Christmas time! Mistletoe and Wine! Campaigns to stop the X-Factor winner’s single getting to number 1! And, having sat through Viva’s ’20 years of Christmas Number Ones’ I have departed the Death Star and am firmly on the side of the rebels. Not because I feel that my life will be enriched by listening to 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence enlivened only by the noise of Pete Docherty wiping his nose with the back of his hand, lighting a fag, and accidentally sitting on his hat, but because all the bloody x-Factor videos are Exactly The Same.
Centre stage, this year’s pop-tart, attired in black or white, being gently fondled by a wind machine. Behind, some kind of light device, be it theatre lights, candles, or just a general glow. Interspersed with this uninspiring vision (in black and white, so we know it’s, like, history) a montage of Their First Audition, Hugging Their Family, Simon Saying Yes, Hugging Dermy/Kate, Bootcamp Happiness, Judge’s House Happiness, Key Moments of The Live Finals, The Fateful Announcement. This year they will probably just take one of the previous videos and photoshop in the new winner’s face, which will be brilliant if Use Protection triumph.
On the other hand, these videos viewed together do provide a fascinating insight into the interesting effects of the passage of time on the Dark Lord of the Moobs. When Shayne Ward won, Simon was looking positively bloated and baggy, not to mention un peu greying. Cut to Burko four years later, and it’s practically a different man, although one can’t help suspecting this is less a case of a portrait in the attic and more one of dyes, peels, fillers, veneers, lifts, tans and polishes in the aesthetics clinic.
Apparently its Disco Week. Confusion reigns for a while, because didn’t we have a week where TreyC did ‘Relight My Fire’ and Tesco Mary did ‘Could it Be Magic?’ Wasn’t that Disco Week? It’s all slightly immaterial, as Disco has been rather loosely interpreted as Club Classics, as demonstrated by our first act of the night, Rebecca (celebrity fan: Broom Cupboard Lover Boris Becker) who does ‘Show Me Love’.
Girlfriend looks fierce. She sounds like it was written for her. While I wouldn’t go as far as Doolally Louis, who thought she showed us she can dance, she certainly moved from the back of the stage to the front, which is definitely more action than we normally get. Dermy appears to be wearing the world’s biggest World AIDS Day ribbon. Or maybe it’s a normal sized one…
Mary (AIDS ribbon: tiny) does the only genuinely disco song of the night, ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’. As the ‘hunks’ help her from her chair she looks a bit, well, aged.
Brian’s setting of masses of Pan’s People prancing around is getting a bit boring. There’s just too many of them. Even at her size she is lost in their mustard and ruffle frenzy. Cheryl loves the visuals. She loves the mustard and ruffle frenzy. Simon agrees it wasn’t very contemporary.
The Cardlegan has been so ill he’s had to go home and lie around in bed and get his mum to bring him hot drinks and paracetamol. Will the envy of the entire nation, which has also had a nasty cold but has had to man up and get on with it, cause a drop in his votes this week? He does look terrible on stage. If that’s any comfort to him. He does ‘You Got The Love’, Florence version, which really is not as disco as the Candi Staton version. For a start, he’s got a guitar, for God’s sake. Disco, people, is multi-coloured flashing dancefloors, white suits and flares, the Bee Gees. It is not guitars.
As well as looking bad he sounds quite rough. Loopy Lou says he thinks Matt will win, which is also what the bookies think, so it’s not really going out on that massive a limb. “I don’t think anyone cares you had flu” says Moobo, showing his lack of understanding of the former painter/decorator’s female fans, all of whom have been busy imagining themselves bringing Matt a hot Ribena and rubbing some Vicks on his chest. “I had a cold this week too,” he pouts. Wow! Me too! That’s two things in two weeks I’ve had in common with Cowbell. Fortunately he’s had “a little sleep and a Lemsip “and is feeling much better.
Cher, dressed in some bling urchin version of black tie, complete with white hi-tops – yes, Im afraid so – does B.o.B’s ‘Nothin’ On You’. Nothin’ related to disco either, but we knew that already. She cracks a few of the high notes. Simmy does his usual bit of reminding her people are hating on her but he’ll stick up for her. His continued harping on this theme of ‘everybody hates you but I’m here for you’ is becoming tantamount to abuse.
One Direction want us to make them feel like they’re the only girl in the world. Oh sorry, they’re going to make us feel like we’re the only girl in the world. I see what they did there!
Now I can totally see myself jumping up and down to the Rihanna original in Pacha, but it’s not disco. They meet Joe McElderry on the red carpet at the Narnia premiere, where he is legitimately attending as as a soundtrack artist, rather than promotional filler. I assume the judges make comments on their little performance, but frankly I can’t hear for the yelling from the audience. One D are also wearing white hi-tops. Wardrobe evidently got a job lot.
And that’s the end of round one. For sticking more or less to the brief, and doing something a bit out of the usual – indeed, for stepping up to a metaphorical Abba week – it goes to Rebecca.
The second round is ‘Song That Will Get You Into The Finals’. So at least one person is going to do a Gummo and pick a song that doesn’t fit the criteria. Cheryl’s make up is very white around the eyes and orange on the cheeks, like a strange new breed of geisha panda. The Natural World had a panda special on this week, which made it abundantly clear that the reason scientists continue with panda breeding programmes is because they have become unfortunately hooked on cuddling baby pandas.
