The thing about Nicola Marie was her age. She was only 35, which would make her eight, tops, when her singing style and intense, hair-tossy aerobic dancing were last in vogue.
Nicola bounced on in denim micro-shorts and bold-italic lippy, chatting and guffawing so unstoppably that Louis Walsh woke briefly to make the correct comparison: Davina McCall.
Nicola’s crazed, dancey version of Tell It To My Heart had whole-body sex heaves between each line, but really got going when she suspended the vocals for a full splits. She couldn’t quite bounce up off the floor again as planned, but thought quickly, rolled onto her tummy and carried on. It’s not about the fall, it’s the recovery.
Louis, Mel B and Tulisa all recognised a pro as tough and reliable as leather. They shunted Nicola through to boot camp.
The thing about Alison Brunton was her age, or at least her stage of life: she was 51 and had two teenage children. She was the crafty ending to what seemed like a tenuous round-up of people with lots of family supporting them.
Hunky Scunthorpe lifeguard Jake Quickenden started it, with his hair and his teeth and his diamante earstuds and his halting, mother-me version of Use Somebody. Lots of decent singers with excited clans followed.
Alison only had her two kids, rooted to the spot, condemned. Her son glanced at the camera as Alison shook her Hindley hairdo and croaked her way towards, but never anywhere near, Edge of Glory by Lady Gaga. When Alison turned and half-heartedly wiggled her bum at the crowd, her daughter started eyeing the lighting rig. The look of apocalyptic embarrassment on her face was perhaps the funniest backstage moment in X Factor history.
Family was still the theme as hunky Wolverhampton 26-year-old Joseph Whelan arrived, with his four-year-old son in tow. But moreover, he continued where Jake Quickenden left off in terms of Diet Coke-ad hotness. The tattooed guns and white T-shirt had Tulisa and Mel B exchanging furtive looks straight away. “Would,” said Tulisa with her eyes. “Halfway there already, kiddo,” Mel’s expression replied.
By the time Joseph announced that he was a tool salesman, and that he just wanted the best for his son, he had at least three yeses in the bag. That he did a scorching Whole Lotta Love was a bonus. For the perfect teary finale, the kid ran onto the stage, a producer’s boot only fleetingly visible.
The thing about Melanie Masson was her age (44) and her cute offspring – nippers with shoulder-length hair to match mum’s straggly earth-mother look. Melanie explained she was known professionally as Fairy on account of running a parent-and-toddler music class – a frustrating gig for a wannabe singer, as in my experience these things consist mainly of shouting, crying and defecating on tambourines, and the children are a nightmare as well.
Fairy let all the frustration out on a triumphantly confident version of Janis Joplin’s Cry Baby. She had the sort of volume acquired through years of silencing a dribbling rabble. The Glasgow X Factor audience was just one more.