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.
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!
8:07 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.
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.
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.
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.
10:09 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.
8:25 NO DERMOT DANCE this week. Repeat, NO DERMOT DANCE. He does his swingy thing – is it golf? Is it cricket? There’s a run-up. Hurling? Anyway, Dermot does at least retain his trademark spin so the world is still more or less on its axis. It was a little ragged, slightly overspun and requiring some compensatory arm-flailing. The judges come out and Gary looks relatively calm, a smear of blood on his cuffs the only indication that all is not well backstage.
8:42 Christopher does Alone by Heart. He’s approached this in the same way Joe Pesci does with that guy on the floor of the bar in Goodfellas. The last high note was Christopher bundling the song into the trunk of his car as Ray Liotta looks on nervously. At the end, Christopher treated us to a full-body emotional heave.
8:44 “That note at the end? Effortless!” says Nicole. Effortless?! If he tries any harder he’ll have an embolism live on stage. Louis says he loves his power ballads but that was too cheesy. Tulisa wants Christopher to be current! Next week, if you vote for him, perhaps Christopher will tackle Tesselate by Alt-J.
9:00 Ah, the Ella Henderson give-everyone-else-a-chance sabotage starts here! She’s singing Loving You by Minnie Riperton, which is a) quite silly and b) has an absolutely impossible – ah. She’s just sung it perfectly, including the high bit. Backstage, a producer angrily balls up a sheet of paper and slinks back to his office. Take my advice, guys: Agadoo. It’s the only way.
9:27 OK we’re back from the ads and now it’s Greg, Binky and Cheryl, also known as DISTRICT3! “These boys can sing anything,” says Louis. Technically true.
9:28 District3 didn’t like Louis’ song choice at first, but then they did. It’s I Swear by the even poorer man’s Boyz II Men, All 4 One. The destitute man’s Boyz II Men, All 4 One. The naked, homeless, starving man’s Boyz II Men, All 4 One. Where are All 4 One now, I wonder? I don’t.
9:32 Gary says that was sucking in all directions and the last three-part harmony was a massacre. Nicole says the boys should be more sexually assertive in their performance, and mentions tabasco AND baby oil. Let me tell you people, this is a dangerous combination. Oh by the way I nearly forgot, hello to all the excellent staff of the A+E department at Whipps Cross University Hospital! Love you guys.
9:47 It’s MK1! They’re dangerously urban, modern and jiggy, you know. Oh god I hope they don’t shoot anyone or sell anyone drugs.
10:19 Eyes to the front! It’s your own time you’re wasting, I’ve got plenty of marking I can be getting on with: MELANIE MASSON!
10:20 The ads in the middle of The X Factor once again influence the show itself, as Melanie does Never Tear Us Apart by INXS. Not in a winsome John Lewis woolly hat way. This is more Shirley Bassey. Shirley Bassey trying to get served in a busy bar at Earls Court during the Royal Tournament.
10:22 Melanie really needed to decide which big note she was going to do there before she did it. In the end we got four or five in various keys and octaves.
8.19 Only seconds to go now, because Take Me Out has finished. If you missed it: Larry, a keen chess player, won a date with Clarissa, an accountant with psoriasis. It was quite moving actually.
8.20 Here we go! The X Factor! It’s started! MY GOODNESS.
8.24 Ha! Dermot subverts the Dermot Dance by getting in a body double to do a load of flips and spins in his place. Some vaguely clever cutting in of pre-recorded footage there. The irony is that Dermot is a Commonwealth-standard gymnast but isn’t allowed to tumble himself for insurance reasons.
8:39 “It’s hardcore!” says Dermot, his arm around an old lady in the audience wearing a homemade Jahmene Douglas T-shirt. But it’s not Jahmene coming next, it’s terrifying two-person urban riot MK1! In their intro VT they’re discussing the risks of doing something “really underground” with Louis. He’s desperate for them to do one of his favourite Burial tracks but no, in the end they’ve gone for Gypsy Woman by Crystal Waters. Ooh wait, mash-up! It’s Pass Out by Tinie Tempah now! This is well underground. Like dog-fighting.
