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I’m a Celebrity: fainting ninnies & lost sheep

There is so much to enjoy in this year’s I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. The silly, hand- waving, shrieking ninny that is Gillian ‘show me your poo’ McKeith being forced to do tasks. Two kick-ass older women in the form of Britt Ekland and Jenny Eclair. A really fine young woman, Stacey Solomon, fearlessly taking on Linford Christie for his outrageous chauvinism. Shaun Ryder snoozing on his hammock. I’m even drawn to Nigel Havers for combining sneering rudeness and über poshness with some aplomb.

There’s also the more vapid presence of centrefold Kayla, there for her bikini wearing skills presumably, and the irksome lost sheep, Lembit Opik. He is clearly in search of a new career, but after seeing him on Come Dine With Me (rubbish food, and entirely self deluded about it) and this, he’s not doing himself any favours. I wouldn’t employ him on a checkout. Nor is ‘Dr’ McKeith improving her popularity with the viewing public one iota. It’s beyond me why she agreed to do the programme in the first place. Has she never seen it? I wouldn’t want to be around those bugs (or other people) either, but then, even if I ever became a low level celeb, I’d know not put myself forward for a show like this.

She’s neurotic and silly, with a trait shared by Opik that I loathe most in people – a total lack of self awareness. I have no sympathy with her for being repeatedly voted for to do the bushtucker trial because she is such a total ‘mare in every sense. Serve her bloody right for sitting in hatchet faced judgement on so many people in her career. And the fact that, when she’s doing a task, she swoons every time like one of those fainting goats is beginning to make me think she fancies the chap that revives her.

But despite these gems, so far, there’s something missing in the programme. I think having male and female celebrities start off by being split into two camps (Bruce and Sheila) didn’t help, because it messed with the development of an interesting group dynamic. The memorable bits for me from past years are when the most unexpected relationships/friendships form (George ‘Mr Zulu’ Takei and Joe Swash, for example).

But there’s still time. And while we’re waiting, we can take bets on how long it will take before the rest of the camp cracks and eats Gillian McKeith.

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The X Factor results: Bye bye Danyl

Imagine if you were lucky enough to have been in the audience at last night’s X Factor results show. You’d be able to tell your grandchildren: Yes, kids, I was there to witness Lady Gaga, dressed as a bat,  singing in a giant-sized bath, surrounded by dancers dressed as zombies! I actually saw the great Gaga playing a keyboard which was attached to the bath (there was even a bundle of nice clean towels!), while perching on an oversized toilet! (YouTube of it here).

Moments like these come all too infrequently in a person’s life, and they must be cherished. Perhaps Danyl Johnson will look back and smile at the thought of that comically oversized bathtub even through his tears as he remembers the night his X Factor dream was shattered into tiny little pieces. Yes, Danyl was the contestant to be flushed down the toilet of X Factor history last night, as viewers put their faith in Essex duo Olly and Stacey, as well as the sainted Joe. “You’re a graceful loser,” Simon Cowell told him, possibly as double-edged a compliment as you’re ever likely to get.

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The X Factor: You deserve a place in the final

It was semi-final night on The X Factor, and the judges were pretty much unanimous – everyone deserved a place in the top three! There wasn’t one of that super-talented foursome who deserved to be taking the next bus home. They were obviously using the job description “judge” fairly loosely, as usual. It’s times like this I miss Randy Jackson.

The first half of the show was billed as a “tribute” to Michael Jackson. The great man must be looking down from his cloud now feeling that his career has finally been summed up in fine style now he’s had his work interpreted by a talent as stellar as Stacey Solomon. Actually no-one was listening to Stacey’s voice, which is perhaps a good thing. They were all wondering why she’d forgotten to put on her trousers. Dannii’s continued attempts to portray Stacey as some kind of sex goddess come badly adrift the minute Dagenham Stace stops singing and starts talking, and this week she had the added pressure of having to sing and walk on chairs at the same time.  Her second-half song was ‘Somewhere’, from West Side Story, a song which stunningly showcased how mediocre her voice really is. “You’re a star!” gushed the judges. “You deserve a place in the final!”

The class act of the night, once again, was Joe. His version of ‘She’s Out of My Life’ was beautiful. Throughout the competition Joe has been the most faultless vocally, but in recent weeks he seems to have somehow connected emotionally with the songs in a way he wasn’t before, and this performance was moving and real, and note perfect.  His second song was ‘Open Arms’, and again he put it across as though he was really feeling it. “You deserve a place in the final!” the judges all cried, and this time they were right.

