What to say if you liked it
The elixir of salvation for all those despondent at how the cruel world ignores their glaring talent returns to sweep 20,000 people to national stardom – even though there’s only one winner.
What to say if you didn’t like it
Three egotistical ogres loot dreams and hope from the corpses of the deluded.
What was good about it?
• The usual freaks and oddballs provided desperate, superficial entertainment like eunuchs regaling the Roman emperor before being tossed to the lions for being so very boring.
• The piquant ambivalence towards the judges. On the one hand there is disgust at the manner in which they callously flush away dreams like turds down a toilet; while on the other hand, there is a sense of admiration towards them for exterminating the foul delusions manifested in the minds of so many of the “record crowds” who turned up convinced they would be the winner.
• Tony the lumbering security guard who ambled across the set like an obese tumbleweed to usher defiant failed contestants out of the door.
• The truism screamed at Cowell by a bitter reject: “You’re the least talented person on TV.” Of course he is, as Cowell has no artistic talent and sucks the lifeblood from those who are talented before distilling it into a short term fiscal currency. But since when have talent and manufactured pop music ever been passionate, lustful bedfellows?
• Kate Thornton’s inadvertent David Brentism when she lauded Manchester’s musical heritage of “Oasis, Take That and Simply Red”; next week she endorses Britain’s literary greats “Jackie Collins, Naomi Campbell and Jeffrey Archer”.
• The failed girl group who complained they didn’t get through because Louis Walsh “saw us as a threat to Girls Aloud”. If that’s true, it’s a pity they didn’t get any further especially if the threat was lethal.
• Young, modest Trevor who has an exceptional voice. But it’s a shame the next time we see him, the “Boot Camps” will have ravaged any talent from his soul and usurped it with regimented conformity. Cowell eyed him covetously and remarked, “You could sell a lot of records,” clearly already perceiving him as a commodity rather than a person. Expect Trevor to be herded into the manufactured pop battery farm where he will be artificially inseminated with commercial sheen and drained dry of his very soul. Afterwards, he’ll be fattened up on bitterness and cruel rejection, gutted and hung in the butcher’s shop window of reality TV, where he will be greedily nibbled on by the vermin of daytime television before his rotting carcass will be tossed on the pyre of oblivion alongside the still-smouldering remains of Gareth Gates, Steve Brookstein and Michelle McManus.
• Cowell’s unconsciously hilarious compliment to Shane: “I like the fact you don’t look stage school. You look real.” He’ll soon have his “realness” beaten out of him.
What was bad about it?
• Chico, 34; “I cannot be compared to anyone else because what I can do, I do better than anyone else.” This year’s Darius who sang like someone being fed into a plastic shredder.
• Simon Cowell’s “indignation” when Louis and Sharon out-voted him to put Chico through. He stormed out of the audition room and demanded “the producers” follow him out. In a corridor, he raged at the decision to let Chico through and later harangued Louis for humiliating his judgement. Of course, it was all staged; Chico may or may not be real, but Cowell’s anger was certainly synthetic. Instructing the cameras not to film his vitriolic chat with the producers and then letting them eavesdrop was utterly false, as was his conversation with human vacuum cleaner bag Walsh; evidenced by the faux-amateurism of the camerawork which was unfocused and grainy to suggest it was being
done surreptitiously when it in fact looked more choreographed than Darth Vader v Luke Skywalker.
• The show is sponsored by Nokia, slogan: “Love your music, love your Nokia.” The collusion is perhaps appropriate, because the two most crippling influences on modern music are vapid talent shows like X Factor and mobile phone ringtones.
• Stubby-fingered baboon Walsh slimily remarking: “I’d love to get a young Tom Jones.” But under the guidance of Walsh, “a young Tom Jones” would be fabricated into a cardboard mannequin devised to deliver optimal short-term sales before being dispatched back to South Wales in a coffin.
