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UK Popstars 2, Week 12: Lend Me Your Ears and I’ll Sing You a Songby Phil Lewin -- 12/02/2002
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It’s taken a long, long time but at last we have reached the final set of eliminations which will decide the line-ups of the rival boy and girl bands. One more boy had to be removed from the final six. This was presumably a cause of great relief to the judges and rival managers – Pete Waterman and Louis Walsh – who are fast exhausting their insults to each other. Even Louis was reduced to the level of continually referring to Pete’s ‘vocal harmony group’ as a mere ‘boy band’. The third judge, Geri Halliwell, shows no sign of running out of image changes though. This week she turned up with two prominent horizontal hair extensions that made her look like Harry, her shitzu. Well there is an old saying about owners growing to resemble their pets.
Either the boys were also attempting to become fashion victims or it was extremely cold in the studio as Anton and Keith both appeared on stage wearing large overcoats and Jamie’s hair looked as though he had just walked through a force nine gale. They started off with a quite surreal group performance of a classic song which you would least expect a boy band (or even a ‘vocal harmony group’) to attempt – ‘Hotel California’. Strangely enough it worked quite well. Perhaps the choice of song was a deliberate ploy by Pete Waterman to emphasise the supposed maturity of the band, but hopefully they will leave other seventies rock classics alone and not attempt ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ or ‘Stairway to Heaven’.
“They were quite good,” understated Davina McCall before asking the girls if they had had a nice week, to which they nodded their heads and mumbled unconvincingly. As with the boys, there have been press rumours of discord in the girls’ camp, or maybe they had been to another wild party the previous night and hadn’t quite recovered. If only the boys were allowed to enjoy the same privilege, as they are apparently banned from attending similar showbiz events. Whereas the girls were filmed last week rubbing shoulders with Westlife and other teen stars, the boys’ big event of the week was a visit to their house by ‘offbeat’ comedian Harry Hill, which doesn’t exactly compare in the glamour stakes. Perhaps the reason for the different treatment by the two managers is that Louis knows that attractive girls at parties will always get press attention while Pete is aware that the boys would only get their photographs published if they got very drunk or into a fight.
Anyway, on to the night’s performances. Matt was up first, singing ‘I’ll be there for you’, including some unsettling waving around of his left arm. It was nothing particularly special, but the judges as always seemed more taken by the ‘cute’ factor. “We all love him,” swooned Geri. “He’ll be a pop star – everyone in Wales should phone in and get someone young from Wales into the charts,” said Louis. Surely this was not a dig at the voice of the valleys (and Vegas) himself, Tom Jones? Although as Jones the Voice has a recent habit of collaborating with acts much younger than himself, there might conceivably be a Tom and Matt duet one day. Matt already has older women among his fans including an increasingly deranged Davina, who pinched his backside and was promptly pinched back. “I must stop touching their bottoms,” she gasped excitedly.
Fortunately Daniel was on next to add a bit of much-needed maturity to the proceedings. This week he sang ‘Candle in the Wind’ which, for many reasons, is a particularly difficult song to cover, but he did his usual excellent job. “I hope that Elton John is watching,” said Geri (why?) “He’s wonderful – he’ll be fantastic in Pete’s boy band,” stated Louis trying to squeeze yet more mileage out of this lame insult. “Fantastic,” said Pete, who was now seemingly trying to ape Louis’s favourite phrase.
Next it was the turn of the much-maligned Chris. His song was ‘With a little help from my friends’ and Daniel, Jamie, and Keith helped out as backing singers. Chris is obviously not the most naturally-talented vocalist out of the six, but this was one of his stronger performances. “He’s getting better and better – I hope he makes it into Pete’s boy band,” said Louis. Apart from the obvious jibe, the rumours about Chris being a disruptive influence may also have inspired this comment. Pete was nonplussed, “It’s a very difficult ironic song but that was fantastic.” Geri was most complimentary, “You’ve taken a battering but have got better and risen above it – it’s part of the industry,” (and she should know).
Anton’s song this week was ‘I believe I can fly,’ which included a lot of impressive vocal gymnastics during the long notes. There was a lot of “boo-ing” during the applause as an urban London mark of respect. Davina warned Louis not to start complaining as he had done for the last two weeks that Anton was too good for the band. Louis didn’t but decided to moan about something else anyway. “I get annoyed with people slagging off this show saying that there is no talent around – this is the real deal.” “He’s a sensation,” said Pete succinctly. “R&B is so hard to sing,” stated Geri, which is probably why she has never attempted it, “but you pull it off.”
The star performer of the night without a doubt was Keith. He sang, ‘You are so beautiful,’ which could describe the performance equally fittingly. The normally easily excitable audience were silent throughout and the watching Nadine, who obviously recognises another big celtic talent, was seen shedding a tear. Pete had been economical with the word count up until now but was suddenly enthused into one of his occasional emotive outbursts. “That is an outstanding performance – I’ve never seen anything like it on any of these shows,” (presumably referring to Pop Idol, which will really please his other rival, Simon Cowell) “To take on a Joe Cocker song like that is fantastic.” Geri added, “I’m so pleased – he sings from the heart and he has charm in his eyes.” Louis inevitably yelled, “Fantastic,” (Keith recoiled in horror.) “It’s one of my favourite songs – he’s a joker, fun, if there is any justice, he should be in the band." Well that looks like a foregone conclusion.1 2 Next-->
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