The story of the night was definitely that the show now wants rid of Wagner. Have a look at our article earlier this week entitled “how to get Wagner out“, in which we discuss how we would be able to tell when the producers wanted him gone. An early slot in the running order? Check. A relaxed VT from Simon? Check. No big production? Check. One song rather than a mashup? Check. Lukewarm praise in the judges’ comments? Check.
Out of a million fun rock songs to give him (another Meatloaf perhaps?), ‘Creep’ seemed strange indeed, as the judges acknowledged afterwards. ‘Addicted to Love’ was underwhelming too – the dancing girls weren’t doing much dancing. Cheryl’s comment that “this is the week you’ve enjoyed yourself the most” planted the idea that this would somehow be a fitting end to the Wagner campaign.
That wasn’t all. In the second part of the show, once lines were open, they had not one but two more acts – One Direction and Mary – singing after Wagner and before the advertising break. (When lines are open, it will probably help an act to sing just before an ad break, giving them an extra few minutes of being fresh in the public’s minds. Usually there are only two acts, tops, between ad breaks. They were trying to shove Wagner down the memory hole).
And if you watched the Xtra Factor, you may have noted the first caller set up Simon to observe firstly that he had called the Rage Against The Machine campaign organisers last year to thank them for giving him a wake-up call, and secondly that voting for Wagner isn’t getting at him but getting at the more talented acts. In short: every trick in the book was used to depress the Wagner vote. But will it work?
From a financial point of view I certainly hope so, much as I love Wagner (and with ‘Creep’ we saw that he actually can sing better than many). In yesterday’s post I said I thought producers would want rid of Wagner either this week or next, and I spent yesterday building up a five-figure liability on Wagner in the outright winner betting market.
At the time of writing Wagner is 1/2 to go in a double elimination, and if that’s not a winning bet then there will be some serious head-scratching going on among the producers. I have to respectfully disagree with our commenters to yesterday’s post, Mark and Hanna, who suggested the show could save Wagner in a sing-off. Having set out their stall so clearly in yesterday’s show, I would be amazed if that’s the case.
But will he be last in the results, and thus first to go (as commenter Allan said he got his money on as soon as he saw Wagner was up first)? That’s a more difficult question to answer.
The other story of the night was how much help the other headline grabber and perennial favourite to be eliminated, Katie, once again got from the producers. They did their very best to save her from last place and ensure she’s in the sing-off at worst.
In the first set of songs, just before lines opened, she was up seventh of seven in another show of favouritism. She was sold as ‘honest’ – Operation Humanise Katie was at full throttle, and continued to be through ‘Everybody Hurts’. After that song, by saying she was great but Cheryl had ruined the song for her, Simon managed simultaneously to hype her and manufacture judge controversy for sympathy purposes.
In the second set of songs Katie sang fifth – before an ad break – and the pimp slot was given to Cher doing ‘Walk This Way’. She was given as much of a boost by Simon and Cheryl as possible; that, and the sympathy bounce should see her through, I think. (Incidentally, are we being far too cynical in wondering whether one or two Cher fans might have absent-mindedly added Katie’s 07 number to their phone vote after seeing Cher perform seventh in the second set of songs?)
In grave danger is Mary, however, who failed to offer anything that played to her strengths. By the end of the show, she became favourite on Betfair to be eliminated next. Producers are certainly hoping that she or Wagner finish bottom, so that they can save Katie yet again in any sing-off against the other one.
Otherwise, Rebecca was marginally better than the last two weeks, and probably did enough – though I don’t regret having a small, speculative bet at long odds as I think she’s the one most likely to slip into the bottom three if one of Wagner, Katie or Mary escape. Matt and One Direction remain safe, surely.