Olly Murs. Oh, Olly, you’re a lovely lad, everybody says so, but I wish you’d stop doing that beckoning gesture with your big hands. And that thing you do with your knees. And the dad-dancing. It’s distracting and annoying and it’s made me not like you any more because you’re just plain bloody irritating. ‘Can You Feel It’ was ok, in the sense that no-one will ever be able to do that song like the Jacksons did that song, but however well Olly might have been singing, it was all overshadowed by the hands and knees and Brian Friedman throwing his entire box of sequins at the production (he’s missing John and Edward, I reckon). The second song was ‘We Can Work it Out’, done the Stevie Wonder way, and it was actually pretty good. The judges all agreed that Olly deserved a place in the final, and I have to agree too if it means Stacey goes home.

Danyl went for a crowd-pleaser in the form of ‘Man in the Mirror’, but didn’t please this particular crowd member by changing the lyrics. Again, it was ok.  His second song was Whitney Houston’s shriek-fest ‘I Have Nothing’, and it was fantastic, almost as good as Joe in fact. The judges semi-apologised for being horrible to him all series and said he really did deserve a place in the final.

So it’s up to the wisdom of the crowd to work out which three really do deserve a place in the final. As long as Joe is there, justice will have been done.

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X Factor results: Lloyd leaves, no-one is shocked

“Little Lloyd Daniels,” as his mentor, Cheryl, enjoyed calling him, has finally been booted from The X Factor. I say “finally,” because he’s really been on borrowed time for weeks.

Before Simon Cowell left the stage following the results announcement, he had a few words in Lloyd’s ear. I wonder if those words included the phrase “See you in my office on Monday,” because I think Simon could still make a few bob out of Lloyd. He’s a pretty boy, very marketable, and he’s not a terribly bad singer.

So we go into the semi final with Stacey, Olly, Danyl and Joe. Out of the four, I think Joe has to be assured of a place in the final, but I’ve no idea who will go next week. I’d like it to be either Stacey, who is massively over-rated, or Olly, who is getting more and more annoying each week. I’m not cockahoop about Danyl either… Oh, why don’t we just get straight to the bit where Jeff Brazier shows us Joe’s Christmas no. 1 single being pressed?

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X Factor: Joe becomes a man man

I wasn’t much looking forward to The X Factor without John & Edward. Their departure means that Louis is the only comedy turn left, and in a competition full of just-alright singers, there mightn’t be a lot to smile about.

Step up Joe McElderry. A couple of weeks ago, Cheryl told Joe that he was “turning into a little man.” In last night’s performance of ‘Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word,’ Joe has apparently turned into a proper, big, grown-up man. It was absolutely beautiful, pitch perfect as usual and sung with amazing control and feeling for someone so young. You could see Simon Cowell’s brain go “Ker-ching!” just looking at him.

It was a mixed theme night. The contestants had two songs each, the first half by Take That, the second by Sir Elton John, which unfortunately gave Brian Friedman the chance to stage Olly’s ‘Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting’ in a boxing ring with female dancers dressed as boxers. It was the kind of literal interpretation of a song those of us old enough to remember Pan’s People thought had gone forever.

Stacey slumped over a Steinway in an effort to appear sexy (that was the idea, anyway), but PLA Jr, who has perfect pitch so we must believe what she says, reckoned Stacey’s performance was “very sharpy-flatty.”

Danyl got the chance to do a more uptempo number this week with Take That’s ‘Relight My Fire.’ He’s been singing ballads every week till now, and I’d forgotten about the alarming faces he pulls when he has to sing anything fast. The singing was ok, but noticeably better on the bit Lulu normally sings on the original. Draw your own conclusions.

Little Lloyd Daniels once again struggled gamely, but surely he’s got to be going home today. If he’s quick he may still be in time to be invited to turn on some Christmas lights in some small provincial shopping centre.

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The X Factor: It’s not about the singing

I found myself watching The X factor in a very distracted way last night. I’m just not convinced by any of them as stars of the future. I’m thinking this year will be a Leon Jackson/Steve Brookstein year – the winner will inevitably get the Christmas number one (Cowell has bought and paid for that already) and sell quite a few copies of their album, and will be quietly dropped into obscurity.

