The remaining audition shows must now be viewed through the prism of emerging “spoilers” about who makes the live shows, now just four weeks away. Last year we were impressed that Sofabet commenter Judge‘s site xfactor-updates.com called the initial final 12 (before those last-minute wildcard shenanigans) correctly well ahead of time, so this year we are inclined to listen when he tells us he has news of who are the final four boys.
We should say we have no idea where Judge gets his information from. And, as last year’s wildcard twist showed, you can never rule out the unexpected on this show. But it would be a brave punter who would get stuck into an act who Judge assures us does not make the final 16. This includes show 3‘s Luke Lucas, who has drifted somewhat in recent days but is still quoted between 16s and 25s.
It also includes last night’s show-closer Lascel Woods, who went straight into the betting at single-figure odds. Lascel is the act I saw at the O2 audition I attended, who I mentioned had Kelly sobbing, and whose audition I have been waiting with interest to see on the screen.
I was equally impressed this time around. Lascel is likeable, talented, young with a story, and vocally very good. I’m surprised that he doesn’t make the live shows, assuming that Judge’s spoilers are right, especially given his treatment on Saturday – he surely wasn’t given all that end-of-show exposure for no reason.
So what happens to Lascel? Judge lists only seven of the eight names of the boys at judges’ houses, so maybe he fails there. But we wonder if he’s more likely to end up in a group. In particular, Judge’s rumours for Tulisa’s category currently include a group at judges’ houses which features Derry Mensah (who had a crush on Kelly in week 2) and Marlon McKenzie (a previous judges’ houses rejectee).
Such a group would be an obvious possibility for Lascel. He is perhaps not a big enough personality to make it as a solo artist, so making him the sensitive one in a group that also includes the cocksure Derry would make perfect sense. And it always helps a boyband if they have someone to do the high-pitched bits. Lascel could thus find himself cast in the role of this year’s Liam Payne – a big-screentime audition ending with a four-judge standing ovation that proves merely to be laying part of the groundwork for a manufactured group who producers intend to do very well.
Could a putative Derry/Marlon/Lascel group succeed where One Direction fell short? Maybe – if producers have learned the right lessons from last year. It is interesting to note that Marlon, Derry and Lascel all have interesing backstories, something which One Direction’s members glaringly lacked. Then there is the Tulisa question. As we wrote here two weeks ago:
[I]f it does transpire that Tulisa ends up with the groups, it would be a surprise if producers don’t ensure there is at least one act in her category with whom she has some kind of natural rapport – they surely won’t want to embarrass her, as a new judge, by packing the category with the kind of cannon fodder it often contains. Perhaps someone like Derry, with the escape-from-the-mean-streets backstory being portrayed in the tabloids, could fit the bill with the right bandmates.
Is this the plan for Tulisa, perhaps? Are producers trying to create the new JLS, with a more urban edge? Or is this level of speculation altogether too premature and far-fetched?
In terms of betting, judging by One Direction last year, any groups manufactured at bootcamp won’t enter the bookies’ lists until they have a name and enough buzz that punters start making enquiries. But with One Direction’s debut single reportedly clocking up the most pre-orders in Sony’s history this week, you might conclude that winning doesn’t really matter. As they and JLS prove, boybands can shift records despite finishing second or third.
Making money is ultimately the name of the game, so it would make a lot of sense to have another go at piecing together a boyband with an eye on a post-show career. A cautionary note for punters is that establishing a fanbase for such a group might well have come to seem a bigger priority for producers than getting them to the top of the vote – although producers would still surely want to pull out all the stops to get such a group at least into the final.
The only other act to dent the betting on Saturday’s show was barmaid Sami Brookes, who finally provided Louis with a non-joke act for the overs. We find it hard to disagree with Euan’s reaction in the comments: “Loud, with feeling but dodgy tuning”. Sami’s bubbly personality could well be enough to win her a place in the lives, but Niki Evans (4th in 2007) and Mary Byrne (5th last year) would appear to establish the ceiling for this type of act, and we don’t yet get the impression that Sami is quite in their league. A best price of 10/1 looks skinny to us.
We’ll be back tomorrow with a review of the Sunday show. In the meantime, do let us know your thoughts on Lascel and Sami below.