Boot camp part one, Saturday 28 September 2011
Last week! The auditions came to an end! This week! They’ve made Bootcamp all different againm and it’s something to do with having six seats and waiting until everyone has sung.
Oh, Giant X, come and save me from this brave new world! What’s this? They’ve truncated you? Is nothing safe anymore?
Dermot welcomes us to Wembley Arena by standing in front of Wembley Stadium and telling us that the favourite 100 acts (what a convenient number) are going to be whittled down to 50. The show also suggests people use the hashtag #bootcamp instead of #xfactor which is about as stupid as the official Doctor Who 50th hashtag being #savetheday and not #doctorwho or #dw50 or #moffatmustgo etc.
Prior to the show we have the annual bit where the evil producers mastermind who gets which category. You remember how, in days of yore, this bit used to go on forever, with Simon moaning how he didn’t want the groups/overs/etc? Well this year they kind of spunk this whole thing up the wall very quickly and move on apart from evil producer Richard in his colourful evil producer scarf hamming up his part for all he can and the obligatory shot of a handy and functional Samsung tablet (confession: I now own one of these. I wanted a tablet and it suited my purposes best but I nearly didn’t get one purely because of this show, and now that I do own one and see it on telly, I feel kind of grubby. I promise it doesn’t have the fifth judge app installed on it). Louis very vaguely tries to milk some drama by saying he ‘hopes it’s not the girls’, because we all know how good he is with young women, but no, he gets the boys, Sharon (whose dog Bella looks just like a cuddly toy) the overs and Gary the groups. Nicole gets the best edit here, whilst the others are walking about or in cars, she’s lounging in a dressing gown eating bagels and when she is told she has the girls, she says they’re very lucky to have her, because she’s the reigning champion. Heh.
The judges arrive in limos at Wembley to their waiting categories who all get excited to see their mentors, even Gary and Sharon’s categories who obviously haven’t got the memo about them being the worst mentors ever. Louis’ category remember that he won with the boys before. [I did wonder why they were so excited to see him, given his track record since then, but I suppose that is a fair point. - Steve]
The contestants begin with a mass vocal warm-up in the foyer before they go onto ‘challenge 1’ – this is the challenge where they’re reducing 100 acts to 50 and what follows is a segment only rivalled in its half-arsery than those times they send half the acts home before they even sing. Basically, the gist is that the soloists sing in groups of three, then the groups in pairs and 50 acts get sent home. They spend longer explaining this than they do showing it, as all we see are people getting saved or sent home, not them actually singing or anything. Basically, the people we know get saved (apart from poor, sweet Justin Peng, a few girls who had brief segments of airtime and Dynamix who taught us that no good can come of standing by your friends – and their singer CeeCee seems to be called Cherise this week although this may be Gary getting it wrong), and the people we don’t get sent home. And then to try and put in some ZOMG! SHOCK! BOOT! DRAMA! we see one sing-off only – between Amy from last year, Melanie from every year and Stephanie who Sharon sent home when she was 14. They do ‘Fighter’ which is a bit patchy – Amy comes off best and Stephanie worst and Sharon tries to emotionally blackmail Nicole into keeping Stephanie, but she doesn’t, and Stephanie is sent home. Sharon makes it all about her again by telling Nicole to change her mind, then crying and giving Stephanie a massive hug.
Ads! Not one person ever has tweeted ‘Loving the #fifthjudge app’ who wasn’t a marketing stooge (Dave Gorman did a brilliant bit about marketing stooges on social media the other week on his Dave TV show by the way, which was worth checking out, especially if you watched The Apprentice in its earlier series when they used em@iler phones and made all the winners work for Amscreen). Give it up, show.
If you were in any doubt as to where the favoured category is this year (and it’s hard to think that you would be after the first two audition shows) it’s worth noting that out of a 90-minute show, one category dominates about 75 minutes of the airtime, meaning the other three categories are going to get about half an hour each, total. [I like to think they're favouring the mentor rather than the category. Nicole makes the best TV, so she gets the lion's share of screen time. - Steve]
Having dispensed with 50 acts in as short a time as possible, we’re onto the new challenge – basically, each judge gets six seats where their chosen six sit and watch the auditions. If the six seats fill up and the judges want to put someone else through, then they have to chuck someone off a seat, which doesn’t sound at all humiliating. No word on what will happen if the spaces don’t all get filled up but my prediction is that this will only happen with the groups and the other spaces will be taken up by Frankenbands, because that’s how this show works usually.
The girls are the first category up and we see a bunch of them waiting backstage – about 17 or 18 of them by my count. Nicole implores the audience to show the contestants some love and to help them out. If there’s one thing I can guarantee about the X Factor audience is that they won’t be any help whatsoever, Nicole.
