This year, Britain’s Got Talent has not only allowed hopefuls to film their auditions themselves and apply via YouTube uploads – YOU can vote on who goes through. The 24 shortlisted clips are a festival of homemade weirdness, which can be viewed in full on the show’s YouTube channel. I’ve gone through the ordeal on your behalf…
FIRE HOSE 1 DIXIELAND JAZZ BAND
A Dixieland jazz band made up of old firemen. Curiously, their video only features the audio of their audition: the visuals are a series of stills of these rattly old puffins, posing on hillsides holding hoses, wearing helmets and looking cheeky. The music? It’s Joe “King” Oliver’s Doctor Jazz, with fire-engine sound effects. I switched off after 1m 28s.
An impressionist doing the familiar thing of choosing one impersonation to link all the others. Mike’s gone for Terry Wogan, who he can’t really do. Among Terry’s guests is Alan Hansen, who is from Barnsley now.
Urban street hip-hop rap dancing, filmed in an “end” with a graffiti-covered underpass in the background and Shaadow surrounded by his “crew”. Shaadow’s OK but the tension in the video comes from whether his mate in the green cardigan will join in. He keeps looking like he will… oh he’s walking behind him! He’s going to… no, leave it. Your time will come, green cardie man.
This is what YouTube auditions are all about. The TestostaTones are five peaky East Anglians who look like they share a Jacamo account, sitting in someone’s spare room. Objects are casually strewn on the table: with millions potentially seeing the clip, you’d think a lot of thought would go into these trinkets, but no: there are some Coke cans, some unlit scented candles and a net bag of supermarket clementines. The lead singer’s already-outsized ears are highlighted by the ironing board behind him, the legs of which look like lateral antennae. Turn on the sound and the stupidly named TestostaTones are a barber-shop quintet doing Life Could Be A Dream, song number one in the Bumper Book Of Cosmically Irritating A Cappella Classics. At one point one of them fiddles with a pen, then itches his thumb. There’s no way The TestostaTones can recreate this mundane magic on TV.
Mildly likeable, busky acoustic troubadour singing U2’s With or Without You. Initially the video’s interesting mainly for the camera operator’s love/hate relationship with the zoom button but, when John gets to that show-offy, sex-facey chorus, he acquits himself well. The bio attached to the video augurs poorly for John’s future prospects, however. “John has performed over 1000 live gigs since 2006 – but rarely to more than 50 people! He’s inspired by the likes of Ed Sheeran and Olly Murs.” They’ve answered their own question there.
Thinning 29-year-old Scott likes to play instruments “such as the piano”, but as we can see both his hands in his video, someone else is hopefully playing the piano we can hear as he sings Hedonism by forgotten, angry Britpoppers Skunk Anansie. Scott, with his stubble, black tee and emotive gestures that include stroking his bicep tattoos, is from the school of performance that couldn’t see why Darius Danesh doing Hit Me Baby (One More Time) was funny.
BlueBlack – so called because he wears blue trousers and a black top – is really 18-year-old Fabien who, in an attempt to repeat last year’s Michael Moral “wait a sec, you’re not actually from Britain, I mean I’m not racist but it is in the title of the show so, you know, come on” controversy, is French. He claims to have been energised by a lightning strike – a freak occurrence that has left him with the unique ability to do some quite good acrobatics on a scaffold rigged up in his garden.
We’re in Colchester at the town’s third-best tapas bar. Jairo is on stage: fire in his eyes, fury in his tiny beard, static electricity coursing through his suit as he very nearly flamencos the place to the ground. With several of Jairo’s friends clapping along it’s hard to tell which of the very fast noises are being made by his feet, but there’s one bit where it’s definitely him as he vibrates his right leg until it blurs, momentarily cheering up the punters as they chew through some cold, wet chorizo. Back at home, later, someone has a go at dramatic video editing.
