Transmission date: September 24th 2005
Coming Up, to Carmina Burana as per. Kate’s wearing her Adam Ant jacket, and we’re in London AGAIN. The repetition of jacket and location means I officially call bullshit on the scheduling of this programme [I know. I can’t believe it took me this long to figure out that when she says “this week” she means this week on the show, not this week of filming. I feel so cheated. And dumb, for that matter. – Steve]. She’s got a t-shirt under the jacket though, so we’re mercifully spared navel.
47-year old James has been singing all his life and knows he can sing. He knows that the judges will put him through. He sings ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’, gets the words wrong, and is horrible. He claims to be a soul singer but Simon and Sharon tell him he has no soul. By which they mean he’s not really an engaging, soulful singer, rather than ‘you’re a vampire.’ He tells the Booth that he knows, and people in East London know, that they’ve made a mistake.
A funny bald guy sings ‘Tutti Frutti’. A rat-faced girl sings ‘Stop’, but she’s completely making up the tune. A fat girl sings Madonna’s ‘Hanky Panky’ while smacking her own arse. Except she’s not really singing the whole song, just saying ‘spank me’ lots of times. Callum is 42. He sings ‘Killing Me Softly’, in a voice that sounds like if Larry The Lamb were Moroccan and singing in an earthquake, and Simon says ‘you are!’ When told no, he takes it very well.
Next up is 38 year old Ryan. He’s dressed in an ill-fitting, badly cut purple suit. He sings – I think it’s a James Brown song - and, after a fashion, dances. His voice is good, but he just keeps doing the splits and spinning round. Again and again. Which is all very impressive, I’m sure, but doesn’t really count as a dance routine, and gets kind of tedious. Simon likes his voice, but says the dancing was ‘hideous’. Sharon, of course, loves the dancing and Louis says ‘it works for James Brown’, which is so insanely beside the point that it makes me laugh. [Perhaps James Brown was this week’s guest judge, but he declined to be filmed? – Steve] Anyhoo, he gets through unanimously (Simon specifically stating that it’s on the voice and not the dancing), and the judges point out that his vigorous dancing has made the heel come off his shoe. On his way out, he does the splits to pick it up, rather than bending. Tosser.
A couple of little gay twinks go through. They’re boyfriends, I think.
A horrible shit boy called James go through. As he runs out of the audition room, we see he’s brought his guitar with him. He can die. Don’t bring your guitar and then not play it, and don’t bring your guitar to prove that you’re a ‘real musician’ or something. You won’t be allowed to write your own songs even if you do win, and if you think you’re a musician you’re unlikely to be pliable enough for the judges to let you win. This isn’t Fame Academy.
A blonde girl who can’t sing hollers really loudly and gets through. Never, ever underestimate Blonde Blindness, especially when Simon Cowell’s opinion is being asked. You know Blonde Blindness, yeah? It’s when the simple existence of blonde hair renders people incapable of seeing your flaws – like when people think Jessica Simpson is attractive despite the fact that she’s been whittled out of a block of wood, as indicated by her enormous jawline and, well, intellect.
There’s a big lead up because, what’s this?, Madonna is auditioning for the X Factor. Oh my gosh, superstar singer Madonna is here to prove she’s talented! Oh no! ITV you fooled us! It’s just a girl who happens to be called Madonna. Really, how stupid do they think their viewers are? It’s actually mildly offensive. This Madonna is 17 and has the surname Blackmore. She’s terrible. Simon says ‘Madonna, you can’t sing,’ to my delight and the probable indignation of thousands of pooves (well, if leaf becomes leaves in the plural…) up and down the country, who can’t bear even to hear that sentence spoken. There follow more deluded people who think they’re like someone famous. A chubby girl with a bad bleach job [She’s Kelly Osbourne. The face? The voice? Kelly Osbourne, and I will not be swayed on this. – Steve] [Oh god! Yeah, I see it. But as Jack popped up in Xtra Factor as a joke contestant, I think this poor chubber was for real.] and a black newsboy cap says ‘Britney Spears? She IS my inspiration.’ This girl is terrible, of course, and Simon tells her that she’s got ‘lose the infatuation.’ Then a bloke who wants to be Bryian McFadden, ex of Westlife. He sings ‘Flying Without Wings’, although he renders it thus: ‘you’ve found that special fing, you’re flying wivout wings.’ He claims that he wants to follow in Bryian’s footsteps, and Simon, in an awesome double-burn, says, ‘ironically, you might be.’ [Hee! Best burn of the series, I think. – Steve] None of these deluded simpletons go through. A professional Ronan Keating impersonator comes in and auditions. Brilliantly, Sharon doesn’t know who Ronan Keating is. He’s not through.