First up is
Karen Hardy Karen Harding Cannon Fodder, model, 21. She apparently auditioned with ‘Love on Top’
and I don’t even remember if we saw it or not.
She hopes this is her moment. She
does a slowed-down and trilled-up version of ‘We are Young’ and it’s not
particularly good, but she looks great and props to her for not
gender-switching the lyrics. Louis likes
her and her voice but doesn’t know if Nicole will pick her. Thanks Louis!
Sharon and Gary like her too.
Dermot reminds us of what we have just watched and says the category
judge gets the final vote. Nicole says
she has a nice tone to her voice but wasn’t sure about the song choice. The braying mob shout ‘seat, seat, seat’ and
Nicole puts her in the top six.
Backstage Tamera says she earned her seat. Dermot reminds us she’s not safe until
everyone has sung.
Next up is Lydia Lucy who was pretty affected and screechy in her earlier auditions but has at least realised her gimmick is to wear the same white dress and trainers all the time to help people remember her, which is somewhat savvy. Her ‘For Once in My Life’ has no real depth or soul and is full of sub-Cher Lloyd affectations but the audience lap it up like the fools they are and give her a standing ovation. These people are very easily pleased. Gary loves her ambition and says she oversung a bit but she was courageous anyway. Nicole says she has a distinct, bright voice but wonders if she is different enough and to more muted shouts of ‘seat’, she is told to put her ‘sweet little cheeks’ on a seat. Who new the Scherz was a bum woman? Sharon says she’s like a Disney kid.
Next up! It’s Hannah who learned that you need to fall out with your friends in order to progress in this life! But this will all work out well for her, won’t it? Lydia and Karen discuss whether or not she can sing. She does a very average ‘River Deep, Mountain High’, which she can’t really reach. Gary stops the performance early too boos from the audience. Surely only the category mentor would be able to do that. Gary says her voice is getting out of control and she needs to control it. Nicole says the song choice was wrong as she doesn’t have enough soul for it. She doesn’t think Hannah is ready and sends her home. So basically, you keep your friends, you go home; you dump your friends, you go home. I’m not sure what the moral of this story is. I’d say something about singing, but this IS the X Factor. She comes off stage and melodramas that she has lost everything and gets a big Dermot hug. I know contestants coming on this show should have an idea what’s in store but it does feel a tad mean to be putting a 17 year old in such emotionally difficult positions.
Ads! Myleene Klass has no idea how to dress appropriately for a night at the funfair.
A freakishly large moon welcomes us back to bootcamp. Siana Schofield gets sent home for not being strong enough vocally or having an interesting enough story. Wedding singer Crissie, who is now 25, which sheds an interesting light on the age thing – I always thought the cut-off point would be to be 24 when lives started but it must be from first audition. Anyway, she goes home. Sharon wants to know where the fight is and Nicole wonders what’s going on with her girls. Some oompa-loompa girl we’ve never seen before called Jade (who is not THAT Jade) says ‘if it’s a no then it’s a no, but if it’s a yeah, then fantastic’ which is a big fat uh-uh on this show. You can’t be philosophical about things, your life needs to depend on this, Jade. [Unless you're Stacey Solomon. Ahh, for the days when you could get away with saying "there's always Asda". - Steve] It’s the only way to make your dead relative happy and to escape your crappy job. Read the script, missus. Her ‘Alone’ sounds like your aunt on the karaoke and she’s dispatched for having no fight. Nicole is pissed off and has to kick some BEEP. She goes backstage and tells the others she was BEEPed off by the last audition so they need to have more passion, kick some butt and grow some balls.
OH MY I WONDER WHAT THIS WILL CUE UP.
Tamera is next, looking a lot older and savvier than last time we saw her. She reminds us that she also ditched a friend to get through, then forgot her lyrics. Other Hannah gives her a hug and says she loves her. Tamera worries about forgetting her ‘lines’ again. She’s singing Rihanna’s ‘Stay’ which is perhaps not the most obvious choice but she makes a decent fist at it, if a bit too ‘trilly’ and with a few bum notes, particularly as she gets more into the emotion and forgets about her technique. The chorus is a bit too screechy but she does have potential. Lous says it was her best performance and she ticks every box. Nicole says she got it together today but she’s still very young and she doesn’t know if she’s ready, but she’s through anyway.
Dermot snarks ‘finally another seat’ but he’s about as much use here as Holly and Reggie are on The Voice. Relley C of the two-tone hair is through after her version of ‘Respect’, and the judges declare her adorable. Jade Richards of multiple auditions is next up, and isn’t especially brilliant, but Sharon whoops the audience up to stand on their feet and Gary trolls ‘seat, seat, seat’ and Nicole puts her through and snaps ‘thanks guys, now I only have one seat left.’