8:46 Tulisa didn’t like the second half. “Tinie’s rap is so big, you can’t put your own spin on it.” Gary agrees. Sitting pretty in his checked jacket and waistcoat, he speaks out against mash-ups. “These mash-ups. There’s no need for them.” Louis, typically, tries desperately to put the blame on the act by saying Charlie changed the song choice herself. You’d think he’d have a positive comment, like “You remind me of a young Gary Wilmot and Sandra Dickinson,” or something.
9:09 We’re back, and it’s yet another act who’s had a bad time recently: JAMES ARTHUR, who had a panic attack after he sang last week. By the grace of God, someone was quickly on the scene to film it.
9:11 James promises us “a bit of fun”, so of course he’s got his acoustic guitar out. Woooh! Rave on. It’s an ironic cover of Sexy And I Know It by professional village idiots LMFAO.
9:14 Easily James’s best performance to date. He should do that every week: offhand acoustic covers of novelty hits. Next week: a grizzled, strummy version of Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.
9:54 The penultimate act of the night: it’s Greg, Mickey, Fenella, Bruce, and “The Black Fog”, aka DISTRICT3! They’re doing Beggin’ You by Frankie Valli. I’m sorry, I can’t remember who did the dance version and am too tired to Google it at this stage.
9:58 Wild screaming in the studio audience for District3, who really raved that right up in their braces and their bow ties. There was jumping, there was synchronised bouncing. It truly was mental and gets enormous praise from Tulisa. Gary strokes his beard and pronounces them “a revelation” – not with swag, but beggars can’t be choosers. District3 are surely safe after that, which if my maths are right leaves Kye and Christopher in the bottom two, if Britain hasn’t decided it hates Rylan again now.
10:02 That only leaves one act: ELLA HENDERSON, the most obvious talent show winner since Mozart went in for the 1761 Salzburg Young Musician of the Year.
10:11 “You’re sixteen years old!” says Tulisa. “Let’s not forget how old she is.” Louis leaps up at the sound of a quiz question he knows the answer to. “SIXTEEN!” he shouts, helpfully. Ella is 16.
8.22 Take Me Out has just finished. If you missed it: Sebastian, the Seventh Earl of Rocestershire, who enjoys pheasants and purchasing hotels, won a date with Lamazqua, a hairdresser from Nuneaton whose interests include glue and scissors. Make sure to find out how they got on next Saturday.
8:34 Opening your show: KYE SONES! Kye, who sounds like a ripped set of bellows under a heavy duvet, is insanely attempting Let Me Entertain You by Robbie Williams. In a masterclass with Kye, Robbie himself says: “The problem is not the notes.” In previous weeks that’s definitely been among Kye’s problems, but we’ll see.
8:36 Kye has rocked this song RIGHT up by… slowing it down slightly. YOWZAH!
8:37 He sang the notes. He ran up the stairs through the crowd to a special perspex stage, like the one Ant and Dec stand on sometimes for Britain’s Got Talent. He finished on time. It was competent! Probably Kye’s most competent performance of the series! “Thank God for that!” comments Gary.
9:05 Rylan does Toxic by Britney, mashed up innit with Horny by Mousse T and Poison by N Scherzinger. He’s dressed as the Sontarans’ eccentric great uncle and is flamboyantly, confidently out of tune. “You remind me of a young Jean Paul Gaultier!” is Louis’ comment on Rylan’s technical vocal ability. 9:15 Now it’s time for vibrating Scouse ballad-squeezer, CHRISTOPHER MALONEY!
9:19 Gary tries to cure Christopher’s nerves by showing him his most nervous moments on a generic tablet device. Also, Gary’s mum is a big fan. Chris gives his elderly fans exactly what they want with (I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight by Cutting Crew. Big overcoat.
9:24 Decent enough performance there from the quivering Liverpudlian cheeseball. He planted his feet and belted it out. Louis says Christopher is a future panto star, but then massively contradicts himself by comparing Christopher to the immense Tony Christie. Louis was right there for about five seconds – a new record.
9:26 Tulisa complains that Christopher is a rampant fromagerie – Gary employs the tried and tested John Terry defence and complains about her “fag-ash breath”. Quick as a flash, Tulisa says Gary’s breath stinks of wine. I say quick as a flash, it was about 35 seconds later, but still, a zinger.
9:31 Next up: their name sounds like a low-budget European horror film where young people are possessed by the spirits of the dead, and shuffle around making bewildering, atonal groaning noises – but the reality could not be more different! Yes, it’s Steve, James, Jeremy, John, Paul and Georgina, aka DISTRICT3!
