Sunday, November 24, 2013

I simply can't Barrett

Top 6 Results - 24 November 2013

Everyone's in black as we return to the Grim Cold Open. Dermot, for some reason, persists with the idea that last night's show was a birthday celebration, but reminds us that tonight someone is going home with NO CAKE AND NO PARTY BAG.

First, the bombastic recap. Getting the narrative seal of approval for last night's performances are Rough Copy, Hannah, Luke, Sam and Wee Nick. The boot of failure, however, is inserted into the jacksy of Tameramnesia for forgetting her words. Coming up tonight, we have "X Factor supergroup JLS", and once again I need to tell the producers that that word does not mean what they think it means [Although The Risk kind of were an X Factor supergoup - Rad]. Also, R&B superstar Mary J Blige will be here with Jessie J tagging along for the ride, and also some nobodies called A Direction or something. *shrugs* Meanwhile, the judges celebrate the non-birthday with Louis doing a Dame Edna impression, Gary delivering the most entirely joyless rendition of Kool And The Gang's 'Celebration' you're ever likely to hear, and Nicole finally working out how to trigger a party popper.

Dermot arrives and welcomes us to the show by stumbling over the word "successes" as he reminds us that JLS and One Direction are on later. Before all that, though, we must welcome the judges: Gary's in a wide-check brown blazer that seems to fade at the edges, Nicole is wearing a purple/navy dress where Giant X itself is straining to contain her boobs, Sharon is in a sheer black number covered in black lace, and Louie is wearing a dark jacket and a dotted tie. Nicole appears to need a bit of help getting to her seat. Nobody ever thinks of the practicalities with these outfits once they've made that dramatic entrance, do they?

Time for the group number, now with 100% more JLS: the top six sing 'Everybody In Love', leaving a massive gap centre-stage so that it can be filled by some actual stars when they deign to turn up. Joey Rough Copy gets the "honour" of doing the "ladies and gentlemen, JLS!" introduction. I'd love to tell you what happens next, but I'm afraid I have a rule where I only recap bands that haven't split up. OH DEAR SORRY ABOUT THAT JLS. That's what you get for dragging it out to the point where we've all seen you far more post-split than we ever did beforehand. Stop hanging around like a trapped fart and move on with your lives already.

And here's the recap of the recap: Wee Nick declares this the best birthday he's ever had, even though it got completely overshadowed by a fake birthday, and Gary reminds us some more about how Wee Nick is solid and reliable and other hugely exciting adjectives like those. Hannah put her heart and soul (and cleavage, dayum) into that performance, so she's happy. Luke wants us all to know that this competition means so much to him, and Gary thinks that Luke is "in a complete lane of his own". Maybe because he can't find any friends to go bowling with him. Rough Copy felt it was natural to get back into their R&B groove, and Nicole thinks that they were the icing and sha-sprinkles on top of the birthday cake. Sometimes I wonder if they just lead her to a padded room as soon as the show's over. Tameramnesia says that she just doesn't want it to end, and she hopes her performance showed that. Girl, your performance suggests that you didn't even know where the end was. Sharon says that she's going to make it, but it's just not her time right now. (All snark aside, I do wonder if Tamera might have been unstoppable if she'd just left it a couple more years, worked on her confidence and gained a bit of experience, and then come back and slain everyone in her path. Sometimes timing is everything; just ask Alexandra Burke.) Finally, Sam hopes she did Leona Lewis proud, because it's such an emotional song, and Nicole declares that she ended the party with a SHA-BANG, BABY. Just imagine if Nicole edited the OED. The S section would be heavier than the rest of the tome put together.

After that, it's time for our very special guests, Mary J Blige and Jessie J. OVER 65 MILLION RECORD SALES WORLDWIDE. 8 MULTI-PLATINUM ALBUMS. 9 GRAMMY AWARDS. MARY J BLIGE! FEATURING JESSIE J! Ha, they do not list any of Jessie J's achievements. I was hoping for LEAST SUCCESSFUL COACH ON THE VOICE UK FOR TWO SERIES RUNNING! to flash up at some point. They're singing 'Do You Hear What I Hear', and Jessie is oversinging the shit out of her part as per usual. Girl should know better than to attempt to upstage Mary J Blige. You just do not do that. Also, I bet Mary J and Jessie J are really cross that someone beat them to the group name Union J. Dermot arrives, and Mary J explains that basically she roped in Jessie J for this song because she and David Foster thought it might help to shift a few more units in the UK. Jessie J ticks off the "honoured" and "blessed" parts of the gratitude checklist, and then they're gone.

Ad break, featuring a "very special" commercial in which Gary Barlow teams up with Aleksandr the Meerkat. There's a gag at the end about Gary paying the bill for the fireworks, but I'm sure the accountant who found those convenient tax loopholes can sort that out for him.

When we return, it's the moment we've all been waiting for - the voting lines have closed! Oh, and One Direction are on. 35 MILLION RECORD SALES WORLDWIDE! NUMBER ONE HITS IN 64 COUNTRIES! 2 BILLION YOUTUBE HITS! THE BIGGEST BOYBAND IN THE WORLD! COUNTLESS SHITTY TATTOOS! ONE DIRECTION! They're singing 'Story Of My Life', their new single which is worryingly Mumford-esque. Also, I don't want to think too closely about the line "I spend her love until she's broke inside", because it sounds rather nasty. Perhaps most worryingly of all, Resentful Direction seems to be gradually morphing into Gary Barlow. I know they share a common temperament, but Resentful is much better-looking and far more entertaining, so he should resist this transformation with all of his might.

Dermot arrives, and begins with the usual invitation to shill the album, which Resentful does resentfully. Zayn says it's amazing to be home and be with the UK fans again. Dermot offers Resentful his microphone, and Resentful is all "I've got my own, BUT THANKS" (RESENTFUL DIRECTION ♥) and is unconvincingly excited about having a film and a tour and stuff. Hating every second, and we love him for it. Harry's highlight is being back here, Not So Tiny These Days Nicholas Hoult's was performing at the Brits, and Niall enjoyed being at the VMAs. Dermot does the whole "if a judging role came up, who would make the best judge?" thing, and seriously, stop with the "if" already, Gary and Sharon have already said they're out after this series. One Direction suggest that they just swap Gary for Resentful, and JESUS CHRIST YES THAT WOULD BE AMAZING. Just imagine him seething behind that desk on a weekly basis. That'd sort out the ratings problems in a heartbeat.

Adverts. One Direction have a fragrance out, and Diana Vickers is celebrating this fact by singing 'My Favourite Things' down her nose.

When we return, Dermot explains that next week we have an X Factor first: the contestants will be singing two songs, one of their own choice and one from "the X Factor jukebox" chosen by the public. There's a quick VT to explain how it all works, but basically everyone's picked three ballids and we can decide which one they'll perform by using the app. Yeah, I think I'll not bother if it's all the same to you.

Dermot welcomes the top six acts back to the stage, and the following contestants are safe in no particular order: Luke, Wee Nick, Sam and Tameramnesia, leaving Hannah and Rough Copy in the sing-off. Tamera can't quite believe it, while Hannah rolls her eyes all "oh well, here we are AGAIN". There appears to be some booing in the room, though I wouldn't like to speculate as to whether it's for Tamera being safe, or the other two being in jeopardy.

Final ad break. Apparently Matthew Wright is being a twit on I'm A Celebrity. Who knew?

Upon our return, Dermot refers to this as a "shock result", which...really? Hannah's been here twice already, and as much as I like Rough Copy, they were bound to run out of steam sooner or later.

Hannah's up first, and sings 'I'd Rather Go Blind' with an air of weary resignation, which sort of works for the song in a weird way. Still, they really need to stop letting her sing right down at the bottom of her range, because it's really not pleasant. It's a proper brown note area. Afterwards, Rough Copy sing 'Stop Crying Your Heart Out' in their quest for salvation, and the grand tradition of boy band sing-off performances always being quite rubbish continues unabated. There are some nice harmonies in there from time to time, but it's a bit lifeless. I'd almost be inclined to tip this one to Hannah if this weren't her third time here.

Hannah rejoins them on stage, and it's over to the judges to decide who'll be departing tonight. Nicole's up first and she's quivering with rage, because THESE TWO SHOULD'VE BEEN IN THE FINAL, DAMMIT. She says very pointedly that she's "disappointed and furious with the British public right now" for putting Hannah in the bottom two for a third time. Dermot's all "yeah, that's lovely, just give me a fucking name already". Nicole votes to send Rough Copy home. Gary thinks they were both great last night, and it's surprising that they're both here tonight. He says this with all the enthusiasm of someone reading aloud from the back pages of his vacuum cleaner's instruction manual. He votes to send Hannah home. Sharon thinks that neither of them should be here based on last night's performances, but since this is Hannah's third time in the sing-off, she has to send her home even though she doesn't want to. So it's all down to Louis, who thinks it's amazing to have two talented acts in the bottom two when they remembered all their words. I live for Louis throwing shade at Tamera, I really do. It's so crass, and so wonderful. Again, Dermot has no time for this shit and essentially says "look you goon, you can't vote for Tamera, so who do you want gone out of these two?" Louis doesn't want to send anyone home, but he's going to vote, and the act he's sending home is Hannah.

Hannah takes it with a grin - she knew this was coming, I think. Rough Copy swarm her and refuse to leave her alone even though the show is running late and Dermot is getting angry. We see Hannah's best bits, which include a few reminders that her father is dead, just for good measure. It's basically a montage of a talented girl wearing some awful outfits. God, the stylists really had it in for Hannah, didn't they? Dermot asks a tearful Hannah what her highlight has been, and Hannah says she feels so blessed to be here, and if she had to go out against anyone, she's glad it was Rough Copy because she wants them to win.

