Scott, To Be Certain


Friday, August 31, 2007

Verdict 4: A Fucking Cheray-de

Last night was a short episode. As such, it did not represent an onerous blogging proposition.

However, I was stunned into silence last night and have only this morning summoned the wherewithal to address the tragedy that calls itself "Australian Idol Season 5".

"That's not a tragedy. Some people don't own maps"

I tend to disagree, Miss Teen South Carolina. There is something even more devastating than geographical illiteracy going on here.

"Do you mean South Africa and the Iraq and everywhere like such as"

I wish that's what I meant, sweetie. Let me break it down for you.

The night began innocently enough, some might even say delightfully. It was the first time this series where both contestants winning through to the Final 12 had delivered good semifinal performances and truly deserved their place. Congratulations to Holly Weinert and Brianna Carpenter.

I'm not without my reservations about these two. Holly is from Mildura (COUNTRY ALERT), is friends with a homewrecker (BITCH BY ASSOCIATION) and can't even spell the name of Billie Holiday, her alleged own idol (ILLITERATE). Brianna does not believe in symmetrical hairstyles (UNBALANCED), is a startling prospect for camera close-ups (COMPROMISED DINNER VIEWING) and is armed with a potentially sickening array of self-involved singer/songwriter quirks to cumulatively poison us all (HEALTH RISK).

But to be fair, they were very entertaining last night, both individually and as an intertwined lesbian unit. Brianna was called first, reacting with genuine delight and surprise before heading immediately upstairs to join her fellow finalists. James Mathison then announced, with uncharacteristic poise and swiftness, that Holly was next through. Holly scarcely spent two tenths of a second "enjoying the moment" before turning on her heel with lightning speed and darting up to join Brianna. It was hilariously fast, and I started to love Holly even more at that moment, since she seemed to be acting as viewers' agent, channeling our desire to get the fuck on with the show.

Cue the Holly and Brianna reunion at the top of the stairs, which began as a sisterly hug of mutual congratulation, grew in intensity and ended up with both bitches splayed on the floor like the dirty wenches they no doubt really are. Brianna, of course, was the one caught on top, wrapped betwixt Holly's legs, her face inches away from Holly's crotch. Like an epiphany, the source of Brianna's sandpaper-ravaged face suddenly dawned on us all.

But joy soon turned to despair. There was the matter of Damien Leith's performance, with which the word "lacklustre" does not even wish to be associated. It was a lazy, uninteresting performance of a boring song, but somehow suitably emblematic of our 2007 Idol journey.

Then the heartbreaker: the 8 Wild Card recipients were announced. This year, each of the 4 judges gets to pick 2 semifinalists to perform again. In order:

Mark Holden

1. Husny Thalib. GOOD. Husny is nothing if not entertaining, and breaks the mould in a way that we actually care for it to be broken. Plus, there's the prospect of a Kate Bush-a-thon, commencing one hopes with "Wuthering Heights" on Sunday night.

"I love Bush as well"

2. Mark Da Costa. GOOD. Mark clearly delivered the 2nd best male performance of the semifinals, and is the nearest thing to "easy on the eyes" that the male contingent has this year. OMG how fucking depressing.


3. Dave Andrews. BAD. WTF? As we know, Dave is modest and unassuming, and probably a lovely bloke. By the same token, he weirds me out a bit, in the style of someone I might reluctantly leave alone with my baby nieces. Plus, he impersonated a hokkien noodle in his semifinal performance and doesn't deserve another chance.

4. Daniel Mifsud. SHITHOUSE. WTF? I guess I shouldn't be surprised. The judging panel all clearly wants to writhe around with Mifsud on a bed. Yawn. The surprise is that Dicko didn't select Sarah Lloyde, over whom he almost blew a load on Wednesday night. Plus, we're half way there and where is my girl Cheray?

Marcia Hines

5. Natalie G(r)auci. GOOD. Marcia took half an hour to explain, like she does every year, about how devastatingly difficult and time-consuming it is to choose Wild Cards, and presumably also to arouse interest in anything she says. But it looks like Marcia's bringing it home for the sisterhood of the hungry pants. And from memory Marcia liked Cheray's semifinal sass, so surely she's next?

6. Carl Risible. HORRENDOUS. WTF? Carl was terrible, placing last in his group according to me, but we should have known, since Carl is not altogether unattractive, and Marcia's principal concern is boning anything with a penis. Methinks there was a certain someone who was more than welcome after last night's show.


