Imagine the excitement of receiving the congratulations email from the applause store to say you’v got tickets to see the XFactor auditions live – times that feeling by a million and that was me on the day i received my e-tickets lol.
So armed with egg sarnie’s and a large bottle of highland spring, hubby and i set off on our journey south from derbyshire to london.
The day started off as a total disaster to be perfectly honest, half way into our travels i suddenly realised i’d left the single most important piece of kit i needed for the day at home on the table – my bleeding camera!!! aaaarrrgghhh!!! oh well at least we had our mobile phones so we’d have to make do with a few pics on those.
after a 3hour drive including numerous stops and starts on the packed motorway amid a zillion miles of roadworks we finally reached north london, wahoo!!!, yeah it would be wahoo if everything was going swimmingly but if like us northeners, you find yourself just heading into the centre of holloway and the SATNAV battery RUNS OUT!!!!! it can be abit not-so-wahoo…. especially when you dont have the incar charger, and you were stupid enough to throw that tatty old map away just last week when you hoovered the back seat. DOH!!! needless to say we did get there eventually but only after alot of stopping and asking, and believe me that was very stressful, and we were very late.
We literally chucked the car in the parking lot and legged it into the Excel centre to hope we would still be in time to be part of the first 2000 audience members. PHEW we made it, now lets have some pics of the queue (which incidently we were pretty much right at the back of!)
DOH!!! we left our phones on the car dashboard!!! lol.
The most tedious part of it all was waiting to go in, even wth us arriving around 11.30am we still had to stand inline for around 3 hours until they finally opened the doors to the studio around 2.30pm, what made it more enjoyable though was to bump into fellow 2008 auditionee Alan Penfold the one who did the micheal Jackson (god rest his soul) routine, I first met Alan on the Arena tours earier this year, and what a lovey man he is, i was shcked to hear that the XF tour cost him his job due to Domino’s pizza not being prepared to give him the 5 weeks off to follow his dream on tour, he was forced to hand in his notice. well shame on you Dominoes and i shall never buy a pizza from you again in protest.
the hours ticked by slowly being locked in the holding room but it was all worth it…………
once inside the set and stage that had all been put together really rather quickly due to simons change of mind was awe-inspiring ,outstanding and shown no signs whatsoever of being a last minute job.
the ever quirky warmup guy ian royce gave us all a giggle as we waited AGAIN patiently for the show to begin, and the procedures were all made perfectly clear, “no booing the acts!!!!, boo the judges if you disagree but always give the auditionees a warm welcome.”
Host dishy Dermot did a few takes on the opening link (and was never seen again), as did new mum Holly Willoughby for her xtra factor show. She looked delightfully pretty in a floral dress covered with cutesy blue cardigan and matching leggings underneath….not at all her usual cleavage revealing outfits, so there may be a few dissapointed male veiwers but im sure as she sheds her baby wieght her skin will begin to show more and more, but she is still as beautiful as ever and positively blooming with radiance.
The judges were introduced onto stage and i must say regardless of my ogling in the general direction of Mr Cowell (who gave us a quick wave) i couldnt help but notice Dannii Minogue looked absolutely stunning in a hotpink dress and matching ‘Fendi’ shoes, and her new bob haircut proved she was determined to look just as head turning as girl-next-door cheryl cole.
First up we had 82 yr old William Harper, who gave us a wonderful rendition of ‘i’d like to be young again’ and shown his sense of humour by replying to simons question ‘why are you here?’ with the age old cliche ‘this is my last chance’. as a popular act with the audience it was no surprise he got 4 yes’s.
Girl group Goldess were up next, and it wasnt long before they were off again .Their version of the sugababes ‘about you now’ was not popular with the judges and the audience pretty much said it all with utter silence. 4 no’s.
Rozelle Phillips toddled on and my immediate thoughts were ‘What on earth does she think she looks like?’ . How very stereotypical of me to judge the book by the cover, clearly squeezed into a fitted shirt far too small for her, the bubbly lass originally from Trinidad and Tobago was grinning almost as widely as her button holes. One hell of a shock came to all of us when she sung her hero Jennifer Hudson’s hit ‘one night only’. She received a standing ovation from the overwhelmed capacity crowd aswell as amazing comments from Cheryl who said it was as if the song was written just for Rozelle.she romped it with yes’s accross the board and it was well deserved!