Next week: more fun with homophobic slurs as Arthur James returns, and HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK. (That's Rebecca Ferguson for "Rebecca Ferguson will be here too.") Rad will be your guide for the latest iteration of "songs that are songs week", and she has my eternal sympathy. [TWO FUCKING PERFORMANCES EACH.  WHY GOD WHY? - Rad]

Here's one we did earlier

Top 6: The Best of The X Factor Week - 23 November 2013

Last weekend: this happened, then this happened. Tonight, we open with a montage of all the winners in the history of ever - in a rare moment of total honesty, they do not airbrush out the existence of any of the following people: Brookstein, Steve; Jackson, Leon; Thornton, Kate. In a moment of rather less honesty, however, this weekend has been designated "The X Factor's 10th birthday party!" Why? Nobody knows. It is not the anniversary of the first-ever show. It's not the anniversary of the first-ever final. At best, it's the anniversary of that week that Tabby beat Cassie in the sing-off, which was barely noteworthy at the time much less ten years later. [Nine years later, surely?  It's ten series of the X Factor, but only its ninth anniversary.  Ten years ago was a much more innocent age, wasn't it? - Rad] I'm sure that the whole birthday theme definitely has nothing to do with the fiftieth anniversary episode of a certain other show happening over on BBC One right now (I could be a total bitch here and point out that it's more like the 36th anniversary of the show if you discount all of those years when it was cancelled, but I daren't because Rad knows where I live) [Or you could even say it was the 51st if you're counting by X Factor's standards - Rad]. The long history of this blog stands testament to the fact that I rarely have much sympathy for this show, but there really is something sad and desperate about the air of "don't watch the other side! We can have a birthday too! Here, have a party horn, PHWEEEEEEEEP!" that pervades tonight's show. It's like the light's gone out of The X Factor's eyes. Honestly, if you'd told me three years ago that The X Factor would be this scared of going head-to-head with Doctor Who, I'd have laughed you right out of my office (/living room). Mind you, when the best defence you can offer against the televisual event of the year (it says here) is Olly MURS and some people singing some songs that remind you of when this show had memorable contestants, it's a bit of a rum do all round really.

Anyway, present for the not-birthday party are Gary and his yes men, Rough Copy; Nicole and her top two girls, Hannah and Tamera; Louis and his top two boys, Luke and Wee Nick (incidentally, Louis claims "I know a winner when I see it, and I've got two", which suggests that even though he's been here for ten years, he still doesn't quite understand how this show works, because even Cheryl was never allowed to have two winners in the same year, even though I'm sure they'd have tried if they thought they could get away with it); and Sharon and presumed Winner-Elect, Sam The Screw. Sharon declares that "no one gets a party started like Mrs O" (though I'd imagine that Sharon's main party-skill is chucking out all the drunks at the end) and Nicole drunkenly wears a party hat and fails to operate a party popper. Actually, to save my fingers from unnecessary typing, just assume that the adverb "drunkenly" applies to everything Nicole does for the rest of the series. It's Time! To Face! Some Old Music!

Here comes Giant X. Doesn't look a day over nine, bless it.

Stevie Wonder's 'Happy Birthday' plays as Dermot enters, but quickly transitions into Olly MURS's 'Dance With Me Tonight'. It's almost as if they don't want us to look too closely at the whole "birthday" thing lest it collapse entirely, isn't it? There's no waistcoat this week, which I'm sure Helen will be pleased about, though I feel like a knitted tie is not an especially good look on Dermot. Or indeed anyone who isn't a Classics teacher. Dermot actually rolls his eyes as he says "birthday weekend". Oh, Dermot. It's you I feel sorry for the most. You sold your soul for a mess of pottage. Dermot reminds us that Olly MURS is here tonight, and One Direction and JLS will be here tomorrow. My soul hope for the redemption of this weekend is that Resentful Direction will say something pissy in the post-performance interview. DON'T LET ME DOWN, RESENTFUL DIRECTION.

There's a montage of every single version of the judging panel playing behind Dermot (except for the six seconds that Brian Friedman was a judge, because LOL) [I miss NotLouis so much.  Not as a judge, obviously - Rad] as he introduces this year's models. (Incidentally, my good friend and our former colleague Joel reminded me of this yesterday, and suddenly I seriously miss Kelly Rowland and her Mean Girls cough.) So what's everyone wearing to the party? Gary's in a black dinner suit with a skinny black tie, Nicole is serving Hunger Games realness in a black gown that's slashed all over the place, Sharon is in a white gown (with a massive train, natch) with ridges all over it like a 1970s sofa, and Louis is in his favourite velvet blazer and non-matching trousers.

Dermot reminds us that over the years this show has discovered some brilliant performers, going on to switch to his ooh-a-bit-dodgy voice as he says "as well as some more..." - a sentence that remains unfinished as he's interrupting by Gary Barlow walking past him. Sometimes the best jokes in the world are the ones that happen by accident, aren't they? Also, Nicole sees that the camera is right behind her and starts leaning over the desk and semi-twerking. Oh, Drunkole. You of all the judges know best how to get through the next 90 minutes.

We have a lot of time to fill tonight, but since this year's contestants are dullards, we're opening with "an Essex boy who was runner-up in 2009" (but would've lost to Jedward had it gone to DEADLOCK at top six, NEVA 4GET) and is now a huge bellend success: Olly MURS. Incidentally, if you haven't seen the episode of 90210 where a teenage professional surfer refuses to work with Liam unless Navid arranges for Olly MURS to come and perform for her (and let's face it, who apart from me would ever put themselves through such a thing?), it truly beggars belief. I watch a lot of shows on the CW, so I know from shonky product placement, but that was almost certainly the most incongruous shoehorning in of a musical guest act since Sabrina The Teenage Witch was obsessed with the Violent Femmes for one solitary episode. Anyway, Olly sings his new single 'Hand On Heart', which is fairly dreadful but benefits from comparison with this monstrosity which I had the misfortune to witness being performed live on The Graham Norton Show the other night. Nobody should ever have to endure that. Eventually it ends, and MURS plugs his new special edition album "which is out this weekend, I think it's Monday, I think." It's not been a good week for Essex boys, has it? First Joey Essex can't tell the time or blow his nose, and now Olly MURS doesn't know what a weekend is. Well, at least he's in good company, I suppose. Dermot asks Olly what his memories of the show are, and he remembers "getting a few moans off Simon". I'm sure I wasn't the only person making the universally recognised gesture for "blowjob" here. Olly endorses Rough Copy and Sam The Screw, and then leaves.

Time for the first ac...oh, no, it's an ad break. Before we've even had a single performance. Eesh. Also, this whole idea of making an event of the premiere of a Christmas advert is getting very silly now.

When we return, it's time for Louis and the boys, specifically "Scotland's finest Nicholas McDonald". Whether this means other countries have some better Nicholas McDonalds is still to be determined. This week, Wee Nick went home to sing at Scotland's national stadium because some people were doing something with a ball (this is pretty much the sum total of my sports knowledge). After that, he went to meet with Louis who told him that he would be singing 'The Climb' this week, because Mawliddle Jor McElderry had a bit hit with it. (Just not with anything else.) Wee Nick says that he and his family always voted for Jor when he was on the show, and Louis arranges for Jor to come and give Wee Nick a pep talk. Jor tells Wee Nick that he reminds him of himself when he was on the show (at which point an entire nation goes " the closet?") and Wee Nick performs the track for Jor, who advises him to ad lib a bit more during the key change. Also to have a back-up plan that involves doing lots of opera and mumpop in case it turns out you're not all that commercial.

Wee Nick is placed upon the Rebecca Ferguson Memorial Podium Of Immobility and wearing high-waisted jeans that make him look even shorter than usual. As with pretty much all of Wee Nick's performances, it's entirely adequate but not much more than that. The obligatory choir gets wheeled out to make A Moment happen, but there's not really enough oomph in the performance for that.

Sharon begins by wishing Wee Nick a happy birthday, though whether this is his actual birthday or merely a day on which he's decided to celebrate it is anyone's guess at this point. Sharon loves the song, and says that Wee Nick is so reliable, and solid as a rock. There's a ringing endorsement if ever I heard one. Gary calls it "another great performance", but wants him to work on his identity by...going away this week and "download[ing] people the same age as you". What, downloading them INTO HIMSELF? Well, I guess it worked that week when Rachel Adedeji temporarily replaced her own personality with Stacey Solomon's. Nicole wants to give Nicky Blue Eyes a big hug, but refrains, instead commenting on how his hands were "living while he was singing", and saying that this is exactly the sort of song that should be on his album. Louis closes by saying that he's been doing the show for ten years, and Nicholas is one of the best vocal contestants he's ever worked with.

Dermot arrives with a genuinely shit cake that looks like it's made out of plasticine, in which Wee Cakey Nick is performing on a Wee Cake, being judged by four Cakey Judges who bear about as much resemblance to their real-life counterparts as I do to Jennifer Lawrence. The audience sings 'Happy Birthday To You' in a highly disorganised fashion, Dermot tries to interview Wee Nick, Wee Nick is too busy laughing to say anything. Dermot disinterestedly shills the app once he's gone. [I love how disdainful Wee Nick was towards that... thing.  With that and his pleas for songs he might have heard of, he's going up in my estimation - Rad]

Ads. Jonathan Ross claims that Gary Barlow is a "national treasure". In that case, can we bury him?

When we return, Dermot is in the audience with some former contestants: Chico, Shayne Ward, Johnny Robinson and Rylan. I bet Shayne was thrilled when they showed him to his seat next to all the joke acts. [My favourite bit was when Dermot called him 'Warney' because he clearly doesn't know the difference between Shayne Ward and Shane Warne.  And then Shayne's look of utter 'Who is this cunt?  Where's Kate Thornton?' - Rad] Also, no Goldie? No Wagner? Fuck this noise. Oh, and Harry Hill's here as well. Have you seen the clips from the forthcoming X Factor musical that he wrote? It looks fucking dreadful. Harry complains that Simon isn't here. I think Simon is a little bit too busy trying to get the ratings for the US version back above six million.

Over to Nicole and her "little angel", Hannah Barrett. Last week, Hannah's performance of '(I Can't Get No) Breath Control' was an all-round disaster, but somehow she avoided the bottom two to everyone's surprise, not least her own. Hannah's VT explores how she can't say "adrenaline", and that she will be singing 'Hallelujah' by Alexandra BURKE. Nicole has arranged for Alexandra to meet Hannah this week, presumably because Alexandra has nothing else to do these days. I think she might actually have been covering Hannah's shifts in Greggs for her. (The post-show decline of Alexandra Burke still makes me sad. She deserved better, she really did.) Anyway, Hannah's very excited to  meet Alexandra, and Alexandra is very excited to be relevant again. She tells Hannah that the song is a chance to "really be vulnerable and speak your heart out through words and through song". Yes, that's nonsensical but it's still better feedback than Darcey Bussell has given out on Strictly all series.

