Having now become completely addicted to watching this show every flaming year, despite my better judgement I might add given the distinct lack of market impact any of the winners ever have after the dust has settled and Simon Cowell has dragged his massive bulging bag of money to the bank, I'm beginning to get frustrated with the set-up. It's all very predictable. Even when the show introduces these cut-throat "twists" like this week's revelatory Judge Vote Off Bonanaza, or whatever they want to call it. Aside from the fact that the decision robs the paying, voting public the opportunity to support acts that they have seen develop into justified Finalists (on the Judges' terms anyway - I'm still massively irked that Terry, and even more profoundly Jade were turned away) - the whole thing feels like forced drama for the sake of it. It should be a talent show, and not some kind of Big Brother style gimmick show. Anyway, some early thoughts... Marcus Collins is brilliant. As is Craig Conway. The Risk were the best of the groups, and Sophie Habibis won this week's battle of the super-talented girls. Also, how much fun is voice over "legend" Peter Dickson having with all the names this year? It's like a return to the career high days of Rachel Adedeji. Rhythmix have the worst styling team since Jedward. Putting them in pyjamas and chunky knits is not a recipe for style icon status. It just makes them look like they're on day release, no matter how talented they are. Is it just me or does Sami Brookes bear a striking resemblance to Peter Kay's twin sister? Yes she has a lot of woman power and a voice powerful enough to smash steel at a hundred yards, but she's a bit too karaoke to win anything like this. She just won't sell the records. What the hell are the hang-ups on Craig's weight exactly? It's a disgrace that his commitment to the competition and to potentially winning is in direct correlation with his willingness to lose weight. The guy has so much talent it hurts, and he has to be a strong contender already. So so what he isn't a stick-thin boy band wannabe? It should be about more than that, even if I just spent a bit too long talking about physical attributes and styling issues just now. But forgetting all of that for the minute, there's one question that remains at this stage: who will each of the judges choose to vote off during tomorrow's second live show? Well here are my own picks, along with an explanation in each case...
Judge: Gary Barlow
Will Vote Off: James Michael
As much as it pains me to say it, James simply didn't bring it enough this week. His easy charisma, that looks a lot like arrogance when the vocals aren't quite up to scratch won't save him this week. And neither will him bringing in a guitar to mask his inability to command a stage without something to hide behind. It's a shame, as he looks incredible on stage (though not as good as Marcus). If he doesn't go I'll eat his hat.
Should Vote Off: Frankie Cocozza
The judges might think he's the best thing since sliced bread, because some teenage girls want to throw their virginities at him, and he looks a bit funky and that, but here's a news flash for them all: Frankie looks and acts like EVERY lad his age everywhere at the minute. He's precocious, and probably a bit of an arrogant little sod as well, just like them all too. But the important thing here is that Frankie has the worst skills of all of the boys: he is extremely limited, and take away his image and he would never have even got to this stage of the competition. Because his line delivery makes him sound like he is having an asthma attack.
Judge: Kelly Rowland
Will Vote Off: Honestly? I have no idea.
My money would probably be on Amelia Lily, because the song choice wasn't right, and the way it was arranged was horrendous. But this section is the closest so far, though I don't see any of them actually winning.
Should Vote Off: Janet Devlin
She's a second rate Diana Vickers, who didn't win a couple of years ago. Her entire presence is based on being impish and a bit cute, but her voice lacks strength and projection and that fragility is a gimmick that won't see her through to the final unless she gets the "adorable" vote. Which she shouldn't. That she was included at the expense of Jade, because Kelly didn't think Jade could add bredth and variation to her performances across several weeks is an appalling travesty of justice, since Diana/Janet is as one dimensional as they come. It just so happens that that one dimension is quirky, and everyone seems to love when singers take off their shoes and over-pronounces words in a ridiculous way. And what the hell is with the forced lisp?
Judge: Louis Walsh
Will Vote Off: Jonjo Kerr
It's a shame, since he has spirit, but Jonjo doesn't have the skills to match how much of a nice guy he is, and he decided to reject Louis' suggested song and go with a sterile version of The Kinks' "You Really Got Me", so he'll probably just get voted off for that little bit of impudence alone. But then, what does Louis know anyway?
Should Vote Off: Kitty Brucknell
She wants to be a "controversial" performer, and seems to think there's noone around like her, but does the world really need a slightly older, far more grissled Lady Gaga? I think we will all agree the answer is no. If her performance this week is anything to go by, we won't have to endure her for too long, since she plainly cant sing, and is in for the Rhydian factor (though that is a cruel reduction of the blonde quiffed maverick, because he was at least talented in an operatic sort of way). Captivating does not mean talented. And neither does controversy.
Judge: Tulisa Contostavlos
Will Vote Off: 2 Shoes
With any luck anyway. They just weren't on a par with the other groups, and the way they were played was as little more than a circus act. Ironically it was about 2 Steps away from a Barbie Girl performance.
Should Vote Off: 2 Shoes
For exactly that reason outlined above. And because they're awful to watch, they harmonise in a different key to the song, and there is no way they should be put through, as Tulisa suggested, because they are from Essex, and the place is like, so hot right now. Or should I say "ream" or some other moronic non-word? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- So, there we have it, tomorrow night will reveal which four acts will leave the show. And until then all we can do is speculate, and wait for the inevitabilities that will frustrate and anger us all. But me most of all. Things to look out for in next week's show (and every single one going forward probably): Gary Barlow being booed for making the only sensible comments about acts. Tulisa saying that someone "represents". What this means is unclear, since she seems to suggest that everyone is "representing" Britain. But, isn't this a British competition? Who the hell else would they be representing exactly? Kelly Rowland getting over-emotional, or giving it the attitude shoulders and finger. Or telling everyone they're sexy like an inappropriate uncle. Or calling everyone "Mama", including Dermott. Anyone proclaiming that someone with a look that everyone outside of the studio has been sporting for years is a "breath of fresh air", or has their own style. Every Adele song from both 19 and 21. Everyone switching the channel over before Jonathan Ross' new show poisons us all with anti-comedy and sycophancy by the bucketload.