7.33 Good evening! I’m Jack Seale, and I’m your host for The X Factor tonight. Well, I’m not. Dermot O’Leary is your host. I didn’t pass the audition because of “visible contempt and persistent foul language”, if I remember rightly. What I mean is, I’m writing this live blog, with help from YOU, the excellent British public. Do make use of the comment function, won’t you? Of course you will.
7:43 Well, what a week it’s been for the baking-soda ship that is The X Factor 2011. Kelly Rowland left the country, supposedly in a huff after Bullygate last week. Then she claimed she’d just left on business, but THEN she got a throat infection that is baffling doctors – she can’t even swallow her own spit, apparently – and pulled out. She’ll be replaced by Alexandra Burke, who I’m told was once a singer or entertainer of some kind.
7:46 That’s not all. Rhythmix changed their name to Little Mix, and The Risk lost a member – Ashley Baptiste shockingly left the group, to spend more time with his collection of ceramic parrots. He’s been replaced by the radically different Ashford Campbell, who shot to fame in 2011 as a member of singing group Nu Vibe. Let me tell you, I am severely regretting my X-Factor-contestants’-names buttock tattoos – but the real question is, can The X Factor function after all this uncertainty? With ratings also on the slide, this is the biggest TV-show crisis since the “badger rampage” episode of Autumnwatch.
7:59 According to the ITV continuity announcer, Dermot O’Leary has ANOTHER surprise up his sleeve, over and above the guest judge! Presuming he doesn’t mean Rhythmix rebranding, what could it be? The only clue we have is that it is up Dermot O’Leary’s sleeve. Perplexing.
8:02 A montage of this week’s adverse headlines to kick off. It’s almost as if they’re a manufactured way to boost ratings.
8:03 IT’S TIME! TO FACE! THE BLACK FUTILITY OF A GODLESS UNIVERSE! Wait, that isn’t right, sorry. This is why I also failed the X Factor voiceover audition.
8:04 Dermot comes on and DOES A DANCE, flanked by rubber-clad lovelies. He has the decency to look thoroughly embarrassed.
8:05 Here are the judges! For Halloween, Tulisa sports a catsuit and cat ears. Talk amongst yourselves for a while, will you?
8:07 Alexandra Burke displaying the pure delight of someone who is earning for the first time in 18 months, there.
8:09 Incredibly hard-to-watch scenes as we witness the moment when Ashley or Alan or whatever his name is leaves THE RISK. How can they keep the name The Risk after such a seismic shift? They simply will not be the same group without Alex.
8:12 The Risk sing Thriller by Michael Jackson. As usual in the Halloween show, the choreography is the same as normal, but with more eye shadow on the dancers and a lot of dry ice. For their part, The Risk have coped pretty well with the challenge of forming a completely new group in two days – somehow, they’ve managed to maintain their signature sound. They’re still insipid and slightly out of tune. Miraculous.
8:13 “Now I really REALLY like you,” says Gary Barlow, who is competing against The Risk. Alexandra Burke advises them to be more “organic”. A few carrots here and there, maybe. Some milk. Fewer pesticides.
8:15 Louis Walsh: “Up next it’s the people’s diva. JOHNNY ROBINSON!” It’s Johnny Robinson. The people’s diva. He’s not been formally elected.
8:16 Footage of Johnny’s night out with Kitty and her legs. People love him now, apparently – this based on drunks shouting at him in Soho. Hmmm.
8:19 Johnny sings Ole Devil Called Love. Pretty straightforward, in performance and costume: standing by/leaning on a piano, in a slightly sparkly jacket. That was good, actually: no squeaky falsetto, much less shaking. Solid. Gary Barlow invades the stage to shake our Johnny by the hand. This is surely ridiculous but: could Johnny win this? Almost everyone else is poor, and he just proved he can more or less do normal singing as well as silver campery. Or have I gone insane?
8:19 Comment From Richard Kelly Charles Hawtrey sings the blues
8:20 Comment From Dingo In those suits, glasses and the way he glares, Johnny reminds me of the demon headmaster letting his hair down.
8:23 Comment From CockneyCharmer Who do you think are more delusional about the talent…the acts, the judges..or the audience who are cheering and giving applause to people they wouldnt spend a £1 to download their song off Itunes?
8:23 Comment From Jules He is perfect for the jazz/cabaret scene and I’m sure he will have a great future performing and selling these kinds of songs.
8:23 Comment From Katy Johnny wasnt half bad. Can’t see him winning it, but he seems to have a damn sight more personality than the rest of them!
8:27 Next up: SOPHIE HABIBIS! In lieu of Sophie having done anything interesting, for her pre-song VT she’s sent back to the pub she works in, which doesn’t usually happen until the semi-final. Incredible scenes as Sophie enjoys a quiet orange juice, totally unmolested by the admiring public.
8:29 Sophie has a go at Bang Bang by Nancy Sinatra. She is badly struggling here: there’s hardly any melody to this, it’s all in the personality of the performance. Sophie scores low in that category. Towards the end she throws in some spurious long, loud notes. It doesn’t work. The most exciting thing about that was the throne she was sitting on, which was made of topless hunks. In trouble, for my money.
8:32 Louis drops the something-missing bomb. As is increasingly, worryingly the case, he’s spot on where everyone else is loopy-loo. The song wasn’t quite right, they realise, but Sophie is apparently a great singer. Is she? She hides this enormously well, week in week out. Tulisa chips in with one of her best ever unintentional insults, claiming the performance reminded her of Kate Nash. Pow! That’s a nasty one.
8:33 Now, MARCUS COLLINS! In rehearsal, Gary suggests that Marcus watch his performance from last week. Yes, that would be useful. I can’t remember it either.
8:34 Marcus is doing some sort of “mash-up”, as I believe Tim Westwood calls them, of Superstition by Stevie Wonder and Suicide Blonde by INXS. At least, I think it’s Suicide Blonde. I’m not a complete INXS expert, if I’m honest.
8:38 That was good! Not especially interesting, but the best vocal so far by miles. “You worked that stage!” says Alexandra, pointing to the sides of the stage in acknowledgement of the bits where Marcus walked around without falling over. “I love moving round!” says a jubilant Marcus. What do you think? Is walking and not sounding like a gangrenous seal enough to make you vote for Marcus? You have the ad break to think it over.
8:38 Comment From Mark Need you tonight I think
8:39 Assuming Mark is referencing the INXS song and not addressing me directly: was it? Sorry. Sorry, INXS. I am in no way proud not to have known that.
8:44 Next: flushing your head down the toilet with her song, it’s the fearsome MISHA B! Since being called a bully last week, Misha has been walking through parks on her own, apologetically. In the rehearsal studio, she gets emotional support from MYSTERY BEARDY VOICE COACH MAN, who makes his weekly appearance there.
8:50 Misha struts through Tainted Love, looking more than ever like she’s borrowed Grace Jones’ stylist. Scarlet cowl, hair teased up into a unicorn’s horn. And a sparkly monobrow, like the blind guy off of Star Trek! Great vocals, lovely rap breakdown. The performance is, sadly, marred by Louis Walsh trying to do Kelly Rowland’s “put it down” catchphrase, which made me clench with embarrassment so hard I am now hitting the keys with two pencils wedged in my fists. Still, Misha rocked it as usual – a welcome new development was her refusal to be interviewed by Dermot afterwards, which is what you’d hope for from an extra-terrestrial empress of soul. Excellent.
8:50 Comment From Claire What’s with the rhino horn!!
8:50 Comment From Katy A gutsy and dynamic performance from Misha B as usual. Best of the night so far.
8:50 Comment From Jules Mischa B has just this tonal quality that makes me want to break my tv!!!
8:51 Comment From Laura Misha was spawned from Grace Jones and Macy Gray. But I like it.
8:52 Comment From Dingo The Burke is coming across a bit irritating isn’t she? You’re a guest judge Alexandra, please be a bit.. erm anonymous. You’re normally good at doing that!
8:55 Time for JANET DEVLIN! Janet yelps fondly about last week’s show, when she yelped well. Back in her home town of Gortin, “Janetmania” has led to more than 100 t-shirts being sold. What will Janet yelp this week, though?
8:57 Janet yelps Every Breath You Take by The Police. WAIT! She’s hardly yelping! Just a couple of little ones on “take” and “ache” in the chorus. She’s in danger of losing that all-important Celtic Yelp vote. Plus, tuning problems everywhere. That last note has permanently damaged my TV speakers. Janet looks nauseous at the end.
8:58 Comment From Laura Scary for all the wrong reasons, Janet.
8:58 Comment From Katy Okay, I get it – she’s DELIBERATELY singing out of tune. Very edgy. Not!!
9:00 If you’re not watching I can’t really describe how patronising Alexandra Burke was to Janet there. It started with wanting to cuddle her and ended with Janet doing Ireland proud. Inches away from rubbing her face with a spitty hanky. Yuk.
9:00 Janet hits back by threatening to get her guitar out next week. Alright, no need for that.
9:04 And now, it’s unstoppable sex-gerbil FRANKIE COCOZZA! The ladies can’t resist his tiny, peach-fuzz moustache! This week, Frankie starts in the audience so that they can touch him, before taking the stage dressed as a vampire redcoat to do Should I Stay Or Should I Go. Frankie changes the lyrics to “I’M happy when YOU’RE on YOUR knees”, the cheeky young fornication machine.
9:05 Comment From Katy Well Frankie, since you ask – you should GO!!!
9:05 Comment From Flo …definitely go! You’re murdering a classic Frankie.
9:05 Comment From Dingo YOU SHOULD GO! It had to be said, haha.
9:05 Comment From Lisa Go, Frankie, definitely go
9:05 Comment From Michaela You should go, Frankie. You should really, really go.
9:08 I wonder if Frankie has really slept with all those women. Or any of them. Ever. I’m just putting it out there. It’s got the whiff of an elaborate cover story.
9:10 Still, I think Frankie’s probably safe again because, although that was several postcodes away from being good or enjoyable, it wasn’t as staggeringly awful as the week before last when he ended up in the bottom two.
9:13 Here we go. It’s KITTY BRUCKNELL. This week she tried to win the public over by going out with no trousers on and rubbing up against them, if that VT is any guide.
9:18 Kitty begins strapped to a Catherine wheel, but gets off before anyone can throw any knives at her and does Sweet Dreams by Rhythmix. Sorry, Eurythmics. Rubber trousers and sweet-wrapper bustier. Not a lot wrong with the singing really, but as usual there was something forbidding and a bit creepy about it. Possibly that’s more acceptable in Halloween week, but before her performance Kitty was talking about being herself up there, and I think that’s the problem. When she’s herself she gives me – and, I think, Britain – the mild willies.
9:19 Comment From Lisa It would have been far more interesting if she’d got stuck on the wheel and had to sing the whole thing upside down
9:28 Penultimately, it’s LITTLE MIX! The Artists Formerly Known As Rhythmix. My suggestion for a specific symbol they could use instead of a name was rejected. A brief flush of shame for me there as one of them cries about “people on websites” being horrible, but it turns out she means other people teasing her for not being skinny. Anyway, Tulisa says Little Mix are still “the girls you know”, thus dispelling the possibility that any old members of Nu Vibe have joined.
9:29 It’s an average Saturday night for Little Mix. Sitting in a row on swings in ripped tights, making unintelligible high-pitched noises.
9:29 Comment From Mrsquirrel Pick n mix might be more appropriate given the VT
9:29 Comment From Guest i think pick n’ mix would have been a better name to replace ‘rhytmix’
9:31 That was, I think, “ET” by Katy Perry, by the way.
9:31 “RT”, Katy Perry’s heartfelt ballad about her favourite reasonably priced listings magazine and its surprisingly entertaining website, is on her next album.
9:33 CRAIG COLTON. A VT about how everyone in Liverpool loves him. Slightly hard on Marcus Collins, who’s also from there. Craig briefly mentions him once. Gary promises that people who think Craig only does ballads will now be shocked.
9:34 Craig does Set Fire to the Rain by Adele. Which is a sort of slightly faster ballad. Shocking. I may faint.
9:36 Craig’s fringe update: not there at all this week. A flat-topped quiff. He has lost some of his power accordingly.
9:36 Comment From amelia craig’s hair supporting the soon to be released tintin movie. standard.
9:38 Alexandra Burke is so patronising, I have the urge for hot milk and a rusk every time she speaks. But anyway, she thought that was good, as indeed it was.
9:42 So who’s in danger of being in the bottom two? By rights it should be The Risk and Janet Devlin, but the bookies think one of them will win the whole thing so maybe not. Sophie again sounding ropier than a tug of war competition in her recap excerpt. I think it’s her time. Little Mix to join her in the bottom two. Your thoughts?
9:42 Comment From Kim Alexandra Burke makes my teeth itch! There is no way she’ll be invited back!
9:46 It’s over! As always, I’m very grateful for your comments, not least because I needed you to correct several atrocious factual errors this evening. Expect more of that sort of thing as the nights draw in still further, the final approaches and I get hopelessly overexcited – not next week, though. I’ve got the night off, so there’ll be someone else keeping you warm. I imagine there’ll be a noticeable improvement. Cheerybye!
9:46 Comment From Laura F-Coc and Janet are in my bottom two.
9:48 Comment From Dingo Diana Vickers and Stacey Solomon in the commercial breaks.. nice to see them still doing well for themselves. I predict Sophie and Kitty in the bottom two, even though they’re my favourite contestants.