We had occasionally wondered if producers might think it was job done having got Little Mix to the final. That’s not the case. The lesson of tonight was unequivocally that producers think Little Mix can win, and very much want them to win. The markets reacted accordingly, with the girl group now as short as 2/7 to take the crown.
After both performances, Marcus was immediately followed by Little Mix, while Little Mix were immediately followed by an ad break. When votes are open, as they were from the start of the show, being followed by an ad break is an advantage – it gives time for voters to hit the phones without another act distracting them.
Despite Amelia being ostensibly in the pimp slot, the signs could not have been clearer that she was intended to leave us tonight. One firm indication was when Amelia was shoved down the memory hole after her first performance by immediately being followed by not one but two big hitters in JLS and One Direction, and after her second performance by being immediately followed by Leona.
Effectively, what we saw was Little Mix in the pimp slot out of the only two real contenders; Amelia singing third on Saturday cleverly allows Little Mix to get the Sunday pimp slot without it looking too much like favouritism.
We were somewhat surprised when Betfair scored round one to Little Mix, as we felt there was little to choose between the big production performances while it looked to us that Marcus won the battle of the VTs, if only because emotional homecomings work so much better when there is only one act to focus on rather than four to be rushed through.
The surrogate dad vibe we mentioned in the preview article was there in abundance when Gary sat down for a cup of tea and a chat with nana and grandad, looking for all the world like a suitor for Mrs Collins. The contrast couldn’t have been greater with Kelly’s and Amelia’s slightly awkward moments in the back of a Middlesbrough taxi.
If you were wondering whether or not the red and black scheme during Amelia’s first song was significant, the writing on the wall was clear when Louis began his comments by reminding us she had been kicked out in week one, and Tulisa reminded us she hadn’t been in the competition right from the start.
We again thought there was little to choose between the two remaining finalists from round two. Marcus couldn’t have asked for much more from his VT, and Gary had cleverly arranged the song to allow him to sing the lower lines and Marcus to play to his strengths with the higher line solos and harmonising.
While Marcus and Gary again looked like son and surrogate dad, Tulisa being six inches taller than all of the uniformly-high Little Mix girls did make her look a bit like their schoolmistress. We certainly learned that Tulisa can sing live, and again we thought there was no clear winner between the two in terms of performance.
In the comments, ganix points out that Marcus’s duet was noticeably not followed by a shot of his mum blubbing, but an interview with his old boss. But then, as Richard noted in his live blog at Betsfactor about the girls’ duet, “Olly Murs talking to the Mayor of South Shields is hardly the image we want on our screens immediately after either”.
Kelly duetting with Amelia visually looked like a hen night karaoke at times, but vocally was good, too. The love-in VT felt unconvincing, though, and it certainly wasn’t the gamechanging moment the Middlesbrough lass needed.
So three have become two. It’s all to play for on Sunday, and while we are slightly surprised by the extent of the market reaction given that we thought Marcus won the VTs and drew the performances, we have to allow for the possibility that we were seeing what we wanted to see – and we certainly can’t argue with the evidence that producers are playing to win for the girl group. Will they do it? We’re looking forward to finding out!
What did you make of the Saturday show? Do let us know in the comments box below.