We're at the judges' houses and the episodes appear to be getting longer every week. How are the longer episodes changing our reviewer's opinions?
Garry Pinches — aka, The Professional Musician
Saturday: The first 20 minutes of tonights X-Factor were nothing short of fantastic, manly because I spent them watching the Doctor Who finale on BBC1. I joined the show at the point where some over-cocky (considering how decidedly average they are) singers had been give a free holiday to go and improve the noises that come out their mouths.
This is a tried and tested method in the professional music community. After years of classical training on my instrument I was still rather shit, until I took a 3 day all inclusive at a beach resort where a man who looked alarmingly like Dermot O'Leary followed me around questioning my emotional state.
Two gripes tonight. First, the ‘fashion’ today of wearing oversized glasses to look geek chic in a Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent kind of way. I have serious doubts that these are prescription and as both a real life geek and wearer of prescription spectacles I’d like to say - Fuck off, that’s my thing, and I’ve never been cool!
Second, how many times are we going to hear “They can sing but who are we going to market them to” and “They may not be great but they have the personality”. I’ve never bought a record because I like someones personality and quite frankly, if you’re the kind of person that does you should be ashamed of yourself. Having personality, or in laymans’ terms being a loud mouth arsehole, should in no way ever make up for a lack of real talent.
Given the number of struggling musicians out there what’s wrong with doing this the hard way, with good old fashioned hard work? Other than the fact it’s hard to make a TV show out of it that exploits the viewer and lines the pockets of people who are already rich enough to buy your meaningless life and turn you into their crooning puppet. Still, at least you get to watch people, most of whom are just there to have their dreams crushed, fight it out to be that puppet while you enjoy your Saturday night bottle of wine. Sante.
Sunday: I thought I would miss tonight's show as I have spent all day writing music for a project I’m working on and teaching music to people happy to do things the old fashioned way and not rely on a sob story to achieve their goal.
To my tired mind, tonight’s show was a complete mind-fuck. What’s going on with Dermot? Has he been cloned or is he a short rugged superman with the ability to fly around the world and appear in four different locations at once? What a remarkable and talented man, I just hope Cowell isn’t faster than a speeding bullet as this rifle has a no returns policy.
Nothing musicy happened tonight, no change there then. People were just told yes or no and everyone cried. The live shows next week may include more music and possibly even an explanation as to why Janet has been replaced by Holly Hunter.
Amy Jones — aka, The (Ex) Reluctant Obsessive
Saturday I missed the first 20 minutes of this originally because I forgot to put it on record (Hey, I was watching Doctor Who to review it...) so had to record the +1 episode and watch those first 20 minutes afterwards. Wish I hadn’t bothered, really.
So what do we have this week? Not much worth writing about, actually. The X Factor only really gets interesting at the live shows, and that’s because the judges start bitching at each other. To be honest I found this episode just two hours of dull. And cliches, lots of cliches.
Such as “It means everything to me”. Does it? Really? Making the final of a singing competition that means you’ll be famous for four months and then start advertising crisps (Rebecca thingymajig from last year) or frozen food (Stacey Solomon, who only got that gig because she also went on I’m A Celebrity — Get Me Out Of Here!? That means everything to you? Not friends, not family, not self respect, not being a good person? Not breathing, food, your heart pumping blood around your body?
And the “I can’t go back to my ordinary life now”. Why? I don’t understand why after essentially going on holiday for a few days your perception of life has changed so much that you can’t cope with the standard of living you had for the previous x amount of years and a standard that 99& of the world cope with quite cheerfully.
I’m getting cynical. Blame it on the horrible cold I’ve got putting me in a bad mood (and the fact I had to delay watching Merlin for two hours to watch this crap). Or blame it on the fact we’re in our seventh week of this and it’s somehow even crapper than last year. It’s just not getting better, really, is it?
Sunday: Tonight I am very fuzzy headed, so excuse that my review is essentially just a stream of consciousness.
Boys: Wait - Luke and Charles are two different people? Well I can’t remember which one I liked, so never mind. Frankie is through? PAH! The others, I really don’t care about.
