The X Factor live shows, week one – as it happened

All of the action as the acts perform live for the first time

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The X Factor has been running for 12 years, and crowned a dozen winners in that time. It’s viewed by millions of people every week, and every series lasts for months at a time. Yet Jonathan Holmes has never watched it. Ever. Who better to put in charge of our live blog?

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Today marks the first live show, starting at 8pm, and the blog will get rolling at 7. It’s sure to be educational.



22:50

22:10

Well, that was an experience. It’s less a TV programme than a migraine, isn’t it? The relentless noise and lights and noise and noise get a bit overwhelming.

I’m glad I watched though, because it cleared up an essential misunderstanding I had. This isn’t a singing contest, it’s something weirder and much more interesting.

Before watching, I wouldn’t have believed how unimportant the singing was to the show – the contestants have all turned into a grey mush in my head– nor how unhinged the judges act from beginning to end.

There’s an addictive rhythm to it though – the noise and the lights and the adverts become hypnotic and carry you through songs that are frankly not that enjoyable. Even the set reminds you of one of those American mega-churches where people whip themselves into apoplexy. If Dermot had tapped me on the shoulder and handed me a live rattlesnake, I wouldn’t have blinked.

Honey G and Bratavio seem to be the only acts that play into this heady, hypoxic atmosphere, which is maybe why they’re the only ones I can remember.

After one episode, I can’t say I care who will be eliminated or who will win it all. But will I come back for more? Just try and stop me.

21:55

21:53

21:50

Could do with fewer jokes about Tupac et al. We’re in danger of a Guardian think piece about appropriation.

21:48

You see? That was fun. That was actually someone having fun rather, rather than the stale sweat smell of ambition.  

21:47

YUS HONEY G. YESSSS.

21:46

21:40

‘Not one kettle: two’

Scratch everything I just said. Honey G for president.

21:36

With the best will in the world, I would take 10,000 Bratavios over a dozen quite good singers, covering songs quite poorly. At least it’s a bit different.

I want to feel like my brain is snow being twisted into snow. I want to feel like beauty has died in the world and been replaced by the Venga Boys. I want Aqua’s Doctor Jones beamed into my fillings again and again until I’ve forgotten my name and the face of everyone I love. I want to look out of the window, bask in a neon sky and know it’s too late, we’re doomed and we deserve it. I want to laugh as the sun consumes us all.

#votebratavio

21:30

Oh, it decides the theme tomorrow. That’s a bit dull.

21:30

Ok, I’ll bite, what’s the X Factor Jukebox. Does it decide who lives and dies? Because this increasingly feels like a sci-fi cult.

21:27

21:22

21:10

How long is this show? And why is it so loud? Why is everyone shouting all of the time? Halfway through and my head is throbbing.

21:05

Ah, men changing the pronouns in songs. Just…you know…so you don’t get the wrong idea…you know.

21:00

Now Matt Terry, and more flirting. Nicole and Sharon are coming off a bit Bronx Beat.

20:56

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Relley C singing Mary Mary is the first song I’ve actually enjoyed hearing, like, as a song, rather than sonic adrenaline. Nicely done.

20:55

20:47

Didn’t pay much attention to Gifty there, was knocking up this cheat sheet for Sharon.

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20:40 

The singing really doesn’t matter at all, does it?

20:36

“Say och the noo, that’s what they say in Scotland, isn’t it?”

Sharon may have just made her leadership of the Republican party untenable.

20:32

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Oh good a fellow Scot! Wonder what he’s singing? Sunshine on Leith? Klingon opera?

20:30

‘So just to be clear: you’re not from Norway, and you weren’t just milked.’ Thanks for clearing that up Simon.

20:28

Am I the only one who feels a bit weird about making a Scandinavian person sing Frozen? What was the other option? It’s a Small World?

20:20

Sharon can’t remember if Saara Alto is from Norway or Finland, turns out it’s Arendelle.

20:17

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Nicole has something to get off her chest.

20:11

As a newbie, this is like when you go round to a friend’s house for Christmas and it’s all good fun, but then they have too much sherry, and it devolves into in-jokes you don’t get, and fights you don’t understand, then Sharon Osbourne grabs someone’s breasts.

20:10

Sharon Osbourne tries to shield the boys from Nicole’s breasts. Is she protecting the breasts from the boys or the boys from the breasts? And why has the word ‘breasts’ been used 100 times in the first 10 minutes of this show?

20:08

First up is 5 After Midnight with Can’t Stop the Feeling. Fun Fact*: 5 After Midnight are named after the infamous Atomic Doomsday Clock. They want to be the band people turn to for comfort when the world ends.

*None of this is true.

20:06

“Sadly due to circumstances, Brooks way won’t be appearing this evening.” – Dermot placed emphasis on ‘this evening’, but didn’t offer any more explanation.

20:05

“Where’s Olly?”

Louis shuts Dermot down.

20:03 

Holy hell, an entire generation just had flashbacks to nightmarish school discos.

20:01

Brooks Way are still in the opening spiel, so either they’ve not had time to change them, or the reports were wrong somehow.

20:00 Here we go!

19:57 

“Say fellow humans, do you like human food? I know I do!”

19:55

Christ, even the continuity announcer is obsessed with Dermot dancing. This better be good.

19:40

If the suspension of Brooks Way turns out to be true, it was certainly last minute. They were both active on social media earlier today, live streaming their preparations for the show.

19:37

And that’s the sum total of my X Factor knowledge. Looking forward to my first lesson though!

19:35

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19:30

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At any one time, Louis Walsh is both judging and not judging the X Factor, according to anonymous sources.

19:25

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At least, according to every think piece and hot take I’ve ever read.


19:17

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Reports are coming in that the group Brooks Way have been suspended from tonight’s live show – they won’t be replaced, 11 acts will be performing instead of 12.

19:15

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My former colleague Emma Daly had a…fascination with this man and his funky feet.


19:11

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Simon Cowell et al wage a relentless cold war behind that desk, sniping at each other like they’re UKIP MEPs.


19:10

Of course, I’ve not been living in a cave, and there are certain things I have picked up through osmosis and newspaper headlines. Well, five things to be precise.


19:05

Not watching the show, I always assumed that it was essentially cruel: a chance for the audience to feel superior as deluded morons had their dreams crushed. Of course, believing that made me feel superior, and so the wheel turned and true understanding slipped from the world. 

So I’m coming to this with an open mind. There must be something going for a show that has launched all over the world and keeps the entire tabloid industry afloat. 


19:00

The X Factor launched in 2004. It has been on my entire adult life, an unavoidable, unstoppable, world conquering juggernaut. And yet somehow I have never watched it. Not one episode. 

I don’t know who sings when or why, and I don’t know what they win at the end of it. I don’t know who is competing this year, can’t tell you the ones to watch or the ones to point and laugh at. To be honest, I had no idea the show was already on when I was asked to step in for the live shows. 

It’s not an exaggeration to say that almost every other person in Britain – from Theresa May to your nan– would be better placed to commentate on the X-Factor.

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Hello, I’m Jonathan Holmes, and I’ll be your live blogger this evening.