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‘The X Factor Final’ Liveblog

Yes, you read that title right. And why not? I’ve liveblogged Eurovision before, after all.

Anyway, I’m late, so will get started…

Live   @ 9:30pm

So that’s it for another year, and for another Liveblog. My first in a couple of years. It’s been fun. I’ve been Simon. Thanks to all who read it. And the non-existent behind the scenes crew. Blah blah blah. Yada yada yada.

Goodnight.

Live   @ 9:29pm

The other contestants come on to mob Matt in some kind of insane singing challenge. Did they not learn from the Must be the Music finale? That was a TV talent contest I invested more in. I remember Emma’s Imagination. I doubt I’ll remember Matt in a few month’s time.

Live   @ 9:27pm

But, he’s not singing it badly, as previously discussed last time he sang it. All of fifteen minutes ago.

Live   @ 9:26pm

The audience appear to have been supplied with some kind of glow stick to wave not entirely in time. Makes me feel lightly nauseated.

Live   @ 9:25pm

Debut single “When We Collide”? Eh? I thought it was called Many of Horror?

Live   @ 9:24pm

Matt feels ‘weird’. ‘Really weird’. Not so weird that he can’t sing again. I can barely contain my excitement.

Live   @ 9:23pm

Rebecca, who’s apparently dressed in a Christmas cracker, is happy too. Apparently.

Live   @ 9:23pm

Matt’s happy. Dannii’s happier. After all, they can’t axe the judge with the title, can they?

Live   @ 9:22pm

It was Matt. There are fireworks.

Live   @ 9:22pm

My lovely girlfriend has arrived. She didn’t get an Orff cantata when she entered, so don’t know why those guys do. I think she thinks I’m slightly insane for liveblogging this. She thinks it is going to be Rebecca. I don’t know or care.

Live   @ 9:21pm

I feel so disinvested here. I really am not bothered either way.

Live   @ 9:20pm

We’re moments away from the “crowning”. I’m seriously hoping there will be a crown. I will be disappointed if there isn’t a crown with an X-shaped stone in the front.

Live   @ 9:20pm

More ads.

First up… Queen musical in Manchester. Don’t care.

Then Estee Lauder. Don’t care.

Andrex advert with the CGI dog. Travesty. Fluffy puppy was much better.

Bloody awful M&S ad which is seriously off-trend. “Don’t put a foot wrong this Christmas” – seriously, if anybody’s worried about going “wrong” at Christmas, they’re seriously not enjoying the season.

XBox Kinect again. One of those things that has just passed me by. Don’t think I’m that in touch with the console Zeigeist any more.

Trailer for “A Night of Heroes”. Odd choice…

And we’re back.

Live   @ 9:15pm

Leona’s clip in the competition clip makes us all realise how lacklustre this final is… and how they don’t have a Christmas tree up.

Live   @ 9:13pm

I know I’m flipping subjects here – but is this apparent amazon attack planned to co-incide with this final to disrupt their share of their the X Factor winner’s single sales?

Live   @ 9:11pm

“There was more of them than us”

Really?

Live   @ 9:10pm

More interestingly – back in the real world – all European Amazon websites are down. Probably related to Wikileaks I’d guess. Not so resilient now, it seems!

Live   @ 9:09pm

Well that didn’t improve things much! It’s Take That. For the fifty-sixth time this series.

Live   @ 9:07pm

Ok, I can’t actually sit and watch this… I’m skipping forward those eight minutes to catch up with you!

Live   @ 9:00pm

Rebecca’s single now. I’m losing the will to live. Is this a Duffy cover? I think it might be. I’m not a Duffy fan at the best of times, but this is dreary. I’m guessing it’ll crescendo into a Winners Single Ending (TM), but I actually don’t care.

Live   @ 8:58pm

I should explain that I’m now eight minutes behind via V+… I needed a break!

Live   @ 8:57pm

An emotional ‘family’ VT. It’s easy to be derogatory about these, but I’m sure they’re actually quite meaningful to the contestants, so it’s hard to argue too much.

Danni saying nice things – less significant.

Live   @ 8:48pm

A review of Matt’s best bits reveals that there are few to speak of. Though his “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” cover was pretty good.

Live   @ 8:46pm

If they’d kept it more like the original, this might actually have had some credibility. Was a pretty good performance, though, all in all. Wouldn’t buy it, but might not turn the radio off…

Live   @ 8:43pm

A Biffy Clyro cover? Really? Didn’t see that coming!

