The X Factor – Series 11 Episode 12

Five bet-you-never-thought-you’d-actually-see-these things about the first episode of Judges’ Houses.

Obviously this is absurdly out of date at this point, and I’d be amazed/baffled/flattered if anyone at all bothers to read it, but the completist in me insists on going back and writing up those last three episodes before the live shows. I’m going to do my best to write this as if I hadn’t seen any of the competition beyond this point, but the odd anachronism may slip through. If so, I can only apologise in advance.

1. Doctor Whoa: After briefly pranking the contestants that he’d be taking them to Ireland for Judges’ Houses, Louis whisked the groups off to Bermuda. Once they’d all arrived and settled in, it was time to meet Louis’s advisor for this part of the process, and I can honestly say that this amount of attention has never been given to a non-Sinitta guest mentor: Tulisa made her triumphant(ish) return to the show, emerging from the waves in a white bikini like Ursula Andress, the effect being slightly spoiled by the look of “THIS IS MY TRIUMPHANT COMEBACK!” on her face. You’re supposed to be playing it cool, Tulisa. New Girl Group were very excited to see her, because they figured she’d won with Little Mix so she’d know exactly what to do with a girl group. (Repeatedly holler “THEY REPRESENT WOMEN EVERYWHERE!”, if memory serves.) Tulisa likewise reminded them all that she’s the only mentor so far to win with a group, so she knows exactly what she’s looking for. A shop that sells dodgy leggings, I’d imagine.

2. Freshly Created At Boot Camp: After being formed at Boot Camp and just about surviving the Six Chair Challenge, this was a chance for both New Girl Group and Eight-Piece Boyband to prove themselves as legitimate contenders. (Point of interest: much was made of Eight-Piece Boyband not having a proper name yet, so either nobody cared about New Girl Group or they’d just decided to adopt that as their official name. It really could have gone either way, couldn’t it?) New Girl Group made a point of talking about how close they were, saying that they were every bit as bonded as the groups that had been together for years (even the two groups that are formed of actual siblings, though?) They chose to perform ‘Say Something’ by A Great Big World, because that’s definitely a song we haven’t heard enough of on the show this year, with decent harmonies and blend, not that it was really going to make any difference because they were always going to be fodder at this point. Meanwhile, Eight-Piece Boyband sang Justin Timberlake’s ‘Mirrors’ like an asthma attack, but also managed to strike some decent harmonies, and I’m willing to give them some credit because it’s harder to arrange a song for eight people than it is for five. Also, I’m not being funny, but the twink is strong with this lot. They look like a Soho window display come to life.

3. Boring Acts Who Actually Formed Before They Entered This Competition: So what about all those weirdly organised people who actually managed to come up with their bands before they filled in their application forms? Well, Only The Young sang ‘Ghost’ by St Ella of the Ad Bumpers, and sounded pretty decent. They seemed rather subdued and vulnerable in their confessional segments, as though they genuinely didn’t think they were the sort of band who would get very far on this show. And they may have had a point, to be fair. Blonde Electra sang ‘Gold Digger’, and confused me in that they are definitely annoying, but I would still rather sit through them than almost any other act this year. Louis claimed not to understand their performance at all, but Tulisa loved it and giggled the whole way through. The Brooks sang ‘Jabba Hutts’ — sorry, ‘Jar Of Hearts’. I’m not sure that’s a song that’s really designed to be sung by boys, never mind 15-year-old boys. And five-piece boyband Concept reminded us that they were just mates from Basingstoke who’d formed a band for shits and giggles and now they’re in Bermuda singing for Louis Walsh. I’d probably have found their studied humility more annoying if they hadn’t been so bland that it barely even registered in the first place. They sang Beyoncé’s ‘XO’ accompanied by an acoustic guitar, and Loulisa wondered if maybe it had taken them a little too long to get going.

4. Who’s Through?: Blonde Electra were given the first spot, despite Louis’s misgivings about their breadth of their appeal. They were excited to be through and declared the news “dope”, which Louis didn’t understand. They clarified that it meant “supa dupa fly”, and he didn’t understand that either. Oh Louis. Only The Young, Concept and New Girl Group were featured together, apparently vying for the one spot: are New Girl Group different enough? Were Concept memorable enough? Have Only The Young got enough edge for The X Factor? (Lol.) Ultimately Only The Young won that fight and got a spot in the live shows. So finally it came down to The Brooks vs Twinks ‘R’ Us for the final spot, and Louis wondered – not for the first or last times – whether eight people was too many for a boyband. But nope, on this occasion, eight was enough and they got the final spot, sending The Brooks home to wait until they’re a bit older.

5. Boys Boys Boys, I’m Looking For A Good Time: While Louis and the Groups were in Benidorm, Mel took the Boys to Cancun. SPRING BREAK WOOOO! She was joined there by Spice Girl and expert judging-things-that-are-happening-right-in-front-of-you correspondent Emma Bunton. Since this episode was only an hour long, we only got to see two of the boys singing: first Jack Walton started singing ‘Halo’ with his acoustic guitar, only for Mel to stop him a few lines in and tell him he can do it better. Inspired by this, Jack then…carried on singing it exactly the same way as he had been singing it before. I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that versatility will not be Jack’s strong suit. He was followed by Andrea Faustini who gave a surprisingly restrained rendition of ‘And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going’, but he also changed the lyrics to “you’re the best friend I’ve ever known”, so he is dead to me from here on out. And that’s it for the Friday episode! Would that they could all be this brief.

Coming up: the rest of the boys! And the rest of the categories!

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