X Factor 2011: Nu Vibe – Strangled at Birth?

At Sofabet, we have oft explained the ways producers attempt to favour certain contestants over others. Interestingly, many of their traditional methods were deployed last Saturday, even though it was the judges rather than the viewers who cast the votes.

Amelia Lily, 2Shoes, James and Jonjo were all given varying degrees of poor song choices or arrangements, graveyard slots in the running order and lukewarm words from the judges. But they weren’t the only ones – of the surviving acts, one was given a noticeably unfavourable edit. So much so, that we feel compelled to try to itemise all the tiny ways in which this was done, just as we detailed 28 ways in which Wagner was done over in his Week 8 exit last year.

If the bongo-playing, middle-aged lothario was assassinated in his prime, Nu Vibe have very nearly been strangled at birth. Here are 12 examples of counter-productive coverage they received last weekend, especially in comparison to other acts in their category:

1. We have already discussed that cohesion within a group is vital for a band that wants to do well in X Factor. So if producers wanted Nu Vibe to do well, you would think they might have tried to avoid rumours hitting the tabloids in the middle of last week that members of the young boyband were arguing with each other.

2. Rather than glossing over these stories, Nu Vibe’s VT footage went out of its way to remind TV viewers of them, with references by the boys themselves and Tulisa. By way of contrast, rival boyband The Risk were portrayed bromancing each other with games of football, virtual and real.

3. In a highly unusual step, the boys were shown to be struggling during rehearsals. Negative VT showed a producer telling them after a soundcheck that, “vocals have got to get better”. This might well have been true, but could you imagine a similar moment in Frankie’s introduction?!

4. Tulisa told the boys in further damaging rehearsal coverage: “Come on guys you should know this…we shouldn’t have to be saying this now.” What did this imply? That they weren’t working hard enough, maybe. About The Risk, on the other hand, she went on to say later, “They have worked so hard.”

Or perhaps this comment implied they weren’t picking things up quickly. In direct contrast, Tulisa proudly told her girl band Rhythmix in their rehearsal footage, “You know this like the back of your hand.”

5. The song choice of Chris Brown’s ‘Beautiful People’ was just not suitable. As Matt commented, it was a much poorer choice of song than that given to The Risk because it was, “Basically a shouty dance track.”

6. There was a minimalist stage production. The boys had no backing dancers, in contrast to the other acts in their category.

7. The boys spread across the stage at the key change and performed separately at this crucial juncture.

8. The judges reinforced the concept that they are not united as a group. Most notably, Gary said it felt like they were “five solo artists instead of a band”.

9. Louis did the same thing more subtly by saying of the lead singer, “Ashford, you’re the main man”. In stark contrast, Gary said of rivals The Risk: “Now this is a band… I am so pleased it is not centred all around [lead singer] Charlie.”

10. Further judges’ comments for The Risk emphasised their alpha status over Nu Vibe. For example, Louis namechecked the former in the same breath as JLS and One Direction, the show’s most successful groups. Tulisa said of The Risk: “There is no cheese with you… you are all credible musicians… this is a credible boyband.” The implicit contrast with Nu Vibe seemed all too clear.

11. In the Sunday results show, the boys were one of the final two in their category awaiting their fate, reinforcing the impression that the decision on who to send home was between them and 2Shoes.

12. Before sending Nu Vibe through, Tulisa admitted, “I was a little disappointed in them.” She seemed embarrassed as she announced her decision, not being able to look at 2Shoes.

Of course, Nu Vibe could have lessened the impact of all this unfavourable treatment if they’d turned in a stellar vocal performance. Instead, as Dug commented, they were “about as harmonic as a cat going under a combine harvester”. And if the boys were already in producers’ bad books, Bradley Johnson will hardly have helped matters by mouthing “fuck” in shock at the camera as he consoled the distraught Essex duo on their elimination.

