X Factor Week 2 Review: The Humbling Of Frankie Cocozza

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of week 2’s Saturday’s live show was the dumping on Frankie Cocozza. Up till now, the editing Frankie had received suggested that the show’s producers thought the sun shone out of his tattooed arse, which made it quite a shock that his Saturday VT showed him struggling in rehearals. His rendition of Coldplay’s The Scientist was, of course, dire – but it wasn’t a great deal worse than other songs he has previously panted his way through to great praise from the judges. So what’s going on?

One possibility is that producers want to take Frankie down a peg or two. Perhaps he has been starting to believe his own publicity behind the scenes? Another is that it was becoming increasingly hard to gloss over his weak vocals. But the fact that Marcus Collins’s performance led to the other judges having a second pop at Gary Barlow over his song choices, and that Craig Colton was also shown struggling in his VT and given a poor running order slot, also make us wonder if this was some kind of “dump on the boys category in general” week. If so, why?

We may need to look no further than the simplest explanation – the oft-raised theory that producers are desperate to avoid another solo male winner, especially with Matt Cardle’s recording career off to such an inauspicious start this week. When the star of the first week’s show, Craig Colton, appeared while Strictly was still on the other side, it seemed clear that producers were keen to dampen his momentum from ‘Jar of Hearts’.

Also notable was that Craig’s VT made no spoken reference to his weight loss regime (though it was mentioned by Dermot after the performance), a topic which should be a considerable positive for him. Instead it showed him complaining about the song being too fast – playing on the suspicion that he is a one-trick pony who can’t cope with upbeat numbers. Having last week raised five doubts about Craig’s longevity in the contest, we don’t feel compelled to change our minds after his take on Beyonce’s ‘Best Thing I Never Had’.

Indeed, after Saturday we can add another two doubts. Craig’s gurning looks set to become seriously annoying, and his lack of movement around the stage might quickly become reminiscent of fellow static Liverpudlian Rebecca Ferguson.

We were deeply disappointed in Marcus, our pre-lives selection to win the show. He got off lightly when the judges’ comments focused on Gary Barlow’s choice of song rather than his struggles to keep in tune in his lower register. And the fact that Louis and Tulisa both focused on Gary’s song choice for both Marcus and Frankie, while being careful to praise them as individuals, suggests there may be an alternative (or, indeed, additional) explanation for “dump on the boys” week.

With three new judges, there was always going to be a need to try to recreate the rivalries that defined the previous lineup. As the alpha male on the panel, Simon was at the centre of those rivalries, which were with the beta male (Louis) and the alpha female (Cheryl). Producers have now tried several times to manufacture some Louis-Gary tension, without a great deal of success, and clearly also see some mileage in creating a Gary-Tulisa axis of rivalry.

(Kelly has largely stepped into Dannii’s role as the relentlessly positive judge who is thereby largely exempt from these rivalries, but she has also shown more bite than Dannii ever did; while she defended Gary on his song choices for Frankie and Marcus, she had a pop at him for the same reason regarding Craig).

Could it be that part of the thinking for engineering a bad week for the boys in the week of the first public vote was to try to create a sense of alpha-male embattlement around Gary, similar to the one which always surrounded Simon? If so, it didn’t really work – Gary came off as delusional rather than loyal in his monotone defence of Frankie and Marcus, failing to whip the crowd into the kind of supportive reaction Simon would have managed with ease.

Another possible explanation for the negative treatment for the boys is that producers were intending to test the strength of their core fanbases, to know how much pimping they can be safely given in future shows without creating enough momentum to challenge for the win. For surely only devoted fans of Frankie, Marcus and to a slightly lesser extent Craig would have voted for them – no neutrals would have been swayed by their performances. If this was the case, it backfired on them badly when Frankie sunk into the bottom two.

The final, and most encouraging, possible explanation is the one suggested by fellow Marcus-backer Bob in the comments – “My only hope is that producers want to avoid predictability of last year, where, i think, matt was fav more or less all the way through. Otherwise it’s difficult to see someone from outside the current top three in the betting winning.”

Those top three are, of course, Janet Devlin, The Risk and Misha B. Saturday’s show did nothing to derail the strong presumption that Janet is this year’s Plan A, and the other two of these acts also received strongly favourable treatment, suggesting producers will do all they can to push them towards the final.

