We endured singing that wasn’t recognisably in English, laughed at the barely competent hosting and mocked all those strange people taking a silly song contest far too seriously. Then we watched Eurovision.
Last week: Evil Moira Ross told William that Danny had been telling everyone else that ‘Boom Boom Pow’ was an abomination unto the Lord, and told Danny that William had been telling everyone that Aleks Josh wasn’t even that hot, then rubbed her hands together with glee as the two of them squabbled like tiny, tiny children on national television. Sadly, ratings domination did not follow. Meanwhile, Jessie J got upset that judges on a televised popularity contest were acting like judges on a televised reality contest, and Santorum Jones continued to not care one tiny bit.
For some reason, it’s always Danny who opens the main show these days, except this week
his heart’s not really in it any more, because his true love is no longer around, and he’s started eating emotionally and wondering if there’s even any point in getting out of bed in the mornings. Holly and Reggie remind us of the long and tortuous journey we’ve undergone to get to this point as Sir Tom
tells us that everything has been leading up to this point. The show makes an effort to get everyone to do some intense head-turns for the camera just to show how much tonight’s show is serious business, but unfortunately
Max’s face is stuck in “are you kidding me with this” mode throughout. Also: am I alone in thinking that the above picture would’ve been a much more entertaining Charlie’s Angels remake than ABC’s woefully inept attempt last year? I’d totally tune in to watch Bo, Danny and Max fighting crime in a variety of alluring costumes. And Holly could play Boobsley. Anyway, everyone tries the sassy head-turn with varying degrees of success (although really, Kynt and Vyxsin set the bar so high on this one everyone else might as well just go home now) while Tom tells us that there are “no better singers in the UK” than the eight people who are still in this competition. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Clearly they’re off-setting the expense of this series by taking some of the budget from BBC Comedy. Anyway, the judges have primped, preened and coached all of their remaining acts to the best of their abilities, but guess who’s in charge now?
OH YEAH. Much to my relief, they aren’t going in for that weird system they used at this stage in the US where the judges had 100 points to divide between their two acts as they see fit and the public vote is divided into a certain number of points as well, because I couldn’t really make sense of that, and this show is already contemptuous enough of its viewers to think that we’ll need “falsetto” explaining to us later on, so it probably thought that throwing numbers into the mix would just fry our delicate little minds. William reminds us that this is the semi-final, so I’m assuming that the previous two weeks of competition were the demisemifinals, and the two weeks before that were the hemidemisemifinals, and…that’s just about the only thing I remember from music lessons at school. Apart from that time ‘Smooth Operator’ by Sade was the song we had to analyse for our end of year exam, that was pretty awesome.
Dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee this is THE SEMI-FINAL! It’s nearly over, hooray!
As always, Holly and Reggie are here and ready to greet us, with Holly having made a valiant effort to attend tonight’s show despite
her other commitments playing Poison Ivy in the disaster-prone musical BatMan: Turn Off The Dork. They explain to us that just one act from each team will progress to next week’s final, and that our votes alone will decide this (just in case we’ve forgotten in the last minute or so). Reggie reminds us that we also have a performance from “Cheryl”. Oh my God, Cheryl Baker! Leading us into Eurovision with a stirring rendition of ‘Making Your Mind Up’!
Oh, my mistake, it’s that one. I hope she’s got a good surgeon on hand to put her face back into one piece before the end of the show. After an interlude in which a hilariously-pained Reggie has to pretend to be excited about Eurovision being on later, the judges are introduced and
William would like it known that he was part of the Olympic torch relay earlier this week. Either that, or he’s brought a blinged-out baseball bat in case Danny starts getting uppity again and needs BEATINGS. Anyway, William plonks the torch/Danny-smasher in his cup-holder (bless)
and tells us that both Jaz and Tyler are amazing, and he hopes the public makes the right decision. Whatever that may be. Jessie J, meanwhile, reports that both of her acts are just “so happy to be here” with the resignation of someone who knows she clearly ain’t winning this thing. (Other incredibly accurate predictions I have made about this series include: that nobody would ever vote for Bo, and that Aleks was going to win the whole thing. Just putting that out there.) Danny says that if we feel like the judges have been doing a poor job choosing who goes through, the power is now in our hands. So, we can vote people back in who’ve already been eliminated? OH MY GOD, MOOLEEN FOR THE WIN!
Danny’s just glad the decision is
out of his hands. His roving hands, who are looking for a new target now that Aleks is gone. Any takers? All together now:
NO THANKS. Reggie asks Tom how the acts can guarantee a “career-best performance” tonight and Tom’s all “um, they can’t?” and says that they just have to give it “the full monty”, which of course makes Holly giggle about NUDITY TEE HEE!
