Sunday, October 20, 2013

(Kingsland) Road to nowhere

Top 11: Love & Heartache Week - 19 October 2013

Last weekend: The live shows kicked off, and Gary declared that Dalston Kingsland will be the group whose performance we all look forward to each week (spoilers: LOL WHOOPS), while Sam The Screw and Tamera got the best reception of the night, Missed Dynamics performed in the exact way that you'd expect a group of people who've only known each other to perform together, and the first-ever Flash Vote saw Shelley getting the least public support on Saturday, only to miraculously survive on Sunday when Lorna's complete invisibility caught up with her (and let's be honest, the pictures of her fondling a gun probably didn't do her any favours either - although she should consider entering the US version, where that would probably help her to the top five at the very least) and she ended up biffing the sing-off. Meanwhile, Sharon managed not to storm off in a huff and threaten to quit the show because two of her acts were in the bottom two - maybe she really has grown as a person?

Tonight, it's Love (represented by Kylie & Jason, Wills & Kate and Green Boots) and Heartache (represented by Gary crying at the press conference when Take That announced their split. Okay then) Week. So, essentially it's "songs week", because I think you can count the number of hits that don't address either love or heartache in some form on the fingers of a whale. We're reminded of who's mentoring which category: Gary's got the groups (and he thinks the girls are going to LOVE Dalston this week), Nicole's got the girls (and she insists they are going to BRING IT), Louis has the boys (why does Luke look so pained in the picture? And why is he doing selfie-duckface, come to that?) and Sharon has what's left of the over-25s (and she insists they're coming out fighting). It's time! To face! Some more banter about Dermot's penis! (Probably.)

Giant X, Giant X, flying through the sky. Giant X, Giant X, never tells us why. Crashes to Earth, but what comes next? Giant X, Giant X, Giant X.

We're live from London, and 'Love Is In The Air' plays as Dermot enters. Frankly, all this does is make me think of Ashley and Ola's samba from last week on Strictly. Maybe Dermot's going to whip his shirt off and/or descend from the ceiling in a giant heart?, he just walks on and does his usual mic-toss and backwards golf-swing. Come on, Dermot, we expect more from you these days. I notice that these days he's saying "your X Factor weekend starts right here!" I wonder if they added that qualification to his intro once it became abundantly clear that more people were starting their weekend 90 minutes earlier on BBC1? He announces the theme, and declares it apt (APT!) because one more act will be going home tomorrow.

The judges enter as two flamethrowers blast out a firey X in front of them, and I get all Ghostbusters, worrying whether it's really safe to be crossing the streams like that. Gary's all in black, Nicole's in devilish red, Sharon's wearing a black and white gown that's cut out around the front so you can still see her cleavage, and Louis is wearing one of his velvet jackets again. Dermot reminds us that the finalists will face the FLASH VOTE once again at the end of the show, and fewer than ten minutes of voting will potentially decide their future in the competition. Or not, if it's like what happened last week with Shelley.

Dermot opens the performances by telling us that last week saw the return of "an X Factor great". Oh my god, RUTH LORENZO WAS BACK?!?! Oh, he means Sharon. "She came, she saw, she squeezed, she hugged." She's sharp, she's cool, she rides on a mule! Sharon's category is opening the show, and Sam The Screw is up first. In reference to the theme, Sam discusses her love of football - thanks to the show, she got to go to the England game at Wembley last week. It turns out that Sam really loves football [Why do I feel I'm watching a redux of last week's Strictly with these VTs? - Rad] - she's played for Millwall, Charlton, Crystal Palace, Leicester City Ladies and the Prison Service. She says that football is a passion she shares with her husband, and obviously he's the other love of her life. Poor Sam's husband. Such an afterthought. (Actually, the 15 seconds or so of that VT given over to Sam's love of football was the most animated and likeable she's been all series. I wish they'd deployed that side of her sooner rather than focusing so heavily on the prison warder/mum/weepy aspects of her life.) Sam tells Sharon that she hasn't really experienced heartbreak because she's only ever been in love once, so this week's going to be all about Craig. I feel like someone should point out to her that Sam's probably going to experience heartbreak in the music industry before very long, but she looks so happy right now and I don't really want to be That Guy. Sharon tells Sam that her emotions will make her performance more genuine. Sam says that she and her husband got together in a nightclub in 2002, and we see their wedding pictures, which are cute. She says that Craig's looked after the kids and kept things going during the competition, and she wants him to know how much he means to her, so this song is dedicated to him.

