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UK Popstars 2, Week 3: Too Much Too Youngby Phil Lewin -- 09/26/2002
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The initial auditions are now over and the one hundred survivors are in London for the next step in creation of the two rival bands. Fifty more people have to be eliminated over the next two days and the mood is getting more serious. “The reality is setting in,” states Geri Halliwell, although Geri’s own relationship with reality is sometimes debatable.
To try and whip up the sense of rivalry between the bands, there is an obviously premeditated spat between the two managers – Pete Waterman (the boys) and Louis Walsh (the girls). “Louis thinks he’s the new me,” said Pete. “But I’m not going to give over the crown easily.” There was some retaliatory posturing. “Pete is out of touch. This is his last stab at the pop business – he’s the old man of pop,” replies Louis, age 47.
For this round of auditions, each performer has to sing in front of a black backdrop facing the judges (who also have TV monitors to observe how they appeared on screen) and an audience of the other auditionees plus Davina McCall, whose supportive mother-figure act was now in overdrive. “You’ve all got a one in five chance of going through,” she shrieked excitedly. The reassurance does not seem to have any effect, as the first few performers are all extremely nervous and fail to impress. Geri has an idea. “We want performance and stars, so get up and let go of your inhibition,” she commands, before ordering everyone to stand up and give a big primal scream. “Aaaaargh,” yells the audience. It would be a very cheap jibe to jest that they sounded as though they had just heard Geri sing, but then these recaps aren’t completely immune to those.
Several familiar faces from the first two episodes are seen again, including pregnant Hazel, visually impaired Andrew, and Paul, who had been the catalyst for the big argument between Pete and Louis early on. He has now taken some voice coaching and seems a lot more confident about his abilities. One new face was Stephanie, who performed a mighty version of “River Deep, Mountain High.” The first line of “When I was a little girl,” was fitting for someone who was obviously nowhere near the sixteen-year-old minimum age qualification. She had been asked for ID and made a big (metaphorical) song and dance in front of the cameras by constantly phoning home to try and get her birth certificate faxed down, which mysteriously continually failed to appear. This tactic would not get anywhere in a liquor store, so Stephanie was probably being extremely optimistic to think that she could get away with it here.
And now, complete nausea alert. Jonathan and Ewan had written a song all about Davina, seemingly entitled “She’s my TV girl” and they sit down and sing it to her. The lyrics are so sycophantic that I think another primal scream is definitely in order.
At last it is the end of a tortuous day and time to cull the flock by a quarter. Pete, ever the motivator, calls everyone back onto the stage and states how disappointed he was with that day’s level of performance and suggests that those staying for the next stage of auditions the following day have to raise their game by five hundred per cent (so, not asking for much then). He and Louis then read out lists of boys’ and girls’ names respectively and direct those named to the sides of the stage. To crank up the tension, Pete does not say whether those being moved were staying for the next stage of auditions or leaving, until the group is completely split, when Pete announces that those moved to the sides would be the ones staying. Cue elation from those standing in this area, followed by a stampede out of the hall, cell phones at the ready, to tell their families and friends the good news.
The seventy-five or so fortunate enough to make it into the next stage of auditions are then put up for the night in a luxury hotel. Now would we see any authentic rock ‘n’ roll behaviour – champagne being knocked back like water, drug-fuelled orgies and the like? Not a chance. The most anarchic behaviour comes from three male hopefuls who dress up as the judges by putting on a bright orange wig (Geri) and adopting an atrocious cod-Oirish accent (Louis). Crazy man.
Next day, the professional advisers are bought in. Firstly Tanya, choreographer to Will Smith, Emma Bunton, and Liberty X, who give the auditionees some advice about dance routines before they jig around while their moves are examined by the judges. Hazel, even despite her heavily expectant condition, still manages to dance rather well, though Andrew, for obvious reasons, finds following a routine more difficult. In the afternoon, vocal coach Jo, who had worked with Craig David, Ms Dynamite, and Liberty X (again), conducts some vocal exercises concluding in the whole group getting together to sing “One Sweet Day” in a definite “Fame” moment.1 2 Next-->
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