X Factor 2014 Week 7: Drowned Young

The running order at the start of the show revealing Stereo Kicks were in the pimp slot had confirmed Only The Young’s status as beta group. There was plenty of positivity in the rest of their treatment – a reasonable VT featuring an extended plug for Hamley’s, staging with their name up in golden lights, Simon mentioning that they’d “come alive” in the last three weeks and Louis giving another explicit shoutout for votes – but it wasn’t enough to get them off the bottom of the pile.

Who will join them tomorrow?

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X Factor 2014 Week 7 Elimination: Stevi Nixed?

Props to producers. With the announcement of this weekend’s double elimination, intrigue levels in our comments section went through the roof. There’s not a scenario or exit that hasn’t been considered (with the exception, perhaps, of a Fleur departure).

Playing devil’s advocate here, it is possible that there’s no grand plan for the double elimination beyond a short-term ratings chase. When last done in week 4, that was arguably the case beyond the targeting of Jack Walton. We’ve reached a stage of the competition when previously producer-favoured acts have left but got a record contract anyway (Ella, Tamera), and you can make a case for keeping each of the contestants in the competition another week.

Of course, the evidence of tonight’s show could prove very different. Producers have been so ruthlessly effective in getting rid of their targets that we would rather wait for their cues. The song choices in themselves don’t suggest an obvious target to us, in that each could be spun either way. Nonetheless, here’s a primer on what we’re looking out for tonight.

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X Factor 2014: Swing when you're losing?

Time for our regular weekly pivot off what you’ve been saying in the comments.

1. Swinging into inaction

Jessica: “IMO Lauren is being deramped and has been for some weeks now.” Stu: “I definitely see Lauren being the one sacrificed out of the “Power Four”. Dean: “Simon’s boring remark was perfect timing in week 6 if they want to get her by week 8 or so.”

Is a swing the new plinth? We’ve speculated that being stuck on a plinth can isolate an act from its audience. What about a high swing towards the back of the stage?

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IACGMOOH betting discussion thread

Daniel and I aren’t watching I’m A Celebrity, but if you are, please do use this thread to discuss it – along with any other non-X Factor betting opportunities that take your fancy. For the record, at the time of posting Melanie Sykes is the favourite at odds of 3.5; of selected others, Gemma Collins – who thus far seems to have garnered the most column inches from what we’ve seen – trades at 13.0, and you can get 21.0 about XF alum Jake Quickenden.

X Factor 2014: Does Andrea's Italian-ness matter, and why?

Once again this week Andrea’s VT focused heavily on his Italian-ness. Introduced by Mel with “forget pizza and pasta, here’s Britain’s new favourite Italian dish”, we saw him learning some new English words from Fleur, baffling his family on Skype with “amazeballs”, then being dressed up in a Union Jack hat and sent around London on a double-decker bus having afternoon tea – on one level, embracing Britain; on another level, something which obviously only a foreigner would do.

That comes after last week’s Roman homecoming, week 4′s visit to the deli and implication that Italians know nothing about Hallowe’en… the list goes on. There’s been much discussion in the Sofabet comments about whether producers are trying to tap into some kind of UKIP sentiment among voters: bloody forriners, coming over here winning our talent shows, aren’t there enough British kids down the Job Centre with charming personalities and powerhouse vocals, eh?

Our theory is that the Italian emphasis may indeed be intended to be unhelpful for Andrea, but for the exact opposite reason. So let’s flesh out that theory and invite you to pick it apart.

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X Factor 2014 Week 6 Post Mortem: Mocking Jay

It’s been a while since we had a big-money Sunday afternoon plunge that suggested someone thought they knew something, but we had one this afternoon with Stevi Ritchie backed in to odds on as previous odds-on favourite Jay drifted out.

The extent of the plunge made me wonder if it might reflect information not only about the public vote but about the way the judges would go. Still, given the effort producers went to yesterday to dampen Jay’s expected bounce, and their love of a controversial singoff result, I couldn’t resist laying Stevi, especially when he was trading as low as 1.17 on Betfair. Some lucky punters got even better odds.

Never underestimate this show’s producers is one of the mantras of this site, and that proved the case even after Simon saved Jay rather than abstaining. Mel and Cheryl showed their willingness to do the dirty work, and I ended the evening with a satisfactory profit. Props to everyone in the Sofabet comments who also called it correctly when the final two were announced.

A good night’s work for producers, then – they hit their target, and they should get plenty of headlines from saving Stevi. Who will be in the crosshairs next week? As ever, do keep the conversation going in the comments.

X Factor 2014 Week 6: Jay James Picked-On?

Up first, and apparently back in the bad books after last week’s pimp slot, was Andrea. He got an Anglicisation VT which saw him go from being Mel’s “Italian dish” in the introduction to “proper English”. Simon called attention to Andrea’s habit of pulling faces, and compared his version unfavourably to Leona Lewis. Then we had the much talked about Sainsbury’s advert to catch viewers turning over from Strictly.

Presumably this was a “silly Strictly viewers, should have tuned in from the start” running order decision, rather than the use of the Strictly bus to attempt to get an act in trouble for tomorrow – but there seemed to be plenty of alarm bells for Andrea backers following last weeks’ positivity. We’ll unpick them in the midweek article.

Lauren’s VT introduced us to her little brother, following which she not only had the same song as Diana Vickers had performed in Big Band week, like Diana she also did it on a swing. While she got a “born recording artist” from Louis, Simon called it “boring” and “good but not fantastic”, which we suspect will likely have struck most viewers as fair comment. This was a case of being on a swing, but not getting a push. Will it have been downbeat enough to see her drift into the singoff?

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X Factor 2014 Week 6 Elimination: Young guns in firing line?

A few words of caution for the elimination market this week. I have a theory, based purely on personal experience, that weeks 3-5 are a more reliable period for pre-show elimination betting, and in some ways things get a bit trickier in weeks 6-8.

That might seem curious given there are fewer contestants involved by this point. Let me explain. I like weeks 3-5 more than weeks 1-2 because we usually have an act on a sympathy bounce, and one coming off it. Also, with plenty of acts still around at this stage in the competition, it often takes a week to soften someone up before producers go in for the kill. This was best displayed by Jack and Paul this year: both got the 1-2 killer combination of suggested rebellion one week succeeded by acquiescence in something worse the following week. This signposted their subsequent eliminations in advance.

With the deadwood largely gone from the competition, weeks 6-8 sometimes see producer U-turns not so easy to guess beforehand. And with less fodder left in the competition, these can often be decisive, as can a performance that fails to catch on – just ask Ella Henderson. There were some tortuous twists in producer favour from weeks 6-8 last year involving the likes of Sam Callahan, Hannah Barrett, Luke Friend and Tamera Foster. With that caveat in mind, what to make of the elimination market this weekend?

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