There’s nothing we love more on The X Factor than a damned good rags to riches story. Local girl makes good with the help of [[Simon Cowell|Magic Uncle Simon]] and sells a ton of records to an adoring public. Remember Andy Abraham, fondly dubbed “the singing binman”? Diamond geezer, worked ‘the circuit’ for years, and though he didn’t win, managed to have a moderately successful career afterwards.
And they don’t come any more ‘one of the people’ than [[Mary Byrne|Mary “Tesco Mary” Byrne]]. From her lowly beginnings as a checkout operator, Mary stormed the auditions with a powerful voice and unimaginative commentators the nation over hailed her as the “new Susan Boyle”. But younger, Irish and less unhinged. Win-win for the record label.
Sadly, as the weeks went on, Mary’s once-powerful pipes started to let her down. She went from epic balladry to unenthusiastic renditions of Shirley Bassey songs. Probably not helped by Louis Walsh’s legendary inability to manage anything that’s not an Irish boyband. And the judges, once overflowing with lavish praise for Mary, started to give lukewarm comments to her.
Dannii Minogue, like a shark sensing blood in the water, started circling Mary with remarks about her mojo. One can only assume that she has a secret penchant for alliteration. I like to think she’d talk about Matt’s magnificence, Cher’s chutzpah and Rebecca’s…um…er…repartee?
Notably missing though were Uncle Simon’s barbed remarks about karaoke versions, cruise ship entertainers or wedding singers. All of which would have been valid comparisons. Sometimes I felt Mary was baiting him with her weaker performances, willing him to drop one of his clichebombs. But he didn’t.
What happened tonight was that Simon and Cheryl effectively closed the book on Mary’s X Factor career. Instead of critiquing her last performance, they both noted how lucky she’d been on the show and what a massive platform the show had been for her (no jokes about Mary needing a massive platform, please). Here’s Cheryl’s comment to Mary:
Your life has changed now forever, you have an amazing platform and there’s nothing to be sad about. This is an amazing time in your life.
Even Daybreak presenter Adrian Chiles noted the clever wording from the two judges:
I think everyone seemed to have given up on Mary. They were all saying “Mary you won’t be back on a checkout”, which was a different thing from saying “Mary I want to see you in the final.” I don’t think she’ll be back in the checkout any time soon but I just don’t see her in the final.
Now, the naive among you might find this hard to believe, but X Factor judges have many subtle ways of snuffing out a contestant’s time on the show. With Wagner, they started to give him serious critiques. With Mary it’s talking like she’s already finished. And considering she was in the bottom three last week, support for our favourite checkout operator looks to be drying up anyway. Still, with an extra push from Simon and Cheryl, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that Mary will be “packing her bags” and other Tesco-related puns tomorrow night.
But sure it’s alright. She’s got a great platform for her skills. As a Shirley Bassey tribute act. I wonder if Louis will offer to manage her?