The X Factor – Series 11 Episode 8

Five god-I-wish-they-hadn’t-started-showing-three-episodes-a-week-I’ll-never-catch-up-at-this-rate things about the fourth and final round of arena audition.

1. Zzzzzzzz: I know I should really be pretending that I’m watching these in some sort of time-vacuum where I don’t know what lies ahead, but I’ve already seen the entirety of Boot Camp at this point, and while the six-chair challenge is an utterly ridiculous piece of emotional terrorism (more on that in the next update), at least those episodes were actually FUN. There was DRAMA in them. The reason I’m finding it so hard to write about this current state of the competition is that I don’t feel like we’re learning much that’s new. There have been one or two cases of people who’ve burnt out unexpectedly, but for the most part it’s either people we’ve never seen before and will never seen again, or an opportunity for the judges to lavish further praise on people they already slathered over during the room auditions. I just can’t bring myself to get excited about that.

2. The Ringers: There was never any doubt of Charlie Martinez going home at this stage. I mean, come on: he’s a cute, clean-cut American in the armed forces singing One Direction songs. He’s so close to the ideal X Factor contestant that it borders on parody. (Mel didn’t like him, but at least Mel’s remembered that her main job is to be the ornery one.) Then there was Janet Grogan From Dublin who is nice, pleasant, entirely forgettable. Charlie Jones sang ‘Wannabe’ in the style of Jack Johnson and name-checked the judges as though he was trying to reach out of the screen and slap me personally in the face. Helen Fulthorpe is from Wales and has a lot of kids, some of whom entered her for the show because she didn’t have the courage to do it herself. She looks like Regina George’s mother. Jake Quickenden thought we’d all like to hear ‘Who You Are’ by Jessie J really slowed the fuck down, and Simon started complaining that he doesn’t usually like it when contestants from previous years return. Considering it’s been wall-to-wall returnees this year, it seems odd that this is the first we’re hearing of it. Fishy Lola couldn’t do her audition, cried, attempted ‘(You Make Me Feel Like) A Set Of Parentheses’, still wasn’t very good and somehow this inspired Cheryl to believe that Lola’s problem is that she’s so talented but has no self-belief whatsoever. I guess Cheryl noticed this as a result of being afflicted by the exact opposite problem her entire life.

3. The Messes: Ten Senah is back, and 100 per cent less drunk! Well, maybe 90 per cent. Simon shamed her in front of the audience for having turned up to her previous audition after being out all night and the audience booed her down, because I’m sure nobody in that crowd has ever turned up to work hungover. She was kind of screechy, but still more interesting than half the Marlon Blandos we’ve had so far. Then there was 30-year-old Michael Marouli from Newcastle who was dressed like Lady Gaga and made Mel B say, in an alarmingly Sharon Osbourne-esque turn of phrase, that she felt like she was in “a tacky discoteca in Magaluf”. Tom Mann was hot shit in every sense of the word – he can’t sing, but he’s pretty, so of course he advanced to the next round.

4. The Judges: Mel B suddenly seemed to roar into life in this episode at long last. Maybe she was just tired in those room auditions? I imagine it gets awfully humid in there. Maybe what she really needed was the recycled air of Wembley to finally reconnect with her inner crotchety old geezer, telling everyone that they’re boring and crap and wasting her time and she just wants to go home and watch Matlock. This is far more like it.

5. The Future: YES YES YES LET’S JUST GET TO BOOT CAMP WHEN THIS SHIT FINALLY STARTS GETTING INTERESTING.

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