• The hypocrisy of the judges being appalled at the standard of auditions. This trinity of mendacity are responsible for the thousands of morons who believe they are talented through a specious sponsorship of mediocrity which clogged up last year’s X Factor. And what sort of show would you have if only those who can genuinely be brainwashed into a short term career in the music industry turned up? Three in London, two in Manchester; there’d be no show to speak of. Cowell, Osbourne and the Shrivelled Prune and the thousands of lustreless frauds share the same claustrophobic symbiosis as a drug dealer and their pack of junkies. Those auditioning are seeking a fix of fake pleasure which will often be followed by a precipitous plummet, while the judges need the recurring myopic worship to maintain their undulating buoyancy in the fickle media
• Shane, a handsome Mancunian. He’s 20 yet sang an Elton John song, which is like choosing your epitaph for your 21st birthday present. And he had those tiresome
tattoos on each bicep which brands him, and anyone else following such a trite trend, as human waste.
• The exploitation of the fat, ugly and talentless girl who was mortified and in tears because the judges had told her she was fat, ugly and talentless (not in as many words) while she’d always believed, thanks to her dim family, that she wasn’t fat, ugly and talentless.
The X Factor, ITV1, Saturday 27 August
• Club singer and “born entertainer” Tony Little being rightly ridiculed for his white suit and piano tie – and his “horrendous” version of The Commodores’ Easy (Eas-eh-eh-eh-eh). “You’ll be sorry,” he complained after the rejection. “I won’t,” said Simon.
• The return of last year’s rejected boyband 4 Tune, who deserve success simply because their name is so clever. Their G4-meets-barbershop quartet version of Unchained Melody was less impressive.
• The deluded Solani who thought she deserved to be as big as Kylie because she’s as small as Kylie.
• Lorraine, a backing singer on a Meat Loaf hit, doing a fine You’ve Got A Friend
• The patronising of daft old Dorothy Morrison, the 82-year-old with a shopping trolley who creaked through Unchained Melody. “You’re a saucy little thing,” Simon oozed. At the opposite end of the age scale, the judges also patronised four-year-old Mackenzie who can’t sing but could well become a Little Little Ant or a Little Little Dec
• The disrespect shown by Simon and Sharon when they turned up late after staying out late at Elton John’s party (we’d rather go to a wedding reception on a rough council estate in Coventry than attend one of Elt’s bashes)
• The comparisons made between Daniel and David Beckham. He reminded us more of Duncan ‘Chase me’ Norvelle.
• The creepy Nicholas who did a rough Smooth and was told by Simon “You sound like you’re singing underwater.”
• The staged stunt in which reject Beulah pestered Louis on his mobile phone.
• The rather over-the-top appraisal of schoolboy James. “I could eat you,” said Sharon, as the trip got over enthusiastic about his limited singing ability.
The X Factor, ITV1, Saturday 3 September 2005
• Gwen who “sang like a man” or “like something from The Exorcist” and was forced to perform Barry Manilow a song
• The most gorgeous contestant of the night – Philip, who sang Your Cheatin’ Heart. We’d never cheat on you, Philip.
* The montage of Simon’s harshest judgments: “You have the personality of two fleas”, “You look like four rejects,” “You wouldn’t win even if you were the only person who turned up.”
• Imagining the humiliation that lay ahead for tractor maker Keith when he goes back to work after his high-pitched horrors
• Laughing at the matching scarves worn by Shaz and Az during their Day By Day debacle
• The no-nonsense rejection of stage school pupil Charlotte who sang One Moment In Time so badly her teachers should consider quitting before they delude more youngsters
• Sharon giving into the begging from gnome-like Aaron after his dreadful Dock Of The Bay (he should have been shoved into the bay with a voice like that)
• The success of Rustie Lee-alike Brenda
• Simon being outvoted when Spaniard Penelope was put through despite her heavily-accented, hilarious attempts at Over The Rainbow and Fields Of Fire
• The success of the operatic vicar Tony – surely only put through to the next round as a gimmick
• Louie’s plans to homogenise Aaron by cutting his long blonde hair and swapping his ripped jeans for a suit after the Blackpool cabbie performed Enrique’s Hero better than the original.
• Louie’s admiration of Journey South for the wrong reasons. They sang well, but he was more impressed by the way they looked. “I like your image. You look like a footballer.”
• Simon bowing to the sob story of arthritis sufferer Laurie.
