In order to speed up the process of getting through so many auditions on The X Factor, this week we were treated to – or tortured by, however you see it – a double bill on Saturday and Sunday, meaning double the amount of hopefuls trying out their luck, double the amount of delusional lost souls, and the odd real talented people here and there.
On Saturday, Geri Halliwell returned as a guest judge after her brief stint last year, making her the first of two Spice Girls to be one (along with Mel B who again featured later in the episode). As with most guest judges, the focus seemed to be more on Geri than many of the contestants and the contestants’ focus seemed to be more on the Geri then any of the other judges – cue a video montage of lame, Wannabe girl groups (see what we did there?) gushing over Ms Halliwell and then failing to make an impression on anyone else but her. It seems she’s very easily pleased compared to Mel B… But hey, at least in this episode there were more groups auditioning than we’ve seen at all so far.
However, after seeing quite a few rather poor groups falling flatter than some of the notes they hit, boy band Times Red managed to light up the stage – and everyone’s eyes. This hunky trio of Abercombie & Fitch models (or maybe they worked in a store, but we weren’t paying attention to that minor detail) proved that at least some employees for this company are more than just pretty faces and hot bodies – of which one (only one?!) was willing to show off for us. Times Red sang their own acoustic version of Amy Winehouse’s ‘Rehab’, blowing the roof off with cheers, screams and wolf-whistles. And, we presume, many people’s pants.
Last week we saw the return of Jade Richards, who made it through to Kelly Rowland’s house last year, and this week another girl who narrowly missed the live shows, Melanie McCabe, also made a comeback. Having dyed and restyled her hair from scruffy blonde to beautiful brown, Melanie sobbed over how upset she was last year at being sent home at the last hurdle but vowed that she had come back better. Yes, we’ve heard all that before. But unlike Jade’s boring performance last week, Melanie was a bit more interesting as she turned herself into a gospel singer for a very Aretha Franklin-style version of ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’, nabbing herself four yeses and even managing to make Louis shed a tear. But the question is, will her and Jade be able to make it all the way to the live shows this year?
Then there was the bubbly Jason, originally from Vietnam, who wanted to become the next Justin Bieber and was in love with Tulisa. Or Tulisha, as he ‘affectionately’ called her. Upon hearing that, we instantly knew he must be a tad crazy. After the judges failed to help him pronounce the love of his life’s name properly, him giving her a rose and getting a kiss on the cheek, Jason announced he was going to sing ‘I Have Nothing’ by Whitney Houston and surely there was only one way it could go from there; downhill? But no, he was surprisingly not half-bad, although while his vocals could do with some work, his excitable personality was certainly a big factor in him getting through.
Probably one of the few times on The X Factor when you feel real sympathy for a contestant is when they do have talent and potential, but their nerves let them down, and that was the case for a string of hopefuls towards the end of Saturday, who left in more of a state than they arrived because they couldn’t control themselves. But was the last contestant, 34-year-old Liverpudlian Christopher Maloney, going to be an exception? Of course he was. Blabbing on about how many people told him he wasn’t good enough and shouldn’t go on the show, and about his beloved nan, Chris was an obvious wreck even before he started singing ‘The Rose’ by Bette Midler. However, as soon as he did, his rich, strong voice knocked everyone back, resulting in the biggest cheer of the night. Hopefully in the future his nerves will be less of a trouble since he got through to bootcamp.
On Sunday, charismatic rocker-type Ed String (real name Edward Wilkinson) kicked off the show singing ‘Last Night’ by The Strokes; he looked a little like Frankie Cocozza from the previous year, but far more handsome – oh, and he could actually sing. He was soon followed by a whole host of Leona Lewis fanatics who were excited to see the show’s most successful winner to date as a guest judge, including ‘typical Essex girl’ Amy Mottram who sounded like a chavvier version of Adele (whilst singing Adele, ironically), a young blonde lass who who sounded like a poor man’s Cher, and yet another person singing Etta James’ ‘At Last’. Leona on the other hand, barely uttered more than a few sentences and kept her face as straight as a horse most of the time. Surely she wins ‘the least interesting guest judge award’?
Then we had more groups auditioning, led by GMD3, three boys who had already toured with Alexis Jordan in the US and are becoming rather popular on Facebook and Twitter, singing ‘I’ll Make Love To You’ by Boyz II Men – a safe and predictable choice perhaps but despite how strange it sounded in parts, it got them through. Other bands included Mitsotu (who had previously auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent), beatboxing and guitar-playing trio Duke, and female duo District Line singing ‘We Found Love’ better than Rihanna herself. Last up was MK1, a mixed trio consisting of singer Charlie (lesbian alert?), rapper Slim and writer/producer Will, who performed a mash-up of ‘Written In The Stars’ and ‘Read All About It’. Unfortunately, the judges were left confused at the end and urged them to make a choice – ditch wailing Will and carry on as a duo, or not get through at all. Thankfully though, Will decided to let them move forward without him – but not without his 33% share at the end of it all. Ha, yeah… good luck with that, pal!
Finally, breaking from tradition of having a shockingly good person to end an episode, Lorna Bliss proved to be probably the show’s shockingly worst contestant of them all so far. Dressed in a ‘body stocking’ and tiny bikini, Lorna admitted she loved being on television and craved the attention, claiming she was an ‘all-round entertainer’ having been on many shows and channels around the world. (Like Babestation, for example?) With her rather skimpy outfit and loud, self-centered personality, she already managed to stun the judges and audience before she’d even begun her performance, which was as predicted, a very lame, fiver-dollar strip show kind of performance. Dancing worse than Britney Spears did at the VMAs a few years back and singing worse than Britney when auto-tuned (while singing a Britney song, unsurprisingly), Lorna did nothing more than make a spectacle of herself as she straddled Louis’ pricelessly traumatised face, crawled along the judge’s table like a demonic cat and laid down across some of the poor audience’s laps. And we’re sure she loved it as much as Louis didn’t. Well, at least this episode of The X Factor ended just as many continue to perceive it to be – full of brainless, shameless and talentless people.