Sheena McHugh who I don’t remember says she really wants it in the most deadpan voice ever. She does a miserable and screechy ‘The One That Got Away’. Sharon says she doesn’t have star power, Gary thinks she’s a real artist and Nicole says it’s hard to choose because the bar is so high in the girls’ category. Gary says ‘don’t regret losing her’ and Nicole starts to cry and says she doesn’t know if this show is right for her and she’s sending her home. The audience boo like the fools they are and Sheena whines that she really wants it, and the producers tell Nicole that she needs more CRASH! DRAMA! so she changes her mind and sends her through for being the ‘only one’ that made her cry. Please. I love the Scherz, but she’d cry if there was an onion within a five mile radius of the venue.
Ads. Pretty good to see a sports ad from Nike that’s about women being tough and swimming away from sharks and stuff. I approve.
Only three girls are left now, and wouldn’t you know it? It’s three who’ve been featured heavily throughout, Hannah of the tragic backstory, Abi who looks like Andrea from The Voice (I know that sounds a bit ‘all those brunette curly white girls with glasses look the same to me’ but without the bleach, straighteners and contact lenses, I’d a be a brunette curly white girl with glasses myself) and ZombieMelanie who keeps coming back from the metaphorical dead.
Hannah is first and Nicole is crying again as she does ‘I Would Rather Go Blind’, also crying. She isn’t perfect and has a rather uncomfortable idea about stage posture, but I think she is probably my favourite in this category. The audience whoop and Dermot beams that ‘Nicole’s in a lot of trouble’, except the two obvious fodderbots and either Lydia or Relley who will both no doubt go out at judges’ houses. This is the problem with the show, I get that they retro-edit it so we can root for the finalists all the way through but then we all know who will get through because they’ve been shown so heavily whilst everyone else is such clear fodder. Therefore, this whole six seat twist, contrived purely for DRAMAZ has no edge, because there are people we don’t care about whom we know will be going home. [Also, boot camp doesn't feel any different from the audition rounds any more. It doesn't need a live audience, for starters. I miss the group performances, and the staying-up-all-night, and the evil vocal coaches and whatnot. - Steve] Still, the script calls for drama and Nicole is nothing but a drama queen (see also: Osborne, Sharon and Walsh, Louis). Sheena is dispatched swiftly as we all knew she would be, which really means Nicole should have stuck to her guns and sent her home rather than put her through further humiliation.
Abi is next and because we always need a kooky Diana Vickers/Janet Devlin type these days, she’ll be going through, but she finds it hard to know that if she goes through, someone else will go home. If her kookiness wasn’t kooky enough, she’s in a white frock and wearing flowers on her hat (I thought at first it was a daisy chain which would have been an epic burn on Hannah and her broken-up-band The Daisy Chains). And to add insult to injury, she’s doing a piano, slowed-down version of ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’. I can feel Steve’s teeth itching from here. Her voice is actually quite nice but it’s not something we haven’t seen on this show a million times before, except now with added spectacles. Gary and Louis love her. Nicole says it’s not the song she would have chosen. The audience start shouting ‘swap swap swap’ and ‘seat seat seat’ which means someone else they were shouting ‘seat’ for now has to be deposed. So fickle, this baying mob. Nicole begs the other judges for their help. Gary says Abi has got something and he doesn’t know. So helpful. Anyway, she’s through, and this time it’s at the expense of Lydia. The audience boo this DESPITE SHOUTING FOR IT TO HAPPEN. Jeez I fucking hate the X Factor audience so fucking much. Abi cries on the other girls and then Lydia cries as a camera is shoved in her face and this all feels rather uneccessary.
Ads! Oh yay Sharon is giving an interview in the Sun on Sunday. I can’t wait. Other papers are available (including the Observer in which this tellyblogger is used as a talking head this week, fact fans) (/ self-promotion)
We’re back with the girls AGAIN which means either tomorrow’s show will be super-long or the other categories are getting short shrift. ZombiMelanie mentions how she’s been on this show before and cries some more and then does a very wobbly ‘The One That Got Away’ which is better than Sheena’s version but that wouldn’t have been difficult. I genuinely think Melanie was better that year that Evil Kelly Rowland sent her home from judges’ houses (in that ten-second clip we saw of her that year) than this year. Too many bad habits and way too desperate. The audience love it and it makes Louis cry because she’s IRISH but the song apparently means something to her personally and Louis says she’s the one that got away. Speaking of ones that got away, I saw the Wand Erection film the other week for research purposes (man was it LONG) and I was disappointed that Resentful wasn’t resentful enough for the most part nor was the Zaynwreck bad enough. However, my favourite moment was classic Resentful when he said that he’d auditioned before and been turned down and only went back on the show because he was pissed off and wanted to show them. And then there was a bit where they mentioned how he used to hate the others. Love it.