• Louie’s desperate attempt to become Mr Nasty with some put-downs which seemed to have come from a warped scriptwriter’s mind. Sharon spotted his ploy but told him: “There’s only one Simon, Louie.”
The X Factor, ITV1, Saturday 10 September 2005
• The demise of Damon (potato with a carpet on top) who reckoned his singing was a mix of Stevie Wonder and Luther Vandross and claimed: “I could make Simon Cowell more than he’s ever earned in his life. I’m better than Justin Timberlake.” After such a build-up, he could only fail, but was he bitter with the judges? Yes. “They’ve let themselves down. I’ll have number ones.”
• The rejection of Jackie who screamed Celine Dion’s The Reason. And Amanda (“Most pop stars nowadays sing flat. I’m not totally tone deaf.”). And Meant 2 B (“I wanted Sonny & Cher,” said Simon. “You’re more like Torvill and Dean”). And Taboo (girl who made Michelle McManus seem trim and her two geeky cohorts). And Total Eclipse (totally dim Cardiff girls, including one who was distraught to be likened to Vicky Pollard). And chubby psychic Moon (real name: Ian)
• The success of Joanne (Fields Of Gold) and Richard (Dance With My Father)
• The decision-making mistakes that allowed Chenai (back from 2004) and glamour model Michelle to progress, even though neither could sing well, and allowed Rachel to be discarded despite a delicate Son Of A Preacher Man.
• The exploitation of the mentally ill in the section on the strange auditionees and the airing of the audition by toothless housewife Kerry (aged 48 – and a bit).
• The exploitation of desperately sad kids by airing their video box breakdowns
The X Factor, ITV1, Saturday 17 September 2005
• Laughing at the lousy names of the bands including Waist Up (the cuteish Take That throwbacks); DeAz (Dean, the one with the wobbly mouth, and Chaz); and Eskimo Blonde (the Freak Like Me freaks)
• Meg the goth and her family. “You remind me of Toyah Willcox,” she was told. Backhanded compliment of the week, that was.
• The boys with the big build-ups. Cake factory worker Peter and Chris (the one with a voice similar to Jacko, Justin T and Peter Andre) went into the audition in cocky mood, uttering lots of that it’s-my-destiny nonsense, so we could subsequently enjoy their fall. Chris refused to be bowed. “I’ll never give up,” he insisted. “You should give up,” Simon insisted. “That was a hideous audition. You have to stop. It’s not destiny.”
• Becky being brave enough to dump her minging pals in the three-piece Stiletto and going it alone – and going into the next round
• Simon’s row with the Elvis impersonator after telling the hopeless hopeful that he was more akin to Shakin’ Stevens. “Shakin’ Stevens is a poor copy of Elvis,” the contestant countered. “And you’re not?” sarcastic Simon said before conceding: “It was more like Shufflin’ Stevens.”
• The cutie of the night – gardener Sam with his stubble and beenie hat and white vest.
• The acclaim for Cadiz (who turned up with her little daughter). We were left in pain after her I Will Always Love You but softies Louis and Sharon lacked the judgment to spot her flaws.
• We’ve reached our threshold as far as laughing at nutters goes. The tossers who turned in tortuous takes of Turning Japanese and Teenage Dirtbag should have been erased in the editing suite.
• The airtime given to that stupid woman who idolised Sharon and performed I Will Survive, telling us it is “one of the greatest song [sic] that was done in this country.”
• Sharon’s nauseating niceness. “You’re a nice guy. I don’t think you’re ready yet,” she told Monet (the stupid man in green). “He’s 51!” spluttered Louis.
The X Factor, ITV1, Saturday 24 September 2005
• The rejection of James who screeched The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face after claiming he was “the Soul Man himself” and Callum whose Killing Me Softly was so hard to watch
• The hilariously dreadful dance by Ryan, the fortysomething man in a purple catsuit. Luckily, his voice was great.
• Simon Cowell’s reply when the Brian McFadden wannabe said: “I just wanted to follow in Brian’s footsteps.” After rejecting him, Simon added: “Ironically, you might be.”
