Saturday, 11 December 2010

Your weekend starts here

Hello and welcome to the live X-Factor blog. The indoor fireworks have been charged, function rooms around the country have been filled with rowdy crowds hopped up on WKD, and the judges are all here in their evening finery.

Dermot's doing his opening spiel and leaving those... awkward pauses... between bits of his script. First up, it's the final sixteen lip-synching badly to one of the most covered songs of all time - What A Feeling. Everyone sounds great, but that's because these vocals were obviously recorded weeks ago. I tell a lie - Cher's bit is live, because she sounds shouty and flat on her contractually obliged rap element.

Rebecca sounded fantastic singing something with more than 11 beats-per-minute, Matt less so, struggling with his lower register and the crushing embarrassment of covering Irene Cara on a Saturday evening TV show. And then there was One Direction, wearing an eclectic variety of neon pain splashes, like they came here straight from their weekend job at the B&Q mixing counter.

Lines are already open, before anyone's given a single performance, so here's Dermot to rattle through the numbers. I guess we're going to be hearing those numbers a few more times before the evening's out. Hurrah, it's an ad break already, so we can see what JLS and Jedward get up to when they're at home with a Wii.

Tonight's first performance will be by Matt - Dannii's introduction reminded us that he's a painter/decorator first, and a singer second. He's been home to Colchester wearing his favourite hat. I'm hoping that he's going to be confronted by an angry homeowner still waiting for a second coat in his extension. His dad's getting all choked up saying "I never gave up" - is that a knock at Matt's supposed laziness?

Matt's got his acoustic guitar out and he's strumming for his life, singing Dido's 'Here With Me'. He sounds fantastic, but then he always does when he takes a woman's song and 'makes it his own'. It's nice to hear this song performed by someone who can actually sing for a change. He's being supported by a troupe of violin players wearing spooky veils over their faces. Surely that must interfere with their playing? Wouldn't a pork-pie hat be more appropriate head-gear?

Dannii gave him a standing ovation, and Louis is stating that Matt absolutely has to be in the final. Dannii's thanked him for all his hard work, which must be the first time he's heard those words. Matt still seems to have a cold - he's coughing into his prayer hands. They just attempted a live link to Colchester, where excitable Queen of the Jungle Stacey Solomon managed to screech incoherently into a microphone, while the camera crew forgot to film what was happening. Ah, professionalism, you can't beat it.

Up next, it's Rebecca. She's from Liverpool you know. I hadn't realised, they kept that very quiet. She's still as dull but likeable as always, lots of tears and inspiring comments along the lines of "You can be whatever you want to be." Cheryl's loving the chance to see where Rebecca's 'come from', even though it's pretty much the same kind of background that she herself came from. Nice to know our Cheryl's still got her feet on the ground.

Rebecca's standing on giant hat box again - at least it gives her an excuse for not moving around. Her hair is enormous, which isn't her best look, but she sounds as good as always. The song is boring and tuneless, so let's allow ourselves to be distracted by the men who are slowly rotating her, like she's riding the world's slowest roundabout. Louis wants everyone in Liverpool to vote for Rebecca - can somebody replace his batteries please, because he just keeps repeating the same line? Unfortunate close-up on Rebecca there - she's so shiny, like they applied her make-up with floor-sander.

Colleen Rooney is in Liverpool screeching at a bunch of bemused-looking Scousers and showcasing her presenting skills. I think Joan Bakewell's job is safe for now.

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