“And the winner is … [heavily pregnant pause]
already decided several weeks ago!”
With the very conveniently timed booting out of Frankie, the premature announcement of Amelia Lily’s return to the show and the ongoing knowledge that well … this is ITV and they’ve got previous when it comes to this sort of thing, the murmurs of surreptitious goings-on behind the scenes at The X Factor have been getting louder. It’s true – we’ve known who the real winner of the X Factor is for several months now. It’s Simon Cowell as he sits in his Hollywood mansion looking on as the armoured vans cut out the middle men and just drive directly from the mint straight to his house where they dump the money wherever there’s a bit of space in between all the young supermodels who’ve suddenly discovered a new found interest in wealthy overly hairy middle-aged men.
The claims of a pre-determined fix and the winner the Cowell empire wants weren’t helped this week when HMV published a page on their website declaring Amelia Lily was the winner complete with a link to where you can buy the winner’s single. Immediately the conspiracy theorists put all the other important stuff they doubtless had going on in their lives on hold and did what they do best – put together a half-assed conspiracy theory that doesn’t really stack up. We’d love to hurl unfounded lumps of crap at people too, but it’s wide of the mark. Sadly, the only conspiracy at play in this instance is the widely known ‘conspiracy of the X Factor garnering as many column inches as possible in the build-up to the final’ which is less ‘gunman on the grassy knoll’ and more ‘journalist on the pay roll’. (See also the ‘mystery of Kelly’s moving mole’, ‘Cheryl’s tedious US X Factor v UK X Factor saga’ and ‘Louis Walsh is getting kicked off the show next year’ story of 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.)
It’s shaping up to be the closest final in the history of the show, tighter than the leather trousers Marcus wore for Can You Feel It? – for future reference, a song that takes an entirely different meaning when asked by a man in restrictive pants. Three acts, one lukewarm favourite and two others that could easily spring what would be a fairly unsurprising shock. As ever, the final will use the established format of pairing each of the acts with an international super-dooper-megastar for a duet, only this year there’s one slight difference – the lack of a super-dooper-megastar. In a move that screams ‘spent the show’s budget on Louis’s botox’, the mentors are going to partner their own acts in an uncomfortable duet. Not so sad about getting knocked out of the show now are you Kitty, Johnny Robinson and large woman who looks like she could wrestle a bear?
It means Little Mix will get to utilise Tulisa’s superb ability to repeat ‘na-na-naaa, N-Dubz’ several times during the course of a song. The girls are considered the favourites heading into the final and it’s easy to see why. Their youthful energetic style is certain to appeal to the type of teenagers who still have to ask the bill-payer’s permission to vote and their pet-food style name is certain to appeal to cats and owners of cats, both of whom make up the bulk of people who actually vote on The X Factor. The girls two performances weren’t universally popular last Saturday night, but Louis did give them an ego-boost of dubious merit when he said ‘this is going to be the next big girl group’ – a seemingly positive phrase cleverly calculated to be correct either way, depending on the emphasis you give to the word ‘big’. The pressure is on and the weight of expectation of becoming the first band of any description to win The X Factor is beginning to show. Tulisa gave a desk-thumping appeal to the X Factor nation asking Little Mix fans to take nothing for granted and to get dialling and texting those expensive phone lines to help them win it. It was a passionate and considered speech delivered with eloquence. But only if you compare it to this.
If you subscribe to the aforementioned conspiracy theories, then Amelia Lily has it in the bag. If you have a set of moderately functioning ears, she doesn’t. She did get her fair share of sycophantic praise for her performances in the semi-final when she shouted Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and I’m With You, but there’s the lingering sense that there’s something missing. And there is something missing – half a staircase. By good grace of the crappy duets gimmick, Amelia will share the stage with Kelly ‘madder than a bag of turbo-charged hammers’ Rowland. It’s great news for the Middlesbrough lass because Kelly has several years experience of standing on stage and letting someone look better than her. On the flipside of that however, the Texan may just have had enough of second fiddle duty and might use the opportunity to remind everyone she’s every bit as talented and needy as the more famous Beyonce. It’s hard to know which way it’ll go, but there’s always room for a crap pun and don’t be surprised if Amelia Lily knocks her mentor shout of the ballpark.
Marcus Collins must be genuinely good and the telltale sign is despite being openly gay, he still generates enough support amongst the women who vote for him in the hope that one day they might get a chance to sleep with him to keep him in the competition. There’s been a bit of controversy regarding him this week after complaints that Gary was being unduly negative of the other acts and overly fulsome in praise of Marcus or – to give use the phrase they use to describe such behaviour on The X Factor – ‘being a mentor.’ Having Mr. Barlow as the other half of a duet isn’t the worst of outcomes for Marcus – providing Gary doesn’t make him sing any of his solo stuff. That might sound like we’re being overly harsh on the man responsible for writing some of the biggest songs of the last two decades, but it’s also fair because this is the same guy who wrote For All That You Want – a song so bad even the Germans only got it to number 94 in their chart.
Marcus didn’t stand out as anything particularly special to begin with, but over the weeks he’s developed and shown the public what he’s capable of, sometimes in the face of criticism. He’s shown some real bravery. Plus, Movember is over and he’s sticking with the moustache. That takes some guts. Clearly he’s desperate to win the competition and leave the world of purple rinses and ill-advised perms behind him. It was telling how strong the desire is last week when in one of the slow motion montages sound tracked by inspirational music he allowed himself to dream of what the future might hold if he’s victorious –
“There’ll be no more brushing floors or making cups of tea.”
Well, not for 6 months at least.
It’s been a series that started quite slowly, but ramped up the contrived drama as we went along. We’ve got a fascinating final in prospect this weekend. Despite the errors of the HMV website team, we’ve no idea who’ll come out on top, but what we do know is whoever wins isn’t necessarily going to go on to super-stardom.
That’s something they’ve never been able to fix.
Who did you think is going to win The X Factor? Get the debate going in the comments section.