• The success of Daniel, the boy with cerebral palsy. For once, his inclusion in the next round did not smack of sentimental tokenism
• The show’s hot guys – the one in a sling who sang Lean On Me and Nicholas who performed End Of The Road
• The hilarious “it’s going round” routine by the judges as they mocked any contestant who claimed to be a bit poorly
• The lousy contestants (including the fat girl doing Hanky Panky, Richard’s nasal and disturbing All That Jazz, the mouthless hospital porter and Skegness boxmaker Ursa who wrecked Reach)
• The success of the 47-year-old blonde baggages doing Waterloo. Simon was shocked when Louis and Sharon liked the pair. “You’ve just put Flabba through to the next round!”
• The dull, dull, dull sequence when the judges had to wait for ages until Simon was allocated the groups, Sharon got the oldies and Louis got the young ‘uns.
The X Factor, ITV1, Saturday 8 October 2005
Our verdict on the finalists
Andy Abraham The 40-year-old from north London will hang around for a few weeks because he’s a man of the people (he’s a dustman)
Maria Lawson The 30-year-old Londoner will be among the first three eliminations
Chico Slmarie The 34-year-old former goat herder won’t win but will make enough of an impression to become one of those freaky Z-List celebs such as Jade Goody, Lizzie Bardsley and The Salon’s Ricardo.
Brenda Edwards The 32-year-old will be among the first three eliminations
The ones who didn’t make it: Haifa Kayali (deserved to be dumped), Joanne Hindley (deserved to go through instead of Brenda), Richie Glynna (deserved to go through instead of Chico)
Addictive Ladies (Fleur, Stephanie, Vivienne and Nicola, all 17 from London) Will hang around for a few weeks
4Tune (Simon, Michael, Anthony and Philip from Southampton) Will be in the final five
Conway Sisters (Sinead, Marie, Sharon and Laura from Sligo, Ireland) Will be among the first three eliminations
Journey South (Brothers Carl and Andy from Sunderland) Our tips to win the competition
The ones who didn’t make it: Eskimo Blonde (deserved to be dumped), The Brothers (deserved to be dumped), 4th Ba5e (deserved to be dumped)
Shayne Ward The 20-year-old from Manchester will be battling with Philip for the runners-up slot
Nicholas Dorsett The 17-year-old from London will be in the final five
Philip McGee The 21-year-old from Belfast will be battling with Shayne for the runners-up slot
Chenai Zinuku The 18-year-old will hang around for a few weeks
The ones who didn’t make it: James Bellamy (deserved to be dumped), Trevor Hodgson (deserved to go through instead of Nicholas), Alexandra Burke (deserved to go through instead of Chenai)
The X Factor Final,
They paraded on to the stage resembling three of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
They are led by Death, an arrogant, odious dwarf who uses his wealth to doom everything he touches and who is so obsessed with money that even when walking around naked he emits the unmistakable chink of money from somewhere about his person.
War, a half-plastic harridan who when she closes her eyes she reveals on her eyelids an impression of a many-furrowed wrinkle of rifles raised to deliver the fatal shot of a firing squad, and whose cannon-like gob is unshuttable.
And Pestilence, a squat, prune-faced fleshy pool of vomit from whose mouth pop forth verbal pustules like bursting buboes. (If you believe the “gossip”, then Famine may join next series if she’s able to commute from Madrid.)
From the many scraps of human waste filtered through the exacting tests of singing ability, personality and the chances of being moulded into a gelded icon to be worshipped by the myopic masses, the final three were:
Journey South: Who are made from Paris Hilton’s left over peroxide bottle and clear, plastic Tupperware lids dumped on a Teesside landfill site.
Shayne: The “working class lad from Manchester” is forged from the purified tears of crocodiles, the emotion chip from the first ever computer and northern grit smuggled from the driveway of Buckingham Palace.
Andy: The essence of 100 made-up hard luck stories from weekly women’s magazines.
Kate Thornton once more acted like a single-celled entity and wore what looked like the billowing skin a beached jellyfish, and also exhibited the cerebral instincts of the same beast. She churned out simple, mechanical phrases which she repeated over and over again: “Simon, your comments please”; “Louis, your views please”; “And now, Sharon”; “What do you want to say back to the judges?”. And worst of all: “It’s all getting rather emotional up here”, when the Thornton wouldn’t know an emotion if entrapped her in its web and started on the sparse, unsatisfying task of digesting her sincerity. But call on her to improvise, and she bumbles out “it’s all become emotional up here.”