Tom insists that we’ll be having NO NAKED CAREER BESTNESS tonight, thank you very much. You can leave your hat on. (No, really, he genuinely says that last bit, God love him.) Holly tells us that all the acts are waiting to perform in the Vagina Room
and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, TYLER, PUT SOME FUCKING SOCKS ON. Although I’m not even sure what sort of socks you’d have to wear to accessorise with a peach (pink? salmon? I’m hopeless at these things) suit. And the sharper-eyed amongst you will already have worked out who’s on first tonight: it’s Ruth.
We’re reminded of Ruth’s most recent, poorly-enunciated, performance.
NECTAR NECTAR NECTAR NECTAR NECTAR NECTAR NECTAR NECTAR NECTAR NECTAR NECTAR NECTAR NECTAR NECTAR NECTAR NECTAR NECTAR NECTAR NECTAR NECTAR NECTAR NECTAR NECTAR NECTAR NECTAR NECTAR NECTAR…sorry, where was I? Tom claims that when Ruth opens her mouth, “something original comes out”, and if he means that in the sense that it is like no language anyone on earth can recognise, then I have no objections to this assessment. Ruth interviews that receiving the most public votes last week was a real confidence booster, though she seems oddly subdued for a lot of this VT and
instead her sister takes over the talking, telling us how Ruth was really shy before entering the competition. And apparently still is, when she’s not actually singing. Tom’s picked ‘The Voice Within’ by Xtina for Ruth to sing this week, and it’s a song that Ruth relates to a lot because it reminds her of having a bad time at secondary school and seeking solace in the music room. Tom thinks Ruth is stronger than she realises, as Ruth tries to channel her inner
BECKY SMASH, while Zapharena talks about how Ruth has done “a 360”, and we really need to do some sort of national awareness campaign to point out to people that doing a 360 will put you right back in the position you started in. This is Key Stage 3 level maths, people. We should know this. Tom tells Ruth she has a good chance of making the final, and Ruth smiles for the first time in the entire VT. Progress!
In the studio,
Ruth sings the first two lines with her eyes completely closed, which is rather offputting. Also, I know the BBC’s trying to cut costs, but I’m not sure repurposing all of Pat Butcher’s outfits from EastEnders is entirely appropriate for this particular occasion. Performance-wise, it starts off okay, if a bit overly vibrato-y, but the minute she gets to the “life is a journey” middle eight part she immediately sinks back into all her worst habits, by which I mean she just
shouts indistinctly, squeaks off-key and points a lot. I can’t deny the second half of the song is passionate and powerful, but on a melodic level it’s an absolute mess. This leaves me wondering what the coaches are actually doing if they’re not weeding out things like this. Are they just turning up for half an hour to go through the song a couple of times and then popping off to Nando’s? I don’t get it. She ends the performance by encouraging us to trust the Vazwatheen, which seems like something that a particularly genre-blind character might advise Amy Pond to do in Doctor Who, and then – oh God – singing “Daddy, I love you” and bursting into tears. That broke my heart a little bit. For all this show vowed that it wasn’t going to exploit its contestants like The X Factor does, they appear to have completely missed the fact that Ruth’s clearly both struggling with the pressure and still grieving for her father, or they’re aware of these things and are just happy to play it up as a hook for her as a performer, both of which are fairly despicable.
While Jessie J looks on doing
maternalface, Holly bleats “you didn’t just sing that, you lived it!” So yeah, I’m guessing they’re going for option number two, and have officially relinquished any claim to the moral high ground at this point. Ruth manages to get herself together to answer Holly’s question about how she’s feeling, and smiles wanly about how she’s happy to have made it this far, and that she doesn’t know what she would’ve done without this show because she really misses her dad. Holly tells Ruth that her dad would be very proud of her – Holly, of course, being such a close acquaintance of Ruth’s deceased father – and then does the absolute worst thing you should ever do in a situation calling for tact: she asks Danny O’Donoghue to speak.
“I LOST MY DAD AS WELL!” he honks, and then tells her that she “found the voice within” (on the bright side, if we ever lose Louis Walsh, at least we know we’ve got a spare now) and that her voice is something the UK can’t live without. Because bringing further angles of death into this conversation is the way to improve things. William reiterates how proud her father must be, and says that she sang with so much fire he feared she would
ignite his torch (FNAR) and she’s super-super dope, like, REALLY dope. So not just a bit dope, then. Jessie J and
the horse’s tail she glued to her top talk about how lovely it’s been getting to know Ruth, getting to know all about Ruth, getting to like Ruth, hoping to find Ruth likes Jessie J. She thinks there were moments where Ruth’s voice was so rich that it literally filled the air, and she can’t wait to attend one of Ruth’s sell-out shows at Wembley. That’s how you know this is truly a show for musos – people are sellouts when they haven’t even won yet. Tom
smiles in an avuncular fashion and tells Ruth she’s beautiful, at which point Danny makes some LOL INAPPROPRIATE RELATIONSHIP jokes, as though he’s anyone to talk. Tom continues that Ruth’s voice will make people look at her differently even if they hadn’t noticed her before, and says that when he was first starting out, sometimes people didn’t take notice of him until he sang at them relentlessly. I don’t know about anyone else, but that’s the one life lesson above all else that I’m taking away from this series.