7. Jack Byrnes. GOOD. Jack has one of the most powerful male voices, and incongruous drag queen dance moves aside, should get another chance to show us another jacket song. But at this point we're 6 guys to 1 girl. And on the basis of Kyle's penchant for anything with breasts, you just know the last place is going to Sarah Lloyde. But he liked Cheray, didn't he? Surely there's a chance?

8. Sarah Lloyde. BA-BOW. Sarah clinches the 2nd female spot, on the basis of her Idol "journey", which seems simply to involve some yelling, acting out a different Dreamgirls scene at every opportunity, and progressively getting thinner since her first audition. Who knew? Now she's Kim Cattrall.

Right. So let's get this straight. EVERY SINGLE GUY except Lyall Adonis and Junior To'o, who both delivered lamentable performances, have been given a second chance. Meanwhile, only 2 women - AGAIN - just like last year.


Cheray was the best in her semifinal group, is probably the most credible female musician and showed the most potential for genre-straddling, but still not a single bite from any of the judges. This is despite each of them giving glowing feedback after her performance, including Dicko ("Where on earth did you pull that rabbit from? That was sassy, funky and I loved it") and Kyle ("I'm really, really impressed with you"). To add insult to injury, Cheray was seated in the back row last night and got no camera time, despite looking fetching in a hat.

While Hello Krostie dives for some razor blades out of continuing guilt and everyone else scratches their heads in disbelief, James Mathison, as a laughably insufficient consolation, suspenselessly announces a rule change that from next year will allow all unsuccessful semifinalists from this and past years to audition again for another stab at Idol. The audience tries to care, but there's no masking the fact that this announcement smacks of desperation and nervousness on the part of producers at the prospect of a depleted talent pool for future shows and the dire current situation of Season 5.

Idol is dead to me at least until Sunday.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

AI5: Verdict 3 & Semifinal 4

A wise reader of this site succinctly identified that the voting pattern of this series seems to involve nothing more complex than the following equation: 1 good person + 1 shit person = Finalists.

I tend to think it's more a case of "Vote 4 1 good person & OMG my fone is da shit LOLZ!!!!11!1 fuk who sang last o yeah that lost 1 OMG I luv Dean Geyer 4eva!!!11!".

Last night again delivered into the Top 12 a deserving competitor (Ben McKenzie, looking singularly uncomfortable above in an unsuccessfully executed bloke-like photographic pose) and an undeserving one (Marty Simpson, looking a lot like Agro by way of Summer Bay). At least Marty has a distinctive voice and has shown potential (provided he devises an arm strategy for future performances).

How did our last set of young lassies do?

6. Morgan Hosking (a.k.a. Honking Orgasm), "You Learn" (by Alanis Morissette)

We shouldn't really have very high expectations of Morgan because she has virtually no imagination. Q: What should I wear? A: BLACK! Q: What should I perform? A: "Special Ones" by george! (She performed this TWICE, once at her first audition and again as her final Top 64 solo.) Q: What should I perform if I'm a black-obsessed, crucifix-wielding, goth-loving alleged rock chick and "Special Ones" is apparently ineligible? A: Alanis, of course!


Yep. Nothing quite like a moderately successful fifth single with uplifting lyrics from a seminal pop-rock album to communicate alleged angsty, gothic tendencies. More like sex with a cadaver than a honking orgasm, this was a wet, lifeless, amateur abortion of a performance. At least she got her Amy Lee on something chronic dress-wise. Obviously I would have given her extra points if she'd sung kneeling down in something like this:

But alas it wasn't to be. Dicko memorably likened her to a drunk bridesmaid at a gothic wedding, but Marcia said it best when she declared simply, "I think you got through it." Only just.

5. Madison Wildenstein Pritchett (a.k.a. Constipated Mirth), "When You're Gone" (by Avril Lavigne)

This performance was the most joyously close to a re-enactment of the great 2005 Laura Gissara debacle that we've ever had. Another serial song selector (she twice sang Kelly C's "Because of You" in the audition stages), Madison spiced up her performance not only with unwieldy, dramatic arm movements, but also with a deplorable, glass-shattering key change. It was a moment of quiet contentment for viewers to watch Madison grapple with recalcitrant hairs that stubbornly attached themselves to her face. Buh-bye.