The big question is: What do we make of the fact that Nu Vibe received such a drubbing at the hands of programme makers, and yet were kept around to perform again in week 2? We suggest two possible explanations:

Explanation #1: Knock ’em down to build ’em up again
Conceivably we are being set up for an amazing turnaround. Tabloid stories after the weekend drove home Tulisa’s comments in the Sunday results show, that the boys were not very good in the first live show and have to work harder. We could conceivably see this week’s VT showing them doing just this, prior to a helpful late slot in the running order and a more suitable song choice. If they sing a Boyz II Men track this week, as has been rumoured, the judges’ script almost writes itself: “Tonight you went from boys to men.”

We can’t discount this possibility. After all, the editing of the bootcamp and judges’ houses episodes was so much more favourable to Nu Vibe than to The Risk, that the week 1 mauling was most unexpected. It’s much harder to conjure up a “journey” for manufactured bands than for pre-cooked bands or soloists, so perhaps the plan was to trash Nu Vibe when there was no possibility of them being eliminated, and thus set up a journey of redemption as they knuckle down and overcome their differences.

Explanation #2: They are lambs to the slaughter in week 2
The other explanation for the remarkable turnaround in producer favour in the week between judges’ houses being screened and the first live show is in many ways the simpler one: Perhaps, in the rehearsals leading up to the first live show, producers switched horses when it became clear that Nu Vibe weren’t working as a group and The Risk were.

If this is the case, we can expect Nu Vibe to be sent out in an unhelpfully early slot this weekend, while Strictly is still on the other side. We can expect another not-great song choice, and lukewarm comments from the judging panel – neither positive enough to inspire votes, nor negative enough to risk provoking sympathy (“better than last week, but I’m not sure you’ve done enough”).

If producers do attempt to deliver the final death blows to Nu Vibe this weekend, it will provide further grist to the theory that the show felt the need to get rid of 2Shoes last week because of Charley’s pregnancy. Otherwise, why would they not have simply completed the job on Nu Vibe in week 1 and kept the fun-loving Essex pair around?

How do you read the Nu Vibe situation? What do you expect for this weekend?

35 comments to X Factor 2011: Nu Vibe – Strangled at Birth?

  • Boki

    Lambs in wk2 for me, I expect early slot for them, is that enough for bot2 don’t know. My guess about the ‘strictly overlap’ (pls correct me if I’m wrong) is that show is more for ‘older and more serious’ people which will miss the first part of x-factor. So teenagers will watch X from beginning anyway imo meaning younger/urban acts will be less affected by the overlap, e.g. more danger for Sami. Correct?

    • Daniel

      Hi Boki, that sound like reasonable enough logic to me, though don’t forget that going on early in the XF running order is a handicap, with or without a SCD overlap.

  • Jack

    If they have a performance similar to last week, then it could be curtains. I can see them murdering a Boyz II Men track this week and the Judges coming up with comments like: “It was much better than last week” and “You guys look like you’re having the time of your life up there” so faint praise. I agree that The Risk are now the alpha-band. The Alpha-girl is obviously Janet, but not sure who the alpha-boy will be, but Craig is currently shaping up to be it.

  • tpfkar

    If we buy theory #1, then who else is being lined up for the kill instead? Going back to the twist giving the producers advantage, they’ve also had 2 weeks to tell us who to vote out first, and their message last week seems clear. Rythmix were the first group sent out last week, so they could easily send Nu Vibe out first this time.

    Unless Nu Vibe are sent out late, and to fulsome praise, option #2 looks more likely.

  • annie

    There’s no doubt in my mind they got rid of 2 shoes because of charley’s pregnancy. I wouldn’t go as far as saying (as some imply that) the whole twist situation, but i’m sure they needed to get rid of them fast. The girls had likable personalities, decent voices, a bit of spin-off the popular towie, with public vote deciding they were in real ‘danger’ of surviving at least a couple of weeks, good chance to qualify for the tour. Even if they managed to pull of a few live shows with the baby bump I don’t think a new mom would be an asset to the tour, or any of the life performances contestants usually have after the shows… So they really wanted to get rid of them in a nice legitimate way, without officially kicking them out.
    As for Nu Vibe, it’s obvious they will depart soon. No need for 2 boybands, especially when at first glance they are not that different. It’s hard enough to get viewers to warm up on a group, so they surely don’t want 2 that are not distinctive enough.
    What do you think how far will Sophie Habibis make it? After her miserable pre-live show featuring she deivered quite a surprise performance on sunday, her voice is brilliant, plus it seems between all the big personalities and edgy stylings she seems to represent what has now become a rare species on x factor, the normal nice girl with a good voice. At first I thought she’s a bit like Treyc, who was nice and talented but kind of got lost between between the big egos and characters last year, but I find Sophie’s voice less generic, more stand out than Treyc.

