Thanks to Tivo, it's time for the thrilling world of Pop Idol.
Ant & Dec do their intro routine. Here's the green room, full of happy contestants. We'll soon sort that out. And let's go straight to work.
Kate loves music and wants to make "every drop of life matter to me." 'Kay. What in the name of god is she wearing? She looks like a canary crossed with Xena: Warrior Princess. Kate does a competent enough rendition of "Show Me Heaven", which is a song I actually quite like, against my better judgment. There are obvious problems with her voice, which needs considerable training, and she's never going to win in a million years.
Fox says she sang well but didn't perform brilliantly. Nicky: needs more passion. Pete: overcome by nerves, but still did well. Simon: not good enough. People at home will have made a cup of tea after 30 seconds. Kate cries to Ant & Dec. "It's hard. It's really hard." Does this show go out of its way to recruit emotional cripples?
Amy is a dancer. Or she used to be, but that's the only interesting thing they could find to say about her, I assume. Her outfit, as she says, is tiny, although she just about gets away with it. "Get Here." Hey, she can actually sing. This is pretty good.
Fox: Performance was affected; not a pop singer. Nicky: Song too big for you. Pete: You look stunning. Simon: Backing singer. There's some truth that she's probably not what they're looking for. Amy's boyfriend is a large skinhead.
Kieran is the ugly one. He's tried to glam himself up a bit, poor lamb, but it's just not in him. He's got a good voice, admittedly. "Goodnight Girl", if you're wondering.
Fox: A touch pub singer. Image needs work but pretty good. Hair is a mistake. Nicky: Bit too reserved, great voice. Pete: Best voice in the competition "by six miles." Bad song choice. Hair awful. Simon: Likes Kieran's image. (?!?) Thinks Kieran will get an underdog vote for not being a conventional pop song. Kieran is delighted by most of this.
Michael looks about fourteen. "I absolutely love Mariah Carey. She is just the most amazing singer." Michael looks like the victim of a bet among the stylists: How Gay Can We Make Mikey? Very boy band indeed. They've put a ton of echo on his mike. He misses a note badly. This is awful. What the hell is this song? Terrible, terrible, terrible. Silly twirly bit at the end proves his Carey infatuation.
Fox: No sex appeal whatsoever. Nicky: A little bit karaoke. Peter: Passionless. The twirls compensated for the lack of emotion. (Just like Mariah Carey.) Simon: Hated the original, hated your version more. Michael: "I thought I did a good job." Simon: "Well, Pinky & Perky in there will cheer you up."
Michael still thinks he was good. He's wrong. Ant politely asks whether he should have done a toned down version with fewer frills. It turns out that that WAS the toned down version, compared to his early rehearsals. Dearie me. Michael's mother calls the judges a bunch of wankers.
Rachel is that loudmouthed Liverpudlian who never, ever shuts up. Rachel considers it a triumph to have made it passed the initial audition "without having a nervous breakdown and without weeing myself." I get the impression Simon has put her through in order to get some entertainment value into the heats, rather than because he thinks she has any real hope of winning. She's doing "Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay", complete with hand movements to emphasise the way the ships roll in. Rachel is all about personality, and this is a laid back song that doesn't play to her strengths. Mind you, she does have an acceptable voice, so it's not impossible to see her holding an audience.
Fox: "You didn't sing that particularly well." Nicky: Brilliant personality which makes up for the weakness in the voice. Pete declines to comment, and basically says she should never have got through the heats. Simon starts to disclaim responsibility for putting Rachel through. Simon: "You sung it terribly." Rachel still can't quite believe she made it past the first round audition, so she's entirely unbothered by any of this.
Hayley looks like a children's TV presenter at an awards ceremony. She's the one who was also in the final fifty for season 1. Apparently the last year hasn't taught Hayley how to sing without breathing really audibly into the microphone. She also has the teeth of Esther Rantzen. She's not going to advance any further this year. Jesus, that was a weird chord. Was that deliberate?
Fox: "A lot better than I thought it was going to be." Nicky: "You're better than you think you are." Pete: "Full marks." Simon: "Very difficult to criticise... brilliant." Hayley is stunned by the praise, as am I.
Roxanne is bouncily enthusiastic and has the theme tune to the Banana Splits in her video package. Hey, she's not bad. She's doing "Beautiful" by Christina Aguilera. The tuning is a bit dodgy on occasion, but I like her voice. Quite full. Does she have a gospel background? She's got that kind of tone to her voice.
Fox: Pretty good. Nicky mentions that she's 16. "Tremendous." Pete: "Thought you did that rather well." Simon: "Sensational. You are the one to beat." Yeah, I'm with Simon. She's a mile ahead of anyone else we've heard tonight. Roxanne can't believe everyone's being so nice, and bounces deliriously backstage. She's another one who never really expected to get this far.
Sam. "Jamie Oliver is my idol." Well you can fuck off then, can't you? "He's just a real inspiration to me, and I think he is for many people." Sam even has Jamie Oliver's hairstyle - only crossed with the lead singer of Kajagoogoo. At least they've put him in different clothes. He's doing "Walking In Memphis", which is a slow build song and not a good choice for this format. His voice is quite good, I'll admit.
Fox: "Very cute." Nicky: "The dark horse... you could well make it." Pete: "A bit So What." Simon: "One of the most naturally talented people in this competition... We're blowing the competition away from the first series... You should go through."
Suzanne. Hey, she's wearing jeans. She's not in a dress. How hard did she have to fight the stylists over that? "I'm most worried about being humiliated by the judges." She seems pleasant enough. She kind of looks like one of the Appleton sisters, only with the voice of a stage singer. I don't even recognise this song. I'm not sure it's a pop voice, but she'd be very good on stage. Dodgy tuning on that last note there, although she corrected it.
Fox: "Well done." Nicky: "A really difficult song, but you did quite well." Pete: "You sound a bit like Whitney Houston." Simon: "Nobody will ever do that song better than Whitney - why do something where you will always come out second best?" Suzanne seems happy as she returns backstage - she seems pleased that she wasn't assassinated.
Mark. "My life's totally changed since my first audition." Really? He's been taking singing lessons, which you might think would be a fairly obvious start. He's a Catholic boy. Is that a deformed toddler on his T-shirt? Very corny mannerisms, and an extremely boy-band voice. He's doing "Easy", by the way. Not a solo artist, but it's easy to see him as a band member.
Fox: "The best performance of the night." Nicky: "Very good." Pete: The audience have a tough choice this week. Simon: "By the look of you, you think you've got through... Good performer, one of the strongest vocals we've had. I think you outsung Kieran." Mark bursts into floods of tears for no discernible reason.
Results in just a bit.