Live   @ 8:41pm

Two different winner’s singles this year. How very sensible.

Matt is up first. Isn’t he just a slightly less irritating Olly Murs / Shayne Ward / Will Young? What am I missing?

Live   @ 8:40pm

Ooh, more ads. Good-oh.

It’s Barclays. With Stephen Merchant. Before he did this, I would’ve said it would be impossible to get lower than being a side-kick to Ricky Gervais. But new depths have been plumbed.

Then Jamie Oliver and Sainsbury’s at Christmas.

Next, the terribly dubbed McDonalds Christmas ad.

Ooh, then the cute John Lewis one with the Ellie Goulding soundtrack. It’s everything M&S’s Christmas ad should have been. But so clearly wasn’t.

Then a Crunchy Nut Cornflakes one I haven’t actually seen before, and have no desire to see again. It seems it has its own Facebook page, though.

British Gas are wanting to give me more control over my energy bills, apparently. I thought bills were something I had to pay, without much control, but apparently British Gas don’t require people to pay bills anymore. Or at least, that’s what I took from that ad.

Sainsbury’s returns with more of a Nectar focus, with that Tesco jibe about “spending points right up until Christmas”.

XBox Kinect – who gives a damn?

Then, as if in response to that comment, a trailer for a Kerry Katona docusoap.

And we’re back.

Live   @ 8:35pm

And, returning to a bit of Carl Orff, are Matt and Rebecca. A guy with “a unique voice”, and a girl with “a unique voice”.

Live   @ 8:33pm

Apparently, “this is just the beginning for these boys”. Is that not what is said every week, as every act leaves?

Live   @ 8:33pm

The acts return to the familiarly butchered strains of an Orff cantata, which I’m sure a whole generation knows only as “that X Factor music”.

Bookies’ favourite Matt goes through first. Followed by Rebecca.

One Direction out of the competition, and with a screening of their highlights we realise that it really is impossible to write a story arc about a group that can be communicated in 60 second VTs on a weekly basis, hence groups will always be at a disadvantage.

The clips from performances also remind us that there are only two of the group that can actually sing. Not that that’s ever been a barrier to chart success for a group before.

Live   @ 8:29pm

It’s time to announce who’s finished third. By which I mean, it’s time to start the drawn out process of thinking about announcing who’s coming third.

Live   @ 8:28pm

And now another ad break. What was it, £25 million they’ve sold this weekend’s ads for?

Lloyds TSB up first, ah ah ah ah ah ah, etc. Irritating in the extreme.

Then a Chanel No 5 number, which is actually quite good, in a filmaking sense.

Ah ah ah ah ah, the Lloyds ad is back.

YSL with something to light up my face. A bulb?

Some kind of driving game next. GT5, only on PS3.

Cheryl up now with something for L’Oreal. Wouldn’t have been allowed a couple of years ago given that she’s in the main programme, but allowed under new ad rules.

Gulliver’s Travels featuring Jack Black. There’s a cultural low point.

Ah ah ah ah ah, the Lloyds people won’t die!

YSL back with a magnet. Or something.

Ah ah ah ah ah, Lloyds back again. Argh!

And we’re back.

Live   @ 8:24pm

The lines are frozen. So are my feet.

Live   @ 8:23pm

Now the customary live performance by the ‘bad’ people. Sigh. The thing is, it’s actually more entertaining than watching One Direction drone out a Natalie Imbruglia cover.

Live   @ 8:21pm

It’s time for a review of the bad people now.

It’s a shame, they dropped this last year. I thought it was maybe progress. I thought we were moving to celebrating diversity, or something, or at least not just openly laughing at people in front of a baying crowd. But it seems not. It’s back this year.

Haha, look, deluded people being mocked on national TV, whilst being booed by a huge crowd.

Live   @ 8:18pm

And now for another recap. Not just a recap of tonight’s performances, it seems, but last night’s too, including that odd Rebecca performance where she was on a rotating podium – that’s one way of making her move, I guess.

I can honestly say that I don’t care who wins this. That isn’t like me. I’m not trying to say I’m above it, I usually like someone in the X Factor final more than the others, but tonight, honestly, I don’t give a toss.

Live   @ 8:15pm

Lots of short paragraphs in that last entry, weren’t there? Someone once told me that single-sentence paragraphs were a sign of a poorly developed argument. Perhaps that’s true.

Live   @ 8:14pm

Louis thinks Rebecca is proof that nice people can do well. Talk about damning with faint praise.

Dannii’s talking about Rebecca’s “inner diva”, and how she’s externalised it. Sounds painful.

