7:53 Oh my god HELLO AND WELCOME. It’s the first Radio Times X Factor live blog of the year and, after a series of fraught editorial meetings, we’ve decided to do it tonight to coincide with the first live X Factor show on ITV1. My name is Jack Seale, and I’ve been liveblogging since I was, oooh, you’d have to ask my parents but I think I started when I was about 32. Yep. Liveblogging is my life. Is commenting on live blogs YOUR life? If so, I would welcome your remarks in the special box provided for you. It’s that little one down there, below my quite rightfully much larger one here. Get commenting! Go on!
7:56 Before I go any further, I really must thank the Alan Partridge to my Dave Clifton, Claire Webb – she’s just finished liveblogging the dancing people on BBC1 and, if you weren’t reading that, you need to correct this next week. Right? Right.
7:58 Well, not long to go now. Take Me Out is over. A moving finish as Brian from Nottingham says he is a sensitive, kind man who has a lot of love to give to the right woman. He was eliminated immediately and then eaten in an orgy of blood and spray-tan. Unlucky, Brian!
7:59 OK so predictions time. ELLA HENDERSON is the bookies’ favourite and does seem so far to be the best by several streets. I’m going to risk making a total fool of myself by tipping UNION J as the series dark horses. Yourselves?
Pete: Welcome back, Jack. Let the good times roll.
7:59 Thanks Pete! Yes, good times ahead. Let’s get through The X Factor first though.
7:59 It’s on! It’s started! The X Factor is on!
8:02 Straight away we’re hit with the exciting new name for GMD3, who had to change because everyone thought they were a sofa-based, morning magazine programme. They will now be known as BENNY AND THE SAUSAGES. Bold move.
8:02 Not really. They’re called District 3. Roll titles!
8:03 Dermot O’Leary’s opening dance… quite reserved, some light hand-jiving surrounded by trouserless air stewardesses. His first spin of the series is a controlled effort with an air-uppercut. Quite celebratory but not silly. We’ll be monitoring this as the series progresses, don’t worry.
8:06 Intrigue among the judges as, following rumours that Tulisa and Nicole desperately want each other to die and regularly vocalise this, Gary is now seated between them. Oooh.
8:07 On come the wild card contenders… the 13th place goes to: CHRIS(TOPHER) MALONEY! Chris nods quietly, hands in pockets. No of course not, he reacts as if he’s won the lottery, been told all his family are dead and been paintballed in the nuts, simultaneously. He ends up on the floor briefly before giving a tearful victory speech, celebrating his imminent 13th place finish in The X Factor. What a moment.
8:09 Ah now, this IS an interesting format change. Normally going first is a massive disadvantage because everyone’s forgotten you by the end, or they were watching the other side and didn’t see you. But now the vote lines are open for the whole show. They’re open now, in fact. By my reckoning that flips the thing on its head and means you WANT to go first. Anyway, that’s enough talent-show psephology. On with the awful singing! Any second now.
8:11 It’s the groups first: Greg, Nigel and Amanda, better known as GMD3 but now actually known as DISTRICT3! I apologise for putting a space between DISTRICT and 3 earlier, that was a mistake. The boys are seen sifting through some of the public’s suggestions: huge, huge kudos to whoever sent in “Three Shades Of Grey”…
8:14 We’re on a shared plinth straight away for a slow, RnB lift-music version of Simply The Best. Westlife key change, one of them’s got a hat on, lots of “this might affect our pitch so we’ll give it a whirl” hand movements. Most of the time it was almost inaudible.
8:16 Tulisa says she’s not heard harmonising like that in a long time, while Nicole agrees they were “on point”. Gary mentions “40,000 applications” but the boys can take a break from applying for jobs for a week at least because they’re not going home, he says. Gary reckons they’re in the middle. Either G, M or D mentions that there was a name clash with a company in America, which really explains the change: their massive US arena tour could have been in jeopardy! Aaaand that’s the first ad break.
8:20 DISTRICT3 are my favourites so far.
Liz: Sorry I’m late, what have I missed?
8:20 There will be a disciplinary procedure later of course, Liz, but now you’re here: “Chris” is the wildcard 13th finalist, Louis is orange and white, Tulisa and Nicole have been separated by a four-foot restraining order and District3 sang a song very quietly, using an arrangement they created themselves using glue and rounded scissors.
8:23 Back from the ads and there’s a celebratory One Direction montage, crowing about their 620 million YouTube hits. To be fair, 400 million of those was that video of them being chased across Richmond Park by a dog.
8:26 One Direction come on for a quick interview. It was a sort of cross between the Sex Pistols on Thames TV and a Royal Society Christmas lecture. So many words, so many ideas. Liam has had his hair cut very short, having contracted ringworm.
8:28 Now it’s JAMES ARTHUR. Intro VT based on his totty status and here he is, smouldering on a dark stage to shout Stronger by Kelly Clarkson. There’s a rap interlude and a general air of menace, fuelled by James’s makeover which has given him a “rockabilly bouncer” look.
