Sunday, 25 April 2010

Girls just wanna have a few more years of training

Top 8 Results: 25th April 2010

My God, this show has been on for weeks and I've just realised that the yellow brick road in the titles isn't made of bricks. Call OFCOM!

We return to the studio with Graham already atop the stage, informing us that the lines have closed. NEARLY 24 HOURS AGO, in fact, but of course we do not dwell on this because the results show is sitting in some odd, dusty corner of the time-space continuum, both happening now and yet also confined to the past. The top eight Dorothys return to the stage to reprise 'If I Only Had The Part' from last night. Is it wrong if I admit I did actually find this quite funny? It's little touches like these, reminding us that the show doesn't take itself too seriously, that make it so much more bearable than the likes of The X Factor. The vocals are better than they were "last night", though I'm quite glad that none of these girls will actually be singing this song in the show itself. As the song finishes, Jessica is the only one who continues to hitch up her skirt as she runs off the stage. Perhaps she's Method.

Graham reminds us of the basic mechanics of the show: to wit, one girl will get a house dropped on her by the end of the credits. We still have our panel: theatrical treasure Sheila Hancock (nods graciously), musical maestro John Partridge (winks unsettlingly), and Welsh wonder Charlotte Church (entirely immobile). Andrew Lloyd Webber is here too, still with that strange posture he has which always makes it look like he's about to dash off set and take an important call.

Coming up tonight: another "mash-up", more Totos, and the girls performing an ensemble number with Charlotte. A trailer hints at them all having attacks of the vapours while she sings at them, which seems entirely understandable.

First, though, we've got our extended recap of last night, for the millions of people who watch the show and yet do not read this blog. Those bastards. Jenny opened the show with a competent but uninspiring rendition of 'Warwick Avenue', and Sheila questioned her motivation. Backstage, Jenny regrets not being able to give them exactly what they want. Someone who was not even in the same postal district as "giving us what we want" this week was Emilie, whose ill-advised petulant rendition of 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun' went down like a cup of warm sick, and Sheila chewed her out for not being able to take the criticism that will inevitably be thrown at her should she enter the profession. I mean, it sucks that people aren't enjoying your performances, and to a degree I do sympathise, but at the same time: stop being shit, then. Attempting to make a silk purse out of the sow's ear that was her evening, Emilie assures the cameras backstage that they were "good comments" because it's all stuff she can work on. Well, her attitude's improved: fingers crossed her singing and acting follow suit.

Stephanie sang 'Nobody Does It Better' and Charlotte and Andrew lapped it up, while Lauren took on Pink's 'Nobody Knows' and was one of the evening's standouts, earning praise from Sheila and John. "Sometimes I just want to slap myself around the face," Lauren says afterwards. Somehow I suspect she's not alone in feeling that way. Except she means in terms of not being able to believe it, of course. Lauren's mother is very proud. Sophie was given Sara Bareilles' 'Love Song' in a really odd key that made it sound like her voice was breaking throughout her performance, and John thought it was too understated, while Sheila thought she was terrific. Sophie's mum complains that the judges are giving conflicting feedback. Jessica took on Faith Hill's 'There You'll Be' and was better than usual, though got mixed reviews from the panel for her efforts. Andrew, however, thought she looked "world-class" at times. Of course, as Carrie pointed out yesterday, he said that about Pirate Jessie too, and look how that turned out. Backstage, Jessica is very happy. Danielle performed 'Cry Me A River' in a performance that seems to have been divisive: I personally thought it was awful but a lot of people seemed to like it. Sheila tipped her for stardom, and Charlotte thought the vocals and acting were perfect. Danielle's mum says that she's been waiting for a song she can really belt out. Steph closed the evening with 'Use Somebody' and was again one of the best performers of the evening. Charlotte found her engaging, while John was possessed by the spirit of Alesha Dixon long enough to throw her some snaps and call her "fierce". Backstage, Steph's gobsmacked that even Andrew liked it.

Underscoring footage of the two group numbers, the judges are interviewed: John (speaking from a corridor that does not look like BBC Television Centre - have they gone walkabout this week?) has no idea who's going to be in the bottom two. As opposed to last week, when he claimed to know EXACTLY who was going to be there, and was almost certainly wrong. Charlotte thinks some girls are really pushing through and delivering. Sheila thinks they're all good and is sure she won't agree with whoever ends up getting voted off. [Except not. Oops, spoilers! - Carrie]

Back in the studio, Graham asks Andrew if any frontrunners emerged this week. "Yes: eight," is Andrew's reply, and with some needling he narrows it down to six, though he won't specify who. John is asked if all the girls are where they should be at this stage: unsurprisingly, he says that some are while some are not. Sheila is asked about the pressures of delivering EIGHT SHOWS A WEEK [although she's only doing seven at the moment - Carrie], and she says that you need stamina to do a long run in the West End, and she thinks three girls have that ability now, while the others will all be able to do it in the end. Finally, Charlotte is asked why she's chosen 'No More Tears' to perform with the girls later: she explains that it's a very dynamic song that's going to be a challenge for everyone.

