Monday, September 09, 2013

Stage concern

Auditions 4: 8 September 2013

Last night: all of this happened. Tonight, everyone we saw yesterday (and possibly a few more besides) will be back to sing again, only this time in front of an arena crowd. The trailer for the evening's events is hinting that the crowd will turn nasty and start screaming "off! off! off!" at poor fragile sobbing Abi, so we at least know that definitely won't happen.

Truncated version of Giant X plummeting to earth. Must be a packed show tonight.

We begin with a montage of last night's auditionees working at their day jobs, whether that be delivering car parts in a white van, scanning groceries at a Morrisons checkout, or knocking on hotel doors and offering a turn-down service. (I've never really understood what a turn-down service is, other than something I used to get a lot of back when I was trying to ask people out.) Weirdly, we also see Tom from episode one in his day job coaching wee'uns at footie. It would seem that he wasn't in last Sunday's episode and I didn't even notice, which doesn't bode well for his overall memorability. (Although he does look good in shorts, so I'm sure I'll remember that.) Abi tells us that she really enjoys her job, but singing is what she really wants to do. I don't think Abi realises that the general protocol on this show is to say that your day job is SOUL-SUCKING TEDIUM THAT IS BENEATH YOU, although maybe it's different when you're still a teenager and you haven't yet reached a point where it's implied that this is all you'll ever amount to. Tom talks about what a big chance the arena audition is. Shelley wants to be singing on a stage rather than singing in her van. That awful, awful Katy Perry song (what do you mean, I need to be more specific? The new one, the one about roaring) plays as Shelley drives to the auditions, goes back through the queues and makes her way onto the stage. [See we're still on everyone has JOBS mode then, no unemployeds or lazy decorators this time round - Helen]

Shelley's thrilled to be on stage and greets the judges and the audience enthusiastically. We flash back to last night's audition, even though it was only last night, and Shelley starts rather prematurely discussing how she hasn't changed as a person yet. Shelley's seven-year-old daughter Madeline says that if her mum wins The X Factor, she wants her to buy some puppies and a big swimming pool. I hope those two requests are entirely coincidental, and Madeline doesn't have some kind of puppy-drowning masterplan up her sleeve. Back in the arena, Gary asks Shelley what's happened since the last audition, and Shelley says that she went back to work, but she hasn't been enjoying it because it was such a comedown after that taste of fame. (See, Abi? That's how you do it.) Shelley sings 'Feeling Good', and it's still a bit mum-karaoke, and some of her facial expressions are far too OTT, but if there's only one spot in the competition for a middle-aged woman belting her way through singalong standards, I'd rather she had it than Sam the prison warder. [Yeah, me too, unless they put them both through in desperation for a female and/or over winner - Rad] Such is the raw, unadulterated sex of Shelley's performance that Nicole gets out of her seat and starts caressing Gary. Either that, or it's been a while since she split up with Lewis Hamilton, and a woman just has needs sometimes. Backstage, Dermot's jeans are alarmingly tight, even by his standards.

The performance finishes and the crowd are on their feet. Nicole says of Shelley, "now that's a Pussycat Doll if I ever saw one." Sharon likes Shelley's sassiness and says she should be going out and celebrating. Louis thinks she's not just a singer, but a performer. Gary liked that she made it all look so effortless. They vote in unison to send Shelley through to boot camp. Shelley gets a big hug from Madeline backstage. Gary thinks Shelley is "rough around the edges", but she'll be great, and Louis adds that she's very likeable. Shelley and Madeline head to the Big White Booth to celebrate.

Ads. I love how Nicole approaches that "fifth judge" promo with all the enthusiasm it deserves.

When we return, more people are getting ready for their second auditions, include re-returnee (when the crowd say bo selecta) Jade Richards. She got a bit teary in her audition yesterday, but she thinks the judges' reactions confirm that she did the right thing by coming back. Jade heads out into the arena and tells the judges that she feels that this is make-or-break for her, at least until next year's audition cycle starts up. Or maybe until series three of The Voice. Jade sings a noodly reworked version of 'Back To Black' and is somehow actually allowed to say "kept his dick wet" when every previous version of that line has been bowdlerised to fuck and back. Her voice is nice enough, but her inability to enunciate her words properly gets on my nerves, as is so often the case with people who mistake mumbling for "making it your own".