Simon thinks the song choice is “brilliant”, and the performance “stunning”. Can’t say I’m stunned.

And Cheryl said something about shooting stars or something. I stopped listening, I’ll be honest.

Coleen Rooney thought it was good, as did the Mayor of Liverpool. Which is praise indeed, given their musical credentials.

Live   @ 8:11pm

So, the VT promised a lot.

Oh look, she’s stood on a podium again. Slightly smaller podium than last night, and considerably smaller than Wand Erection’s platform. The cynic in me would say it’s a staging technique to take away from the fact that neither One Direction nor Rebecca can dance.

That’s a little unfortunate, given that Rebecca’s doing a dance song. Well, a dance-ish version of the Eurythmics Sweet Dreams. Luckily, she’s surrounded by dancers, but oddly, it just makes her look more static.

Live   @ 8:09pm

Next, Cheryl tells us the “absolutely stunning” Rebecca Ferguson is coming up. And we get yet another VT of her highlights so far, and lots of talking about how “amazing” this is.

Live   @ 8:08pm

So, half an hour late! That’s interesting for a LiveBlog. Apologies.

So far, we’ve heard a lacklustre group performance, a lacklustre Matt performance, a lacklustre Wand Erection performance with gender references irritatingly partially changed, a lot of screaming, and not much else.

So that’s where we are so far.

This 1,426th post was filed under: LiveBlogs, Media, , , , , .

Eurovision: Your Decision LiveBlogged

Terry WoganI’m here, the pizza’s here, and the telly’s on. Tonight, the UK’s Eurovision entry will be decided by Terry Wogan and Co, who may or may not manage to announce the right result this year.

So… five minutes to go, and we’ll be underway.

18.59 We’re kicking off early by my watch! Terry and Claudia have entered a cheap-looking studio with a horribly pixellated back screen, surrounding by a possibly drunk crowd.

19.03 The show apparently has a baffling new format this year, in which bizarre categories of acts will compete to be picked to go through to the public vote by John Barrowman, Carrie Grant, and Terry Wogan, followed by another wildcard act being put through. So essentially, the judges are discarding two of six acts in an overly complex way.

19.06 The Beeb don’t quite seem to have decided whether this is a serious search for the best representatives for the UK, or a camp comedy show. But, enough of the introductions, girl groups are up first – Firstly, Love Shy, whoever they might be.

19.11 This girl ‘group’ appears to be what may popularly be known as a ‘duet’. They’re not very good, though that may possibly be more related to the fact that there were two singers but only a single melody line, making the whole thing very karaoke. Or summert. Ooh, have to move on quick, the next act is up now – The Revelations.

19.14 These guys seem to be hindered both by an awful song and the fact that they’re struggling to sing it. All three are wearing identical oddly cut dresses in different colours. Which can also be said for the first act. How odd.

19.18 It seems that neither John nor Carrie liked either of the first acts, which is quite amusing. Terry thinks its a tough decision. Love Shy were clearly better, it would be disappointing if they didn’t go through. Oh. Carrie and John both went for The Revelations. Terry contributed the same joke he had earlier about Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s commode, and mentioned his ‘wildcard’ which was clearly not supposed to be mentioned until later in the show. All going well so far, then.

19.24 We’re now looking at former Song for Europe programmes. What fun. Moving swiftly on, it’s Joseph vs Maria – Joseph being Rob somebody or other and Maria being Simona whatserface. Oh, how far they’ve come. I thought Maria/Simona had shunned music for straight acting now? I’m confused. Now Celine Dion is blasting, presumably because she once did Eurovision. Rob McVities thinks he’s following in her footsteps. I don’t want to shatter that illusion. Is he really named after a biscuit? Apparently not. It’s McVeigh. Disappointing. Time for him to sing now, I think.

19.26 He’s certainly singing like he means it. I don’t especially like his tie, though. That’s a negative. Oh, and the song isn’t great, either.

19.28 There’s a possibility that you’re wondering why something which calls itself a political blog is commenting on Eurovision. Frankly, that’s a question I’m asking myself right now, too. But that’s the situation I’ve got myself in. Simona Armstrong is up now. Can you have somebody from Romania representing England in Eurovision?

19.31 A quick recap: Currently, Romanian Simona is singing in a tutu (as Simona, not Maria) in the Maria/Joseph category to win the support of the judges to represent England in Belgrade. The judges might choose her now, if they don’t then they might choose her later, and then the public have to decide if they want her. I think all that’s right. Saturday night TV is confusing these days. It’s a bizarre song called Changes. I don’t know whether it was good or not. Frankly, I’m no longer sure of my own name.

