Sunday, 21 October 2012

What just happened here?

The X-Factor results show is something of a phenomenon. Week after week, it’s one of the highest rated programmes on TV, and yet it’s almost completely devoid of anything remotely enjoyable – untertainment, if you will. And yet the cacophony of noise and lighting effects would have you believe you’re about to witness the second coming.

Dermot’s wearing another shapeless grey suit with a single button, that looks like a grubby baker’s tunic. Nicole, on the other hand, has at least made something of an effort, sporting a dress that wouldn’t be out of place in an Ann Summers window display. Now it’s time for another group sing-along – this week it’s Ain’t Nobody. An apt choice really, given that none of them can compare with Chaka Khan’s original vocal. Ella’s fine, but when she’s not on her A-game, she’s more like Sonia than Adele. As for the rest of them, their voices blend about as well as David Cameron at a DWP Christmas party. It’s also a timely reminder that there’s only a couple of singers in the contest with anything like the kind of vocal range needed to hit the high notes.

Up next is the tedious recap of last night’s action, where we learned that Tulisa’s cheeseboard involves waxy balls and a bit of blue - just a dry water biscuit for me, thanks. When Love Takes Over reminded me how much I don’t miss Kelly, and Gary told us that “We’re witnessing the birth of a new boyband.” Let’s hope the camera cuts away before they start crowning. Tulisa shared the extent of her music industry expertise on Lucy: “I just want her to translate to a commercial audience,” but I think we’ve actually got our work cut out translating what she’s talking about. Finally, Gary went mental about Ella’s cheesy dance moves, but it’s not like she was doing the birdie song.

The first of tonight’s guest slots is taken by Labrinth, who opens with a surprisingly sensitive piano-based performance, even if his playing technique makes me think of Schroeder. Part way through the song he welcomes his special guest, Barbara Windsor. Sorry, my bad, it’s Emeli Sande – everyone’s favourite pop underdog. She really needs to get a better agent, before she completely fades into anonymity. Surely someone must be able to get her a decent gig – I hate to think of her supporting Steve Brookstein in Pizza Express. Their song is fine and they perform it well enough to distract me from the asinine lyrics, which could have been taken from a teenager’s pencil case.  

Dermot gravely intones his five-minute warning, accompanied by doomy sound effect and lowered studio lights. Better stock up on torch batteries and filtered water, JLS are coming. But before all that, he’s keen to canvas the judges’ opinion on who’s in danger. Louis must have had his Weetabix, because he names Jade before Dermot can hurry him along, leaving it to Tulisa to wimp out instead.

Here’s a shocker - JLS have had five number ones. I think I even own one of their albums, and yet I couldn’t hum a note of anything they’ve ever done; they’re the musical equivalent of the Bernard Matthews mid-week roast. Sadly, that melodic anonymity is unlikely to change, since they seem to have left their new song’s tune in the changing room, along with a hat that fits Aston’s tiny little head. He looks like a pencil topper. The chorus involves them squeaking “How does it feel to be the hottest girl in the world right now?” Because who doesn’t love a passive-aggressive compliment like that?

Just ten minutes left, so out comes the silver envelope of doom. Union J are safe and start hugging the boys from District 3, until they’re all utterly indistinguishable: a human centipede with floppy hair and too much denim. Lucy and Rylan are also both safe, so I guess the hotel staff didn’t get to call in their votes this week. And Jade gets a last minute reprieve, even though Gary and Louis named her as the act in danger.  So that leaves Chim-Chim-Cheree and MK1 to face the sing-off.

MK1 start off wobbly and amateurish, although they manage to turn things around by the song’s end. Next it’s Kye’s turn, and Gary is quite happy to play the sympathy card for his act’s previously unmentioned laryngitis. Annoyingly, Kye has picked I Can’t Make You Love Me, which holds the dubious honour of featuring in more desperate ‘save me’ performances than any other song. The problem is, people seem to miss the point of the song. It’s about giving up. When the public don’t give a shit, there’s nothing you can do to change it. If you’re in bottom two, you might as well accept that you can never win.

Nicole wobbles about how much she loves MK1 and is “all about you and how fresh and relevant you are.” So she’s sending them home. Tulisa tells them “You touch a soft spot for me.” Sorry, I’m not going there. In the end, she wants to stay true to her urban roots, and takes it to DEADLOCK, which doesn’t go in MK1’s favour. I wonder if they’re regretting putting that grit back in now.

Dermot consoles them by saying “You were a breath of fresh air for us,” implying that the rest of the show is a stale belch. Reviewing their best bits, we’re reminded of the accountant that used to be in their group, who’s probably sitting at home trying to work out 33% of fuck-all. Finally, Louis gives his standard kiss-off “I want these guys to get a record deal, somebody sign them.” Surely that’s the whole point of him working in the music industry? 

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