The X Factor, week four auditions, review + live discussion
It was the last round of closed room auditions on The X Factor (ITV) and the crooning contest played the cutesy card for all it was worth. This episode was occasionally cloyingly sweet but ultimately left a warm glow in which to bask on a chilly autumn evening.
First we had an endearing “devoted dad” storyline. Joseph Whelan, a 27-year-old builder who reached the Boot Camp stage last year, returned for another attempt - slightly surprisingly, as he slated the show in the press after he was eliminated. The judges encouraged Whelan to bring his five-year-old son into the audition and he sat proudly on Nicole Scherzinger’s lap as his father crooned a strong, rocky rendition of Always by Bon Jovi. If he hadn’t got four yeses, it would have been a case for the NSPCC. Although they might want into look at the boy's cruel parents making him wear that trilby too.
At the other end of the age spectrum, were The Nostalgics: a 14-strong group aged between 68 and 94 who meet for a weekly singalong at their local bowling club in Coventry. Louis Walsh tried to join the group but Gary Barlow told him he was too grey. Accompanied by a plinky-plony organ, The Nostalgics performed a jaunty Bring Me Sunshine, complete with cheesy mimes, and put a smile on everyone’s face, even if the panel’s comments were a tad patronising. Host Dermot O’Leary busted some ballroom moves outside and looked like he could go far on Strictly Come Dancing, were The X Factor’s arch rival ever to come calling.
It wasn’t all sweetness and light. We were treated to the usual parade of deluded tone-deaf losers, mostly of foreign descent. Butler Shozod Zikiryaev honked tunelessly, 58-year-old accountant Peter Duboff croaked painfully and Krysztof Misiewicz was outshone by his novelty spinning belt. Greek sisters Joanna and Alexandra were like a karaoke Cheeky Girls but did provide one entertaining moment by tripping over on their way into the room.
A favourite trope of this franchise is to split up a group. Floral-clad Solihull girl trio Daisy Chains had one member, 17-year-old Hannah, who was both prettier and more talented than her bandmates. After a tear-streaked conflab, she progressed to the next stage as a solo act.
Less successful were Duplex ("We're called Duplex because we're literally duplicates of each other), a deeply irritating duo who Sharon Osbourne cruelly compared to “two Vicky Pollards”. They wouldn't shut up and were guilty of chronic misuse of the words "definitely" and "literally". Barlow told them: “That was awful. You can’t sing.” “We’ll take that as a postive,” they replied, rather bafflingly. Almost as annoying were soppy student couple Green Boots, who looked like a Specsavers ad and kept giving each other slurpy kisses.
Finally, there were two male vocalists with promise. Jayson Newland made his job in a call centre sound like a Siberian salt mine but was impressively soulful and got “an humungous yes” from Scherzinger. Chinese mathematics nerd Justin Peng ("not Justin Bieber and not Justin Timberlake, Justin Peng") presented the Pussycat Doll with a flower and, just when we thought he was going to be another vexing, deluded loon, displayed a lovely voice with real range and control. “Jahmazing,” smiled Scherzinger. Another cute moment in a soft-centred episode.