Footage of the holding area, to the accompaniment of Josh Stone (©Sharon Obsourne) singing ‘Don’t Cha Wanna Ride’. I fucking hate this song. Firstly, it’s either ‘Don’t ya’ or ‘Dontcha.’ Secondly, the line ‘a car this fine don’t come your way every day, babe, don’t cha wanna ride?’ is either disgusting (if she’s comparing herself to a car) or inane to the point of creating a tiny little rip in the space-time continuum because that much mediocrity in one place is too much for the universe to bear (if she’s actually singing about that nasty-ass VW beetle she drives in the video). [I’m a lot more simplistic about this – I just hate Joss Stone with a fiery passion. I can’t believe they’ve pimped her out in one way or another pretty much every episode this series. Just stop it already! – Steve] We now return you to your scheduled programming. Haifa is 25. She has a perm. Actually, she has a PERM. She sings that ‘I love you, I love you, I love you, baby, I love you’ song that I think was in a KFC advert and annoys me. ‘She’s awful.’ says Scott. Her voice is kinda jazzy. But she’s trying way too hard and forcing herself to be louder than she should and I just really did not like it one little bit. She reminds the judges of Josh Stone. Well, she’s already pissing me off, so maybe they’re right there. She goes through, unanimously, and makes me laugh by saying in the Booth that she wants this ‘200million percent.’
Richard is an 18 year old performing arts student. He has another notable characteristic, if you get what I mean. He comes in and sings ‘All That Jazz’ from ‘Chicago.’ Can you tell what it is yet? He’s terrible, very nasally up in his nasal, and at first I feel sorry for him, but then I get angry with him for being so stupid. 1) You’re a boy – don’t sing a song about rouging your knees and rolling your stockings down, for crying out loud. 2) You’re rubbish. 3) Even if you were a girl, and good, you still shouldn’t sing All That Jazz. It’s from a musical, and very much part of that musical. People often don’t get through in these shows, rightly, because they have voices suited for musical theatre, not a pop career. You could sing something like ‘Somewhere’ from West Side Story (if you have an extremely good voice) or ‘Losing My Mind’ from Follies (if you have an extremely good voice and are unbelievably gay) because these are well-established as songs in their own right and make sense out of context. ‘All That Jazz’ really doesn’t, and by singing it all you prove is that you misunderstood the assignment. The judges, with some difficulty, swallow their laughter, and tell Richard he’s not right for the show. He comes out of the audition and says ‘I was going to listen to their comments, but,’ huffy exhalation of breath, ‘is what I think now.’
Anyway, a montage of insane, self-deceiving losers. We see another of the dreaded boy-girl duos, and AGAIN they’re insisting on singing to each other rather than to the judges. Boy sings to girl, ‘give me just one more night,’ resulting in a brisk ‘No!’ from Simon. A guy sings ‘Mammy’ in a fairly close approximation of Al Jolson’s voice (which, in my opinion is one of the most hideous noises in the history of recorded sound. Really. Al Jolson’s voice really, really freaks me out. It’s horrible.) and Sharon joins in, making me love her a bit. Three middle-aged ladies sing ‘Lullaby of Broadway’ and look nice in their suits, and are harmonising really well. We don’t discover their fate, but they’re good, so I presume they failed. Two blonde larger ladies are twins, aged 47. On discovering this, Sharon gets strangely excited and drawls ’middle-aged twins’ as if it were the sentence ’20 year old twin poolboys, carrying chocolate and martinis’. [I know. What the hell was that about? Does she recruit for niche porn on the side or something? – Steve] They sing Waterloo, and do the back to back motions, exactly like the Abba girls. They then say that they didn’t do an Abba routine, despite the fact that they clearly did. Vocally, they’re not horrible but they’re nothing special. Simon says no and (you can see where this is going, can’t you?) Sharon and Louis put them through. IDIOTS. Once the ladies leave, Simon berates the others for the poor decision of putting ‘Flabba’ through to the next round.
