Sunday, 17 October 2010
Normal service resumes
But that's all over now - we're home and unpacked, which means two things - a shitload of laundry and about fourteen hours of X-Factor on the Sky+ to wade through. So the washing machine's spinning happily, and so's the disc drive of the PVR unit. But you're already up-to-date with the runny mascara and last-minute changes, so I won't bore you with a delayed reaction to something you've already forgotten.
However, what did strike me, as we sat down to catch up on all the action from the last couple of weeks, was the fact that the press are still falling over themselves to report on every side-eyed glance between the judges, and every potential conflict between the contestants. And it looks as though there's plenty of backstage gossip for them to be getting on with.
So say a big 'thank you' to the TV gods who saw fit to give us the gift of Katie Waissel - a girl who makes Norma Desmond seem shy and unassuming. Demonstrating a flair for the dramatic that made good on her promise to be a star in "music, acting, fashion and medicine", this Lady Gaga/Marie Curie hybrid turned on the waterworks at the judges' home stage of the competition.
Attempting to sing Charlie Chaplin's Smile from under a pair of false eyelashes that looked like something Pepe Le Pew would rape, she broke down because the song was "very emotional". After a mini breakdown, she managed to pull things together to perform it properly second time around. Even Cheryl Cole called her on being a drama queen, and that's someone who thought Ashley was good marriage material.
When she's not strolling through a cornfield twirling Mary Poppins' parasol for her close-ups, Katie is actually a fiercely competitive contestant, and has even roped in her family to fight her corner. Today's Mail features an exclusive story about Katie's mother, a 'boutique owner' from Harefield, Middlesex, who's complaining that Tesco is exerting its considerable might behind frumpy check-out worker Mary Byrne.
Smelling another SuBo-shaped phenomenon, the supermarket giant is backing its home-grown heroine, perhaps in hope that they'll score an another exclusive distribution deal for the inevitable album. After all, those Nadine Coyle CDs aren't likely to fly off the shelves.
According the Mail's coverage, Tesco has sent emails to its 300,000 employees reminding them of Byrne's appearance in the live shows. Although, anyone who's ever read any kind of internal communications messaging knows how desperate they are for content. Getting an employee into the UK's most popular show is quite a coup for Tesco, it's hardly surprising that they'd want to shout it from the service station rooftops.
Always keen to sniff out a scandal, the Mail points out that they were the ones to break the story last week that "a rival chain had complained about the X-Factor's promotion of Tesco. The company was mentioned eight times in just three shows featuring Byrne." Given that the "I work on a till at Tesco" has now replaced "I'm doing this for my dead Dad" in the sob-story stakes, I'm not sure anyone at the UK's number one supermarket would be overjoyed by the coverage.
To hear Mary talk about her day job, you'd think she was forced to fill in for Hercules, cleaning the Augean Stables with her toothbrush for 18 hours a day. Not swiping loose vegetables over a scanner and packing a few bags.
Nonetheless, Tesco has remained upbeat and supportive of Mary, denying it was attempting to influence people's vote, but adding "She has reached the X-Factor finals on her talent alone." Which is more than can be said for Katie, who's yet to find a song that doesn't sound better on the second go-round. Her mother can bitch about Tesco's influence all she like, but Katie's biggest deficit is her like-ability, not a network of supportive work colleagues.
Sour grapes? That'll be aisle five, next to the bananas.