After last night's exhausting yell-a-thon, we can all be happy that tonight's results show is only an hour long. Although even that seems over-indulgent for a programme that should be little more than 13 acts filing onto a stage, and Dermot O'Leary quietly whispering "fuck off home" into someone's ear. As our excitable host trots through his introductions, it becomes apparent that he's developed a rather weird James Brown-style exhausted bow to punctuate his most exciting sentences. I hope this evening isn't too packed with incident, or he's going to be laid up in the chiropractor's office for most of next week.
I'm happy to see that they haven't done away with everyone's favourite element of the results show - the group sing-along. It's just like the end of Grease, but without the flying car and all that ramalamadingdong business. They're strutting around and acting like the best of mates, when really they'd be happier hiding dog shit in each other's pillowcases. At least they're taking the opportunity to give some much-needed publicity to one of this year's most under-played songs; Emeli Sandé's Read All About It. The sad fact is that some musicians just can't catch a break.
If that all got a bit much for you, here's Leona Lewis to plug her new single. Dermot helpfully points out that in the six years since she won the X-Factor, she's blossomed from a shy young girl from Hackney, into a shy young woman from Hackney. Her career's hit the skids lately, largely on account of her record label's indecision about what to do with her third album, but she still screams quality like nothing else on this show. And for all the people complaining about Leona's lack of personality, let's take a moment to consider those past X-Factor contestants with an abundance of the P-Factor: Jedward, Cocozza and Same Difference. Now imagine being stuck in a defective lift with that triptych of terrible. Five minutes in and you'd be sawing through the safety cable yourself. Leona might not get many bookings on the after-dinner speaker circuit, but at least the girl can hold a note.
Apparently, Ne-Yo is "an immense talent" with four UK number ones to his name. This is worrying, because I couldn't name anything he's ever done
Dermot congratulates the judges on last night's performances, but their impromptu chat quickly descends into a vaguely inappropriate discussion of our host's balls. Time for another guest slot to pad out the hour. Apparently, Ne-Yo is "an immense talent" with four UK number ones to his name. This is worrying, because I couldn't name anything he's ever done. Perhaps I was in a coma for a couple of years and missed his chart triumph, so I should probably check myself in the bathroom mirror for a telltale head-wound scar. But if I did, I'd be missing a vocal so woeful that it makes Rylan sound like Michael Bublé. Curiously, the vocal continues even when he lowers his microphone to hug his bestie Nicole. If, like me, you grew up listening to Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, the state of modern R&B is enough to make you want pay a Turkish barber to thrust a burning cotton bud into your ears. Ne-Yo, Usher, Chris Brown, they're all much of a sameness. Eurodisco backing tracks, autotune turned up to eleven, and the kind dance moves that would embarrass a Michael Jackson tribute.
And now we get to the real reason why there's a whole hour allotted for tonight's inaction. It's so that Dermot can leave a long enough pause for Jahmene to grow out his fringe between announcing each safe artiste. Once eleven of them have exited the stage, safe to sing for another week, Carolynne and Rylan are left wondering what they're doing wrong. Nicole can't believe that Rylan is in the bottom two, even though he proceeds to wipe his bleached arse all over One Night Only from Dreamgirls. If I described it as 'gay bar cabaret', I'd be doing a disservice to all the second-rate perfomers who inhale their own body-weight in poppers on makeshift stages up and down the country every night. Gary welcomes back the "supremely talented Carolynne", suggesting that he's the winner of tonight's gratuitous hyperbole award. As Carolynne helpfully points out why she's not fit to shine Faith Hill's Manolo cowboy boots, we can see Rylan and Dermot chatting in the wings. It's like watching someone proposition an off-duty rent boy, but from this distance, it's hard to determine which one of them's holding the wallet.
As the judges vote, it's no surprise that the Gary and Nicole choose their own acts to save. Tulisa also saves Carolynne, despite claiming that "every time Rylan steps on the stage I'm entertained." People said the same thing about Rod Hull. Finally, we get to Louis, who's never missed an opportunity to milk this moment for all it's worth. His eyes grow misty, his hands wave, and he dithers like a granny at the M&S self-service tills. Dermot's getting anxious that they're going to get yanked off, but that might have something to do with whatever arrangement he made with Rylan.
The viewers are threatening to quit the show in droves, claiming that the X-Factor has lost all credibility. Now there's a word you don't often see in connection with anything that started out in Simon Cowell's cerebrum
In the end, Louis says he wants to save Carolynne and then changes his mind, sending it to deadlock. Gary's already on his feet in protest, and when his act is named as the one with the lowest votes, he's off. The audience are booing at the fact there are no vegetables to throw, and we're left wondering whether Gary will be back next week. As if that was ever really in doubt. Over on Twitter and the gossip websites, the viewers are threatening to quit the show in droves, claiming that the X-Factor has lost all credibility. Now there's a word you don't often see in connection with anything that started out in Simon Cowell's cerebrum. The conspiracy theorists are focusing on the "man seen talking to Louis during Rylan's performance" - so it seems that all we're missing is a grassy knoll and a pink pillbox hat.
Carolynne appears gracious in defeat and Rylan looks like he's about to swallow his own tongue. For the rest of us, the road rolls ever on.
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