Sam takes to the stage and sings 'Leave (Get Out)' by JoJo. No, of course not, she's singing 'Make You Feel My Love' by Bob Dylan/Adele (delete according to your preference). I'm still dumbstruck by how much her makeover has made her look like Niki "Meaty Minge" Evans. Are we absolutely sure that "Sam Bailey" isn't just a character Niki invented to get herself back on the television to raise funds for more vagina surgery? Sam's performance has a nice tone to it - it's more understated than she has been in previous weeks, which is an encouraging sign. I've always found this song deathly dull and this performance isn't doing anything to change that, but she's certainly doing a more than competent job. Maybe it's just because I've gone off Shelley since Judges' Houses, or maybe it was that football VT, but I'm starting to find Sam more appealing as a contestant, even if I can't imagine she's ever likely to release a record that I'll want to listen to voluntarily.

Gary tells Sam that they're so used to her being excellent that she's making life very difficult for herself, "but every week you take the bar up another level". He goes on to say "I like you in this space", which is an odd thing to say. This is the same space everyone performs in, Gary. Unless he just meant "I like you in the musical space of standing there doing nothing and singing a ballid", which: b'duh. Nicole elongates each syllable of Sam's full first name, which anyone who's ever been told off by their mother will instantly recognise as a bad omen, and says that it's hard for her because she's a big fan of Sam, but that performance "left me lukewarm". Sharon SCREECHES various things that don't appear to be actual words, and Nicole says that she sees Sam as a big power singer, and that song felt tonally wrong to her. Louis tells Sam that he's got a new name for her: ScrewBo. You know, like SuBo. Because of the many similarities between Sam and Susan Boyle? *crickets chirp* Anyway, Sharon screeches "WHAT DID YOU SAY?" and gets entirely caught up in the "screw" part and thinking that Louis is calling her a hooker or something, because Sharon's spent too long in Beverly Hills and forgotten all of her British slang. Anyway, Louis says it's a compliment because she's going to be here for a long time. He does know that you can't just use "because" to link two entirely unrelated thoughts, right? Sam tries to get Sharon to shut up by mumbling "Susan Boyle's amazing." Hee. Sharon tells her that it was beautifully controlled and that she had "some lovely, tender moments in there". And then she screams "AND I DON'T KNOW WHAT'S HAPPENED WITH NICKY!" Suddenly I'm remembering why I always hated Sharon the first time around: because Live Show Sharon is just the worst. [Told you this would happen - Rad]

Dermot arrives far too late as usual, and asks Sam - following on from Nicole's comments - if it's been a deliberate move to sing different styles of songs during the competition. Derm, there's sort of an expectation of that built into the format. Sam says that she doesn't want to be a one-trick pony, she wants to show everybody that she can do everything. She then whips out some batons, sets alight to them and starts juggling with one hand, while hoovering the floor with the other, performing the tap routine from the middle of 'The Time Warp' and reciting the whole of Great Expectations. In Portugese. Sam Bailey, everybody!

After an ad break, we return and Dermot delivers a long and slightly uncomfortable intro for Gary and the groups, and since Gary's apparently not allowed to speak tonight, Dermot confirms that Dalston Kingsland are up first and we go straight into the VT. Dalston talk about how they're living every guy's dream life right now, because they were also at the England game last week (#LADZONTOUR) and now Ellie Goulding knows who they are. In a backstage shot from last week, Ellie tells them that she thinks they are exciting and different and she likes their hair. You are dead to me, Goulding. Dead. Connor declares that he thinks they're in there, because obviously any positive feedback from a woman is a clear declaration of sexual interest (#LADZ). Gary asks the boys who's in love, and who's had their heart broken. You know, aside from the girlfriends they're currently hiding in cupboards. ("Girlfriends".) Matt says there "isn't really a ladies' man in the group" and Thompson says that if you go up to a girl and tell her you're in a boyband, it just doesn't work. Yeah, that's why Harry Styles became a monk. Gary says that "twenty years ago, it used to work great for me!" (#LADZONTOURINTHEMIDNINETIES) This week, Dalston are singing 'Marry You' by Bruno Mars, and they're very excited because they get to dance with hot girls. Hot girls who seem entirely uninterested in them. What sensible hot girls. Thompson hopes they'll be more successful as performers than they were with the dancers. (Spoiler: LOL WHOOPS.)

They're attempting to sing the whole thing in harmony, with fairly questionable results. Also, Josh seems to have raided Jesy BixMix's Ugly Trousers Cupboard once again, and Thompson is dressed as the deputy head from Waterloo Road. They've even got the same hair and everything. [THAT'S who he reminds me of.  It's been bugging me for ages - Rad] They run into the audience, where The Girls all scream for them as directed, and they're joined by the aforementioned Hot Girls, who are wearing wedding dresses with baseball caps. Ugh, hipsters.

