It's not like the standard of talent in The X Factor was ever particularly high at the best of times, but it seems to have reached a new nadir. I don't know if there was some kind of tuneful mass exodus from these shores but we seem to have run out of people with any semblance of tone and all that seems left is a rag-tag bunch of cynical copycats and tone-deaf watered-down mentals.
The average standard of singing in last night's show could be roughly compared to the smoking area outside Club Ciroc in Romford, only a few shades more vomit-inducing. Not only was the singing terrible, but it was terrible in a way we're not used to. It was boringly terrible.
The Great British Eccentric is a stereotype we've cherished for years and one producers have made a combined killing off of since way before Basil Fawlty beat the shit out of his car with a sapling branch. Our iteration of The X Factor was pretty much specifically made to celebrate that kind of delightfully English brand of crazy. Remember the chicken factory man with his sweat-warped face and paedophile trackie top burping out 'Barbie Girl' by Aqua? That was England. Now we've run out and we don't know how good we had it.
The only saving grace was a bloke who dressed as a Quentin Tarantino caricature and wore 3D cinema-glasses over his reading spectacles and spun around to dubstep (after shouting "Dubstep!", of course) but he was more the exception that proved the rule.
A few semi-talented punters did make it through the door. Lydia Lucy delivered a tooth-achingly plastic rendition of some god awful Yank hit, but sang it with *just* enough skill that she managed to poke her head above the parapet and got four yeses - but not before a drawn-out tilt up the young girl's legs by a crowd-pleasingly zealous cameraman. She might be Essex's answer to Cher Lloyd (if she was ran through a red filter and turned loose in Sugar Hut rather than Telford Tesco's) but at least she's got a little something about her.
The same cannot be said for Stephanie Woods. She supplied 97% of the entire talent quota of the show on her own but, while technically perfect, had about as much stage presence as a stale bread roll. While she managed to make Nicole cry (a feat, at this stage, about as notable as say "Yesterday I breathed a bit"), there's no way she'd sell any records. In fact, the producers would be better served letting her dish a little more Gran Canaria Uncovered dirt on her experiences 'working abroad' - if ever a singer needed a few stories about selling fishbowls for five Euros on Las Palmas strip and being verbally abused by group of northern footy fans with matching tattoos, it's her.
A boy-band were also introduced to the show. How novel a concept: a group of five boys - each representing a different demographic (or, rather, fodder for a different sexual preference) - who look like they've just raided the sale rail in River Island. They sung terribly but were inexplicably lauded by the judges as something fresh and original, even though I've seen fresher things wrapped around a tramp's feet. One of the band was a kid who wore a snapback attached to his belt which hung over his clearly pneumatic collegiate erection as he fucked the atmosphere out of the judges' room and into the Twitter feeds of a million terrifying teenage girls. It was a cynical attempt to create One Direction/Union J mk3 and I hope everyone involved is terribly ashamed and suffers from unexpected, intermittent power cuts.
Other approved 'favourites' presented to the audience included: a novelty reggae singer called Souli Roots ("Haha it's funny 'cos she has a foreign accent!"), some fat blokes who sung okay and Next Of Kin.
Next Of Kin represent the recurrent theme of this year's show: "We weren't good enough before but now that the bar is WAY lower, we're probably good enough now". I genuinely preferred it when sob stories were about how much they love their mum or how their cat got addicted to heroin, as the blatancy of how much everyone is openly accepting lower standards sends my neck into a little spasm.
A slight change from the usual 'failed former contestant' mould, NOK are failed former professional musicians, having released two singles in the 90s and toured with "massive acts" like Steps and 911. Remember how everyone moaned when Andy Scott-Lee from 3SL went onto the show because he used to be a professional? Nope, I don't blame you for having no clue, but they did and now it's happening again only everyone is all fine about this band playing the same music that nobody wanted to buy nearly twenty years ago back when music was good.
The show's producers are kind of just shrugging out shows at this point and just how fucked are we as a nation if even terrible reality shows can't be bothered lying to us any more?