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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X Factor 2014 Week 2: Nala games

Unlike last week, when the 65-minute Strictly overlap represented something of a blunderbuss for producers, the 25-minute overlap this week gave them more of a chance to focus their fire. Those in the crosshairs were Jack and Steph.

Jack’s VT bestowed a Louis Tomlinson blessing, but after that positive start it was downhill from there. His staging put us in mind of Christopher Maloney’s cassette deck backdrop from the 2012 final, with roaming spotlights scattering viewers’ attention. Jack’s VT mentioned he’d never heard of the song, and it was one of the least known of the night. Judges’ comments were, to our ears, relatively lukewarm postives offering no motivation to vote; it was a negative that Cheryl bigged up Jack’s relationship with Mel, before Simon pointed out she hadn’t even bothered to pay him a visit in person. Both Simon and Cheryl casually implied he’d still be here in the coming weeks. Perhaps it’s confirmation bias, always a danger when the money’s down, but we were surprised to see consensus in the comments calling this as positive for Jack.

Still, given what came next, there’s no doubt we have a worthy favourite for third elimination.

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X Factor 2014 Week 2 Elimination: Hit the road, Jack?

Producers have a certain power over punters before the second live show – they know the results of the first week phone vote and will act accordingly. We can assume they want the likes of Chloe Jasmine and Stevi Ritchie to avoid polling last, or singing off against each other in another double elimination. That will mean targeting the other acts considered most disposable and vulnerable in their eyes.

Hopefully we’ll be much clearer about who that might be after tonight’s show. But amidst this caution, an elimination market initially headed by last week’s sing-off survivor before a potential bounce, followed by the two producer favourites mentioned above, has offered some value for speculative punters.

Which act you might take a chance on is very much your choice.

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X Factor 2014: Curtains for Lola? And other questions

We’ve decided not to do the in-depth staging reviews of each performance like last year, principally because by the end of the last series we felt like we were flogging the same familiar themes and occasionally in danger of disappearing down the rabbit hole.

Instead we’re planning a more general midweek post that picks up on thoughts raised in the comments section – it’s what makes Sofabet, but we realise not all readers will have time to fully engage with all the comments – in an attempt to summarise some of what you’ve been saying, and add our own ideas. We’ll include selected staging thoughts in this.

Here’s a selection of this week’s hot topics.

Continue reading X Factor 2014: Curtains for Lola? And other questions