So I’ve started noticing odd things, like Olly’s huge hands. He has massive hands – he must have to get his gloves specially made by the people who make clothes for the Tweenies. He also dances like a dad at a wedding, but that’s quite sweet, in a peculiar way.

Lloyd has had his hair cut, and the judges and PLA Jr all agree that he looks lovely. I don’t. Call me curmudgeonly, but Lloyd has gone from being a pixie boy to looking like one of Journey South.  Remember them? No, and you won’t remember Lloyd in a few months either. Lloyd was this week’s person that Cheryl is enjoying seeing “turn into a little man.” Last week’s little man was Joe.

I’m about ready to throttle Stacey. It’s that yodelling that passes for speaking that she does. I swear it’s entirely contrived as she didn’t do it on her visit home. Her singing isn’t that great either.

John and Edward disappointed me this week (oh dear, I am having a bad week) by only singing part of Wham Rap, tucked inside another song. They looked like wallies as well, but at least they were entering into the Wham! spirit of the thing (it was Wham!/George Michael week. George sent a message of goodwill but sensibly stayed at home – was he watching Strictly instead? We’ll never know).

Joe sang beautifully, again, but again not much personality apart from a big smile showed through. And on the subject of big smiles, my other half has taken a strong dislike to Danyl (who also sang beautifully and even made me feel a little emotional at some point during his Careless Whisper) – because “his mouth is too wide.” Well that never held Steven Tyler back.

So who goes? I reckon it’s got to be Lloyd this week. I have no idea who else will be in the bottom two – possibly Danyl, possibly Jedward? I think I’m ever so slightly past caring.

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The X Factor: A funny thing happened

john-edward-x-factorA very strange thing happened during last night’s X Factor. John or Edward started to look attractive. I say John or Edward, because it was definitely only one of them, but I can’t actually tell them apart, and I couldn’t even say “it was the one on the right,” because they keep moving around. It was the one on the right when I noticed him being attractive, and it was his posture that did it. They’ve always had that cockiness about them, right from their first audition when they blagged their way into the next round, mainly by being Irish (it’ll do for Louis), and they’re now looking like they believe their own hype and are priming themselves for their forthcoming (and probably shortlived) moment in the sun.

Speaking of Louis, I reckon he’s doing a brilliant job with these two. What a masterstroke to basically have them singing Vanilla Ice’s ‘Ice Ice Baby’ when it was supposed to be Queen week. Louis knows his boys can’t sing*, but they can prance, and they can just about rap in a white-boy way, and as I said at least one of them has fabulously arrogant posture. Brian May and Roger Taylor from Queen liked it, the audience liked it, and I liked it.

This week I also have to give an honourable mention to Joe, who is still a little dull, performance-wise, but gave a note-perfect rendition of ‘Somebody to Love’.  Danyl was also good this week, but I wish they’d stop going on about whether he comes across as “cocky” or not. Cocky is good! What rock god from Jim Morrison down to Adam Lambert hasn’t had “cocky” on his CV?

Mention of the word “rock” brings me to Jamie Archer/Afro. I’m worried about the lad this week, I have to admit. Fist-punching the air and getting the crowd to join in just won’t cut the mustard if the performance isn’t there, and the performance was distinctly lacking in mojo this week. I always think it’s a shame that the singers can’t go out of the box with their song choices. One of Queen’s earlier songs like ‘Keep Yourself Alive’ would have been a stormer for Jamie.

Olly was ok, but I wish he’d stop doing that thing with his fingers like he’s gesturing us towards him. He does it about twenty times a song and it’s starting to annoy me. Stacey was what Randy Jackson would describe as “pitchy” throughout the song – how come on The X factor none of the judges seems to know or care when a person sings out of tune? Lloyd was weak as usual.

So my prediction for the bottom two this week is Lloyd, and I’m sad to say it, but probably Jamie (for some reason everybody loves Stacey). But I was wrong last week, so who knows?

*Footnote: Maybe Jedward can sing after all – watch this

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The X Factor: Let’s talk about sex

joe-mcelderry-x-factor“Songs from the Movies” night on The X Factor last night, and there were some unusual choices. No ‘My Heart Will Gwaaaan’ from Titanic, thank the lord, and no ‘I Will A-Hallways Love You’ either. Instead we had some creative choices, such as Jamie’s decision to sing ‘Crying’ (the old Roy Orbison song) from everybody’s favourite movie, Gummo (no, me neither, but it is real).

Joe stuck to the tried and tested ‘Circle of Life’ route, and he sang it well. The judges all agreed that Joe ticks all the boxes – he sings in tune, his voice is pleasant to listen to, he’s a nice person, and he’s good-looking. So why am I finding his performances so forgettable? The answer, I think, is that he’s just not sexy. I’m sure he’s as hormone-packed as the next boy, but there’s just no sense of it when he performs. Granted, ‘The Circle of Life’ is hardly the tune to start exuding animal magnetism to, but I’m not talking about thrusting pelvises or pouting into the camera-type sexuality (yes, Stacey, I’m talking about you here – good try, love, but no).

Compare Joe to the older Olly and Jamie. Both of them, and particularly Jamie, look like they’ve had a memorable night or two in their time. Compare also to the younger Lloyd. He’s all pretty Welsh innocence at the moment but he has that glint in his eye…

Anyway, before I start speculating too much about the glints in eyes of 16 year old boys, let’s move on to how everybody else did this week. I’ve been criticised for criticising Olly, but I like Olly, honestly I do. He’s a lovely bloke and he throws himself happily into his performance every week. Sadly this week he sang ‘Twist and Shout,’ a song that John Lennon put so much into when he sang it, it left his throat bleeding. You’re never going to top that (though to be fair to the lad, he fair brought the house down). Lucie was revisiting her Avril Lavigne look this week to sing a song from Camp Rock, and the judges all said she was “authentic” and “relevant.” If they think they’ve found a British Miley Cyrus they’re deluding themselves. Brownie points to Stacey for managing to walk on unfeasibly high heels and sing at the same time. Jamie’s version of ‘Crying’ was heartfelt, but I didn’t like the way he had to keep switching octaves to suit his range. Danyl was much better this week, and his new Ashley Cole haircut has at least gone down well with Cheryl. Lloyd, bless him, is, as the judges said, out of his depth in a singing competition. But he should be snapped up for Hollyoaks immediately – he has the face of a pixie angel.

Which leaves John and Edward and their ‘Ghostbusters’ routine. If Jedward had to just stand on the stage and sing, they’d have been out of this competition weeks ago. But, thanks to Simon Cowell realising (following Britain’s Got Talent) that what the nation wants is a variety show of a Saturday night, they get the Brian Friedmann routines and the full force of the costume and props people behind them, and produce an amusing little routine each week. And, frankly, it’s often the highlight of the evening.

So who will go tonight? I have no idea, to be honest. The bottom two will probably include Lloyd or Danyl, but I think Jamie may be at risk (noooooooo!!!). Go on, Britain – vote Jamie!

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X Factor: “Diva night”

jamie-x-factorIn honour of guest mentor Whitney Houston, last night’s X Factor was dubbed “Diva Night.” The problem (or the Very Good Thing) about this year’s X Factor is that there are no “divas.” No Leona or Alexandra, or even Rhydian. So it was always going to be a struggle.

You can go two ways with these X Factor themes. You can take them at face value and have a bash at the suggested style, which is ok as long as it lies in what’s normally termed your “comfort zone.” This is what Stacey, Lucie, Miss Frank and Rachel chose to do, and all of them fell woefully short of what was needed. None of them, on this showing, has any stage presence and what might be termed “the X factor” so it fell to the boys to show them what was what.

The other way you can go on a theme night is what I think of as the Adam Lambert route, by basically ignoring the theme and doing your own thang with a vaguely related song. Jamie was once again the class act of the night as he did just that, with an authentic, emotional performance of Christina Aguilera’s ‘Hurt’. I was also impressed by Olly, and thought Lloyd wasn’t given due credit by the judges for a nice interpretation of Leona Lewis’s ‘Bleeding Love’. Simon criticised the song choice, but I think Cheryl correctly sussed that Lloyd’s constituency was likely to be made up of people with a musical memory of no longer than 2 years anyway, so she played to his audience. I like Lloyd, and can picture his face in Mizz and all the other pre-teeny magazines.

So who will go tonight? I’m hoping it’ll be Rikki, with his whiny voice and slappable little face. (On the subject of voices, could someone please get Stacey to not speak in public ever? I’m not falling for this Essex girl shtick at all). But most likely to go will be Rachel, after another poor week. If she can’t do it in Diva Week, she’ll have a real struggle when it’s Abba.

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