Sunday, September 11, 2005

Episode 4 or The Death Of Talent

Transmission date: 10th September 2005

Ridiculously, we get a big spurt of ‘Previously’ action. I won’t complain too much though, because it means I get to see Louis Walsh have Coke thrown on him again. They’re still using Carmina Burana to make it seem evil and raise the tension, which is kind of ridiculous for events that have already happened. Then we get a ‘coming up’ section. Then we get the titles. The big ‘X’ floating in space makes it look like the credits to a school maths programme. I keep expecting a plus and a minus and a division sign to come whooshing in. [Seriously. Such cheapass credits. The titles for Pop Idol were corny, but at least some thought had gone into them. – Steve] Here’s Kate. She’s wearing a white vest, under a red vest, under a black waistcoat. She looks ridiculous. At least one of those articles of clothing should have sleeves. Louis is the ‘King of Boybands’, Sharon is the ‘Queen of Rock’, Simon is just ‘legendary.’ All this repetition and introduction? Has taken 5 minutes. A twelfth of the programme is wasted before it even begins.

Anyway, we’re in Manchester, with a lady named Jackie, who is 40. She has bright red hair that is very very flat. She sings The Reason by Celine Dion. She starts off quietly, and her voice is quite rich and tuneful and perfectly nice. Then she raises the volume and just…well, bellows and it’s horrible. Simon calls it ‘extraordinary’, having to explain that that’s not a compliment, and Jackie is told she sounds like she was ‘screaming at a neighbour.’ As soon as I heard that, I imagined Jackie in East is East yelling ‘Wash your bastard curtains, you filthy cow!’, so I have to agree. Jackie isn’t going through. We get a montage of people singing loudly, and see Sharon say, ‘you were actually shouting, not singing.’ Which was quite probably true, but it doesn’t do Shirley Bassey any harm.

Kate voiceovers that we’re in the ‘holding area.’ Which makes it sound like they’re either criminals, cattle, or immigrants at Ellis Island, waiting to be allowed into America. Because of how my brain works, I’m now going to be singing There Are No Cats In America from An American Tail all day. Anyway, in the holding area, is a girl who got through pretty far last year. Her name is Shenay, I think. I’m going to spell it differently every time, in the hope that one of them is right. Shanay is 19. Gennai sings Wishing On A Star by Rose Royce, and while she’s no Gwen Dickie, her voice is really very good. [Would it kill her to pick up the pace, though? I loved her voice, but she made it sound so boring, and that song should be anything but. – Steve] So last year, Sharon told Zhenai no, and put Tabby through. Sharon is an idiot. Jenay is ‘sailing through.’ On their lunch break, the judges discuss how they admire Shennai and her tenacity, and the fact that to come back this year shows she has ‘a hunger’ that they’re looking for.

Damon is 18. He claims his voice is a combination of Luther Vandross and Stevie Wonder. It’s a shame, then, that he looks like a combination of Ross Kemp and a member of the Hitler Youth. As soon as Damon enters the room, Sharon looks vaguely disgusted. He sings Signed, Sealed, Delivered (my notes say ‘deliverded’, which I prefer) and it’s not completely without merit, but is no way near good enough. [And totally under-enunciated. Dear Damon, there is so such word as “annuuurress”. They are two words, and they are “I’m yours.” I made fun of Gareth Gates for his poor diction, and I will do the same to you. – Steve] And then things get very weird. Louis tells him no because he wouldn’t make it past boot camp and to do so ‘would be giving you false hope.’ Why, yes it would Louis. As I have extensively ranted at earlier stages in these recaps. But that’s what you always do. Don’t suddenly try and claim that this is a talent contest and all you care about is putting the best people through when it’s blatantly false. Dick. Better late than never though, I guess. Damon’s not going through, and interviews with Kate that ‘they’ve let themselves down, because I’ll be there.’ Given that Damon’s a little scary, when he said ‘I’ll be there’, I thought ‘there’ was behind the judges’ bedroom doors, dressed all in black, with a hockey mask and a meat cleaver. But as he goes on to say I’ll have number ones blah blah blah no you WON’T you idiot, shut up, I guess ‘there’ is the charts, if we’re being charitable, or the bargain bucket full of Driving Hits and M People CDs at a service station near Tring, if we’re being realistic.