Oh, God: it's "mash-up" time. Graham asks The Lord if he can handle any more mash, and Andrew says that he just needs a couple of pork sausages. Someone in the audience who clearly has a mind as filthy as mine cackles loudly. The girls begin with 'A Fine Romance', and if you didn't immediately guess that they were going to segue into Lady Gaga's 'Bad Romance', then I think you need a few more years of pop culture finishing school. I mean, Steph's wearing a hooded leotard, which kind of gives it away. Sure enough, they soon break into 'ba-ra-RA-ah-ah", although from there they break seamlessly into 'Just Dance', and dare I say, that's quite close to being an actual mash-up. At least they're moving in the right direction. The Lord is singing along in his throne. Heh. Then they go into the chorus of 'Bad Romance', then back into 'Just Dance', and then into 'Paparazzi'. Yeah, so at this point it's becoming a medley again (or perhaps more accurately a megamix, as Sara Cox pointed out on Twitter). And there were mixed feelings about that on Twitter, but I loved it. If they're going to completely misunderstand what a mash-up actually is, they can at least give me a shitload of Gaga while they're doing so.

The Dorothys scamper offstage, and then it's time for the search for Toto. I've been dreading this. A VT carries us to Andrew's luxurious estate, and eleven dogs are making their way up to see The Lord. These people are doing absolutely nothing for the public reputation of dog lovers, because they all seem to be completely nutty. Jodie giggles that a couple of dogs are going to scare Andrew silly. Andrew reminds us that we need a Toto with character who can make us laugh and cry. A dog turns up in "ermine and purple, so he can be a prince and outrank a Lord". Yeah, that's the best way to get into Andrew's good books: trump him. Another lady has coloured her hair to match her dog's. She does a little skit with her dog, Troy. More dogs audition. No one except for those directly involved care even slightly. Although there are a couple of gorgeous beagles, who melt my heart a little bit. Andrew keeps reminding us he is a cat man. Unless I am mishearing him, and he's actually Batman. Well, they're both millionaire philanthropists, aren't they? The judges confer, the owners wait anxiously. It's down to Noted Cat Lover Andrew to announce the top five: Dave, Eddie, Missy, Spider and Troy. And if that means anything to you, then I pity you a little bit. Next week, they embark on their first Toto task, as they go to Legally Blonde. [Ooh! Ooh! Steve! We should go and see Legally Blonde! - Carrie] One dog appears to get trapped in a seat. Fun times!

From one group of dogs to another, Graham's back with the remaining Dorothys. (Too mean?) [Yes! - Carrie] He asks Danielle, who was "saved by the Lord" last week, though has not yet begun toting a Bible everywhere she goes, about how important Andrew's approval is. She says that as the biggest man in musical theatre, obviously it is very important. Following on from last week's shocking revelation that Jenny has never seen West Side Story, Graham unveils another scandal: Jenny has in fact never been to see a West End show at all. That's a far better sob story than "I used to be fat", surely? Apparently this is her first time in scary London, and she was hoping to catch a few shows in her spare time, until she realised she wasn't going to get any. Spare time, that is. Not the other thing. Graham turns to Steph and recalls her excellent comments from last night, with John expecting to see her in the final, and asks if she's feeling confident. The answer to this question, as Lauren has recently discovered to her cost, is of course "NO". Steph vows to keep working hard and hopes the public keep supporting her. Sophie talks about having worked hard during the week, and is determined to continue doing so. Graham asks Jessica if, as a self-avowed REALLY NORMAL NORTHERN GIRL, being called world-class by Andrew Lloyd Webber made her head explode. "Not really," is the rather unexpected answer. "It's thanks to the Boro that I'm the performer that I am." Well, at least we know where to direct our complaints about the faces, I guess.