9:33 “Your voices are actually good enough,” says Robbie Williams, who seems to have declined to mentor Christopher but is now back. Are they, though? Are they? The Strict are tackling Every Breath You Take, dressed as glam droogs. Oh and they’ve mashed it up innit with Beautiful Monster by Ne-Yo! The songs don’t go together at all! One stops, then the other starts, then the first one comes back. Edgy.
9:36 Oh I love it when a prediction comes together. That’s an exit perf, for my money.
9:36 “An absolute mess. A musical mess,” says Gary, who is “fed up of mash-ups”. Nicole, who was moved by Christopher to shake her pussycat doll in Gary’s face, remains seated and solemnly tells District3 that that massively, massively honked. She is not wrong. I think they’re doomed. Ad break!
10:03 I’m definitely thinking Ella shouldn’t be odds-on favourite to win the whole thing any more. I really think Union J could win. And here’s a dark horse: JAMES ARTHUR.
10:05 James, in a straitjacket and heavy manscara, does Sweet Dreams by Eurythmics. I’m calling it now: he’ll be in the final.
8:18 As you may know, there’s been massive drama already today. Lucy Spraggan, the drinking woman’s Pam Ayres, will not be gracing us tonight with what surely would have been a tremendous version of Umbrella by Rihanna, only acoustic and with an extra verse about kebabs or buses or something. She’s left the competition! This was due to illness, and not, as unkind people speculated, that she kept arguing with the producers who are sick of her whimsical comedy stylings. So there are only eight performers, unless there’s to be a shock reprieve for that girl who did the Pink cover and then called everyone a c-word.
8:21 Dermot! No dance, but the spin is spectacular: three quarters of the way round with one leg out horizontally, then a sort of Northern Soul scissor dance to cover up that he nearly fell over. Probably the Dermot Spin of the series so far.
8:48 Matchsticks in eyes, everyone! Inject me with ProPlus, douse me with icewater and get ready with the electric paddles: it’s KYE SONES!
8:50 Kye goes back home to surprise his brother, who is amazed to see him despite the camera crew already being there. Kye does some chimney sweeping, has a full English and tells his brother how much better his life is now he isn’t a chimney sweep. His brother doesn’t look too offended. Got a big job on next month with Kye’s name on it.
8:51 Kye, in guyliner and a roadkill wig, does You Get What You Give by the New Radicals. Did this get to number one? I can’t be bothered to Wiki it.
8:53 They’ve tried to edit this down but it’s completely random, like you’re listening to the CD but it’s scratched and bits keep getting skipped over. They kept all the falsetto bits and possibly added some extra ones. Kye livened things up halfway by pointlessly wandering round behind the judges, then high-fiving them all in a dangerous display of charisma. I am NOT in a deep, potentially life-threatening coma, so that’s good.
9:34 We’re back, and it’s time for JAHMENE DOUGLAS! Harrowing footage of him a few months ago, when he was not only working in Asda, but sporting a tragic moustache. And now Jahmene and Nicole are back in Asda! She’s in the green and black fleece, wielding a stock-taking gun and getting on the in-store mic, but they leave before she can do a sexy RnB version of Come And Get Your Black Bin Bags. I hope they picked up some Asda value Cava before they went, though. Three quid a bottle. Indistinguishable from Veuve Clique. Trust me.
9:39 Jahmene, on a small plinth, does Listen by Beyonce. Increasingly I feel listening to him is like being hit in the face repeatedly with a bat, but what do I know? Louis says it’s “the vocal performance of the night by a mile”. Tulisa is speechless. Maybe they were impressed by the final note, which outlasted the backing track by five or six seconds. Everyone loves it! Gary and Nicole pile in as well. “You’re lighting the torch for all the other people,” says Nicole. What, in the world? Steady on. Not in that shirt, for a start.
9:43 Marks off for Nicole there, not working in “Asdamazing” into her comments. That lorry load of complimentary mini scotch eggs, frozen mince and Smart Price toilet cleaner does a U-ey and returns to the depot.
9:47 Next, singing for Liverpool, it’s the quaking fondue CHRISTOPHER MALONEY! His mentor Gary openly acknowledges that he is giving Chris horrible songs to annoy everyone. Christopher meets No Doubt. “We really like you a lot,” says Gwen Stefani. Her acting career never really got going, did it?