‘Still to come’, followed by Nokia sponsorship, followed by adverts, followed by Nokia sponsorship, followed by ‘still to come.’ [Stop previewing the toothless woman! Aieeee! – Steve]

It’s raining, and Kate has an umbrella that matches her hideous, hideous outfit. A girl does a dance. We meet Amanda, who’s 24, and I’m afraid my notes say ‘big big pikey.’ [My notes just said “eyebrows”. Or they would have if I’d made any. – Steve] She wants to win so she can be a millionaire, which is refreshingly honest. She thinks she’s a combination of Xtina and Joss Stone. She’s not. She sings What A Feeling and to be honest, she sounds like she’s deaf. She doesn’t form the words properly and it’s full of pauses and glottal stops. She’s not through, but I quite like her because she sounds thoroughly shocked when told she can’t sing, and in the booth says ‘I might be a bit, but I’m not totally tone deaf.’ Like I said, refreshingly honest.

Oh dear. Oh god. We meet a boy and a girl called Meant 2 B. Yes you read that right. Change the name, change the name, change the name, I know. The girl looks a bit like Cate Blanchett and the boy looks like a generic homosexual. I’m sorry, but he does. When asked if they’re a couple, they both say ‘We sing together!’, which is quite adorable. They sing Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You (Off You? Mental block.) and they’re not horrible, individually, but they really can’t sing together at all. Plus they do this weird dance routine, which ends with Homo dipping Cate while they look at the judges. [Rule number one of auditions: never do a song that Denise Richards has performed to a Jesus on wheels, because you cannot compete. – Steve] Simon says they’re more Torville and Dean than Sonny and Cher. They are ‘bizarre’, ‘quaint’, and ‘old-fashioned.’ They’re also going home. Then, in a really cheap and insulting bit of editing, we see the queue for the audition ‘grow’ and ‘grow’. But given that there’s a girl in the queue dressed in luminous pink, including a big pink wig, and we can see her moving farther down the queue, it’s horribly obvious that they’ve just taken shots of the queue as it gets shorter and reversed the order. I don’t know why they bother with things like that. It’s not as if we don’t realise a lot of people auditioned.

Joanne is 24 and quite sweet. [I liked how they introduced her as a “full-time mother”. The only part-time mothers I know are the ones who had their kids taken away from them by social services. – Steve] She says she’s auditioning because she has ‘Nothing to lose but my pride.’ Here I must point out that Scott is sitting on the couch reading Chekhov with one eye and watching X Factor with the other. He pipes up, ‘Pride’s worth keeping, honey.’ Anyway, Joanne sings Fields Of Gold. Louis says yes because he has such a hard-on for that song that you could probably turn up for the audition talking about how your Dark Master requires you to bathe in the blood of virgins, sing Fields of Gold and get Louis’s vote. Oh, also because Joanne has a nice voice. Simon says that Joanne has the ability to ‘make songs more soulful.’ She’s through and starts crying, saying ‘I’m cryin’!’ I like Joanne. [Me too! – Steve] Then a montage of good people. Well, I say good. People who get through might be more accurate. There’s a funny old woman who sings Cabaret. She’s got on a black jacket with gold brocade. It looks like she went back in time and mugged Phyllis Logan while she was on the set of Lovejoy. She shows no reaction to getting through, at all, telling Kate ‘I don’t get excited darling, I’ve been in the business 60 years.’