18 year-old Daniel has cerebral palsy. He looks like Fred Savage from The Wonder Years. He’s very cheerful, pleasant and confident. [I think he’s really cute, too. He has lovely eyes. – Steve] He auditioned for a play at school, because at age 7 he was told he wouldn’t succeed because of his illness (his right arm is fairly withered). He got the lead, which inspired him to pursue what he wants. He sings ‘You Raise Me Up’ by Josh Groban. He’s very good, actually. His voice is powerful and nicely in tune, and is distinctive. The judges compliment him, which he receives with immense good grace. I agree with Simon’s 7 out of 10 on the vocals. He’s through unanimously, which brings him close to tears, and I’m so glad because 1) it’s not just the sympathy vote and 2) it’s nice to see someone with a good attitude, given how many arrogant deluded tosswits you see in this show.
Now Kate has the same t-shirt and jacket as at the beginning of the show, but now we’re back in Manchester. What?! Oh, I give up. Anyway. Christopher is a hospital porter. He’s there with his gran and sister, and he has no lips. He’s all ‘I’m looking for a girlfriend,’ which is irrelevant and annoying. He sings and, quelle surprise is awful. He claims he’s got a cold, and Sharon says it’s been going around. There follows a quite amusing montage of people claiming they’ve got colds and/or viruses, with the judges getting more and more amused and saying ‘that’s going around.’ [Hands down, my favourite montage of the series so far. It was so much fun to see the judges give each other the look, and have the contestants have absolutely no idea what they meant. – Steve] We also see Simon say ‘it’s not the virus dear, you can’t sing very well.’
There’s a lad who’s kind of fit, in a scally sort of way. His arm is in a sling. He broke it when he fell down the stairs after catching his boxer shorts on the baby gate at the top of the stairs, which is possibly the best story I’ve ever heard. I mean, seriously, how?. He sings ‘Lean On Me’, during which his eyebrows dance independently of each other, but his voice is pretty good. He goes through. [I liked how Louis said he “liked the image”, and I wondered if he needed it pointed out to him that the broken arm would heal at some point. Unless…well, people do bizarre things for fame, I guess. – Steve] [But you can just see Louis: 'This poor guy's come here and worked so hard, and he's got a broken arm for crying out loud!' I'd be watching my back if I were this boy, Louis might be too keen to maintain the sexy yet vulnerable image.] Some skanky twins (male) sing ‘Lean On Me’ too and also go through. A lady with braids goes through, and sidles through the door, singing ‘I did it’ I a ‘Go Ricki!’ kind of voice. A girl sings Fontella Bass’s ‘Rescue Me’ and goes through.
Michelle is 27, and I fucking hate her. She’s got a big square face and really pale blue eyes that make her look evil. She says that she’s got what it takes to become one of the biggest stars in the world because: 1 I am a star 2 I can sing 3 I’ve got soul 4 I write my own songs 5 I’m a pretty girl. Skanky arrogant bitch, say my notes. She sings ‘Natural Woman’ and gets the words wrong. She has a good voice, but as Simon says ‘when you sing you become unattractive’. There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and she’s all ‘I’ve got so much more to give!’ and her excessive confidence has seemingly deserted her. Sharon tries to speak and Michelle keeps interrupting her with all the ‘I’ve got more to give’ bullshit. ‘Will you shut up!’ snaps Sharon. There’s something about Michelle that Sharon doesn’t like. Ooh, I know! Me, me! It’s that she’s a horrible conceited bastard! Simon says no. Yay Simon! Louis says yes. Boo Louis! Sharon says ‘I’m sorry but…I have to say yes.’ Oh Sharon. Although, I’m taking the positives. I’m quite looking forward to Michelle going out straight away in the next round. That’ll learn ’er. Once Michelle leaves the room, Louis says that she can sing. Sharon and Simon, both of whom have a better understanding of this contest than Louis, remind him that it takes more than that.
