We see the same old things year in, year out - so why do we still love it?


1. The novelty act

I think we first became aware of the power of the novelty act when Chico sang for Sharon Osbourne at judges’ houses and dived into the swimming pool.

Since then we’ve been treated to Jedward, Two Shoes, Wagner Carrilho (that’s Wagner with a V, Louis Walsh!) and Johnny Robinson.

This year we’ve got Rylan Clark. And what a treat he is. If Saturday’s borefest taught us anything, it’s that without the novelty act the first six weeks of live finals are simply too, well, boring.

2. The nasty judge

For a long time we knew where we stood with this one. Simon Cowell made the perfect Cruella de Vil.

He sat at the end of the desk and you could see in his eyes that he was about to lift his hand in the air to stop the auditionee mid-song.

If you win this competition, we will have failed,’ we heard him say. Harsh, Simon, harsh.

But nothing NOTHING could have prepared us for this one.

Yes, that’s right people, Gary Barlow has turned! Not content with laying into Rylan every week, this Saturday we saw him tear into Tulisa Contostavlos, accusing her of having ‘fag ash breath’ live on TV.

What next, Gary? Elbow-dropping Dermot O’Leary because you can’t take that gravelly voice any more? Doing a half nelson on Louis when he sends home Kye Sones?

3. Dermot‘s dance

It was great, funny, even a bit cheeky the first few times we saw it. But now? Come on, Dermy, surely you have to stop the madness. It comes to something when you have to get a Louie Spence-style dancer to pretend you’re back-flipping.

Although strangely, if I miss the beginning of the show, I always have to rewind to see what insanely easy routine Dermot can’t manage to get his two left feet around.

4. Louis gets emotional

There’s one certain way we can tell that Louis realises that his time may be up on the show and that’s when he’s about to lose one of his acts.

As a last ditch attempt to get a bit of sympathy, he starts to cry. Of course, the other judges see right through it and will most likely send Louis‘s act home.

5. Robbie Williams

As sure as night is day, we can expect a Robbie appearance at some point. If not at judges’ houses, then he’ll pop up to perform on the live shows.

In fact, so much work has Robbie put into being an X Factor super-fan, I  think they should have just given him Borelow’s job in the first place!

Sunday saw him perform in a weird Cadbury’s-sponsored poloneck (too tight when you’ve clearly put on that weight again, Rob), showing us how to work a crowd into a frenzy.

Louis got a lap dance and Rylan got a bit of love just to wind Gary up. Come on, Simon, if that’s not enough, what will be? Give Robbie the job!

6. The mid-series lull

You know the point – it usually coincides with the clocks going back, winter setting in and you realising that you’ll be sat on your sofa for the next six weeks to watch this.

The contestants get a bit comfortable and the judges have just about had enough. See point 7.

7. You discover The Xtra Factor

So this is where all the fun’s been happening! Olly Murs and Caroline Flack can light up any dull  results show.

They get to ask cheeky questions to the judges, grill the contestants about their tabloid shenanigans and generally take the piss out of each other. I believe on TOWIE they’d call it ‘good banter’.

8. Judges’ comments

‘You’re an international recording artist’ is a favourite this series. Also, Tulisa‘s: ‘You’ve brought the urban to the contest,’ and then the scathing: ‘For the first time I’m worried for you’ AKA you’ll be going home this week.

And don’t even get me started on: ‘You’ve got a great recording voice’ like someone might be able to sing beautifully in ‘real life’ but when recorded sounds like Katie Price attempting A Whole New World.

9. The rejects’ song

To be honest, this has been one of my friends’ and my favourite parts of the whole series for years.

As if these people haven’t been humiliated enough at the audition stages, they decide to bring them back to sing in the final, resulting in an out-of-time, out-of-tune performance that’s both painfully cringey and side-splittingly funny.

10. Jeff Brazier and the pizza faces

Yes, it’s the grand finale and Jeff Brazier‘s one bit of primetime work of the year! He gets to stand with the family and friends of one of the finalists and shout about how excited everyone is.

Then someone will bring out a pizza with the face of the finalist made from the toppings. The Matt Cardle pizza was something to behold!

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