Mission time! The girls are deployed to a church where Charlotte Church (see? see?) is singing 'Summertime' rather piercingly. Charlotte VTs that she wants to test the girls' vocals, and they're in a church because of the acoustics, and not because of any opportunities for crashingly obvious puns or anything like that. The girls tell the cameras how much they're in awe of Charlotte, and then she gives them all some individual tips on how to perform 'No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)', "which is A BIG SONG TO SING", she tells us, having apparently been temporarily possessed by the spirit of Masterchef. Above a well-edited shot of Emilie, Charlotte tells us she will be looking for tone and pitch in the girls' voices. HA! Steph's in first, and Charlotte thinks she looks scared of the top notes. Charlotte seems to like Sophie's natural take on the song, while Jessica needs to be careful of the sound she produces in her mid-range, apparently. Stephanie gets good notes, while Jenny manages not to be nasal, to Charlotte's delight. Danielle has an "obvious West End voice", while a nervous Emilie expects to be shouted at. Charlotte tells her to massage her own face, and Emilie sings in tune for the first time ever. Lauren is "pretty flawless", but remembers to take these compliments modestly this time. Charlotte thinks there are four standouts, and then breaks the news that she'll be singing the song with them on the show. Their reactions of unbridled delight make it clear that they've never seen her duets on The Charlotte Church Show.

Back in the studio, the girls are lined up on the Stairs Of Doom, while Charlotte perches on the balcony to open the song. Each girl gets a line and Charlotte and Stephanie have a quasi-lesbian moment before it goes all disco and the levels are all out so it's hard to hear them properly. The choreography and camera-blocking are a bit odd too, resulting in some girls inadvertently hiding each other, and then Charlotte's voice bottoms out a little bit on the middle eight, but returns for the final chorus. [She's not that strong on her lower register, is she? Also, she looks too thin. And if I were Gavin Henson I would be a bit worried about the vehemence with which she delivers these lyrics. - Carrie] They all sass to the front, and some limp fireworks explode. Charlotte tells Graham that working with the girls was a privilege. Next week: they all act out a gay love scene with John Partridge!

VT Vox Pop time: the girls are asked who they think is the public's favourite Dorothy. Emilie names Stephanie, while Jenny thinks Emilie because she was the wildcard. Steph thinks Jessica because she's so "animated" on stage, and you can just tell that they're basically all picking from the five girls who've not hit the bottom two yet, but they're all too media-trained to say it. Jessica picks Sophie because she's got the Welsh vote, Sophie picks Stephanie, Stephanie picks Emilie because she was the wild card and hasn't been in the bottom two (hurrah! Some honesty!), Danielle thinks Sophie because she's lovely and genuine both on and offstage, while Lauren picks Jenny because she's fun-loving and has the Scottish vote.

It's almost time for the results, but first it's time for the panel to name the girl who is not Dorothy. They all pick Emilie, with varying degrees of apology. Emilie's face crumbles. [I ALMOST felt sorry for her then. But then I reminded myself of her performance this week and felt sorrier for me having to watch it twice. - Carrie]

Steph is the first to be named safe, and walks over to the Benches Of Sanctity looking relieved. Danielle is called next, but told she might still be in danger, just to fuck with her. Jessica and Stephanie are called together, and could both still be Dorothy. They skip off-stage, arm in arm. See, told you they were Method. [Danielle's face at this point could curdle milk. - Carrie] Lauren and Jenny are also called together, and are also both through. That leaves Sophie, Emilie and Danielle awaiting their fates. Emily is stoic, Danielle looks resigned, Sophie is fighting back tears. Emilie is the first to be informed that she is in the bottom two, and she smiles wanly. Danielle is finally put out of her misery and told she's safe: she hugs the other two and makes it over to the benches, wiping away tears. [NO MORE TEARS! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Did this week's mission teach you NOTHING? - Carrie]

Emilie and Sophie, then, are the least popular Dorothys this week, and Graham reveals that the girl with the fewest votes this week was Emilie - but there's still hope, because Andrew may decide to save her. Hahahahaha, yeah. That'll happen. They'll be singing 'I Know Him So Well' from Chess, and I can tell you even before they sing a note that their version won't be nearly as good as when Carrie and I bring this bad one home on the karaoke. Andrew babbles on about it having wonderful lyrics for two girls to sing, and he wants to see their acting performances on this one.

Emilie begins and is a little croaky, while Sophie is sweet-sounding, and dare I say it, is actually acting. There are moments where Emilie genuinely sounds very pleasant, but her pitch is sadly all over the place, so this is pretty much solidifying my belief that she is nowhere near ready for EIGHT SHOWS A WEEK right now. [And again we see that Emilie's break seems to come fairly low down. This is not a HUGE problem; it can be worked on a bit, but she doesn't seem to be able to manage it at all. - Carrie] By contrast, this is probably the best job, both in terms of singing and acting, that Sophie has done since the live shows started. I know, I know: hollow praise, but still.

