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UK Popstars 2, Week 2: Oh Baby, Babyby Phil Lewin -- 09/19/2002
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The first rounds of auditions for UK Popstars moved north this week, to Manchester and Glasgow. Perhaps mindful of the possible dip in temperature, Geri Halliwell is, despite being safely indoors, is wearing a big parka coat like Kenny's from South Park. Fortunately nobody thought of saying to her, "Oh my god, they killed my career." Later we see that underneath the coat, Geri is wearing a T-shirt carrying a photograph of Gareth Gates, the runner-up in UK Pop Idol. Is she trying to make an ironic statement or is this another mysterious cross-promotional ploy from the Simon Cowell stable? We shall never know.
Anyway, back to the auditions, which like the London heats veered wildly between the obviously talented and the complete no-hopers. First up is a large dreadlocked Irishman wearing, as Pete Waterman described it, "more diamonds than South Africa". After being told to "remove his bling-bling," he tried to sing like Shaggy but instead sounded more like Ali G, which would be so two years ago, even if he was good (which he wasn't). Respect? Not a chance.
Gayle is next up, wearing a large neckbrace following a recent car accident. Perhaps she is trying to match Geri's apparent sense of irony by singing "Torn". Unfortunately she lays herself open to a way too obvious quip from Louis Walsh, "I'm not torn." Exit Gayle in tears. Davina McCall is at hand to play mum and bring out the tissues.
Next, some real quality. Andrew from Liverpool has glaucoma and is ninety per cent visually impaired. He sings a quite emotive version of "Tomorrow Never Comes," and the judges are visibly moved. "That gave me a chill," exclaimed Pete. Geri adds that his talent is amazing and the judges have no hesitation putting him into the next stage. There are hints of future discord among the judges about whether his disability makes him suitable for a boy band, but that is for another day.
A few unsuccessful auditions later, we then have a putdown worthy of Simon Cowell himself. Alisha warbles "Don't Stop Movin'," accompanied by a feeble-looking dance. "You're a checkout operator aren't you," asked Pete. "So check out!" Boom boom! Alisha exits in tears to be comforted by Davina, who is obviously having a busy time.
And now it's time for this week's lunatic Geri fanatic. Sarah enters the judging room dressed as Geri in her legendary (to Spice Girl fans at least) Union Jack dress as worn at the 1997 Brit Awards. The real Geri, for possibly the first time in her life, is speechless. "It's Geri before and after," cries Pete. She then launches into the Spicies' "Say You'll Be There." Now, let's face it, as Geri has tried to distance herself from the band as far as possible since she walked out, digging out their old songs is a bad tactical move for anyone hoping to make progress, to say nothing of the complete lack of credibility; unsurprisingly Sarah did not go any further. "At least I'm keeping people employed," quipped Geri. Only the ungallant would add that Sarah both looked and sang a lot better than Geri ever did in the Spicies.
Gerry is next on. He is already in a band called Klass, but wants to move up into a better one. This is quite understandable when we see a poster of the said combo, who look like bad Bay City Rolleresque seventies throwbacks. Klass is one thing they clearly haven't got. Gerry is obviously a professional as he brings a guitar into the audition and asks to check the key before he starts. "You're the only bugger in three days that's bothered," retorts Pete. He sings Bon Jovi's "Always" and goes through, although Pete suggests he learns some pop, rather than rock songs. Presumably "Saturday Night" and "Money Honey" will not be among them.
Now for some sheer nepotism. The next hopeful, Nadine, was already well-known to Louis as she had auditioned for the Irish Popstars earlier this year, in which he was a also a judge. She had actually made into the final band until it emerged that she had lied about her age and was in fact too young. One birthday later, she was now eligible. "Here's my girl," smirked Louis. You sensed that she hardly needed to sing a note to go into the next stage and her progress was virtually a formality. "She's terrible," joked Pete, but you already suspect if Louis has his way, she will almost certainly be in the final five.1 2 Next-->
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