Nicole says she wasn’t sure if she believed it in Melanie’s past performances but she had her in this one. She’s in the top six and it’s no surprise that Karen Fodder is out. Melanie reacts very cheerily to being put through whilst the other six wear faces of thunder. Read the room, McCabe, at least give some crocodile tears. The audience shout ‘seat’ and then boo Nicole as she says she has to lose someone and then cheer when it’s Karen who they wanted to have a seat. SMH.
So the six girls going through after that epic dramarama are: Tamera, Jade, Melanie, Abi, Relley and Hannah and we all shrug.
As an afterthought, the Overs are next, but this will be easier as there are only about eight of them (six of whom are women because this is the year of the vagina. See also: Dancing, Strictly Come) and only about three of those are people we’ve seen much of, so there’s little drama here. Sharon still whines that it will be hard.
First up is prison officer Sam who started well and then became a Meaty Minge wannabe. She’s doing Emily Sunday’s ‘Clown’ and it’s alright for the most part – not as good as her first audition but a bit more subtle than her second one – then she goes full on VOLUME=GOOD because that’s what this show does best. It seems to be even slower than the original, though, and I wasn’t sure such a thing was possible. I hated this on first viewing, by the way, but second viewing and seeing how bad some of the girls’ category are has softened my ire. Sharon gets the audience to whoop as if there was any doubt who’d be going through. Sharon cries that in ‘all her years’ she’s dreamed of a contestant like Sam. Somewhere, Brenda, Maria and Dionne are wondering precisely what was meant by that statement and hoping Sharon just meant ‘prison officer’ than something a little more uncomfortable. Sam’s through, obviously. Backstage it looks like “fit” dad Joseph has put talc in his hair to try and be a silver fox but as it goes away later, it's probably just the lighting.
Ads! I’m pretty sure the only ‘ALL! NEW!’ thing about the lottery is it doubling in price.
We’re back with Souli Roots whose wig is blonde this week and she has a mask with her. Sharon asks if she is Lady Gaga and she says not tonight. Her Man in the Mirror is full-on bonkers, less tuneful than she’s been in the past and ends in an undignified forward roll that makes Susanna Reid’s falling over on the sofa on Strictly look elegant. Sharon lies that this is a singing contest and sends our one hope at a comedy contestant home. Somewhere, Brian Friedman is rocking and weeping.
Next up is some bloke called Jason who I don’t recognise but who has given up his crappy job in a call centre to do this, which seems premature. Sharon calls him ‘bubsy’ and he does a slightly unexciting ‘Higher Love’ and Sharon thinks it was a sold performance but he is sent packing to boos from the audience. If there really were eight overs left and we’ve just seen two go home, that kind of spoils the drama somewhat, no? I’m not commenting on the fact that the two dispatched were both black. Except I just did. One of the other contestants goes ‘no no no, not Jason’. Gary says he wasn’t expecting that. Sharon says she didn’t think the audience liked him that much. [Jason was about the only person whose audition I can remember vividly and who I really liked, so...well, there goes my interest in the show this year. - Steve] A couple more overs appear to have been dug up from somewhere backstage to increase the fake drama. Next up is Sabrina, who I don’t remember, so presumably won’t see at boot camp. She has an awesome red weave and does a decent ‘I Would Rather Go Blind’ – I’m assuming they were given a limited number of songs to choose from – however, we only see a tiny snatch of it and although she is sent through, expect her to be dispatched again pretty soon.
Next up is Joseph Whelan whose WORLD GOT DESTROYED at boot camp last year and who has a cute son he may have mentioned this. Sharon asks him to convince her why he should go through. I presume she meant through performance, but he does a classic Apprentice-boardroom-beg-style ‘I’ll give you everything’. It was just missing the 110%. Shelley and some fodder woman debate how ‘dreamy’ he is backstage. His ‘Iris’ is croaky and affected and he’s not even good enough to be Brookstein, but given their similarities in personality, style and entitlement, I look forward to seeing how his relationship with Sharon will pan out. Gary says his lower range needs work but his upper range is good, Louis says he would put him through. Sharon says she doesn’t need wimps, at which the audience boo and she retorts ‘don’t you dare!’ because she’s come to her ‘own’ decision, which is to give a fake-out I’m sorry and send him through to a soundtrack of MOAR EMILY SUNDAY.
Sharon only has three seats left, which is not very tough given how few overs are left to sing for them. Tomorrow, see who goes through and what happens to the boys and the groups. Join us for that!