Monday, December 11, 2006

The Ex Factory

Rodgers & Hammerstein must be turning in their respective graves (assuming that it's humanly possible and not just a metaphor and they weren’t cremated – I will get this digression thing under control at some point but it’s not at the top of my personal development priority list at this particular moment in time). I was where? Ho ho ho yes. R&H, given their collective cultural erudition and finesse when it comes to the musical theatre, would certainly be thinking that us Brits (I know I’m actually Australian but I’m acting under Government instructions and practising meditating on ‘what it means to be British’. In fact so robust is my commitment that I am even going to try to own our propensity to be thick – see bracketed point above), are, ehem, well thick.

R&H would no doubt be alarmed to find that authorship of their last collaboration ‘The Sound of Music’ has been transferred in the nation's knowledge bank to Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose Spitting Image puppet was last seen on TV scouring the country in search of a young woman with a half decent singing voice and Julie Andrews’ mullety auburn hair. They would be doubly dismayed to discover that Astro Boy incarnate – one Raymond Quinn of X-Factor was under the impression that ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, from another of their fine entertainments ‘Carousel’ is about his home town of Liverpool. The song is sung as a comfort to resolutely American heroine Julie Jordan following the death of her lover, the carnival roustabout Billy Bigelow. It is not known whether or not Billy ever visited Venice on Mersey, but this doesn’t seem all that likely.

In the long queue for the toilets at the aptly named Wicked (a present from my very lovely cousin Matthew – a ticket I mean, not the whole show – that would be far too generous but obviously not unwelcome. Thank you Matthew by the way), someone received a text message and blurted out the fact that Ben had been eliminated to massive groans all round. It seems I was not the only one whose post-theatre plans included curling up with a Sauvignon Blanc and a bowl of pistachios for the repeat on ITV2. Having spent the evening listening to the best of what the London stage has to offer in terms of vocal power, I was in the mood to be a harsh critic.

Although informed that there would be no theme to this semi-final, a worrying trend developed early on when Leona and Ben both sang songs from Kevin Costner films. I had a moment of anxiety when it occurred to me that Astro Boy might have a stab at ‘You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice’, the song Costner himself recorded for The Postman. Stab is what Astro Boy did a lot of. It’s rather quaint how the studio audience applaud every stretched note or raised eyebrow, as if they’re watching Torvill & Dean execute a particularly tricky triple salchow. They seemed very keen to celebrate his frequent over-sung sour notes, perhaps in an attempt to camouflage them. I have no idea how Astro Boy made it to the final but I suspect Ms Baroque may have been several of the million people who called in to cast a vote in his favour.

Leona walks like an Egyptian, or Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, depending on the angle. She is obviously a contender for the diva’s chair so dramatically vacated by Whitney Houston but did we really need a protracted television show to tell us that? Simon Cowell would be well advised to keep a large ocean between her and Snoop Dog at all times in the future. Ben should be all right. We’ve had several months to digest the notion that Joe Cocker really did need a successor and we’re braced for a Christmas reissue of ‘A Little Help From My Friends’.

Soon it will all be over for another year and the contestants can start planning their slow descent into oblivion. It doesn’t matter how talented they are and how much they’ve ‘nailed’ their numbers and made those ‘tracks their own’ or given all of their ‘one hundred and ten per cents’, all of the time. Once you’ve been on a television show, the only place to go is other television shows. Expect plucky cockney Robert to emerge from under a slime waterfall clutching yellow stars on ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’. Marvel as Leona gets her own chat show with Kevin Costner as co-presenter and hold your breath for the remake of Astro Boy staring you know who. Thrill to behold Eton Road taking over The Salon and cheer as Kerry gets a Saturday morning cooking show and Nikkita inherits Jade Goody’s abandoned nail bar. It may not be the future they had in mind when they began their incredible ‘journey’ but hey, at this stage, any dream will do…


Ms Baroque said...

I can assure you that I have never rung a reality TV progeamme to cast a vote! I suspect you just made that remark to get me to say that. And it is true.

Go on, though, by all means - harsh away!

That's so pants said...

It was a low act, I admit.

Ms Baroque said...


Your blog is a constant pleasure.