Midweek refleXions: Not-so-magic Wand

Among the many surprises of Saturday night’s running order, one was the appearance in the pimp slot at this early stage of the act now widely referred to as Wand Erection (could this become a subliminal play for the votes of Harry Potter fans? A suggestion for Brian Friedman: send them out in full wizarding regalia doing ‘It’s A Kind Of Magic’).

Last week I wrote that One Direction‘s pimp slot appearance, when it came, would allow producers (and us) to judge if they would fly. Unfortunately we still don’t know, as they once again hitched a ride on the wings of their backing vocalists. In the comments to last week’s post, Lynn astutely observed that if they are to win this thing, One Direction will have to show they can sing without help. She’s surely right. It’s getting embarrassing.

Then again, it’s hardly the boys’ fault if the sound technicians choose to turn down the volume on their mics and ramp up those of the hidden choir. So what’s going on here? I can think of three possibilities.

Possibility #1: The producers have concluded that One Direction can’t sing well enough. Hang on, though. We still haven’t heard too much of Niall, Louis or Zain, but we know from auditions that Liam and Harry have passable voices. And two decent vocalists plus three pretty woo-woo boys, if that’s what the deal is, would hardly be a mould-breaking departure for the boyband genre.

Possibility #2: The producers think it doesn’t matter. Maybe. One assumes that pubescent girls are this act’s core demographic, and perhaps they neither notice nor care if they’re being transported to multiple-voting ecstasy by the efforts of off-screen backing singers.

Possibility #3: It’s all part of the masterplan. Provoke a media fuss about their backing singers, then send them out a capella and proclaim them as the second coming if they’re not awful. (Or, knowing this show, even if they are).

Backers of One Direction will certainly be hoping that a masterplan is involved, because they drifted in the outright winner betting from 11/4 to 9/2 after their pimp slot performance. To drift after being pimped in the pimp slot is really not good. Just look at Cher, whose week 4 pimping saw her odds tumble to 11/2 amid misplaced hysteria about her being the “chosen one”.

Cher’s rendition of ‘Empire State Of Mind’ on Saturday was, to our ears, just as good as if not better than her performance of ‘Stay’. Which is to say, it was okay. But because she was up first and the judges didn’t wet themselves, she’s drifted right back out in the betting to 12/1, which I think is about where she should be.

Once again Matt did just fine. And once again we learned nothing about him that we didn’t already know, given he had already nailed that song at bootcamp. But it was enough to persuade punters to reverse his market slide of last week, and he’s back to favouritism again at a top-priced 8/5.

I predict, however, that he will be overtaken at the front of the betting as soon as Rebecca gets her turn in the pimp slot. She’s already notching up some serious compliments – she got the “ambassador for this country” line for the second week in a row, this time from Simon; at this rate they’ll be proposing her for UN Secretary-General by week 7.

Rebecca must be just about due her crack at the pimp slot now, though I am still expecting they might stick Wagner there as soon as they conclude he needs some help to avoid the bottom two.

The other obvious possibility for this week’s pimp slot is 20/1 fifth favourite Aiden, who redeemed himself from the Thriller debacle and, as our commenter Nick has observed, does seem to have a highly enthusiastic base.

I doubt the show would want to risk creating too much momentum behind Aiden, because I doubt they would find him acceptable as a winner – they have a poor track record so far with teen male soloists. But then, as we just saw with Cher, the show is perfectly capable of ramping up hysteria about an act one week and effectively dampening it down again the next.

Have your thoughts on the likeliest winner changed in the last few days? Do please let us know in the comments box below – and don’t forget to check back tomorrow for Daniel’s thoughts on the Wagner phenomenon.

6 comments to Midweek refleXions: Not-so-magic Wand

  • Allan

    Any news on a possible double eviction this week (mentioned in one of the blogs last week)? If so, surely Waissel is a cert for “next eviction”, as the bottom act in the public vote will go automatically. But without knowing in advance what the rules are going to be I can’t touch her at evens.

    If it’s not a double then she may well be saved again, depending on who she’s up against. Think the most likely is Paije, so he might be some value at 9/2. All in all though I think it’s a wait and see till after Saturday’s show this week.

    • Andrew

      No word on single/double yet that I know of – last week’s unfounded rumour that it was going to be a double was based on a tweet from a Mirror journalist, apparently. A watching brief does seem wise till they confirm it.

  • i backed rebecca ferguson at 7-1 and couldnt b more happy i believe she is the 1 contestant that is gona get better and better each week i also believe simon cowell has decided she is the chosen 1 matt will b hard 2 beat but he may have peaked 2 soon as for 1direction they r simply not good enough vocally and u can forget the rest

  • Daniel

    As Andrew says, we can’t know until they confirm. However, given that once there are 5 acts left, the sing-off is usually ditched and they automatically evict the single lowest polling act, it would make complete sense to have double eliminations for the next two weeks. That would also allow the correct timing for a Dec 11/12 final weekend. Let’s see.

  • Eloise

    Wonderful comments and analysis on this site – well done, everyone, makes great reading. Another thing I’ve noticed that could possibly influence voting is the length of the performance time allocated to contestants: Matt’s superb rendition of “First Time Ever I Saw” lasts 2.37mins, whereas Aiden’s “Nothing Conpares” was condensed into 2.07, giving a markedly shorter time to get viewers’ emotions connected with the performance. The Eurovision is very strict on its maximum 3 min song time, I think X Factor needs to give everyone the same chance by equalising performance time.

    • Daniel

      Thanks Eloise, and welcome! I’m delighted to be getting such great insights from the comments. This is fascinating – I’ve often wondered myself that the songs seem uneven in length, and you confirm it. Another important way of manipulating the viewer.

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