23 year old Eartha makes boxes in a factory in Skegness. ‘Oh god, it’s like something from Dickens,’ says Scott. She dances about like a loon in the holding area. She sings Reach by S Club 7. She’s terrible, apart from the very last note, which is actually very clear and quite lovely to hear. I think that was an accident. Simon, having perfected the double-burn, says, ‘phone up Geri Halliwell and become a duo.’ Eartha, bless her, takes this on board like it’s a serious piece of career advice. [So does Geri. – Steve]
We meet Nicholas who tells us ‘I’ve been singing since I was a baby.’ On his arm, there’s a tattoo of microphone and the inscription ‘All about the music’ That’s possibly the funniest thing I’ve seen this week. Yes. Even funnier than Jordan’s wedding photos. The judges ask why he entered and he says ‘because you lot said you wanted the X-factor.’ I like that as a reply. He sings ‘End of the Road’ and he’s very good. He actually seems to invest the song with some emotion, without being too over the top chest-beating about it. Simon says he’s got raw talent. Sharon says the rawness is appealing. They all agree that he needs training, but that he’s got a lot to work with. Simon mentions the all-important ‘likeability factor’, which Nicholas actually has, Michelle. Sharon says ‘yes, sweet thing.’ Simon says he’s in a totally different league from most of the people they’ve seen. Ending on a high note, then.
Kate voiceovers that, ‘the X-Factor auditions are over.’ THANK GOD. What an incredible journey it’s been, blah blah blah. Take That’s ‘Never Forget’ plays, which in a way is kind of unfortunate, because it shows what can happen when pop stars are actually talented and are singing a good song. ‘Never Forget’ is an awesome song, with the choir boys and the hand-claps and the massive key changes and stuff. And it’s unlikely that any of the contestants from this show will produce anything nearly as good. We get MORE repetitions of what has already happened. Again and again and again we see the same people. Stop putting this shit in, producers. Although, much like before, I take the rough with the smooth because at least this way I get to see Sharon throw coke on Louis again, and the immortal ‘sing ’em a song Della’, and Erica being all scary and saying ‘can I hug you Sharon?’ and Tony Blair saluting Big Brother and the tiny wonderful Trevor. And just when I’ve forgiven them, they end the montage with Fucking Toothless Kerry and my rage returns.
It’s gone down from 75,000 contestants to 200. Which: two questions. 200 is not divisible by three, so which categories get more people? And also? Was this 200 a pre-set limit? So did they have to reject people towards the end because they’d reached the limit? Or put people through to make it up to 200? Woo, question marks galore! Barber’s Adagio for Strings, I think, plays. It’s all so heart-breaking and emotional, like.
The judges are in a waiting area, waiting to be told which category they’re getting. Sharon says that they all want the under 25s. Simon agrees, but says it might be difficult because there are so many good people to choose from. Simon’s happy that the over 25s aren’t all just a bunch of failed singers. Sharon says the category is much stronger than last year. This being the last year where someone from the over 25s won the competition. So is that admitting that the whole contest is a pointless joke? Cos it seems to be. [It could have been a subtle burn on Sharon’s part, I guess. She’s not exactly Steve Brookstein’s biggest fan, is she? – Steve] Simon wouldn’t be too upset if he got the groups, he says. Right.
Louis has got the 16-24s, obviously. God. He has no idea. Suddenly my hopes for the people I like, like Trevor and Alexandra, have withered and died. Sharon has the 25+ catergory. Of course. She and Louis do a little dance because Simon has the groups. [Which I totally called last week. This show is hopeless at producing any kind of suspense. – Steve]
Simon goes into the room with the producer, saying ‘thank you for keeping me waiting for one HOUR and 10 MINUTES.’ God, he’s such a queen. It’s fantastic. The producer tells him he’s got the groups and he says it’s the wrong decision because he could have done something with the under 25s. Of course, he won’t admit this to Sharon and Louis, and tells them he’s happy, congratulating them on their categories. As they go off in their limos, Sharon and Louis gloat about their categories and Simon says, ‘it’s a disaster. It’s the worst possible scenario.’ I kind of agree, and kind of don’t. It bothers me that it was so obvious that Simon would get the groups, because he’s evil blah blah blah and needs to be punished. And it worries me that Louis will completely fuck up the decision-making for the under 25s. But that said, because the groups aren’t great, Simon will be ruthless at cutting all the people who are shit (bye bye Flabba!) and I think he’ll end with some people who aren’t too awful. [Plus, there were some good groups. The Brothers, 4Tune, the Conway Sisters, and Eskimo Blonde were not entirely devoid of merit. Also, that group who sang ‘Free Your Mind’ in last week’s rules, whom we never got to see, assuming they got put through. – Steve] I’ll be quite entertained if Sharon brings through Dorothy, Chico, Penotlope and Justine. And Louis will bring Spongebob Squareface. Idiots.
There’s a whole big ‘coming up’ thing, but I’m too busy despairing of Louis to bother to tell you what’s in it.