Good evening, and since I missed last week's FA final, let's catch up with Pop Idol. By the way, Pop Idol Extra on ITV2 is becoming strangely compelling viewing this year. It just goes on for ever. Three hour shows of nothing happening! It's like a marginally more structured live feed...
Anyhow. It's 7.05pm, it's Saturday night, and this is Heat E. Last week, everyone was shit. This week, live on tape from a recording on Wednesday night, will anyone be better?
Tamsin plays dress-up in her video package, which suggests that she can't be a very interesting personality. She's got "quite an edgy, rocky voice", so the piano accompaniment isn't going to suit her, I'd have thought. Ah, she's doing that Bonnie Tyler song about needing a hero. The lighting department are ecstatic that something is happening at above ballad speed, and give her lots of flashing, which doesn't really fit with the piano. She's quite good, actually.
Fox likes it but doesn't think it's Pop Idol material. Nicky agrees. Pete thinks she's letting herself appear too close to Bonnie Tyler and Cher. Simon says Tamsin is trying to be aggressive but she's too cute for it. "Just above average." I can see where the judges are coming from. Tamsin's family say that she's great. Has any family member ever said anything else?
Mark is second up. In his intro package, he regales us with thrilling tales of his lucky underpants. I realise that it's hard to find an angle for all these people, but come on. Mark's doing... some ballad or other. What is this? He's quite good, actually. He's boy band material, but he's doing it with a bit of intensity. Possibly overacting a little bit. Shouldn't have smiled at the end there. Ah, apparently the song's from Dirty Dancing.
Fox thinks the voice was good, but the performance was stilted. Nicky loves it. So does Pete. Simon loves the vocal but doubts the charisma. "There's something about you which is quite dull." Pete chips in to agree. "What can I do about it?" asks Mark, helpfully. "I don't think you can do anything," replies Pete, who comes from the got-it-or-you-haven't school of talent scouting. "That's a bit of a blow," chirps Mark, thereby showing more personality than 95% of contestants. Throw in the voter demographics and I'd say he's a lock-in to go through.
Katy looks like a cross between Wonder Woman, the Flash, and the very worst of the 1980s. What the hell is she thinking? She looks much better in rehearsal footage. "Desperado." Or whatever it's called. It's an okay vocal, but the judges are going to crucify her over image. She gets a bit screechy on the loud bits, where she seems to be just sweeping around the pitch and assuming that somewhere along the line she'll hit the right note.
Fox finds the image distracting. "If you had a blue hat you could be like Noddy." Doesn't like her. Nicky likes the voice but is struggling to find anything to say. Pete doesn't disagree with the others but says he enjoyed it. Simon says she's fine for cruise ship material but won't make it at this level. He's correct - and in fact, for once, he doesn't sound like he's being gratuitously bitchy. Katy is a bit annoyed about the cruise ship comment (in terms which suggest she secretly thinks it might be true), and points out that Foxy has no dress sense either.
Adverts. Including one for the Fame Academy winners' album, which seems a touch optimistic.
Becky is one of those chirpy bouncy teenager types. Her voice has a rather odd squeaky tone to it. You could do something with it, I guess, but it needs serious work. She's not going through. Fox says she sounds a bit whiny. Nicky kind of agrees, but says it's something that can be fixed with vocal training. Pete points out that it's a difficult song to sing and she didn't have the age to give it the weight. Simon says she's nowhere near ready, and "I felt for you." Becky returns to tell Ant & Dec that "I quite enjoyed it, actually."
Tina is one of the Larger Ladies, and her video package immediately addresses the point. Actually, they've already put through some larger women than her, so she shouldn't have much to worry about it she's got the voice. I'm really not sure about that cleavage, mind you. Tina's doing "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing", and doing it perfectly well. It's not blowaway stuff, but she can sing.
Fox says it lacked emotion, which is a fair point. Nicky agrees in a roundabout way. Tina displays her lack of excitement when she beams with joy at being called "consistent." Pete holds her up as an answer to how size can be combined with image. Simon disagrees and says he thought it was average cabaret. Tina expresses her disagreement. I don't see her going through, to be honest. "I thought it was okay", says Tina in interview. Yes, but "okay" is not going to win the contest, now is it?
Craig is pure boy band material. He's the Scottish kid who was terrified at the audition. The twelve-year-old girlies will adore him, no doubt. He's, shall we say, very marketable. Craig sings "I Believe I Can Fly", and delivers a pure boy band performance. It's not a great vocal, but it's passable for boy band requirements. And frankly, it's much easier to imagine him as a pop star than most of the clowns who've been through this room.
Fox isn't sure whether he liked it or not, and thinks it was a dodgy song choice. Nicky thinks it was a bad idea to repeat the song he did in his first audition. She wonders whether it shows he's a one trick pony. "You did it quite well." Pete is undecided. "It was adequate." Simon thinks that Craig may be overconfident of going through, and accuses him of playing up his vulnerability for votes. That was odd. I'd have thought Pete and Simon would love this guy - and Simon did, at the first audition - but they seem almost determined to get rid of him. Are they trying to build up a sympathy vote for him?
Danielle does not look very good in close-up, and has a deformed right hand. This has not prevented her from playing the guitar, although as a concession to mainstream audiences, nobody mentions that Vic Chesnutt has been doing it that way for years, and he's got three impaired limbs. Anyway, she does "Fields of Gold", and she's got a pretty good voice. It's a decent performance of a dreary song. However, the camera does not like her at all.
Fox dodges any attempt to criticise her. Nicky likes her. Pete thinks "it's great to see you up there," which is hugely patronising. Simon likes her a lot, which he wasn't expecting.
Andy used to be in 3SL, but this week he's come dressed in a look that says "I've seen Hispanic gangsters on the telly." He does a somewhat overwrought but basically okay version of "Careless Whisper." Fox thinks it was too big a song to cover. Nicky reminds the audience that she's never liked him, but says that he's getting better. She also sings his praises for being down to earth. Pete agrees with Fox's point that the song is un-coverable. Simon agrees that Andy is "a genuinely nice person" and that it was a bad choice of song. He stops short of outright endorsing him and generally hedges his bets.
Andy, who has had two top twenty hits, bursts into tears in his interview with Ant & Dec.
Adverts. Animated bears recommend Charmin toilet paper.
Glenn has been advised to be less nervous, and has been looking at the mirror a lot. He's trying to learn how to smile. Glenn's stuffed, isn't he? Glenn bounds onto the stage like a man who's been practicing that all week. He sings his way through a competent but somewhat passionless version of "A Million Love Songs" (which, by the way, is actually an okay song, even though it's by Take That). Glenn's name is actually spelt Glen. Sorry, Glen. Anyhow, Glen has not overcome his problem.
Fox liked it. Nicky likes his personality. Pete thinks Glenn could cause an upset. Simon applauds the song choice, and expects Glenn to breeze through to the next round. I'm not sure I'm seeing what they're seeing. He does show personality in the interview segments, but it's not really there on stage.
Finally for tonight, Elizabeth. She has a drum and she likes it. Righty-ho. She's going to do "I Need You" by Leo Sayer, on the very sensible basis that if she does a song associated with a male vocalist, it's bound to sound different from the original. Always good strategy in these shows, I think. Slightly shaky start. Picks up, though. She's perfectly okay.
Fox is positive. Nicky falls for the "made it your song" routine. Pete didn't think there was something that raised it above the pack, but it was good. Simon agrees, and throws in some sneering in order to meet the quota for the day, even though he's not actually being all that critical about her. Elizabeth admits that it wasn't her best performance.