Next up we’re over to Team Jessie and Vince.
It’s interesting that the show’s opening with two of the big hitters. Maybe they wanted to give the ones who got saved by the coaches last week a better chance of survival by putting them on nearer the end. Vince recalls last week, waiting for Holly to announce who’d topped the public vote, and admits that in his head, he was “saying my name over and over and over”,
so it was basically like sex at that point, and then Holly did indeed say his name, and he
JIZZED IN HIS PANTS. However, he’s soon brought swiftly down to earth when she-witch Jessie J tells him that last week
wasn’t his best performance. BOO! HISS! She thinks it was cheesy. Vince tells us that Jessie is honest (don’t worry if you missed that, you’ll be hearing about Jessie’s uncompromising honesty about once every five minutes tonight) and will say if she doesn’t like something. Even if it’s Danny Cohen. Vince doesn’t want to let Jessie down again, so he struggles a bit with his song choices, and his suggestions of Aretha Franklin and Alicia Keys lead Jessie to make
this face, which in turn leads Vince to make
this one. In future, when you look up “creative differences” in the dictionary, this is what you will see. At least, I hope so, anyway. Countless songs are tossed in and tossed out again, to the point where Vince is actively considering ‘Agadoo’, and then things come to a head when Jessie loses her voice and is forced to
audition for the role of team captain on a revival of Win Lose Or Draw.
Unlike almost everyone else on the planet, she’s so much more fun as a mime. Eventually, Vince decides on a song:
‘Back To Black’, by TYLER’S BEST MATE AMY WINEHOUSE RIP. I’m surprised the show milked Ruth’s grief for all it was worth and didn’t even think to ask Tyler how he felt about this. In the grand tradition of primetime television having absolutely no idea how best to censor the more salacious parts of this song, “kept his dick wet” is changed to “kept yourself wet”, “get on without my guy” (GAY PANIC!) becomes “get on ‘cos I’m that guy” (though curiously “you go back to her” is kept in, leaving me to assume that this is now a song about BISEXUAL ANGST) and “you love blow and I love puff” is left as “you love [HUGE GAPING SPACE] and I love…” Puff? Pearth? Earth? It’s something that sounds like that, anyway. Vince is kind of mumbly too, folks. Meanwhile we’re treated to this
flawlessly-framed shot of Jessie J, and Vince’s stage fashion continues along the theme of
dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee this is THE VEST. I mean, I like Vince and everything, but is it too much to ask for a week where I don’t have to look at his armpit hair and those fucking bird tattoos? Anyway, it’s a surprisingly traditional take on the song by Vince’s standards, but it’s a decent one, though the standing ovation-ometer records a
mixed response. Holly tells him he is “one week away from possibly being in the final”, which is…not a thing, but nice try. Vince says that it’s a dream to sing his idol’s song on a show like this, so that’s why he did it. Tom tells Vince that he was very brave to take on that song, and that song choice is important and “that never goes away”, which is cue for Anecdote #465b, Article 5, in which the first single Tom ever recorded was a shit one that no one remembers, but then he found ‘It’s Not Unusual’ and everything was all right after that. Danny tells Vince that he’s used to seeing him flip songs around and this week it was really nice to see him sing a straight song, a straight cover. Homophobe. “The title of the song is ‘Back To Black’, I don’t think you’ll be going back to anywhere,” he X Factors. William thinks it was dope, and that Vince made him like that song. It’s a shame that
someone’s confiscated his glittery torch by this point, because he could probably have used it to defend himself from Tyler’s rage after tarnishing the honour of his beloved Amy. William continues to do Reggie out of a job by giving us a Twitter report, and saying that Vince was trending before the show. Well, that’s just money in the bank, isn’t it? Holly grandmas that Vince has a “twitty army” (bless) and Jessie tells us again that she’s “always honest” (naturally) and she’s happy to admit that she didn’t choose that song for Vince, because he is an artist who decides what he is going to wear and sing, and so she’s not even a coach at this point she’s just “a fellow artist sitting with an artist going…”
And you all thought this show couldn’t get more self-congratulatory. Bet you feel pretty stupid now, huh?
