The results of the first public vote are in! We don’t know what they are, of course. We’ll find out when some exhausted intern plonks a pdf on the X Factor website in the early hours of the Monday morning after the final – a moment which we are already, pathetically, keenly anticipating.
All we know for sure is that producers now have a Rylan headache. As commenter Steven succinctly puts it, “Week 1 and they already used the death threats VT. Where can you go from there?” For the rest, we can only speculate about what the new lie of the land might look like from producers’ perspective. So let’s do so, taking each category in turn.
We’ll skate over the girls, where both Lucy and Jade survived but Ella “Frankel” Henderson is currently in danger of making a one-horse race of the entire series, let alone Tulisa’s category.
First he had to flog us Frankie Cocozza, then Carolynne Poole – Gary Barlow must feel like a raincoat salesman in the Sahara. Whether or not you share our view that producers were trying on Saturday to give every chance to an act who was never going to fly with the voting public (Sofabet commenter Lia makes the case against), the important question now is which of the remaining three is Gary’s great white hope?
Kye? We’d be especially intrigued to know how well he polled. His performance was reasonably good on Saturday but we remain of the same view as Steve at the Bitch Factor, who wrote a couple of weeks ago: “Is it just me, or is he the most anonymous contestant of all this year? I swear I forget about him the second he’s off screen.”
Christopher? How we’d laugh. After his hatchet job on Sami Cruiseship last year, it would be a delicious irony if Gary’s last act standing this year were to be Shakey Cruiseship. Sofabet commenter Mike F reports from Liverpool, by the way, that “Chris Maloney is NOT connecting with the Liverpool public… please don’t take the regional vote as a reason to back him”.
Melanie? Stranger things have happened. Sending her out third and reminding us she’d rather be at home with her family hardly suggested that producers were desperate to keep her safe, but then Marcus was apparently considered fodder in Gary’s category at this stage last year and he ended up in the final. We stand by the reasons we gave after Melanie’s first audition, though, for thinking that there’s a fairly low ceiling to how high she could fly, even if she were to have the wind of producer favour in her sails.
We stand to be proved completely wrong, but we wouldn’t be at all surprised if none of Gary’s remaining acts cleared the dropzone by much. If true, that would give producers an interesting dilemma. Our suggested solution: do everything possible to nobble one of Gary’s acts per week, such that they finish bottom of the vote with Rylan just above them. Each Louis-triggered deadlock would be more hilarious than the last.
Current odds: 4/5 Kye, 11/4 Melanie, 9/2 Shakey.
Our verdict: Probably Kye, as the odds indicate. However there could be future rearrangement, like the deckchairs on the Titanic.
In the Sofabet comments, several commenters expressed the view that Jahmene’s pimp slot indicated he was clearly the alpha boy and on course for the final. But let’s remind ourselves of the ultimate fate of acts which occupied the pimp slot in the first public vote of previous series:
2011 – Kitty Brucknell (7th)
2010 – Treyc Cohen (9th)
2009 – Danyl Johnson (4th)
2008 – Laura White (8th)
2007 – Hope (5th)
2006 – Leona Lewis (1st)
2005 – Andy Abraham (2nd)
2004 – Tabby Callaghan (3rd)
Though the first show pimpee made the final in the first three series, it’s been five years since that happened. One pimp slot does not an alpha make. And there was an intriguing little whiff of “journey completed” in Nicole’s comment to Jahmene – at judges’ houses, she told him to find his balls. In live show 1, she said he’d found them. Don’t discount the possibility that this is Jahmene’s high water mark.
We must also respectfully disagree with commenters who detected a deramp in James Arthur’s treatment. To us, sending him out early was a straightforward sign of confidence, and we reckon his VT was intended to be – and was – helpful. In his comments about his looks and demeanour and his response to Nicole reaching for The Sun, he came across as self-aware and with a mordant sense of humour. It made us warm to him, and we’ve been among his harshest critics.
Current odds: 4/6 Jahmene, 13/8 James, 33/1 Rylan
Our verdict: If we had to have a category bet at this point, it would be on James in the boys.
Producers could hardly have done more to signal their preferred boyband on Saturday. District 3 were made to change their name and told that they didn’t look like they were having fun. Union J sang a song about how much fun they were having while stood on a plinth proclaiming their name in enormous letters.
As Stephen M writes in the comments, “Now that District 3 have survived the public vote despite being on first in week 1 (only the second act ever to do this), and after Union J’s horrible performance, I’m kind of wondering, much like Nu Vibe and The Risk last year, will the producers switch their alliegances towards them and put Union J on the chopping block.”
That’s the question. Something that slightly intrigues us here is whether one logical implication of allowing in acts with existing management deals this year might be that the show might perhaps stand to earn a differently-sized cut of post-show earnings for different acts. Might this possibly be relevant to favoured boyband, or is it a red herring?
It’s impressive that all three groups cleared the opening singoff – only the second time that’s ever happened, after Kimberly Southwick faced off against Alisha Bennett in the first singoff of 2007. We had worried that MK1 might have a likeability problem, but their VT couldn’t have done more to rectify that – there was nary an accountant in sight – and they got a big, energetic Brian Friedman production, suggesting the show aren’t keen to dump them just yet.
Current odds: 11/10 Union J, 9/4 MK1, 10/3 District 3
Our verdict: Having advised an each-way on Union J at 18/1 in our finishing order prediction piece, we’re not jumping ship – but we’ll take a watching brief for the treatment of the groups this week.
How have your thoughts changed after week 1, if at all? As ever, do please continue the debate below.