A bunch of what appeared to be mostly girls in Group 10 appeared briefly and we get two bars of I'm Every Woman which would have been a challenge to most of the male contestants. No idea who they were or who did well as we streaked into Group 11 doing Love Song where some people I'd never seen before demonstrated why I never seen them before. One exception was a good ol' boy called Tim Cifers who was quite impressive but that may just have been in comparison to the others who weren't.
The Brewer Boys finally get more than ten seconds air time in Group 12 and seem to be the only ones in this group who don't make a complete mess of Snow Patrol's Chasing Cars track. They seem a pretty together band and have a wholesome flop-haired look that you could imagine on the cover of an album. When they're older they could try striding over a pedestrian crossing maybe. We'll see more of them, I'm sure, if only because there seem to be precious few young lads who can hold a note in this competition, the older guys totally blowing them off the stage so far and SYCO need the mums and teen girl vote if they're going to make any money out of this. Boys don't redial umpteen times. In fact boys seldom call at all. It's not exactly cool. Can you imagine boys rushing into class the next day and jumping up and down and telling their mates how many times they voted the night before? No.
That was that. The judges now dismiss another third of the contestants and we get glimpses of one or two earlier hopefuls like Kelly going home. Not, interestingly, the little tuneless girl that Simon mentioned earlier. Seems like he doesn't always get his way. The next stage gives us a chance to see what the audience think as 60 or so move on to deliver solo performances of their choice from a range of tracks suggested. This is much more like the kind of territory they'll need to cover on the Live Shows and, with a good-sized audience too, the show is finally beginning to take shape.
First up again is Rachel Crow. I guess it must have been getting close to her bedtime. Being first on twice is still a bit strange, though. Still, she's confident and actually pretty good. I find her annoying to watch because I just don't get the feeling she gets what she's singing about. She should do Lollipop, not If I Were A Boy. and goodness knows what mum'll say when Simon gets her to do Let's Spend The Night Together on Stones Night. Anyway, yes, she'll be through, we all can guess that.
Audrey Turner follows with an earthy and loud number which included the line Ain't No Mountain High Enough which Ike would have approved of. No-one else seemed too impressed though and most of us were wondering just how old she must be beneath the stretched skin and wig.
Paige Elizabeth ought to have scored well but put in just an average performance of Somewhere Only We Know and disappointed those who'd seen her as a definite contender before.
Then we get a blur of three or four acts. I can only recall Simon commenting "I don't want to hear it again" as Makenna & Brock walk off after what I had thought was a much better performance than some of the earlier stuff they'd done.
Nick Dean reappears. I could have sworn that he got kicked out earlier but, whatever, he does a reasonable job of rescuing himself and girls will like him. He just doesn't match the previous pair, for instance, and unless they stuff him in some group I reckon his days are numbered on this show.
I really do find Stacy Francis difficult to watch. She's good, bags of talent, great voice and tremendous emotion comes across as she blows the audience away with Summertime. The best performance of the night. But why oh why does she insist on that long high note. It just makes us think she's showing off. We don't want to hear it any more. We can hear you can sing so shut up now and go away. Come back next week and try and remember what one of the coaches had said before: "Less is more, OK?"
Steve Jones had been making the odd appearance here and there and all credit to him for a commentary that didn't remind you that it was him doing it. He's like an audio overlay, information is provided but not intrusively. Ryan Seacrest and UK's old hand Dermot O'Leary you can't ignore. Steve you can ignore if you want to. You get to choose. Unless, that is, he's got the short sleeve blue shirt on. Then it is impossible to ignore as he has a rich brown face and lily white arms which just look very odd.
So, after a whole load of music and precious few silly interruptions in a good evening's entertainment, we get the lists of people through to Judges' Houses. Eight in each category. We also get confirmation of the allocation of categories to the judges. And here, at last, they are!
LA Reid's Boys
Nicole's Over 30s
The Brewer Boys
In addition, two groups were made up from solo entries:
InTENsity (Nick Dean, Francesca Duncan, John Lindahl, Emily Michalak, Arin Ray,
Lauren Ashley, Ellona Santiago, Ma’at Bingham Shango, Austin Percario, Emily Wilson
Lakoda Rayne (Cari Fletcher, Dani Knights, Paige Ogle, Hayley Orrantia)
Bearing in mind that the huge kid's group includes the tuneless little girl I have my doubts about how far they'll go in that format and may well have to change their name to InNINEsity, I doubt if we'll see much more of that bunch in that form after Judges' Houses. On the other hand the make-up of Lakoda Rayne is superb and, if they get their act together, could be serious contenders.
In amongst this list there are several who the cameras have managed to avoid (or vice versa) clearly we still have a lot to learn. I'm not sure we will if all we get from Judges' Houses are snippets of performance and an hour of tears and judges justifying their decisions in words that mums can't sue them for!