Nicole tells them that they did a good job, and she knows "the ladies were loving you so much". She thought they sounded good "as a choral group", and asks Gary why nobody was doing lead vocals. Gary snorts that there are ELEVEN lead vocals in the competition this week and the boys wanted to sing together. Gary Barlow Can't Count Alert: there are only eleven acts in total. Remove Dalston Kingsland, that makes ten. Remove Missed Dynamics, whom he must already know aren't competing this week, and I make that nine at the absolute most. Meanwhile, Drunk Granny Sharon screeches "NICKY WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH MA BABY?!" Foetal alcohol poisoning? Just a guess. Nicole says she's just being honest. Louis tells them they were good last week but great this week, and he loves the staging. He says that he and Gary know more about boybands than anyone else on the panel, and he thinks they've got something special. Drunk Granny Sharon howls "HE knows more about boybands than I do!", just in case there were a few people in a cave in Papua New Guinea who hadn't quite thought to make a LOLGAY joke yet. She says that every time she sees them perform, they make her feel happy, and it was a great song choice. Gary bores on about their work ethic. Neaux1curr.

Dermot decides he wants to pick things up with "Scherzy-Grumpypants" again, and asks her what she's hoping to see more of. Nicole says she wants Matt to realise what an amazing lead vocalist he is, and then Dalston will be "going places". Dermot reminds us that Matt didn't have much luck with the ladies (#MINTLADZBANTER) and asks if it went better in the performance, and Matt says he thinks so, because in rehearsals he elbowed one of them. Smooth. Dalston Kingsland exit, getting those hideous paisley trousers off my screen not a moment too soon. [I went to the actual Kingsland Road for the first time this week.  Their whole image now makes more sense to me - Rad]

Over to Louis and the boys next, with Nicholas going first. Somebody has dressed Nicholas up in a tie with hearts on it, because I think they are actually trying to turn him into Eoin McLove. Louis tells Nicholas that he's singing 'She's The One' by Robbie Williams this week, and Nicholas says that it's hard to sing about being in love when you've never been in love. It really isn't, though. Also, he's NEARLY SEVENTEEN. Who gets to seventeen without ever experiencing even a brief flush of love? What the hell was he doing with his teenage years? Louis tells Nicholas he needs to connect with the lyrics, and Nicholas says he'll just think about his mum and his family. Louis is all "Jesus Christ, it's not about your bloody mother you weirdo, JUST THINK OF A NICE GIRL AND SING IT TO HER." As desperation sets in, Louis decides that Nicholas has a crush on Nicole and sends Nicole in for Nicholas's rehearsals to stand there wearing a white vest and look coy. Nicole purrs that "Louis told me you were struggling a little and I wanted to help you out", and for a second there I feared they might have actually asked her to deflower him. Anyway, it seems to work: Nicholas says he's going to think about Nicole when he sings it.

Nicholas performs the song with serious echo FX on his vocals and surrounded by a group of backing dancers who just parade around at a leaden pace looking stony-faced. Maybe they were meant to be the zombies for Halloween week and they arrived a week early due to an administrative error? Anyway, Nicholas's performance is fine - he's a little sharp in places, and it's kind of dull, but I dare say it played very well in his target demographic of mums, grandmothers and the under-eights. A blonde dancer with bright red lipstick slides up to him at the end and puts her hand on his shoulder. You'll understand why I'm mentioning that in a minute.

Nicole has a "my boy's all grown up!" look on her face. Sharon says he handled that song superbly, "BUT WHO ON EARTH WAS THAT PIECE OF WHATEVER STOOD NEXT TO YOU? THAT PAEDIOPHILE!" (That's not a typo, she really did say "paediophile".) For the love of god, Sharon, he is SIXTEEN, not six. Also, nice slut-shaming there. Sharon wants to know why Louis allowed that and screeches "WHERE'S NICHOLAS'S MOTHER?" This is making me very uncomfortable. It's almost like she actually wants to stunt his development. Go and be weird with your own kids, Sharon. At least they're used to it. Gary tells Nicholas that he has a beautiful voice and it was a great song choice, but he wasn't sure about "the walking dead" because he thinks Nicholas doesn't need that - he should just stand there with one light on him and sing. Gary Barlow: making great television since two thousand and NEVER. Nicole makes the "heart" gesture over her chest and says that he's a natural, that he was understated and easy on the eyes and ears. Louis tells Nicholas has likeability and calls him "my baby Bublé". Dryheave.

Dermot asks Nicholas how he feels about all this female attention and Nicholas is all "yeah, s'fine". Dermot puts him in a headlock and sends him off without reading his voting number.

No ad break, we're straight over to Nicole and the girls, and Abi's up next. Abi recalls the terror that she felt last week and how Nicole had to give her a little pep talk to get her through it. Abi says that she wants to conquer her nerves this week, so Nicole suggests they hang out together and learn to feel comfortable around each other. So they go bowling, obviously. Abi says that it was hard to play it cool "because she's a huge massive superstar", but she hopes now she can feel at ease out there.