4. Rosie Ribbons, "Everybody Hurts" (by R.E.M.)

Not content to let Parasite Williams Vushe be the only affordably dressed contestant, Rosie carved up her Mum's 1980s silver-specked clutch purse and glued it on to a Bonds t-shirt for last night's performance. Thankfully, she left her Gippsland shopping centre eyeliner at home and looked otherwise reasonably presentable, but for a UK Pop Idol Top 6 alumna and glamorous Dubbo resident, her output last night was not only disappointingly bland but also a televisual laxative. She managed to excise all emotion from Michael Stipe's aching lament, replacing it with hilariously ill-judged vocal aerobics, and lengthening her vowels to the point that she often forgot the word she'd begun to sing only nanoseconds earlier. The best example of this was toward the end when what should have been "Everybody Huuuurts..." became instead "Everybody Hwooooooooooaaaaaiiiiigh!". Perhaps she was just greeting us. Bless.

But obviously the best part of Rosie's performance was the judging. Now as we all know, Marcia Hines is best friends with every major successful songwriter and recording artist, loves and/or has expert knowledge of every major successful song ever written, and has often additionally recorded the song the relevant Idol performer has just sung. Last night was no exception: it just so happens Rosie had the misfortune of choosing "Everybody Hurts" IMMEDIATELY AFTER Marcia recorded it! Shithouse timing, Ribbons: why didn't you do your homework? The only correct modern interpretation of this song is clearly a storming disco-pop re-imagining. At least Marcia delved into her first bit of constructive feedback for the season: "Too many licks, dahlin'", which, although spot on, is something you just intrinsically sense does not usually form the basis of a protest from Marcia.

3. Sarah Lloyde (a.k.a. Really Sad Ho), "...And I Am Telling You (I'm Not Going)" (by Jennifers Holliday & Hudson)

The only thing Sarah loves more than redundant, unpronounced letters is the Dreamgirls soundtrack. Sarah loooooooooooooves the Dreamgirls soundtrack and wants to marry it, as evidenced by her performance of Beyoncé's "Listen" in her first audition (complete with Beyoncé's sister-girlfriend diction: "Listen...Mm-hmm"), and then last night's butchering of the production's one true show-stopper, which most recently bagged fellow Idol alumna J-Hud an Oscar (something which I foreshadowed, just FYI). It was a capable performance, but if we're meant to be holding these potential finalists to a certain standard, then there's no way Sarah makes it. Putting award-winning versions aside, Sarah's effort wasn't even 1% of a patch on the previous American Idol semifinal versions performed by Frenchie Davis or LaKisha Jones. Still, she ranks Number 3 on a horrendous night for the girls. This season is sooooo going to be won by a boy. At least Marcia piped up with another pearler, in response to an inference by Dicko that Mark has had surgery: "This isn't about what Mark's done. To himself. Which is a lot."

2. Brianna Carpenter, "Fidelity" (by Regina Spektor)

Another Mom creation

This performance should be book-marked for future reference: along with Brianna's tenuous stylistic resemblance to Chanel Cole comes the potential that Marcia will soon begin to hate her. Will Marcia's assertion after this performance that "Brianna won't get on my nerves!" come back to bite her? We'll see. As for the performance itself, there are a few points to note. First: Björk is in da house again. The splendid Emzed has kindly sourced for me the Margaret Cho skit in which she impersonates Björk to side-splitting effect: it can be viewed here (at around 3m40s). Amazing. And while Hello Krostie innocently invited peripheral comparison to the Icelandic star in her semi-final performance on Monday night, nothing could quite have prepared us for the startling eccentric imitation provided by Brianna last night. Words fail me, etc.

I really, really enjoyed Brianna's vocal - it's actually a wonderful song - but the faux coquettish theatrics in a dress designed by HER MOM detracted from it slightly, not to mention the calculated quirk factor in her facial expressions. Speaking of facials: someone get this bitch a Neutrogena face mask and sliced cucumber quick smart. Sandpaper is obviously no stranger to carpenters, and this one is no exception. Points, though, for a tremendous smackdown of Kyle. When he said he wasn't into the song, she said simply, "Yeah... I didn't really expect you to be." Glorious.

1. Holly Winehouse Weinert, "Easy" (by The Commodores and Faith No More)

Holly loves Sunday mornings: first she sang No Doubt's song of the same name at her first audition, then last night sang about being particularly easy on said mornings. An ice addict, perhaps? Who knows, but she was quite clearly last night's best. Marcia was on fire again when she self-thesaurusised her commentary: "In it, amid it, amongst it all, you stayed, remained, yourself." Did she lift that from a poem? Gold.

