‘Girls?! Girls! (KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK) GIRLS!!’
SHIT! We had slept in! A member of production was outside our hotel room door frantically shouting and banging in order to get us up. We all shot out of bed, literally bouncing off the walls trying to get our shit together. ‘Fuck, my hair!’ It was literally a backcombed frizz bomb and I had planned to get up early to sort it the hell out, as obviously today was the worst day to look like a bad Lady Marmalade Christina. But I didn’t have any time, we had to just grab what we could grab and shamelessly aboard the coach, brimming with contestants, production crew and executive producers, wearing our pyjamas. Un-showered, make up less, holding bundles of clothes, the embarrassment was honestly unsurpassable.
We arrived at the mansion still embarrassed and still looking like crap. We pleaded with crew to let us use one of the rooms at the side of the house to do whatever we could do with whatever we had recklessly collected from our suitcases in an attempt to rectify the dishevelled state of us. Straighteners were not included. I could have cried. We did what we could, and it wasn’t great. We had come up with the plan that we were to try and accentuate our already individual styles rather than moulding to match each other. I loved the 80’s, Rebecca loved the 40’s, Geneva was more bohemian and Esther more urban. So that’s how we dressed. And Rebecca decided to wear the most ridiculous heels ever that constituted in us having to carry her around all day.
Soon after we were asked to go for another practice with the vocal coach, this time it was in the ‘gym’. It was accessed again from the side of the house and was complete with pool, Jacuzzi, and gym equipment; the décor was very roman Greek. So we’re stood around the Jacuzzi singing (random I know), when we are brazenly interrupted by Mr Cowell. He says ‘hello girls, don’t mind me’ and walks towards the gym equipment, we stare at him walk past holding his towel with a combination of confusion and bedazzlement. He perches himself on the rowing machine, topless and casually starts rowing. Even the vocal coach looked confused. Were we to carry on singing with Simon rowing away in the background? It was an awkwardly surreal moment; we discreetly smirked between ourselves to communicate ‘is this really happening’ without actually saying it. The vocal coach took it upon himself to shuffle us out of there to leave Simon in peace, rowing.
After rehearsing there was a lot of interviewing to be done before we were all to perform in front of Simon and Sinitta. It was absolutely boiling and we were made to sit on some steps outside in the blistering heat, sun blaring in our eyes being filmed and photographed looking ‘ponderous’. Squinting-hell. The outcome of that was us looking like we hated the world, and everyone in it.
Our interview was tough; the producers at this point were trying their best to get tears. Questions like ‘what does this mean to you?’ ‘How will your family feel if you don’t get through to the next round?’ ‘How will you feel going home not getting through to the live shows?’ There was much encouragement to express as much upset and sadness as possible, and definitely a sense of ‘get the public to feel sorry for you and you’re more likely to succeed’. Personally I am not the best at expressing my emotions in a constructive and meaningful manner, I tend to shout or laugh and that’s about it (I think it’s a northern thing) so I did find it challenging. My feelings inside were authentic, I did really want to get through to the live shows and I really did think we deserved too but I felt the pressure of expressing that in a very ‘glee’ way. The crew were pleasant and seemed to respond to us really well, we did pretty much everything they asked of us and we made sure we didn’t moan about anything (much). We had quickly realised that the production crew have a lot of control over your progress, impressing them is in most cases more important than impressing Simon Cowell.
The time had come; we were getting called to perform. One by one, each act was taken from our hideaway garden down to the swimming pool area where Simon and Sinitta were set up on chairs, cameras everywhere. And we were the last to perform. So ourselves (Belle Amie) and whomever else wasn’t performing decided that while waiting we would hide in the bushes and spy on everyone else. We watched One Direction sing their teenage heartthrob souls out to ‘Torn’ (and other song, we all sang two songs, but I can’t even remember our second song never mind theirs) this was the first time we’d seen them perform properly together, they were nervous and slightly awkward, with the walking forwards and walking backwards thing but Hazza smashed some high notes and brought it back for them. You couldn’t deny them of their charisma but at this early stage in the competition there was actually no indication of whether they would work or not, the same went for us. It’s ultimately the public who decides whether or not you will be successful and we were yet to receive any public feedback.