Abi is singing a slowed-down, acoustic, John Lewis-ified version of 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head' (of course) surrounded by dancers in pink mackintoshes carrying pink umbrellas. She can't support her voice in the higher notes at all, the whole performances is overly mannered, and she looks about as comfortable moving around as Rebecca Ferguson used to. It's not a good night for Abi, let's put it that way.

Louis tells her that he liked her doing Bon Jovi last week, but not so much with this: "I think I prefer you behind the piano, doing the singer-songwriter stuff." You know, with songs she didn't actually write. He says he doesn't think she was comfortable, and it didn't really work for him. Sharon disagrees - she thinks it was a big risk for Abi because she had to move and she handled it well, but she does need more confidence. And then she starts talking about Abi's sexy feet. Oh Sharon. It was going so well. Gary says it was a bit sleep-inducing for him (he's a fine one to talk), and while he liked what the dancers were doing, he didn't feel the song was a good fit for Abi. Nicole says that she much preferred Abi's version to the original, "and Lou-Lou has gone loony". She thinks Abi showed another side of herself tonight, and that she "look[s] like a hot tamale tonight". Possibly literally, in that red outfit.

Dermot wants to know this: surely if Abi were to sit behind the piano every week, then that would be wrong as well? Abi says that she's taking the judges' comments on board but she wanted to show that she could do something different, because they've told her before that she hasn't been diverse enough. Be careful what you wish for, in other words. Dermot says "it's good to see you walking!", as though she's been in a car crash or something.

Shelley's up next, but first some ads. I am quite excited about Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 because the original was super-cute. Also, I deeply fear anyone who was involved with in any way.

When we return, Dermot's in the audience next to James Arthur, who blows kisses to the crowd like an arsehole. He says everyone's been great so far, and he's a big fan of Kingsland. Category-wise though, he favours the girls. How illuminating. Dermot informs (/warns) us that James will be performing live on the show in a few weeks.

Next up and hoping for a recovery, it's Shelley. Shelley tells us that being in the bottom last week was hideous (BUT THAT REWATCHING IT ON A PRODUCT-PLACEMENT TABLET REALLY HELPS ME TO EASE THE PAIN!) and she literally wanted to burst into tears. She's grateful to have been saved, and she wonders if people just need to get to know her better. Sharon says that Shelley's shown everyone her voice, now she needs to show off her sassy side. Yes, that's exactly what the world needed. Shelley announces that this week she's singing 'Single Ladies' by Beyoncé: "this one's perfect for me, because I am a single lady". Egad. She says that she always does stupid things around boys, like having lipstick on her teeth or falling over. Basically she's a Miranda without a Stevie or a Gary. Unless her daughter is the Stevie in her life, which is a worrying thought. [As a fellow Miranda without a Stevie or a Gary - or a joke shop, for that matter, I now realise why I like Shelley.  Although no way is she only a year older than me - Rad]

Shelley starts the performance suspended in a hoop above the stage singing a slowed-down jazzy version of the song before actually doing it properly. She does a dramatically scaled-down version of the dance routine and sings the whole thing in the club style and stomping around the stage. It's very camp and silly and sort of fun, but I almost wish she'd just commit to being a comedy act and have done with it. I think we'd all be a lot happier that way. The song finishes, and Shelley pouts and taps her ring finger pointedly.

Gary's cackling to himself, and then realises he's supposed to speak: "Oh god, am I first?" He congratulates Shelley on her "22nd birthday" and says that she proved last weekend that she's a good singer, but he's not sure he would've chosen this one for her. Nicole says that she loves Shelley's energy, but she thought it was a little "sha-weird" and she doesn't know if she "lurved" this song for Shelley and the ballad-esque intro was a "sha-no-no". I think Shanicole's shaveering into shauncontrollable shaself-parody at this point. She gives her credit for singing and dancing, though. Louis says he's glad he saved Shelley last week and he can see her having a great future on the stage in Priscilla or Hairspray. Oh, Louis. Those parts you're thinking of? They're played BY MEN. Sorry to break it to you. I'll understand if you want to go and have a little quiet think to yourself about what this means. He wants her to stay around, because she's fun. Sharon also wishes Shelley a happy birthday and says that she's been sick all week, but she still managed to perform tonight, so she hopes people will vote for Shelley.

Dermot comes out with a little cupcake with a candle in it (what, has the budget been sliced? Bloody cheapskates) and Shelley stage-winks that she knows what she's going to wish for. She says that she felt "more Shelley" this week and she was happy she got to dance with those gorgeous men.

