It is that time of the week already. Welcome to what the show is studiously avoiding calling “The Quarter Final” instead preferring the much pithier and altogether more marketable branding of “the race for a place in next week’s Semi Final”. This is why the producers work for ITV and I don’t.
Deep into the contest and with only five contestants left, this is naturally the week where the format changes slightly, so everyone gets to sing twice and the judges no longer get a vote at the end. I’m only telling you this to save our host the trouble of spelling this out naturally, a host who incidentally now appears to be called “Dermoto Leery” by the scary voiceover at the start.
Oh yes, and every week I seem to get hits from people searching “dermot’s x factor walk on theme” so if you are wondering it is an orchestral rendition of the riff from Led Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir’ as used by Puff Daddy on ‘Come With Me’. If you earn 30p for answering that, I’ll take a cut please.
Time then to hear the contestants sing and answer for ourselves the three big unspoken questions.
1) Given that last week in “George Michael” week one person sang a song that Elton John appeared on, will anyone use “Elton John” week to sing a song that George Michael appeared on?
2) How many times will the show big up its massive Number One charity record without reference to the fact that it is not only still the same chart as last Sunday but won’t be Number One by the time the results show rolls around?
3) Will anyone make any reference at all to The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name Lest Simon Sues Us All, or will the internet just have to collectively explode at every unfortunate innuendo that presents itself?
Second away, Round 1. The theme is Take That (not appearing on this show).
Coming first (stop it!) is Arsehyl who if the tales are to be believed is hated by several of the judges over the way he has allegedly been groomed for this for some time. As well as promising that he is going to give us a “different kind of song” we are also told how wonderful it feels for them to have a Number One record and what a good cause it is all in aid of. Desperate to bump its sales up in the few hours remaining much? With the two twats now out of the way, Brian Freidman and his all over Number 1 cut have more time to devote to giving other people dance routines, meaning that Arsehyl gets to bust some moves to ‘Relight My Fire’.
I’ve worked out what I don’t like about his singing. In an attempt to find a style and some voical distinctiveness, he has taken to chewing the words as he sings them, like a bad cabaret star. Churlish nitpicking of the song choices means we are obliged to note that out of the vast body of work that Gary Barlow has written for his group, they have chosen to open the show with a Dan Hartman song that is only associated with Take That thanks to their cover version. Never mind, he gets to sing the words “I Need Your Love” several times, giving everyone else the chance to mentally insert the name of one of his fellow performers after it and snigger like teenagers. Or maybe that is just me.
Dannii uses the magic word “pitchy” to tell him he was off key. Somewhere in America Randy Jackson is consulting lawyers and demanding royalties. Cheryl says she knows how tough it is to sing and dance at the same time. Shame he didn’t have the option of pre-recording the chorus then isn’t it Cheryl?
We move on to NotGazza and yes, the irony of tactfully changing his nickname from the one I used in Week 1 is not lost on me either. He has “the full package” says Cheryl. I wonder who told her.
His first song tonight is ‘A Million Love Songs’ which isn’t the hardest song in the world to sing, not that you would know from this travesty. I’m starting to wonder what the point of all the backroom staff on this show is. They all have singing lessons throughout and are prepared with vocal coaches, so why on earth are they not being told that singing isn’t just about bleating the words. You have to sell a song with soul and feeling and I regret to say that the blonde Welshman does this without a hint of either. Or even a tune for that matter. No, this was utterly, utterly painful. We are a fortnight from the final and he is down to the final 5. By this stage he should be a thousand times better than this. Bin him now, seriously.
“People seem to like you much more than I do.” moan Louis grumpily “but the singing was pretty good”. No it wasn’t.
Dannii suggests that there are a million girls all wanting the love songs to be for them. A bolder man than I am writes:
We should move on to NiceBloke who appears to be refreshingly scandal free. In his video Simon announces he will be singing one of his favourite songs but not one of the Take That’s most popular songs. I scare myself by wondering out loud if it will be ‘Love Ain’t Here Anymore’ roughly ten seconds before that turns out to be the case. Simon is actually quite correct here, for despite being one of the few Take That singles of the 90s that didn’t shoot straight to Number One, it is easily one of the least dated of their songs from that era. NiceBloke goes for the juglar, crooning it straight from the catwalk to some planted ladies in the audience. Now that is called truly playing to the gallery as several million females get over the heartbreak of earlier and imagine truly that he is singing it to them, prior of course to noting his number for the voting. This really was a great choice and a great performance. I’m still a little unsure about his singing but the problems he has aren’t anything that can’t be corrected in the studio and with a few months of practice. He hits the big note at the end to perfection and for my money has taken this round so far.