The Risk became new favourites for the win after another bromancing VT and their take on Bruno Mars’s ‘Just The Way You Are’. We stand by our piece last week, in which we explain why we can see them in the last two or three but doubt they can make the final push where JLS and One Direction both failed. It seems clear that producers will do all they can to ensure that Tulisa has a horse in the final weekend.

Misha B’s VT was especially interesting. We have often said that we fear she will be held back in the voting public’s affections by appearing rather harsh. With one tabloid story last week claiming she was rude to workers on the show, this message was refuted by interviews with its stylists about how much they enjoy dressing her. This served two purposes: the audience saw neutrals testifying about how enjoyable Misha is to work with, and she was established as something of an emerging style icon. Tulisa’s comments reinforced this impression, with praise for Kelly about turning Misha B into a “brand”.

It seems very clear now that programme makers are eyeing up a post-show career for Misha B, about whom we said in our piece last week that we think there is a place in the charts for her. But as with Cher last year, there is no need for Misha B to win the competition for this to happen – she needs only to get to the final four or so and establish her fanbase. We expect producers to give her maximum help to get there, without expecting her to quite get over the final hurdle.

Sophie Habibis remains the only other conceivable winner, and also remains this show’s riddle wrapped in an enigma shrouded in mystery. What are producers intending for her? On the face of it, the penultimate slot in the running order was helpful, but there were deeply mixed signals from the VT and judges’ comments.

On the one hand, as Annie noted in the comments, Gary’s criticism that she lacked “spark” is just about the worst thing that could be said about an X Factor contestant. In that context, the universal acclaim for her vocal abilities felt like damning with faint praise.

On the other hand, Tulisa’s “you’re a normal person” and Louis’s “you need to start believing in yourself” reeked of the journey to self-confidence which has carried all of the girl finalists (Rebecca, Stacey, Alexandra, Leona) on their way.

Sophie’s VT could be read either way. It emphasised her normality and relative lack of profile by showing her mashing potatoes and talking about how she hears fans chanting Misha’s and Janet’s name but not hers (this is, of course, the result of the lack of screentime that programme makers have quite deliberately chosen to give her). Is this setting her up for a journey from obscurity to stardom, or is it also emphasising her lack of that extra something that she needs to set her apart – the “spark”, the X Factor?

It’s hard to tell, and it may well be that the show is consciously hedging its bets with Sophie until they get the first week’s voting results in and can see how strong Janet and Misha look. They may quite consciously be keeping Sophie in a Schrodiger’s Cat-like state of quantum uncertainty while they decide if she can be quietly disposed of in the next few weeks with some poor running order slots and lukewarm comments, or if they need to press her into service as a backup acceptable winner should Janet seem like she’s going to fail to fly with the voting public.

How did you read the clues of the VTs and comments in this first week of the public vote? Do let us know below.

39 comments to X Factor Week 2 Review: The Humbling Of Frankie Cocozza

  • Curtis

    I’m really not so sure it’s wise to rule The Risk out of winning this one. As has been said often, the winner has always been someone very middle of the road. Presume a final 3 of Misha B, Janet and The Risk (which to me seems likely) for a moment. I would for sure put money on The Risk winning that, because they are the least controversial, the least divisive of those 3 acts.

    If Marcus gets to the final then it may be a different story, but after this week we have to ask ourselves if that is going to happen. Maybe it will, but I think he’s going to need something in his favour in the next couple of weeks. A pimp slot, or a very good performance/song choice. He needs something, and he needs it soon because at the moment he is fading into obscurity. And as you say, it’s quite conceivable that the producers want to avoid a male winner, in which case they will probably give Marcus a couple more terrible song choices and send him on his way in the next few weeks.

  • Oscar Diggs

    I think the producers are very unsure of Sophie’s popularity and Saturday’s VT and order position was evidence of this. Giving her the underdog angle and penultimate slot was a move designed to ‘throw it out there’ – if the voting figures are acceptable, or even better than expected then she’s a keeper and the ‘journey’ can truly begin. If the figures disappoint then we can expect Sophie to be an early show come this week’s Motown offering. She’s got vocal talent but boy is she bland, and that’s the dilemma the producer’s will have to confront at some stage. My feeling is that the line thrown out last week didn’t take and Sophie is a likely candidate for the sing-off.

    Marcus has a similar predicament in that he’s just too smiley and middle of the road – I’m quite sure he’ll be the first of the boys to sing given that Frankie has a likely late slot and Craig was third last week. Marcus is another likely candidate for the sing-off.

    Both of these are currently trading at good value for the bottom 2 (9/2) and I’ll be taking one or both at medium stakes.