19.35 John wants to pick Simona based purely on her Romanian heritage, which I’m sure must be against some kind of subclause of a BBC Editorial Guideline. Carrie likes her because she and her song are equally weird. What?! Terry is, once again, not contributing anything other than saying he won’t say who he’d have voted for, but that he really, really liked Simona. Rob looks sad. Awww.

19.38 Now they’re doing ‘The Terrys’ (Terries?), and ill-though out feature in which Terry tells us the top three acts from the history of Eurovision in a number categories, showing clips with dipped sound whilst he commentated. So, for example, we were treated to the ‘best lungs’ in Eurovision without actually being able to hear the singing.

19.41 Next up is Andy from X-Factor. No idea what the category is supposed to be, but given that both contestants are black, and given the comments about Simona, I wouldn’t be overly surprised if it was, actually, the Blacks. The good news is that he’s actually not a bad singer, and the song isn’t terrible either. The same can’t be said for the pelvic gyration, but we’ll forgive him that.

19.44 Michelle, of Grange Hill and Eastenders fame, is now taking to the stage in a grass skirt with a song called Woo.

19.45 Turns out I spoke too soon. It’s not a grass skirt, it’s a grass-skirt style dress. If you’re not near a TV, trust me that it really is as bad as it sounds. This seems to be turning into a Fashion Blog tonight, and that might not be the best idea. After all, it is me writing. This is a truly awful song, with even more bizarrely terrible dance moves apparently based on the Birdie Song. I still haven’t recovered from ‘Something Kinda Ooh’ from Girls Aloud, so a ‘Woo’ is the last thing I need right now.

19.52 Carrie thinks Andy can sing, the song matched his voice, and he was excellent. John thinks much the same. They agree that Michelle’s number was crazy, frantic, and slightly manic. So they’re putting Michelle though. Eh? Terry is being useless again. But now he’s picking a ‘Wildcard’.

19.57 He’s picked Andy. Very good. Now the lines are open for public votes, preceded by a lengthy pre-recorded spiel about how to operate a phone and a long recap of the performances.

19.59 It’s finally over. For now. It and me are back at 9.30pm. See you then!

Claudia Winkleman21.31 Ninety minutes and a costume change later, we’re back. I haven’t changed costume, you understand, rather Claudia has. Into a sparkly number. Ooh. The phone lines are frozen, and we’re about to find out who’s going to go head to head. Again.

21.34 It’s Michelle Gayle and Andy X-Factor. They’re now going to sing again, after which the phone lines will re-open. Terry’s desperately trying to fill, and is failing so badly that he’s now admitted he’s filling. Now there’s another pre-recorded spiel about how to use a phone. And it’s over to Andy.

21.39 Andy’s doing very well. It’s just unfortunate that the song has a similar chord progression to The Disco Inferno, which creates some dodgy moments where you desperately want a ‘Burn, Baby, Burn’ which never materialises. Nevertheless, it’s a good song, and a great performance. I’d quite like to see it win.

21.43 Michelle’s back with the ‘Woo’ one again. The one with the birdie dancing and enthusiastic arm-flinging. I’m concerned that this might win on the ‘weird’ Eurovision ticket, which Scooch won on – much more comprehensively and competently – last year. It’s actually painful to watch and listen to. And what’s going to fill the 15 mins between this performance and the end of the show? Please tell me it’s not anther awful, poorly conceptualised VT.

21.48 The answer appears to be that they’ll spend most of the time explaining how to vote. Oh, they’re squeezing in a poorly conceptualised VT – showing the songs chosen by other countries whilst talking over them so we can’t actually hear the entries. Terry isn’t funny enough to sustain a comedy monologue on primetime TV – he only works as Eurovision commentator in a knowing, ironic way, not at all in the way he thinks he works. And then we get treated to a VT of previous UK winners. Yipee.

21.51 Just to demonstrate how out of touch anybody voting for Michelle Gayle is, they’ve now got Katrina (minus the waves) performing her 1997 winning number.

21.53 Now another Terries/Terrys VT, as poorly thought out as the last.

21.55 The lines are now closed. Carrie thinks Michelle should win, John thinks so too. Grief. The public have chosen…

21.59 Andy Abraham! That was a pleasant surprise. And that’s it. Andy’s singing his song for the third time this evening, which frankly might be pushing it a bit. I know I said I quite liked it, but maybe not that much. Still, all’s well that ends well, I guess, and he was very much the best on the night. Congratulations Andy.