    • Daniel

      Hi Annie, Sophie’s progress may depend on how much love she is shown by producers. Up till now she has received far less coverage than anyone else left on the programme. She wasn’t done any special favours in the first live show by her slot in the running order and song choice / arrangement. Only Amelia Lily fared worse in that category, and we were of course left to wonder which of the two would exit at the end of Sunday’s show.

      There is some potential in her vocal abilities and backstory. I would just like to see producers give her the chance to shine in the pimp slot, as she remains rather anonymous at the moment for ordinary viewers. When I ask neutral observers of the show what they think of various contestants, they usually can’t remember which one Sophie is right now. It is up to the producers whether they want to change that.

      • mark

        Plenty of opporunity to expand on Sophies back story, a nice girl, nice voice, likable, seems decent, not a cheap tart – a nice back story she coukd’ve come on last year but didnt think she was good enough

        not a massive ego/full of herself — i expect sophie to do well and hope she’s not stitched up

  • Simon "le chat"

    I’ve just had a look at Facebook “likes” for all of the acts. Very illuminating as to what the youngsters think of them. Janet has nearly FIFTEEN TIMES as many “likes” as anyone else. No wonder she is the favourite.
    Here’s the table

    JANET 155,004
    FRANKIE 21,837
    MISHY 16,000
    CRAIG 11,464
    RISK 10,000
    MARCUS 8,872
    SOPHIE 7,845
    NUVIBE 7,299
    RYMIX 5,777
    JONNY 4.551
    KITTY 4,000

    On these figures it is Kitty or Johnny going. I shall be backing Jonny to go at 7/1. I cannot see the public voting for him.

    • Ronnie

      I agree Simon. I struggle to see who Johnny beats if he is in the bottom two. They want Kitty to stay, want a girl band to do well for a change, they like Sami (who isn’t in your list above) so it’s only Nu Vibe that might get the chop ahead of him so 8/1 for Johnny to go is too big, so too is 4/1 bottom two.

      • mark

        Yea I was doing similar to Simon and looking at facebook likes/youtube views twitter analysis etc

        problem is I couldnt find a facebook page for Sammi – or not one that I knew 1005 was her – surely she has one? I know she’s older and her fans may not use facebook/twitter but you’d still expect her to have one

      • mark

        I agree, thing i9s people (bookies too) are basing it on the wagner or jedward factor? Figuring he cant go because jedward and wagenr survived so long

        But has he got the same kind of following as these two..I don’t think so

        I don’t think people find him amusing

        If he gets AN early slot he should be toast?

  • Allan

    very negative coverage for Mischa in the sun today, if she gets an early slot she might be worth a few quid to go…

  • Ronnie

    Ha. “VOTE NUVIBE” now trending on Twitter.

  • Rob

    as i thought the negative press starts for mischa
    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/tv/x_factor/3873772/Kelly-Rowland-rips-into-X-Factor-fave-Misha.html
    she has no chance now. probably not even a finalist.

    • tpfkar

      Careful Rob – it all fits into the tough diva profile they are building up for her. Might not be as negative as it seems, better to be talked about than not talked about at the moment.

      • mark

        They always say there’s no such thing as bad publicity, drums up interest in her – and it could also be used to create a journey she struggled to bla bla or perhaps a fan base if people feel shes having a tough time? I wouldnt rule her out

        shes high on facebook likes and also on youtube views (how much we read into hem i dont know)

    • Boki

      There are lot of negative articles for some contestans and since I’m not from UK have no idea if some might be true or not but I understand the publicity is there. There is something even like this:
      ‘We were fairly sure that Kelly Rowland was completely in love with Janet Devlin on The X Factor, but according to show insiders, the former Destiny’s Child singer was torn between axing either her or Amelia Lily on Sunday night!’

