Even disregarding my shock at the singoff result, last week’s events threw two curveballs. First of all, producers did everything they could to assassinate Chris Maloney and failed to get him in the bottom two, after a similar escape in week 1 for apparent assassination targets District 3. As tpfkar puts it, “the X Factor are turning into incompetent assassins this year. 2 targets lined up, 2 aimed at, 2 still standing. Last year they didn’t have a single clear miss.”
Secondly, and more puzzling, Gary’s two other acts were also treated very badly. Watching the show back in the cool light of midweek, it was even more clear how Melanie and Kye comprised the dull wholemeal bread in a Rylan sandwich. Melanie, like Chris, had contemporary dancing in the background that was designed to distract. Kye’s performance was sent up in flames. All three overs were ‘red and blacked‘, in common with District 3.
Was this a shot across Gary’s bows over his reported dinner demands that Rylan should not be saved against anybody? And if so, will it last more than a week now that they there are only two overs left in the competition?
Tabloid stories such as this one and this one and this one suggest that the knives are still well and truly out for Chris Maloney. Where their former sister paper the News Of The World once had the Fake Sheikh, The Sun is painting Maloney as the Fake Shake. He’s like a bull being gored by the show’s matadors, and it’s becoming fascinating theatre.
Quite how long he can survive this onslaught is the biggest question in the elimination market, for which the Liverpudlian is marginal favourite at 3/1 this week. KaraokeSauron has the best explanation for last week’s survival I have seen: he “communicated directly to the audience. He showed a good sense of theatre, smiled widely and broadly at the camera, and was actually quite winning when asked by Dermot how all the criticism was getting to him”.
We have to doubt the report in the Star this week that Maloney has been topping the public vote. But as Nicky says in the comments, “I still think Shakey’s doing better than they’re comfortable with though. How else to explain such aggressive, vitriolic tactics? It’s very reminiscent of when Johnny scared the bejebus out of them last year resulting in character assassination by media and finally a double elimination to ensure his removal.”
This week’s VT may give us clues about how well Shakey is doing. My instinct is that if we get an unpleasant VT that dwells on all those tabloid tales about how he’s a diva, a phoney, and rude, then it may mean we’re in for a Devlin-style long kill. Such a VT would stir up some short-term sympathy for Chris as the price of sowing the seeds of his long-term destruction.
If producers do think they can get Maloney out this week, I reckon we’ll get the “end of journey” treatment instead, with Chris talking about how “being on the X Factor has shown me I can beat my nerves and I can do anything in life”. This is a time-honoured tactic for suggesting to an act’s supporters that they no longer need votes for personal validation.
We then have to consider the bigger question of whether producers will want to leave Gary down to one act this early in the competition. In this respect Kye’s treatment will be fascinating. He seemed to go from hero to zero from week 1 to week 2, and I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to see him in he bottom two last Sunday.
Kye is going to need a serious boost if Gary is to get a half-decent run in this competition, which probably explains why he’s as big as 8-1 to be next eliminated – on the face of it, these are very generous-looking odds for an act who was shown no producer favour at all last week and is eminently forgettable even at the best of times.
In the comments, jscouser2002 reckons it’s “hard to see them leaving Gary with one act left after 3 weeks”. In normal circumstances, I’d agree, but last weekend suggested there is something strange going on with the overs at the moment. Jscouser suggests that Kye’s negative treatment last week should be understood purely as a short-term tactic to make Rylan look more interesting, which is entirely plausible.
However, if the chimney sweep is slated once again this week, we would have to consider the possibility that producers are looking – for whatever reason – to get Gary out early. Or perhaps to play the cruel joke of leaving the panel’s bastion of musical credibility to soldier on with Cruiseship Maloney as his sole representative.
What of the other contenders?
At 10/3 we have last week’s singoff survivors District 3. There’s no particular reason to think they won’t enjoy the sympathy bounce that usually benefits an act surviving a singoff this early in the series, especially with a motivated teen fanbase – their Twitter following got a boost from their singoff save.
Having said that, it would be interesting to see how they’d do from a late slot tonight. As has been much discussed in the Sofabet comments, the first two singoffs provide suggestive evidence that having phone lines open from the start of the show may have swapped around the historical effects of early and late slots in the running order.
This may be especially pertinent with the show on so late – as EM posts in the comments, “When Melanie performed at twenty five past ten the show was down 3 million viewers on its peak… That’s gotta hurt votes.”
We again have quite a late finish today, at 10.20pm. If producers are – like us punters – feeling their way with the effects of the new voting system, they might be tempted to further test the effects of the “post-pimp slot” from which Melanie evidently suffered by putting a headline act such as Ella or Rylan on second-from-last, providing a natural climax to proceedings, and then District 3 with lukewarm comments last of all.
At 9/2 we have MK1, who are fancied by many to go this week. For me, it all depends on what last week’s Glee comments portended. I’m not yet convinced by the theory, mooted by several commenters, that the judges’ comments about MK1 betraying their urban roots necessarily indicated that producers had lost interest.
Firstly, it continues the narrative tension of having “Uncle Louis” as their mentor, which was always going to be an awkward fit for a young and hip outfit. Secondly, while it may be true that an urban fanbase won’t like Glee-type stuff, conversely I bet Glee-type stuff gets more votes than urban.
AnnaC has a nice theory about what was going on last week: “it looked as though MK1 were being recast as a new Jedward/Same Difference – bright colours, catchy (indeed, cheesy) song, lively dancers – so that they can fill the ‘fun’ slot if Rylan falls”. Quite where this will go in tonight’s show is very much open to question.
Speaking of Rylan, we can surely expect operation Saving Private Rylan to be in full swing again, so I can’t recommend backing him in the elimination market at odds of 13/2. He will be coming down from a sympathy bounce after his week 1 singoff surivival, and more often than not that phenomenon lasts only one week. But I fully expect producers to do everything they can for him again, and this week’s theme of club classics seems to have been selected to suit.
Realistically, the other acts we could see in the bottom two are Lucy and Jade, who trade at 12-1 and 20-1 respectively. Either of these prices could look very big after Saturday’s show, but I can’t recommend them before Saturday’s show because I think both girls had sympathetic edits that sold them well last week.
I wasn’t a fan of Lucy’s rendition of ‘Gold Digger’ at all, but a moving VT about the death of her grandmother was always going to see her safe. It’ll be interesting to see what producers do in both her and Rylan’s VT with the stories of their drunken antics after a night out at G.A.Y. – an opportunity for Lucy to reprise her “beer fear” audition hit Last Night, perhaps?
We have wondered since our 1-13 prediction whether Jade’s journey will be more reminiscent of Rebecca Ferguson or Sophie Habibis. Week one’s treatment suggested the latter; week two’s treatment suggested the former. I still think producers are hedging their bets with her. Saturday’s show will tell us more about whether they’ve come off the fence in either direction.
If they do decide to go after Jade this week, it would continue the trend of this year’s assassination targets uncannily mirroring last year’s. In the first public vote, target the surplus boyband (Nu Vibe, District 3); in the second public vote, target the cruiseship over (Sami Brookes, Chris Maloney). Who did they go after in the third public vote last year? Sophie Habibis.
Which brings us back to where we started – after last year’s unerring accuracy, the show appear to have turned into incompetent assassins.
There are so many questions for tonight – what will Chris and Kye’s treatment suggest producers are thinking about the overs? Where do they go with MK1? Will District 3 look bouncey? Will there be a single or double elimination (the possibility of which we assessed in Andrew’s midweek post)? – I’m going to be watching and learning, and am not getting involved beforehand. What are your thoughts? Do keep the lively debate going in the comments section below.