Hannah mushmouths her way through the song in a way that seems to involve "David Blaine". I will always love that Simon Cowell chose a winner's single with the line "you don't really care for music, do ya?" in it, and no one will ever be able to convince me that this was not a deliberate and highly successful act of trolling. Anyway, Hannah is wearing Caligula's curtains and struggling with some of the low notes. She is on a podium as well. Is every performance tonight going to be a stealth tribute to Rebecca Ferguson? The choir is activated for this performance too, but they remain at the back of the stage rather than parading out to the forefront like they did for Wee Nick.

Louis says she gave "a very emotional interpretation" and he thinks it was her best performance to date. Sharon thinks Hannah is getting more comfortable with herself each week. Gary tells Hannah that he loves she doesn't pick songs just because they're obvious vote-getters. The sales performance of Alexandra BURKE's version begs to differ. He says that she turns out amazing performances every week and he loves how she gets better and better each week and recovers so well from being in the bottom two. Nicole, sniffing: "You know it touches you when there's snot, y'know?" She tells Hannah that although that song has been sung a hundred gazillion times, nobody can do it like Hannah just did. A beaming Hannah tells Dermot that the song means a lot to her, and she gave a performance from the heart.

Stop! Filler time: here's a montage of things wot the judges have done over the last ten years. Basically, Sharon threw water over people every week, Louis TOOK IT TO DEADLOCK and Gary threw a hissyfit, and Sharon got owned by a door that one time. That's pretty much it.

Dermot asks the judges what their highlights have been from their time on the show. Louis's highlight is getting hired every year, except for that time in series four when he was briefly fired. Sharon's is RIGHT NOW, because she's with the BEST JUDGES EVARZ. Oh cram it, Osbourne. Gary's was being chased around an arena by Goldie Cheung. (YES.) Nicole's was having all three of her acts in the quarter-final, and then having both the winner and the runner-up in her first year. (Again, YES.)

Back to Louis and the boys, and here's Luke Friend. Luke was very upset to be in the sing-off last week, until he had a TOWIE moment with Wee Nick where they "found out" that Adull had tweeted that she wants him to win after hearing that sing-off performance. That she could so easily be impressed by this scratchy mess calls Adull's taste seriously into question. Well, that alongside most of her own material, obviously. Louis reminds us that last time he had this category, he won with Shayne Ward, so he calls Shayne in to mentor Luke...on his performance of One Direction's 'What Makes You Beautiful'. Shayne's reaction is that of a man who wasn't privy to that particular detail when he agreed to be a guest mentor for Songs By Former Contestants Week. Of course, Luke's going to change the song up and therefore Take A Massive Risk in the process, and he shrugs that people will either love it or hate it. Or be spectacularly indifferent to it, which is an option none of these people ever really seem to consider. After all, being in the bottom two doesn't necessarily mean you're hated, it might just mean that people don't care.

Anyway, Luke wails 'What Makes You Beautiful' in a way that Bono might sing it, if Bono were to ever do such a thing. It is the polar opposite of pleasant, but it's still better than that godawful performance he gave in the sing-off last week, so...he's moving in the right direction, I suppose.

Sharon gets back on the 'dark horse', and says that Luke's really coming into his own now, adding that everything he does "has that little naughty edge to it". Yeah, shoving One Direction through the Acoustic Validator in an entirely workmanlike fashion is REALLY edgy. Gary tells Luke that being in the bottom two could've been THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO HIM, and it was a personal highlight for Gary because of the performance it provoked in the sing-off. So that's both Gary Borelow and Adull both officially on the "shit taste in music" list, then. It must be some sort of inherent quality in thoroughly tedious people. Maybe there should be a study. Gary continues: "at this point, we should be seeing album tracks every week", which is as close as you're ever likely to get to a one-sentence description of everything that is wrong with Gary Barlow as an X Factor judge, because at this point we should be getting future number one hits every week. Nobody buys albums any more, Grandpa. Nicole loves that Luke took the risk and says that she barely recognised the song. Which is apparently a good thing. Louis thinks the risk paid off, and he hopes the One Direction fans liked it. I think that's unlikely, but there's no harm in dreaming big, is there? Louis hopes, like Sharon, that Luke makes the final. Luke says that the judges have given him so much happiness and confidence. Dermot reminds him that Adull "tweeted him" this week, and can we please acknowledge that mentioning a person's existence on Twitter is not the same as "tweeting them"? She didn't specifically direct that tweet at Luke, she mentioned him in passing. Subtle, but valid, distinction.

More ads. Apparently buying an Xbox One gets you up close and personal with Steven Gerrard and Zach Quinto. That's quite an enticing sales pitch.

When we return, Caroline is doing some more Backstage Bothering and introducing Shayne Ward by saying unfortunately-phrased thing like "previous winner from last time Louis had the boys". I think I've already exceeded my quota of jokes about Louis's sexuality for this series, so let's move swiftly on. Also, I don't care what Shayne thinks because being shamefully ignored while standing right behind Caroline are 2 SHOES, cackling away at a private joke and enjoying the hospitality. So robbed. Rylan is there also, making loud noises and blowing kisses at Gary, while Chico reveals that Hannah is his favourite, and also that Tamera won some sort of contest that he hosted at Butlin's eight years ago that he didn't even remember until Tamera's mum told him.

Time for Rough Copy next. Last week they had fun watching "Uncle Gary" perform. That contestant-mentor relationship just gets creepier and creepier, doesn't it? They were in the audience for his sound check on Sunday, and took the opportunity to turn the tables and provide him with some much-needed feedback, although sadly they did not go with "write a better song" like I would've done. They hope if they keep working hard, they'll have a career like Gary's. Hopefully not his solo career. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. This week, Gary told them that they aren't having enough fun and need to have more fun. Quite how Gary Barlow: Enemy Of Entertainment is any sort of qualified judge on this remains a mystery. His solution, however, is to take them to a shitty-looking funfair at Hyde Park. This is not a great situation for Joey, who was scared of all the rides but was forced to go on them anyway by Gary/the producers/people with knives. He decides to calm down by going on a carousel. Sterling and Kaz dismiss this as "a kid's ride", and Joey shoots back that "it's not a kid's ride! It's suited for all ages!" I love him.

However, the fun couldn't last: after that they had to go and meet BixMix because they're singing a song that the girls performed while they were on the show, specifically 'Don't Let Go (Love)' by En Vogue. I love the subtext here that none of BixMix's own material is worth covering. Somebody who looks like St Jesy but cannot be because she isn't wearing leggings of any sort, let alone ugly ones, says that she wants to see them bring out their R&B side because that's where their strength lies. St Jesy Impersonator tells them that they're a boy group doing a girl group song, but if they can Make It Their Own(TM), then they'll be fine.

They've swapped their trademark leather skirts for some sort of cross with camouflage gear and winter sportswear. I am unsure how I feel about this; it's a bit like Sam Callahan wearing a long-sleeved shirt, in that it makes me worry they've just lost the source of all their powers. That said, it's still a throughly solid performance of an absolutely awesome song, and given the lacklustre atmosphere of the evening, it's enough to put them at the head of the pack for me.

The performance gets a rapturous reception, and Nicole says that last week the boys were giving vanilla scoops, but this week they added some caramel, hot chocolate and some "sha-sprinkles" all over it. Nicole's still my favourite judge on the show, but every single comment like that makes her lose her lustre a tiny bit more in my eyes. Louis thinks there's a gap in the market for them, and they could be "the UK Boyz II Men". I fail to see how anything that Rough Copy have done is even remotely Boyz II Men-like, but I'm not sure that any of Louis's comparisons are based on anything stronger than a common skin tone, so I think it's best we move right along. Sharon, however, found the song "awfully whiny". The entire planet is momentarily knocked off its axis by the sheer brass neck of that comment, while I create an entirely new list of People Whose Music Taste Is Even Worse Than Gary Barlow's And Adele's and put Sharon right at the top of it. You may leave the table, Mrs O. Your services are no longer required here. Especially since Sam The Screw is pretty much self-sustaining at this point. (The audience boo her for her comments about the song, which is the first time in a long time that the audience and I have held common ground.) Gary says that there's nobody like out there, and they did a really great job.

Dermot arrives chanting "Arsey! Arsey! Arsey!" Kaz says that they wanted to bring back the urban flavour this week. Dermot asks Joey about his "ski-slope chic" and Joey laughs that he's got "SWAAAAAAAAAAG". Suddenly I'm disappointed that nobody is singing 'Swagger Jagger' this week.

JLS-approved ad break, featuring Waitrose party food. Now I'm hungry.

Our penultimate act of the evening is Tamera. In her VT, Nicole asks Tamera what was going through her head last week. Certainly not "the words", that's for sure. Tamera says that forgetting the lyrics in sound check had been playing on her mind as well. Nicole advises her to treat this as a learning experience, but Tamera is fretting that she's let herself down. She declares that there's "no room for mistakes any more." (LOL WHOOPS.) This week Tamera will be singing 'Impossible' by Shontelle, as covered by comedy homophobe Arthur James, who is apparently coming back next week with Rebecca Ferguson as the show attempts to set the record for Worst Combination Of Returning Contestants In Reality TV History. [FUCK FUCK FUCK.  AND I have double songs week.  AND it's 'songs which are songs' week.  *CRIES* - Rad] I think they might just take it, although if casting rumours are to be believed, Dancing On Ice: All Stars and season 24 of The Amazing Race are going to take some beating. Nicole thinks Tamera can have Her Moment with this song. This week, Tamera met Olly MURS for no reason other than Arthur James was too busy having SMS fights with Lucy Spraggan and watching his album sales go down the toilet because apparently people don't like it when you call someone "a fucking queer" and then try to defend yourself by claiming that this is not a phrase that has any sort of homophobic intent behind it. Olly MURS suggests to Tamera that sometimes the best way to prepare for your performance is to remind yourself who you were before you started in the competition. I imagine this process for Olly runs something like: "oh, that's right: still a bellend."