9:49 Chris does All By Myself by Eric Carmen. He’s not angry, he’s just disappointed.
Jude: He’s got his coat on – must be ready to go.
9:53 Basically everyone except Gary thought that was varying degrees of horrible. Gaz says it will appeal to Christopher’s public. A terrifying concept, but if things get hairy perhaps we can force them all onto the Isle of Man.
8:06 Tonight’s theme is Best of British. Union J are rumoured to be performing Te Deum in G Major by Ralph Vaughan Williams, while James Arthur will do London by William Blake, in a mash-up with Level 42’s Running in the Family.
8:09 Dermot arrives to do his mystery sporting mime. Lacrosse? Crazy golf? I really don’t know. But the spin this week is textbook: a perfect 360 with wonderfully smooth deceleration into the cocked-leg dismount. Seriously, it’s worth catching again on ITV Player.
8:13 First up, the trembling saltwater dispenser of love, CHRISTOPHER MALONEY. He pooh-poohs reports that he’s voting for himself thousands of times to keep himself in, hinting that he cannot afford this. We’ve seen the way he dresses. Case closed.
8:29 Anyway enough yabbering, it’s JAHMENE DOUGLAS! He’s had a pep talk on the phone from Jennifer Hudson and he’s doing a quiet, gospelly Angels by Robert Vaughan Williams.
8:30 He didn’t seem wholly convinced about what a mobile phone was. Holding it like an alien doing silver service.
8:31 Decent effort from Jahmene there. The note that’s caught out a million karaoke bluffers (“and through it aaaaaa-oh, bugger”) was tackled well, although if I’m being very critical he did slide up to it in a way that Christopher Maloney never would. Another big note at the end though, which tried to run away but Jahmene hunted it down and ripped its throat out.
8:35 Good judge comments all round: Tulisa denies press reports that she doesn’t think Jahmene can sell records – I hadn’t seen those reports, but now I’ve heard them denied, I believe them a bit. Gary accurately says it was better for being simpler. Nicole is somewhere between tears and arousal.
8:36 Next up: Roger, Brian, Keith and Malcolm, better known as DISTRICT3!
8:37 After last week’s over-choreographed performance, where it looked like they were failing to find each other at Gay Pride, the Stric are seated and harmonising for Eric Clapton’s parental grief classic, Tears in Heaven. One of them’s put on a leather jacket and is pretending to play a grand piano. A cutaway to Nicole throwing up in her mouth a bit. No, really. Check it online later.
8:42 That, for my money, was slightly offensive twaddle, but I owe Nicole an apology. Yes, another one, for something I did in public this time. She wasn’t vomming, she was holding back emotion due to the song choice. A fascinating People’s Front of Judea moment as District3 object to Gary saying Union J are the same but better: the Dis point out that, while Union J are merely pop, they are R ‘n’ B pop. Got that? Important distinction.
8:44 IT’S THE JOHN LEWIS ADVERT! Purge the soul. Make gloves your goal.
8:50 It’s ELLA HENDERSON, who I think might slowly be losing it a bit. She’s giving Written In The Stars by Tinie Tempah a good going over but, I dunno. I mean, she’s a better singer than everyone else. It’s just not getting me there. Not getting me THERE. You’re worse than the studio audience. Tsk.
9:01 For Rylan, Best of British can mean only one band: Barrett-era Floyd. Not really: it means The Spice Girls. He has a masterclass with Geri Halliwell on how to maximise one’s performance without relying on singing too much.
9:02 After a Queen-style video intro in which Rylan skydives, he wires down onto the stage to do a breathless Spice medley. This is way, way too fast. It’s like there’s something wrong with the backing tape. Someone’s been murdered and has slumped forward onto the pitch bend.
9:13 We’re back from the ads and it’s Amberlocks, Braeburn, Posey and Forsythia, together known as UNION J!
9:15 OK, embarrassing confession time. I hadn’t realised until Best of British week that Union J was short for Union Jack. This is The Beatles all over again. I think that may be the first time I’ve written that in relation to Union J.
9:16 In their intro VT, Union J go for that Military Wives dollar by referencing loved ones who are in the armed forces. Their tribute is a tremulous cover of Fix You by Coldplay. They’re reminding me of four young Jonjo Kerrs.