      But nobody commented Janet granddad’s death,
      if they mention it on the show (and remind in the finals) no one can stop he from winning imo.

      http://xfactor.tellymix.co.uk/news/52441-x-factor-2011-janet-devlin-wants-to-make-late-grandad-proud-tomorrow-night.html

      • Donald

        The privacy and wishes of Janet and family were respected by all accounts last week after her Grandads passing, in fairness the way she sang last week she is serious competition. Bet they give her that Christina Perri song that’s huge on YouTube etc. some week soon if she really Plan A. Game could be over them, she would have the song to last like Matt had. But my track record so far this year dosen’t give me confidence to really go yet though did follow Daniel on Amelia last week. Daniel looks like you right Nu Vibe do have a Boys II Men song tonight. Boys II Home!? Heading to Betfair now.

      • mark

        Hello Boki – interesting didn’t know about Janets grandads death

        More and more I look at things, everything together Janet does look like the winner, but I dont know..there’s so long to go!

        Out of interest where are you from? Do they show UK X Factor live where you are then?!

        mark

  • Rob

    well we’ll see how it pans out. but as i’ve said before only humility has won x factor in the past. this will not turn off her present following as its what they like about her, but it makes it very difficult for her to capture the middle of the road vote over say craig or janet. anyway i’ve had sneaky bet on a botton 2 place tonight as i had a couple of free £’s to waste on one of my accounts 😉

  • geoff

    think i might have a bet on sami for eviction
    for me if shes in the bottom 2 with either kitty, johhnny or nu vibe. id say samis most at risk because shes the least novelty or interesting contestant. i think we might be hearing dermot saying HERESSS JOHNNNY for some time yet, kitty might hit bottom 2 but u just know whoever elese she down there with is toast

    • mark

      Kitty will have people loving and hating her, Sammi can sing IMO

      thing with Johnny is, is he that entertaining? Not really in my eyes, not a Wagner/Jedward-esque contestant, just a camp weirdo – so who will be getting behind him?

      I would have thought Johnny goes in a bottom 2 situation with ALMOST anyone?!

  • Donald

    Daniel a new producers weapon just used on Nu Vibe “a dated trash Euro beat” !

  • Nicky

    Agree with nearly everything: 2Shoes were stitched up and polished off deliberately, No Vibe are this week’s cannon fodder, but surely Johnny is the new Wagner figure?

  • Boki

    So No Vibe, Sami, Craig & Janet are first 4 !
    Does it mean they don’t favor Sami comparing to Johnny?

    • mark

      It looks like that Boki, very annoying as I did back Johnny @ 8.6

      hopefully because no PV last week and the fact he’s a rubbish act hoepfully he still manages to get b2!!!

  • Boki

    I hope it too, I got Sami & Johnny for bot2.

    • mark

      He’s absolutely awful, not amusing, rubbish – we need to hope for a TRULY AWFUL performance!!

      Then hopefully people will just not vote for him conmbined with the fact as I say no public vote last week so no bounce back sympathy vote?

      come on Johny and Sami b2 with Johnny going – I have sammi each way outright so she can be bottom 2 but Johnny goes , deal? 🙂

      • Boki

        I saw Sami in danger because of strictly overlap, any of two in bot2 I’m happy so you choose :), my main bet is still Vibeless.

        Btw, have no dreambox and no motor, cheapest receiver with few lnb’s at right direction 🙂

        Again apologize to Daniel & Andrew for such many posts from me, I feel like a spammer and this is not a discussion forum so I quit for the evening 🙂

    • mark

      Boki – i think we could stikll be ok for Johnnny b2? because although Nu Vibe went first I would not back them at the price now – 1st slot isnt always so bad

      2nd/3rd/4th – i mean people remember 1st and 4th and forget the rest?

      also remember

      as someone said earlier #votenuvibe was trending on twitter!!

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