Tamera has a severe blonde bob going on this week, which is quite nice but when you combine it with the slightly lost expression she's wearing for most of the performance, it does make her look a bit like Dougal from The Magic Roundabout. In other news: the arrangement is too low for Tamera, she forgets her words again and in the process of getting herself back on track somehow arrives at the chorus a couple of bars too early, has to sit out another bar waiting for the backing track to catch up with her, and then about five seconds later all the stress makes her forget her words again. Well, Nicole promised Tamera she was going to have A Moment with this song, and she certainly did, but I suspect this wasn't quite what either of them had in mind. To be fair, she does manage to drag her performance more or less back on track in the back half, but really, there's only so much recovery you can hope for after a fuck-up of that scale.

Louis is ANGRY with Tamera, because she's the one with the potential to be a worldwide superstar, but she can't do that if she doesn't remember the words. Yes, who could possibly have foreseen this? Oh, that's right: EVERYONE. Louis tells her that this is absotively posilutely the last time she can forget her words. This week, anyway. Sharon tries a more supportive approach, telling Tamera not to get down on herself, because she ticks all the boxes (apart from "memory") but tells her to imagine what would happen if she was "lip-singing" (oh Sharon) because it would be something else entirely coming out. Still, Sharon's pleased with her for not giving up entirely, and also she likes her hair. Gary says it was hard to watch, and he doesn't know how we're going to solve this problem because they've seen it several times now. Also, being Barlow, he wants to pitch about the song being in the wrong key and too low for her, as if anyone even remembers that at this point. Nicole says she's proud of Tamera for keeping on going and fighting through it and also being ONLY SIXTEEN even though she looks like she's in her twenties (Nicole's words, not mine), but they just need to conquer her lyrics-remembering demons. Dermot rushes in because they're running over time (which couldn't possibly have anything to do with a superfluous performance from Olly MURS or all that time spent going "ten years of our marvellous judges!" or anything like that) and tries - and fails - to cut Nicole off mid-sentence. He asks Tamera what went wrong, and Tamera mumbles that she just got inside her head a bit too much. "Do you think you tried too hard?" prompts Dermot frantically, in a desperate attempt to save the situation, and Tamera says "...maybe", adding that she put everything into that song. Apart from the lyrics, that is. [I think the thing this week really brought home to me is that she is too young for this.  She's younger even than Wee Nick, and whilst she looks older, and has an attitude you might take for someone at least two or three years older, she is only sixteen, and all this talk of having the potential to be a global superstar is probably too much for her, especially coupled with the work ethic needed to do this show and sing new songs weekly.  She really should have waited two or three years before doing this show - Rad]


When we return, the car-crash continues as Dermot throws to Sharon to do the final intro of the night, and Sharon is not paying the slightest attention and just sits there staring until Dermot prompts her a second time. This week, Sharon is "sick of reading all those things in the paper" about Sam The Screw, though doesn't specify what any of those things actually are apart from making vague references to them being about her being too old to win.  Come on, X Factor! Flash us up some scandalous headlines like you used to! Where's your fighting spirit? Sam says that she wants to sing for a living, and she has to prove that she can do it every week. Sharon's picked 'Bleeding Love' for Sam to sing, because she thinks that Sam is the only contestant who's close to having Leona's RANGE, DAHLING. Sam is worried about coming across as a cheap Leona impersonator. Leona herself stops by to reassure her, and Sam says that she's worried she's not good at putting her own spin on things, while Leona sits there and identifies with this strong female protagonist, and then advises Sam to just remember to do a few things differently with the song just to differentiate herself from the original. Some real trade secrets there. Thanks Leona!

Apparently the things that Sam is going to differently in her performance of 'Bleeding Love' are: sing it in The Club Voice, make a crywank face, and sing a few lines from the bridge randomly again at the end, so that the song finishes halfway through a sentence. *slow clap* Also, can anybody please verify if that is indeed So You Think You Can Dance series one winner Charlie Bruce on Sam's right, serving as a backing dancer/vocalist? It certainly looks like her.

Gary tells Sam that she's really modernised her vocal this week, flipping between her chest voice and her head voice like "the modern-day divas". Nicole says that all she cares about with Sam is if she means it, and she did. Louis thinks Tamera should watch this performance back and see what a star looks like. Yikes - this show really did hop off the Tamera train and rip up the tracks in front of it. Louis thinks she can sell records worldwide, and she's the person to beat. Then apparently Nicole shouts something about Tamera being ONLY SIXTEEN and how this is therefore an unfair comparison, and Louis replies that Wee Nick is ONLY SIXTEEN (who celebrated his 17th birthday on this show about an hour ago, right in front of Louis) and so is Hannah (who is 17). Oh, Louis. Sharon finishes by saying that she's so thankful to have Sam in her category and "don't believe what you read in the papers, we need your votes". Ah, okay, so that at least is a definite reference to all those leaks about Sam being miles ahead in the votes at this point. Still, it's a fair comment - other people who had been leading the vote consistently only to have the wheels come off more or less around this stage in the competition include Eoghan Quigg and Janet Devlin, so I understand her concerns. Dermot arrives, and Sam replies to Louis's comments by saying that she wishes she'd had a voice like Tamera's at 16. Well-played, Sam Bailey. [Sam handled that brilliantly, I thought - Rad] Sam dedicates the song to her daughter, because she loves Leona and Sam misses her. Her daughter, that is, not Leona Lewis.

And thus, the lines are open. Time for a quick recap: Wee Nick reminding us that it's not about how fast you get there, it's about what's waiting on the other side (eventual public indifference), Hannah reliving Alexandra's finest X Factor moment that did not involve crying on Beyoncé, Luke seeing if he can get negging to work for him, Rough Copy out-BixMixing BixMix, a bit of the song where Tamera actually did remember the words, and Sam wearing a red dress while singing about bleeding. SYMBOLISM.

Dermot welcomes all the acts back onto the stage, and Hannah and Joey Rough Copy giggle about something while Dermot reminds that Sunday's show will include One Direction, JLS, Jessie J and Mary J Blige. Well, I can be excited about one of those four. That's not so bad, is it?

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Results week 6 – 17th November 2013

Hello! So last night it was all about Great British songs and we begin with a recap. Seven sang and some did their country proud, but others (Sam Callahan and Tamera) didn’t do as well.  [So I'm assuming the show has given up hope of a girl in the final and will be repeatedly giving us the NicSamRoughCopy message? - Rad] Remember these are the ones that weren’t good and we shouldn’t vote for them. Tonight we’re promised Miley Cyrus and Funsponge on stage. However, as it’s Time To Face The Music Funsponge declares Rough Copy the Best of British, Louis and Nicole have a backstage chat about how Nicole may not be working hard enough as Tamera messed up and Nicole thinks he’s cruising for a bruising. GIANT X.

Durrbot arrives on stage and does his ridiculous little dance. He’s got the waistcoat back. It was a short respite. He reminds us that voting is a thing and the sing off is a thing before introducing us to the judges. Tonight’s wardrobe is interesting. Louis is in a blue suit with a green tie, Sharon in a plain black gown, Nicole in something very spangly and Funsponge in a checked suit with a spotty shirt. I really don’t understand what he’s trying to do. NUMBERS!

It’s time for the group song. It’s Never Forget so that’s a couple of extra quid for those poor Take That obviously. Rough Copy mess up the lyrics  and Luke has clearly come as Howard. It’s all very boyband until Tamera and Sambailey come in and sing everything an octave higher. I have two observations. First is that Tamera is the only one not wearing Red. I’m not sure if this is some sort of subliminal message that she’s not a team player. Second is that a boyband’s song looking back over their career really isn’t the song for these young pups. [Also, half the lyrics are cut, which makes it all sound very weird - Rad] When they finish Durrbot makes a quip about them not having rehearsed which would be funny if it didn’t appear to be true. Remember when they pre recorded the song and some people moaned? Well I want those people to know that this is their fault and I will be coming for the individuals.

Durrbot then goes into a ridiculous speech about how last night was all stiff upper lip and no tears. Who writes this bloody stuff? Here’s the story of last night. First up is Hannah, backstage she doesn’t have the words for her happiness and Nicole says that’s how you open a show. Luke thought his performance was amazing and Sharon likes his individual edge. Sambailey  enjoyed every second of her turn and felt glamorous on her stairs. Sharon thinks there hasn’t been a challenge she’s yet to meet.  Rough Copy have so much passion and they want everyone to support their versatility. Funsponge thinks Viva La Vida is a rock song and the group did it incredibly. Sam Callahan feels like he’s got more to give and he could’ve given more. Sharon is still peddling the bravery line. Tamera tried her best and gave her all. Nicole thinks that she understood that the show must go on. Finally Nicholas thinks that it was incredible to do. Nicole fell in love with him all over again.

When we come back, Durrbot points to the Backstreet Boys in the audience. Nicole gives them three words – Ma, hoose and ive. Funsponge makes some boring speech about them all having started at the same time and having some kind of bond. Great. Obviously Durrbot thinks he has to bring this circus back to some kind of order so he asks everyone whose album they’d buy right now. Nicole says that other than her girls she’d like to hear Rough Copy’s album. Funsponge wants to say his own act but also goes for Sambailey. Sharon is only going for Sambailey three times and Louis would buy Nicholas, Sambailey and Rough Copy. Way to support Sam and Luke there, Louis.

But first, she’s been controversial but apparently also talented. It’s Miley! She’s ON THE X FACTOR STAGE and has had a NUMBER ONE ALBUM IN 70 COUNTRIES and OVER 30 MILLION ALBUMS SOLD WORLDWIDE plus 1 BILLION VIDEO HITS she’s also THE POP PRINCESS and THE WORLD IS TALKING ABOUT HER. MILEY CYRUS. Miley is atop a fake sand dune wearing a gold slip dress and a turban. She also appears to have some fake concrete walls. I’m waiting for her to start Twerking or some other young people nonsense but she just seems to be singing the song and not in an awful way. Well, it’s irritating but it’s competent. I’m not sure what the turban is about though. [I can't believe they had her in a giant sand-art picture singing 'Wrecking Ball' and ignored the opportunity to have a giant wrecking ball swing in from offstage and shatter it, spilling sand everywhere with Miley surfing out on top of it. I mean, COME ON. Brian Friedman would never have missed an opportunity like that. - Steve] She does precisely nothing mad or interesting through the entire performance and I have to confess to being a little irritated.