Time for a little bit of DRAMA now: Dermot confirms what everyone on Twitter knew an hour or so ago: just before they went on air, SeSe from Missed Dynamics was taken ill and medics advised that she wasn't well enough to perform. Since SeSe was doing lead vocals and the other two "didn't have enough time to learn it", the group as a whole has been given a bye to next week. When they'll presumably be getting a "bye" of a different sort. The funniest part of all this is one solitary person in the audience giving a gut-wrenching, heartfelt "AWWWWWWWW!" at the idea of Missed Dynamics not performing, and everyone else in the room not giving one solitary shit. Anyway, let's look at what happened: around 5:32pm, SeSe collapsed and was seen to be the medical team, and wheeled into an ambulance. That's it. Gary says that everyone's devastated, but since SeSe is nearly six months pregnant, they couldn't afford to take any risks. He says that the best place she can be right now is in hospital, and they believe everything's fine, but she won't be performing this weekend.

Caroline's backstage with The Other Two, who confess to being "extremely disappointed" because they've worked so hard this week, but SeSe's health comes first, and they're glad they at least get to come back next week. Caroline asks why they couldn't just go on without her, and Jeanette says that all three of them had lead verses this week, and an hour wasn't enough time for either of them to learn SeSe's part. To be honest I'm surprised Melanie McCabe isn't lurking in the background somewhere screaming "I'LL DO IT! I CAN LEARN IT IN 20 MINUTES!" (Apparently they were supposed to be singing 'Dreams' by Gabrielle, and frankly anyone who doesn't already know that song inside out has no business being a pop star in the first place.)

After another ad break, it's time for an ab break (see what I did there?): it's Sam Callahan. He was a bit upset with some of the comments he got about his voice last week from Gary and Nicole, but Louis tells him he's got great stage presence and "something special". Sam goes for some extra vocal lessons during the week, and we get a little montage to show us how hard Sam's been working all week. Although I notice that his workload was never so intense that he didn't have time to do his hair in the morning.

Sam's on a stool, on a podium, singing 'I Won't Give Up' by Jason Mraz. It sounds like every other performance of this song that you've ever heard, except croakier, but he looks pretty doing it, and I suspect that's what matters the most.

Sharon tells him that he did really well, so he needn't look so terrified. Gary is pleased that Sam decided to take a challenge this week, although he thinks that the first half of the song was too low for him. He tells him well done for taking a risk, and declares it a massive improvement on last week. Nicole agrees, and says that the people who last in the competition are the ones who are brave and work hard. Louis says that Sam's proved why he belongs in the competition, because he's hard-working and a dream to work with, "and that's what it's all about, work ethics". Yeah, that's why it's called The Work Ethic Factor.

Dermot arrives with the swinging backhander of an announcement that he'd expected to have to come on and defend Sam from the judges' assaults. Sam says that he's really happy with that feedback.

Next, it's time for Tamera. Perhaps unsurprisingly, considering she got exceptionally good responses from the judges and viewers alike, she had a great time last week. She says that dancing for the crowd has been her dream ever since she can remember. After the show, she went to hug her grandma, who's the minister for the local church, which is where she started out singing as a kid. Nicole and Tamera talk about how they're from similar backgrounds, both being born to relatively young mothers and getting a lot of help from their grandparents. Tamera goes off to the church to see her grandma again, and her gran says she always knew Tamera had something special. Tamera gives her gran a sneak preview of this week's performance, and her gran gets all misty-eyed. Fair play to Tamera, this was an exemplary deployment of The Nan Card.

Tamera sings 'Beneath Your Beautiful' by Labrinth and Emeli Sandé, which is an inherently evil song because it uses "your" instead of "you're". FUCK YOU, LABRINTH. AND YOU, SUNDAY, YOU'RE NO BETTER [OH.  I always assumed they meant it in the sense of 'Beneath Your Beautiful Brown Eyes, so it was Beneath Your Beautiful... - Rad] . If I can suppress the bile in my throat long enough to look past that, it's another impressive performance from Tamera - she gurgles a few of the notes, but she really does sound good on this one, and she's got great control of the whole thing.

Louis tells her that every time he sees her, he thinks "Whitney, Rihanna, Leona Lewis". Wow, I'm glad she's such a unique presence! He tells her to work hard and keep doing what Nicole tells her to do. Sharon agrees with that last part, "because she always gets it right". That's not what you've been saying for the rest of the evening, lady. She thinks Tamera was full of confidence and looks fantastic. Gary says that tonight the public are finally going to see what the judges have been seeing all along - that she's a superstar. He thinks that the performance reminded him of what they see on a Sunday night - i.e. the internationally-famous performers who come on to plug their new singles, not the group sings. Nicole tells Tamera the performance was "bellissimo", and she loved how controlled it all was.