Next up, completely scuppering my theory that all the people who had to be saved last week are getting spots at the end of the show, it’s
Max, whose performance order slots have been so unfavourable throughout the series that even Alex Jones is feeling sorry for him. Last week, William criticised Danny on the sacred territory of song choice, so Danny responds that he doesn’t know what song William would’ve had Max do instead, maybe
‘Boom Boom Pow’. OOH, SICK BURN! Max admits that he saw no reason for Danny to save him again, but Danny did, and he was so grateful.
When the hell was this VT filmed? We’ve been having an unseasonable heatwave for nearly the whole week, how is Max not melting in that jumper? Max comes to meet Danny for rehearsals this week
and then they’re both seen wearing entirely different clothes in the very next shot
so I guess we can add the continuity people to the long list of “those who no longer care about this show”. Max is singing ‘Every Breath You Take’ this week, and Danny encourages him to focus the song on someone, adding that while it might SOUND stalkery, it could totally be about looking after your family and shit.
Look, here’s Max’s singer and biggest fan, about whom he will be singing tonight! Max says that he can totally make this song be about how he’ll be looking out for his sister, and WHOA this just got about fifty times creepier. Danny wanks on about how Max is made of music and “if you cut him open, melody will pour out.” His flesh is naught but crotchets and minims! His every thought is a semi-breve!
We cut back to the studio, and
Danny’s got that bloody book next to him, look, and a pen in his cup-holder. He appears to have taken copious notes too. Although to be honest it’s probably just a bunch of doodles of what he and Aleks will look like on their gay-wedding day, and several pages of “WILLIAM SMELLS”. The performance begins and
Max is as ridiculously handsome as ever, and I could watch him make doleful eyes into the camera all night, but the rest of it is a bit lacking. On the surface he’s still trying, but I think deep down he knows this is as far as he’s going in the competition, and that keeps seeping through. Danny, meanwhile,
appears to be learning to love again. Aleks who? Meanwhile, Max gets to the point of the song where the lyrics include “I dream all night, I can only see your face” and “I feel so cold and alone for your embrace”, and I hope to Jeebus he’s not still thinking about his sister, because that is really not suitable for primetime BBC1. THINK OF TWININGS TEA, MAX! PLEASE!
Anyway, Max’s voice kind of cracks on the “baby, baby, PLEEEEASE” part, which is a shame, because he’d sounded all right up to then. The song ends, and only Danny stands, looking super-creepy while he does so.
Shudder. Holly arrives and tells Max that his sister would be very proud of that performance, at which Max
breaks out into a goofy grin which is just on the right side of the sweet/creepy index, thankfully. Holly goes to William for comments first, at which point William
coughs obnoxiously, remains conspicuously silent, and glares at Danny. Oh, here it go. William says that it’s hard because he doesn’t “want to say anything that influences anything”, because god forbid he be in a position of responsibility (or what passes for same on this show), at which point Max’s eyebrows are all
“oh just get on with it and tell me I suck already, you big drama queen.” William thinks it was a great song selection, but the arrangement was just like The Police, which made him expect to hear it sung like Sting, and then Max didn’t go for the falsetto where Sting normally would, and then Max got all self-conscious about it, and then he went flat, and William looked at Jessie and Jessie looked at William and they were like
“oops”. Danny gets in a massive huff about this, and William embraces his inner mean girl and is all “oh, okay, I should lie then, THAT WAS DOPE” and then Max says that he just wanted to come out and sing something straightforward for a change because he’s done the mixed-up arrangement thing
and the coaches are all “yes, but we’d already agreed that was Vince’s storyline for this week, and he was on before you, so sadly you are SOL, Buster”. Jessie says that
“being on this show, as artists, that we live every day”, it’s not real if they say everything’s amazing, because sooner or later everyone has to leave this show and go into the music industry, where apparently not everyone is nice. Shocker! Jessie reminds us that she only wanted to be on this show to be honest with people (somewhere at home, Ruth-Ann St Luce chokes indignantly on her dinner) and while she thought it was a great performance, she thought it was safe. And then she tells the audience off for not cheering or booing at her.
STEVE’S UPDATED LIST OF PEOPLE WHO NO LONGER CARE ABOUT THIS SHOW:
1. The coaches
2. The continuity person
3. About 65% of the viewers who were watching the show at its peak
4. The studio audience
She thinks it was safe for the semi-final, but that Max can learn from this. On his next reality show? Tom thinks it was too close to the original, and would’ve liked to see Max play his guitar, but he sang it really well, so the singing was not the problem. ALL ABOUT THE VOICE, remember. Danny says that he’s “stunned” and he thought Max “sang it amazing” and he would never want to change Sting’s arrangement. If the coaches could just get together beforehand and sort out a definitive take on when you should change the arrangement of a song and when you shouldn’t, that really would save a lot of this aggro and arbitrary goalpost-moving every five minutes. Danny channel Louis Walsh yet again by telling Max that he’s “a young Sting” (“no, you’re Max Milner!” Jessie squawks. “This isn’t Stars In Their Eyes! You’re a young Max Milner!” Bless Jessie J trying to stay on-message long after everyone else has given up) and Holly tells them all that it’s a good job their opinions don’t count for shit this week.
