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UK Popstars 2, Week 11: West Life Girlsby Phil Lewin -- 11/22/2002
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Another week, another round of songs, another elimination. This time the seven remaining girls on Popstars – The Rivals have got to become six. And then there is still one more elimination from the boys and girls until we finally establish the final five in each band (assuming that there are no more age-related or other scandals and nobody is then thrown out or leaves of their own accord). Will anyone actually still care by then? Well, Davina McCall at least is as excited as ever and Geri Halliwell confessed that she “lies awake thinking about this programme,” though I’m sure there are many others that would claim the drawn-out concept is having precisely the opposite effect.
Anyway, the show started as usual with the girls’ ensemble number. Last week some of the boys demonstrated that they could actually play instruments and we wondered whether the girls could match that. Well no, instead they resorted to their own strengths – hand waving and pouting a lot and moving in a sexy fashion as they performed ‘Independent Woman.’ All of the girls wore dark clothes this week and looked very smart, although Kimberley and Nadine both looked as though they had spent way too long under the sunray lamp.
Davina then excitedly announced this week’s spacefiller pre-filmed item with the news that some of the girls had “rubbed shoulders – amongst other things (fnaar fnaar) with the stars,” as the girls were shown, all shiny and spangly, going to the official launch party of funster Irish boy band Westlife’s so-called ‘greatest hits’ CD ‘Unbreakable’ (though many, including myself would be very tempted to test this claim). This clip, if nothing else, shows the publicity genius of Louis Walsh to full effect. Let’s get my existing boy band together with my new girl group, manufacture some potential romantic gossip and get it in the tabloid press the next day. Then show the whole thing on TV and thereby publicise my boys and their CD as well as the girls. Begorrah! Everybody wins!
And the plan worked to perfection as the two single members of Westlife, Mark and Kian, reportedly ‘shared time’ with Nicola and Sarah respectively, despite the minor technicality that both of the girls are already attached. "She’s a good-looking girl and they get on really well," one of Kian’s ‘friends’ said about Sarah to the press. “She has a boyfriend, but Kian’s hoping to win her over." Now there’s a gentleman. Having said that, several of the finalists in the first Popstars dumped their ‘non-celebrity’ partners as soon as they became remotely famous, so it would be no surprise if the same thing happened here.
After all that, it was finally time for some singing. It was golden girl (not a reference to the tan) Nadine’s turn first of all. She crooned an enchanting, if nervy ‘When I fall in love’ and, as always, then had to endure a far more stressful experience – facing the flood of gushing superlatives from the judges.
“It’s Nadine isn’t it – that’s all you have to say,” said Pete, who was happy to leave the fawning to everyone else.
“She’s got God’s gift – she’s so natural. She’s a young Mariah Carey,” said Geri. This was not enough of a comparison for Louis. “She’s the new Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion,” he interrupted. “She’s an Irish girl (as if we didn’t know) – she doesn’t know she’s that good.” So no pressure there then. Geri continued, “Real talent is such a rarity. Don’t take these comments lightly.” By now Nadine, as you might expect, was totally embarrassed and burst into the first tears of the night to be comforted as always by Davina.
There is no doubt that Nadine has the natural talent to justify the ever-increasing hype, but whether a 17-year-old seemingly modest girl can cope with the amount of pressure being placed on her is another matter. Louis was quoted in the Dublin press the previous week as “seeing Nadine as a solo star within the band,” in an unwise and potentially divisive expression of favouritism that is no help at all to Nadine and condescending to the remaining girls. Hopefully Louis will not follow the example of Diana Ross in her Motown days and end up calling the band ‘Nadine Coyle and the Others.’
Those others now had their turn to perform. Kimberley was next on and sang ‘Emotion’ competently though nervously. Geri liked the performance though not the song. “I want to see an uptempo song and some dancing – but you’re an allrounder and great,” before revealing that she had been indulging in a bit of subterfuge. “I sent a girl spy backstage to get autographs and she said you were the sweetest and nicest person.” Aah. Pete was not a fan of the song choice either. “Nerves are getting to everyone – it was not the greatest song though no reflection on you. The tension and pressure on stage is ridiculous and songs needing big preparation are wrong.” Louis avoided the psychological analysis and resorted to his two favourite phrases, “Fantastic – put her in the band.”
Nicola followed and, in contrast to her previous uptempo performance, attempted a pleasant enough version of ‘Wind beneath my wings’, though the nerves were again obviously showing. Pete had had enough and felt a rant coming on. “Everybody calm down! This is not about life but about entertainment. It you don’t worry about it, you’ll enjoy it!” Geri, the voice of experience, disagreed. “It’s taken me years to do this. Can you imagine what it’s like to put all of your dreams into a three minute performance?” Pete responded, “Yeah, I do that every week with you.” Whatever could he mean? Once this was out of the way, the judges actually got around to passing judgement on Nicola’s performance. “She’d be great in the band – vote for her,” said Louis. Now there’s a surprise. Geri suggested that singing ballads was not a good move. “I want the public to identify with you – that’s your strength. You’re too grown up – be more girlie!” So obviously Geri does not see Nicola as the new Mariah/Whitney/Celine, etc, but more as, well, the new Geri.1 2 Next-->
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