    I’m also really liking the 9/2 available on Barlow to lose his acts first. Janet and Misha are realistic top 4 contenders, The Risk is paying off big time and Kitty and Johnny will stay a while longer (if not this week, watch out the week after for Johnny to perform in full drag – it’s been a plan for a while, Louis has even referenced “we’ve got plans” in his comments).

    Hope I’m right, it feels good when you’re right – right?

  • Look at these odds for top boy

    http://www.oddschecker.com/specials/tv/x-factor/top-boy

    Craig is generally 4/9 then you have TOTESPORT out of cinq offering a staggering 11/2 for MARCUS and BOYLES offering 13/2 for FRANKIE. It seems to me that the TOTESPORT odds are a mistake and should be 11/4 but while it lasts it is possible to have yourself a risk free bet on the favourite if you want it.
    Prices will probably go very quickly but it shows bookies do make mistakes.

    • Simon "le chat"

      Well TOTESPORT realised their error and took the 11/2 on MARCUS as top boy down, and swopped it with the 3/1 they mistakenly put up for FRANKIE.
      It wouldn’t surprise me if the bookies check on this site.
      I hope someone else was able to help themsleves to the 11/2 for MARCUS while it was there.

  • Andrew

    Hi Curtis, Oscar, Simon – I think this week will be very revealing re Marcus.

    As you say, Oscar, there now looks like a real possibility of Gary being first mentor out, and I can’t believe producers will want this embarrassment to happen to their new alpha male judge.

    If they now realise they are flogging a dead horse with Frankie, they will need to start helping either Craig or Marcus to ensure Gary has an interest in the last week or two. I am hoping (and I realise this may just be my wallet talking) that we can interpret the Motown theme (which in theory should play to Marcus’s strengths) in this context.

  • Simon "le chat"

    Agreed Andrew.
    It is oncioceivable that there will not be a boy in the final- there always has been and it would show garry in a very poor light and damage his alpha ego if he does not have a representatvive there.
    THE RISK are going to make it, and probably JANET (or Misha)
    Which boy though? Frankie hasn’t got the talent and thus the legs to make it to the final 6 let alone the final 3 so the producers will not want to “diss” Marcus too soon because the other runner Craig really is limited. Daniel is absolutely right about his gurning which is as unattractive as Gordon Browns and Craig cannot do much other than sing a ballad albeit rather well.
    It’s shit or bust this week for MARCUS methinks. “Mowtown” will suit him to a tee, he’s a huge fan of Stevie Wonder and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him with a pimp spot with something like “For once in my life” or “Superstition”.
    That would turn the betting upside down!
    The thing is that no matter how much manipulating the producers and judges do, they cannot fool all of the people all of the time and the cream does come to the top in these shows. Frankie may survive but not for long and if MARCUS is shoved out Gary will be in real danger of MISHA, JANET and THE RISK piiping him to the final. That’s one girl too many – MARSHA to go later on.

    Look at it this way- you are the producer, you have to keep Gary happy and one of his acts has already been found out. His second act has been given really good positions/songs and praise but is also limited to stand up vocals and would you really want to chance it the gurn not getting to the finals. The producers are not tone deaf and neither is Gary. More to the point neither are the majority of the voting public so this has to be MARCUS’s week to be put to the forefront. If he gets the deathslot with a remote number from a 4 Tops B side of 1965 then we might as well tear up our betting slips but I doubt this very much. I’m off to have some more on MARCUS to be top boy. As Daniel says the Frankie bottom two was not in the script and they have to rethink their tactics.
    Also the show is losing viewers- what can they do to bring some back – well they have to be more contraversial and also – to put it bluntly- they have to put on a better show with less adverts, competitions, VT, background crap and concentrate on ENTERTAINING the public which is what the public wants on a Saturday evening. “Stricvtly” is a very entertaining show even if you dont like dancing- the musical performers are outstanding- far better than x Factor and the public are getting wise to it.
    So its MARCUS for me this weekend to get the deserved and overdue support from his mentor and the producers.
    We’ll see.
    Meanwhile I am taking some of that 11/2 on offer with TOTESPORt for him being top boy.
    Get your free money there!

  • Malcolm

    …..seems very well thought out. Someone needs to be thrown to the wolves….. Surely this weakens Sami’s chances of survival?

