Talent in a Previous Life

Because It's Never Just About the Music

Monday, October 30, 2006

Wheel Gone Kid and Di-Gone 

It's Week 3 of X Factor and there's a shock twist: "How will the acts take the news", ponders Mr Voiceover Man. With apparent indifference as it turns out, which is hardly a surprise really as the twist was nothing more than a double eviction, an event which is now such a mainstay of reality shows that it's only surprising if one doesn't happen at some point during the series. Not that this stopped Kate Thornton (Dresswatch: An actually quite flattering black trousers, blouse and silver belt combo. Her stylist must have been in a good mood) mentioning this at every possible opportunity, telling us all how our votes have never mattered more in a desperate bid to ramp up both tension and phoneline profits.

This week it's - yawn - big band week - and we do have to question whether the producers of the show have any sort of imagination whatsoever. Why not go for a metal week? The music might suck, but at least it'd be interesting at worst and hugely entertaining at best - so this week's guest star was Tony Bennett, who was to the Rat Pack what the Krankies were to punk. Simon reckons he's the coolest guy on the planet, something which we beleive to incredilby unlikely, even if the only other guy on the planet was made entirely of fire.

First to take the stage was Ray who, as he's been at pains to inform us since his first audition, is a big swing fan, seemingly unaware that the only 18 year olds who are massively into swing are 63 year old paeodphiles doing a very bad job of pretending to be a teenager in internet chatrooms. "This week is my week", he proclaimed smugly, as he slurred and mumbled his way through Ain't That a Kick in the Head with all the charm and grace of a tramp whose head kick has arrived thanks mainly to downing half a crate of babycham. Perhaps the problem was that he couldn't connect well enough with the song, maybe not understanding fully what a kick in the head would actually feel like. We urge anyone who passes him in the street to help him out by demonstrating to him exactly what it feels like. Feel free to do it as many times as you like if you don't feel he's quite got it yet. Louis, who seems unable to comment on anyone without likening them to a young version of some already established artist, reckoned he was like a "Young Michael Buble". This, apparently, was meant as a compliment.

Sharon and Simon had a brief argument as she introduced Dionne, with the Osbourne reckoning that Simon was using Dionne as a means for working out his anger. Simon denied this, but we can fully understand why he might be full of rage; having to deal with Ray and Ashley on a daily basis would turn even Ghandi's thoughts towards violence. With this sideshow developing around her, it's perhaps no surprise that Dionne was a bit nervous, although the fact that she was dressed as a daisy certainly was. There was a nice husky, breathy quality to parts of her performance of For Once in My Life, but she still has a tendency towards forgoing subtlety in favour of a more sledgehammer like approach, but by the end of the song she seemed to have the whole thing under a lot more control, even if she did commit the cardinal sin of indulging in a bit of skat two thirds of the way through. Not that sort of skat, thankfully. That's for the ITV3 show, XXX Factor. Louis and Sharon loved it - not that Louis ever really expresses a negative opinion. Dionne could have simply stood on stage and led the crowd in a playground chant of "Louis's a plonker", and he would still have said she had potential - while Simon insisted she had the grace of a boxer to which Dionne responded "Oh, just fuck off. Seriously, fuck off.". Well, she didn't, she just said she was disappointed he felt like that, but you could she was thinking it. Sharon then asked Simon outside for a fight, perhaps in a bid to demonstrate exactly how graceful a boxer could be, which, as with most forms of pub-style grandstanding fizzled out before anything could actually happen, which was a shame. We'd definitely have stuck a fiver on Sharon.

Nikitta, who may have a dead mum but, if the Scottish tabloids are to be believed - and they probably aren't given that they also claim that the MacDonald Brothers are doing the country proud - makes up for it by having at least half a dozen dads, gave a rather sultry, if not quite as sexy as perhaps it could be, version of Sway, but ruined it somewhat when she walked past the audience and started dancing with a bloke in a dinner jacket who might as well have had the word "STOOGE" tattooed on his forehead, such was the subtlety of this piece of performance. "It was a bit of a struggle", suggested Louis, before once again going on to moan about Simon's choice of song for her. "What song would you have chosen?", asked Nikitta, in what seemed like a genuine desire to raise her game in his eyes. "Not that one", replied Louis, proving to be roughly as helpful as a dead rabbit with no ears. "I've got bra's older than you", was Sharon's contribution to the debate, which added little, other than the knowledge that she really needs to get her underwear drawer in order. "The main problem", reckoned Simon, "was that your dancer was too short". Unless he'd been wearing platform shoes in rehearsals, we're not quite sure why this wasn't noticed earlier. People tend not to lose a foot overnight. Well, apart from Heather Mills of course. Sorry.

"You're going to be really surprised", reckoned Sharon as she introduced Ben, and she was right, he did show a different side of himself tonight. Previously we'd had him marked down as a rubbish Rod Stewart impersonator, but after Saturday's performance we see he can turn his hand to sounding like a rubbish Kelly Jones from The Stereophonics impersonator as well. Truly his talent in a multi-faceted thing. "Smile, though your heart is breaking" he sang, which is fair enough, but he wasn't quite so keen to offer advice on the facial expression you should adopt when you're sitting watching TV, bored out of your mind. The judges, of course, loved it, apart from Louis, who took advantage of his position to audition for a job as a continuity announcer: "The show is called the X Factor", he offered.

