Following Saturday's dystopian shit-house was always going to be no mean feat for the Sunday 'arena auditions' show. The bar was already set so bloody low that it didn't need so much to clear it as to remember what a bar actually is.
It fared a little better, if I'm honest. It seems like the producers are getting the hang of these Sunday slots now, realising that cutting out all of the stories from the second show will make up for the fact that the format of a 'live' audition DOES NOT WORK, NOPE, NOT EVEN A BIT. Narrative can go and suck my balls as far as the talent show genre is concerned: give me a conveyor belt of great singers punctuated by wild-eyed weirdos, please.
Last night's show kicked off with Souli Roots. As she was strutting about the stage, half-twerking, and screaming in a thick Jamaican accent, I still wasn't sure whether she was a real person or merely Jim Davidson staging an ill-advised comeback for his Chalkie White character. Clutching a bongo that she had no fucking clue what to do with and dressed like a crazy bag lady, Souli proceeded to butcher 'Three Little Birds' by Bob Marley because, you know, she's well reggae and that. How can you not be able to sing that song? Even I can sing that song and I have the vocal strength of an unripened pear. They put her through, though. Of course they put her through.
Lydia Lucy was up next. A proto-Amy Childs and owner of the killer combo of great legs AND a charming personality, it started well as she proceeded to run amuck over the vocal register like Mariah Carey on a roller-coaster in her intro but it all went to pot as soon as she started properly singing. Flatter than Holland and more annoying than a tooth abscess, Lydia eventually won over the judges (of course she won over the judges) as I sat there, mouth like Blackwall Tunnel, wondering if I had slipped into some kind of aural alternative reality.
The great(!) thing about X Factor is that there are bands, too, remember and of the episodes boy-band trifecta, Rough Copy were up first. Embarrassing their way to the stage to the strains of Bill Conti's 'Eye Of The Tiger' (now forever sullied), the boys bounded through the crowd without a clue. One of them just kept shouting "Ey!" and another was speaking unintelligibly and it seems like an idea they probably tested out on the way home from a club one night and thought "Yeah, fuck it. This'll be fine..." They then proceeded to dull their way straight through a One Direction song for what seemed like an eternity but not before getting so up in Nicole's grill that the ex-Pussycat Doll looked like she wanted to vomit. They went through too. Of course they went through, Louis thinks they're actually Boyz II Men.
I don't want to dwell on the performances of Blue Inc shop-window Next Of Kin and hyperactive car-crash Kingsland too much because it'll make me too sad. Suffice to say, though, that NOK's audition was so uneventful and self-satisfied that Sophia Coppola has signed up to direct the movie adaptation whereas Kingsland sounded even worse than they looked - and they look like twats. Not one of the boys has human hair and one of them is apparently called 'Thompson' - that's justifiable grounds for a throat-rip, surely? (Both will be heading to boot camp because of course they fucking are).
Practically the only person in the show that went through on merit was Nicholas McDonald. Despite the fact that he's clearly actually a forty-year-old alcoholic with bloodshot eyes and looks like he's nailed on to be outed for head-butting a local fisherman into a pâté, he sang with soul and had one of those voices that people might actually want to listen to. Not like poor perfect Stephanie Wood with her lovely little voice that nobody except my mum and maybe your mum would ever want to listen to.
It was so unusual to see someone doing so well on the show that I actually forgot how bad the rest of it was until I watched it back. Then I remembered... Oh how I remembered.