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-Louis giving the peace sign.
-Gary: “I fundamentally don’t like the sound of your voice”.
-Sharon: “Fil, what can I say? WHAT A PILE OF SHIT”
-Nicole [to her breasts]: “If anyone’s listening, can I have a Margarita?”
No. of Emeli Sandé Alarms™: 4
Best auditionee: Sam Bailey.
Worst auditionee: Euphoria Girls.
I was dubious about this series of The X Factor. Another change in format, and yet another judging panel shuffle. Even the Sugababes wouldn’t be able to keep up with this amount of lineup changes. However, Cowell got one thing seriously right this year. The comeback of Sharon ‘Mrs O’ Osbourne. One word – ‘FABULOUS’. For me, this is my favourite panel in years. There’s no argumentative bullshit from Dannii, Cheryl or Tulisa ‘I’m just being honest’ Contostavlos; the three pop know-nothings who, quite frankly, were there to sit and look pretty. We have two professional, talented and hilarious women as the stars of the panel. Then we have boring-voiced (but quite good songwriter) Gary Barlow there as the most experienced performer and artist, and then… There’s Louis. But it’s Louis’s last year, so let’s give him a break for now.
The first audition was in Cardiff, for unwashed spawn-of-Edward-Scissorhands Luke Friend, who sang a bit of a boring pitchy version of Stand By Me. But he was in tune a lot of the time, so I’ll let it slide. Louis said “You’ve got your own style – you’re different”. Quite frankly I’d rather his style involved a little more hygiene, but what can we do about that, eh? He got to the arena with four ‘yesses’, regardless. Next up was seventeen year old Alejandro Fernandes from Sussex, who thought it appropriate to begin his audition with “Can I just say Nicole, you are *so* hot. I hope you don’t mind.”
I bet she minded.
He sang Pink’s ‘Perfect’. The song choice didn’t really match his own audition. I thought he sang a bit from the throat, and relied a bit on the fact that he looks like my future father of my children. But he still got through.
Part-time kids’ football coach Tom Mann came and sang ‘Let Her Go’ by Passenger. I thought this Mann had an interesting voice. Whether I like it or not, I don’t know. But he was in tune and looked like the offspring of Liam from One Direction and Michael Bublé. So it’s a yes from me. My personal favourite audition was J-Star Valentine. And I quote, – “I’m not your average popstar”. This is true. Because he isn’t a popstar at all. I was highly saddened when he sang “my [his] own version of Alexandra Burke’s Hallelujah”, not only because Hallelujah is a Leonard Cohen song, but also because he sang it “like a ghost”, according to Sharon. It was bizarre. It was tuneless. It was perfection.
Faux-rocker (focker?) Phil with-an-F decided to tell us an enthralling story about the singular type of cheese in his fridge* before taking a walk around the entire room with his guitar. He sang ‘Let Me Entertain You’ by everyone’s favourite rock artist Robbie Williams. Unfortunately, I was not entertained, and neither were the judges. Nicole’s sarcastic shouting of “OH YES, SHAKE IT” was beautiful, and the following “…But the HAIR was good!” They did ask him to come back ‘with an attitude’, however, so there’s hope for Fil yet. He started by pulling some chairs over as he left the building. Rock on.
A seemingly well-endowed gentleman in his underwear performed Can’t Get You Out Of My Head. I feel the same about his unruly bulge. He and his package did not get through. Then a tangoed fitness instructor got shot down by Sharon after asking the judges to do a warm up – “we’re miserable and we’re not doing that shit”. AMEN TO THAT. A dreadhead followed, singing ‘Air Hostess’ and made Sharon wet herself at the line “I messed my pants”. Sharon’s breakdown here was undoubtedly my highlight of the show. Amazing.
Duo Silver Rock appeared and sang what I thought was quite a good exact copy of End Of Time by Beyoncé. The judges sent them through, but split them up because they “have no relationship”. Oh dear. I guess that means I probably shouldn’t audition for the X Factor either, then…
Student Siana Schofield set off the first ‘Emeli Sandé Alarm’ ™ of the series. She wasn’t awful, but her hair was. A bit like Emeli Sandé herself, really. 16 year old Rielle Carrington then came and sang a Nickleback song to remind us why none of us ever buy Nickleback songs. It was a tragically easy song to sing, with about two notes in it, but she was roughly in tune and typically attractive, thus qualifying her as a perfect candidate for The X Factor.
