SO LONG, FLASH VOTE!
Louis & The Boys : Seriously though, it says a lot that by far my favourite moment of the series so far was when Dermot just casually dropped into conversation that they’d realised that the Flash Vote was a load of old shit, so they weren’t going to do it any more. Both about the generally tepid quality of this series, and about how awful an idea the Flash Vote was. Seriously, it felt like the sort of twist they make up on Digital Spy to make the show “more fair” (WHO WANTS THAT? NOBODY!) without even really thinking about how it was supposed to do that. We still didn’t get the joy of Deadlock, which is what I’ve missed most of all, but I’m sure it’ll come. Not that Flash Votes and Deadlocks are a concern for Louis & His Boys, as they continue to float serenely above the carnage of the rest of the competition. It’s interesting that as the ratings dwindle and dwindle, the supremacy of the Boys category gets more and more assured. I mean…there’s never been a series without one of the little buggers in the finale, but normally we’ve shaken off a Likki Roney or a Scott Bruton by this point. This year, one month in, and not even one sing-off between them (Sidebar : remember when there was national drama over who got to present Xtra Factor, and now you couldn’t pick the poor buggers out of a line-up.)
This week there felt like there might be a shake-off at the top of the category. Nicholas McDonald‘s status as presumptive king of the castle was made slightly wobbly by him messing up Disco Week, as so many awkward teenage white boys in ill-fitting waistcoats doing Michael Jackson or Stevie Wonder have done before. I mean it’s hard to find disco tracks that don’t contain the word “boogie” or “groove” or talk about feeling “the beat”, but they probably should have looked a bit longer, because there were parts of this where he started to reach a level of uncoolness that threatened to morph into Eamonn Holmes. Luke’s Friend meanwhile had a good week, as he got to sing “Play That Funky Music” and wail a lot and flop around the stage like a Minipops Jim Morrison. “Play That Funky Music” not even remotely being a disco track, so much as generic 70s funk-rock but Luke’s Friend’s vibe is SO try-hard 70s wannabe (whilst usually ending up somewhere around “Mick Hucknall’s gawky younger brother”) that they just bunged him a freebie. Anyway, apparently Luke’s Friend is now a “dark horse”, which we all know by now is reality tv slang for “4th place”. Well done Luke’s Friend.
What is assured however is Sam Callahan‘s position right at the bottom of the pile, croaking out his notes, increasingly red in the face and bulging of vein, around a really truly ludicrous stage-set featuring foxy boxers and coaches and timekeepers and ring rats, as Gary Barlow sat with the world’s most ludicrous pantomime face of horror on him, because Sam was daring to sing Relight My Fire, a song that he WROTE (/covered). Gary then told Sam that every single other person in the competition, even the members of Kingsland that just stand there and mime, were better than him. Poor Sam. At least he got his hair ruffled by Sam Bailey, as she continued her role as MUM TO ALL THE BOYS. A role which will eventually involve her disembowling them like Medea and ascending to the X Factor throne wearing their skins like a robe. Metaphorically.
Gary & The Groups: As the Boys surge onwards, the Groups are the next category after the Overs to crumble down to their last remaining member. Rough Copy are now left alone to wave the flag, although probably not for much longer, as Gary apparently decided that after weeks of ballids and vocal harmonies it was time to bring out the GARY BARLOW BRAND FUN. That is to say “sparkly waistcoats” and lots and lots of manic dancing. At least they scratched the itch I was left with after Earth, Wind & Fire refused to do September as part of their medley on Strictly last week. And also kept Sharon Osbourne awake as they rehearsed in the dressing room next to hers. Apparently Sharon Osbourne sleeps during the day. Feel free to speculate about whether this makes her a vampire.
Quite expectedly the pendulum swang back into Kingsland this week and took them out easily, as in comparison to Rough Copy’s GARY BARLOW BRAND FUN, they were universally described as “working hard”, “taking it seriously”, “planned” and so neurotic over having been in the bottom 2 that they couldn’t breathe. The closest thing we got to joy was some truly wank air-guitar. It’s no wonder nobody voted for them – bad enough to be a hipster, worse to be a boring one. It’s sad, as we were just about getting to know Kingsland individually. Well…we found out that one was shit at dancing and the other four were merely awful. Maybe if they’d stuck around we would have been able to slowly distinguish them, like we learned to distinguish Perrie and Jesy from the Morlocks in BixMix. Never mind.
Nicole & Her Girls Firstly let’s talk about how Nicole was clearly drunk this week. Nicole was clearly drunk this week. It’s saying something when Nicole Scherzinger, the world’s most ersatz human being can’t even be bothered to fake professionalism any more. This is a woman who relaunched her solo career over and over and over again and every time she failed, walked right back into The Pussycats Dolls like she hadn’t just abandoned them all again. If she can’t front it out, we’re doomed. Then again, all of Nicole’s Girls seemed a little woozy this week. With Hannah Barrett it was the kind of woozy punch-drunk that often comes with being in the Bottom 2, causing her to repeatedly slam the Beserk Button for the first minute of her performance of “Somebody Else’s Guy” (a song I will always love for slaying Laura Shite so many years ago now) and then spending the rest of the performance lurching angrily at the audience(/dancing) like that minute of guttural screaming had just won her the whole show. She’ll learn. This was all apparently the result of the show drafting in James Arthur as a sort of post-bottom 2 mentor for her, to show that she can still go on to fame and fortune. I mean, she WON’T but…don’t give up yet Hannah. Keep screaming like a cat that just got sat on.
Abi Alton meanwhile seemed to have come to a realisation that she’d made a tit of herself from the first second of the live shows starting, and tried pulling herself together so she could go back to doing what she did best. That being boring piano ballids, in this case a slowed down version of “I Will Survive” (WHYYYYYY?). At the end her piano revolved. A bit. Very slowly. It was hardly Liberace. Then all of the judges praised her for coming on X Factor, because it must be very brave to subject yourself to all this show’s bullshit when you have standards and self-awareness. I’m paraphrasing, but not by much. Ah well, at least she didn’t cry this week. Tamera Foster on the other hand was totally on autopilot, and paid the price with a sing-off performance. If you’re told off for being a Beyonce clone, maybe don’t come out the next week and sing a song that Beyonce covered, and then do WHITNEY BLEEDIN HOUSTON AGAIN FOR THE MILLIONTH TIME in the sing-off. That’s just inexcusable, no matter how on-point your vocals are.
Sharon & The Over: This week the campaign to polish Sam Bailey into a pop-star ramped up a notch as she…had a spa day and went to the gym. Basically I think Sharon Osbourne is conducting her mentoring entirely via the medium of groupon vouchers which…is a step up from her normal level of investment, let’s face it. Next week Sam and Sharon go on a picnic lunch of the London Eye then salsacise. Sam’s eventual performance of Enough Is Enough was fairly rote, but let’s face it, this week for Sam was only ever marking time for Sam until she got to meet her idol. Yes, next week, CELINE DION will be here. Hopefully this doesn’t result in some sort of temporal parodox.