So last year I somehow trudged through the worst series in X Factor history (does anybody remember what a Rough Copy is? THEY FINISHED FOURTH!) until I made it to the final and the thought of having to put into words “Sharon Osbourne wins” got too much for me, and I copped out of recapping three hours of Sam Bailey being Lisa Stansfield, Nicholas waiting for something, ANYTHING to drop, and that lesbian one rolling around on the floor pretending to be Lenny Kravitz. I forget what her name was. BUT NOW I’M BACK! JUST BEFORE THE FINAL OF THIS YEAR, TO TAKE YOU THROUGH THE ACTS OF X FACTOR 2014!
Blonde Electra : Blonde Electra were billed as “The Female Jedward” but I prefer to think of them as two Daphnes in search of a Celeste. They were peppy squeaky permenantly happy Anglo-German blondes with weird phony American accents who constantly dressed in neon, aspired to the singing voices of Saffron from Republica singing through a toilet-roll tube, and are apparently related by family somehow to both George Osbourne and Cher. The most obvious week 1 boots ever to actually go home in Week 1, needless to say, I adored them.
Overload Generation : formerly Overload, formerly NotYourBoyBand, formerly Shanghai Twink Express, formerly Kingsland Road, formerly Tubal Ligation, formerly The Lovely Boys, formerly Pip & The Renegades, formerly Jizz, Overload Generation were a conventional boyband who were so boring that even Louis Walsh didn’t get a dick-twitch from them and were brought in as a Wild Card by amazing new twot-judge Melb despite the fact that they didn’t even make Judges Houses. I’m not sure if this was a plan by Melb to sabotage Louis’ already shoddy Groups ategory further, but it worked, because NO1CURR.
Stephanie Nala : Stephanie Nala emerged blinking from the wreckage of The Moonanites, a reggae-lite band that reached the final of Britain’s Got Talent, where they placed 5th, with 7% of the overall vote, which promotional platform was followed by a number 65 hit single and IMMEDIATE RELEASE FROM THEIR RECORD CONTRACT. Somehow this was still not the most egregious example of Cowell’s Empire cannabalising itself this series. Stephanie’s aim was to show what she sounded like alone, unplugged, away from the harmonies of the Moonanites. It turned out she sounded like someone impersonating Bob Marley on a tin whistle.
Chloe Jasmine : Chloe Jasmine was one of Naomi’s Bitchez on the British version of The Face, but one of the less good ones and so she finished in 10th place because she was too affected and annoying. Imagine being too affected and annoying for Naomi Campbell. Imagine it, and youve got the perfect X Factor contestant. Or at least so it seemed, as Chloe Jasmine neatly occupied the “Tabloid Darling” spot for most of the pre-lives segment of the series, until it very quickly turned out somewhere around Judges Houses that her whole crazy kooky Daisy Pulls It Off Sings Jazz style was a complete lie as she was in fact the Bella From Hollyoaks of X Factor 2014, and in fact grew up in a caravan or something. Chloe Jasmine was eliminated in Week 2, following the worst sing-off performance of the entire series, if not the entire history of The X Factor, a record she putatively held for…one week, after which Only The Young absolutely shredded “The Winner Takes It All” in a way that made Rosie Ribbons attempt to scale Mount ABBA look positively dignified.
Jake Quickenden : Jake Quickenden a lifeguard, serial X Factor auditionee and apparent nudist, whose fate on the show was mostly to be tarred by the brush of “YOU’RE ONLY VOTING FOR HIM BECAUSE HE’S FIT!” which is unfair, as that’s easily a label that could be stuck on…half the male contestants this year, after a fashion, as Melb and Simon decided to stack their categories with catalogue models. Jake’s brief stay on The X Factor of course pales into comparison with his IMMEDIATE cashing in of his fame chips as soon as he’d finished, to fly off to a sound-stage in Exeter/THE AUSTRALIAN OUTBACK to take part in “I’m A Celebrity, Get Me A Flat Fee And An ITV2 Show And I’ll Consider It”, where he flourished amongst (apparently) one of the dullest casts they’ve ever had to finish 2nd, showmancing both Melanie Sykes, Edwina Currie, and some Irish bird who let Rory McIlroy stick it in her so she can’t be that fussy. Where to from here? ICELAND ADVERTS! THE SWEETEST PLUM OF ALL!
Jack Walton : Jack Walton was Melb’s Wildcard, foisted upon her entirely unwillingly by Simon Cowell, a fact that Melb handled by completely ignoring him, until Jake Quickenden’s elimination, at which point she started actually pretending he was Jake Quickenden, ordering him to remove his clothes at every opportunity and at one point actually calling him Jake Quickended on twitter. This rampant mentor-neglect sat uneasily with the fact that Jack was this year’s token “TOO REAL FOR THIS SHOW” guitar balladeer with a voice that sounds like mice clawing at floorboards, so it was no surprise when he revealed in post-show interviews that he’d HATED MELB ALL ALONG BECAUSE SHE JUST DIDN’T GET HIM. See him singing acoustic covers of things in a bar near you soon!