Next up from Team William we have Jaz.
Last week Jaz was the victim of a really obnoxious piece of staging that probably ruined a lot of his goodwill with the public, and this week William’s given him ‘Let It Be’. He asks Jaz
how he’d feel about an on-stage choir for this one, and as it happens, Jaz knows just where to find one.
Oh snap, it’s one of the schools he used to teach at! At least this week
we’re spared any obnoxious video screens, though we do have, as promised,
a substantial choir of Jaz’s former students, before he abandoned them all to go and get famous. It’s a fairly rote gospel-style performance of the type you’ll have heard a billion times before, but it’s executed well enough. Holly arrives and remarks on how nice it must have been to have the choir. Jaz says that they’re amazing, don’t you think they’re amazing?
Eh, they were a bit pitchy, for me for you. Jessie says that the second half was stronger than the first, and that she’s (say it with me now) “honest with these guys, as I relate to them, I step off stage and I want people to be honest with me.” She thinks it was pitchy at the beginning, and warns him that as a soul singer, when you want to do riffs, you have to warm up your mouth. Also, she would love to see him not in a suit.
He’s a married man with a baby on the way, Jessie you HOMEWRECKER! Tom says you can tell Jaz sings with a choir because they blend so well with him, and he really enjoyed it. He’s heard a lot of people sing that song, a lot, like, oh I don’t know, ARETHA FRANKLIN, but Jaz really made it his own. Danny thinks it was inspirational, and reminds us that Jaz has a baby on the way (thank you, Danny FoetusWatch) but says that he worried a few weeks ago that William was going to take Jaz all MOR.
This from a man who’s been blighting the world with landfill indie for the last four years.
William says that the whole point was to start slow and build up, because “you can’t climax at a climax” (what?) and he thought Jaz was amazing. I’m starting to go off William a little bit.
Hey, you know where we haven’t been for ages? The Vagina Room!
Reggie compliments Ruth on her new hair, and she replies that it was “£10 from Brixton”.
The comedy stylings of Ruth Brown, ladies and gentlemen! Hey, I’m not knocking it – tonight’s show has been so insufferably earnest that at this point I’ll take whatever light relief they’re offering. Reggie chats with Vince for a bit about how he feels (answer: he wants to be in the final) before moving over to talk to Max, where Becky
gets worried about being in the shot and tries to slink out of the way with all the subtlety of a masturbating rhinoceros. Max gets very flustered on the subject of his performance and admits that he “doesn’t remember a massive amount of it”, but apparently he went flat?
Good to see someone’s picking up full woobying duties in Aleks’s absence, anyway. Then Jaz returns and says that his choir were all flawless, and that’s it from the Vagina Room for this half of the show.
Back to the main business of the evening and Leanne batting for Team Tom.
Last week, Leanne was saved from dismissal by Sir Tom, and is as always
super-grateful about it and super-boring at the same time. This week she’s really stepping out of her comfort zone by singing another big belty ballad, ‘Run To You’ by Whitney Houston. Tom asks Leanne how it feels to be here, and she keeps
staring at the mother-funky floor or at the ceiling every time he talks to her. I know humility is key on shows like this, just ask Misha B, but aggressive humility of this sort is its own particular brand of annoying. Tom reminds us that Leanne was close to hitting the big time once before when she
sat in one of those red-and-white pod chairs that all the celebs were sitting in back in the early 21st century. (Was she one of the non-Alesha members of Mis-Teeq?) Leanne admits that she had a recording contract when she was younger, but it didn’t work out, and she lost a lot of confidence, and her temporary hiatus to rediscover her sense of self lasted about 10 years. She vows that this time she’s going to grab hold of fame and not let go. Spoken like someone who’s not been following the ratings.
Back in the studio, and…
all my life I’ve been waiting to make a “firecrotch” joke somewhere in a recap, so thank you to the gods of blogging for coming through for me at the 11th hour. Once again the stylists have
not been kind to Leanne, though I suppose at least she sort of matches Tyler tonight. Her performance is belty and loud and cruise ship and all of those other things we all knew it was going to be, which is probably enough to pull her through on this show (especially after Ruth’s performance earlier was…polarising) but it just feels so inadequate coming just days after diva-belting was redefined for the ages over on American Idol. (Seriously, if you didn’t have your lighter in the air from about halfway through that clip, I don’t even know how to talk to you.)