Up next we had a young lad, who’s name i didnt quite catch,(it was a funny name, something like ‘lyonnaidus’,) he sung Sting’s ‘Englishman in New York’ which really suited his reggae style and he sailed through. however simon noted he wont just be singing reggae in thelater stages and needs to bear that in mind.
a girl named Rachel walked onstage and the judges instantly recognised her as an auditionee who reached the final day of bootcamp last year, and after giving her thanks for another chance and declaring she’s made many improvement over the last year and learnt alot of lessons from the experience she wowed them with alicia keys ‘if i aint got you’. As they gave her 4 yes’s she pounded off the stage to give them each a big hug and a kiss.
16 year old Chelsea Knowles strutted on stage next and certainly had the look of a star,but unfortunately for our eardrums she didnt have the voice, after screaming ‘bootylicious’ down the microphone the judges must have hoped for more from her as they then asked her to perform a second song – ‘fighter’ by Christina Aquiliera, Perhaps simon may have wished he’d sent her packing ages ago as the longer she stood on stage the more she revealed about how the production staff had not allowed her to do the song she wanted to do due to not having a track for it and asked her to do those two instead. sounds interesting, but either way she was awful!
Thankfully , the next lad, David, who looked uber-cool in his white flat cap, was a refreshing sight, having flown in all the way from mauritius, where he works as a sound engineer, he will certainly start clocking up airmiles as he boarded the plane straight to the next round with resounding yes’s. His version of richard marxs’ ‘right here waiting’ was simply astounding and could have only be topped by his acapella version of ‘amazing grace’. the only negative comment for him was that the over 25’s is apparently heavily contested this year and the strongest ever (according to louis) so if he wants to do well in the later stages he needs to get some self confidence, and believe abit more in his aptitude, simon said it could just be jetlag, but thinks the lad needs to build on his stage presence.
Delightful oap Eileen made her return to stage (after auditioning acapella the day before) this time armed with her backing tracks put together by a man concidentally called simon, singing the aptly named ‘crazy’ aswell as ‘the wonder of you’ which simon said was the worst version of backing track he’d ever heard she really caught the judges humour as they shared many quick witted comments ……..and believe me she gave as good as she got. She made light of her maiden name (hoare) and was a firm favourite with the audience, unfortunately she received a no but it didnt stop simon commenting that she was the best example of auditionee ever to appear on the show. Look out for Eileen in her cream dress and matching furry stow as she was described as sharing a very similar look to one of the judging panel, who like her also had a new hairdo for the show.
Our first whitney classic of the afternoon came from 22 year old Chanelle and i really must say her version of ‘i have nothing’ set a very high standard for the rest of them. with 4 yes’s she ran off stage jumping with sheer delight and the audience showed their impress with a very long standing ovation
Another David came next, but unfortunately he didnt share the same talent as the first one, singing, or should i say warbling, michael buble’s ‘home’ the pork pie factory worker sparked a very predictable remark from Mr cowell. ‘i think you should go home’. David is a real contender for the top 10 this year, so move over chicken factory guy, theres a pork pie packer – who doesnt actually like pork pies – in town.
16 year old Holly Cooper was told to come back next year, after her version of ‘heard it through the grapevine’ was shortlived, a stunned audience booed simon for his dismissal of Holly, but hopefully she will take his advice and return with much more control of her ‘over singing’.
So the last act before we broke for a short interval was a three piece girl group called 2real, in their matching leopard print outfits they were not particularly impressed when simon said the ooked hideous, but to be fair they did! however after singing one of his favourite songs ‘got to be real’ and ‘who’s loving you’ they scraped through for another chance.
During the break we had the opertunity to roam around the back of the set and although security kept an eager eye out it was possible to catch a glimpse or two of the production in progress as the editing area was in full veiw. A few lucky audience members rubbed shoulders with louis as he strolled through into the main area and some of the auditionees were also sat around waiting for filming with the xtra team. We had the chance to say hello and have a quick chat with a few familiar faces on the production team including runner Justin who visited our home last year and Amelia xtra senior producer who lovingly flung her arms around us for a big cuddle, which was nice, and of course hubby was mightily impressed when the lovely Miss Willoughby came over and said hello amid a spot of filming.
the audience members seemed very stressed though, being locked inside without any facilties for food or drink was somewhat trying and to be told we would not get back in if we left the set area meant that a few people decided enough was enough and they were ready to go. A quick slurp of tap water sufficed for me although i must admit i was getting very peckish after only consumeing an egg sarnie and bag of doritos in the last 9 hours.
Anway as the second part got underway we heard our second ‘ i have nothing’ of the day this time from a lady by the name of shirley, she was good, not amazing but good and thoroughly deserved her yes’s.