9:41 I’ve recovered after the high emotion of that devastating One Direction ballad. Who wrote that? What pain must they have been through? I hope they’re OK now. Perhaps pouring out their torment into that perfect work of art will be some consolation. Although I think it’ll only be fully appreciated in 50 years. Maybe 100. I’ll always remember where I was when I heard it.
8:04 Louis opens the show proper by introducing his remaining group: Josh, Alan, Skip and Boris, collectively referred to as UNION J! Exciting footage of them at Disneyland Paris, with some drama and peril as George gets the rollercoaster sweats and has to have a lie down, dressed as a dog. They’ve survived this and here they are in some very Wander Eshun 60s suits. They’re doing Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen. I’ve not been much of a fan of Union J in recent weeks, but I have to be honest and say this is pretty awful.
8:09 Quite difficult to suck all the fun out of this song but Union J have remorselessly Dysoned the joy right out of it. That was as poppy and entertaining as a tax return.
8:17 Next, she was the hottest X Factor favourite ever, but now she’s not even the favourite, hot or not: it’s ELLA HENDERSON! She aced the gig at Disneyland: if she can cope with a crowd of 3,000 seven-year-olds absolutely banjaxed on Haribo, this should be easy.
8:29 James is doing Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of Of Off Of You. It’s sort of how Extreme might have done it during a late-night studio jam to celebrate getting More Than Words in the can.
8:42 So yes, it’s RYLAN CLARK! His guilty pleasure is, er, Girls on Film by Duran Duran. No, wait! He’s mashed it all up in your grill innit though bruv with When Will I Be Famous by Bros! A bit of the dance routine was on a treadmill. It was supposed to be OK Go but was more “Michael Jackson on A Bit of Fry and Laurie”. Vocals not too bad though. I think Rylan might have a fighting chance here.
7.55 Evenings! I am Jack Seale, and this is my X Factor blog. My perfect X Factor blog, with you. Hello. Everyone sings twice this week, so it’s going to be long, arduous and ultimately rewarding, like an Iranian film. Exactly like an Iranian film. Won’t you share my popcorn? I promise I haven’t done that thing with it this time.
8:03 Here we go then: Take Me Out has finished (if you missed it: Alan, a man with five legs from Carshalton, won a date with Ruth, a woman with gills from Bristol. Find out how they get on next week!) and The X Factor has started! After a doomy montage of last week’s atrocity, Dermot emerges. After his weird swing thing, the spin is suitably conservative: slow and insufficiently slippery, with some jacket issues. Bring on the judges!
8:05 Tulisa is bereft. Nicole has had a go at a salmon frock, but it looks sad. Gary’s beard is downcast. Come back, Ella!
8:07 First out of the stupid box this week, RYLAN CLARK! Footage of Rylan and James whipping up a Thanksgiving turkey for Nicole and Jahmene. It must be said that the Pigrim bonnet is a look that works for Nicole. Talk among yourselves for a minute.
8:09 Rylan, dressed as the villain in an unauthorised Korean Bond film, is doing Mamma Mia, this being Motown/Abba week. It’s a spoken-word version. One eye on that lucrative audiobooks market.
8:12 Rylan has finished. Louis calls him the people’s champion, while Tulisa says “you’re my kind of cheese”. Even Gary says he’s been worn down. Could Rylan win? Could he be prime minister? Could he lead the people of Earth to a new home in space? Anything is possible.
8:14 Ad break! Winsome acoustic versions of Our House, The Power of Love, Shaddap Your Face and The Headmaster Ritual. All the best of the 80s.
8:19 We’re back! It’s Josh, Roger, Helen and “Clive the Exterminator” – together they are UNION J!
8:37 Next, it’s JAMES ARTHUR! Massive sympathy bounce for him this week, I reckon, after being in the bottom two last time. He could come on and do Fernando on a Stylophone and still be alright.
8:59 UNION J are back! They’re doing I’ll Be There by Union Jackson.
9:01 This is chugging half-heartedly. Very slow, very dull. George once again seemed not to be singing. Big trubbs here perhaps.
9:04 George really looks like his mind is elsewhere. He has a rictus smile. I do hope he isn’t going through a divorce or a troublesome house purchase.