    • Andrew

      Sami is the only one I’m feeling confident that the show has no interest in keeping. Question is, does she have enough of a base to keep her safe? If the vote she got from singing 2nd is low enough to suggest not, I would expect she’ll be sent out first this week in the Strictly overlap zone (which should be especially significant with only one act in it).

      If she performed well enough to suggest she’d survive that, though… well, I’m a bit stumped at this stage to guess who else they’ll go after.

      • tpfkar

        Maybe I’m stereotyping, but you can imagine Sami’s voter base being more likely to be Strictly fans than e.g. The Risk’s. So if they are trying to get rid of Sami, sending her out first would have an impact. But if they were trying to get Sami into the bottom 2 last week, they did a lousy job as she had decent coverage.

        And would they risk a backlash for sending her out so early twice in a row? As I posted before, I think Frankie will either be first two or last two, with Marcus in the other slot – the loser could well be sent out first.

        • Andrew

          The stereotyping sounds plausible to me. Not sure if they were trying to get Sami into the bottom two (they clearly wanted rid of Nu Vibe, and wouldn’t have wanted Sami to get a sympathy bounce) – but I do think that putting her out in the Strictly zone will have suggested to them how strong her base is, and how much they might depress it with less positive coverage.

          I doubt they’d mind a backlash for sending her out early twice in a row – as you said on the last thread, they don’t seem to care about subtlely this year on evidence so far…

        • Boki

          I expect Frankie in last two (since he was twice the first of boys) and Marcus early (like 3rd or 4th) and with good song he’s hopefully safe.
          Sami or Sophie for the death slot.

          • mark

            I also expect Frankie last two to get sympathy bounce

            I wont be surprised to see Kitty/Rhythmix getting bad slots – Marcus Im still up i the air about middle/good slot.I dont know

  • bob

    So Motown is the theme? Agree big time that this is set up for Marcus then. They could be setting him up for the standing ovation, odds into 7s and a decent trade from where he is now. Hope this is my head not, as stated above, wallet, speaking!

  • EM

    According to this bloke from the Mirror this week’s theme is Heroes http://twitter.com/#!/mirrorjeffers/status/126256610573164544

    Obviously he might be wrong or the show’s been changed to play to someone’s strengths? Frankie wouldn’t have been that hot on Motown would he?

    Let’s see!

  • Malcolm

    Digital spy posting that a tv editor on the mirror has tweeted that this weeks theme is ‘Heroes’ …. It would give free reign to choose virtually any song.

  • Simon "le chat"

    Well if it’s heroes, that’s Marcus singing “Superstition”, “Signed sealed delivered” or “For once in my life”.

    We’ll know what the rpoducers have in mind for him by his song choice and slot. I revisit the Marcus argument and if he is going to get any momentum it has to start this week. It would be very dangerous of the producers to sacrifice him because Frankie really is panting pants and Crig a gurning one trick pont (albeit a good one).
    I can’t see MARCUS getting shafted by the program – he is too good an entertainer for them to lose and that’s what the show needs right now, people like MARCUS and KITTY.
    Sami is expendible but she has a good voice and they have to get her into the sing off if they want to get rid.

  • Donald

    I monitored twitter of Janet and The Risk closely on gains since yesterday. Now @theriskoffic (whatever genius came up with that) It searches badly. added 795 followers since around midnight last night, Janet @janetjealousy added 1,320 same time to now have 121K + Janet was at 117k at the weekend, The Risk have almost 48K Daniel has said doing piece on social media. Opinions vary allot but one thing for sure as The Bitch Factor also mentioned on weekend review this show does not understand twitter. I also have a strong strong suspicion that Frankies twitter was “hyped” The no’s don’t add up. I read quote on one of the blogs saying Frankie only got all of the coverage because of his connections? Connections? anybody know more? He now has all the Jedheads on his case on twitter after the alledged abuse of Jedward. Also various reports of other behaviour which if true they will get rid of him. Makes weekend elimination an even bigger puzzle.

    • Simon "le chat"

      Yes, it’s a “last minute ” change to rock week. Well that will suit Marcus so long as they give him a good song.
      It will ben interesting to see how JAnet and Craig manage. Johnny is apparantly singing “The winner takes it all”: He really could be in trouble- he can sing better than most of the others for sure but he gives many people the creeps and is not a serious act.
      They clearly make the rules up as they go along in this show- obviously they find titles to accomodate the favoured artists who would otherwise be limited.
      I havent seen what Frankie is going to sing but there is a great deal of anti about him on the internet.