Durrbot looks at her sand dune and asks if he can keep it. He can’t. It’s going on tour with her. Well done Durrbot. He mumbles something then asks when he’s going to get to see her again. She’s touring her Bangerz across Europe next spring and she hopes to see all of her fans. Durrbot issues the five minute warning. Where the bloody hell are the adverts? Oh, here they are. ADVERTS.

That’s it, the lines are closed so there’s no way you can do anything now. So yeah, Funsponge has a new album out. Let’s hear some of it then. We’re reminded that he’s had 35 MILLION ALBUM SALES WORLDWIDE and 15 NUMBER ONE SINGLES and was part of the FASTEST SELLING ALBUM THIS CENTURY. HE’S YOUR X FACTOR JUDGE and YOUR POPSTAR. [Not mine, honest - Rad]

He’s also the SMUGGEST MAN ALIVE. It oozes out of his formerly glutinous pores. He’s as smug looking as Luke’s hair looks smelly. He’s the only person in the entire universe that looked at Mumford and Sons and saw it as something to emulate. His performance is sub-Mumford with a bit of anything that’s ever irritated you thrown in. I can’t adequately describe the horror. He’s also got a load of pretend percussionists on stage.  He gets some dancers up on stage who are supposed to look like audience members. Not one of them is near him. IT’S EVEN GOT A FUPPING BANJO SOLO. [Also, it contains the line "this is going to take some getting used to, but I know what's good for you", which is the grossest thing Barlow has done in some time, and I don't say that lightly. - Steve] Oh it’s over and our respite is Durrbot and the fact that Louis didn’t give him a standing ovation. Louis is asked for a critique. Louis loved the performance and he owned the stage like a little Elton John. Don’t ever change Louis. Durrbot wonders if Louis thinks that Funsponge is good boyband material. Funsponge does a ‘bitch please’ face. Louis thinks he could make it if he works hard. Durrbot reminds us all that it’s been 14 years since the last disastrous solo album. Funsponge is happy for the reaction and reminds us all that the single is out today and the album next week.


When we return the VOTES ARE IN so Durrbot welcomes the acts and their judges to the stage.  Tamera and Hannah look defeated. Rough Copy look terrified. Sambailey shouldn’t wear high waisted trousers and the boys also look nervous. So who is through? First it’s Hannah which nobody, including her, can seem to believe. Me either as they threw the bus so bloody hard at her last night. Louis’ face says it ALL. Next through is Nicholas followed by Rough Copy and Sambailey. Final one through is... Tamera leaving Luke and Sam Callahan in the bottom two. Luke looks like he’s going to vomit.


When we return it’s all about the sing off. Luke and Sam return to the stage. Luke has his guitar with him. It’s probably a good idea that Sam doesn’t. We’re told that Luke is singing first. Louis wants the audience to give him a big welcome as he sings for survival. He’s singing One by U2. As soon as he opens his mouth Sam looks defeated. The only thing I get from Luke’s performance is a sense of what kind of busker he is and this doesn’t endear him to me but he’s better than Sam. Anyone with ears can hear that. I also wish he’d put on some socks.

Louis introduces Sam who is also going to sing his heart out. He’s doing Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls from off of every Saturday night Karaoke bar everywhere. Sam attempts to put some emotion into it by doing some quiet LOUD quiet singing. It’s irritating. I want this to be over so Sam can go home and we’re saved this indignity every week. Sam even starts pounding his chest and tearing at his jacket. Please let this one die now.

So to the vote. Luke and Sam have a big cuddle before it [COMMENCE SLASHFIC - Steve] and Durrbot reminds us that only one of them can sing next week. They’re going to Louis first who is abstaining. Durrbot confirms this. Nicole is next. She thinks Luke sang his heart out and she always connects with him. She then throws her pen at Sam because she’s frustrated that he only showed his soul tonight. She’s sending him home. Funsponge congratulates Luke on his performance and his uniqueness. He’s apparently loved him from the beginning. He turns to Sam and says it’s his best performance and he’s happy that Sam has taken his criticism like a man and he has a good work ethic but he’s sending him home. So that’s it, Sam’s home. Durrbot then asks Sharon as a formality but she’s not listening so goes into a full speech about how she’s so angry that Sam has waited so long to connect to the audience as a performer so she’s sending him home. They hug it out again. Luke leaves the stage and Durrbot calls Sam buddy to add insult to injury.

We see his X Factor journey and remember how everyone blew smoke up his arse until the live shows, interspersed with his family saying how proud they are of him. Sam is fighting back tears as he thanks Louis and the judges for his amazing time. He has no regrets and this is just the beginning of an adventure. Louis reiterates that he’s a good role model because he works hard to be successful.

So, join Steve next week for the TENTH BIRTHDAY SPECTACULAR with JLS, Wand Erection, Olly Murs and, err, Jessie J. I know that’s going to be some unmissable bile. [I am at the Doctor Who convention all weekend and when I come back I get to recap Strictly meaning I only need to watch X Factor on fast forward.  I believe this is what they call winning - Rad]

The heebie-GBs

Live Shows week 6: British Britain United Kingdom Team GB Week - 16th November 2013

Hello, and welcome the week of BRITAIN. I have drawn this shortest of straws YET AGAIN and have got the Britain Week. Seriously. We need to get some kind of union involved in this stuff. [We'd offer to give you a good week, but... what good week would that be? - Rad]

Anyway, last week Steve talked you through the controversial/indifferent return of Humouring Robbie Williams With A Big Band Week. Sam Callahan got hit repeatedly by a big massive bus to the extent that he may as well have been wearing a sign with “DON’T VOTE FOR ME” above his significantly large head but the public ignored this and chose to send home the walking John Lewis Advert Abi Alton, who also had a large public transport vehicle thrown at her in the shape of the death slot and removing her glasses so nobody knew who she actually was. [She literally never saw it coming. - Steve]

So, as always, to business. Tonight it’s THE GREAT BRITISH SONGBOOK that’s illustrated by the Royal Wedding, Boris Johnston, Amy Winehouse and Big Ben. [Isn't he on Strictly? - Steve] Not my Britain, anyway. Funsponge and Rough Copy are embracing the theme like nobody else. Nicole wants her girls to go out with confidence and self belief. Louis reminds us all that he still has three acts and three Great British stars. Sharon and Sambailey know that Britain is behind them.  We are, but not as much as I’m behind Nicole doing an awesome Sharon impression complete with bowler hat and Union Jack flag. She declares that she sounds like her and toddles off, presumably looking for more gin. Sharon declares that Sambailey pretty much IS BRITAIN. Funsponge needs your vote but before that, it’s time for the GIANT X.

The voiceover man says Great Britain for the fifteenth time tonight already and announces the arrival of Dermot. Dermot arrives onstage to the musical abomination that is “What does the fox say?” I imagine if the fox could talk it wouldn’t say RINGADINGADING it would say “oh Dermot, remember when you used to be good? Remember when you could look in the mirror? Your suit doesn’t fit and you’re shit at presenting this kind of live television where you have to be straight laced.  I’m glad you’ve got rid of the waistcoat this week though. Right, I’m off to the Foxy Bingo with Fantastic Mr Fox, Samantha Fox and Matthew Fox. Laters”.

He welcomes us to the weekend which started yesterday for goodness sake. He reminds us that we’re only four weeks away from the final. Don’t tease us. That seems like so long yet no time at all. He introduces the judges as people who might not all be British but they’re all fair and enjoy a good moan.  Oh Durrbot, they’re only fair if it says so in the script. It’s the JUDGES!

What are they wearing? Well, Louis is in a suit that looks like it’s been hastily wiped down after committing a particularly gruesome murder. Sharon is wearing the kind of sparkly tenty number that would’ve appealed to my six year old self. Nicole is in another dress I would’ve put a Barbie in which consists of a big bow around the boobs and a long straight skirt and Funsponge is shaking it up a bit by wearing all black.  Wow. That’s some edgy shit right there. Durrbot tells us that the votes and downloads this week will go to the typhoon appeal in the Philippines. At least something good will come from this disaster.

First to the judge who is apparently as British as cowboys and apple pie. Oh that’ll be Nicole! It’s funny because none of those things are British! LOL.  It’s Hannah Banana Barratt! We open with Hannah and Nicole singing Satisfaction together. Hannah is just lounging in the sofa in couture and Nicole just happened to be hanging around when there was a camera there. Hannah reiterates that it’s the GREAT BRITISH WEEK and she’s singing a GREAT BRITISH CLASSIC. Nicole thinks the song is perfect because it’s all about her struggle about being in the bottom two without being depressing. I thought it was about drugs but I learn something new every day watching this crap. Hannah understands. She can’t get no satisfaction. She says this in a way that NO WAY suggests that she’s finding it difficult to get laid in a house full of sixteen year old pretty boys. This seems to be this show’s pitiful attempt at trying to inject some personality into her after having her entire shtick be ‘sadfass’ for the last god knows how many weeks.  Nicole knows she was gutted to be in the bottom two but she’s going to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  She urges her to get the audience to clap along with her as it’s an amazing feeling.  Hannah doesn’t seem as sure. In fact, it seems like she’s finally broken and just letting Nicole do whatever. She agrees that she’s not connecting with the public and taking Nicole’s advice on just getting them going. Nothing is mentioned of the fact that she’s probably not connecting with the public because all they saw her do for the first few weeks is cry. No, she’s got a personality now! She’s cheery Hannah! We’re told AGAIN that Satisfaction is the perfect song for her because she’s not getting her own way on this show and we all know what we do to people who are presumptuous on this show! Again with the getting the audience to clap. It’s almost like all this participation is in preparation for her farewell! She’s feeling the pressure but she’s back!