Lola Saunders : Lola Saunders was boring and sang boring ballads and had a boring sob-story (“I SMELL OF FISH BOO HOO!”) so I’mma talk about the Six Chair Challenge instead. The Six Chair Challenge is a challenge wherein all of the survivors of Boot Camp sing one by one, in front of an arena audience and their mentors. If they’re good enough, they get a seat. If they’re not good enough, they go home. If they’re good enough…to begin with, and then are NOT good enough, because a better person comes along, they get turfed out the chair (visually this would be improved by the chairs being actual ejector seats that tilted the contestants forwards onto their faces, but I can live with it). Really I’m all in favour of any twist that the show is banned from doing with minors because it’s too cruel. The HIGHLIGHT of the Six Chair Challenge came during Cheryl’s round, wherein the audience booed the ever-locing Christ out of every decision she made until it felt like they might actually lynch her. Then the producers forced her to bring back Chloe Jasmine FOR NO REASON right at the end and everybody rioted. This passion for the Girls category (Cheryl’s burden this year – a category that always overpromises and under-delivers) lasted all of…two weeks, as nobody cared about any of Cheryl’s gang at all past week 1. Ah fleeting reality tv fanaticisms. Like the time I stropped when Hira WUZZROBBED on Big Brother 10. Nobody else even remember who Hira was. BUT I DO.
Paul Akister : Paul Akister, like Jake, had reached Judges Houses on a previous series, only to be turned down by Louis because he wasn’t pretty enough. This year of course, the Boys Mentor was Melb so she saw through the outer slight doughiness to see Paul’s true potential. That is, four weeks of being able to say “ZOMG LOUIS, HOW COULD YOU TURN THIS DOWN, HIS VOICE IS AMAZING, YOU’RE SO BLIND, YOU’RE THE WORST MENTOR EVER LOUIS” before hurling him under the bus and making him out to be a surly one-trick malcontent and BYE. Simon actually used the word “Dementor”. And we’re past the stage of peak Harry Potter fandom now, so a band made up entirely of minor villains from the franchise was out of the question. Shame, I would have loved to have seen a Girls Aloud tribute act of Delores Umbridge (Cheryl), Narcissa Malfoy (Kimberley), Rita Skeeter (Sarah), Alecto Carrow (Nicola) and Bellatrix Lestrange (Nuh-Deen) banging out Love Machine.
Jay James : Jay James looked like a marginally more attractive James Blunt, and was in the navy (as…a fitness instructor I think?). He mentioned it a lot (not so much the whole “fitness instructor” bit of it though). He tried to branch out into other side-gimmicks occasionally – a kid, a previous entanglement with Rebecca “The Honking Statue” Ferguson, being a bit sick one week, but the navy thing really was the core of it, and obviously as Rememberance Day falls during The X Factor run…this was mentioned more some weeks than others. Jay’s journey through the competition sailing on the back of the SS Wardead came with his most disastrous attempt at finding another gimmick when he told the nation he was about to sing “New York New York” wearing the jacket of his beloved dead grandfather. A jacket he promptly THREW OFF ONTO THE FLOOR at the first sign of an X Factor key change. The symbolism, it was too much for the British Public, and OFF HE WENT.
Only The Young : aka ERNNNNNNNNNNLYYYYYY THE YERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRNG, as they were called by the first official canon groupie in X Factor history, who followed them around screaming their name in every quiet moment of the live results shows. Only The Young are a mixed sex group made up of Mikey, Parisa, Charlie and Betsey-Blue and were as crashingly middle-class as that set-up of names suggests. They came into the show as self-styled semi-serious musicians (my favourite moment from them was when the other mentors decided to gang up on Louis Walsh for picking a BEATLES MEDLEY for them to do, only for Only The Young to inform Dermot that they had chosen to do a Beatles Medley because they were authentic musicians who just love the music of Beetle and that whole era) but the show slowly chipped away at them, pushing them a little more every week into being Steps style kids entertainers, until if their final week I believe they were shown in their VT singing the Monster Mash in a neo-natal unit as the tiny pink little infants curled their tiny fingers apreciatively.