Gary tells her she's a fantastic singer, but her auditions lack climax, and that's why she didn't get a standing ovation. Sharon tells her there's no passion or fire inside her. Jade welps that there's just a lot of pressure on her this year. But of course it'll be fine once she wins this show, because there definitely isn't an expensive contract that needs to be fulfilled, and there is definitely no pressure relating to that. The judges vote: Louis wants to give her a chance, and says yes, as do Nicole, Sharon and Gary. So apparently they decided just to put the wind up her for shits and giggles, or this is the same kind of expert constructive criticism that worked out so well for Fil last week. Backstage, Dermot refers to the verdict as "the four hardest yeses we've seen so far". I'd have gone with "harshest" rather than "hardest", but I think I get the general point he's grasping at. Armchair psychologist Gary Barlow says that some of these contestants have demons from their previous failed attempts and they just can't get beyond that, then charges Jade £60 and tells her he can squeeze her in again at 4pm Thursday week. [I liked Jade the first time round but now I feel a bit like Gary might be right, I think this programme has broken her. She's fodder for The Voice and should go over there - Helen]

Speaking of people who really should take the hint, here's Melanie McCabe again (again). She hopes the judges don't wonder what she's doing coming back again. It's okay for me to think that though, right? But before Melanie takes to the stage, it's time for the Dolly Rockers to perform. They don't really get much of an intro because the show's too focused on Melanie, but they perform 'Can't Hold Us' by Macklemore, and it's perfectly serviceable for this level of the competition, if a little rough around the edges, but Gary stops them mid-flow. Sharon tells them the contest is going to eat them up because the competition is so tough this year. Who would that be, then? I only remember seeing Sylvia And The Youngs so far, and I think the Dolly Rockers could handle themselves in that particular skirmish. Gary tells them they need to "make drastic changes to be even close", and it's a no from him. "We'll do whatever it takes," begs one Dolly Rocker, and Gary snits "we needed it now. We needed it 30 seconds ago." I don't remember Tamera getting this sort of treatment last week when she repeatedly forgot her words and sang the entire song off-key. Apparently Gary thought that was cute. Anyway, it's a no from Sharon as well, so it's over for the Dolly Rockers, and once again this is all framed in the wider context of what this means for Melanie. Dear God, NOBODY CARES ABOUT MELANIE MCCABE. (Sorry Melanie. This isn't your fault.) The Dolly Rockers sob in their poorly co-ordinated outfits, which apparently is only acceptable when BixMix do it.

OH LOOK IT'S EVERYBODY'S FAVOURITE, MELANIE MCCABE. We remember that Melanie's had a bit of a diminishing returns experience on this show over the last couple of years, but did well in her audition yesterday. She talks about how her family have been supportive despite having no money, and throws in almost casually that they're losing their house at the moment, and she just wants something good to happen. Jeez. She says this is definitely her last time, and she just needed to give it one last go, but I'm not sure I can believe her at this point. She's the girl who sang wolf.

The backing track is cued, and Melanie misses her cue and asks them to start again. The Mysterious Finger obliges offscreen and Melanie goes for a second attempt at 'Titanium'. This is not a song that has historically been performed particularly well on these shows, but this is arguably one of the better versions. I'd prefer it if she weren't holding her stomach while she sings, but hopefully they can (figuratively) knock that out of her at boot camp. Sharon says she doesn't know why Melanie hasn't made it through before, and she doesn't care because she wasn't there. Heh. Gary thinks Melanie knocked it out of the park, but hasn't yet reached her highest level. Nicole thinks Melanie has effortless control. Louis is sobbing, but insists it's not because she's from Dublin. Time to vote: four yeses, duh. A very relieved Melanie exits, and Nicole says that this is her time now. It'd better be, after all that. [Quite.  Send her through, watch her go home in week three and then she might actually have to get a job, or go to uni, or do something - anything - with her life - Rad]

After some more lovely ads, we return to a montage of men hitting on Nicole, including one super classy guy asking if he can take a selfie with Nicole. This is (mercifully) brief, and we move straight on to Yodellin' Zeke (aka Barclay) from yesterday, who decides to yodel offstage just to ensure the crowd is suitably pumped for his entrance. Yodellin' Zeke says he taught himself how to yodel just by watching videos, and gives Dermot a lesson involving words like "headvoice" that Dermot doesn't understand. Yodellin' Zeke admits he's never yodelled for a big crowd before. He is going to be yodelsinging 'What Makes You Beautiful', which should be interesting. It's actually a bit of a mess: his guitar is out of tune, his normal singing is patchy, and the yodelling...does not exactly meld organically into the song. But the crowd goes nuts, and Nicole loves him, so he's through and will probably somehow be yodelling his way through Cher Week come live shows (bet you anything they give him 'If I Could Turn Back Time'), but Gary and Sharon are concerned that his non-yodel singing isn't all that impressive. [I thought the yodelling thing would be a gimmick for the first audition.  Less sure about it as his shtick, and this was a hot fried mess - also, isn't this kind of thing what Britain's Got Talent is there for? - Rad]

After all that, Luke Friend returns from last week with his improbable unwashed hair, and screams his way through 'Too Much Love Will Kill You', and somehow gets through. Tom Mann and his squeaky voice come back in a nice blue shirt that I really covet, and whimpers his way through that godawful BixMix song that samples 'Name And Number' by Curiosity. I think he should atone for this heinous crime against music by giving me his shirt. Just a thought. Anyway, he's rubbish but cute, so obviously he's through. Everyone lies that the boys are a strong category this year.

