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UK Popstars 2, Week 9: Dogfightby Phil Lewin -- 11/06/2002
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Following the 'Petergate' affair in the previous edition of Popstars - The Rivals, the war of words between the managers of the boy and girl bands - Pete Waterman and Louis Walsh - has intensified. Louis claimed that Pete knew several days in advance of the show that Peter was too old for the band. Pete denied that this was the case and accused Louis of trying to inflame the situation in order to undermine Pete's band. Increasingly, the main rivalry in this series seems to be between the managers/judges themselves rather than the two bands. Both then had to sit together on the live show with only the diminutive frame of Geri Halliwell to keep them apart - hardly a Jerry Springer level of security.
Perhaps for her own protection or perhaps to draw attention to herself after being overshadowed by last week's drama, Geri had brought along her most photographed fashion accessory, her pocket-sized shitzu, Harry, to sit with her on the judges' bench. Harry offered his own critique of the show by snoozing through most of it, though fortunately all of the singers were spared the potential embarrassment of him pooping during their performances.
This week it was the girls' latest round of eliminations. The nine girls had to be reduced to seven. Pete kicked off the first jibe of the evening by expressing the hope that their performances were better than those that he had seen in the first week. Louis rose to the bait. "Pete would say that - he's old enough to be in a pantomime," he responded cryptically. Then, just for good measure, he tried to set himself on the moral high ground. "It's going to be a fair fight for number one and if I didn't believe in the integrity of the show then I wouldn't be here," he exclaimed to a big cheer, omitting to mention the moral ambiguity of his connections with some of the contestants. Geri made the most honest comment of all. "I'm just here to have a good time," she stated. So now we know that, let's face it, she doesn't actually have anything relevant to say.
After all that the girls came on and performed an ensemble version of 'That's What Friends Are For'. Unlike the boys, who all dress in similar black outfits, the girls are seemingly allowed to be more individualistic in their fashion sense and they all looked great.
Javine was first to sing tonight and performed a smooth version of 'Let's Stay Together'. Pete was impressed. "It's a foregone conclusion that she's in the band." Dangerous words as recent events have proved that there is no such thing as a foregone conclusion on this show. Moving to seemingly more important matters, Pete could not resist another pop at Louis. "It's a bit close isn't it - backing singers and Al Green songs," he cracked, referring to some of his boys' previous performances. Audience boo! "She knows how good she is - Pete is jealous," countered Louis. Na na di na na!
Next was Cheryl who sang 'You're Still the One'. "I love your smile," gushed Davina McCall kicking off a set of completely irrelevant comments regarding her actual performance. "You're glowing and look great," added Geri. "She looks fantastic," said Pete. Harry raised an eyebrow, which probably said more than any of the others.
Chloe was next up and belted out 'Rescue Me'. Davina, who seemingly has set herself up as the unofficial fourth judge, was impressed. "If you carry on singing like that, you'll be in the band." "Fantastic - it's a hard song to sing but you rescued me," added Louis. Obviously he is not being paid for his attempts at jokes. Pete then wrecked the bonhomie. "Fontella Bass did the original and you should never have attempted it. It's too hard a song," he moaned. Booo! Chloe gutsily countered to say that felt that she had delivered. Louis backed her opinion while Geri unsurprisingly sat on the fence.
The disagreements did not end there as Emma's performance of 'Be My Baby' further polarised the judges opinions. Pete started the confrontation. "You have improved but you're struggling. You should listen to the track a bit more. You just need more experience." Geri followed, "You're cute but you lack experience." Perhaps encouraged by Chloe's example, Emma fought back. "I deserve to be here!" she exclaimed. Big audience cheer. "I'm not sure if you're strong enough," continued Geri. "I am!" Emma retorted. This could almost be the history of the Spice Girls all over again. Louis once again stepped in. "She's better than all the Spice Girls, or Kylie Minogue! She's only a young girl. Give her a chance!" Bigger cheer.
Nicola was next. She is one of the youngest girls and looks it but her powerful performance of 'Shout' belied her age. This time all the judges were united. "She's little Miss Dynamite," said Louis (not to be confused with the real Ms Dynamite). "Lulu would be proud of that - she's a star." Pete wanted her in the band. Even Harry woke up, perhaps thinking that a waifish redhead dancing around was Geri, apart from the fact that she could actually sing. "I'm so glad you came back," crooned Geri, referring to Nicola's late replacement of the other Nicola, who had previously stormed out of the house. Pete added that having to tell her that she wasn't originally in the final ten was the worst thing he'd ever had to do. On this performance, it looks a good bet that her belated second chance will take her all the way into the band.
Aimee's lively rendition of 'I Only Want To Be With You' inspired some more insipid adjectives from the judges. "Younger girls can identify with you - you're yummy," swooned Geri inexplicably. "You're lush," added Pete. Louis again said that he would have her in the band, to which Davina remarked that he would need a seven or eight piece band to contain all of his favourites. This would actually be a good idea - set up a squad and rotate the five band members to keep them fresh or to cover for illness or pregnancies (which have caused enough disruption to girl bands such as Atomic Kitten in recent years). In the world of manufactured pop, it is doubtful whether anyone would actually notice.1 2 Next-->
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