X Factor midweek gossip update: sex, robots and One Direction

This week's top tabloid talent show stories, digested and regurgitated just for you

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CONTAGION 2: TULISA & KELLY Workers across the country picked up the phone and called in sick on Monday morning, inspired by Kelly Rowland’s textbook “croaky voice” on Sunday’s X Factor. Bonus marks to La Rowland for keeping her elimination comments very brief, to give the impression of physical weakness: energetically gabbling on is a classic rookie shirker’s mistake, to rank alongside gradually forgetting to do the voice, and phoning in with crashing waves and/or clinking glasses in the background.

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Anyway, Kelly’s now back in the UK and ready to roar. Seconds after this was announced, Tulisa – whose nasty comments about the Kelly-mentored Misha B seemed to have brought on Rowland’s “throat infection” in the first place – came down with a “toothache” and cancelled all her perfume-pimping engagements for the rest of the week. Is Tulisa and Kelly’s feud now so entrenched they’ve become allergic to each other? Will Louis Walsh have to sit between them, wrapped in paraffin-soaked gauze, for medical reasons? Find out on Saturday!

KITTY: BEYOND THE PALE? Kitty Brucknell’s always had a pantomime villainess persona – it reached terrifying heights on Saturday when the live show’s Halloween theme left her looking like Willy Wonka’s murderous ex-wife. But this week it got serious and rather unsavoury as Derry Mensah, one of the two permanent members of The Risk, accused her of racially abusing him in a rehearsal room. If proven this would surely be grounds for instant elimination, but X Factor bosses say “the matter has been resolved”. Depending on which tabloid “source” you believe, this followed a letter of apology from Kitty and/or, confusingly, a vehement denial of an allegation Derry has since repeated. This leaves Kitty, like a less manly John Terry, in a their-word-against-yours bind.

All this distracted from the other big Kitty story of the week – X Factor fans thought they had another Auto-Tune scandal on their hands when Brucknell sounded digitised during her Saturday rendition of Sweet Dreams by Eulittlemix. Nobody would ever use Auto-Tune on a live vocal – it might “correct” you into being a whole semitone out of tune – but producers did admit to adding a robotic effect. That’s the way to endear Kitty to nervous viewers! Make her sound more like a ruthless automaton. I think Kitty might be in the bottom two this week.

FRANKIE KNOWS HE’S BEAUTIFUL Been wondering how Frankie Cocozza’s managed to avoid elimination? It seems 2010 X Factor scourge One Direction – who finished third but are now the hottest boy band since the apostles – have been urging their squeaking Twitter followers to vote for the rodent love god. “Yes Frankie,” tweeted 1D mascot Louis. “A lot of people can sing not a lot of people can own a stage like him!” This leaves Frankie free to skip singing lessons and go out on the pull: one of his mind’s-eye-watering encounters this week being with chesty boozer Holly Hagan from MTV humanity vortex Geordie Shore. “I met her, I banged her,” said Frankie, paraphrasing Julius Caesar on ITV2’s step-too-far supplement The Xtra Factor.

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SHOW IN CRISIS: KATONA SPEAKS OUT
Is The X Factor in trouble? Receiving a devastating critique from Kerry Katona can’t be a good sign. “It’s lost that special something,” dictated Kerry down the phone to whichever OK! staffer has to turn her weekly “thoughts” into a barely readable simulacrum of an opinion column. Katona – whose own TV series The Next Chapter, a reality doc about her having her hair done and arguing with her mum in her kitchen, was recently deemed too underwhelming even for ITV2 – added: “Something is just not right. If you’re going to be a worldwide pop singer, you’ve got to have the package – have stage presence and be a good singer and a dancer – but this year that is lacking.” The solution is surely obvious. Never mind bringing back Cheryl – The X Factor needs input from someone who was in Atomic Kitten for a bit. Mr Cowell! Kerry’s available!