Sunday, September 15, 2013

The not-so-Big Reunion

Auditions week 3 - September 14 2013 

Welcome back! I feel I owe Helen a massive favour because she swapped duties with me, which means she gets to do another recap of the oh-so-exciting live auditions whilst I get the surprisingly tolerable room auditions [Yes you do. Tedious - Helen]. Last year! James Arthur mumbled his way to another brunette white bloke win! And apparently he has a new single coming out at last! This year the show demands a female winner, and to that end, last week we saw that it’s going to be a vagina party at boot camp; yodelling is the new black and no groups are any cop at all. (I typed that before I saw this episode. It's as if the producers made this episode specifically to show me. Or maybe they're just vaguely theming them and it'll be boy-heavy next week)

Dermot welcomes us to That London and That There Manchester simultaneously by the looks of things (he doesn't specify but I see tubes and Old Trafford); Gary sounds about as unenthusiastic as it’s possible to be about the talent so far, the judges get their makeup done, and we’re off!

We begin with Kingsland, a boyband who look quite frightening: there’s one who looks like Marcus Collins with the hair of Leanne Little Mix; another one that appears to be the unfortunate result of a gene-blending experiment betwixt Olly MURS and Chesney Hawkes; one who is a bit melted plastic looking and is even creepier than Puppet-face George from last year who has borrowed one of Nick Grimshaw’s two haircuts; one who has borrowed the face of Jesse from Breaking Bad, the other of Nick Grimshaw’s two haircuts and your mum’s shirt from 1991, and their mate who is forever destined to be the other one. They found each other via ‘YouTube and social media sites’. So happening! They have terrible jobs in bars and restaurants but pull sickies to rehearse like this is a thing to be proud of. They share rooms to ‘save money’ and it gets awkward when they want to ‘bring a girl back’ – at which they all laugh.  In your face, show's gay panic!

Some runners bring the judges water with straws and take tea orders. The boys bound into the audition room (backdrop: That London) and say they want to be as big as Take That… or Five. They’re doing ‘Don’t You Worry Child’ replete with guitar. Chesney MURS takes lead vocal despite perhaps being the least attractive. Marcus LITTLEMIX and Jesse GRIMSHAW get solos, with the plasticface playing guitar and the other one being, well, the other one. Sharon calls Chesney MURS ‘Lily Allen’ for… reasons [it was because he was wearing a hat. Obviously. - Steve] and says she likes them but they’re a mess. Gary says they’re… ‘cool?’ and Nicole wonders if they’ve found a group where everyone can sing. Well, except probably the other one, but he’s forever destined to stand at the end of the line looking a bit uncomfortable. Louis says there’s something great if they work hard. Four yeses and they bundle out.

Next up, another group (backdrop: Birmingham). It’s a soul group who look a bit like No Doubt circa 1994 called ‘Brick City’. It’s unusual for this show to have a vocal group of three men and a woman and they’re OK although doomed to go in week one if they get to live shows. Four yeses, though.

We’re now on our third group which means we’ve seen as many groups in the first ten minutes of the show as we have in the whole of the past four episodes put together. It’s Rough Copy (backdrop: London), who got through last year but were ejected due to visa issues. They’re doing ‘Do it Like a Dude’ and it’s a bit sloppy and contains lots of arrogant judge baiting and because the judges can never resist people singing their names, it’s four yeses.

Next up (backdrop: Manchester) – and may I say what a pleasant surprise it is to have got this far without adverts or sob stories – a boy/girl duo, always a classic X-Factor staple. They’re called Ryan and Lydia, sorry, Liddia, who are from Blackpool, and appear to be fans of late-80s style clothing and matching orange tans. Their ‘Shooting Star’ is a complete tuneless mess and Sharon says ‘this is a joke, you’re winding us up’. They say that they are serious but I’m not sure I believe them after ten series of bad auditions, and suspect they’re here just to be on telly. Nicole says she might go out partying with them ‘except I’m not sure I want to do that either’. Heh. Ryan asks if they’re shamazing and she says they’re shamazeless. Louis says they’re deluded and Gary is also not a fan, funnily enough. Ryan says he could say that Gary was past his time, ‘but I’m not going to, because I like you.’ Stealth bitching is an art, Ryan, not sure it’s one you have mastered yet. Gary calls him a ‘wasp at a picnic…just a noise’. In the white glow of the audition afterlife they half-heartedly moan and go away again. This white glow thing. No booth of bitterness, is it?