Ken is up next, and we should take time out to note how ‘Fight For This Love’ is the backing music for his video package thus meaning that Cheryl gets a few more royalties out of this show. Who said they don’t look after their own. He is doing ‘Could It Be Magic’ so we are obliged to note that out of four “Take That” songs done so far, two of them have been covers of songs made famous by other people. Also, who thinks that one week the theme should indeed be Barry Manilow? Back to reality, and the big camp disco arrangement of the song suits him well, allowing him to put on the sort of big performance you can see him repeating in the final should be make it through the next two weeks.
Finally we come to token female Dagenham Doris. In her video she worries about taking something like this on. “It is a song written for four men.. and then there’s me” she babbles in a manner which suggests the exciting nature of that thought has just occurred to her. Bless. She sings ‘Rule The World’ and it may be significant that she is the only contestant to take on a contemporary Take That song and thus one that will be recognised by the younger element of the audience. This may turn out to be a masterstroke. Sadly the performance is only OK and nothing more. This is the eternal frustration with her, as the promise of her early audition has never really developed into anything more. She’s a nice person and fun to have around but the sad truth is she just doesn’t feel or sound like a winner.
Danni applauds her anyway and notes the “incredible support out there for Dagenham Stace”. I knew one of my names would catch on eventually. I’ve decided that for Christmas I want a video compilation of all her post-song interviews with Dermoto. Every week she makes less sense than ever before, I could swear tonight that not one word that came out of her mouth resembled English.
With that we push the reset button and go back to the start as it is time for the second theme of the night. Step forward Sir Elton John (also not appearing on this show).
You have to love the way the little video packages put together to introduce the acts who are being paid tribute to somehow manage to suck all the life and joy out of the back catalogue of the acts in question. Elton’s 40 year career is summed up in 25 seconds of wooshing noises. Buy his Greatest Hits now everyone.
Oddly we mix the order up slightly and kick off here with NotGazza. He performs ‘I’m Still Standing’ which I have to confess is one of my favourite Elton songs so I immediately hate him for ruining it. Once more he hoofs and shouts his way through it all but displays no passion or understanding of what the song is about. Look, I’m no singer and have only had the briefest of technical training in the art, but even I know the first rule of performing music is to make sure you actually care about the material. Sell the emotion, convince me that you are feeling what the words mean. He does none of this here.
Intriguingly during the post-song debrief Cheryl does something that appears to have been downplayed this year and leans on the regional angle. “I hope Wales gets behind you” she says in all innocence. My Twitter feed immediately explodes with far too much innuendo to reproduce here.
Entering from the rear now is Arsehyl. He does ‘Your Song’ in a manner which is clearly intended to ape the Moulin Rouge arrangement but which comes across like a shockingly bad Vegas act. One of the world’s most famous piano ballads ends up lost in bombast, campness and yes – even a choir of children to accompany him at the end. I really can’t decide if this was amazing or terrible, but if this does turn out to be his last performance on the show (as everyone seems to be hoping) then it is one hell of a way to go out. Simon claims it was sensational. I can’t find anyone who agreed.
Rattling through, here comes NiceBloke. Who gets to show off his post-watershed raunchy side with ‘Saturday Nights Alright For Fighting’. Of particular note here are the dancing girls in their bras and hot pants which gives this performance a sexual frisson we haven’t seen all series. Hell, I even find myself applauding.
Cheryl asks how he concentrated with all those sexy girls around him. Ask your husband dear.
Ken gets to tug on the heartstrings with ‘Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word’ and I can’t really offer too much in the way of comment here other than to note that the magic which worked for Blue is intact here as well. He is far and away the favourite of the night, beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Simon says here “my day job is I run a record label”. How on earth does he fit that in with his other role of being ruler of the universe? Anyone know?
This marathon show finishes with Dagenham Doris and my, what a weird choice. The song she is performing is the biggest selling single of all time, yet the truth of the matter is nobody will recognise it. Yes calm down, she’s not doing the Diana song but instead the record’s notional a-side ‘Something In The Way You Look Tonight’. In a lovely touch the theme for the staging is Fabulous Baker Boys, and she does indeed sprawl all over a grand piano in a red velvet dress. She has a cleavage. Who knew?
You know what, this was utterly incredible. It may well be the least played Track 1 of any CD single ever released but it does mean that her rendition is pretty much untainted by comparison with the original. Guess what though – Simon doesn’t like it much. I like that I live in a world where Simon is wrong sometimes.
Her post song chat once again reminds me that there are now three people on the list of individuals who when I win the lottery will be hired to do nothing but talk to me in the evening. 1) and 2) are two of my colleagues who shall remain nameless. 3) is Dagenham Doris. Although I may have to wait, as I think she’s going to be back singing next week.
By the time the results show airs, their charity record won’t be Number One any more. How on earth will they cope?