Dermot tells Tamera that it must have been really nice to just stand there for the whole performance and not have to move at all. I know that these post-performance interviews have never been exactly Newsnight, but this may be a new low. Tamera's nan is in the audience (of course) and Tamera doesn't really have much to say for herself, so she's off.

After the JLSes flog the competition and the Argos aliens continue to be a thing that we all have to endure, we're back and Dermot's in the audience with the friends and family, specifically Abi Alton's dad, who enjoys not having to be a roadie for her any more. There's also Sam Bailey's football widow husband Craig, and Cat-Fancier Colin from the auditions, and I'd prefer not to relive that specific part of this series, so let's move right along... the Hair Apparent, Luke Friend. The theme of Luke's VT is that this is his first time living away from home (there's one of these every year, isn't there?) and his sitcom-hilarious mum is finding it difficult to cut the apron strings, so she calls him every 30 seconds to remind him to wash behind his ears and to eat his vegetables and to breathe in and out and to stop scratching there because we've got company. She even sends him a care package of some pyjamas, so he doesn't get cold at night. And presumably so he doesn't end up with accidental noodpix on the internet.

The stage is flooded with dry ice and three boats: two containing guitarists and one containing Luke, who is singing 'Let Her Go' by Passenger. The low notes seem to be slightly out of his range and the choruses tend to sound a bit bowel-movementy as a result. Still, at least he manages to get up and out of his boat for the key change, and he doesn't even fall in the water! Now there's a multi-skilled performer.

Sharon tells him that she has "an awful soft spot for you". I always suspected that Sharon's soft spot was pretty awful, but it's nice to have confirmation. She adds that Luke is "quite fabulous", but she doesn't understand why the boats are there. "Because he's sailing through to next week!" says Louis, triumphantly. Oh, Louis. They're ROWING BOATS. Nice try, though. Gary tells Luke that he loves Luke's voice and his quirkiness, but he doesn't really understand the whole boat thing. However, he feels that Luke lacked edge tonight, and he wants him to regain that for next year. That said, he loved the song choice: "best song of this year, that song is". Christ, Gary, that wouldn't even be the best song of this year if no other songs had been released. Nicole disagreed: she felt the edge, she felt "some balls creeping up, a little bit of hair on them balls". That's FAR too much information. But she loved what he did with it, and the fact that he did it in a boat. Louis likes that Luke didn't copy the original, and the fact that he's cool.

Dermot arrives all creasefaced over the fact that "in seven years of this show, he has never been happier with himself than when he made that 'sailing through to next week' line." I like that Dermot isn't attempting to claim ownership of The Kate Thornton Years, at least. Luke says that he intends to do everything his own way and "quirk it up a bit", because there's no point in just doing a straight cover. I didn't even really notice that much difference, to be honest.

Dermot goes over to the interaction wall to find out how the audience has responded to the question of which judge has given the best critique tonight. Despite Dermot's fervent campaigning for Louis, Louis is actually last with 4%, just ahead of Sharon who has 8% (TRIUMPHANT RETURN OF SHARON OSBOURNE!), while Nicole is in second place with 38%, and Gary is in the lead with 50%, which I think tells you everything you need to know about the sort of people who participate in these polls. Then Dermot spins the "twheel" (or is it a "tuille", like those fancy chocolate things?), which seems a bit pointless since every single tweet is the same one from Tracey Thorn ("The Tracey Thorn?" wonders Dermot, who clearly doesn't spend enough time on Twitter if he doesn't know the answer to that) asking if there's any words that Nicole can't add "sha" to the front of. "Sha-no," replies Nicole. Oh, Nicole.

The last of the groups next: Rough Copy. They were very happy with how everything went last week, especially the great feedback they had from Nicole. (Sidebar: it didn't take me long at all to find articles making it clear which members of Dalston Kingsland and Missed Dynamics were which, but I've tried and failed to do the same with Rough Copy. HashtagEverydayRacism?) Kaz talks about his son, who is three, and the responsibility of having someone looking to you for guidance at all times, and how that love flows through Rough Copy. I'm not entirely sure I follow that, but sure, why not? Kaz's son comes to visit them in rehearsal and everyone goes gaga over him, and as a result feels energised for the live show. It says here.

Unfortunately, that doesn't translate to their performance of 'I Want It That Way', which is Rough Copy in every sense of the phrase. They're trying to harmonise throughout and very few of the harmonies actually land, except when the backing track kicks in to drown them out, which sort of defeats the point. Still, Sterling is wearing an awesome leather skirt over his trousers like he's Katy Hill: Warrior Princess, so I'm just going to focus on that.