      • Donald

        And Frankie going on the piss with the boys and The Risk tonight in Camden according to his twitter feed the past hour. Now clutching at straws!

      • Boki

        Last minute change for Frankie lol. Curious to see if he’s going to bounce or there is no sympathy for him left…
        But what Johnny’s song has to do with rock theme!? What a farce…

      • mark

        Sounds like a massive negativ for Marcus to me? I don’t think he’s suited to rock week at all

        hopefully I can be proven wrong though as I do like him

        Looks suited for Frankie though, given this rock week and a good slot , perhaps the pimp slot he should be safe as houses

  • EM

    Two things, I just don’t see how Twitter followers reflects intent to vote, following isn’t even an indication of liking someone, just an indication of interest.

    And if Jonny is doing Winner Takes It All be wary, it’s a losers song, reminiscent of Wagners Creep last year. Got to be honest though with ratings down on last year they’ll be wanting to ditch a not that interesting act (Sophie, Marcus, Sami) or create some controversy with talent vs joke sing off where the joke stays

    • Donald

      Hi EM, that is true generally but demographic of the followers gives a good indication of type of core followers an act has and a general type of following but they have to cross over to most viewers to win. Kids and teens important paticulary teen girls likely to vote.

      Interesting thing on twiter is Janet is taking allot of those from the groups so it is Janet who is becoming the poster act this year. Whether that is enough is hard to know but it no harm. Think a Justin Beiber type fan, very loyal.

      Steady growth all through the week also a good sign, like Matt last year not just spikes at the weekend. But as said the show dosn’t really understand twitter. Janet does, and she really the only one from what I see. That has stopped negatives making any impression which is key to a winner on twitter.
      But I still wouldn’t steam in for the win. Anything could happen the way it going with viewing figures going down as you say. The producers must be under pressure.

      Betting in running job this weekend probably safest.

    • mark

      Followers on twitter doesnt necessarily reflect votes, but if someone has say 200,000 more followers than someone else, surely that has to be an indication of more interest in this contestant which could translate into more votes, question is the weighting of stats from twitter etc

      • Malcolm

        Followers on twitter surely gives direct access to your fan base. Contestants send out tweets asking for votes. Marcus was quite active at that last weekend, though I didn’t look at all of them. Looking at frankies followers the vast majority are girls I would have thought a tweet or two from him asking for them to vote would help gain some votes and pay off especially in the early weeks when the volume of votes isn’t high.
        Frankie continues to gather followers though Janet is closing the gap. I’ve seen apologetic tweets from frankie this week promising to do better this weekend, as a way of reaching and communicating with your fans it’s potentially useful and they seem to be plugging it this year in the clips from the house and making a big deal about Gary using twitter.
        Anyway frankie was in the bottom 2 last week so any advantage is looking dubious….

  • mark

    I meant to ask this yesterday badn’t got round to it – how much does the press affect the public when it comes to voting?

    I guess it depends on the contestant, what it is and how the show deal with it – but the reason

  • mark

    I meant to ask this yesterday badn’t got round to it – how much does the press affect the public when it comes to voting?

    I guess it depends on the contestant, what it is and how the show deal with it – but the reason I’m asking is the story about Frankie Cocozza having apparently slept with 67girls at the young age of 18 and his dad claiming to have slept with 30-40

    I would imagine this has to have a negative affect on Frankie – rather than making him look like a rock star I would have thought a lot of people will be put off, find it vulgar, disgusting, and just sleazy? and in turn not vote for him causing his vots to drop – although I’m not sure how younger girls would react to it, would they just be jealous and still vote for him?!?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2049830/X-Factor-2011-Frankie-Cocozza-bedded-67-girls-proud-father-claims.html

    thanks
    Thanks

    • Andrew

      I don’t think there’s an easy answer to that one, Mark. The difficulty in assessing the impact of those sort of articles is that it doesn’t matter what it makes the majority of people think who weren’t going to vote for Frankie anyway – it only matters how it will seem to the people who were thinking of voting for him. It’s hard to guess at that with any degree of confidence.

  • EM

    And another question: Loads of mentions here of the “demographic who vote”. Anyone got any hard stats on this? There seems to be an assumption it’s young girls who do most of the voting but the victories of Alex over JLS, Rebecca and Matt over One Direction and countless more suggest it’s much wider than that.

    In fact I would have thought older homeowners with landlines would be more likely as they can afford to and maybe more likely to vote more than once as it cost less than mobile voting.

    But that’s all guesswork. Any hard evidence?

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