Here comes Hannah Barrett. I had really high hopes for this girl until her shockingly cringeworthy sob story. She mentioned pasties, she has a lovely singing voice (which was a bit like Azealia Banks’s, but she didn’t say ‘cunt’ quite so much) and she didn’t look like your typical popstar. She proceeded to cry and bang on about family problems (which will only be exacerbated from this point on, knowing The X Factor) which put me off a bit. Regardless, she was quite a good singer. Even though she sang an Emeli Sandé song.
‘Euphoria Girls’ were the most revolting group act since 2 Girls 1 Cup. Incessant happiness, colourful outfits, a crap dance routine and absolutely no vocal talent. It was unbearable. Their harmonies were rare and off-key. Their personalities were deathly cloying. It was like a drunk Steps on poppers, or that girl at a party who gets embarrassingly drunk, thinks everyone’s her best friend and pisses everyone off. Somehow these cretins got through. Goodbye, standards.
Next up was Luke Britnell, a Justin Bieber tribute act (??). He sang his own composition, called ‘Think Positive’. This was far too Disney for my taste. By which I mean that it was so happy I wanted to vomit. However, there were dollar signs in the judges’ eyes, and he was sent through. Finally we come to Sam Bailey, who is our Susan Boyle for X Factor this year. I love this woman because she recognised that she’s older than a successful contestant will ever be, and she sang an incredible cover of Listen by Beyoncé. Oh, and she made a joke about pink fluffy handcuffs. What a lady.
*(it was double Gloucester if you’re wondering)
Sunday – The Arena
Sam Bailey returned first, singing Who’s Loving You by The Jackson 5. It was really quite good. She has a bit of Stacey Solomon syndrome, in that she speaks horrifically but sings rather well. Oh, and she has no commercial potential. But it’s nice for her to have her moment while it lasts. My prediction is that she’ll get to the live shows but be booted out in the early weeks, because sadly, she’s over the age of 25 – a real sin when it comes to reality television.
Hannah Barrett was next up with ‘One Night Only’. I was really disappointed with this song choice. It’s a really obvious audition choice, and there was one really obvious moment where she went flat. She did get through, but Hannah’s on rocky ground for me now. If she sorts out a niche for herself, I reckon she could make it to the live shows.
Demi-Bieber Luke Britnell returned in a Rolling Stones t-shirt and sang an acoustic version of Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’. He, thankfully, was very off-key. The world doesn’t need another Justin Bieber. Even one is too many. Sharon began by praising his personality, which is a kind way of saying “both your voice and your looks aren’t up to scratch”. Bye bye Britnell.
Ale-Alejandro Fernandes once again made a massive faux-pas by opening his mouth for something that wasn’t my phallus, and sang ‘Hero’ by Enrique Iglesias. He went flat. It was not good. His ‘hook’ was singing the chorus and the last line in Spanish – must contestants really rely on translating songs for individualism now? Louis and Gary pointed out that he ‘wasn’t the strongest singer ever’ (AKA he was a bit crap), and Sharon retorted with “that doesn’t matter”. If that doesn’t sum up The X Factor, I don’t know what does. He went through.
Focker Fil decided his best chance of getting through was to wear some temporary tattoos, take his shirt off, and smash Gary’s mug (something we all want to do at the best of times). While this is clearly the formula for instant superstardom, Fil was sent packing because he’s “just too nice”. Just as well, because I imagine he’d have cost the show a fortune in smashed crockery.
Jerrie of failed duo Silver Rock sang a really, really dodgy version of We Found Love – and let’s face it, Rihanna’s original vocals weren’t great as it was. Her ex-singing partner Tamera was up next (why they didn’t call themselves ‘Tam and Jerrie’, I’ll never know) singing I Have Nothing. Boy was she wrong. She gave us the first stunned silence of the series (unfortunately by forgetting her words rather than stunning the judges), but came back bravely for a second try and she nailed it. If by ‘nailed it’ you mean ‘still forgot half the words’. I feel like she channelled a bit of Leona in this performance, however. She had her key change perfected, and the judges saw something in her, as did I. If she cleans up her act a bit, I reckon she could go far. The only thing I don’t like about her is that she was born in 1996 or 1997. Bloody youngster.