The oldies: I hope Johnny wins just because he’s the ONLY one who doesn’t bang on about “It meaning everything to me”. Dermot asked what would happen if he didn’t win, he said “Well, I’ll go back to me bedsit”. He’s bloody sensible. Kitty is through but Sami ISN’T?!?!?! I love Goldie breaking the big tense moment by saying “Tell me PLEASE!” Louis gets right in their face, that’s a bit weird.
The groups: I cannot BELIEVE they’ve done this again, I can’t believe they’re messing the groups up. It’s just bloody stupid.
Girls: They’ve left out Jade? Stupid.
I don’t recognise anyone, and this stage of the show is boring. Pffft.
Rebecca Brodeur — aka, The One Who Is Usually Asleep
Saturday: The main problem with the lengthy show was it made me like the groups and girls the most, purely because they went first and I didn’t really recognise many of the groups, so it felt a bit new. I’m not going to make predictions, because tomorrow night we’ll know anyway, but I liked (and I use the word with caution) quite a few of the girls, not that many of the oldies, a couple of the boys (Craig, especially), and the groups – well, I’m intrigued to see how they develop. Kitty is not someone I enjoy watching one bit. Neither is Frankie. So they’ll probably be through and I’ll have to watch them for more episodes. I loved that Max’s subtitle was ‘Amusement Park Squirrel’ and that noticing that was actually the highlight of my X Factor watching tonight. Sad.
Sunday: This should have just been a 5 min show, listing who made it through. We’ve been through so much padding already. But with that in mind, I would like to tell Gary Barlow that I absolutely do NOT want to be in Frankie’s gang. Tulisa’s band-forming has given The Risk a story, something they probably needed to make them stand out amongst solo acts. Once we got to Louis and the older contestants, I lost all interest and started wishing they really would just list it. And the girls were as tearful as I imagined they would be, even if I was a little surprised Jade didn’t make it (I will never get to try and work out what her tattoos are again!). And next week, the live shows start and we may may get a tad less of the scripted-by-PR-folks aspects.
Nick Bryan — aka, Mister Sensible
Saturday: It doesn’t bode well that I could have written most of this without having seen the episode. Because, yes, the same few acts performed, the edit favoured certain ones, and no-one felt any real suspense.
I say this without knowledge of what will happen tomorrow, but it seems inevitable. The only non-obvious category might be the groups, because most of the acts there were knocked together last weekend, so I haven’t had time to gauge their overexposure yet.
To be honest, I feel they’ve botched the pre-live show sequence of this year’s X Factor. The new judges have been established well, but that only provided novelty value for a couple of weeks. The competition itself has no suspense whatsoever. This could still all change during the live shows, when both the contestants and the judges are on display with less filtering, but I still think whoever’s responsible for the narrative of these early parts should take a long hard look at themselves.
A few more comments to prove I did sit through the thing: thank god for Gary and Robbie’s double act at the end, providing a rare glimpse of amused self-awareness in X Land. And yes, Goldie’s performance was the entertainment highlight, as ever. Meanwhile, Kitty managed to hit new heights of melodrama, which will definitely get her through, as the key requirement right now is not being boring.
But such antics could mean the public hate her before she sings a single note. Anyway, one more show, during which we at least have no more bloody singing, then the pre-taped sequence is finally over, and we can look forward to next week when the running time expands to 2.5 hours. If it doesn’t get better, I may call in sick.
Sunday: To give X Factor their due, after I hammered them yesterday for being as predictable as a pop metronome, there were a genuine surprises in today’s results. Biggest among them was the Jade/Janet showdown at the end, which I genuinely think they might regret. Did they just get rid of a memorable contestant solely to create drama in a boring weekend?
A few strange decisions by Louis Walsh too, but I expect them from him. His strange desire to win the show through sheer force of quirkiness will never die, and it led to the most heart-rending moment of the entire sobfest, when Goldie dropped out.
The groups and boys segments were dull as dishwater, but never mind. At least I cared a little about some of it, rather than just staring at my watch. Maybe I should start only watching the results shows.
Most worrying, actually, was my fascination with the closing seconds, as we saw what horror the X Factor stylists had wrought to turn the finalists into proper pop stars. Holy hell. I hope Janet wears a nametag when she goes home to her family.