Two skinny girls and a fairly large one are a three-piece ‘vocal harmony group’. Scott: ‘three and a half!’ They’re called Taboo, because it’s their favourite drink. That made me want to cry a little bit. The big girl sings Amarillo, of all the weird choices, and is very good, while the skinny ones stand there and click their fingers, then join in half-heartedly for the chorus. It’s obvious that the big girl has no confidence and brought her mates along for a boost, but none of the judges tell her she has a nice voice, rather criticising the group as a whole. Now the group was a joke, but what would it have harmed them to say ‘you should have auditioned by yourself’? [Totally. I’m sure they did that to some people last year, but evidently rational thinking is so 2004. – Steve] They’re not going through, clearly.

‘Still to come’, followed by Nokia sponsorship, followed by adverts, followed by Nokia sponsorship, followed by ‘still to come.’

We’re in Cardiff. We meet Total Eclipse, two girls. I say a quiet thankyou that they’re not called Twotal Eclipse, because you can never be sure with these people. X Factor contestants, I mean, not the Welsh, before people try to assassinate me for being a racialist. They sing Summer of ’69. Simon tells the shorter, dumpier one that she looks like Vicky Pollard. She gets understandably annoyed and asks if he’s saying she looks like a man. Simon says, ‘No no no, you don’t look like a man. You look like a man,’ and here he does a funny little hand gesture, ‘dressed as a woman.’ He then tells the tall one, ‘you look like a stretched version of her.’ During this conversation, Scott has yelled ‘oooh, BURN!’ gleefully about five times. The tall one talks about their performances and says, I swear, ‘it’s going everywhere…lipstick…’ I really do not know what she means by that. In a surprise to no-one, they’re not going through.
Montage. A boy has his hair spiked up in about three feet in one spike on the back of his head. ‘Can I ask about the hair?’ ‘No, not at all.’ hee! A weird looking boy. A vampire. An old woman. A boy sings while his friend/brother does an interpretative dance next to him. They’re told they have the personality of two undertakers. Sharon says to someone that they’re ‘a little sheepish’ and then she bleats. Point one where I like Sharon. A weird man growls a bit. Scott says ‘I’m presenting this to the Prime Minister as a ‘Bomb Wales’ briefing.’ Then we get Richard. He’s kind of fit, and 17. [I thought he was fit, for about five seconds, and then I realised it was just the haircut. They shouldn’t be allowed to give ugly people nice haircuts. – Steve] He sings for old ladies, apparently. He sings Dance With My Father and isn’t bad at all. He’s told he’s ‘good, not brilliant yet’ and says ‘A yes is what I’m looking for’, which I think is the exact right level of cheekiness without spilling into being a cocky idiot. Simon says no. Louis and Sharon say yes. Richard thanks them, and as he walks out Sharon says ‘Thank you very much, love’ in a really bad Welsh accent. Point two where I like Sharon. Another montage. I think I’ll just give you my notes directly:
bad hair minger goes through. girl in a pink bed jacket oversings somewhere over the rainbow. scary girl with blue bits in hair. goes through on simon and louis’s word.

Kerry used to be in a choir. She’s 48 and Simon looks appalled, because she looks about 60. She sings Greatest Love Of All in a horribly wispy, high pitched, wobbly voice. She sounds like she’s standing in one of those big rubber belts that vibrates your middle to make you lose weight. Sharon asks ‘Have you ever tried singing with teeth?’ Simon says something completely innocuous like ‘it’s a no, I’m afraid’ and Kerry gets all uppity and says ‘you’re being very mean.’ TO SIMON. Sharon just told her she’s got no teeth, and Simon is the mean one. Shut up and fuck off, Kerry. Then she’s told that there are better singers than her and she says ‘Better singers than me? Excuse me, there’s not, I can sing a range of songs.’ Yeah, like I said. Shut up and fuck off, Kerry. [She ought to be congratulated on some level, I think. I mean, I never thought I’d hear a worse rendition of that song than when Cordelia “sang” it on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and yet she proved me wrong. – Steve] Obligingly, given that she’s clearly not through, she does eventually shut up and fuck off.