Another dancer from France! Look, it’s Britain’s Got Talent! Not Earth’s Got Talent or The Milky Way Contains Talent or A Theoretically Infinite Amount Of Talent Exists In The Universe. It’s supposed to have a limited remit. Anyway, Allan is a big fan of Michael Jackson and he’s got the outfit to prove it but, for his video sojourn on the Metro, he’s added lights to it. Watch as he does the moonwalk, the sideways moonwalk and, instead of the crotch-grab, the trouser-hoik. With lights on.
We’re back to the early career of David Blaine here, before his “I will sit up a tree in a tank of my own waste for four years” phase, as Alfie shocks kids on the streets of his home town of York with some showy close-up magic. Watch those careful camera angles!
A rather good if slightly disturbing act by young Cornishman Alex Jesson. It looks like a puppet that somehow has Jesson’s real head, but in reality it’s… well, how is he doing it? Sitting scrunched up on a blacked-out ledge in black clothing, I reckon, but whatever it is, it’s entertaining.
Impressive 17-year-old RnB artist singing what’s presumably her own composition, Stupid Cupid. Probably a bit too edgy for BGT, but very good, despite the mood-breaking, home-video curiosity of a punchbag hanging threateningly next to her.
Fifteen-year-old girl singing and playing piano in what seems to be a bedroom studio. Good vocals for her age without being very memorable. The song choice – The A Team by tepid, whining Coldplay-alike Ed Sheeran – would, in a sane world, see her instantly disqualified.
Sixteen-year-old Katherine Jenkins fan who can sing nearly as well as her idol, a bit of rough-edged shrillness here and there aside. But we can’t see her! As Rosalyn belts it out to a completely uninterested local talent show audience, the camera’s in the back row and Rosalyn’s a very loud, melodic dot.
Fireplace karaoke filmed, for some reason, in black and white. Clodagh, 16, does If I Were A Boy and it’s pretty good but we’ve got a specialist show for this sort of thing, called The X Factor.
The name sounds like a cheesy, over-elaborate rock guitarist and… ah. That’s exactly what Joe is, delighting us all with a heavily reverbed instrumental that sounds like vintage Van Halen without vocals or, oddly, most of the lead guitar. It’s disappointingly basic, but livened by Joe’s decision to leave Plymouth and stage his performance in local woodland, where Joe stands atop a haunted stump, miming expressively with his camcorder on the “spooky” setting.
EDINBURGH DANCE ACADEMY
A jazz/Bollywood fusion dance troupe, made up of 12- to 15-year-olds. Very slick and prime BGT fare but lacking a spectacular move or gimmick.
A portly Ipswich man in a hat sings the novelty gym-pop classic We No Speak No Americano by Yolanda B Cool. Connoisseurs of the original record will know it has long instrumental passages, which Giovanni brilliantly fills by bouncing up and down a bit and smiling.
Manchester 15-year-old sings Hiding My Heart by Adele, quite well.
Another opera singer, doing the same Puccini aria, but Katie’s got several advantages over Rosalyn Bremerkamp: she’s only 11 and her video’s shot from six feet away, not 60. A strong contender.
“Marc Griffiths has been a ventriloquist for 20 years, and claims to have spoken to about a million children all over the UK.” He looks like he’ll need some better material if he gets on the TV and has to entertain adults as well.
CLAIRE AND RICK
A cappella doo wop – ooh, yes please! – sung by a girl and her dad. She does most of the singing while he wears a bow tie and interjects. It’s a bit “Boxing Day family gathering”.
Street dance with balls! Basketballs, that is: Never Blink do their moves while juggling one each, a departure from the norm that should at least get them some votes from punters grateful they’re not yet another Ed Sheeran/Puccini singing act. Live on TV we’d have the added excitement of hoping one of them will drop the ball and see it roll forlornly off the stage, although obviously that doesn’t happen in their video, which is filmed in a shopping centre at night.
Girl-pop trio doing a slowed-down version of Sex on Fire. The audio’s laid over grainy, unsettling footage of a series of Dolly Mix gigs. Dolly Mix are on the “rough, poorly attended foam party in a sports hall” circuit.