Methinks it's Holly and Brianna who are through to the finals, but on the basis of goldfish memories, Rosie Ribbons is in with a shot.

All I can say is: bring on the Wild Card. There is some serious rectification necessary to salvage this from being the worst Top 12 in history.

POSTSCRIPT: Speaking of the Wild Card. Treasured reader Danni wants to know who I endorse for a shot at the Wild Card.

Assuming 8 contenders, I think these 6 people will be invited back: 2 from tonight. Or they could pull what they did last year and inflate the number of boys, based on the girls being generally shithouse. Who knows. Whatever the case: it's all about Husny and Cheray.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

AI5: Verdict 2 & Semifinal 3

This episode delivered the series' first set of surprises.

1. ProActiv's next posterboy, Ben McKenzie, delivering the performance of the competition so far (see below);

2. Bookies' favourite Lyall Adonis conversely delivering a god-awful train wreck; and

3. Lana "Hello Kitty" Krost making the finals.

A nervous Lana before the show


The only aesthetic disparity between Hello Kitty and Hello Krostie is that the former has no mouth. Nonetheless, it's likely that the former's performance would have been superior. And so Monday night's worst performer has sailed into the Top 12 on the back of a sickeningly cutesy rendition of a Fergie song, thereby ensuring a repeat for Australian viewers of this atrocity:

That would be Lauren, from Season 1. Don't tell me you can't see it coming.

But we simply must make the most of a bad situation and focus on the positives: Lana is cute. And she has an endearingly warped accent, with vague remnants of Japanese inflection, and a disturbingly vacant stare, combining to create an overall effect not unlike O-Ren Ishii:

clearly nailed it on the head when he recommended facetiously, "Perform last." Viewers have short memories, and to date this has benefitted both Lana and Jacob Butler. Meanwhile, caterwauling powerhouse Parasite Williams Vushe was the only obvious choice to make it through. Again dressed affordably, Parasite took about 8 minutes to explain to us that she couldn't sleep, by the end of which not a single viewer could say the same. Better luck in the Wild Card round Cheray.

Now on to the boys, in descending order of quality.

6. Lyall Adonis

COPYCAT ALERT! This song delivered a touchdown to Dan England in Season 3: Strike 1. This was absolutely terrible, and inescapably infused with an incongruous touch of the Jesus, from the audition package reference to a "carpenter resurrection" through to his dramatic "on the cross" raising of the arms: Strike 2. And when Marcia don't dig it, even when you TAKE IT TO CHURCH: Strike 3. What a shame.

5. Dave Andrews

For someone who's an alleged fan of Radiohead and Queen, stripping a John Farnham up-tempo classic back into a ballad seems like a misguided choice to say the least. This limp, insipid performance was such a wasted opportunity. I find it interesting that semi-finalists who rely on their instruments to define their music - Dave, Natalie Gauci - revert to boring ballads when equipped only with a microphone. At what point do these people say, "Yes, my finest reaction thus far has come during an acoustic rendition of a Radiohead song; I think it's obvious that my next choice should be some Farnham!"

4. Marty Simpson, a.k.a My Son's Armpit

He brushed up much cleaner than I could possibly have anticipated. But aside from the eyebrows, this time Marty's fatal mistake was to not have decided in advance what to do with his right arm while performing: he awkwardly held it mid-air alongside the microphone as though creating parentheses for the lyrics. Either that, or it was a failed attempt at visually interpreting the song's title, "Over My Head". I share Dicko's love of this guy's voice, but this was utterly pedestrian.

3. Jack Byrnes

Jack's accessory of choice seems to be a HUGE JACKET. He is always wearing one, even during "busy" performances. Credit to him for still finding a way to move under its weight: for a greasy, chubby guy with braces, he's definitely got soul. "You took it to church!" wailed Marcia, in one of her better moments. But there was also something absolutely filthy and visually assaulting about Jack's hyper-sexual and strangely effeminate onstage grooving. When Dicko called him on his womanly jives, Jack was quick to call him "Dude" in order to conclusively nip any rumours in the bud. Nice work. And while Jack was good and all, his pre-performance package mostly made me rue that we never got to meet the Rihanna look-alike the the judges ditched from his audition group of 4. How seriously did she fuck up that she was sacrificed in favour of someone like Country De Rouge? I think I need therapy.

