A scene by scene analysis of the time JLS ruined Christmas for everyone
On the night of the 13 December 2008, JLS ruined Christmas for everyone.
Performing 'Last Christmas' during The X Factor live final, Aston, Oritsé, Marvin and specifically JB, senselessly destroyed Christmas for anyone that was unfortunate enough to witness it. The blame lies primarily with JB, who delivered the ear sore, but the others cannot escape responsibility as they stood back and allowed it to happen.
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JB Gill says 'Merry Christmas' in such a comically nasal and cartoon-esque manner, Christmas was immediately cancelled for the entirety of the world. Decorations were taken down, partially consumed advent calendars binned, presents burned in a ritualistic bonfire and food thrown into an incinerator. It was unprecedented chaos, the likes of which nobody ever wants to see again.
Precisely ten years on, it feels like the right time to dissect what went wrong for the JLS boys on the night in question.
Act I, Scene I - Nervous Energy
With the echoes of Peter Dickson's iconic tones ringing in our ears, the applause dies down and the piano begins to play. As with every JLS song, it quickly becomes clear that Aston is going to be doing the heavy lifting here, with his fellow bandmates comfortably assuming their roles as the handsome backing singers.
Based on their body language, Marvin and Aston up front are relaxed, they're quietly confident and ready to raise the roof despite having the unenviable task of trying to follow up Eoghan Quigg's heartfelt rendition of 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday'. JB and Oritsé are relegated to the back and forced to pose like a couple of teenagers outside the offie, about to ask someone to buy them precisely two Bacardi Breezers each, and a packet of Wotsits for good measure.
They're visibly nervous and compensating for it with their delicate yet attitude-laden stances.
Act I, Scene II - The Hard Sell
Aston Merrygold, a man whose name wouldn't sound out of place in the Sylvanian Families universe, starts to sing. It's flawless, angelic even. Every note is pitch perfect, he's emoting in all the right places and for lack of a better phrase, eye-fucking the camera beyond belief.
Not even his 11,000 bracelets are enough to distract Aston from keeping his twinkling eyes on the prize. He's going to take this competition all the way home to their respective excitable households, leaving little Eoghan Quigg in their dust.
Aston's keeping a cool head in a very stressful set of conditions. All he needs is for those three backseat drivers to keep their duties adhered to and, if the opportunity presents itself, also eye-fuck the camera beyond belief.
Act I, Scene III - Group Participation
Given that it's Christmas, Aston allows the other three to chime in with the second line in the first verse. "This year, to save me from tears, I'll give it to someone special", they sing in perfect unison, really selling the idea that they're all in possession of one singular heart between them and must now consult each other with regards to where they'll next dispense it.
In what I'm absolutely certain was a completely unchoreographed move, all four of them use their non-microphone hand to stress the syllables, bobbing up and down for conviction. The audience are like putty in JLS' hands, already forgetting about that little spiky haired guy from before, even considering heading home now to beat the traffic since the match appears to be all sewn up before it's even half time.
Act II, Scene I - Preemptive Disapproval
A meagre 24 seconds into the song, we're given a reaction shot from the judges. The camera stops on Louis Walsh, the mentor of JLS, and he looks distressed. At the time, it made very little sense. His boys were crushing it, holding their own on a stage that has been home to such X Factor heavyweights as Beverley Trotman, Eton Road, Addictiv Ladies, Tabby Callaghan and as previously mentioned, Eoghan Quigg.
By all accounts, up until this point in the performance, JLS were crushing it. Everything was aligning to secure them a win in this final showdown. But Louis Walsh had seen the rehearsals. Look at his facial expression. The man knows that there is a storm afoot and there's nothing he can do about it. He's bracing for impact, as we all should be.
Act II, Scene II - Casual Alignment
Quick to shun the preemptive disappointment of their mentor, JLS swiftly get themselves back on track. The beat drops, their shoulders visibly loosen and all four finally reach the ground level portion of the staging setup. Aston regains control of the vocals and the other three walk (on beat) to the other side of the stage.
Everything feels calm again. Viewers quickly forget about Louis' expression, putting it down to a dissatisfaction with the ergonomic properties of the judges' chairs or some other bullshit that is likely to trouble him throughout his workday which consists of two hours every Saturday night. Aston gets back into his groove and all returns to complacency once more. They're perfectly aligned on the runway.
Now JLS must take this plane home for a soft landing.
Act II, Scene III - The Reunion
Aston proves his prowess as a frontman by walking and singing at the same time, reaching the rest of the band who still, unforgivably, aren't in perfect formation despite being given a head start. They will receive a disciplinary caning from Aston once the performance has ended, as has historically been proven to be the only way these boys can learn from their mistakes. Things feel whole once more.
All four JLS band members are standing tall at their microphone stands, clad entirely in white and leaning on Aston harder than ever before. They're invincible, fully sure that this rendition of 'Last Christmas' will see them through to victory. Nothing can go wrong. They're invincible.