Ads! (A respectable 15 minutes in) Why is that Barny yoghurt thing spelled Barny and not Barney? It troubles me.

We’re welcomed back 'to the X Factor’ which is taking in place everywhere at once this week. Louis presents Sharon with some horrible toy of her, circa Osbournes-era. 16 year old Giles Potter from Worcester is our next contender and he is chirpier than a cheep cheep. He has wanted to audition since he was 12 but he was always too young. His ‘Price Tag’ (backdrop: Birmingham) is a bit all over the place, pretty nice in parts, out of tune in others but he shouts out Gary’s name because he knows the judges are a sucker for such things and generally he is entirely adorable, even though you just know this show will ruin that and turn him into a hideous monster. [Indeed. I thought he was really sweet, which almost made me root for him not to get through so the show couldn't ruin it. - Steve]  Also adorable? His dad singing along to the video in the waiting area. Louis thinks he is very likeable, Nicole wants to squeeze his cheeks, Gary says his personality will make him a contender and he gets an easy four yeses and Nicole christens him her ‘little Gi-Gi’. Dermot gets the waiting crowd to cheer for him.

Dermot says that ‘up and down the country’ people are trying to impress.  Cue a mini-montage! 19-year old Lydia Lucy (Manchester) does an OK ‘Mamma Knows Best’. Sharon says she’d be good in a girl band and Louis agrees. She gets four yeses [She was far too bloody shouty for my liking. - Helen]. Nicholas McDonald (16, Newcastle I think?). His ‘You Raise Me Up’ is bland but OK and everyone except Gary sends him through.

Steph Woods (20, Manchester) was rejected by Sharon in 2007 when she was 14 and walks in crying. She’s working in Gran Canaria as an entertainer and says that if she doesn’t get through this year, it’s not meant to be, which is more philosophical than some people, hey Jade RICHARDS and Melanie MCCABE? Her ‘Run’ is decent for the most part if not perfect and she seems quite sweet. Gary and Nicole say there are a few areas where her tuning needs work but they like her. Sharon cries about sending her home before and Stephanie says ‘if you put me through I’ll win it for you’. Sharon laughs ‘You know I’ve never won!’ in a moment of self-awareness I’m actually very grateful for. (Sidebar: Gary is coming very close to equalling Sharon’s record as WORST MENTOR EVER and it would almost be worth a Sharon victory just for him to claim that title as his own). Nicole says there must be something about her to make Sharon cry because she’s never seen Sharon cry. Or, by virtue of that fact, any of the first four series of this show. Four yeses and a hug from Sharon who feels ‘so old’. Louis: ‘you are.’ [I want to feel positive about Steph, but the people that Sharon thought were better than her in 2007 were Komedy Kimberley, Drain-Circler Alisha, and Lady Shivers, and I can't get that out of my head. - Steve]

Ads. They’re still trying to shill that bloody app. [Maybe one of this year's sob stories can be "I don't have a smartphone so I can't be the fifth judge"? - Steve]