Nicole is impressed that they took a Backstreet Boys song and made it into a Boyz II Men song. Again, I feel like constantly comparing the contestants to other acts is not the best way to convince us that they're unique and special. She warns them not to let the dancing detract from the singing. Louis calls it a "faultless performance", and thinks there's a place in the charts for them. Sharon calls them "very slick" and commends them on the effortlessness of their performances. Gary says that everywhere he's been this week, everyone's been asking him about Rough Copy. I imagine the upcoming week will run much the same way, although the questions will be more along the lines of "what the fuck was that mess, Barlow?" Gary also says that he'll be making a little shopping list based on their outfits from this week, including the leather skirt. Hands off, Barlow, I saw it first.

Sterling thanks the judges for the feedback, particularly Nicole, and says that they want to go away and work on their feedback. Dermot asks if their weakness is a tendency to get overexcited, and Sterling says that that's entirely possible, but they're always learning. Joey says that things don't always go to plan, but it's all about learning from those situations. Dermot asks Kaz about his son, and Kaz starts chanting his son's name, which sounds like "Ceero", but I could be wrong.

Time to waste a bit more time backstage with Caroline - this time she's with Shelley (Shelley gets a lot of backstage time, doesn't she?) wishing her a happy birthday and asking if she agrees with the judges that she chose the wrong song. Shelley doesn't think so, because she IS a single lady. Caroline Flack Doesn't Read Her Notes then oldnames Dalston Kingsland, and asks them about Nicole saying they need to loosen up a bit. Matt suggests they all take up yoga. Well, they've already got the trousers for it. Caroline does a quick "Luke, your mum's on the phone LOLZ" joke and then it's time for an ad break. Well, that was edifying.

When we return, Dermot gives us a quick SeSe update, informing us that she's doing well and resting at home. Hopefully she's catching up on Strictly on Sky+. Time for our final act: Hannah. She will be singing 'Beautiful' by Christina Aguilera, and the lyrics REALLY speak to her because she thinks she's the biggest girl in her category and doesn't like looking at herself in pictures. So Nicole takes her shopping and calls her beautiful repeatedly and HOORAY HANNAH'S SELF-ESTEEM ISSUES ARE FIXED FOREVER. Or something.

Hannah stands with her back to a mirror for duplication purposes and delivers a faintly lacklustre performance. (That said, if we had to have an EMPOWERMENT ANTHEM FOR YOUNG GIRLS, I'm glad we didn't end up with bloody 'Firework' or fucking 'Roar' or any other of Katy Perry's increasingly vapid attempts to become the champion of the disenfranchised.) As the song goes on, she gets the full (offstage) choir backing and a projection of mirror shards behind her to the point where I start to wonder if this is an unexpected Primeval crossover and she's about to get trampled by a diplodocus. She bellows a bit more, and then it's over.

Louis tells Hannah that he can't believe she's only sixteen. Someone, presumably Nicole, yells "SEVENTEEN!" Hee. Sharon tells Hannah that she is beautiful inside and out, and that she only wants to see her happy from now on: "nixay on the tears!" Remind me not to buy Sharon Osbourne's Guide To Pig Latin. Gary says that Hannah is at her best when she's singing for her life, adding that the intonation she sings with is the sort of thing that can't be taught: "when you bend both knees and go for it, I really love it." MOVING SWIFTLY ON. Nicole says "Hashtag Facegoosebumps". No, I don't even know what she's on about.

Dermot arrives and falls over his attempt to say "facegoosebumps" about three times, and Hannah has a little happy-cry to herself and cackles ferociously. She has such a dirty laugh. I LOVE IT. She says that she was singing that for everyone who feels that they're not good enough. Yeah, I think I got that. Thanks, Hannah.

The lines open for the Flash Vote (they should have a Slash Vote, where we get to pick two contestants of the same gender to make out. That would be fun), and Dermot reminds us that Missed Dynamics are not eligible for either of this weekend's votes. Dermot reads out the numbers again, and then there's the obligatory recap of the evening's performances: Sam The Screw being surprisingly understated; Dalston Kingsland still needing to sack their stylist; Nicholas finding his very own sexy zombie; Abi being completely outmatched by 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head'; Shelley needing to put a ring on it or, failing that, a lid; Sam being close enough to the tune as far as anyone cares; Tamera singing THE EVIL SONG OF TERRIBLE GRAMMAR; Luke rowing his way into the next round, apparently; a Rough Copy that needs to be replaced with a final draft as soon as possible; Hannah saving the show a fortune by reusing old ITV visual effects.

