There are few certainties in life. Toast will always land butter side down. A dog will lick its nuts, simply because it can. And X-Factor movie night means Bryan Adams and Celine Dion. So here we are, listening to an aggravating mix of movie soundtracks as Dermot overdoes his spin and almost falls on his arse. As the judges take their bows, Nicole looks like she’s on her way to a red carpet, and Gary looks like he lays them. And Louis, bless him, could be in rehearsals for The Bucket List 2. Sharon’s doing some tough talking on the VT, telling us “I’m not going down without a fight.” Or a muscle relaxant.
Getting the show off to an ignominious start is Rough Copy; still trying to make those man skirts happen. Gary’s trying to hit on one of the boys’ mums, telling them “I’d love to meet her. Bring her to my dressing room – I’ll clear it with security.” Save it for the tour bus, Barlow. The boys are doing Everything I Do, I Do It For You, and Gary thinks it’s an amazing choice because no-one’s going to expect it. Apart from all the people watching this footage right now. Individually, their vocals are stronger than usual, but the harmonies are predictably shocking. Thankfully, there’s a choir, LED wall and dramatic lighting rigs to drown all that out. Nicole slurs “That’s the way you kick off a show,” – looks like someone’s been helping themselves to Sharon’s sippy cup. Louis reprises his weekly assertion that there’s a gap in the market, as if he’s managing the stalls in Walford.
Sam is still on a high from last week, because he wants to get comments on his voice rather than how he looks. So I’m not entirely sure why his entire VT focuses on a shirtless photo shoot, followed by his appearance as Heat’s Torso Of The Week. Louis has more good news for him, telling the long-faced teen that he’s off to the premiere of “Tortoo”. The publicist for Thor: the Dark World is going to be getting a kicking on Monday morning – “You had one job, and that was to get them to say the proper name of the movie.” Sam’s a nice enough looking lad, but his skin-tight jeans only accentuate how short and stocky he is. Pair that with all the fake tan, and I’m surprised his song doesn’t start with “Oompa Loompa, do-ba-dee-doo”. He’s actually croaking his way through All I Want Is You, but apart from a nice falsetto at the end, it’s strictly amateur hour. Sharon wanted more edge, Louis blinks in disbelief that anyone would criticise it, and Gary thinks Sam’s voice was a little exposed. At least it makes a change from his cum gutters. Sam tries to be diplomatic about the negative feedback, but gives up when even Dermot weighs in to say that the song was too big for him.
Hannah and Nicole have an awkwardly staged chat about life before X-Factor. Still buzzing from her trip to ASDA with Jahmene last year, Nicole can smell another opportunity to play dress-up in a tabard and hairnet. So it’s off to Greggs they go. Who knew stuffing sausage rolls into a paper bag could be such a hoot – these minimum wage, zero-hour pastry monkeys don’t know how lucky they are. It’s up to Hannah to reinject a little glamour into proceedings with a bold rendition of Skyfall. She’s been styled like a Nina Simone tribute act, but on a song like this it’s only the voice that counts, and she does a great job. Unfortunately, she keeps patting her stomach through the song, as if her chicken tikka lattice is threatening to make a reappearance. The judges gush about her, but Hannah scowls through their feedback. Nicole, on the other hand, says Hannah’s singing makes her want to get up and act like an idiot. At least that’s one mystery solved.
Louis seems surprised that his little ‘Tartan Titan’ Nicholas has heard of Angel by Sarah McLachlan. Given that Westlife covered it, and it seems to get performed at least once a series, it’s hardly on a par with a George Formby b-side. Nicholas’ thrilling VT shows how excited he is about learning to wash and iron his own T-shirts. For a moment, I thought I’d sat on the remote and switched over to Hotel of Mum and Dad on BBC Three. Angel is a downbeat song at the best of times, and it’s not helped by a bunch of dancers having seizures on school chairs. Still, he does a fine job with the vocal, but I’m not convinced the silver-flecked dinner jacket is doing him any favours. “How old are you again?” asks Sharon hilariously, after about 400 references to the fact that he’s only sixteen. Even Dermot’s getting sick of it, and he’ll put up with any old shit. Attention is drawn to a man dressed like Russ Abbott in the audience – I’m sorry, people in comedy wigs and kilts should only be allowed into TV studios if they’re holding one of those enormous checks on a piece of foamex board. Gary scores a point in X-Factor bingo, by imploring Nicholas to act his age a little more. It’s a good effort, but tonight belongs to Louis, who manages to cram four of his favourite clichés into a single sentence: “You’ve got a natural recording voice, and that’s what this show is all about - I think you could go far in this competition, and I hope everyone in Scotland votes for you.
Hold onto your hats folks, it’s time to shake this mother up, with Abi and her spectacular ldknjnkdklnvk;sdk.vmmmsld;;ls;lsv;lklxil. I’m sorry, what? I think I must have just nodded off there. Last thing I remember, Nicole and Abi were pretending to have a sleepover in the lobby of a Holiday Inn. Now she’s perched on a stool, accompanied by an acoustic guitar, and dozing her way through a low-key version of Moon River, which was hardly a Miley Cyrus banger to start with. It’s so dull, she could euthanize dogs with her performance. Even the judges have taken to stabbing themselves in the thigh with a biro just to stay awake. The negative feedback upsets her, so thank goodness the camera operator stayed awake long enough to zoom in dramatically on a tear as it plops down her cheek. Dermot attempts to console her, telling her how he hates to see her upset. He might, but the producers fucking love it. Quick, someone tell her that her Grandma just caught fire.