Oh Christ, Sylvia And The Youngs are back, now with 100% more affected sneezing. Why do I always end up recapping these people? This is so unfair. We recall the audition that gave the entire country dental cavities, and the girls explain that they were told they needed more edge, so they've come back dressed like Phoebe And The Woo-Woo Girls from series four. Remember them? They take to the stage, and Nicole marvels at their new look. One of them explains to the judges that they didn't want to "change", they just wanted to "adapt". That's just a weasel word for "change" though, isn't it? They perform a mash-up of 'Killing In The Name' and 'Fuck The Pain Away'. No, not really, they've decided to get their awful hands all over Icona Pop's 'I Love It'. The singing is awful, the choreography is worse, and seriously, how is this panel allowed to advise people if this and this are the end result? Gary does the first decent thing he's done all series by bringing it to a premature conclusion. [So a total of 0 groups are at boot camp so far.  About par for the course with this show these days - Rad]

Nicole tells them that while she's pleased they took the panel's notes on board, it wasn't what she had in mind. Louis liked it, because he's insane. Sharon appreciated their hard work and the fact that they sang "I don't care" so politely. Gary says there's just so much wrong with it, and declines the opportunity to hear another song. The judges vote: yeses from Sharon and Louis, but nos from Gary and Nicole, so it's the end of the line for Sylvia And The Youngs. They exit, saying that it wasn't meant to be. They'll clearly be back next year, but I've got plenty of time to get that experimental ear-removal surgery in the meantime.

After a final round of ads, Brummie housekeeper Relley C returns for her second performance. She's been one of the few contestants I've liked so far, so I hope she doesn't fuck this up. Oh. For some reason she's chosen to sing 'Blind Faith' by Chase & Status, which is not a song that many people can sing comfortably, and Relley C is one of the many that can't. Judges and audience alike exchange "ruh roh" glances. Nicole gestures for the song to stop, and Louis tells Relley that they loved her at her last audition, and wonders what happened today. Relley admits that nerves got to her. Sharon thinks it was a weird song choice for her and she's capable of better. The votes: Sharon thinks she is capable of better, so votes to put her through. Louis believes in her, so it's a yes from him too. Gary says he can still see potential in her, so it's a yes from him. It's a yes from Nicole too, but Nicole points out that she's very lucky that they remember her early audition because it didn't translate in the arena. What exactly is the point of this second stage of auditions again? Backstage, Dermot asks Relley what she's going to do between now and boot camp, because she needs to "repay that favour". Wow, that got sinister very quickly.

Backstage, everyone's now (it says here) worried about song choice, especially Abi. She got great feedback at her first audition, but remembers that Louis wasn't sold on her, so she hopes she can win him over. She's written a new song for today, based on everything that's happened since her first audition, basically involving a boy who broke her heart. Abi heads out on the stage, and Sharon reminds her that they were concerned about her ability to project into the arena. Abi tells her that she's written a song for today, which doesn't really answer the question, although it gets the audience onside when she tells them it's about heartbreak. I actually really like the song she's written, which is acceptably twee in a Taylor Swift sort of way and goes on about the guy being her missing jigsaw piece, but Abi's clearly VERY nervous and it shows in both her singing and her guitar-playing, which have a tendency to stray away from the tune a little too often. The crowd go nuts when she's finished, and it appears that the tears we saw Abi crying in the intro are tears of joy at the crowd's love and acceptance. (Told you so.) Gary tells her that he saw her dreams coming alive when everyone stood up for her. Nicole tells Abi she's courageous for sharing a brand new song with all of them. Louis admits that he was wrong about her first time round. It is, of course, four yeses for Abi and she's off to boot camp. I'm pleased it went well for her, but I'm horrified that somehow in all of that I ended up liking her. My reputation as a mean, cynical, heartless blogger will never recover.

Next weekend: more auditions, both in rooms and arenas. A man with a tambourine who we already knows gets through the first round because we saw him backstage at Wembley in this one. Some very shrill people. Join Rad and Helen for all the dizzy highs and terrifying lows.

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