A hat-tip to Dug. Earlier this week he pointed out some similarities between 2010’s last five and the remaining quintet in 2011:
Little Mix, the manufactured group who have come to be Plan A thanks to their charm and some serious help with backing vocals.
Janet and Marcus, the front-running male and female who between them have a scouse fanbase, a guitar, authenticity and the housewives vote.
Misha, the female urban act that producers seem desperate to shoe-horn into the final despite an apparent lack of public support.
That makes Amelia… MARY BYRNE!
Astute punters will also remember that at this stage last year, the polarising urban artist Cher Lloyd was coming off a sympathy bounce, whilst the act producers wanted to ditch, Mary Byrne, was due a sympathy bounce herself. The result? Mary duly bounced above Cher, who finished bottom in the public vote. And the show held a singoff – unprecedented at the semi-final stage – and took Cher to the final.
Now they face a similar situation one week earlier, with Misha playing the role of Cher and Amelia starring as Mary. Will they be as successful getting rid of Amelia as they were with Mary?
First of all, we have to ask ourselves how likely it is that Amelia is in line for a major de-ramp. We do think they will try to dampen her bounce, as they clearly did with Mary last year, rather than take the other approach that would be obvious for this weekend – work with the grain of Amelia’s bounce and accept jettisoning Misha. This is for reasons we have stated before about how we think Amelia’s return in week 6 will damage the franchise more the longer she stays around.
We therefore agree with Dug when he goes on to say:
If we are to pay any attention to this pattern then we should keep our eyes peeled for some serious assassination on Saturday. It’s almost 100% guaranteed that a girl will have to leave, considering the fact that they now make up 60% of the contestants. I reckon they’ll throw the book at Amelia in order to stop her bouncing.
1) Death Slot
2) Red and black
3) One upbeat song that makes her look a bit Kitty
4) One ballad that’s set below her comfortable range
5) Bad camera angles
6) Some congrats on having reclaimed her place BUT
7) A subtle suggestion that she doesn’t quite fit
8) Drastic styling
9) A VT that shows her looking a bit cocky / lifeless / lost
Dug’s list reminds us of the 28 ways we discerned that Wagner had been cut loose in last year’s live shows. We half expect to be talking of 28 ways later in an article about Amelia Lily’s treatment after this Saturday’s show. At just 2/1, however, the seeming likelihood of an assassination attempt is factored into Amelia’s price, and it’s just too short for us to recommend it.
A key question for punters in the elimination market this weekend is obviously whether or not there will be a singoff. Every time we have had a final 5 at the week 8 stage, there has been no singoff (2005, 2007, 2008, 2009), with the act finishing bottom of the public vote instead leaving automatically.
However, we think the most important piece of form is last year’s surprise semi-final singoff, which showed that producers were willing to keep viewers in the dark about whether or not there would be a singoff right up until the Sunday show. Judging by the forums, most viewers had assumed the act with the lowest public vote would leave when Dermot closed the Saturday show with the words “It’s now all in your hands, your votes and your votes alone can get your favourite act safely through to the final” – although in our update post after that show, we pointed out that there was wiggle room in the word “safely”.
It remains to be seen whether the announcement is clearer this Saturday. But our best guess at the moment is there will probably be a singoff, from which we think the show will probably be hoping to be able to save Misha over Amelia.
It does seem that Misha, like Cher before her, will struggle this week. A tabloid story alleging she bullied a blind girl is hardly going to do her cause any good. Meanwhile, Gary set up the idea that she will return to the striking but unpopular performances we witnessed earlier in the live shows. It makes sense for her future career to remind viewers what her USP is before she leaves; quite what the impact will be on the voting public is another matter.
However, whilst a record of three out of seven bottom two placings wouldn’t look pretty for Misha, it would be two out of three for Amelia if the Middlesbrough lass is indeed Misha’s opponent. This is even worse, especially as her one non-appearance will have been the week of her triumphant return. We think that would give reason enough for it to seem acceptable to ditch Amelia.
Producers may also be calculating that Misha would be the less likely of the two to enjoy a bounce in the semi-final – and if they were to accept losing her at that stage in a public vote, that would set up an intriguingly unpredictable boy-girl-group final none of whom had touched the bottom two, which may possibly be their intention.
However, we are getting ahead of ourselves. What chance that one of those other three contestants will fall into the bottom two this week?
Janet is pretty short in the elimination market again, this time at 10/3. However, her performance and treatment last week was the best since ‘Fix You’, and she has had some positive coverage in the press this week: a bullying sob story; switching on the Christmas lights back home in Omagh; talk of her collaborating with Coldplay in the final; and the possibility of her singing a Nirvana song. Even if neither of the latter come to pass, it is useful publicity for the show.
We are still not sure about how producers feel towards Janet, but given her less negative treatment last week and greater share of column inches this week we can’t recommend her in the elimination market.
Marcus Collins is arguably on the big side at 14/1 to be eliminated, given that the Liverpudlian lad seems to have lost some momentum in recent days despite last week’s pimping, with his closing crucifixion pose proving an unfortunately abiding image. And we think producers are unlikely to want him to win the competition, given that his future is looking like it lies more on the West End stage than in the pop charts.
However, we still reckon they would like to see him in the final to give Gary a runner. He had his own tabloid sob story this week and some highly positive press. And we also can’t ignore the fact that with Craig Colton now gone, the Liverpool vote and granny vote can consolidate behind him (the most recent YouGov poll unsurprisingly showed Craig and Marcus were easily the most popular acts with the freedom pass brigade).
Finally, we have Little Mix, who producers look desperate to see in the final. We are confident they would be saved against anyone even if they drop into the bottom two, which we think is unlikely.
What do you think? Will Amelia Lily be the one to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous X Factor fortune, or might they decide to just jettison Misha B instead? Is our assumption that a Janet-Marcus-Little Mix final is the hope producers have settled on a correct one? Let us know in the comments box below.