Five delayed-by-my-holiday things about the third round of auditions.
1. Murs We Do This All Over Again?: Apparently the sure-fire way to get on the show this year is to have some sort of Olly Murs connection. We’ve already seen his former bandmate fail to advance, and this time we were treated to Olly Murs lifethief Jamie Baker from Northampton, who looks a bit like Olly, sounds a bit like Olly, and probably makes all of his friends call him “Olly”, or “Mr Murs” if they’re nasty. We were supposed to believe that the only member of the on-camera talent who spotted the uncanny resemblance was Simon, so I hope they’re paying Cheryl a fair price for the degrading task of sitting there and gawping on cue like she’s only just noticing it now Simon’s pointed it out. Jamie sang what appeared to be an original composition called ‘Dance All Night’ and sounded very much like Olly Murs, and then he sang ‘Uptown Funk’, and still sounded a lot like Olly. He got through to the next round, albeit with Simon’s proviso that they’d have to “un-Olly” him, which was greeted by boos from the audience. We really get The X Factor that we deserve, don’t we?
2. A Village Somewhere Is Missing Its Idiot: I’ve tried to be charitable, I honestly have, but Rita Ora is absolutely thick as mince. Here are some of tonight’s choice cuts:
– “You really made it your own.” (in response to Jamie Baker’s Olly Murs impression masquerading as an audition)
– “Is that near the Isle Of Wight?” (upon hearing a contestant is from the Isle of Man)
– “Hi, pretty lady! You look like Pocahontas!” (she really did not)
– “So you’re like a cocktail?” (upon hearing someone was born in Swindon but raised in Toronto)
I mean there were hints going into this that she wasn’t the brightest light on the Christmas tree but I’m actually concerned at this point that without adult supervision she might forget how to blink.
3. Strong Female Protagonists: It was generally a strong week for female auditionees, at least in terms of airtime. There were a few false starts, like two-piece girl group Flaxen (best friends from Leeds, vocals passable but not great, stopped midway through for some inexplicable fire-dancing, prompting Simon to say “it’s like you’re on a night-out in Leeds and you wander into a fire-eater’s shop” which suggests Simon has a very strange mental image of Leeds) and Shianne Phillips, whose cover of Whitney’s ‘I Have Nothing’ was a little strained and manic but perfectly serviceable and – crucially – nowhere near as bad as lots of people we’ve already seen get through, only to be told by Simon and Rita that she wasn’t up to scratch and they had to be cruel to be kind and send her home. On the other hand, however, we got six-piece girl group Alien, formed by a group of backing dancers who’ve longed for the limelight for ages, and have clearly honed their gimmick by establishing which one is the funny one, the childish one, the sensible one etc etc etc. The dancing was a lot better than the vocals, but the visual presentation was strong enough to carry them through by itself. Shianne’s virtuous counterpart (in that they were both women who’d had success slip through their fingers and were hoping for this show to give them the boost they needed to get back on the horse) was Stephanie McCourt (24) who sang a boring cover of ‘Shake It Off’ and then a boring cover of ‘Summertime’, but apparently appealed to Simon in a way that Shianne didn’t and got through. And we closed the show with the delightful Bupsi (37, full time singer from Leeds) who responded to Simon’s allegation that she was “too nice” by skanking out a cover of Tina Turner’s ‘Rock Me Baby’ and slinking across the judges’ desk. All in front of her mother, who loved it. I think I’m going to like Bupsi, and her mum.
4. It’s Called “Backstage” For A Reason: We’ve really not seen much of Caroline Flack this year, have we? Not even a “welcome back to The X Factor, we’re still in Birmingham/Manchester/Glasgow” when we come back from an ad break. Even in some of the bits where she and Olly are watching from the wings, he seems to be the only one who gets to talk to the camera. Perhaps she caught wind of this edit early doors and that’s why she said that Strictly Come Dancing was the bestest programme in the history of Saturday night entertainment when she went back for her valedictory performance. Meanwhile, the presenters’ time appears to have been scaled back in favour of “top bants with the judges”, where we watch Cheryl dancing to her own songs and Rita’s dog running around covered in a fucking tutu. I know the show really wants the public to take this panel to our hearts, but maybe try to let it happen organically before you start actively forcing us to love them, eh?
5. Man Of The Moment: And in our I’ll-be-floored-if-he-doesn’t-make-live-shows moment of the day, Non-Threatening Boys magazine coverstar and centrefold Simon Lynch came along with his adorable face and dreamlike hair and talk of how he’s from the Isle Of Man and how there’s no music industry there apart from singing at charity Christmas concerts so if you want to hit the big time you’ve just got to visit the mainland and hope all those stories about the monsters aren’t true. He sang ‘If I Were A Boy’ (…do you want to tell him or shall I?) and had a beautiful voice, but it seemed a little too pure and refined for pop music. I’m almost reluctant to suggest it but I could see Simon making him do some sort of godawful popera nonsense if he decided to sign him. Anyway, I’ve predicted big things for him, so watch him now go home in 11th place as per usual.