I wouldn't put your money on the groups category this year. One of the judges' conflabs tonight, in the last arena auditions show, was all about how hard it was going to be to pick between all the awesome bands at boot camp, but in the actual episode we saw an endless procession of terrible ones, and when a half-decent one popped up the judges tried to split it up.
Tenors of Rock began the horror. A shouting harmony group who advertise that they have six frontmen where most rock groups only have one, as if this is a good thing, the Tenors wanted to rock Wembley Arena. Backstage they did those rock hand gestures people used to do quite a long time ago.
On stage, the Tenors did Livin' on a Prayer and had the crowd on their feet when the guitar kicked in, but the Tenors don't have a guitar player: at this stage what we had was an audience clapping for six men playing them a CD. One messy, more-is-less vocal finale later and everyone was still on their feet, including the judges. Really? Once they've shouted Sweet Child O' Mine in the next round I fear the Ts of Rwill be spent. Talking of which, Joseph Whelan shouted that song rather nicely by himself and went through.
Then came a slew of nondescript bands, pretty much all drowned out by the show's sound mix, and probably for the best. Oversexed backflippers Code 4 were followed by rag-doll girl band Xyra and Brick City, whose name I wrote down but who have completely gone from my memory. Sorry.
Dynamix got an introductory video package, so they were always going to have more to them than the others. It turned out that only one of them did. We'd already seen a reasonable performance from Hannah Sheares, the singer who had agreed to ditch her mates and go solo during the closed auditions. The judges put her through, as they were pretty much obliged to.
Now they asked SeeSee, the Dynamix lead singer, to go forward without her two male sidekicks. They were basically just hype men, talking over her excellent singing and hoping their carefully hairsprayed quiffs were still in place. Yet SeeSee tearfully refused to shaft them and risked elimination. She was rewarded with Dynamix going through and Sharon Osbourne praising her selflessness: “What a good woman that is.” Where this left Hannah, who had literally trampled on her best pals' faces to get to the next round, was not clear.
An early stand-out was cheeky acoustic bin juicer Ryan Mackie, who impressed everyone with a clever cover of Get Lucky that had only the faintest whiff of Lucy Spraggan. Sam Callaghan, who had toted a guitar in last night's show, junked it and roamed the stage instead, winning the crowd over by thrusting his groin towards Row F at just the right moment.
Giles Potter, a 16-year-old from Worcester, made X Factor history by being the first person ever whose audition was a cruel embarrassment that probably shouldn't have been shown for his own sake, but who then was put through to the next round. His rambling, flat version of Reet Petite would have had people studying their toes with embarrassment at a Year 9 assembly, yet somehow the judges decided that the vocals were “in there”.
Crissie Rhodes had the vocals, for sure. A charming 25-year-old wedding singer, her choice of song was surprising given her apparent enjoyment of her job: Young Hearts Run Free, Candi Staton's bitter anti-marriage tirade. It was almost unrecognisable, however, slowed down with an Eva Cassidy goes country vibe, which was enhanced by Crissie's slightly wayward hoedown-in-Primark styling and sounded genuinely full of the potential the judges are always yaddering on about. She might have been the only one all weekend, but Crissie looked like one for the final 12.