8:31 Gary quite rightly says that was a safe, X Factor-y song choice. He then undermines it by, I think, saying that A Million Love Songs by Take That would have been better. No, I must have misheard. James responds by saying that he made the song his own. That’s the twelfth made/song/own of the night but the first I can remember, ever, awarded to themselves by the contestant. Ballsy.
8:33 Sit down, face the front and fingers out of noses: children, it’s MELANIE MASSON!
8:35 Having said others’ songs were too obvious, Gary has given Melanie the Joe Cocker version of With A Little Help From My Friends. Hmmm. Melanie is in full 60s earth mother garb, with red and brown feathery, floaty bits everywhere. Either that or she did her toddler music class today dressed as “autumn” and didn’t change. From a very high plinth, Melanie marks time before hitting a colossal screaming high note in the middle. Everything else is vague, mumsy growling, like she’s going to tell us off in a minute if we don’t stop that.
8:40 Nicole taps the ball into the open goal by saying it was an obvious song choice, while Louis briefly claims to remember Woodstock before clarifying that he has seen the film. I think perhaps he means Woodstock as in Snoopy’s best friend and is referring to Melanie’s outfit.
8:44 Next it’s LUCY SPRAGGAN! Sadly, the fist-chewing majesty of her Whitney Houston cover at judges’ houses is not the way forward. She’s doing her own song, with her new guitar.
8:46 Oh for God’s sake, she’s written a mushy X Factor ballad! If she were on a stool she’d have stood up two thirds of the way through. What’s the point of this? Either put her through and let her do her Pam Ayres thing, or don’t put her through. That was WEIRD.
Liz: Sad, but she’s a bit lost out there, with the backing track dwarfing the vocals. I don’t think she’ll last long in this comp…
8:49 “You remind me a little bit of Victoria Wood, Kate Nash…” says Louis, blatantly ripping his opinions off the internet. We need to give Louis some new comparisons for next week, internet. He can trust us. Er… I thought that sounded remarkably like a cross between Neu! and Lee Evans. Please RT.
Corinne: Is it wrong that I actually liked it! I think she’ll be in for a while.
8:52 Back from the ads and it’s the three silly twerps, MK1!
8:56 They’re a young, urban duo mentored by Louis Walsh. They can’t fail! That other guy is going to get 33% of LOADS.
8:58 It’s a loud, confident version of Champion by Chipmunk, which I believe originally featured Chris Brown. COOL!
Simon: As Liz’s husband (honest) I think I need this comment publishing to keep up with her, as she’s boasting about how many comments of hers have been posted. Plus Rylan to win, just to enter into the spirit of the blog 😉
9:01 Welcome, Simon! “Husband”, I see, right. COUGHPOSTINGUNDERSEVERALUSERNAMESAHEM.
9:02 Anyway, Gary wondered which part of MK1’s performance and song choice Louis had influenced, clearly not noticing that they were wearing denim jackets, baseball caps and brightly coloured sweaters.
9:03 Moving on, it’s time to breathe deeply and lock yourself in a padded cupboard: CHRISTOPHER MALONEY! He’s doing Hero by Mariah Carey. Very boring indeed. Would be improved vastly if he cried, soiled himself and curled himself up into the foetal position on the floor, which is what we were led to expect. He did hit the notes. But that was cheesier than a cheesy pizza, hold the bread, extra cheese. Nicole says it was “cheesy”. Cheesy.
Corinne: I love Gary, but he is SUCH a hypocrite! Talk about obvious song choices. That’s two now!
9:07 Tulisa found that song choice “a bit dated at times”. At times? Did I miss the bit where it segued into something off the new Tame Impala album?
Pete: In a shameless bid to get another comment added, I knew Lucy Spraggan when she was little.
9:12 Tell us more, Pete. I have no idea as yet if you are telling the truth but I have a nose for these things. Make it good.
9:13 Right here we go, I’ll regret this but I think these guys could win. It’s George, JJ, Keith and Alfonso, aka UNION J!
Pete: Let’s just say she’s a Canterbury girl, not Sheffield (which I agree is much more cool). Totally the truth. I’m off to the newspapers…..
9:16 Dynamite, Pete. DYNAMITE.
9:16 Union J are doing Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen. The dodgy Europop version. Nobody is sure of the tempo. George quite visibly needs a wee. George! They told you! You have to go before it starts. Naughty. Anyway, that didn’t work at all. Never, ever follow my tips. Shot in the paddock.
9:19 Tulisa and Gary thought that stank and that it was Louis’ fault. As usual, Louis – who comes across like a harmless, unstuffed teddy but is a dead-eyed industry shark underneath – turns this round into the song being “too big” for Union J and says they have to “work harder” next week, ie it’s their own fault. If you’re in Louis’s category, you’re on your own, kids.
9:22 Now it’s JADE ELLIS, whom you should vote for because she has a daughter. Amazing. Footage of her daughter in the intro VT to confirm this miracle.
Corinne: Am I the only one who thought Jade Ellis was just introduced as JLS. Time for another name change I think!