During When A Man Loves A Woman, Andy showed once more that he has had passion coached into his performance – the rigid arm movements, the face creasing up as though a napkin being folded away to be packed in a factory.
Still, that’s more convincing than Shayne who appears to buy his emotions in bulk from Spar.
Pestilence patronised Andy even more when he adopted the vernacular of the street (“You’ve got soul, man.”) to talk to a black man as if he’d overdosed on T4, where such a trait is part of the rules.
On the first of Shayne’s interminable films, in his kitchen he tearfully tells his mother he loved her as a camera lurked obtrusively behind a pile of cardboard boxes. It couldn’t have been faked with any more daytime TV professionalism if Jeremy Kyle was on hand looking ever-so concerned.
At about 6.25pm the word “mentor” mutated in the English language. Where it formally meant an experienced, kind individual guiding a naïve, talented soul through the pitfalls of their profession, it became a self-centred egotist gripping tightly on a leash of their enslaved dog.
Pestilence rocking backwards and forwards on his chair as if suffering a fit of senility to simulate enjoyment at the dross he was being exposed to. It’s nice to know even the malevolent creator of the baleful Westlife has a tolerance threshold to dreadful music.
During Shayne’s first song, a phalanx of children was mercilessly brought on to the stage with all the drab predictability and imagination a bunch of evolutionary cul-de-sac thugs hiring a stripper for a stag night. It’s only a wonder the kids didn’t kneel under one of the two Christmas trees which flanked the stage and opened a pile of presents.
At the first juncture for the voting “update”, Thornton trotted out the ITV Lie Machine popularised by Ant & Dec. “Only 2% covers all three singers,” she twittered, and then proceeded to implore viewers that they needed more votes. The distress on her face as she pleaded for more votes (and money), which eventually culled millions from gullible idiots trying to make a difference suggests Lord Haw-Haw has a spiritual heir.
It was soon after that Simon Cowell made the most ludicrous statement of the evening to Journey South: “It’s not about me, it’s about you.” More telling was Pestilence saying to Shayne: “We’re in the final!”
The innumerable “Cry, damn you! Cry!” camera shots where the weeping pop foetus – be it Andy, Shayne or Journey South – has a camera rammed into their face with the velocity and impact of a high-speed train crash.
The awkwardness of Trevor McDonald in the audience resembled Adolf Hitler at a Bar Mitzvah.
Pestilence once hinted at the forgotten Steve Brookstein when he uttered: “The standard this year is so much higher” with all the conviction and veracity of an education minister extolling this year’s GCSE results.
In a tribute to the Blue Peter mantra of Here’s One I Prepared Earlier, Simon Cowell sneered after Shayne’s Somewhere Over The Rainbow, “that wasn’t the best performance of the night”. Pause for predictable jeering from the audience. “It was the best performance of the whole series.” Cue, applause amplified by Cowell’s anticipated derision.
During that performance, Shayne kept touching his own chest as if testing for a heartbeat.
Thornton had now abandoned the pretence of it being a contest and was now marketing it as “give us your cash you mindless dolts” as she said “these are the numbers you need to call.”
After Journey South were eliminated they said “Simon, you’ve become a friend”, Cowell’s response was “I think we’ve become friends”. While it’s no surprise Cowell was unable to clearly articulate his feelings (after all rotten wood doesn’t fall in love), the translation for this exchange was: Journey South: “Simon, please don’t discard us back to the black hole of working men’s clubs.” Cowell: “We’ll see. I’ll give you one single, but if it fails to go Top 20 you’re Brooksteined.”
Thornton may as well have donned a black cap when she stated: “Sadly, that means we have to say goodbye to Journey South.”
At 10pm Journey South had already been erased from history. All memory and record, any sign that they may have existed had been cast into oblivion.
As Shayne sang the most anonymous tune in the history of pop music, the awful That’s My Goal, his eyebrows resembled Tower Bridge – raising them in unison as he squeezed out each insincere emotion he has been well-trained to fake. Victory was in the bag.