During the previous days we’d messed around singing to each other on the coach ‘showcasing’ our performance song, but before that us girls totally felt like the underdogs. Taking into account Niall’s prior comments on the ‘unlikelihood of us being chosen’ and the extent of media attention some of the other acts were receiving, for instance the hunky boy band ‘The Reason’ had been plastered in most gossip magazines half naked for the UK’s middle aged women population to drool over, and we got the impression from a couple of them that they were pretty confident about being picked. And also, girl bands had always had a bad reputation on the X Factor. Why were we going to be any different? However, after us girls sang on the coach in front of everyone else we got a surprising reaction of mild shock, which for the first time gave us that bit of confidence we had been missing, and made us feel as though the others might actually deem us real contenders at last. And not only that, we actually did sound pretty effin good together.
Our gorgeous friends Princes and Rouges performed amazingly and we tried our absolute hardest not to cheer for them from our secret hideout in the bushes. Then it was us. We were directed to walk in from the side of camera shot onto our marked spots. The crew had prepped us with microphones but other than that we were pretty blind to what was about to happen. The nerves were at an all time high, nervous poo feeling times a million. We walked out of the blind spot and lined up right in front of Simon, Sinitta, Dermot and at least 20 members of production.
And all I could think about was my hair. I already had to deal with the embarrassment of it on Shipwrecked 5 years previously and I could not believe it was happening to me again. Sounds overly narcissistic I know, but the insults I received after the episode had aired proved my right to be devastated about it, ‘why didn’t the blonde girl bother to brush her hair?’ Fuck sake.
Anyway getting passed the hair drama we actually did pretty well, and I actually enjoyed it. Usually I hated every second of performing in front of anyone, the anxiety of it always knackered me out and I would usually find any excuse not to sing to people (like never turning up to singing lessons at Performing Arts College) but this time was different, I think it was the girls, well actually I was pretty sure it was them. They made me feel comfortable and the ability to share my fear most definitely helped my confidence. Simon and Sinitta discreetly smiled throughout our performance, they were directed not to give anything away during acts performances but we got a good vibe from them, like they enjoyed it. And then once we’d finished Simon actually said ‘well done girls’ and smiled. Now we watched the other acts sing from the bushes and he hadn’t said anything like that to anyone else so we were buzzing. We were so happy afterwards, and also positive that we had proved our worth to Simon and production, that actually we were quite good. We had built some good bonds with the crew and we got the feeling that some of them were silently routing for us to do well.
Dermot interviewed us afterwards, it was all positive, we were so relieved it was over to be honest, all the hard work was done. And now it was out of our hands, there was nothing else we could do, it was all up to Simon and ITV now. We were taken back to our hotel, many of us spent the late hours conspiring about who could get picked tomorrow and why. Diva Fever would be great for entertainment, Princes and Rouges were original and quirky, and there had never been anyone like them on the show before. Hustle were the rival girl band to us and although I personally felt they were very similar to a lot of girl bands
picked in previous years for the live shows, so didn’t think they would be an obvious choice, they were still really good. F.Y.D were amazing dancers as well as vocalists so they had a lot to offer everyone, Twem were gorgeously cute and so likeable but French, would the UK back them?The Reason would have a strong following from the female viewers so would that help them to be chosen? Would One Direction ‘5 Justin Bieber’s’ (as Niall self professed them as) go head to head with The Reason? Would age literally be the defining factor for them? Would we go head to head with Hustle being the other girl band or One Direction being the other ‘put together’ band? There was a lot to conspire about. Us girls re-lived Simon’s positive reaction to us, getting excited imagining ourselves being picked. I personally had a really good feeling about it and went to sleep smiling, and dreaming about meeting Cheryl.
Tomorrow all will be revealed.
To be continued…
Watch our audition (and my frizzy hair) here: