X Factor 2014: Trick or Treat? Hallowe'en Staging

We take a keen interest in the staging of each song, and the interest needs to be even keener for Halloween. What might usually stand out as a hatchet job by being scary, funereal or monstrous suddenly becomes justified by the theme. Producers must love it. As occasional Sofabet contributor Dug wrote in 2012: “It’s a great theme because basically everyone dresses in apocalyptic drag and gets red-and-blacked.”

Or do they? We peeked through our fingers at past Halloween productions for staging clues amidst the zombies and ghouls. There have been three Halloween themed shows, in 2010, 2011 and 2012. And in all three, we felt at the time that producers cleanly hit the act they were targeting. Aptly enough for the theme, in all three years the victims have been young women: Belle Amie, Sophie Habibis and Jade Ellis.

Do bear in mind that it’s a small data set, leaving the chance for coincidence, and we obviously can’t guarantee any pointers will be used in the same way on Saturday. But like the Blair Witch Project, we couldn’t resist exploring further. Let’s start with the three sacrificial lambs.

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X Factor 2014: Mmm... donuts

Time for our regular weekly pivot off what you’ve been saying in the comments, and where better to start than with the 6/4 favourite to win the series, our lovely, cuddly Italian stallion teddy bear, Andrea Faustini.

Caro: “it was interesting how many close ups of Andrea’s tonsils we had… wearing a classic Versace design shirt. Very Italian!!” Gamblebot: “He didn’t get a superstar slot, but the audience was the LOUDEST for him, he’s getting the most social media likes”. Nugg: “Andrea will not win… he is very cleverly being allowed to fizzle out.” Jess: “Did “little italian bear” sound patronising to anyone else?” Curtis: “Did you see how Simon was able to kill the mood without seeming unreasonable. He is the master of manipulation.”

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X Factor 2014 Week 3 Post-Mortem: Jake Quicklygone

The Strictly bus strikes again. The two acts to perform while Strictly was still on the other side, Jake and Only The Young, duly found themselves singing for survival. After three weeks of pummelling, and given it was about time the show lost a solo male, Jake was understandably made a very short-priced favourite by Betfair punters. Though he got gold lighting, the feel of his performance was valedictory.

Still, I had nagging doubts about piling in at around the 1.15 mark given that Only The Young had also been treated as disposable on Saturday. It seemed just about possible to me that if Only The Young had been bottom, producers might have been tempted to deadlock it for shock value. Jake drifting out to 1.25 as Only The Young murdered ‘Winner Takes It All’ indicated that there was some nervous profit-taking going on.

That said, it was obviously no surprise, given his treatment in each of the live shows so far, when Jake was disposed of by majority verdict.

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X Factor Week 3: The Great British Jake-Off?

It was Jake’s turn under the Strictly bus tonight. After a VT which should have delighted his presumed female demo, featuring as it did a playful chastising from Mel for getting his kit off for Cosmo, it all went downhill. Jake’s staging appeared to show him with crosshairs on his torso, and the cutaway shot to his mentor showed her supping a cup of tea. But it was the ouch moment in the key change that did the most damage and ensured that criticism of his vocals seemed justified. The criticism was relatively muted from Louis and Cheryl, and leavened with praise for his personality – as you would expect when the aim is to demotivate votes; although Simon may just have overcooked things very slightly by saying it was “unlikely” Jake would be here next week.

Dermot twisted the knife, as he does so smoothly, asking Jake “it is a singing contest, though, do you think you’re in danger after that?” Jake is very likeable, and that is presumably what has seen him through so far. But will that be enough for a third week running?

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X Factor 2014 Week 3 Elimination: Jake Quickundone?

With no act coming down off a sympathy bounce (Steph failed to bounce at all) and no confirmation that this weekend will resort to a single elimination (though we assume so, based on the precedent of 2010), there are a few imponderables about who will go this week.

Added to this, there wasn’t a song choice that looked guaranteed to put an act in trouble (a further discussion follows below). In the circumstances, I prefer to watch tonight’s show before getting too involved in the elimination market.

The song choices are all at least relatively well known; no-one has an obvious disadvantage of obscurity. Our commenters in the previous post have provided some excellent analysis (notably Fudd with his look at relative fortunes of acts singing tonight’s songs in past editions).

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How scripted is the X Factor?

Our last post sparked a healthy debate in the comments about just how scripted the X Factor is. For the benefit of readers who are new to Sofabet this year, or who don’t read all the comments (which you really should), we thought it might be interesting to summarise and add some thoughts of our own.

Nugg, who has attended many live shows, starts us off on a sceptical note:

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X Factor 2014: Is there hope for a Stereo Kick-start?

Often, in previous years, we’ve got the impression that it’s around about this stage of the series that producers are starting to assess the fate of the trial balloons they’ve floated in the first couple of weeks and decide who they’re going to throw their weight behind. In 2011, for example, the Janet Devlin takedown started in week 3, and the Little Mix boosterism in week 4. Last year there seemed to be a flirting with a Sam Bailey deramp in weeks 2-3, before seeming to accept her as unstoppable in week 4.

So we can presumably start to expect more clarity in the next week or two about who is alpha girl, which still seems an open question: this week they turned Lauren into an angel, with white dress and halo lighting, but they also continued to set up Lola for a potential journey with Simon’s “80%” comment. We should also start to get some more definitive clues re alpha male over: Ben has been treated positively both weeks, but Jay got a chance to show how well he could poll from the pimp slot.

However, you would think that the agenda will be topped by whether and how they can salvage Stereo Kicks, which has also been dominating the conversation below the line. That’s where we start this week’s midweek pivot off what you’ve been saying in the comments.

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X Factor 2014 Week 2 Post Mortem: Stereo Kicking

It’s fair to assume that wasn’t in the script. After Steph had departed first, no great surprise after her treatment last night, producers were left with the dilemma of a singoff between two acts they had surely earmarked for another few weeks in the competition. They must have been regretting not doing more for Chloe-Jasmine, which remains a puzzle given it was always possible she would end up either bottom or pitched against another act they wouldn’t want to lose.

Betfair punters were in no doubt that Chloe-Jasmine would be sacrificed for the boyband, as she traded around the 1.1 to 1.2 mark, and so it proved by majority verdict. While I agreed that this was the most likely outcome, in such an unexpected singoff scenario I wasn’t tempted to get involved at those odds.

So where now for the Stereos after this Kicking?

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