9:10 Back again, it’s RYLAN CLARK! This time he’s speaking the words to a Supremes medley. Baby Love, totes mashed right up innit bruv in the endz with Stop in the Name of Love AND You Keep Me Hangin’ On. Rylan has a shiny yellow suit with a pink sleeve, looking like the design that got the original Quality Street designer fired after years of rumours in the factory about drug abuse. But vocally, that was flat in all senses. I think this is the death of Rylan. The aclarkalypse.
7:52 Many hellos to you! This is Jack Seale calling with the results from the Radio Times X Factor Live Blog jury. Tonight it is, of course, the semi-final of this year’s championship, with a place in the final at stake for three lucky winners. Who will go? Union J. Obviously. Now we’ve got that out of the way, let’s enjoy the sheer artistic majesty of the performances without spoiling it by getting all competitive. It’s two songs each tonight, with the themes “Scott Walker” and “Songs That Remind You Of A Time When You Felt Particularly Low And Hopeless.” Should be a classic.
7:58 It’s nearly on! I know, because Take Me Out has finished. If you missed it: Brian, an actuary from Hemel Hempstead, won a date with the Nantwich and District English Civil War Re-Enactment Society. See how they get on next week.
8:10 Overwhelming praise for Christopher from the judges. This is a new tack. Maybe they’re making a late bid to give him an Ella Henderson-style “fans think it’s a foregone conclusion so don’t vote” problem. I can’t see this working. Christopher Maloney fans are at the phones now, eyes bulging, tongues lolling, dribble flowing, concentrating fiercely on dialling the number for their man.
8:17 Nicole Scherzinger introduces JAHMENE DOUGLAS and oh, lordy. He’s doing I Look to You by Whitney Houston, the song that he tried to sing at his brother’s funeral, but didn’t finish because he broke down in tears. Yay! Let’s find the humour in THIS! Big test for us, guys.
8:40 “All you people Up North, vote for James Arthur!” says Nicole, valiantly trying to turn the entire north of England into a voting bloc to rival the Scousers. This won’t work, Scherzy. People who live 100 yards away from James cannot understand his dialect, hate him and fought a long war against his ancestors in the 15th century.
8:57 Having been forced to admit that Christopher’s first perf was good if you like that sort of thing, there’s no such danger here because that was bad. Rather like Mr Kipling’s Black Forest Whirls, it was somehow greasy and powdery at the same time. No seriously, try them. Greasy AND powdery. Amazing. Shouldn’t be possible.
7:56 Predictions, then. Infuriatingly, Christopher is still an unknown. Obviously he’s got a massive fanbase, and they’re still at large in society in enough numbers to have got him here. And possibly people are starting to vote for him as some sort of taste-based dirty protest because they despise the whole show. But is that enough? I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get to the last two, then lose as the vote becomes entirely pro-Chris v anti-Chris. So who’ll win? Jahmene was the favourite, now it’s James. I tipped James several weeks back so I’m sticking with him.
8:05 Nicole wins the style war with Tulisa there I think, which takes their running score to Nicole 22-0 Tulisa.
8:16 We’re back, and first up it’s JAHMENE DOUGLAS! Nicole refers to him as “a whole lamb shank”. Jahmene returns to Swindon – he’s kept THAT quiet – and the Asda where he used to organise discounts and have a moustache when it wasn’t even November. Nicole meets Jahmene’s ex/future colleagues, narrowly managing not to boke furiously all over Carmel’s meat counter. That’s what the glass is for, to be fair. No danger.
8:23 Hm, that was a bit tentative for me. Not sure about the whooping on “move on UP”, either. If there’s no big high note in the song, just don’t do one! Louis says Jahmene reminds him of a little Luther Vandross, because that’s a comedy catchphrase now so it isn’t a bit racist any more. Gary agrees with me, as he so often does, and says that the song was wrong. Nicole says Jahmene is “my little Jahmazol”. Take two every four hours. If symptoms persist, consult your doctor.
8:27 Caroline Flack is in the audience with Pasta Tim from Asda. Sorry – PASTOR Tim from the church. My mistake. He shares a lamb shank gag with the Flaxsta, saying Jahmazol is now “the full lamb”. Biblically problematic.