2. Mark Da Costa

"Thought I was at the pub!" Mark exclaimed at the end amid crowd cheers. Indeed. I know this was a capable rock performance, but all I could think of was Kelly "Rock Chick" Cavuoto's equal if not superior Season 1 version of this song. I also resent that he appears to have broken the unwritten Idol rule that audition songs are not to be re-performed: this formed the basis of his FIRST AUDITION, quite rightly pointed out by the brilliant Glen (read him here at one of my favourite sites, Stale Popcorn). Still, let's not get too worked up. This was better than every single other male semi-final performance barring Number 1 below.

1. Ben McKenzie

Ben loves Imogen Heap and Brooke Fraser, both brilliant female singer-songwriters. If you cover your eyes as he speaks, he sounds a bit like Jennifer Hawkins. And as Ben sang "Daughters" as his audition song, one assumes he identified closely with the song's subject. So there is definitely an androgynous theme developing in Ben's screen persona, but there is no denying that this was an excellent performance. It was also the first opportunity for Marcia to bust out something about story-telling, which is invariably a veiled attempt to compliment herself. But she was right: this was an unexpected delight, and I sense he has earned his place in the finals.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

AI5: Semi-Finals 1 and 2

Hello to all, and, in defiance of that word's already inherently exhaustive meaning, I extend, as a special treat, a greeting to sundry as well.

I must also extend my apologies. That tiresome inconvenience - employment - is responsible for my lacklustre blogging performance so far vis-à-vis the Idol semi-finals. But as fate would have it, I am going to wrap up both episodes now to provide my two cents' worth.

"I'll chip in another 48"

The Boys

This was potentially the most spectacularly boring semi-final I have ever witnessed. Each of the judges deserves a pay rise for not being knocked unconscious by the utter mediocrity on display. It certainly renders the magic of Chanel's "Glory Box" performance in the corresponding semi-final 3 years ago all the more worthy of praise, does it not?

Let's have a brief look at each of the performances, ranked in descending order of quality.

6. Carl Risible

Serving up a piping hot dish of sonic excrement, Carl knocked himself out of contention with a painfully sung and boringly performed two minutes of drivel. Michael Buble's "Home" is actually that performer's first and best stab at writing his own music, and it's usually a gorgeous, wistful lullaby when done correctly. Not here. Though I quite liked Kyle's far-too-polite commentary, likening Carl to undercooked toast. Marcia's quite right: as a singer, Carl is clearly an excellent trumpet player.

5. Junior Joseph GaTo'o

A dead ringer for last year's flaccid Joseph Gatehau, Junior To'o shares that performer's unique ability to cure insomnia in mere seconds. In one of history's poorest ever song choices, Junior chose Pink's uber-political "Dear Mr President", then proceeded to explain that the song isn't really all that political. Oooookaay then. Pink certainly wouldn't have been pleased about his leather jacket, but at least he wore a lovely Big Brother tribute t-shirt, and Mark Holden did amusingly congratulate him for not "over-licking" the song. Blimey.

4. Daniel Mifsud, a.k.a. Semi-Final Dud

To the delight of all Australians, Daniel's anagram proved prescient. Draped in a new scarf fashioned from his very own neck hair, he sang Diesel's "Tip Of My Tongue", a haunting ode to clitoral massage, with all the flair of an ingrown toenail. Incredibly, Daniel then admitted that by way of preparation he had only previously listened to the song four times in his life. Nice work.

3. Husny Thalib

Disappointingly bland output vocally and song-wise from Idol's resident genre-buster, enlivened only by a spot of pelvic thrusting and a few well-timed pouts, which one supposes might be close to Husny's entire life strategy. I think Husny has the potential to both shock and impress us, but this wasn't an example. Where is the Britney, the Kate Bush? At least Marcia came to the party: her constructive feedback was to recommend that Husny give "bit by bit by bit then explode", a sequence with which I sense he is already familiar.

2. Jacob Butler

In such a drab line-up, Jacob capably executed a musical Stephen Bradbury to claim the second-best performance of the night and sweep into the finals. He took a risk in singing a song most people have heard approximately 4,000 times more than they ever intended in their lifetime, but it was earnestly performed, and don't you just want to grab those cheeks and give them a squeeze? James Mathison does, and perhaps even a bit more, memorably grabbing the mic stand and telling Jacob, "Don't mind me, I'm just moving the pole behind you." NEWSFLASH: Marcia's jade ear accessories are actually EARPHONES! Did you catch one dangling around her neck after this performance? Amazing.