66 year old eccentric William C.F Pearce hobbled on stage with the aid of his walking stick, to sing(if you can call it that) the infamous ‘i will always love you ‘ . Wearing odd knee high socks, shorts and what looked like half a santa suit he really could have been father christmas incognito,his face hidden behind the thick mass of grey curly hair as long as his beard, one was tempted to pull it just to check it wasnt a fake. im sure we’l be seeing more of the strange looking character on the xtra show, regardless that he recieved 4 no’s.
25 year old Ollie was next and he was certainly a crowd pleaser, his fabulous dancing filled the stage and he immediately got the audience on their feet, when he began to perform stevie wonders ‘superstitious’ he was truly working the stage like a pro. im sure he’l go far and i believe he is one to look out forin he later stages i had to giggle when a lady sat behind me said ‘ i bet he gets on the telly’ – erm well seen as this is a tv show and there are camera’s filming him luv im sure he will. lol. im not sure if simon’s description of him will be aired tho but i’l happily write it anyway and i quote – ‘”ollie, you’re like Gary Barlow ……with a great voice, but sex appeal and rythm too” hope your reading this gary lol. oops.
Nicolai from rome was next, the 22 year old sang a lovely version of the italian song An Cora, and for the sake of fairness he was asked to perform a second song in English to which he did the leon jackson version of ‘When you believe’. it was actually better than leon himself and he too sailed thrugh with 4 yes’s.
A very timid Lydia (17) appeared next however when she begun to sing whitney’s ‘saving all my love’ she seemed to come alive, filling the room with emotion, she was seemingly effortless with her performance and simon commented on how amazed he was at the calibre of the singers this afternoon, one after the other, and she too undoubtedly joined the ‘yes’ club
Simon clearly spoke too soon as up next was ex-holiday entertainer Carl. After confusing the judges with his ‘ happy haircut’ wishes to Dannii Minogue his backing track started up to reveal a punchy ‘relight my fire’, the crowd were up clapping and dancing until horror ascended on the arena as he jumped around the stage in time to beat almost revealing something a little more than his less than average singing capability. the judges didnt particularly know where to overt their eyes as simon but an abrupt end to his performance and request that next time he chose to jump around the stage he should wear a belt to hold up his trousers and prevent further indecent exposure. funnily enough we later saw holly filming with carl for the xtra factor where she had given him a belt – phew!
Unemployed Jonothon Hobley (26) followed , and i noted with his biege jeans and green stipey jumper he beared an uncanny resemblece to the sandman from spiderman 3 , another usual cliche came from johnothon when asked why he was here? ‘to win the x factor’, considering the fact he received 4 no’s for his diabolical version of ‘sacrifice’, i’d say its safe to say he wont.
Next came tough cookie Jessie Malcolm wo moved to England alone from south africa when she was 18, leaving her parents behind. singing ‘i just wanna make love to you’ and ‘ take me to the river’ the audience were incredibly stunned by her dismissal .Again told to try again next year i think she was just as shocked by the no’s as we were.
Carpenter Jake Benson ,18, scraped through by the skin of his teeth after simon and louis bickered over his so called lack of personality, but as his vocals to paul wellers ‘you do something to me’ were actually quite unique sounding and louis described him as ‘raw talent’ he will get another chance to shine.
Johnothon Gwunba had the crowd on their feet as he performed a very lively ‘black and gold’ and so did the judges as they were booed very loudly for their description of him as boring and uninspiring – erm hello did you not just see the arena rocking?
last ,of the very long afternoon, came Rob and James, simon explained to the unknowing crowd that the boys (who i think were twins) auditioned the day before with 2 other boys in a group. i got the impression that simon wanted them to do well but when they sung the jackson hit ‘you are not alone’ he was very disappointed, louis really liked them saying they were very likeable and would be very popular with the girls and again he and simon bickered like a pair of hormonal teenagers but as simon gave in and allowed the two lads another shot with their second song it was this time louis who repented and revealed he agreed with simon that they couldnt sing and they recieved four no’s. oh for goodness sake!
so it was now time for charge of the light brigade as 2000 hungry and sweaty audience members wanted out of the pressure cooker, i mean studio, and as we made our way to the carpark with a £2 can of redbull in hand we suddenly realised we now had to find our way home . im not quite sure how many times we went through the blackwell tunell but we did eventually find our way to the m1 north but the excitement wasnt over yet – the motorway was closed between junction 21 and 22 meaning we had to take a detour of an extra 70 miles onto the m6 via birmingham, which meant by the time we finally made it home (around 11.30pm) wewere pretty knackered!!!
i guess judging by the length of this reveiw you can get a feel for the length of the day.lol
But with all said and done if i had the chance id do it all over again in a flash!