Five maybe-I-shouldn’t-keep-going-on-holiday-in-September things about the penultimate episode of auditions.
1. Havva Word With Yourself: I quite like it when you get people auditioning for The X Factor who just seem like normal people who somehow ended up on the television. I know I cite this example a lot, but my gold standard is Stacey Solomon, and that time that she shrugged that if it didn’t work out she could always just go and get a job in Asda – that kind of normal, where it’s not life or death, it’s just something you’re having a go at. So personality-wise I rather liked Havva Rebka (especially because the entire time she was on screen I kept singing her name to the tune of ‘Hava Nagila’), who is 21 from Edmonton and works in her family’s shop and just sounds exactly how you’d expect someone with that biography to sound. I was disappointed that I didn’t particularly enjoy her audition performance (possibly because it was a Jessie J song, the ironically-named ‘Masterpiece’) but at this comparatively early stage in the competition personality still goes a long way with me so I’m giving Havva the benefit of the doubt for now. Although if Simon keeps making jokes like “you havva four yeses” I will reconsider DON’T TEST ME SIMON.
2. Rita Ora Is Thirsty: There was a long procession of twenty-something men succeeding at auditions this week, and Rita Ora was throwing herself at all of them vagina first. And that’s not me being all “gasp, woman on television displays vague glimpse of sexuality shock”, she was seriously thirsty in this episode. Her flirting possibly needs a bit of work, however: upon learning that the three members of a boyband were all 24, Rita hooted “I’M 24 TOO!” When 18-year-old Brodie Kelly talked about how he works part-time in Waitrose, Rita was all “GREAT, I’LL MEET YOU IN THE STOCK ROOM FOR A SHAG, YEAH?” After Premier Inn receptionist Ben Clark’s sub-par audition, Rita likened him to a smoked ham, the subtext clearly being that she would very much like to smoke his ham. Actually this one got worse when Grimshaw stuck his oar in and compared Ben to a honey-roast Taste The Difference ham and suddenly this became the prelude to the world’s most stomach-churning threesome. It all reached its apex with 23-year-old primary school teacher Joe Waller, however, when Rita legit asked him what sign he was (is this 1993?), purred that he was very young for a teacher and asked him if he fancied his headmaster. (Joe pointed out, fairly reasonably, that the headmaster would be a man and he’s not really into that.) I know we all enjoy a little bit of a flirt in the workplace, but sometimes less is more, you know?
3. Rita Ora Is Dumb: Still, the thirstiness was one thing, but Rita’s various brainfarts this episode were quite another. Whether it was remarking to a contestant called Calypso that she shared a name with her favourite lollipop (Cheryl: “Calippo”), saying that Mary O’Sullivan’s tuneless rendition of ‘Ave Maria’ while holding a book with the words in it was “a bit Songs Of Hymn” (Nick: “Songs Of Praise“) or falling back on old favourites like “you can never read a book by its cover” (Nick: “JUDGE a book by its cover”), this episode more than ever made it clear that Rita no so good with the thinky-talky. And it also made clear that Nick’s kind of a pedantic smart-arse who can’t let anything go.
4. Girl Talk: While the time spent on the male contestants focused mainly on how much Rita Ora wanted to have sex with them, the time spent on the female contestants was more about how quite a few of them were quite good. An all-female group called PYT (and Simon actually had to ask them what that stood for, good grief) – two of whom were previously in Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalists and recipients of Alesha’s inaugural Golden Buzzer REAformed – sounded kind of strained in places, but their “energy and vibe” was appreciated by Nick. Katie Coleman (21) had a lot of pre-audition airtime where she sat backstage with her nan fretting about her nerves, as well as a VT about getting her heart broken but coming back stronger etc, and eventually got around to performing ‘Break Free’ by Ariana Grande, which everyone seemed to think was very emotionally honest, and even prompted Caroline backstage to tell her that SHE TOO HAD HAD HER HEART BROKEN AND IT’S LIKE YOU WERE DOING IT FOR ME and it all got a bit “u ok hun?” Then there was Neneth Lyons (36, housewife and mum) who was an absolute bag of nerves and looked like she was about to burst into tears before she’d even sung a note. Her rendition of ‘Somewhere’ was powerfully sung, but very little about her audition convinced me that she’s got the inner strength to survive in a music industry that will more than likely eat her alive.
5. Weathers With You: Closing the show up was barmaid Kiera Weathers, who carefully covered her bases by saying that she liked her job, but she wasn’t sure if it was what she wanted to be doing the rest of her life. Well-played, Kiera Weathers. She also talked about growing up with her sister in a single-parent family, and how things got really difficult when her mother died two years ago. I know we always moan about sob stories on this show, but when they’re a) legitimately affecting and b) underplayed like this one was, they can actually work rather well. Unfortunately, this goodwill evaporated when she sang Ella Eyre’s version of ‘We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off’ and GOOD GOD, STOP SLOWING DOWN POP SONGS AND PRETENDING IT MAKES THEM MORE MEANINGFUL. Everyone decided that she was super-likeable and Simon was wholly sold on her look and presentation, so I’d imagine Kiera would have to do something seriously wrong not to make live shows.