Still to come. Nokia competition. Nokia sponsorship. Adverts. Nokia sponsorship. Still to come. SO MUCH FILLER.

Kate voiceovers that ‘it’s all about mind over matter.’ Scott: ‘and singing’. We meet a guy called Moon, who’s a psychic. He sings Barcelona loudly, but not especially tunefully. I can’t be bothered to recap this because it goes on and ON. Stupid jokes about being a psychic and mind tricks on the judges. And ON. He’s not through, but they ask for his prediction about which judge will win. He says it’s between Sharon and Louis. Yeah, because Simon is mean. BLAH!

Rachel is 20. She says, somewhat nonsensically, ‘music is everything I stand for.’ She then says, also somewhat nonsensically, that she wants to be the voice on ‘other end of the stereo.’ Hey, it’s that girl!. God, they put their teasers in early. She sings Son of a Preacher Man and makes a fair stab at it, given that it’s a Dusty Springfield song. Louis says yes, Simon says no, Sharon eventually says no because she thinks Rachel won’t cope with the pressure. Given that Rachel is already in tears, she’s probably right. Rachel actually takes the rejection very well, and Sharon goes and gives her a hug. Point three where I like Sharon. [It was at this point that I decided I’d quite like Sharon to be my mum, but only if I’m not obliged to also have Kelly and Jack as my siblings. Aimee? Eh, I got nothing against her. – Steve] Montage of people being rejected in the booth, including people who say, ‘I thought I had something special, but I don’t think so any more’ and, ‘It’s just I’ve got nowt to look forward to, really, now.’ It’s kind of heart-breaking.

Michelle is 30. She says, ‘I’m not stupid, I play the piano, guitar, and write my own songs.’ I don’t think the two parts of the sentence are necessary mutually exclusive, but I see her point. They ask what she does and when she says, ‘I’m a glamour model’, I have never seen a better illustration of ‘the cat who got the cream’ than Simon’s face. When she says she does page three modelling, Simon just says, ‘good.’ The whole time, je t’aime is playing, and whenever Sharon or Louis speak to Simon, his reverie breaks and we get the record scratch noise. [It amused me how Sharon was trying to paint Simon as a boob-hungry lech here, considering she told the papers that he was gay last series. Make your mind up, Sharon! – Steve] It’s actually pretty funny. Michelle sings I Will Always Love You and she’s not too bad. Sharon likes it. Simon says, ‘I like the older category.’ A no from Louis, a yes from Sharon. Michelle says, brilliantly, with a little pout, ‘Do you like me, Simon?’ She knows exactly how to work him, and I love her a little bit. Simon says yes and she’s through. In the booth, Michelle cries because she didn’t expect to be taken seriously and I love her a little bit more. [Michelle? You’ve seen She’s All That, right? Dye your hair brown, put it up in a bun, wear some giant smocks and a pair of geeky glasses, and then people will totally take you seriously. It worked for Rachael Leigh Cook. – Steve]

We get a coming soon. There’s still a midget with an engagement ring to come. We hear Simon say, ‘I’m going to suggest something and you’re not going to like it.’ Scott: ‘come back in a dress!’

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Anonymous said...

Watching X Factor makes me close to tears at how deluded so many of these people are. I'll put a stop to that when I'm president.

Tom said...

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Ruthie said...

Fear not, have just followed the link from Low Culture, and have no finance plans or high class escorts to sell. Hilarious blog – managed to miss the Sharon/Louis/coke incident, to my great annoyance (glad there are others who appreciate the HATEFULNESS of Louis) but now feel that I have been there and fully savoured the humiliation. Although how mean was Simon to those poor Welsh girls this week? He is a Mean Girl, and sometimes it’s just not funny. Anyway, thanks guys, keep up the good work.

fee said...

I came here from Lowculture as well.
Keep it up, you almost make me feel like I didn't spend my lonely Saturday nights watching X-Factor on my own...

Pensiero Bello said...

I love these bits, but the amusement value just doesn't continue past the audition stages.