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UK Popstars 2, Week 1: Let's Get Ready to Rumble!by Phil Lewin -- 09/12/2002
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As one Idol is crowned on one side of the Atlantic, the quest to find another begins on the other side. Well, more accurately it's a quest to find another ten. The second series of UK Popstars, subtitled "The Rivals," seeks to find both a boy and a girl band who will then go head to head and mudwrestle each other into submission. Well, maybe not, although that might be more entertaining to watch. Instead both bands will release their first singles during the week before Christmas in a race for the seasonal Number One position.
What happens to their careers after that is unclear, but this has not discouraged the now familiar crowd of wannabes turning up at the initial auditions to grab their chance of fame, or failing that, the chance to appear on TV for a few seconds. The first few weeks of the series will, in traditional manner, feature the rounds of auditions. After that, the real silliness begins when the final ten boys and ten girls are put into two Big Brother-like houses and their numbers whittled down to five apiece via weekly public votes. Although as the finalists have reputedly been banned from having sex with each other while in the houses, at the risk of being thrown off the show, this might make life there a lot less interesting.
Two of the three judges will eventually manage the two bands and their personal rivalry is already being whipped up into a confrontation worthy of Don King's attention. In the blue corner, Pete "Slaughterman" Waterman, who will manage the boys. Our narrator Davina McCall announced that Pete was responsible for selling 500 million records, 200 Top 10 hits, and 21 Number Ones. Yes, but most of them were crap. To underline the point, clips of cheesy eighties videos were shown, featuring "talents" such as Rick Astley, Bananarama, and early Kylie Minogue (with a hairstyle and fashion sense she'd rather forget). Pete announced that he had never managed a boy band and even turned down the chance to produce Take That (the early nineties band that eventually spawned Robbie Williams). Though he did produce a couple of singles by Brother Beyond, but he has probably forgotten those, just as everyone else has.
In the red corner, Louis "The Lip" Walsh, the manager of the girls. Louis is responsible for Ireland's most irritating exports since stuffed leprechauns and Riverdance, namely boy bands Boyzone and Westlife and Ronan Keating, who between them have managed to set popular music back by about 25 years. Each has a fanbase of twelve-year-old girls so Louis is going to have to broaden his new proteges' appeal in order to succeed. Time will tell whether the girls will become the new Corrs or the new B*Witched (you might remember them from 1998).
Meanwhile, stuck in the middle in a self-styled "mediation" role is the third judge. "Indisputably one of the most famous women in the world," Davina told us. No, it's not Her Majesty the Queen, or Julia Roberts or even Kelly Osbourne. It's Geri Halliwell! Geri, in case you have forgotten, is famous for once being Ginger Spice in the Spice Girls and then losing a lot of weight and massacring "It's Raining Men" amongst other musical crimes. "Star quality is something you can't put your finger on. It shines from the eyes. It's that je ne sais quoix," she explained. Well that makes things a whole lot clearer.
Anyway the first auditions take place in London and five thousand hopefuls turn up over the next five days. Only one hundred people would go through to the next stages, so tensions are high. Davina is running around the auditorium comforting, hugging and generally playing mom, as she does so well on Big Brother. Let the games begin!
Round One. In struts Artun, a cocksure Italian, carrying a cell phone, which he intends to use as a microphone. Don't you normally only do this when singing in front of the mirror in your bedroom? Louis tells him to remove his chewing gum. Bad start. Then he takes off his jacket. "Take your time, we've only got a week," sighs Pete. Artun then bursts into a mangled version of Enrique Iglesias's "Love to See You Cry." Pete looks bemused while Geri crosses her eyes. "Why did you come to the audition?" Pete asks. "Myself and my singing. I've got too much emotion," Artun replied. Only an Italian could get away with drivel like that. Geri thinks he has a nice chest though (yes, let's get onto the important issues). And it's arrivederci to Artun. Only another 4,999 to go.1 2 3 Next-->
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