Hannah is standing on a plinth that actually rotates at the bottom, like a wedding cake covered with homoerotic dancers. She’s at the top wearing a dress that makes her look like she’s got brass instruments for bones. Look at her pedestal! Are you ready to knock her down from it GBP? She sings well because she’s a good singer. She tries to put her personality in it but all this amounts to is adding the odd Misha B Memorial Giggle (tm) into it. She also seems to forget to ask the audience to clap which was put forward so forcefully.

Louis is first to feed back. Hannah has opened up the show (genius critiquing there but possibly also a statement on her placement), it’s a Rolling Stones song, she was in the bottom two last week. I love Louis. If you don’t have anything nice to say then just describe what has happened in front of you. She reminds him of a little Tina Turner and we should all vote for her. Sharon calls her Hannah Banana and remarks on her smiling and her lovely singing. She thinks it was a good performance and a great song choice. Sharon thinks its good she enjoyed her performance and had fun with it. Oh dear, the At Least You Had Fun kiss of death. Funsponge calls it another brilliant performance but reminds us that she’s been in the bottom two twice. He’s glad she’s come back fighting. He can’t promise we’ll vote for her but she would. Nicole’s going to spend all her money voting because Hannah connected with the audience and the people at home. [Not that I ever vote, but this was my favourite of Hannah's performances for some time, and my favourite of the night - Rad]

Durrbot doesn’t want to shatter her happy bubble by asking her any questions, but Hannah says that she had fun for once and she hopes to get the Satisfaction she’s been trying so hard for. Oh god, just chuck her out now and save us from all of this. Durrbot nails the coffin firmly shut by mentioning again how it finally seemed like she was enjoying herself. She’s going to keep going, trust her.

BUY THE APP! There’s songs by Elton and the Beatles after the break. I think we should be doing an appeal to get Myleene a sandwich.

When we return Durrbot is behind the judges reiterating that it’s all about BRITAIN. He makes much of the competence of Louis Walsh in that he has three acts left. Well, who knew that the man behind Westlife knew what he was doing when it came to crafting acts that teenage girls [/grandmas and mams - Rad] love. Durrbot says that there’s a lot on Louis’ shoulders having to do three introductions. I’m sure he’ll manage.  He tells us to get ready for Luke.

Luke’s segment begins with Louis and his full complement of boys talking about how ace it would be to have an all boy Final. Louis wonders what Funsponge would make of that.  I don’t think he’d be happy. To show what a tight knit little gang they all are they all go ice skating whilst Luke tells us how they’ve all been mates since bootcamp. Louis reminds them all that they’re friends but they’re also competition so less of the boys together and more of Luke looking at his tweet from Seal on his SAMSUNG TABLET and talking about how song choice is everything. We see Luke meeting Seal in his studio and Seal telling him he’s got a great voice and Luke telling Seal that it’s his favourite song. Seal seems unconvinced. Seal would like to know, along with the rest of us, what horror Luke will be wrapping his proto-dreadlocked head around this week. It’s Your Song. Luke interviews that it was quite a choice because it’s almost as if the Great British Songbook was picked as a non category that you can fit just about anything in to. Seal thinks that Luke will make it HIS SONG. I see what you did there, Seal. Louis reminds him to get it right, even though Seal thinks he will. God, Louis. Luke hopes that one day he will write a song that goes into the Great British Songbook. [Michael Bolton!  Seal!  This show really is doing well with its contemporary references this year - Rad]

Luke is just standing on stage singing. He manages to make this as obnoxious as possible by doing this without socks on  in Capri pants, in front of a projection of what is clearly supposed to be a home movie and wearing a scarf tied around his arm for no discernible reason other than being as much of a twat as he possibly can be. [He's a total tryhard, but he's only little, so I can forgive him his misplaced attempts at cool a bit.  He'll learn.  I think one of the reasons this series isn't working so well is that so many of the contestants are SO YOUNG, that it all feels a bit uncomfortable, not just in terms of recapping, but also in terms of the way the judges treat them and, well, the whole thing. I mean, it's one thing going on this in your twenties when you should know what to expect, but to be paraded in front of the country on TV and in the papers when you're only SIXTEEN and everyone around you is SIXTEEN or SEVENTEEN (apart from Sambailey the mum and Rough Copy, obvs) can't be that helpful for your sense of who you are and where you fit in the world - Rad] Luke clearly has been listening to the Ellie Goulding version above all others. He does a serviceable job though. He sings it well and I manage not to break my television by keeping my eyes on my laptop.

Sharon mentions that it’s a big song, not great, big.  She then says that he sings like Keef Richards would sing if he could. Oh Sharon, Jack Sparrow and Keef are not interchangeable. Someone in the audience shouts a swearword that I can’t make out at her and she tells them off. Oh primetime. Sharon thinks it was an organic performance. I think that means he looks like he smells. She then tells the man in the audience to go home. Funsponge thinks he’s come back fighting after he slagged him off last week. He hammers home the point that he doesn’t like him by saying that he’s clearly not a technical singer, that it’s more about style and tone. Both things that the X Factor general audience understand. He then drops in an anecdote about how Elton is his mate and they’re on first name terms but he’ll allow Luke’s version because it’s not the same.  Nicole then amazingly goes on to say that she thinks Luke’s performance is like his hair in that it’s organic, real, grown through the competition and it’s full of grit and dirt. It’s also shit. She loves his Luke Friendly stamp on things. Louis goes down the ‘made the song your own’ route and says that he always gives a solid performance whilst Sharon attempts to stick her finger up his nose.

Durrbot does that thing where he asks a question, answers it then asks another one. The final one is about song choice and hammering home the point that Luke picked his song himself. Luke says that he only found out it was Funsponge’s favourite song just before he came out and he’s glad he did it justice and finally pleased the world’s most unpleasable man. Durrbot then says he knows Luke takes his influences from lots of places but probably takes the most from going ice skating with Louis. They then show a picture of Louis in a hat that the boys gave him. Luke thinks he should wear it all the time. Sharon cackles that it makes him look like he’s got another head. It’s like onesie gate all over again.

The next act’s mentor is the Queen of Rock which, let’s face it, is a moniker that could apply to pretty much anyone on the panel. It’s Sambailey! She interviews that she had an amazing week last week, what with meeting Michael Bolton and Celine Dion. She tells Celine that she sang ‘Titanic’ last week and an entire nation puts their face to their palms. Celine is nicer than me about it though and talks to her in the same manner she would a small child who’s asked to meet her because she’s dying and says that she’s glad Sambailey sang it because that means she doesn’t have to. Sambailey pretends to laugh. Sharon then interviews that even though Sambailey’s been getting great reactions from everyone her feet are firmly on the ground. This is how much Sambailey’s feet are on the ground:
1.       She misses the chippy, Steak pie and jam tart days
2.       She can make Jam tarts and fart noises with her kids
3.       She does the school run
4.       She has kids
5.       She combines being a top popstar with being a mum
6.       She’s worried that the youngun’s are better than her
SEE SHE’S A NORMAL WORKING MUM. She’s singing ‘Something’ by the Beatles in the style of Shirley Bassey on the gin wearing a dress that really has been cast off by Sharon. She’s on a staircase to nowhere doing the Evita arms.  Now, I love Sambailey but this is not the song for her. This is a beautiful, delicate song that a man wrote from his heart to the woman he loves. Sam sings it like she’s calling ships home. A bit of a softer hand was needed here I think. It’s written all over Nicole’s face when they cut to her. 

Funsponge kicks off the feedback by saying that it was an incredible performance. He says that he loves being on the show because people talk to him about it. Oh, that’s not what you’ve been saying in the papers but never mind. Anyway, one of the things he says that people say to him is can Sambailey sell records? Well he’s sick of this because there’s no way being a woman over thirty can stop her. I know that this is an issue but I think the fact that she’s dull has got more to do with it. He then compares her to Celine Dion and says that she’ll sell records because she’s brilliant. Nicole compliments her dress and calls her performance epic. There’s nothing she can’t sing, apart from quietly. There’s a but though, and Nicole adds ‘Cheeks’ to soften the blow. Geddit? But, cheeks? Oh NICOLE. I’m sensing you’re not far from Celebrity Intervention. She has to explain it to Funsponge and it loses all joy.  Her but cheeks is that she doesn’t want the song on Sambailey’s album because she doesn’t want to hear George Harrison sing The Power Of Love. I see where she’s coming from but Funsponge comes over all gallant and protests. Sharon says that she’s going to have new songs on her album. Louis doesn’t agree with Nicole. He loves all the divas and thinks Sam is as good as them.  She’s a world class vocalist and she gets better every week. Sharon says that Sambailey does herself and her family proud every week. She thanks the judges for their comments and urges the public to vote.

Durrbot then says that if the worst the judges can do is complain about song choice then she must be on to a winner, doesn’t let her speak and then says that she’s clearly not had a jam tart Wednesday for a while as she’s looking good. Sam said she was worried about her performance because she didn’t really know the song. Ok, probably one of the most famous songs by the biggest band of all time and she hasn’t heard of it. Let’s move swiftly on. She says she made it her own, which again, can’t be all that hard when you’re not au fait with the original and connected with it. Durrbot wants to know if it’s going to be on her album. She thinks it probably will.  Bye Sam!

ADVERTS! Remember it’s for the Philippines.

When we return Durrbot is in the crowd with Stirling from Rough Copy’s mum and a very uncomfortable looking Matt Willis. He introduces Funsponge as the man responsible for a large chunk of the Great British Songbook. Yeah, I’ll give you that. It’s Rough Copy! Rough Copy respond to the British Theme by doing posh accents which is CLEARLY the message that is a helpful one. Oh dear. Rough Copy then seem genuinely surprised that Funsponge isn’t a sir. Not as surprised as him after all the stuff he’s done to try and get there.  They think he should be, not that they’re biased. They then say that Britain is great because they have the Queen, fish and chips and Buckingham Palace which is a big house. Funsponge thinks it’s time for the fun to end and get down to business because there’s so many good singers in the competition. He’s such a good mentor he’s invited them to perform at a posh do with him. They make much about being introduced by him even though he does so every week. They say they’ve always seen him on telly and now they’re singing with him. They’re singing Viva La Vida this week and OF COURSE Funsponge is friends with Chris Martin. Funsponge thinks that ‘Chris’ will love their version and wants them to do their best. They’ve had a good week, they’ve got a good song so they’re going to go out and do their best.

