Last week District3 were Nu Vibed and survived, to their credit. This week who will be Sami-ed? With a week of voting figures to go on in the 2011 series, producers sent the Welsh lass out wearing a bin liner in her second consecutive early slot. The VT was all about her being a cruiseship singer, so they made her sing cruiseship staple ‘Turn Back Time’ with a backdrop of pink triangles.
Producers clearly felt something needed to be done because their divisive act of the series, Kitty Brucknell, had the week before only just escaped a sing-off despite the pimp slot and a huge production for ‘Oh So Quiet’. A sacrificial lamb was needed, and Sami, only in the competition having been reinstated in the overs category, fit the bill to perfection.
Rylan Clark has already been in the bottom two, so the parallel between him and Kitty isn’t an exact one. Sami’s obvious parallel is Christopher Maloney, also tagged with the ‘cruiseship’ label, sent out surprisingly early last week despite his wildcard victory and clearly of no long-term interest to producers. Will Shaky Cruiseship follow in the same waters as Sami Cruiseship, and if not, who else may producers decide to sink?
They could hardly have done more to dampen Maloney’s moment of triumph last week, as our readers have already noted. The first words out of a judge’s mouth following his karaoke version of ‘Hero’ were, “Christopher, who was that up there, I don’t even recognise you.” What Nicole implied was: no nerves then, phoney Maloney. The Liverpudlian was mocked even by his own mentor (“lay off the sunbeds”) and faced accusations of ‘diva’ behaviour on Xtra Factor, rumours that have been conveniently repeated and rebutted all week.
It’s not looking promising for him. Once the ‘cruiseship’ label is out in the open, your days on the show are numbered. ‘Cheesy’ too, as Heisenberg notes. These aren’t so much buzzwords as X Factor killwords. Having brought them out at Maloney’s moment of triumph means I’m not as concerned as Panos about the show feeling the need to keep him in for a few more weeks to justify the wildcard. They’ve already shown an adequate level of disdain.
What I’m more worried about is that those supporters who voted him back in may continue to do so just one week later. Maloney was very gracious towards them in his post-song interview with Dermot O’Leary. But having agreed with our commenters that Maloney represented the standout value when the elimination market opened, I took every price I could down to about 11-2. He’s now a best-priced 9-2.
That he remains a competitive enough price despite the broad consensus among the Sofabet community that the knives will be out for him tonight – and we should always be aware of the risk of ‘groupthink’ – reminds us that there are are plenty of other candidates.
There’s the conundrum of Rylan Clark for starters. I’m inclined to agree with bunnyman’s view that he might not need to bounce much with voting figures low in these early rounds. And the sympathy bounce has always been surprisingly though not completely durable, taking in a wide range of characters. Rylan surely still has producer favour on his side, as well as all the pre-show hype. Expect a huge pimping tonight. Rumours of a mash-up involving ‘Gangnam Style’ suggest Brian Friedman has been a busy man.
Nonetheless, I don’t think programme-makers will want to take too many chances. Which means as well as pimping Rylan as much as possible, shooting down his most vulnerable rivals. As Boki noted, it makes complete sense to aim a silver bullet at someone in the overs category, given that Gary is hardly going to save Rylan in any singoff anyway. Only by getting an over in the bottom two can you guarantee mission Saving Private Rylan.
Maloney is not the only possibility in this category. Melanie Masson was sent out early last week with a production that was dated in every respect. Younger viewers may have only seen something like it on Top of the Pops 2. It will be interesting to see how she is treated this week. If producers are gunning for her, she’ll be sent out early again; given a kinder slot but still styled like Mother Earth suggests a stay of execution. A late slot with a production that suggests this century may indicate a changing tide within the category.
Fellow over Kye Sones has had more producer favour but I’m not sure how well he’s polling. The loss of Carolynne gives him probable alpha status within the category but if his solid performance of ‘Man in the Mirror’ last week didn’t catch on with the voting public, he may need another boost this time. I wouldn’t rule him out of a shock bottom two appearance.
Whether producers will change tack with the groups is one of the most intriguing aspects of tonight’s show. Last week’s polling figures will surely guide them. If District3 only just survived the death slot, more likely than not there will be a doubling down on attempts to ditch the threesome.
If however, their fanbase steered them more comfortably clear, producers may look at last week’s tallies for rivals MK1 or Union J. An attack on either of these would represent a sudden about-turn, nothing that the show hasn’t pulled before. With so much uncertainty, close observation is the only thing I can recommend.
Among the younger soloists, Jade Ellis is the most obvious candidate. She’s still in producer purgatory. She wasn’t given the full Habibis last week, but it was all very ‘red and black’, stripped back and low key. Dug had things right in yesterday’s article. If she’s on early, dully balladeering again, her trajectory is going one way.
Given that I expect producer love for Lucy Spraggan, whose grandmother died this week, I’d be surprised to see any other act in the bottom two.
Where does this leave us? I’m happy to have backed Maloney at twice current odds but his current market price is more realistic given the possible range of options at producers’ disposal. There’s a general sense that tonight’s show will answer lots more questions. If you haven’t got involved yet, I recommend another watching brief.
What are your thoughts? Let us know below.