8:00 Good evening. I’m Jack Seale, and I’m your liveblogging companion for… the X Factor 2011 grand final! Yes, just 586 weeks after the auditions process began, the 40,000,000,000 original applicants have been remorselessly whittled down to three supercharged cultural titans. Little Mix are a girl group of such style, such individuality, such dazzling technical prowess, they’re already being tipped to still be recording well into 2012. Facing them is Marcus Collins, a behemothic vocal god whose gut-wrenching versions of songs by Stevie Wonder, Jackie Wilson and Lenny Kravitz mark him out as Britain’s greatest soul singer since Lemar. Up against both of those acts is the sheer, terrifying power of Amelia Lily, whose voice is already being used to safeguard shipping off the coast of Scotland at night. Who will prevail? We cannot know. All we know is that it will be the greatest night of our lives. Will you join me as we experience it? Will you comment in that box? Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. Right.
8:02 IT’S NEARLY TIME! TO NOT HAVE TO WATCH THIS BLOODY RUBBISH! FOR ANOTHER EIGHT MONTHS!
8:05 Will Dermot have a special Wembley dance? Yes, but he’s pre-filmed some of it in an opening VT that rivals Strictly Come Dancing for embarrassing contrivance… and here he is! Getting out of a black cab on stage for no reason, before delivering his most apologetic performance yet. Under the pressure of doing his spin in front of 10,000 people live at Wembley Arena, Derms makes a hash of it and ends up hopping around like he’s just stubbed his toe on a dresser. Fair enough, we’re all nervous tonight.
8:06 The set at Wembley is looking good: it’s a big X. Several creative meetings decided that X was the optimum letter.
8:09 Nothing’s actually happened yet, really. We’ve said hello to the judges, we’ve seen black and white film of the acts looking scared and OH HANG ON here are the acts on stage, arriving on a big hydraulic platform. Amelia Lily, as usual, is in the sort of outfit – heavy gold lame dress split up both legs, with bovver boots – that is the very opposite of classy. Who styles her? They and Amelia clearly don’t get on.
8:15 A group performance of Greatest Day by Take That…. unremarkable stuff but at least we actually saw the contestants. Oh and there’s the first ad break! Who’s winning so far? Very, very hard to tell.
8:19 We’re back and it’s MARCUS COLLINS to open the show, only 17 minutes after the show started. Footage of Marcus being helicoptered into his old school in Liverpool. You can tell Marcus is a celebrity and not a schoolboy, because he’s got a bow tie and a blazer on with bright red trousers. The mark of success.
8:25 Now Gary and Marcus visit his family. Marcus’s family, not Gary’s. Gary has a cup of tea with Nan and Grandad on one of the largest, squashiest, bluest sofas I’ve ever seen, before a shopping centre gig and now here Marcus is, live at Wembley… brought on by a fleet of dancers dressed as Pan Am hostesses (that show was cancelled, Marcus – bad TV karma), he does a “Wembley!”, a “Here we go!” and a “Come on!” before he even starts Hey Ya by Outkast. It’s a major air travel theme, with more dancers in hi-vis vests waving those luminous plane-directing things, plus a big fibreglass plane Marcus stands on to finish.
8:25 That was OK, but very, very silly indeed. “I’m on top of the world!” says Marcus after a load of positive judgey comments. Enough with the aeroplane stuff!
8:28 Now, in a twist on the usual “Jeff Brazier is eaten alive by fans in Basildon Town Hall” format, we go to Olly Murs and Caroline Flack in the Wembley crowd, with Marcus’s fans. Caroline is dating the cute one from One Direction, while Olly Murs has released a series of provocatively awful records – they’re both national hate figures in their own way, so is it really a good idea to have them roaming among 10,000 adrenalised people in semi-darkness?
8:34 Next up, Tulisa’s “little muffins”, LITTLE MIX. They had to embark on a national tour to visit their families – they’re all from different parts of the country, what with the Muffins only having met a few weeks ago. No time to bother with too much mum-hugging – before long we’re into the live performance. The Muffs start on motorbikes shouting something about being called Little Mix, before heading into You Got The Love by, as far as the Mixers’ fans are concerned, Florence and the Machine. A lot of ripped denim and tassels, with the dancing budget blown on a vaguely fascist array of people in rubber peaked caps waving flags.
8:37 “VOTE FOR LITTLE MIX – NOW!!!” screams Louis Walsh, and the other comments are even more positive. We’re virtually celebrating the Mix victory already. “You got yourselves here!” says Tulisa, although I think we have to give all the other contestants credit for being so anonymous Little Mix could win by default. Oh and that’s an ad break.
8:37 Comment From @mkmswain If Little Mix don’t win, will Tulisa and her back-up dancers army take over in a musical coup?
8:39 Comment From Joel Is there something wrong with my TV? That was dreadful from Little Mix. Made Carol Decker sound like Kiri Te Kanawa.
8:41 Next Sunday on ITV1! A Michael Buble special, with guests including Gary Barlow and Kelly Rowland! This series of X Factor never stops. It will never stop.