Of course, when it comes to boredom and being so charisma free you might as well be a statue, Ben's got nothing on The MacDonald Brothers, the human equivelent of grey paint. "They blend very well", was the consdered verdict of Tony Bennett, and we can only assume that the phrase "into the background" was awkwardly edited out of his comments. Ironically enough, given that when they're on stage your eyes generally focus on anything other than them, they did Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You with all the unfettered raw emotion and sexual energy of two blokes who are still a bit scared of girls. "Scotland loves them, Scotland's gonna put them through", said Louis. Worryingly he's probably right. We hate our countryfolk sometimes.

Summertime is a song which is best heard on a hot, sweaty, lazy and sunny afternoon in the, umm, summertime. It is not, perhaps, the best choice for a cold and miserable autumn evening, but this didn't stop Simon choosing it for Leona and, to be fair to her, she does sing technically well, if still far too fond of warbling, but she singularly lacks any sort of stage presence, spark or watchability. She wasn't wearing any shoes, and the fact we even noticed that fact is, perhaps, a testament to the fact that her performance wasn't exactly an entertainment spectacular. It might just be us, however, as the song certainly stirred certain passions in Simon and Sharon, who snogged each other while giving their verdicts. Shudder. It's worse than the thought of your own parents having sex. "Good lips", was Simon's verdict on his fellow judge. Feel free to add your own innuendo here.

Kerry was once again perched awkwardly on a stool as she gave a slightly flat and very lifeless performance, despite stating in her VT that she was going to put her heart and soul into it. If that really was the case then we can only wonder exactly what she considers to be a lazy, by the numbers performance. Simon once again likened her to a hotel singer, while Sharon half heartedly attempted to turn it round by suggesting a hotel in Las Vegas. "I can do better", whined Kerry, but she's been saying that every single week and we're now more convinced than ever that she can't, she really, really can't.

Ashley is like a racehorse, apparently, but we must disagree with Simon here. With a bit of effort horses can be taught how to count, a task which we imagine Ashley has some difficulty with. Remembering the words to the song was also something which caused him problems, but this came as less of a surprise, as we find it hard to beleive that he can even remember to pull down his trousers every time he goes to the toilet. Even ignoring that particular mess up, his performance was nothing less than awful and the warmth we briefly felt for him last week has now faded, once again being replaced by an icey disdain. If this had been one of the audition shows, his Moondance would have been one of the ones shown purely for comedy purposes; he looked ridiculous, sounded wobbly and was just a mess from start to finish. Not that the judges noticed, once again praising him to the skies and even letting his inability to remember three minutes worth of words slide. Ashely then thanked the Lord for blessing him, and no doubt still wonders why people think he's a bit cocky or, indeed, that he's a bit of a cock.

Sharon, presumably only having had the time to write one introduction this week, told us that like Ben, we were going "to see a different side of Robert this week", and would that we could. Specifically, we'd like to see his rear view as he leaves the X Factor studios with his head low, an aura of dejection hanging over him like a bad smell as he finally gets his comeuppance and returns to the obscurity from whence he came. His version of Mr Bojangles was the sort that makes Robbie Williams' Swing When You're Winning album seem like an absolute pinnacal of the genre, such was his complete inability to infuse the lyrics with any sort of character or emotion. "Like velvet", reckoned Sharon. Yeah, the posh toilet paper.

And finally, we come to Eton Road, who were hampered this week with swing not really being a style that suits them, although given Antony's way of dressing, going for a style which doesn't suit him comes as second nature. They didn't, however, do too badly, and were certainly passable enough, even if they did choose to cover Mack the Knife which is even more predictable than the whole idea of a big band show in the first place, and some good falsetto work - which Simon reckoned was squeaky - from Antony just about managed to save the day for them.

After a couple of songs from his new duets album, which Tony Bennet sang by, ummm, himself, it was time for the results. As it's a double evition, the least popular act according to the audience - which, of course is how it shoudl be anyway - is first to go, with the second and third last place acts going into the sing-off. After the usual faffing around and fake tension building, we're left with just Ashley, Kerry and Dionne left and, alas, Dionne is the first to go. Despite the fact that she never really hit the heights of her first performance, we're still quite disappointed to see her go. As, no doubt, are a number of top dentists who were all looking forward to claiming the lucrative dental restruction contracts that would have been on offer had she actually won the contest.

With Dionne's best bits out of the way, it's time for Kerry to face Ashley in the sing off. Kerry provided a bit more sass with her second performance but was still about as likely to set the stage on fire as if she was a giant bucket of ice cubes. Ashley was still a tosser, but at least he remembered his words second time around. Louis had the casting vote and, despite castigating him for forgetting the words, even though he initially said that it didn't matter, Ashley was allowed to stay while Kerry's dream finally came to an end. It was no great surprise really, after all, it was clear from her very first audition that she wasn't going to walk it. Guilty arf!

Next week is Abba! Hooray! But if anyone does a better cover than B*WItched's take on Does Your Mother Know we'll be very surprised.