In yesterday’s audition show 4 review we pointed you towards Sofabet commenter Judge‘s useful X Factor site, which last year was the fastest in providing accurate information of pre-recorded segments such as bootcamp and judges’ houses, as well as song choices during the live programmes. His list of the four acts in the boys category that supposedly make it to the live shows includes two performers we had seen already – Frankie Cocozza and Craig Colton – and two more we saw last night: Marcus Collins and James Michael.
What with another strong performer in Amelia Lily also making an appearance, and seemingly set for the live shows (she’s currently second favourite in most bookmakers’ lists at a best-priced 7-1), the fifth audition episode arguably proved the most revealing so far.
However, if we take Judge’s information at face value, it throws up many more questions, first among them being: why are three out of the four qualifiers in the boys category from Liverpool?
When Craig Colton grabbed plenty of screen time and judges praise in the second audition show, I assumed that his cheeky Scouse chappie persona had something to do with it. In my opinion, he didn’t seem vocally confident enough whilst performing, so a winning personality and regional base seemed the main reasons for his supposed inclusion in the live shows (an achievement also suggested by a price that has come down from 40-1 to 16-1 in the last couple of weeks).
But yesterday, the second part of that theory went up in smoke as we witnessed two Liverpudlians who looked and sounded more like pop stars, and who are also rumoured to be through in the same category. In Marcus Collins, we have another entrant with a sunny Scouse outlook on life. 23-year-old Collins – former lead singer of Eton Road, a band he joined after they had participated in X Factor back in 2006 – was a much more finished article than Craig Colton, based on his soulful rendition of ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’.
Collins looks like someone who could easily shape into a contender. There was not too much wrong with his performance, he moved around the stage with ease and put his own stamp on the song. Whilst this means there is no journey of self-confidence, I think audiences are happier to reward self-assured boys than girls (think Olly Murs). And he suggested that the journey could instead be one of hardship to prosperity, his current job as a hairdresser not making him enough to shop in Marks & Spencer’s, as he endearingly explained.
Those who have backed him at a current best price of 14-1 may want to see less VT footage of the kind with which we were introduced to Collins, using hairspray on himself and explaining all the different hairstyles he has had. I had no problem with it myself, finding his self-assured nature refreshing, but there is a risk of it looking like vanity if the theme continues to feature, which could turn people off. Having said which, his clean-cut looks and sweet bearing are the kind of thing that goes down very well with teenage girls in particular.
In the shorter amount of time allotted to James Michael, he came across as a very different personality. Seemingly diffident in nature, he nonetheless has good looks and sound vocals on his side, based on his performance of ‘Make You Feel My Love’. We know far less about him than we currently do about Marcus, which may explain why at a best-priced 25-1 he is almost twice the price. Nonetheless, given that this show usually lays open its contestants from an early stage, he is a dark horse compared with many who have bared more (in the case of Frankie Cocozza, literally).
There is surely a lot more of James to be shown at bootcamp, and I can only assume that Craig must hit it out of the park to justify his elevation to the lives (or am I missing something from his audition? Maybe so – Sofabet commenter Allan still reckons Craig is best of the boys so far).
This brings me back to the question of why producers might decide to make three of the four of the boys category from the same region. Of course, it could just be coincidence, but coincidence is rarely a satisfactory explanation with this show. What other reasons could there be? Is the Liverpool vote so lucrative they are trying to squeeze it for every last penny?
Or maybe producers have spotted a local clash of personalities among the threesome, as in a Liverpool v Everton derby match, which they can exploit during the promised ‘Big Brother’ style intrusion into the X Factor house this year. Are there other possibilities? Your theories on the Three Scouse Boys Conundrum are most welcome in the comments box below.
Another speculative thought: add Cocozza into the mix, and you have a category made up of performers who are not exactly edgy or urban. This may leave a greater space for the rumoured boyband that includes Marlon MacKenzie and Derry Mensah which we speculated yesterday may be destined for some producer favour this year.
In the comments Panos reckoned we might be getting too fanciful, although I would say in response that this is the period where producers’ intentions are equally so, if the establishment of One Direction and Belle Amie last year is anything to go by. And anyway, one of the great joys of X Factor at this stage is to speculate creatively about what the programme makers might have in mind.
I still remain surprised that Lascel Woods from audition show four doesn’t even make Judge’s rumoured list of eight judges’ house performers in the boys category, and thus remain suspicious that something is afoot. Punters don’t seem to know what to believe, as Woods drifted out from yesterday’s best price of 10-1 to 20-1 this morning, before being backed in again to 14s this afternoon. (Market movements at this time can sometimes be revealing… and sometimes not). Whether we are right or wrong with our speculations about Lascel’s fate, we will find out soon enough.
Onto the girls now, and Amelia Lily had a very strong audition. She has youth, confidence, talent and looks that enabled her to make an immediate impression in tackling ‘A Piece of my Heart’, a more difficult number than many choose at this stage. Whilst not in the Joss Stone league, this was who she reminded me of most.
A place in the live shows seems guaranteed and uncontroversial – although with the yet-to-be-seen Melanie McCabe attracting strong support and the category already including Janet Devlin, Jade Richards and Misha Bryan, there is going to be at least one high-profile omission. The odds movements point to Misha missing out, as she has drifted to 25/1 at the time of writing, and Judge is hoping to have spoilers for us soon. We look forward to it.
Amelia Lily certainly offers a very different persona to her fellow 16-year-old rival in that category, and the only one to top her in current bookmakers’ lists, the shy Janet Devlin (currently a best-priced 11-2, which our commenter Henry8 feels is not value despite liking Janet’s prospects, a view with which I sympathise).
Amelia Lily’s confidence may work against her. She has no journey towards self-confidence or out of poverty to go on, nor any other obvious story at this stage. Of course, Matt Cardle last year showed that this is not necessary with more talent than one’s rivals, but as we have mentioned before, it is a template that the most successful girls in this competition (Leona, Alexandra and Rebecca) have all fitted. There are plenty of other examples of nice, normal girls with decent enough voices who have fallen by the wayside: Lucie Jones and Laura White spring to mind. Euan raises similar doubts about her vote-winning potential in his comment yesterday.
What do you think? Please do add your voice to the debate below.