Stevi Richie : Forget Chloe Jasmine, forget Blonde Electra, Stevi Richie was this year’s Comedy Contestant ascendent. A regional sales manager with upside-down eyes and an ear-ring, he was gifted unto Simon by Cheryl, to let him keep his fig-leaf of Serious Mentor about him, from which point he proceeded to 80s karaoke night his way through the Live Shows with Rick Astley and Kenny Loggins and dance-numbers involving lots of finger-clicking and Vegas dancing-girls which I wasn’t personally very interested in, having left Cheese Nights behind me a long time ago. BUT THEN. In Week 4, Stevi’s gimmick suddenly and randomly changed from 80s Uptempo Office Joker to MUSICAL THEATRE STEVI and I was in love. Campy earnest renditions of Phantom Of The Opera songs IN THE PIMP SLOT. Bohemian Rhapsody straight out We Will Rock Your with Authentic Video-Effect. SINGING DRESSED AS A SHIRTLESS EGYPTAIN PHAROH THEN GETTING DRENCHED IN HONEY AND COVERED IN FEATHERS IN A MASSIVE PILLOW FIGHT. I’m so glad that Bryan Friedman returned to the X Factor fold this year, and that he, albeit belatedly, found such a great muse for his artistic vision.
Stereo Kicks : aka Stereo Pricks, aka Octotwink, aka Eight Is Enough, aka Louis’ Dreamboys, Stereo Kicks were this year’s grand boyband experiment, in that for the first time ever (outside of Korea) an EIGHT-PIECE BOYBAND was formed, for reasons that were known only to Simon Cowell, and I should imagine will remain so. I’m guessing it has something to do with piling enough young pretty boys into one place that any tweenage voter-girl watching would have to fancy one of them. There being eight of them was also great tabloid fodder, as barely a day went by without one of them releasing nude pics or trying to seduce a footballer’s wife or starting their own religion. Sadly in the end, their diversity (although NOT RACIALLY) was probably their downfall as the thought of a 20 year old having to share a band with a 13 year old (???) proved too icky a thought for the public to contemplate, and the sheer number of them made it hard to pick out individual personalities, despite the show’s late-in-the-day attempts to give each of them a Spice Girl Name (Sporty Kick, Northern Kick, Baby Kick, Closeted Homosexual Kick, Lactose Intolerant Kick…). Oh and also making the one who twitched like he was being flicked in the nads every time he hit a high note be front-and-centre and sing everything may have been a mistake. If we were looking for teen-bait.
Lauren Platt : Lauren was this year’s distaff equivalent of all those boys who make it to the end of the show despite being vocally frail, just because they’re so young and seet-cheeked. Eoghan, Nicholas, Leon, Lloyd. In fairness, Lauren did manage to bring vocal chops to a couple of performances – her slowed down chill-house version of Happy being the one time this series that that approach to rearranging a song actually worked (and Lord knows they tried it many many times) – but she was clearly not quite baked yet, as her complete nervous breakdown at being asked to do a SHOULDER-SHIMMY to Black Horse because it was SUCH COMPLICATED CHOREOGRAPHY showed. In the end, even her giving herself a cuteness booster with the constant presence of a breakdancing brother wasn’t enough and she was given death-slot after death-slot after death-slot until she finally gave up. I think Lauren’s little-sisterness was best exemplified by her appearing every week on Xtra Factor talking about how Stereo Kicks were her BEST FRIENDS, and Stereo Kick appearing every week on Xtra Factor and NOT EVEN KNOWING HER NAME.
THE FINALISTS : And so there are three – two of Simon’s Overs, and one token Boy so that we can pretend that this series was about anything other than Cowell’s glorious return from the collapse of his American Empire (before he nips off back there next year to desperately try to patch it back up again) to bask in the beneficence of his People What Never Stopped Loving Him. Said token Boy is Andrea Faustini, a chubby Italian divo who loves pugs and food (seriously, literally every VT of him has featured him cramming stuff into his gob with an enthusiasm that would shame Tulisa) and who sings Whitney, Mariah, more Whitney, Beyonce, Freddie Mercury and MORE WHITNEY. But he’s been in the bottom 2 twice now and the show one week dressed up as an actual gold-plated Satan so I think he can probably be safely discarded.
It’s all about Ben Haenow vs Florist now. The former a quite not unattractive salt-of-the-earth van driver who loves his nona and who is looking to be the first real ROCK X Factor winner, the latter the first contestant ever to get to compete on the live shows of two separate series of the show, under some sort of arcane rule that allows members of failed groups to return. Florist was a member of Addictiv Ladies, the first boots of Series 2. JUST THINK BLONDE ELECTRA, in 8 years THIS COULD BE YOU (lol no). The weight of the show is clearly behind her at this point, with her finally it seems actually having A Moment after at least three attempts to manufacture one for her, with a song that sounds very much like the theme tune from an Eddie Murphy movie from 1986 and which HASN’T EVEN BEEN RELEASED YET. But you can never totally count out the public rallying behind a good-looking young man who has somehow managed to be cast as the underdog. What will happen in the finale? I dunno, I’ll probably get bored halfway through…