1. Matt Corby

Matt's place in the finals was reserved before he even took to the stage, but it really shouldn't have been that easy. For starters, he sang Stevie Wonder's "I Wish" without injecting any discernible uniqueness or passion into the performance, delivering a finished product that I'm amazed to say was even inferior to Tammy Faye Kate De Rouge's, if that's at all possible. Then there was the choice of accessory, a kind of cross between a picnic rug and Yasser Arafat's headgear: WTF. Clearly hanging out far too much with Daniel Mifsud, Matt is developing disturbing fixations with misguided neckwear and excessive hair, and will need to "bring his A-game" "moving forward".

The verdict? It was pleasantly and unusually swift; featured Mifsud mercifully sans scarf; and, critically, was the right outcome. Plus, Jacob's sheer delight at being chosen was genuinely nice to see. It will be interesting to see if the arrival of warmer weather will encourage Jacob to stop storing those acorns in his cheeks and to get stuck in to some serious non-X Factor-style performances to give Matt a run for his money.

The Girls

6. Lana Krost, a.k.a. Oral Stank

And stink it did: this was an unbearably twee car crash of a performance from the youngster, complete with butchered song structure, fumbled lyrics, and, especially, over-mannered coyness. Anyone who has seen Margaret Cho's hysterical impersonation of Björk would have noticed a strangely familiar flavour here.

5. Jesse "Homewrecker" Curran

Jesse has copped a bit of press this week for destroying the life of James Blundell's wife, through a cunning seduction of James that prompted him to ditch the marital unit in favour of life in Mildura. In today's MX, neo-De Rouge pleaded with the Australian public to judge her on her singing only. I don't think anyone will hesitate to accept that invitation after this dreadful performance. The judges' references to Julie Andrews were spot-on: this was insufferably Sunday schoolteacher-esque. But it did end on a hilarious note, with Marcia mistaking something Jesse said with a reference to the Blundellgate scenario, proceeding to offer her opinion on it to boot. Thoroughly uncomfortable but no less sensational viewing.

4. Natalie Gauci, a.k.a. La Cutie

La Cutie was all at sea without her enormous keyboard, giving Xtina a red-hot go but falling well short. I spent most of this performance distracted by Natalie's crotch, which most disturbingly resembled a horse feeding from a trough. It seemed that with each step a further portion of her pants was swallowed by her ravenous nether regions, and Kyle quite rightly called her on it. Ba-bow.

3. Sally Van Der Zwart

I was none too positive in forecasting Sally's chances in my Top 24 analysis, but I was very pleasantly surprised by this performance. The pre-performance package recapping her auditions cast her as a serial ballad-lover, foreshadowing a potential vanilla overdose for us all - but the result was in fact, bravely, a non-ballad, delivered with gusto and perfect pitch. She was brought a bit undone by a complete lack of stagecraft, sashaying around aimlessly with faux angst that lacked credibility. Still, she's in with a slim chance.

2. Tarisai Williams, a.k.a. Virtue Sis'

I stubbornly refuse to like Tarisai. Unlike her principal Idol predecessors Emily and Paulini, Tarisai is manifestly incapable of modulating the power and tone of her voice, invariably producing a screamfest which ends up fusing into one noisy, monotonous caterwauling session. Still, she somehow pulled off this performance. It was a nice mix of mid- and up-tempo, and she looked rather adorable on the whole, wearing some type of cat overtop an enlarged album cover for "The Diary of Alicia Keys". Most notably, it elicited a couple of inspired corkers from Dicko, who first labelled Virtue Sis' "stark raving mad" before likening her performance to "an audition for Sybil". Gold.

1. Cheray Doughty

Hooray again for Cheray. I was a bit nervous at the prospect of Cheray attempting the singularly primal groan which colours all of Joss Stone's music, especially since the show's editors had previously cast her in earnest singer-songwriter mode. Cheray busted out of that pigeonhole with an unexpectedly sexy performance, undone only by a questionable final note. Impressive stage movement, a confidently sassy strut, and a surprising flair for soul: the best performance so far of all the semi-finalists.

For mine, Cheray and Tarisai are shoo-ins - shoos-in? - as the only plausible potential finalists from this set. Your thoughts?

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