Thanks for joining me tonight, and I hope you enjoyed the LiveBlog. Serious political comment and normal service will be resumed shortly 😉

This 1,270th post was filed under: LiveBlogs, Media.

Liveblogging Eurovision Pre-Selection

I’ll be liveblogging the Eurovision Preselection thing tonight from 7pm. Hopefully. If I’m home by then. And if that’s what time it actually starts – I’m relying on my increasingly frazzled brain to remember.

This 1,269th post was filed under: LiveBlogs, Notes.

LiveBlog: Google launches Presentations

Presentations are now available in Google Docs – finally! Hurray!

So, as something of an experiment, I’m now going to LiveBlog my first thoughts on the system… my first ever LiveBlog!

09.39 I have a lot of presentations on my computer, as I’ve done quite a few in my time as a medical student, so I’m now uploading them to Google Docs, where they can finally join the rest of my work.

09.41 I’ve uploaded six presentations so far. The size limit is generous, 10Mb, but the system only accepts PowerPoint files, which I guess will be a disappointment for those using competitor’s products. The conversion is pretty excellent – I’ve only come across one instance of some misplaced text, and there are a couple of issues with my original presentations using non-standard fonts, but other than that, they’re importing brilliantly.

09.44 My main gripe so far is that I have been unable to find a function for adding notes to slides, which is a shame, as most of my presentations have pretty extensive notes. The mini-slides on the right of the screen also don’t render properly – they’re approximations of the full-size slides, but often text is placed somewhat differently.

09.51 The print function seems quite good – in fact, it removes slide backgrounds more effectively than PowerPoint itself. However, another minor gripe is that whilst it will import AutoShapes perfectly from PowerPoint files, there’s no way to add them to files online, which is quite an annoying feature if trying to make slides look pretty. I maybe should have pointed out that most of the presentations I’m uploading are on this very website, here, so you can see the sorts of things I’m working with.

09.56 For some reason, Google won’t import my Acute Confusion presentation. Looking at it here, you’ll see it’s one of the simpler presentations I have, so I can’t understand why that one, of any of them, should fail to load. Another problem is that there’s no transitions or animations available, which sort of ruins one of my presentations. And, as with Spreadsheets, multiple spaces are displayed as single spaces, so where I’ve used them to line things up with diagrams (yes, I know that’s bad practice, but it’s common), it just hasn’t worked.

09.59 Scratch what I said about spaces – you can put them back in to line things up, but the uploading engine appears to remove them all. The logic of that decision is lost on me.

10.05 I’m now up to about 12 presentation uploaded, and I’m still noticing oddities. For example, you can upload presentations with different themes for different slides, and they import fine, but you can’t create them. In natively created slideshows, all slides have to have the same theme. It also occurs to me that, particular on slideshows I’ve uploaded, a slow connection would be useless. Perhaps it’s because my slideshows are naturally quite graphically intense, but it does take quite some time for all the pictures and backgrounds to load. Whether the native backgrounds are smaller files that would be quicker to load, I’m not sure, but I certainly hope so.

10.13 I’m still going, but just wanted to let you know that you can read more about the launch here.

10.17 The Hip Fracture presentation (view it here), which I thought would be a nightmare to upload as it’s very graphically intense and has quite complex layouts, has uploaded almost perfectly – very little tidying up needed, in fact only one correction on the title slide.

10.23 It’s actually quite fun looking again at all of these old presentations.

10.30 It occurs to me that the File menu across the three different applications is completely different – they should probably make that a bit more consistent some time. And I also note that the Presentations application does the same odd thing as the Docs application, whereby underlined text is always underlined in black, regardless of the text colour.

10.43 Well, I’ve played about with this new toy for over an hour now, uploaded a whole load of presentations, and feel that this LiveBlog has gone as far as it can go. Just for completeness, I should say that the system has now accepted my Acute Confusion presentation, but I don’t know what’s prompted the sudden change of heart.

Google Presentations is a good idea and a good system. I wish it’d been around when I was still writing large numbers of collaborative presentations. It imports PowerPoint slideshows effortlessly. However, the editor is very basic, lacks some straightforward expected functionality (shapes, transitions, etc). It’s already suitable for basic collaboration presentations, and it seems a good tool for giving presentations over the web, but much more work is needed if this is to become one of Google’s trademark ‘killer apps’.

This 1,213th post was filed under: LiveBlogs, Technology.

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