Another week, another audition show stolen by the girls category. Jade Richards is now the new outright favourite in some lists after provoking tears on the judging panel with her rendition of “Someone Like You”, a song which Kelly Rowland – rumoured to become her mentor – conveniently happened to have been dreaming about.
Even Louis Walsh looked like someone next to him was chopping a strong onion. That, and the crowd reaction shot cutaways, and the starring role taken by Jade’s gran in the wings with Dermot, left us in no doubt that this was an edit with “sailing through to the live shows” written all over it. How far is Jade likely to get?
She certainly made an impression on Sofabet commenters Euan and Justin, who rightly point out that her Scottishness should be a solid base to build from – we saw the power of the north-of-the-border vote with Leon Jackson and the MacDonald Bros (although Jade may have some work to do to recover the Fife vote, having come perilously close to labelling the whole county a “dive” when Tulisa somewhat artlessly set her up to establish the classic “got to get out of my hometown” backstory).
Jade also interviews sympathetically, and the angle of vicariously fulfilling her gran’s ambitions is an appealing one. Vocally, however, we are not entirely convinced yet – to our ears she had some issues with diction and tuning in her lower register. There are also suggestions that she had another audition song, cut from the final edit, which didn’t go so well.
Perhaps a more intriguing question is whether it matters how different she is from the girls who typically do well in this competition. All the girls who’ve hit top 3 in the X Factor (Rebecca Ferguson, Stacey Solomon, Alexandra Burke and Leona Lewis) have been cut from similar and more stereotypically feminine cloth – demure or ditzy in varying degrees, with endearing self-belief issues. None were hard-drinking, tattooed goths.
On the other hand, Euan rightly points out that Pop Idol’s Michelle McManus provides a precedent for the less-svelte female winner and suggests that “without classic good looks [she] should get a strong female vote”. Maybe. One can certainly imagine there being enough unkind internet comment to form the basis for a sympathy-grabbing VT or two. The hellraising past also suggests an obvious journey for her to go on, as she realises the need to leave her wild child behaviour behind and work hard at the opportunity she’s been given (“I owe it to my gran” etc etc).
Still, though. Janet Devlin is a much more obvious fit for the profile of girl who has tended to do best in this competition – and while Jade seems likely to progress reasonably far, at this stage we’d rather be on Janet if forced to choose between them at similar odds.
If Kelly is facing an embarrassment of riches with the girls, Louis is currently looking at an embarrassment with the overs. Only three from this category have got any meaningful screentime so far – Kitty Brucknell and Goldie Cheung in week one, and now David Wilder, whose bizarre performance of David Bowie’s Life On Mars drew inevitable comparisons with Wagner. As Euan puts it in the comments, he has the potential to become this season’s “joke that isn’t funny anymore”.
At a best price of 250/1 (as short as 50s in places – he has clearly attracted some interest), he’s obviously no winner. You would be betting that he surprisingly survives long enough to prompt “he couldn’t win… could he?” headlines, causing a Wagneresque odds plunge with lay opportunities before the answer to that question is confirmed as “no”.
If we are to have a final 16, it’s just about conceivable that there could be room for both David Wilder and Goldie Cheung (best price 200/1 but also as short as 50s in places). With Kitty Brucknell also looking like a strong contender for the overs, that would leave only one place free in the category for someone (as yet unseen, we assume) who’d be halfway credible as a contender for the win. That would be pushing Louis uncomfortably far into joke-judge territory, so we suspect it will likely end up being either David or Goldie filling the comedy role – but never say never with this show.
The other big talking point of show 3 was Luke Lucas, who has entered the betting at odds ranging from 10/1 to 20/1 after he won a kiss on the cheek from Tulisa and performed Michael Jackson’s “Who’s Loving You”.
Here we have to disagree with Euan’s opinion that Luke has a “great voice” – to our ears it sounded thin and reedy, and youtube footage of him performing other songs does little to change our minds. On the other hand, though, Luke does manage to pull off cute and likeable, and teenage boys with vocal limitations can be highly dangerous in this competition – think Eoghan Quigg.
Counting against Luke, as Euan points out, is a lack of any kind of compelling backstory at this stage (although one can always be furnished later) and a suspicion that he may have just a hint of the stage school about him. Also, coming from Margate means he won’t have much of a regional vote behind him. That may be enough to shift him from Eoghan Quigg territory towards a trajectory more reminiscent of Aiden Grimshaw (who coincidentally also hailed from a fading seaside resort).
While on the subject of the boys, week 2’s Craig Colton has continued to attract support, something which has us scratching our heads even though Sofabet commenter Allan – who proved himself an astute judge last series – tells us he is on at 40/1. With the girls having dominated proceedings so far, surely there must be much more to come from the boys in the remaining audition shows. We’ll reserve judgement on Luke until we have a clearer idea of what he’s up against.
Show 3 brought us little closer to figuring out what the producers have in mind for Tulisa and the groups. The Keys from show 2 remain the only credible group yet shown, and we suspect Euan is right to anticipate some bootcamp manufacturing once again – a reason for caution when backing solo auditionees.
One last note on week 2 – Misha Bryan has drifted to 14/1, presumably on the back of rumours of her messing up at bootcamp. Thanks to James in the comments for pointing that out, along with another article on the usually reliable Digital Spy website which appears to confirm the rumoured judge categories and also that we are in for a final 16 not 12.
That means we are probably looking at three or four double eliminations during the nine weeks of live shows before the final. If anyone from the show is reading this, a plea on behalf of punters: is there any chance you could give us some notice about when the double eliminations will be, rather than leave us guessing until the last moment?
Finally, it is worth noting that, although we are 3/5ths of the way through the audition weeks (the schedule seems to be Sep 24-25 for bootcamp, Oct 1-2 for judges’ houses and Oct 8-9 for the first of the live shows), a double bill was announced for next weekend and we assume the same will be true for the weekend after. That means we’re only 3/7ths of the way through the audition shows. There’s plenty more time for contenders to emerge.
As always, your thoughts are warmly welcomed in the comments box below.