Oh, how I love the BGT. The over-usage of Requiem for a Dream music. The crazy acts. Simon’s bitchy comments. As entertainment, it is second to none.
We start with auditions in Manchester, where the first act, a Christine from Leeds dubs herself a “triple threat” – she intends on dancing, singing and playing an instrument. However, we soon see that she is using all three of those terms in the loosest possible sense when the music to Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean comes on, and she a) moonwalks terribly, b) sings out of tune and out of time and c) merely shakes some castanets about. The fact that her ill-fitting sequined leggings and jacket make her resemble a Christmas bauble simply adds to the sheer incredulity of her performance. She’d said that she wanted to take over the world in five years, but on that performance, the only way she’ll achieve that is by blinding us all with her dodgy attire. The audience are unrelenting, shouting “Off! Off! Off!” and even Piers Morgan has it in him to make a joke, “I haven’t seen moon-walking that slow since Neil Armstrong.”
The next act is both sickening (literally) and beguiling. A man has five coins laid out in front of him, and he swallows each one. After the first one’s been swallowed, we can actually hear the sound of the next coin hitting it, which proves to be an extremely disturbing sound. He then proceeds to chunder up four of the five coins, much to the shock of everyone. The icing on the cake, if you will, is when he swallows a billiard ball (yes, a billiard ball!), in order to get the final coin to come back up. It’s one of the most dangerous things I’ve ever seen and I still don’t know how he did it, but as I have no intentions of trying it myself, I’m happy not knowing. Such acts are extremely polarizing, but this one was just so crazy (plus, unlike the previous acts, he actually did it well), so the judges send him through. The Britain’s Got Talent sob story factor comes out when the dude explains how he came to swallowing coins – growing up in a children’s home, he did it to stop other kids from stealing his money. Whilst I’m usually quite wary of these types of stories, the idea of a child going to the extent of swallowing scabby coins just to save a bit of money does genuinely make me sad.
We leave Manchester and go to the London auditions. First up are Melissa & Laika. Melissa is the proud owner of Laika, who she claims is a guitar-playing dog. Only, it doesn’t quite end up like that. Melissa plays the guitar and sings. The dog, wearing a ridiculous hair band, just lounges on the stage. When asked why the dog isn’t playing, Melissa lamely tries to get the dog to strum the guitar. One crappy strum =/= playing the guitar.
The terrible attempts to try and get animals into acts continues. We get a pig that supposedly does tricks, but he runs off the stage as soon as the act begins. It’s pretty farcical, truth be told, especially how the pig so clearly scares Dec. Then there’s snail racing, which needless to say, is not the most titillating thing I’ve seen in my life. The acts have pictures stuck on them, and hilariously, the Ant and Dec snails seem to be mating. Next up is a girl, Louise Sinclair, and her horse. “Is it a boy or a girl?” Simon asks, before he checks for himself. Anyway, Louise’s act is to do gymnastics on her horse. Animal cruelty if you ask me. It’s boring and tepid and lacks any flavour, and naturally, she gets nos. Not the most talented bunch of animals by any stretch of the imagination.
Thankfully, the next act actually is a bit different. They are The Arrangement, a group of Sixth Form students. I’ll admit, when I first saw them, I didn’t think they were up to much. But they soon prove me wrong, with their classical renditions of Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” then “Low” then Beyonce’s “If I Were a Boy”, which is not fashionable, but kinda works.
The best bit is at the end when it goes to Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” because it’s the only time the orchestra show a bit of a life. The centrepiece of the performance is definitely the lad with the microphone, who I think is incredibly brave, and, whilst not the best singer in the world, has enough public school swagger and energy to carry it off. All three of the judges give their yeses, much to the delight of the audience. I really really enjoyed it, and can’t wait to see what The Arrangement do for next time. If they pick four totally new songs and the orchestra come to life a bit more, I could really love it. However, if they use the same four songs, then I’ll be quite bored.
Someone who’s got Lady Gaga’s style down with the platinum wig and extravagant clothing rather excites things, because the audience think it might actually be Lady Gaga. It turns out to be a man. And their performance is atrocious – just crappy parading about the stage, and the part where he tries to sing the part in French from “Bad Romance” brought to me another song title “Can’t Speak French”. “If we’ve got Lady Gaga, why do we need you?” demands Simon. Not for the first time, Piers, Amanda and the audience love the act, and Simon hates it. I’m with Simon. I love Lady Gaga, and watching a weird guy bastardise her isn’t my idea of talent.
As is the way with the show, there are equal amounts of sweet and sour, and the gymnasts who perform next are definitely sweet. Their act has epic classical music, and it takes a while to get started, but when it does, it spellbinds. Cartwheels. Lifting people up. Balancing. All synchronised. It’s very impressive. The precision and control is second to none. There’s a bit where the girls all do a synchronised backwards flip and no-one puts a foot out of place. Spinning, throwing, body turns. The linking between different sections in the act is fluid too. Best part – when a girl is used as a skipping rope and a lad jumps over her. SO good, you wouldn’t believe kids did that. I think I'm more impressed by acts if I've attempted the things they do so I know how hard it is, and, I was always terrible at gym, so to see them succeed so much spellbinds me. It gets 3 well-deserved yeses. To sum up Ant & Dec, “wow.”
To end on a high, we go back to Manchester auditions, wherein there is a Mr Christopher Stone, an accountant. In his introduction, WALL-E music is played. I recognise it, yeah? Anyway, he sings, and he has a beautiful baritone voice. What he also has, and is picked up by Simon, is a lack of conviction. “You’ve got to have a slight swagger” Simon notes, which makes me happy obviously, as swagger is one of my favourite words. Nonetheless, he gets three deserved yeses, and that is BGT for another week.