Talent in a Previous Life

Because It's Never Just About the Music

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Conways Ow-wow-wow-out 

It's week 7 of X Factor and we have bird flu. Well, it might just be a cold, but you can never be too careful. We reckon that bird flu is the noughties equivalent of mad cow disease and, should we wake up tomorrow morning to discover that we've turned into a crazy chick, at least we'll have been right about something. Anyway, the upshot of mentioning this isn't to try and elicit some sympathy, though that would be nice, but to point out that right now we're struggling to appreciate anything that doesn't come in a packet with the Lemsip logo prominently displayed, so this week the contestants are really going to have to do something special if they want to gain our approval. Which, of course, they're all desperate to do.

With the 'controversy' regarding Louis's decision to concoct a publicity stunt surrounding him possibly leaving the contest still in the air, Kate Thornton opened the show milking this for all it was worth. Dressed in an open blouse, black trousers and a belt borrowed from a World Wrestling Federation champion, she oohed and aahed over whether the Irish Slug would actually turn up. Simon came on first, followed by Sharon, but would Louis join them? You cout cut the tension in the air with a knife. Or a spoon. Or any other utensil which can move through not particularly thick substances. Surprise surprise, Louis turned up, saying that the pressure just got too much for him and he had to step out of it for a while. "It was not a publicity stunt", he lied. Indeed, lying seemed to be something of a theme this evening as shortly afterwards Sharon joined him in the telling of untruths, "You look hot tonight", she said to Kate.

First up, presumably to get the horror out of the way as soon as possible, was Chico. For him, last week was "the first time I felt I had every right to be on that stage", showing that while he may lack any discernable talent, his skills in self delusion are more than impressive. Looking a mess - well, more of a mess - in a suit teamed with a vest, Chico decided that the best way to show off his limited vocal range was to struggle his way through Michael Jackson's Billie Jean. "I reckon I was 20% as good as Michael", he rather generously, and unjustifiably proudly, reviewed himself. Once again for this he was joined by a dancing child, leading us to beleive that this desperately cynical tactic is going to be repeated every week from now until he eventually gets booted out of the show, unless someone goes out there and breaks the legs of every child in the country. It might seem cruel, but it'd be for everyone's benefit in the long run, especially the child. We can only imagine what sort of emotional scarring will be caused in later life by the knowledge you had a part in helping Chico become a success.

Next up were the constantly struggling Conway Sisters. "I wasn't even sure if they'd turn up or not", mused Simon, who has now presumbly given up all pretence at being their mentor and is just letting them get on with it. Not to worry though, while Simon might not go so far as to actually give a shit about them, their Dad has a lot of faith in them. So much faith, in fact, that he goes so far as to threaten Louis Walsh with menaces should his girls fail to make it through, if Holy Moly is to be believed, that is. He was in the audience last night, so we were happily imagining him shaking his fist towards Louis every time the camera wasn't on him, but then, since his Maria decision, we spend a lot of time now happily imagining Louis being threatened. We probably need to get a hobby. Anyway, the girls did Starship's Nothing's Gonna Stop us Now, changing the lyrics from "If this world runs out of lovers" to "If this world runs out of loving", presumably to avoid the incestuous lesbiotic connotations that it might otherwise imply. It was an OK performance, but nothing likely to raise the roof or even vaguely shake the suporting walls. Louis loved it, smiling his way through the perfomance while whispering "not the face, not the face" under his breath throughout. Simon looked bored, declared it a good choice of song but reckoned it wasn't good enough for them to stay in. Sharon, in a safe and predictable way, declared it to be "Safe and predictable. The Conway's seemed less than impressed with this, but showing the sort of imagination that comes across in their performances, Blonde-way appealed for votes by telling the public that they "really want this so much". In response a million viewers reach for their phones, and promptly dialed for a pizza instead.

"I don't want my dad to be a binman", stated one of Andy's kids during his intro section, despite the fact that being a binman is a far less embarassing occupation than being the X Factor winner. Andy gave us I Have Nothing by Whitney Houston and, despite a false start - which we missed as out cat was distracting us - he injected his performance with a bit of emotion, albeit the sort of emotion normally displayed by rubbish Eastenders actors, and gave what we thought was probably his best performance of the series. "I don't think it was your best performance", said Simon.

The reason Louis returned was not down to the fact he was contractually obliged to. Oh no. In fact, it was because Shayne, his one remaining act, is such a great talent that he didn't want to let him down. Some would argue that by simply being his mentor, Louis lets him down every week, but we digress. As Shayne recounted his reaction to Louis' decision to 'quit' he took the opportunity to indulge in the sort of acting skills which may well be mediocre enough to get him a job on Hollyoaks, should this whole music thing fall through. Also, his mum is called Philomena, which is quite, quite fantastic. Presumably to show off his falsetto, Shayne this week gave us a run through of The Darkness' I Believe in a Thing Called Love. It wasn't a good idea. Despite the fact that we consider The Darkness to be one of the worst acts currently in existence, we do think that that single is really, really good and it just manages to just straddle the line between fantastic overblown ridculousness and being plain laughable. Shayne, a man for whom rock is nothing more than a four letter word, much like shit, was just laughable in this, and the changes between the falsetto and normal bits were just awkward and embarassing. Simon, once again, disagreed with us - "You pulled it off, it should have been a disaster" - but what does he know? Oh.

Next up was Brenda, and a copy of Whitney Houston's Greatest Hits has clearly been doing the rounds in the X Factor offices as she gave us I Will Always Love You, though she had slightly more claim to this as apparently it is her and her husband's 'song'. Despite the fact this should clearly have been a vomit inducing spectacle, it was something really rather special. It started with a beautifully sparse introduction and, had it continued in this vein, it would probably have been the performance of the series. Unfortunately the cheap as backing track brought it down a few notches, but it was still pretty amazing. Simon predicted that she'd be in the final because of this, while Louis was similarly impressed. "You've got some balls", declared Sharon, showing a failure to grasp the fundamentals of human anatomy.

Last, but not least - that honour goes to Chico - were Journey South, men so for real they'd wear jeans to a funeral. Their VT revealed that they'd made their "Mam and Dad" proud of them, though if we were related to them, we'd be ashamed, particularly with them embarrassing us on national TV each week. They also turned on their local Christmas lights, presumbably because the local weather presenter had a previous engagement. They continued to work their way through their pub band repertoire with U2's I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. Robson is clearly just miming his guitar now, at one point impressively still strumming away despite the guitar part having dropped out. "You get on with the job", said Simon. He intended this as a compliment, but he managed to sum up the entire problem with the act. They're workmanlike, they treat this like they'd treat any other job, head down, solidly working through it until it's time to clock off, with absolutely no passion, creativity or fire whatsoever. They might as well be up there sorting out the lights, it'd be equally as entertaining. Possibly more so, as there'd always be the hope that one of them might get electrocuted.

So, with all the acts having sang, if not necesarily entertained, it's results time, and Kate excitedly tells us that this is the last sing off of the series. Thank god for that, though it's a bit too late really. Predictably Chico and The Conway Sisters found themselves in the last two, which meant that once again we had to endure his 'unique' approach to singing in tune. He was up at first and reprised the whole performance, including the dancing kid who should really have been in bed by now, while during the Conway's second shot, the judges could be seen arguing away, rather than actually listening to the song. Sharon, unsurprisingly, sent the Conways home, while Simon, both surprisingly and unsurprisingly, did exactly the same thing. There were tears from Blonde-way, before she briefly, and somewhat irrelevantly, ranted "I love Ireland, it's the number one country in the world", before going on to thank Louis for being their true mentor throughout the contest.

Should the Conways have gone? Yes and no. Simon was right when he said they had no chance of winning the contest, they're neither the best singers, nor the best looking girls in the world, and the world of pop hardly feels like a worse place without them, but is there really any point in Chico remaining there? Love him or hate him, and we dunno if you've noticed, but we're not exactly fond of him, he no longer needs to be in the show. He's going to have a career after this, whether we like it or not, and the sooner he leaves and makes a start on it, the sooner he'll vanish into the obscurity from whence he came. At least the Conways were pleasant to look at. Oh well, let's see what happens next week once something slightly more approximating democracy enters the fold.