There are just under three minutes left in the Flash Vote countdown, so Dermot invites the finalists back on to the stage. Sam The Screw is "feeling all right". Thanks Sam! Shelley points out that she is a diverse artist: "I done a slow one last time, I did a fast one this time." Sam C is really pleased that he got to show another side of himself this week, "and I'm not that orange this week". Heh. Nicholas has nothing to say other than he is happy to be here. Luke was very pleased with his comments and vows to take Gary's advice on board. Dermot confuses Abi by telling her that Gary thought her performance was "brave", which makes it sound like he was a lot more complimentary than he actually was, so Abi just mumbles something about hoping the public will see that, because what else can you do in that position? Hannah feels blessed to be here, REPRESENTING, and also not crying. Tamera feels amazing. Dalston are having a lot of fun and don't want it to end. Rough Copy are feeling good, and happy to be here. It is a bad idea to have the countdown to the lines closing on a giant screen behind the acts when all this is going on, because the audience's cries of "THREE! TWO! ONE! WOOOOOO!" kind of drown out most of Rough Copy's comments. So the lines are now frozen and someone's fate is already sealed. We will find out after that all-important break.

Ads. Those harmonising TalkTalk mascots are already a more convincing group than Missed Dynamics.

It's time to announce the result, so Dermot welcomes the judges back to the room. Sharon declares that she is feeling confident tonight. Louis says that his boys did their best, but he's nervous - he doesn't want any of them in the bottom two. Nicole is very proud of all of her girls, and she hopes she won't see any of them in the sing-off. Gary says that everybody's vulnerable every week, and sometimes the best acts are vulnerable because people think they're safe and don't vote for them. I'm fairly certain that only happens to acts that people aren't really all that fussed about to begin with, but whatever it takes to get you through the night, Bazza.

So here we go with the Flash Vote result. The first category in which all the acts are safe is the Boys. The second safe category is the Girls, and their celebration leads to possibly the greatest moment in the history of television. And the final category where all the acts are safe is...the Over-25s, much to the surprise of everyone in it. Shelley looks like she's on the verge of demanding a recount. So that means one of Gary's groups got the fewest votes, and that group is...Dalston Kingsland. Hooray! Dermot asks them how they feel, and Jay says that they did their best. Thompson says that they just have to prepare for tomorrow now. Dermot asks Gary how he's feeling, and he says he's gutted for them, but says that James Arthur was in the bottom two and still managed to win. Yes, but he finished fifth out of six, not tenth out of ten. Bit of a difference there. [Also: Sharon was totally ungracious when her acts got saved, lording it all over the stage and then obscuring the camera.  I get that she's pleased Funsponge might wrestle the title of worstest mentor ever from her, but still... - Rad]

So that's it for now: the lines reopen to determine who will join Dalston in the bottom two. We'll all be back for the results show with Katy Perry and Robin Thicke, two of the greatest menaces society has ever faced. Although on the bright side, if the entire studio disappeared down a sinkhole in a tragic accident during the show, it would at least mean we got rid of both of them in one fell swoop. So fingers crossed, eh?


fused said...

Like Rad, I assumed 'Beneath Your Beautiful' was going more for "beneath your beautiful(eyes)" rather than "beneath you are beautiful". The impression I get of the song is that it's telling someone who is so beautiful and 'perfect' it's intimidating to others, and that they want to get to know them better and see the more human side. Or something. It was co-written by Mike Posner who did 'Cooler Than Me', so I kind of think 'Beneath Your Beautiful' is meant to be similar to 'Cooler Than Me' but without as much sour grapes.

I agree with you about Kingsland Road being compared to James Arthur. Being in the bottom two when there are only 3 weeks to go is one thing, being in the bottom 2 this early is quite another.

Steve said...

Well, I'd been assuming that for a while too, but then I saw this, so now I'm inclined to say no, it's WRONG AND EVIL.

fused said...

Ah, OK. Yes, I see what you mean after reading that. Pop stars rarely help their case very much on Twitter do they?

The song that always annoyed me grammatically was 'The Way I Are' by Timbaland, Keri Hilson and somebody else. But that's going a bit off topic.

I think my real problem with 'Beneath Your Beautiful' is, to my shame, I quite liked it when it was first released, but it's a) the sort of song that gets less appealing the more you hear it, and b) it's the sort of song that's going to be overused on these kind of shows.

Lia said...

What I got from this week:

1 - Tamera is just like Nicole so I'm supposed to like her
2 - Gary is still an idiotic hypocrite: every band needs a lead singer, except when he is the mentor and lets his act perform like kids around a campfire singalong
3 - Rough Copy --> Backstreet Boys... Really???
4 - Abi Bominable sends me to sleep and then wakes me up with the notes she can't reach (nails on chalkboard)
5 - I fucking hate borelow funsponge (actually I already knew that)

Steve said...

fused - I always liked 'The Way I Are', although that was mainly because it had a line that sounded like "I'm about to sneeze on your car keys".

Lia - I find it best to pretend I can't actually hear individual words from Gary, that it's just one long drone. It's easier than you might think.