by Marc Ridley – EQ's resident X-Factor blogger. Follow Marc on Twitter.
The helicopters are back. They're clearly getting their money's worth.
Somehow, we're still auditioning in London. I mean who knew one city had so many bad singers? For some reason we started with a look inside our auditionees' homes, which offered some particularly baffling scenes of a man flirting with his nan in a kitchen.
First up on stage at the O2: Johnny Robinson, 45, ridiculously camp, Harrow. His introduction was uncomfortably cringe-inducing and expectation-limiting, and we saw the X Factor Make-Up Room doing its job by letting Jonny embarrass himself a little more before he headed on stage.
But sure enough, he could sing. The judges weren't expecting it, obviously (you'd have thought they'd have learned their lesson with SuBo), but the audience loved it and Johnny won himself one of those inappropriate but apparently meaningful standing ovations from the audience, along with four yesses from the judges. Hurrah.
Then we were handed a strange montage of auditionees performing as couples. Samantha Hallam was expecting to perform solo, but halfway through her song she was joined on stage by her boyfriend, who shortly became her fiancé. How nice.
Then new judge Kelly Rowland got her fair share of romantic attention; the charming 20-year-old burger flipper Derry Mensah professed his love for the American judge on stage and got rewarded with a slurry of compliments from his idol. To try and earn his way through to boot camp he sang 'Can You Help Me' by Usher, and pretty good it was too.
After the judges decided what to do with him as if he weren't in the room, he got four yesses and a lovely peck on the cheek from Kelly. Maybe Derry and Kelly are the new Nelly and Kelly? But he then burst into tears and collapsed onto the floor backstage, so I guess you can't have it all.
Somehow the rest of the auditionees got wind of Derry's tactics and we were treated to another montage of substandard singers flirting with Rowland. EQ summarily wandered off to put the kettle on.
By the time the telly had regained our interest (it took all of thirty seconds, if we're honest), the X Factor juggernauts had arrived in Liverpool, and Kelly was telling us all she knows about Liverpool by mentioning the Beatles.
Our first friendly Scouser on stage was 21-year-old Mark Byron. Kelly Rowland – vastly becoming my favourite judge – told Mark to beef up the Liverpool accent: 'I'm on your territory now!' Aww. The judges weren't impressed with his rendition of Rihanna's 'Only Girl in the World', however, and off he went in shame. (He did have an excuse for his failure, however. See photo above.)
Now here's a funny story: Craig Houlson, 22, went up to audition in front of his parents who were in the crowd, but who didn't know that their son was auditioning. He even made his mum iron his uniform so that he had an alibi. I hope he thought it was all worth it.
As far as we can tell, it was: his mum weeped for what we can only assume was a good reason, and the judges seemed impressed, too. And I love these auditions because Craig is the kind of guy who doesn't actually know he's any good; who doesn't think he deserves applause, let alone a place on the X Factor. But even his mum got a standing ovation.
Five-piece Bromance were perhaps the strangest act of the night – I've never seen five more badly matched people on one stage. Even Louis didn't take a shine to them. Other, more successful, groups included The Keys, who were very good and made it through to boot camp with Aloe Blacc's 'I Need a Dollar'.
Then, we were all treated to an advert showing a man mix some Philadelphia into a meringue.
After we cleared up the vomit, we met Manchester's 19-year-old Misha Bryan, our final auditionee of the day. She seems a nice girl; she's never met her father and instead grew up with the support of her aunty, and so had come to the auditions to make her (very large) family proud. On stage she brought out some Aretha Franklin and dutifully lifted Kelly Rowland – and the rest of the arena for that matter – to their feet. She was very definitely brilliant, and was sent off with a big smile and a place in boot camp.
Whilst it lacked the drama and the laughs of last week's episode, tonight's X Factor certainly brought us more talent. And let's be honest, the talent will always be more entertaining than the bad singing and bitch fights.