She gets a standing ovation, because volume, and Holly asks her if she “just loved doing that”.
FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, WOMAN, LOOK AT PEOPLE WHEN THEY ARE TALKING TO YOU. Danny stealth-burns that the thing about Leanne is that she’s on Tom’s team, so she’s probably felt overshadowed by Ruth Brown.
Gotta hand it to the guy, that was a nice break from the obvious trolling – I don’t think Tom even noticed he was doing it. Then again, the list of things Tom probably doesn’t notice on a regular basis is probably even longer than my list of people who no longer care about this show. Anyway, Danny thinks she might have done enough to eclipse her tonight. William is floored that he’s finally found a situation where “dope” can’t adequately describe what he’s just witnessed, and Tom says he always knew Leanne had the power from day one, but now she’s bearing her soul. Jessie J’s opinion is not sought.
So, who’s next?
AIEEEEEE! BECKY SMASH!
Becky admits that her last performance “could’ve gone better” because she “forgot lines and stuff”.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, the bit where she went “FUCK!” right down the camera is not included in this flashback. They didn’t even let it stay up on iPlayer. Philistines. Becky thinks the pressure might’ve got to her on this occasion, but it’s okay, because after the performance
Jessie got bored of Danny being the only mentor having unresolved sexual tension with his acts, and decided she wanted to get into the game as well.
That woman on the right is saying “look, it’s Chris Hansen!”, in case anyone’s wondering. Becky tells us that she misses her parents, who have taken a break from UGH, GOD, RUINING HER LIFE to come down and support her from the audience every week. Becky’s parents inform us that
everyone at home is supporting Becky, presumably in the hope that if she hits the big time, she’ll be home less often and they can take all the sandbags away for at least part of the year. They go on to say that this has been an amazing experience not just for Becky, but also for them as they’ve seen her grow into a new person. Boo! I don’t want a new person! I liked BECKY SMASH! This week she’s singing ‘Like A Star’ by Corinne Bailey Rae
because all her other songs have been quite shouty and this one is about emotion and feeling. Well, if I can’t have BECKY SMASH, I guess I can settle for BECKY HAVING COMPLICATED FEELINGS! instead.
Wow, when they decide to turn Becky from a strident teenager into an earth mother, they don’t do things by halves, do they? As much as I was dreading them giving Becky a ballad and potentially stripping away all the things I usually like about her, I have to say this is an absolutely first-class performance. She nails the vocal and commands the stage even without going anywhere. Whatever happens with the voting (and I suspect Vince will make it through over Becky), hers is still the voice I can most see myself listening to and enjoying outside the context of this show.
Holly jokes that she normally has to peel Becky off the ceiling at this stage in the proceedings, and I think we have a clear winner for
most adorable screengrab of the week, y/n? Tom tells Becky that light and shade is important, as he was advised by *someone* a long time ago, but he’s been told he’s not supposed to name names. Jessie cajoles him into telling us, and finally Tom spits “oh, okay, FRANK SINATRA”. Heh. So many elements of this show irritate me, but the affectionate teasing between Jessie J and Tom Jones is a rare bright spot. Tom tells Becky she has a wonderful tone, and he loved it. Danny thinks her voice is amazing, and it’s lovely to see that other side of her, but his criticism is about song choice, because it’s the semi final and she
“should’ve picked a song that everybody knows”. Okay, so the song’s never cracked the Top 30 in the UK, but Corinne Bailey Rae was flavour of the month for a while, wasn’t she? I don’t think this song is *that* obscure, I remember it being on the radio a lot a few years ago. Anyway, “you should’ve picked a song that lunkheads watching at home whose musical knowledge starts and finishes with the CD aisle in Tesco” is my least favourite of all fatuous critiques.
Anyway, the upside of all of this is that Danny’s admission that he doesn’t know that song brings about an epic
Face Of Disgust from Jessie J, to the point that we might permanently retire that Tim Ankers one in future. Danny assures us that if a musical luminary such as he is unfamiliar with this track, then there are bound to be voters at home who don’t know it either. Well, yes, probably, but if people are only voting for songs they recognise, that’s a rather sizeable flaw in this whole process and really a separate issue that needs to be addressed. Jessie thinks that it’s important to do less well-known songs because that’s how they get known by a wider audience (all of the 4.5m people who were watching this week!) and that they wanted to show Becky’s chill side this week. Danny leaps in again to remind Jessie that Becky’s up against Vince, and Jessie’s all “I see her as an artist, I don’t see her as against Vince”, which is kind of dumb, because only one of them’s getting through to the final, artistry be damned. William chips in that Danny’s right, and that one of Jessie’s singers is getting voted off, so they need songs of equal power. Jessie says there’s “probably 6m people watching the show” (and credit to her for not trying to inflate the viewing by a couple of million like most shows do, but she’s still very wrong) and each of those people will have a different opinion.
Penultimately, from Team Danny, we have Bo!
In a backstage interview from last week, Danny says that every time Bo opens her mouth, “angels fly out”. Steady on. William thought she was better than Rihanna, which Bo giggles at because “he’s probably mates with her, so that’s a big deal.” Well, yes, but “better live singer than Rihanna” is right up there with “more versatile actor than Michael Cera” when it comes to damning with faint praise. Once again we’re told about Bo’s shattered confidence, and how she pretended not to want to be a singer because she feared she wouldn’t be accepted. Danny then hilariously says that Bo’s struggled with acceptance all her life, coming from “what they classed as a ‘privileged background’.” Dude, whoever “they” might be, this isn’t like people hearing an RP accent and making assumptions, she’s the daughter of the Earl of Cardigan. Full marks for trying to underplay it, though. Anyway, Bo serves up
Alex Polizzi realness as she talks some more about what a tragic life she’s had, having had to face actual obstructions on her journey to being a famous singer and everything. *world’s tiniest violin* This week Bo’s singing ‘Charlie Brown’ by Coldplay, which is a song I’ve not heard before and therefore is INAPPROPRIATE FOR THE SEMI FINALS, DANNY, HOW YOU LIKE THEM APPLES?
In the studio, and what’s got two hands and is a total camera hog?
THIS GUY! Meanwhile Bo models
Björk’s Academy Awards dress after her mum accidentally put it on a hot wash, and yelps her way through that Coldplay song that sounds like all the other ones on the same album. It’s all right, I guess, and my resistance to Bo has kind of been eroded over the past few weeks, but it’s still not a performance I can get particularly excited about, especially since half of it is an instrumental which soundtracks Bo twirling around with her arms out. Also:
surely you’re supposed to wait with the confetti cannons until someone’s actually won?
William thinks props are in order for Danny, and indeed Bo herself, for finally making her the superstar she was always supposed to be, or something. He likes that every single aspect of the performance looked like it had been thought about, because that’s what he goes – he gets involved, y’all. Jessie loves Bo’s voice and thinks that she could sing anything and make it sound “bo…selecta” and then looks like she’s on the verge of saying something else, possibly something faintly critical, but then pulls back and declares that’s all she’s going to say. So much for her overwhelming drive to be honest with everyone at all times. Jessie J’s learning to withhold the truth! She’s our very own Saga Norén! Danny’s just proud of Bo, generally, and then William chips in again to say that he’s looking forward to the unspecified time in the future when one of his friends in another country (I hope it’s Belarus) says,
“Hey, are you going to go see Bo at the stadium tonight?” and when that happens, that’s the sort of performance they’re all going to see. I hope someone holds the coaches to all these promises they’ve made to attend as-yet-unconfirmed gigs in the future. If I hear that Bo’s playing the Lokomotiv Stadium in Sofia in 2015, and William didn’t attend, man, am I going to be PISSED. OFF.
Tyler James. William thinks that a lot of people will think that he saved Tyler last week, when really what happened was
he eliminated Joelle and Frances. Or something. I think that was the gist, anyway. This week Tyler is singing ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and admits that when Will suggested it, he was
shocked. William confides that part of being a coach is second-guessing what your rivals are going to be doing, and he thinks that for the semi finals they’re going to be unleashing “ballad after ballad after ballad – it’s a salad of ballads.”
Tyler says that a lot of the lyrics in this song relate to his relationship with his mum, like “I didn’t mean to make you cry”, “I see a little silhouetto of a man” and “Gallileo figaro magnifico”. Tyler talks about how much it’s going to make him happy this week to have his mum in the audience being all proud of him.
and Mama Tyler talks about how last year she watched him be ruined by Amy’s death, and now he’s “buzzing again” because he’s doing what he loves. She’s proud to have brought up a son like him.
What little hope I had that he might have secretly been planning to do the Muppets’ version of the song is scuppered once Tyler begins singing the original,
and it’s probably his worst vocal of all the live shows. He’s huffing and puffing, constantly switching from chest voice to head voice and completely shattering all the notes along the way, and the whole thing’s just incredibly unpleasant to listen to. Also, I feel like they’re not even trying with this performance, because
there are no pictures of Tyler and his mum looking adoringly at each other on the video wall. She’s not even spotlit in the audience, for fuck’s sake. I mean, no one has thought about this AT ALL. Although the one thing it does have in its favour is
AN ARMY OF TYLER CLONES. Still, even with that, it’ll still never be the definitive performance of this song on a televised singing contest. (Yes, I don’t care if that one is 99% hair and lighting, it’s still EPIC.) Holly arrives and declares herself “in Tyler heaven” with all those clones around, and Tyler tells his mum that he loves her.
Sorry, Mama Tyler, only pregnant women get preferential lighting treatment. Jessie thinks Tyler did a great job of a difficult song, especially since he’s been having throat trouble. Tom offers him a lozenge and then Jessie J gets in trouble for calling them Vocalzone, and Holly doesn’t even scream “OTHER MEDICINAL PASTILLES ARE AVAILABLE!”, so disengaged is she. Tom thinks Tyler has a “very unique” grrr, and then talks about Tyler’s great technique but how he’s been told not to say “falsetto” because apparently “the public don’t know what falsetto is”. So in a desperately misguided attempt to enlighten us all, Tom attempts to explain it by using terms like “head notes” and “full voice”, which I would imagine are far less widely understood than “falsetto”. Danny expresses a bit of suit envy, and applauds him for not being “samey-samey” by doing another song entirely in falsetto. Finally, William is “super-duper proud” because they took their time over song selection and worked together as a team. Like a line of ants!
So that’s all eight acts finished, but we still have 15 minutes of running time to fill, so let’s go to Reggie in the Vagina Room where
Becky has accidentally found herself in the way of someone else’s interview again. She should do this all the time. Maybe we’ll see her at the Baftas tomorrow, trying to slink away from behind Dominic West. Reggie reminds Leanne that she sang a song, and Leanne says that she was worried it wouldn’t come out. Becky says that it was a tough task staying still for two minutes, but “Jessie sorted me out beforehand”.
Looks like she’s about to come off those sedatives any second, though. BECKY SMASH! Reggie makes a brief, abortive attempt to talk to Bo and Max about how they feel about the possibility of being separated but then gets distracted as soon as Tyler reappears, so that they can all talk about how great his mum is some more. Diddle-dee, diddle-dee, THIS IS THE MUM! Reggie resumes his role as Fashion Obama asks Tyler if his mum would call that suit “salmon, blush, or pink”, and Tyler says he wants to call it salmon but his mum will definitely say it’s pink. Mothers, eh guys? Guys? Oh, fine. Reggie then shills the official The Voice Tour (that’s…brave) and we’re back to…
…Holly, who wants some final words from the judges on who they’d send home if it was down to them. And for all this show toots about honesty, not one of them gives the question a straight answer, although William says that he’d put Bo through from Team Danny, prompting Danny to snit that he’d take Tyler through from Team William. However, all of this pales in comparison to the magnificence of
Jessie J killing a fly on live television. Now THAT’s entertainment.
Holly declares the voting lines officially open and we see a recap of a lot of performances most of us would rather forget. Once that’s all over it’s time for a performance that we can tell from the word go is going to be All About The Voice:
So heeeeeeeere’s Cheryl, who’s apparently dropping the “Cole” part these days. If it means the tabloids will stop running “OMG CHERYL GETTING BACK TOGETHER WITH ASHLEY?” stories, I’m all for it. Hey, Cheryl! Do your impression of The X Factor‘s ratings last year!
I’m telling you, you can’t stop her doing that at parties after a few Bacardi and Cokes. Actually, all snarking aside, that leap was pretty awesome. This show can bore on about artistry until the cows come home, but that was the first thing all evening that really made me sit up straight.
The rest of the performance can’t really compare to it, admittedly. As expected, most of the focus when it aired was on the “oh my God, is she MIMIMG?” outrage. And to be fair, she’s not miming, but the backing track is very loud and her mic level is very low, so very little of what we can here is actually what she’s singing live in the studio. Personally, I couldn’t care less, because I’d rather see an entertaining performance than someone dull as ditchwater delivering technically flawless vocals, but I can see where it would kind of be a big deal among this show’s hardcore fanbase. To be honest, I’m more disappointed that she sounds more like Jennifer Lopez than Cheryl Cole these days, but that’s an entirely separate discussion that I don’t have the energy for after already writing nearly 8,000 words about this episode.
I went off Cheryl a lot (and I mean A LOT) during her three years on The X Factor, but seeing the enthusiastic way she greets Holly reminds me why I used to like her.
Holly asks Cheryl if she’s been enjoying the show, and Cheryl sounds surprisingly genuine when she says that she has. Asked if she has any advice for the finalists, Cheryl tells them not to forget why they auditioned in the first place, and to just live their dreams.
Holly tells Cheryl without a shred of irony that she’s going to let her “get your breath back”, Reggie calls Cheryl “fit!” (ALL ABOUT THE VOICE), and we’re done.