We’re welcomed back with a blast of Boy Meets Girl’s ‘Waiting for a Star to Fall’ which is one of the best songs ever, fact fans, and also a foreshadowing of some duff auditions, I suspect, because THEY’RE ABOUT TO FALL, do you see what they did there? The judges are looking for ‘a star’ – cue people saying who they can be as big as. Highlights include mad woman saying ‘G4’ and a man with glitter all over his face saying ‘Olly MURS’. 33-year old Samantha Harper (Cardiff) does a very strange sheep-like rendition of ‘Sweet Dreams’ (the Beyonce one) to four noes. Gary says it’s ‘about to get better’, but what’s this? By the magic of editing, we’re whisked to Manchester where J-Koda, a twat in sunglasses, wants to be onstage with Jay-Z, Kanye West and Eminem (aka the three rappers even your nan has heard of). He jumps up and down, shout’s ‘Dubstep’ and flails around with all the desperation of someone whose lifelong desire is to be one of those people they bring out in the annual parade of the mental at the final. They haven’t done that for a while, but hey, it’s back to basics this year, so I wouldn’t put it past them resurrecting it. He then offers to sing ‘Cry Me a River’ by Mickey Bubbles with whom no-one has ever associated that song. He does one line and is sent packing, declared a TF-‘Zee’ (Talent Free Zone) by Funsponge who has forgotten that he’s not American. Aron Dale, “24” [He's about as 24 as me - Helen], who fancies himself as a Harry Styles lookalike, if we’re thinking of Harry Styles as imagined by Louis Tussauds, does an atonal and disinterested ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ (still Manchester). Gary says he didn’t even know what that song was, and that song’s been on the radio for two years. Not sure that made sense, but anyway. He walks out into the toilet and Nicole tells him that the toilet is the other door as Sharon collapses in a fit of giggles behind her script/running order.

In London, Gary wants to see a serious talent who people will love and respect – cue crazy Heather, with the stage name Souli Roots. She wants to be as big as Bob Marley and has a huge grin and a bright red afro. She’s written a song about the recession and says ‘Great Britain and the world is waiting to hear this’. She wants to give the Prime Minster advice, which basically boils down to ‘recession, don’t worry about it.’ She says she writes 3-4 songs a day. Her lyrics are about having lost a job and not being able to afford things. It’s an atonal mess but she’s this show’s kind of fun so the audition goes on longer than anyone else’s tonight. Louis loves her, because: Louis. Nicole thinks she’s fun and they both give her yeses. Gary says no and Louis baits Sharon that she needs another yes and thus we have our first possible comedy finalist of 2013, folks. Quite restrained of them to wait until week three. [For all of Gary's whining, I actually thought she was a better singer than several people who've had the "you're a briliant talent, just what this show's looking for" edit so far. - Steve][I actually wanted to watch her, which is more than I can say for most of the people on here - Helen]

Ads. That Jesus Christ Superstar arena tour is still going? Is that thing that won ITV’s abomination of a reality show in it? Back in Birmingham and 25-year old bus driver James McDonald says this is ‘all or nothing’. His Lately is very sub-Andy Binman and he cries afterwards and earns four yeses and a mob of women running in. In Manchester Louise Harper, a children’s party planner (34), does a guitary, mumsy ‘Jolene’ and goes through.

Our final act of the night (in London) are a boy band who would look old even if they were on The Big Reunion (except if they were stood next to 911, obviously). Next of Kin are three brothers: Nathan, Kieran and Mark, "27-32" and they have been together ‘since 95’ and had once been signed to Universal. Louis lies that he knows the name and Sharon asks what went wrong. Mark says he was signed and when the record label discovered he had two brothers, they wanted to make them the British Hanson. They then show us a photo of them back then which does look vaguely familiar, and a quick YouTube reveals this song which I sort of have some dim recollection of. It’s no MmmBop. Nathan has a whiff of the Brooksteins about him. Their song got to number 13 in the charts in 1999, which means they have been doing this for a very, very long time. But this series for some reason seems to be celebrating all things that have failed dismally in the past, so it seems apt that they're back now.

They’re doing a song that they wrote with their mum. The last mum-inspired reality TV song I remember is this. Look boys! Play it right and one of you could have a bizarre affair with a Lib Dem! Anyway, this is basically Journey South with three brunettes instead of two blondes and an extra level of deadness behind the eyes. The one in the middle (Kieran) has the creepiest smile and does the least singing, so they really need to do their boyband 101 in terms of performance. The song itself is OK but clichéd and for some reason sends Nicole into floods of tears. Dermot gives their glamorous mum a big hug. Louis congratulates them and says the song could be a hit, Sharon declares their harmonies magnificent and Gary says this is what they came to find. Nicole is a blubbering mess and they get four yeses. Their parents talk about being proud of them. D’aww.

Tomorrow! Groups hit the arena! Souli Roots gets an exciting new hair colour! Gary gets booed! Join Helen then!

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