9:23 Jade sings Hero – the theme this week, as you may have gathered, is heroes – by Enrique Iglesias. Jade does that thing people do where they hold the mic away from them for the big notes, only all the way through. I thought I detected a touch of Gabrielle in her tone, which is OK by me. It was a bit dull but not bad at all. Nicole surprises everyone by quite correctly saying it needed to be lifted up a semitone to better showcase Jade’s voice! I have underestimated Nicole, something I didn’t think was possible until now.
Corinne: So Jack, we’re halfway through. What are your thoughts so far?
9:30 So far? I think I’ve put the kiss of death on Union J as they seem the obvious contenders to go. We’re all waiting for Ella and Jahmene though, right?
9:32 It’s RYLAN CLARK! Moving scenes in the intro VT as he reads hateful tweets and talks about receiving death threats. Nicole looks on enviously at someone who can provoke any emotion at all. On stage, Rylan is in gold on a gold revolving plinth, singing the song that should have dominated the Olympic Closing Ceremony: yes, it’s Gold by Spandau Ballet. Ibiza style, obv. I quite enjoyed that.
9:37 Gary has a right go, saying everyone else should be ashamed to have put Rylan through this far. Nicole throws Take That’s Do What U Like video in his face. Gary, covered in jelly, goes back to tweeting “your an embarrassment to you’re country” to Rylan on his phone under the desk.
9:41 KYE SONES! Footage of him and the other contestants preparing and doing press. Kye reckons they’ve done ten years of work in a week! Kye’s state-of-the-nation literary trilogy is out in hardback next week. Oh good! Here he is and he’s doing Man in the Mirror! He’s making it his own by changing quite a lot of the notes to something flatter.
9:44 Gary observes that Kye didn’t have any backing dancers and promises “double” the production next week. It was Kye there on his own, so I don’t know how you double that. A second leather jacket? Exciting times ahead.
Kim: I’m waiting for Carolynne, partly because I’m hoping for Alistair Griffin on guest vocals.
9:48 Oh, superb Fame Academy reference there Kim, well played.
9:48 We’re back from some further advertisements and here we go: the hottest favourite in X Factor history, ELLA HENDERSON.
9:53 Let’s face it, that was great. Take That’s Rule the World, actually made her own. I wouldn’t buy it, but if you like a big hearfelt ballad, that was as good as it gets. The only question now is how The X Factor avoids this year becoming a painfully obvious procession.
Bernadette: The other 12 might as well call it a day now.
9:58 Faced with following that, CAROLYNNE POOLE! Gary continues the baffling theme of claiming she’s a country singer. Intro VT features Gary telling Carolynne to lighten up and, yes, she does seem diva-ish and unlikeable. Shania Twain without the charming vulnerability. Anyway, it’s Starships by Nicki Minaj and the backing track is very vaguely country I suppose. Halfway down the board at Eurovision, this. Going home.
Pete: This don’t impress me much
10:03 Carolynne says she WANTED “to make something my own”, stopping short of the full “I made it my own”. She also dreams of “making country more current”. Presumably this is why it wasn’t very country-ish.
Corinne: I think all of Gary’s contestants are at risk this week. Oh dear.
10:09 Corinne could be right. Gary mentioned bringing the “dignity” back to the overs, but he might as well have had them coming down onto the stage on a Stannah stairlift and into a gunge tank.
10:10 Nicole is caught on the hop but fills expertly while someone shouts JAHMENE DOUGLAS in her ear. Ah yes! That guy! By the way, if you’ve not heard my Jahmene theory: those nerves are a total put-on. He is a massive, massive playa. He’s overcooking it a bit I think. Around week five he’ll suddenly breakdance.
10:13 Imagine by John Lennon. It started off very dull, but Jahmene finished with one of his trademark balls-in-a-vice mega-notes. “You’ve found your balls!” says Nicole, who said “spunky” earlier as well, the dirty minx. Yep. They were in an ever-tightening vice. “Ohohoh-OH-OH-OH-AIEEEEEEEEEEE!” Thanks Jahmene.
Alex: I think the Groups were by FAR the weakest category. I predict a loss for Louis tomorrow, with 2 groups in the bottom 2. He appears to have forgotten to tell his acts to sing in tune….
Bernadette: Ok, so maybe it’s actually a 2 horse race.
10:17 Ooh, really Bernadette? I still think Ella is way, way ahead. But the question is of course, who’s going? Carolynne, surely, with the other bottom two place hard to call. I’m going for MK1 – very unengaging on the recap and most people won’t know or won’t like the song. Could be Melanie, Union J or District3 though. Your predictions?
Pippa: If there’s one song you should NEVER add extra syllables to, it’s Imagine. Gary was right about over-singing.
Corinne: I agree with Carolynne going. Could be one of many for the other act in the bottom two though.
Bernadette: My money’s on Mk 1.
Liz: Why we picking on Carolynne? There were plenty worse than her – Rylan for 1. The band murdering Queen for seconds
Corinne: I just think people will vote for Rylan and Union J. I can’t think who’ll vote for Carolynne.
10:29 That’s all for week one, folks. I fear we’re going to need this support group to power through the first few weeks, as there are a looooooooooooooot of pretty average people that need weeding out of The X Factor this year. So thanks v much for your comments, sorry I can’t publish them all, and see you here next week. Right? RIGHT.