Act III, Scene I - Premature Enthusiasm
Suddenly, out of nowhere, JB goes rogue, initiating the clapping portion of the choreography one whole beat before the rest of the band. Up until this point, the band's routines have been extremely tight, rarely stepping out of line. It's likely that JB is experiencing some X Factor final jitters, trying to stay in time with the rest of the group while remembering to smile, nail his angle so that his fresh fade is on show, chime in during the right parts of the song, and now clap.
It's a logistical nightmare and it was likely that someone was going to slip up. Unperturbed by his indiscretion, things slip back into place with the rest of the band and composure is once again regained. All is well.
Act III, Scene II - Overconfidence Emerges
Noted scamp of JLS, Aston softens the mood with a cheeky little wink. After all, JLS stands for 'Jack the Lad Swing', which means the boys are under immense pressure at all times to prove that they are both absolute lads and also open to swinging. The wink is an unnecessary addition to the performance, but a comforting one.
Aston's letting us know that everything is under control despite a few minor hiccups along the way. His vocals are on point, the rest of the group are playing their parts to a reasonable degree and those 11,000 bracelets aren't inhibiting the microphone's operational capacity, despite the floor manager's earlier insistence.
Act III, Scene III - Final Preparations
Aston has been taking the reins for quite a while at this point, so it's expected that someone else is about to chime in. JB hits an aggressive final clap, which indicates that it's probably him. If you look at his stance, the guy is nervous. His feet are elevated, using just his toes for support. Marvin turns to JB in anticipation of his standout moment. Due to the frustratingly poor quality of the footage available, it's difficult to tell whether Marvin's look is one of comfort or intrigue.
We need to keep in mind that all four boys have rehearsed this exact performance countless times before, with a preemptively disapproving Louis Walsh watching their every move. All they need to do is stick to the script and everything should be fine. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail, etc.
Act IV, Scene I - JB Fucks It
"MeRrY ChRiStMaS" he announces like a cartoon character who's just been forced to wish the town a pleasant holiday season after successfully being convicted of trying to murder Santa Claus. Like a children's TV presenter who's been caught with a large amount of cocaine in their system but been ordered to close the show one final time because there's literally nobody else available to fill in at such short notice. Like an excitable child at mass who's just delivered the most fire homily of all time. Like a gentleman who's protesting accusations that he has been engaging in sexual relations with TY Beanie Babies for a number of years. Like a recently divorced mother who's got the kids on her own for the holidays and took a valium in anticipation of the stress but also senselessly mixed it with wine. Like a member of JLS who's just fucked it for his fellow bandmates and cost them the entire X Factor competition with one poorly gauged outburst.
Act IV, Scene II - The Aftermath
With the sound of satan ringing in his ears, Aston is forced to once again pick up the pieces that his fellow JLS bandmates have left behind. He's livid. The twinkle has gone from his eyes. They're glossy now, hardened to the ways of the world, fully aware that nothing good can ever truly happen because life is a bottomless pit of suffering and despair until your impending mortality finally presents itself unto you with the sweet release of death.
Aston Merrygold is tired. He's been carrying three awkward lumps for nine weeks at this point, and this is not how he deserved to be repaid. Aston was on Stars In Their Eyes when he was 14 years old and finished in second place, which has haunted him throughout his life. He is not going to finish in second place again because of some tone-deaf degenerate like JB. Not to see Alexandra Burke or Eoghan fucking Quigg soar to the dizzying heights that he's always desired. The man is irate, but he's going to see the performance through because he's not a quitter.
Act IV, Scene III - Final Scene - Acceptance Of Fate
Much like the musicians on board the Titanic playing right through until the ship's final moments, JLS finish the song. JB's shrill yet nasal 'Merry Christmas' is still ringing in everyone's ears, but they persevere regardless. Aston does his best to minimise the damage, with the other two seemingly oblivious to what has just happened. The closing note is tender, but it's not enough. JB has fucked it for everyone. He ruined Christmas, he ruined JLS' chances of victory and most of all, he ruined himself. JLS finished second in the competition, after Alexandra Burke and ahead of Eoghan Quigg. Alexandra's Christmas song performed was 'Silent Night', which perhaps was a precursor to how JB's evening went after that performance.
Christmas 2008 will forever be known as The Year That JB From JLS Fucked It, and that's comforting in a way. No matter what happens or where life takes us, that constant will always remain. JB can move on in life, pursue other career paths, grow as a person, even grow out his sick hair fade if he wants to, but JB can never escape what happened on the night of 13th December 2008. He ruined Christmas and cost his band everything. Alexandra Burke didn't have to flog condoms for a quick buck, and she never will.
Still, in the words of JB Gill, MeRrY ChRiStMaS.
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Images via YouTube