Their best seems to be all about bringing back the Skort as a fashion item...for men. They sing it well but their Jerusalem Bells are only ringing and not ringadinging. They do their best but the song is fundamentally dull and no amount of Christmas bells is going to change that. They do seem likeable though and I’ve no doubt they’ll do well outside of the competition but I really, really don’t like the name. Oh here come some men in actual skirts with timpani drums. Batshit.

Nicole says they never fail to bring the energy week after week and they have great chemistry. She felt that their performance was a bit vanilla and missing the chocolate. They didn’t put their Souli Roots stamp on to the performance. No, can you IMAGINE if she was still around? [If only. - Steve] She quickly corrects herself and talks about their Rough Copy stamp but I’m now lost in a Souli Roots reverie. She doesn’t want them to lose their roots. Louis remembers they haven’t been in the bottom two so they must be doing something right. He loves the song and the swagger. Sharon cackles that he wants to be in the group and how ridiculous a notion this is. Sharon doesn’t know how they managed to make Coldplay interesting. I beg to differ. Funsponge says he knows they’re an urban act but they’re good at other things too. He feels that sometimes the show is a bit serious (!) and that they bring a bit of fun into things (!!) and he loves the three of them. And fun, suddenly.

Durrbot then remarks that Louis called Rough Copy snazzy last week and swagger this week. Louis says the swagger and style make them. He then asks them about singing a different kind of song and they say that they’re just trying out different styles to show their versatility. They just love music and they’re always up for a challenge.  Durrbot then urges Sterling not to get his mum started. [Then they shout ARSEY ARSEY ARSEY a lot - Rad]

Break! Only three acts to go!

Where’s Durrbot going to be this time? Oh look, he’s behind the judges again. Back to Louis and it’s time for Sam Callahan. Sam Callahan is STILL HERE and Louis and he wonder what Funsponge is on. Sam says that he’s watched back the show on YOUVIEW and he feels he’s taken an battering from Funsponge. Louis wonders if Sam’s confidence is affected. Sam says it isn’t and Louis basically calls Barlow out on being a tedious fun sponge. Sam thinks that nobody has seen him for him. He’s a multi instrumentalist who has written songs since he was 13 and can play the guitar, piano and drums. He and Nicholas have a chat about the songs they are going to sing. Sam says he would like to do something different with his guitar. Nicholas thinks he will rock it.  He then asks Simon Gavin, HEAD OF MUSIC if he can play his guitar because HE’S  A PROPER MUSICIAN AND NOT JUST A PRETTY FACE, OK. Simon Gavin thinks that this will be a HUGE RISK because it will affect his vocals and he only decided this yesterday. Louis is behind him if he wants to do it. He wants to, because he’s not going to play it safe.

Safe is what it is. It’s a vaguely substep version of Faith by George Michaels and he’s singing it in front of some light up speakers. The camera never lingers on the guitar long enough to tell if he’s actually playing it or just doing a Tabby and just holding it. [Given how legitimately awful it sounded, I think the guitar was all Sam. - Steve] His playing can’t be that important though because he chucks the guitar on his back half way through so he can do some Olly Murs legs for the mams and have a disco with his fake dancer mates.  It’s a bit Karaoke to be honest. I’ve heard better screeched on a Friday night in a Yates’.

Sharon begins the feedback by saying he chose the song, chose to play guitar and he’s brave to have done that. She wants to say that tonight he seems to have given up when he shouldn’t. He’s apparently very much still in the race because he has loads of twitter followers.  Funsponge didn’t love it, it was risky and the guitar was out of time. He feels that everyone has been progressing faster than him but regales him with a story about when he were a lad and he wasn’t the best singer in the charts but he took the opportunity. He sees that Jamie is also taking his opportunity and he’s got to respect that. Nicole then goes on to say apart from the mistimed guitar at the beginning (which I thought was part of the arrangement) it was good because the fighter came out. He’s got the right attitude to make it. Louis says he works hard, gives 150% and the girls have got to vote for him because he shouldn’t be in the bottom two.

Durrbot then asks Sam what he makes of the Judges comments. Sam thinks they were amazing because he’s a bit stupid and he thanks them, and says he’ll take the criticism on board and come back fighting.

Caroline is now backstage with Sambailey wondering if little bits of criticism are harder for her because everyone is so far up her backside. Sambailey just says that it makes her strive to do better next week. Caroline loves her. She then wonders what Rough Copy made of the Vanilla comment. They say that they respect her opinion. Meh. Luke is with his mum and mum steps in between them lest there’s any funny business. Luke is happy with his comments and he had the best time ever singing and enjoyed being a bit slower.

After the break, Tamera!

Upon our return, Durrbot is in his favourite spot behind the judges table. He makes a lame joke about having to return the Great British Songbook to the library tomorrow. He then asks Nicole to introduce her act and she introduces the Gorgeois Tamera Foster.  Tamera loved big band week but remembered that Sharon told her to put more emotion in and this week she doesn’t want  to hold anything back. We’re teased with the fact that Tamera might have done Bohemian Rhapsody but chose not to in the end because she realised that it was a bit dark which is like calling Funsponge a bit boring. She’s going for Diamonds are Forever by Shirley Bassey, but they’re going to modernise it. Tamera knows that in changing her song she’s got to work extra hard. Nicole wants Tamera to go a level deeper into the meaning so that she connects with the audience.  Connecting with the song means that she has to watch it on her Galaxy Tab until she decides that the diamonds in the song are her dreams and they’re all she needs. There’s some DANGER! Though, Tamera forgets her lyrics. I HOPE THIS DOESN’T HAPPEN AGAIN.

The modernising of the song involved dressing Tamera up as Rihanna, putting her in a cube and putting some extra Christmas bells in the background. There’s nothing about it that isn’t pure session singer until she forgets the words and has to physically stop herself from having a tantrum. She recovers well but one can’t help but notice that it was her stink face that gave away the fact she forgot the words and nothing else.

Louis kicks off the feedback by saying she looks great and it was an unusual song choice for a young girl. He says that even though she messed up, she recovered well and that’s the important thing. Sharon thinks it’s bittersweet because it was her best performance to date but she forgot the words and her stinkface let her down but her stinkface is because she’s a baby. Funsponge sees great potential but thinks that she hasn’t had her magical showstopping moment where she looks like a winner. He knows it’s in there and he prays they get to see it. Nicole thinks she’s already stolen the show so STFU Funsponge. She’s proud of Tamera because she kept going on the live show and didn’t on the auditions.

Durrbot goes back to the point about her messing up and wonders what she thinks it was a tough song but she’s proud of herself. She realises she messed up but she powered through. YAWN. But if that’s not boring enough, Nicholas is doing Adull after the break. OH GOOD.

ADVERTS! So sick of the Christmas ones. It was better when they were all adverts for toys.

Durrbot’s final post-advert position is again behind the judges table. He goes to Louis and asks him to introduce his Highland Terrier. Louis describes Nicholas as Scotland’s finest. Again, I beg to differ because that’s clearly me. Nicholas and Louis are having a chat about his feedback on Big Band Week and Nicole saying he’s going to have girls dreaming of him. Nicholas interviews that he didn’t have much luck with ladies at school but now he’s a popstar they’re crawling all over him. They stand outside the studio in the rain for him and they follow him and the cameras around the supermarket. They wait for him outside the house and they send him fan mail.  Girls want to marry him and everything. He’s 100% single but he doesn’t want any girls messing up his focus. He’s singing Adult’s Grammy Award winning song, Someone Like You and he’s nervous because it’s a massive song.

Nicholas has a Jesus light and the pimp spot so I guess that we’re supposed to vote for him. He’s singing with a piano and some strings on stage, but none of this can hide the fact that he’s sixteen and singing a song which requires several years of pain and bitterness behind it for it to work and the fact that he’s sixteen and singing a song about his ex having a baby and being married is well creepy and I’m from Dundee where 30 year old grandmothers are commonplace.

Everyone bloody loves it though. Of course they do. Sharon begins by saying that he never fails to deliver every week. He has a fantastic voice and she can’t believe the emotion he put into the song as a sixteen year old SINGLE MAN. Funsponge says he’s reliable but he wants to see more individuality. LIKE YOU’D KNOW. Nicole calls him her Nicky Blue Eyes and says his voice is soothing and calming and wants to buy his album. Louis calls it the best and most honest vocal performance of the night.

Durrbot demands to know how on earth a SIXTEEN YEAR OLD SINGLE BOY can be more of an individual. Funsponge cites Luke as an example saying he made the song his own. It’s the sharp edge of the competition and he needs to make things a bit more Nicholas. Durrbot then asks him about singing at Hampden on Friday night he says he was honoured and it was an honour.

So, that’s it! Lines are open. Let’s have a bit of a recap of the night and get everyone back on stage before I tell you all to join me tomorrow to see how those carefully aimed buses land alongside Funsponge singing on stage and the human trainwreck that is Miley Cyrus. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Abi ending

Top 8 Results - 10 November 2013

Subdued studio. The top 8 flank Dermot as he reminds us that we've been voting for our favourites for 24 hours, but two of them will be going home tonight. We then head straight into the recap of last night, which informs us that some acts "came out swinging", while others "fell flat". Interestingly, The Other Sam has been placed in the former category despite getting almost no legitimate praise from the judges, and only Abi and Luke are placed in the latter. It's frequently telling how they choose to frame the performance show in their recap, but I genuinely have no idea what they're trying to do with Sam at this point - are they trying to present him as a contender, or hide all the criticism to avoid him getting a sympathy vote? Mind you, if they were trying to get rid of him, would they really have put him in the pimp slot? I really should stop trying to second-guess this show.

Tonight! Results, plus Fat Bob and Céline Dion. (Yes, I put the acute accent on her name, and yes, I am unspeakably pretentious. Thank you for noticing.) Not duetting, thankfully. I don't think I could handle that. Hail Giant X!

Dermot arrives sans dancers, sans hat, sans cane, sans everything. [Heck, he has to compete with Ben Cohen somehow - Rad] He reminds us of everything we've already been told about in the last three minutes, and points out that we are now halfway through the competition. The end is in sight, everybody! Hooray! The judges arrive: Gary is in a black double-breasted suit with a black tie this time, Nicole is wearing what I am going to call "owlprint" which barely covers her breasts or her foof and looks a bit like something Katy Perry might wear, Sharon is in a flesh-coloured gown covered with silver and black sequins, and Louis is wearing what appears to be a velvet jacket, and a black bow tie that isn't quite on straight. (Oh, and a shirt and trousers, obviously. I don't want to give you nightmares.) Dermot reminds us that there is still time to save our favourites, should we choose to do so, and reminds us of the numbers. I'm disappointed that there isn't more chastising of us vis-a-vis voting for the people we like, not assuming they're safe, etc etc, considering hot-favourite Tamera was in the bottom two last week. It feels like even the show doesn't care that much any more.

This week's group sing is 'Love Me Again' and everybody, without exception, sounds like absolute ass. If Satan's hotline had hold music, it would sound like this. Also, Rough Copy look like they've raided the remains of Dalston Kingsland's wardrobe for this performance. It ends, THANK GOD, and Dermot makes them hold the end pose for longer than strictly necessary just because he likes shitting them around.

Time to revisit last night's performances, now with additional backstage footage: Abi got broadly good reviews for her rendition of 'That's Life', and thinks she did her best out there. Sam got raves for 'New York, New York', and Sharon frets about whether she'll have the votes to back up that performance. Wee Nick was competent but dull with his 'Dream A Little Dream Of Me', and weirdly animated backstage. Why is he not more like that while he's actually performing? Luke's 'Moondance' was a cacophonous mess and Gary called him on it, and even Luke admits backstage that this wasn't his best. Hannah grunted and screamed her way through 'It's A Man's Man's Man's World', got great feedback, and Louis thinks she's "got real soul". Rough Copy's 'Hit The Road Jack' was probably the highlight of the evening, and Nicole inadvertently sacrificed one of her own acts by saying she wanted them in the final three. Gary thinks they won't be hitting the road tonight. Oh Barlow, you wit. Rough Copy insist that they don't want to let Gary down now they're the last band standing. Tamera got the firework curtain for her performance of 'Cry Me A River' and Gary half-heartedly tut-tutted at all of us for not voting for her, and Tamera squeals about how fun it is to sing with a big band. Finally, The Other Sam gave a so-so 'Ain't That A Kick In The Head', got no feedback whatsoever from Gary, but didn't notice. Oh Sam. So blandly pretty. So very dim.

Time for Star Guest Number One: 220 MILLION ALBUMS SOLD WORLDWIDE. 5 UK NUMBER ONE ALBUMS. 5 GRAMMY AWARDS. CÉLINE DION! She's on stage with a massive flaming heart behind her and showing off a very fashionable thigh gap. She's singing new single 'Loved Me Back To Life', which sounds like a number of other songs, none of which are very good. Sadface. I mean, call me a big old gay if you like (note: please don't call me a big old gay) but you can't beat a bit of Céline when she's actually got a decent song to sing, but this just doesn't do it for me at all. I'm just going to mute it and pretend she's torch-singing her way through 'Taking Chances', if it's all the same to you.

Céline greets Dermot and the audience very enthusiastically. Dermot reminds us that the album and single are out Monday, and then asks Céline if she's off back to Vegas now. Céline then word-vomits that she hasn't recorded in English for six years, she's having a great time in Vegas, she can still sing even though she's a mum now, and she's trying to visit us as much as she can. I don't think Céline was adequately briefed on the procedure here: we only expect you to plug your new release, not to justify all of your life choices since we last saw you. Ensuite, Céline quitte la scène.

Dermot reminds us of the voting numbers one last time, telling us that we have but five minutes in which to cast our votes, and reminds us that we still have Robbie Williams to endure.

Not before the ad break, though. The Great GatsbyThe Great Twatsby, more like.

When we return, Dermot informs us that the lines are kuh-losed. While the votes are being tallied, it's time for the always fresh and interesting chat with the judges. Dermot wants to know how nailed it last night: Louis thinks Sam The Screw, Rough Copy and Nicholas. Sharon thinks Sam The Screw and Rough Copy. Gary thinks Sam The Screw, Tamera and Rough Copy. Dermot still wants to know why Gary had nothing to say to The Other Sam, and Gary says that he tries to give the contestants something to learn from in his critiques, but he couldn't think of anything, because he felt like he'd said it all. Oh, knob off, Gary. I bet if they were paying you by the word you wouldn't have had that problem. Finally, Nicole - who is still drunk from last night and has forgotten the question - thinks that the show-stealers, aside from her own acts, were Sam The Screw and Rough Copy. I'm definitely sensing a message that the producers want us to take home here. [The whole [Nic/Tamera]SamRoughCopy message is becoming very MattRebeccaOneDirection isn't it? - Rad]

Time for Star Guest Number Two: 7 TIMES PLATINUM SWING ALBUM! WORLD RECORD BREAKING TOUR SALES! OVER 71 MILLION RECORD SALES WORLDWIDE! ROBBIE WILLIAMS! His set is a ruddy great ship (insert "full of seamen" joke here), staffed by a slightly-smaller-than-last-night-but-still-quite-big-by-most-people's-standards band, and Robbie at the helm, singing his new single 'Go Gentle', which is a bit rubbish and would really benefit from Olly MURS gurning his way onto the set and yelling "WAZZ THAT ROBBEH?" at the end. There's also a whistling bit in the middle eight, which I would not normally be opposed to, but Robbie cannot whistle in key if this performance is anything to go by.

Dermot obtains permission to board, and they have a bit of ship-based banter. Robbie and Dermot both bring our attention to the fact that Guy Chambers is there, but the cameras do not single him out, so that's a bit pointless. Also, Dermot refers to Robbie being at "Sharon's Judge's House", which: Sharon is the judge, and it was her actual house, so just call it "Sharon's house", you weirdo. Robbie says that he's backing Sam The Screw, because he's been watching every week and she always knocks it out of the park and whatnot. Dermot tells Robbie he doesn't want Robbie standing behind him. Well, that's ruined my slashfic, I don't mind telling you.

The chance to win Sharon's car once again, then the ads. JESUS CHRIST, KEVIN BACON'S NECK.

Then we return to the studio and it's time to get down to actual business, so here comes everyone: Nicole and the girls, Tamera, Hannah and Abi; Gary and his group, Rough Copy; Sharon and her over, Sam The Screw; and Louis and his boys, Luke, Wee Nick and The Other Sam. The following six acts are safe, in no particular order: Rough Copy, Luke, Sam The Screw, Tamera, The Other Sam and Wee Nick, leaving Hannah and Abi in the bottom two. (Also, the pauses that Dermot leaves between names are now entirely ludicrous. I no longer have any sympathy for him at the end of the show when the judges take forever to make a damn decision and he has to get off the air in time for Downton Abbey because it's a situation entirely of his own making.) Weirdly, it's Hannah who seems to take this result harder than Abi, despite Abi's general fragility the rest of the time. Abi's the one actually stroking Hannah's hair and telling her it's going to be all right.

Adverts. Dear Virgin Media, people knocking on my television and shouting "oi!" at me is not charming or polite, I don't care if they're David Tennant.

When we return, Abi and Hannah make their grim death march back onto the stage and Dermot has to pretty much forcibly separate them. Abi's singing for survival first, singing a saccharine interpretation of Ed Sheeran's 'Lego House'. It is not pleasant. Her voice is shaky, nasal and frequently flat. Then it's Hannah's turn, and she's singing Miley Cyrus's 'Wrecking Ball', which is an A+ song choice, but her breath control is non-existent, her pitching is patchy and she's not even licking a sledgehammer. (Does anyone else immediately start singing 'Battlefield' by Jordin Sparks after the "I never meant to start a war" line, or is that just me and my boyfriend?)

Over to the judges, and we're going to Nicole first. (Why do we always go to the judge with two acts in the bottom two first? It's far better/crueller to go to them at the end.) Anyway, Nicole predictably refuses to vote, and I hate how this has become standard practice. It should be grounds for an instant double elimination or something. Gary says that he's "confused", because neither of them did anything wrong last night. He tells Abi that tonight she touched him emotionally for the very first time, and he's a bit frustrated that it took her this long to do it. He doesn't know what Hannah needs to do, and advises her to change nothing. But judging on this performance, he votes to send Abi home. Sharon agrees with Gary - this was the passion she wanted to see from Abi all along, and it's a bit late for it now. She's sorry to say this, but she votes to send Abi home. That's two votes, and tonight that's enough. [/jeffprobst] Abi sobs a little bit, Hannah looks shocked and sad. I think these two were quite close. Dermot asks Louis what he would've done, and Louis says he would've kept Hannah and sent Abi home too. Hannah is dismissed and Dermot hugs a still sobbing Hannah, telling her that she's done so well and she doesn't have to go back to the supermarket. I wonder what jobs this show thinks most of its audience have? I bet they love it when The X Factor acts as though working in a supermarket is a job only suitable for brainless, talentless drones.

Nicole runs up to give Abi a hug and we watch her best bits - her nervous-but-smiley room audition, her arena breakthrough, surviving the chair challenge, making it through to live shows, doing quite a lot of crying, sitting behind a piano, dancing with umbrellas, Nicole saying "balls" several times. Dermot asks Abi where she goes from here, and she says that she never dreamed she would make it this far, and she's had the time of her life and she's met the most amazing people. (SHAmazing people, Abi. SHAmazing. Has Nicole taught you nothing?) Dermot sends Abi off, Nicole remains behind as Dermot tries to usher her off in the same direction; Nicole gradually cottons on and does an "oh, am I supposed to follow her?" gesture. Schermazing.

That's it for this week. Next week, the top seven take on "the great British songbook", whatever that is, and the special guests are Gary Barlow and Miley Cyrus. Helen will be here to guide you through it, but I can offer no guarantees as to whether she'll be twerking. Sorry about that.