Matt does Billy Joel’s ‘Always a Woman To Me’. This is exactly his comfort zone and he hits most of the notes. It’s a bit uncomfortable, though, because watching it you realise we now all know what Cardie’s O face would look like. Cowhell is putting in the legwork to make sure the Teen Erections get through, calling it Cardie’s worst performance and suggesting Mat is normally more of a risk-taker, which, wifebeater apart, is blatantly not the case.
Before Tesco Mary takes the mike, I try to keep an open mind about her performance, but I bet she shouts. In fact, she surprises me by kicking off ‘Memories’ with a most unusual couple of notes. There’s just something fakily operatic about the tone of her voice that I can’t get on board with. Like a cruise ship full speed ahead suddenly hitting land, she abruptly cracks up on the last word of the penultimate line and ends up in tears.
According to Pikey Cheryl’s VT her song makes her feel every emotion under the sun, you know, including how you feel when you lose your no claims bonus because the bloody council didn’t grit the road, when you get to the supermarket and realise you forgot your reusable shopping bags, not to mention the emotion that overcomes you when you realise you would actually rather be at home in bed than in a bar in Soho.
Chezza informs us that this song was for two people, but put together it’s the kind of song that Pikey C would have on her album. That, or it will make her sound like a crazed schizo. I know where my money is going. She does Eminem/Rihanna, not entirely successfully. “It was about showing the kind of artist you’d be after the competition,” i.e. next week, God willing. “I wouldn’t’ change myself for the world,” says Pikey C, unwittingly destroying all Chezza’s good work in saying the attitude is all performance and the real Pikey C is v humble. Also, it’s bullshit. She’d sew on a penis in a heartbeat if that’s what Mooby wanted.
Rebecca finally provides us with one of ‘those’ moments, doing ‘Amazing Grace’ backed by an acapella choir. Her stillness works for her, letting her old soul voice carry the moment.
Loulou, who has loved everyone - including, let us remember, Jedward – says she’s his favourite contestant ever. “Including Jedward?” checks Dermy.
Oh no! Zain’s granddad died. How this only affected this song and the not the first one was not clear, but fortunately he is back now (Zain, not his granddad, that would be spooky) to do Snow Patrol’s ‘Chasing Cars’, aka the nation’s favourite funeral song. “Liam, Zain, Harry, Niall, Louis,” says Louis, proving he knows their names, “I know your names!” Be afraid. “Apparently you came in at 8 in the morning to work on this,” says Simon. The lazy buggers! What time are the others getting in?
And this week there is no Frodo or Wagner to save Mary and Cher from the bottom two. However, in a surprise (to me, anyway, I probably just wasn’t listening) there is only going to be one expulsion, and 4 finalists. Frankly, that sounds like too many cooks – or indeed, too many Chers – for a final. Are there no lengths the Dark Lord will not go to drag Cher kicking and screaming into pop stardom?
There’s no group song this week (actually there wasn’t last week either, but I didn’t, ahem, notice) so we kick off the Results mockery with Burko. Everytime we see the clip of judges going ‘finally we got a band who can win the X Factor’ let’s just remember JLS were standing on the stage with Burko waiting to hear who had won, which is further than OD have got so far.
Burko’s set just further underlines how dull Brian’s stagings are. Does he ever give us stripping men falling from the ceiling? Upside down violin players? Burko herself ascending into heaven at the end?
“It’s an epiphany!” cries Dermy. I thought he was meant to be some kind of big Catholic (spiritually, you understand) in which case he should know it’s an ascension. Unless Burko’s song really did give him ‘the sudden comprehension or realization of the essence or meaning of something’.
Next up, slightly confusingly, its New Directions, or as we know and love them, the cast of Glee. Puck gets a massive scream when he comes on, some of which is from the audience and the rest of which is in my living room. Interestingly, Lea Michele doesn’t use the silly little Miley Cyrus girly voice she has in the show, and belts out ‘Don’t Stop Believin” with vim and vigour. Needless to say, they all rock and remind everyone what a proper professional singer sounds like.
After Glee, the Black Eyed Peas. Sadly not the Will.I.Am and Nicky Minaj song featuring Cheryl going ‘Oh-ah oh-ah’. (That girl is SUCH an ARTIST!) Will.I.Am likes Cher, and he likes Rebecca. But which one is better? There’s only one way to find out…
Mary and Cher are indeed in the bottom two. In previous years, it’s been down to ‘YOUR VOTES!’ at this stage, and apparently Dermy did indicate last night that this would be the case, but instead we have a sing-off. Because the producers weren’t confident Pikey would beat Tesco. Mary knocks ‘It’s a Man’s World’ out of the ballpark. Cher, on the other hand, looks like shes been crying for a week and croaks her way uncertainly through the first half of Britney’s ‘Everytime’. Listen, it’s a hard thing to do a poor job on a Britters song, so kudos to her for making such a hash of it.
Loopy Lou says he can see ‘a real person’ in Mary. Most people can see two. The audience are yelling ‘Pick Cher!’ and Dannii, who has borrowed the Queen’s hairdresser for the night, does just that. Simon can take it to DEADLOCK if he picks Tesco. However, he more or less says Mary will do just fine without winning whereas Pikey will disappear without trace, so he puts Cher through. “What’s next for Mary?” asks Dermy? “She’s on XFactor 2,” replies Louis. Delightfully literal as ever. Nurse!