It's time for Andrew to decide who he will save. He blathers on for a bit about wishing he'd written that song, [Lloyd Webber would NEVER think of a harmony like those minor thirds in the chorus. Dream on, the Lord - Carrie] but ultimately opts to save Sophie, which was of course the right decision. Sophie hugs Emilie, who has taken the news with a smile. Graham tells her to be proud of herself, because she was the wildcard who was voted in by the public and made it halfway through the competition (or thereabouts). Emilie thanks her mum and dad, "because I wouldn't be here without them" (yes dear, that's kind of how it works), and vows to go off and train and toughen up, because we will see her again, she swears. She thanks everyone politely for the opportunity and tells the remaining girls that they're all amazing. Andrew tells her that they all love her, and Sheila's comments from last night were the clincher: that it might all be too much for Emilie at the moment, "but you will go somewhere, because you're the prettiest little thing." That sound you can hear right now is Emily Davison spinning furiously in her grave.

With that, Graham reminds us to tune in for "big band week" next week (oh good gravy), and Emily and the Dorothys begin the singoff. It sounds a little bit subdued this week: perhaps they really are quite sad she's going? After Sophie relieves her of her shoes, Emilie heads to the moon and begins singing 'Over The Rainbow', so at least Charlotte's getting her wish, I suppose. Again, there are moments of beautiful clarity, but also of honking flatness, so I hope she can iron that all out with some training somewhere. [And I can finally hear what they mean about the 1940s tone to her voice. She sounds like Judy Garland would, if Judy Garland had been a bit shit. - Carrie] In a moment that is sad and hilarious in equal measures, Emilie biffs her last big note on the show, which feels like an appropriate enough metaphor for her journey in the competition. And then we're out: I can't say I'm not relieved she's gone, but I'm glad she was such a good sport about it. Until next week, bitches!

11 comments:

  1. The expression on her face when she broke on the last note? Actually made me like her (because, when she can get into tune she's not entirely bad). And props for her mental shrug and going back to hit the note.

    (Her mother on the other hand? V.V. Scary

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  2. If they were set on A Fine Romance, they at least should have done us the courtesy of making the Dorothys do the arm motions Fred and Ginger do in Swing Time. Would have improved that whole mash up considerably.

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  3. Yeah this whole Gaga medley was kind of annoying I expected something better.
    I also feel Charlotte should have waited till the numbers thinned out a bit more before singing with the girls.

    Over all I feel good that Emily is gone, she did do a good job, but the extra training will help her out a lot.

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  4. Love the blog, agree with you on pretty much everyone except Danielle who I thought was good this week. Do you have a favourite to win?
    Love the description of Emilie as not in the same postal district as 'giving us what we want'!So true, glad she's gone.

    Heatherbelles- her mother is scary isnt she?! Curious to know how you've come across her, I insulted her little darling's singing on the facebook group and she had a big rant at me 0_o

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  5. Haa. My flatmate also angered Emilie's mum on fb and her comments got deleted of the OTR page!

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  6. Abigail - I think it's a hard one to call at the moment, but if I had to bet on someone to win at this stage, I'd bet on Stephanie. She's one of the stronger singers, she's yet to hit the sing-off, she's consistent, she's likeable, and she's not remotely the sort of person Andrew Lloyd Webber claimed to be looking for at the beginning.

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  7. I just thought Emilie's mum looked scary, I've thankfully not interacted with her directly..

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  8. Stephanie is my favourite too =) Have just read through the other blogs, hilairious. Looking forward to Saturday even more for a blog update along with the show.

    Do you want me to spread the word about the blog on the OTR facebook page? I'm sure some people would love it but there are a lot of overly sensitive people who are seriously lacking a sense of humour so depends if its worth it ;)

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  9. Oh, how I love your blogs! Keep up the hilarious work.
    P.S. The show isn't filmed at Television Centre anymore since production of it was farmed out from the BBC...it's filmed in Wembley now!

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  10. Abigail - sure, if you want to spread the word, be our guest! It's always nice to have new readers. As you say, it might be an idea to warn newcomers that we're not exactly impartial, but aside from that, sure!

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  11. I love this blog so much I want to marry it, have its babies and push them into a musical theatre reality casting show. OTR is my guilty pleasure and you are spot on with pretty much everything you say here. Apart from Lauren, who is an overambitious, weird-faced little imp who would sell her granny for a West End role. I dislike.

    Stephanie for the win.

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