The first instalment of boot camp provided us with little in the way of shock revelations. An opening montage did its best to flash up about eight of the rumoured finalists in a manner that left about as much to the imagination as one of Lorna Bliss’s fishnet body stockings. I can’t be positive but I’m pretty sure the opening titles were intercut with subliminal frames of Louis Walsh grinding on a pole and a banana riding a roller-skate like a chariot across the stage. If anyone has one of those modern TVs that you can pause, I would appreciate confirmation of this.
We got a good gander at GMD3 ‘being lads’ before cutting to what I imagine was a painstakingly choreographed and re-shot ‘party’ scene involving all the finalists. We had a quick peep at the tragically underhyped Poisonous Twin and caught a flash of Amy Mottram (or Ketamine Adele as I like to call her in my head) before learning that – SHOCK HOROR! – there would be an initial cull before anyone even got to sing. Not only was this something of a bore after the show pulled the exact same trick last year, it also served to undermine the judges’ decision to let the relevant contestants through in the first place.
As was the case last year, none of the initial ejectees were particularly memorable from the audition stages of the show. The last name to be called also differed depending on what channel you were watching. The X Factor on ITV1 told us that Shakey Maloney was the last to make it through the first cull, whilst Xtra Factor on ITV2 claimed that it was Gaythan. The sister show also showed Nicola Marie’s panicked face in the crowd as the judges announced “the final name” meaning Nicola Marie would never have had the chance to perform her Lanzarote Beach Club rendition of Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Stronger’. From a punting point of view it’s probably reassuring to know that the show is willing to be this blatantly fallacious in its editing.
An enormous and terrifying digital countdown clock then ushered in a Hunger Games style segment featuring tears, tantrums and Gaythan’s best gesticular impersonation of Darius Danesh/Adolf Hitler. Market favourite Jahmene (who looks increasingly like Davros) then totally fluffed his attempt at history’s eighth sleaziest pop song, ‘Moves Like Jagger’ but – SURPRISE! – made it through anyway (in perfect preparation for a few good ‘you just had to believe in yourself’ moments’ by the end of the weekend, I’m sure).
People’s champions (not) ‘The Lightbulb Thieves’ (seriously, who?) failed to make a dent in the bafflingly impenetrable facade of Bieber wannabes GHB3. And then all hell broke loose with the arrival of an artist (and I use that word in the truest sense) whose name was COLLAGEN WESTWOOD. Collagen was pretty dope and you can read her CV here if you so wish. Anyway, Collagen nearly sabotaged her singing partners by drinking a few glasses of ‘whisky and brandy’ (for my voice, darling) and scream-warbling her way through her performance. It was truly quite sad when the judges sent her home, especially considering the fact that she could sing twice as well and was half as wankered as Frankie Cocozza last year.
Next up was an angry trio of James Arthur, Curtis Golden and some curly-haired pleb we were yet to meet. This was one of those many segments where one simply couldn’t tell if it was meant to be good or bad. I mean, it was blisteringly bad but you couldn’t tell if it was being pumped into your living room under the pretence of a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’ moment. The thing ended and the judges’ lavish comments stood as proof that the last dregs of sanity have left the universe.
Rylan Clark’s then made his big entrance, showcasing both a t-shirt with his own face on it and some bizarre fashion epaulettes hewn from his own severed locks. He was accompanied by the fabulously named Ottavio Colombo and drama queen Gaythan, both of whom seemed to be trying to out-camp the Essex panto dame – a seemingly odd decision at first but one that could potentially prove beneficial to Rylan. Everybody needs at least a pinch of credibility, right? To know that there’s at least one novelty homosexual below them in the food chain, right?
So that was the point in the evening when one began to anticipate a lot more Ella pimping. However, after a quick snippet of Carolynne sailing through, we were left with Kye and Christopher as well as Adam Burridge, Jake Quickenden and apparently genuine tramp Robbie Hance. After fluffing his lines, Robbie quickly mouthed “I’m going home” which immediately brought too many pointlessly callous jokes to mind. I won’t share them here. But after Robbie walked and Gary made some horrifically patronising comments about commitment, the world continued to turn.
As it was, Ella was rather rashly montaged or brushed over at some point, which could well pave the way for what TimB calls “her ‘wow’ moment” tonight, if she is indeed producer plan A as we assume she is. Similarly, we are yet to catch a clearer glimpse of Starboy Nathan or see enough of Lucy Spraggan in order to gauge their trajectories in the final (if they even make it that far – Shoulders comments that “Starboy Nathan’s albums are back up on iTunes so I guess that means the end of him on X Factor”).
Karaoke Sauron notes, rather nicely, that “key player” Lucy has garnered over 11.5 million views on Youtube on top of her well-noted splash in the iTunes chart. Whilst the barely funny comedy shtick might not seem like winner’s stuff right now, Lucy’s natural appeal should not be sniffed at. Of course, tonight’s show may well tell us all we need to know about her abilities.
Boki notes the coverage at last, albeit brief, of Leanne Robinson, whose crisp vocals were a breath of fresh air amidst a lot of waffle and crap. Whether there’s really any point in paying her any attention at this stage is unclear. Producers haven’t invested any time in her so far but then they didn’t invest in Sophie Habibis until judges’ houses last year. Similarly, Jade Ellis slipped further under the radar than I would have hoped for. Will one of these two make it through to the finals as either our uphill-struggle Adedeji character or our unassuming Ferguson-style songbird?
The fact that odds shortened on both Jahmene and Ella, despite the former fucking up and the latter barely appearing, says a lot about how favoured they are at this stage. If this was the prom and the crowns were going out now, they would be our king and queen. However, there’s still everything to play for and it is my own personal hunch that any sane producer would want to keep Jahmene as far away from the Brookstein-Ward-Jackson-McElderry-Cardle trajectory as possible. The last thing the show needs is another awkward, unmarketable housewives favourite on its hands. And as KaraokeSauron points out, Jahmene’s audition is currently lagging slightly in YouTube views behind the far more marketable (albeit despicable) James Arthur, who as an industry product makes a far more sensible Plan B in the Sheeran mould.
What are your thoughts? Is the show shaping up to follow a predictable narrative as it did with the four big players (Wett Flannel, Rebecca Ferguson, One Direction and Cher Lloyd ) in 2010? Or are we looking at something closer to last year’s competition where early favourites, most famously Janet Devlin, were slain to the advantage of late sprinters like Marcus and Little Mix? As ever, do get your oar in below.