot says that Christopher has had "to put up with so much" (almost entirely orchestrated by the show itself, but we'll gloss over that) and tells us to "give it up for Christopher Maloney!" - at which point the X Factor sting starts playing before Christopher's even had a chance to speak. It's hastily faded out, and Christopher tells Dermot that despite "the negative press and the lies", he feels like he's already won. Gary congratulates Christopher for getting this far, and then disappears in a cloud of smoke as we hear hasty footsteps in the distance, a door slamming and tyres screeching.
So that's it: tomorrow night it's Jahmene vs James to decide which of them is the people's SCHERZWINNER, and Dermot invites them both back on stage. To complete the general air of professionalism that's surrounded tonight's broadcast, the cameraperson responsible for getting the shot of them walking back on falls over on his/her way to the stage so instead we get a nice shot of the floor suddenly hurtling into view before the screen goes black. We hastily cut to a working camera, and Dermot asks James what it means to be through, and James is literally speechless. Jahmene just whoops and giggles and hugs James, while Dermot wonders how the hell he's going to get through two hours trying to interview these guys tomorrow. He then gets as far as "Nicole Scherzinger is guarantee--" before Nicole runs on stage and appropriates his microphone for herself to scream for Manchester to give it up for James and Jahmene. Next year there will be pictures of Nicole up everywhere backstage saying "do not give this woman your microphone", I guarantee it.
The lines are opened again, and Dermot encourages us to vote once more before promising us that tomorrow's show will not only feature the reveal of the winner, but also appearances from One Direction, Rihanna and the notoriously camera-shy Emeli Sandé. Rad has got the highly rewarding job of recapping that, which means this is it for me this year, so thanks for reading and I hope we'll see you back here for what will almost certainly be more of the same in 2013, only with hopefully extra added Scherzinger.