After last week’s drama, it’s nice to see Miss Dynamix back on form. SeSe gets upset that they’re being prejudged, because they got a free pass to this week. Gary tells them to stop going on Twitter, so instead they do their best to show how united they are; snuggling up on sofas and bunk-beds like the Brady Bunch. It’s about as convincing as Sharon’s rictus grin, which we see plenty of, during their En-Voguey take on Gabrielle’s Dreams. They’re all fine singers individually, but they’re just not gelling as a group – a point so obvious that even Louis notices. SeSe is already making excuses for their poor performance, so we shouldn’t be too surprised if they end up the bottom two tomorrow.
Dermot appears to be introducing Sam Bailey from a Perspex viewing box, prompting audience members to make various inappropriate hand signals across the bottom of the screen – thankfully the camera pans away before someone goes all ‘Gareth Hunt Nescafe’. Sam is still humblebragging about how ordinary she is, and can’t believe she’s in the final ten of X-Factor. She’s singing My Heart Will Go On, and tells a hilarious story about singing it on a cruise ship during a storm. It’s actually not funny at all – I guess you had to be there, washing the sea-sick out of your hair. Tonight, she’s wearing a very tall dress, that looks as if she’s got Shelley’s old scissor lift stuck up her gusset. Gary gives it some serious sex face as she skilfully tackles the key change, although he overeggs it slightly by telling her she sang it better than Celine Dion. Sharon says, “I hope Simon Cowell is watching this show,” proving once and for all how disconnected the Dark Lord is from his flagship property.
Just time for some quick bants with Little Mix, which ends with Dermot saying “See you next week” to Leigh-Anne tits, before we move onto Kingsland Road. They’re pretty sanguine about last week’s sing-off, telling us “The flash vote shows anyone can be in the bottom two.” Yes, if they happen to be shitter than everybody else. They decide to rewatch last week’s performance, so that they can give a nice plug to YouView. Although, I’m not sure who thought it was a good idea to promote the digital catch-up service by adding a crappy horizontal lining effect, like those news reports on RoboCop. Their performance of Pretty Woman is a health and safety nightmare, as they come swinging in on a huge piece of rigging. They’re trying way too hard with the vocals – this is supposed to be a sugary chat-up line of a song, but it’s more like they’re shouting sexual epithets at a nun. Nicole tells them she wants them to rain their cheese over her, so I guess the aggressive approach works for some.
Luke still can’t believe that people at home are picking up the phone and voting for him; they’re usually contacting Rentokil, concerned about an infestation. He takes a trip to a fancy hair salon, where the chief hairdresser begs to wash his hair. I thought they’d just plunge him into a sheep dip, but they use a regular sink, albeit one that looks like a dirty protest when they’re done. Not to worry, Louis is on hand to offer some really focused advice to his dreadlocked protégé: “Be careful with the vocal. You must get the vocal right.” Strumming his guitar with a tourniquet wrapped around one arm, it seems as though Luke may be a modern-day Samson. Half a bottle of Pantene and suddenly he’s lost all his uniqueness. Louis point out that the X-Factor is all about standing out, but it’s worth remembering that there’s a fine line between individualism, and every body else just staying upwind.
The last of tonight’s performers is Tamera, who’s here to make us all feel ancient. She made a video when she was 12 of her singing Beyonce’s Listen. Great, that was four years ago. She looks every inch the popstar with her new blonde hair, and she gives a great performance. Unsurprisingly, she loses control of the vocal as she clambers up onto a piano, but she’s streets ahead of anyone else on the show. Sharon keeps mispronouncing her name (Tamaaaaaaahhhra), and Louis tells her to work hard – is this a clue that she’s being difficult behind the scenes?
After fourteen recaps of the last 90 minutes, Dermot lets the girls, boys and Sam Bailey off the hook. To no-one’s particular surprise, Miss Dynamix received the lowest votes tonight, and could do with a few lessons about remaining gracious under pressure.
The results show kicks off with another miserable group song – Bruno Mars’ Locked Out Of Heaven. It’s even worse than last week and, to be honest, I’d lock the lot of them out of anywhere with a working sound system. Miss Dynamix have come dressed as Nicholas’ novelty Scottish supporters, and Abi is smiling like a lunatic. I wonder if someone got a telling off for being a mardy arse last night.
The Wanted – possibly the most bitterly ironic band name of all time. For all their fake rivalry with One Direction, they’ve contributed precisely nothing to the world, with the exception of that song about Rihanna’s walk. Nathan (thanks Google) is taking the lead vocal tonight, but that’s because he wrote the song himself. Personally, I’d be keeping that little detail quiet – does the music industry have an ‘Alan Smithee’ equivalent for people who want to disown something? The rest of them give good singing face, but are just there to be mildly attractive and ineffectual.
Thank God, then, for Lady Gaga: A busload of crazy, dressed in flesh coloured underwear and some stick-on sea shells that give up the ghost 30 seconds in. As most of Twitter wonders if she left her kit at home, she gurns and stomps around the stage, leaving no-one in any doubt that she’s performing the vocal live. It’s weird and strangely wonderful, stepping up a notch when she whips off her wig and launches into Do What U Want. At least this one sounds like a song, rather than something she might perform as a dare.
Results time and Rough Copy, Abi, Luke, Tamera, Nicholas, Sam Bailey, Kingsland Road and Sam are all safe. That leaves Hannah and Miss Dynamix to go head-to-head.
Hannah’s ‘save me’ song is Read All About It, triggering a nationwide case of Emeli-apathy. It’s unusually flat and lifeless, unlike her hair which has been coiled into a giant fecal pretzel. Overcome with emotion, she just sobs her way through the last 30 seconds – always a vote winner, that.
Miss Dynamix take to the stage to show off their nail art – SeSe in particular looks as if she’s been rummaging through a toy box with sticky fingers. Their verson of Don’t You Worry Child is three solo performances that accidentally happen at the same time. So it’s no surprise that they’re the ones going home.