Bunch Of Fives: Picnic | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Sunderland party-starters Picnic drop their latest single Famous, a jazzy and jiving offering complete with elements of eighties pop, ska and contemporary indie and with vocal hooks aplenty. If you want to dance, then this is the song for you.

The band are playing a headline show at The Vaux Rooms in Sunderland on Friday 23rd September, with support from Marketplace. This is to celebrate the single but will also serve as a farewell show for their long-term keys player, Olive.

In keeping with the themes of the song title, the band tell us about their top five favourite X-Factor Auditions…

Reality TV in Britain was absolutely mental during the noughties and early 2010’s; Big Brother, Jeremy Kyle, The Simple Life, Snog Marry Avoid, that one where Gillian McKeith poked around in human excrement for… I actually can’t remember why that woman was so obsessed with poo, but X Factor reigned supreme. 

As a band we’ve gone on a couple of mini-breaks to the Lake District, because we’re getting old and it’s cheaper to all huddle in a thatched cottage than fork out for flights and hotels. During those trips we always find ourselves doing the same thing, watching old X Factor auditions on YouTube. 

Here are five of our favourites…

5) Ablisa – 2010
“I’m Abby”

“And I’m Lisa”

“And together we’re… Ablisa!”

A mainstream classic to kick things off, and boy does it kick off. This one actually starts off pretty well, the crowd seem to be onside and the girls (aged 17 & 18, for context) come across as quite personable, even giggling as they call Louis Walsh “really fit”, but it’s all downhill from there. After some awkward fumbling around the “why are you here?” question from Simon, the crowd starts to turn sour, booing definitely became a lot more acceptable the later the series went on, which I’m not a fan of. Lisa responds by telling the audience to, “SHUT UP” and Abby storms offstage. 

They come back on and request That’s My Goal by Shane Ward, a classic. They can’t sing in tune, or in time, resulting in more booing. Lisa does most of the heavy lifting, until the “chorus”, but it isn’t the girls’ finest hour. 

It ends, Lisa insults Dani Minogue, Abby sides with the crowd and smacks her sister’s cousin/best friend/friend right in the chops. So What by P!nk plays. Poetry in motion. 

4) Mums on the Run – 2008
The band that Destiny’s Child could have been. 

“We can sing. We can dance. Yeah… we’re in with a really good chance.”

I love the confidence radiating from these ladies, I hope that what happened in that room didn’t fracture that in any way. Not the strongest of starts to this one, however… 

Simon – “What do you have that other girl groups today don’t have?”

Mum on The Run #2 – “Age!”

Simon – “Ok, what else?”


They fly full force into a painstakingly choreographed rendition of ‘Chirpy Chirpy Cheep’, with Mum on The Run #2 once again leading the way. The remaining Mums channel classic 60’s girl groups like The Supremes with synchronised dance moves and call and response backing vocals. I won’t tear them to shreds, but it isn’t great. 

Louis Walsh does nothing to contain his laughter, which is quite the underlying theme in this top 5. The rest of the judges sit shell shocked, wondering who or what on earth these Mum’s are on the run from, and praying that whatever it is catches up with them soon. 

“Where’s your mama gone?” well, not to bootcamp I can tell you that much. 

3) Onkar Judge – 2006
“Who are you as good as?”
“Michael Jacksons, Daniel Beddingfield, George Michael…”

Iconic. Not much to say about this one, a fantastic and emotive rendition of Earth Song by Michael Jackson that leaves the judges mystified. This performance alone is rumoured to have convinced several thousand turtles to stick paper straws up their noses instead of plastic ones. 

Let’s be honest, this is a huge song to take on and you really can’t fault Onkar’s commitment. He cements this by first throwing himself against, and ultimately breaking, the background of the audition room (“sorry, I thought that was a solid wall.”) and then dramatically dropping to his knees, to which Sharon exclaims, “Wow, that’s got to hurt!” “It doesn’t hurt”, Onkar nonchalantly claims.

Despite previously being in karaoke finals “without looking at the screen” and having “95% of the audience” on his side, Onkar sadly didn’t have enough to make it through to bootcamp. If he ever needs to lip sync for his life, however, I feel like he has that in the bag. 

“There’s only one judge.”
“Who’s that?”
“That’s me… Onkar Judge.”


2) Holly Jervis – 2008
A true pioneer for self-love, positivity and not letting your delusions get in the way. 

“Who do you aspire to be?”
“I aspire to be me.”

To quote the X Factor graduate and literary laureate that is Alexandra Burke, I’m going to address the elephant in the room here. Reality TV around this time, and arguably to this day, exploited people who were, for lack of a better term, low hanging fruit. I don’t think the mental health of any of the contestants were ever taken into account, especially on X Factor, it was a modern day freak show, so this full list does come with a side order of guilt, especially this one as it is quite sad. That doesn’t mean that Holly Jervis’ massive mouth and over inflated ego isn’t funny, I’m sorry. 

She kicks off with a VERY passionate, and long, speech about how hard she has worked for this very moment, but honestly like go off, this IS your moment, soak it in… Ok, you can stop now… Please stop talking they’ve just done a close up of Cheryl Cole cringing in Geordie. 

“Start singing.” – Louis Walsh 

Eventually, she kicks into “Big, Blonde and Beautiful” from the musical Hairspray. Great song, but an odd choice at best. She gives the judges a suitably theatrical rendition, and if you can get past the sheer casm of her mouth hole, she isn’t actually that bad! Somewhere between Cher, Kermit and Miss Piggy.

Louis responds with his signature laugh, Simon just straight up tells her that her mouth is “far, far too big” and goes on to say that her performance was “absolutely terrible.” Holly’s rebuttal is something about the holiday park chain that employs her, they argue, Cheryl tries to mediate, Dani makes it worse again but with Louis’ help they all come to the conclusion that she should work in sales. A truly insane 30 seconds of television that Holly manages to calmly brush past, to her credit. 

1) J Star Valentine – 2013
We love J Star, but he has sparked debate… Was this audition a joke, or is this the authentic sound of J Star Valentine? You decide. 

With most X Factor auditions you kind of know which way it’s going to go, the good acts get Snow Patrol in the background and the bad ones get Do Ya Think I’m Sexy or something. This one is a curveball, J Star looks pretty cool and seems to have his head screwed on, his interaction with Gary Barlow (yeah, we’re into the Barlow years) was natural and encouraging, then he starts singing… 

I can confidently say that you have never, in your life, heard anything quite like the J Star Valentine version of Hallelujah. I can’t explain it in words, just watch it. It’s number one for a reason. Topped off by another signature wheeze from Louis Walsh and Gary Barlow being a total arse. 

“You sang that song like a ghost. Strange.” – Sharon Osbourne

Honourable Mentions
Ant & Seb
Rachel – “Nothing, I’m lazy at the moment.”

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