8:43 We’re back and it’s time for the BFG of love, JAMES ARTHUR! Having visited Swindon, Nicole Scherzinger now has the opportunity to experience Middlesbrough. There are rumours that Nicole is thinking of declining to appear on The X Factor next year.
9:20 Time for JAMES ARTHUR and Nicole Scherzinger! They’re on stools for To Make You Feel You Love. A tender, restrained performance. Emphasis on gentle emotion and beautiful harmony. Nicole is in ruched black PVC.
9:24 James is running away with it. In fact, he’s run away with it, disappeared over the horizon, and put it on eBay. That was the clincher.
9:52 We’re back for the interim result! Nicole’s back in the frock she started in. Cutbacks, even at ITV. Triple-dip-recession TV. DERMOT (O’Leary) has the piece of paper, and in no particular order…
9:53 JAHMENE IS THROUGH! We are all so, so wrong.
9:54 Second person through is… JAMES! Maloney MaGONEy!
7:39 Jahmazello! It’s me, Jack. Remember? From last night? Oh. I thought… never mind. I’m here now. Mind if I watch The X Factor with you? Triffic. Tonight’s finale is two solid hours of Jahmene v James action, with only brief pauses for several celebrity guests, recaps of everything since the Big Bang and perhaps the odd unobtrusive advert here and there. Let’s go! It’s started!
7:45 The final 12 or 13 or however many there were return with a Christmas medley. Carolynne Poole really gives it a country and western flavour. Jaymi’s wig hits a lot of the high notes. Now here’s Rylan doing an a cappella Once In Royal David’s City. Not really, it’s a disco version of Last Christmas.
7:47 Here are Jahmene and JahJames! James has, of course, got his coat on, although that might be to do with the snowy theme.
7:51 Nobody here noticed last night when MK1 didn’t show. In fairness they are probably doing something far too dangerous and urban for them to be able to make it. DJing an illegal underground death-rave in Bogota, I expect.
7:56 Jahnow Jahit’s JAHJAHMENE JAHDOUGLAS! The contestants are re-singing their favourite song of the series, which for Jahmene is Angels. Jahmene on a plinth, a gospel choir standing below him in creepily neat rows, like Cybermen.
8:05 We’re back from the ads. I am back from the fridge. JAMES ARTHUR is on. He’s getting it on. He’s singing Let’s Get It On. Last time this led to Nicole sexually harassing Gary in an actionable manner. This time James prowls out of the crowd, snugs up to Nicole, kisses Tulisa on the head and generally slinks about like a geezer who thinks he’s got this one right in the bag. In the bagging AREA.
8:46 Great slo-mo of Nicole blubbing there. That’s an animated gif I wanna see. Get to it, Tumblr!
8:47 Good god, with virtually no warning at all JAHMENE DOUGLAS is actually on the stage singing! He’s doing the Paije Richardson classic, Let It Be.
8:49 Jahmene again goes for the “boring, but with a gospel choir” approach. Lots of emotive eye-closing and eye-opening-again. Jah-Jah Blinks.
8:50 I am sorry to say I laughed out loud at that massively slidey last note. By the end of it he was an octave higher up, having smeared himself across all the intervening notes.
8:52 Wait, is that the winner’s single? I missed them telling us that before. I knew inviting this gospel choir to my house was a mistake. Guys! Keep it down!
8:54 Devastating video messages from Jahmene’s family. Jahmene has been pretty neutral throughout tonight, but his mum’s new Milli Vanilli look has broken him. He is in tears.
9:01 Aaaaand there it is from Louis: “You’re both winners with me.” What a hedger. In a deeply moving moment, Tulisa says James is “an inspirer”. Totally. Gary says James is “a true artist” and Nicole and her tea tray say James’s life will never be the same. The big news for me there though is Dermot addressing James as “Jimmy”. Jimmy Arthur! The banjo-toting star of the hit films Window Cleaning Blues (1946), Powdered Egg (1947) and Oops, Mrs Hitler! (1948).
9:12 There’s still JUST time for a mega-recap of all the final two’s final weekend performances. Basically it’s two minutes of constant screaming. Jahmene screams with a choir. James screams alone. A lone screamer.
9:28 We’re back! Caroline Flack has chatted with the families – both of them said their boys suck and haven’t got a hope and they hate them – and now it’s time for the final, final, final result. The winner is…
9:31 JAMES ARTHUR!