8:45 “Ready to tear the house down, and she needs your votes…” Kelly Rowland introduces AMELIA LILY. Footage of Amelia returning to Middlesbrough, wearing a coat twelve bathmats had to die to make. Kelly looks absolutely delighted as 4,000 Middlesbrough children mob her on Amelia’s mum’s drive. Then it’s on to the Empire for Amelia’s headlining gig, an emotional affair that ends with Kelly hugging the act she personally tried to eject in week one.
8:47 Comment From Pete Still think she should have been in with Louis’ olders.
8:48 Amelia’s stylist really twists the knife, using up the dye leftover from slaughtering that coat to create a pink tulle explosion Amelia wears to sing Ain’t No Other Man by Christina Aguilera. Not sure which side of Amelia’s hair I prefer. It clearly wasn’t the same hairdresser doing both.
8:52 Oh, the singing? Pretty much the usual resemblance to someone trying to get the attention of a friend who’s on the other side of a busy runway. Some signs of Amelia’s feted laryngitis in the post-perf interview, though. Amelia’s fans, in the crowd with Olly and Cougar, include that man who’s always painted pink. Amelia is caught on camera looking thoroughly humiliated. Well, you started it, Amelia. Or at least your hair did.
8:52 Comment From Dingo If Amelia wins this, could it be argued that the less time an act is mentored by the X Factor, the less they deteriorate?
8:54 That’s the end of round one. A nil-nil-nil draw in my book, but no time to reflect because it’s JLS AND ONE DIRECTION!
8:57 It’s an exciting mash-up of, er, a JLS song with One Direction’s popular hit… um… look, I’ll level with you, I prefer Suede and The Smiths really.
8:57 Comment From Pete unbelievably exciting
8:57 Comment From Dingo At what point do Kandy Rain come on?
8:57 Comment From katg2680 Isn’t Harry past his bedtime? Bad parenting, Caroline …
8:58 Harry’s hair did seem to have lost some of the bouncy lustre it was enjoying this time last year. Late nights? Nutrients being drained out of him? I am worried.
8:59 Comment From PeteJ Wonder why Dermot isn’t chatting with JLS/One Direction?! Could it be to prevent another ‘Pussygate’ from young Harry?!
9:02 “You decide the winner, so who’s it going to be?” Dermot asks the Wembley audience. They resoundingly support WAAARRRHAHAHAHAHAAAAARRRRRRRRRR.
9:06 Time now for the Mentor Duets – first it’s MARCUS COLLINS AND GARY BARLOW! They’re going to sing Billy Joel’s insulting classic She’s Always A Woman. Gary at the grand piano (although on the backing tape, someone else is playing a second one), Marcus in a tux. They’re on a circular plinth covered in what appears to be a giant bin liner. It’s slightly ruckled.
9:06 Comment From Jodie Er, where’s Louis gone? Fag break? The judges’ desk is empty.
9:09 Very hotel bar, that, although at least it was people singing a song rather than a slightly smaller version of the Olympic Opening Ceremony. Into the crowd, where Marcus’s old boss is wearing a Marcus t-shirt with a sarcastic bow tie. The man from Britain’s Got Talent who makes pictures of people’s faces using Marmite on toast has made a picture of Marcus using Marmite on toast. Olly Murs eats Marcus’s quiff, live on air.
9:09 Next, LITTLE MIX AND TULISA CONTOSTAVLOS! Anyone who saw Tulisa on Children In Need will be a little apprehensive right now.
9:11 Tulisa and the Muffin-Tops sing If I Ain’t Got You by Alicia Keys, totally wickedly mashed up innit with Empire State of Mind. Tulisa is fitting right in as a fifth member of Little Mix.
9:13 Comment From katg2680 A little mix apprehensive you mean?
9:15 Comment From Jodie Jack: are you writing Dermot’s scripts for him? Either that or he’s having a sneaky look at your blog while he’s on stage.
9:16 Very possibly, Jodie, very possibly. Much stranger things have happened. What should I try to get him to say next?
9:18 One of Little Mix’s supporters – I thought Cougar Flack said “mother” but I could be wrong – had a Vote Little Mix tattoo, still red raw, on her arm. Not felt tip, a tattoo. Not “Little Mix”, but “Vote Little Mix”. A tattoo that by definition will become obsolete in 24 hours’ time, even if you discount how things mentioning Little Mix in any capacity will be obsolete by February.
9:19 Comment From Jodie Get him to make a Beyonce comment.
9:19 Finally in the Mentor Duet section, it’s Beyonce’s sacked backing dancer KELLY ROWLAND and the pupil she tried to expel, AMELIA LILY.
9:25 “Right from the start, I knew that Amelia had something,” says Kelly, who a few short weeks ago was acting as if Amelia had a contagious disease. But there they are doing River Deep Mountain High at Wembley Arena. Not too bad, actually. Good choice of song, harnessing Amelia’s natural shoutiness. Starting to get a dread feeling Amelia could win this.
