Before Saturday’s show it was a case of ‘Every little helps’ for Tesco worker Mary and she didn’t get it.
She needed a better slot in the running order than second, always in the same segment as favourite Matt Cardle. She needed more interesting VTs. She needed not to get her timing wrong at the end of her first song. She needed to be more consistent in the delivery of the second song. And she needed the judges to drum up the Irish regional vote for her – but they didn’t mention Ireland at all, Louis instead appealing for votes from more generic groups: “women” and “people”.
The judges bickered about Louis’s first song choice, which is a diversionary tactic that takes attention away from the act itself. From after the second song, Simon’s comments are telling and worth quoting at length:
‘I think whatever happens, and I genuinely mean this, you’re going to sell records, you’re going to have concerts. Let me tell you, Mary, you are not going back to the Tesco checkout.’
In other words: Mary fans, you don’t really need to vote tonight. If she leaves, she’ll be just fine.
I’m afraid that producers did all they could to dampen her vote and minimise the sympathy bounce she will be in line for after last week’s singoff, and it almost seemed that her tears at the end of ‘The Way We Were’ were all Mary could do to try and save herself. Those tears, incidentally, felt slightly awkward – whereas they could have felt touching and uplifting if producers had chosen to give us the backstory about Mary’s mother in advance of the song, in her VT.
Mary had a raw deal and deserves to be the hot favourite to be eliminated (currently top-priced 4/9).
On the other hand they did plenty for the second-favourite to be eliminated, Cher. She had been accused on Twitter of being cocky last week and producers took on this perception directly, in the VT, with the judges comments and in her post-performance interview. Simon virtually pleaded for people to get her into the final.
Whether it’s enough is still open to some debate – it will be interesting to see what kind of reaction Nick says she is getting on the internet, when he makes his regular Sunday comment below. I think the bookmakers have again got her odds right at about 5/2. I think Mark was right in his comment before yesterday’s show – it’s a straight scrap for survival between her and Mary.
They sent Rebecca out first for a pretty uninspired version of ‘Show Me Love’, but Louis and Dannii did ask Liverpool to vote for her. She raised her game for the second number, and it has to be said that ‘Amazing Grace’ was a shrewd song choice that should see safely her into the final. The judges’ comments were as heart-warming as possible.
As we suspected, One Direction got the pimp slot, and their song choices were strong – which should put them into the final too. Matt Cardle wasn’t at his best having had a bout of flu, but it should still be enough.
One last thing. Customarily, at the final five stage, the judges lose their power to save acts in a sing-off, with the lowest in the public vote going automatically. But has this been definitively confirmed? All we heard Dermot say last night when lines opened was “It’s now all in your hands, your votes and your votes alone can get your favourite act safely through to the final”. That sounds to us like it technically leaves some wiggle room to have a bottom two sing-off (only the top three would go “safely” through), which would surely seal Mary’s fate. Or did we miss a clearer announcement?