9:27 In the crowd, Amelia’s dad loudly reinforces the clearly false idea that Amelia is 17. He seems to be holding a tray of lottery balls for some reason – another supporter, who runs a bar, is holding a pair of giant cocktails in front of her, in goblets, so that they look unfortunately like enormous comedy hooters. The “Amelia Lily Cocktail”, as it’s been called, is then downed by Olly Murs. Make yourself an Amelia Lily at home! Ingredients: strawberry Angel Delight, diesel, peroxide, gravel, cranberry juice. One please!
9:30 Comment From Mics dAd Amelia looks 27 not 17 in this!!!
9:31 Round two to… Marcus, I think. But now it’s LEONA LEWIS! In five years’ time people will still be pointing to her and saying look, The X Factor does find good singers. She’s doing a slow-burn Nine Inch Nails ballid. Either someone’s poured an Amelia Lily into my TV speakers or this is weirdly muted.
9:33 Comment From MARRA10 Nine Inch Nails sung by X factor winner Leona Lewis. I think the Mayan calander might be right.
9:35 Five more minutes of public voting, and then someone’s out. I think it’s excitingly too close to call… so that’s that. If it’s too close to call I can’t then call it, can I? Obviously.
9:35 But I think Marcus might be out.
9:39 A non-annoying, by their standards, ad from Halifax in the break there. Did you know that when they had that one where people swam into the shape of a big X, they actually started with them in the X and then reversed the footage? Amazing insight there. My friend was in it.
9:40 Comment From katg2680 All I want for Christmas is … Amelia Lily NOT winning the X Factor
9:42 “We’ve all said it: we can’t call it,” says Gary, joining the ranks of X Factor personnel who are reading this blog under the desk. The judges all agreed there that the whole evening has been a disaster and all three acts are equally undeserving of winning. No, they didn’t. Now, MICHAEL BUBLE! He’s named after a Christmas decoration and he’s doing the third best Christmas song of all time, Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by Darlene Love.
9:43 (The best two are of course All I Want for Chrismas Is You, and Elton John’s wildly underrated Step Into Christmas.)
9:45 Baubles gives it a lot of Shakin’ Stevens Crazy Legs, but sadly there’s no mash-up with Merry Christmas Everyone.
9:46 Dermot reminds Baubles that he’s sung with Gary and Kelly on his TV show, and jokingly suggests he try Louis next time. Tulisa has been left discreetly out of this banter. “YES, AND TULISA!” blurts Louis. Doh.
9:46 Comment From Mic Buble, the ‘one and only friend of the show’. Dermot telling it like it is.
9:48 Comment From @mkmswain I’m just sad we didn’t see Louis and Johnny singing ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’
9:51 Comment From Claire Is not everyone in the media contractually obliged to declare the Pogues as the best Christmas song ever?
9:51 Claire: nah. Not bothered about that one. It lacks cheese and bounce.
9:52 We’re back! Dermot ushers the three acts and their mentors back onto the stage. Louis cracks on with a jigsaw on the judges’ desk.
9:56 Going through, in no particular order despite there only being two available orders, are… LITTLE MIX and MARCUS COLLINS. You’re ahead of me here: Amelia is out. We would never celebrate the shattering of a 17-year-old girl’s dreams here. This is a family website. So let’s take a moment to pay tribute to – sod it. YESSSSSS! A massive travesty has just been avoided. Rejoice! Rejoice!
9:56 Comment From tim i bet hmv feel stupid now…
9:57 Comment From @mkmswain Poor Amelia – the first act ever to be eliminated twice. That’s the start of a promising career right there
9:58 Marcus and Little Mix return, in triumph, to the stage. Marcus fits right in as a fifth member. Is it too late to form another band? That hasn’t happened for more than a month.
9:58 Comment From Mic Not quite, mkmswain. Let’s not forget poor Ashley (Ashford?) from Nu Risk…
9:59 Marcus is the right height too, unlike Tulisa who made the Mixerz wear trainers while she towered over them in stack heels.
10:02 That’s it! Well, it started badly but I think together we all – me, you, the contestants, Dermot, everyone – turned that round into something fun. Thanks for your comments and I’ll be back tomorrow night for the last waltz. It’s an earlier start time of 7.30pm, which should be interesting because my kids aren’t usually in bed then. So expect a marked improvement as I co-write with an 18-month-old child. Anyway, I digress. Who’s going to win? Little Mix, surely? I’d rather it were Marcus, though. Yourselves?
10:02 Comment From @mkmswain How true, Mic! All the boyband boys have merged into one for me. Apart from the floppy-haired one doing the business with Caroline Flack
10:04 Comment From Dingo Little Mix are probably favourites now. Which means Marcus will win 😉
10:04 Comment From Pete The Mix to win…as I said some weeks ago (ahem)
10:04 Comment From katg2680 So excited about tomorrow. What should I wear???
10:04 Comment From @mkmswain I’m still rooting for 2 Shoes
10:07 Comment From Mic Marcus to win. Purely on the basis that Tulisa would be an unbearable winning judge.