X Factor gossip has centered on Lucy Spraggan in recent days. Let’s recap. At around 2pm last Saturday it was announced that Lucy would miss that night’s show due to illness and be given a bye to the following week, following a precedent set by Diana Vickers. It had been reported on Friday that Lucy had missed rehearsals that day due to having the flu.
This wouldn’t have been so controversial but for the fact the show has built up a narrative of Lucy being a hard-partying girl. Her previous week’s VT featured her out on the lash with fellow contestant Rylan, getting drunk and running into trouble as a result. The Wednesday before her illness had been Rylan’s birthday party which she had promised to ‘rock’.
Many viewers have connected the partying with the illness, creating a backlash against her free pass. After all, some are saying, poor Jade had to perform with a sore throat the week before and still hadn’t fully recovered before her recent elimination. What’s more, the lack of further information from producers and Lucy’s own radio silence has only fed the rumour mill.
So what’s the matter with Lucy Spraggan? Here are four alternatives and their likely consequences for punters.
1. Lucy is genuinely ill and deserves our sympathy
Flu arrives quickly and is incredibly debilitating. It’s much worse than a Jade-like sore throat. It’s also worth bearing in mind Nugg’s insight from mixing with the acts last weekend: they are made to work incredibly hard, usually 12-14 hours a day. And if she has been out enjoying herself afterwards, don’t blame her – it is likely to have been with the encouragement of the shows’s producers, if Frankie Cocozza’s recent revelations are anything to go by.
Nugg points out the obvious question if this scenario is the correct one: why did they not mention it more in Saturday’s show? “No VT from bed… At the very least we were all expecting a recorded message showing how ill she was.” Our suggested answer to that question is a simple one: as the very fact that we’re writing this article shows, maintaining a cryptic silence gets us all speculating and helps producers to keep the show in the headlines.
2. Her vote is flagging and this encouraged producers to overplay her illness
As Lee Phelps commented on Saturday apropos Lucy, “I have a suspicion this show is a big advert for her album which will no doubt turn up on an ‘Indie’ Cowell label.” The iTunes popularity of ‘Last Night’ indicates that Lucy can shift records, and producers might have decided this is a good enough reason for getting her reasonably far in the competition. She has been treated highly sympathetically so far, the week 3 VT going out of its way to show that despite the drunken antics, Lucy wasn’t letting it affect her work.
But imagine that Lucy wasn’t far off the bottom two in week 3. It’s certainly not inconceivable. Some of our commenters, notably jscouser, find her to be a one-trick pony who peaked in that refreshing first audition. Bookmakers don’t disagree. 10-1 back in August, she had drifted to around 50-1 before illness hit. What better way of getting her into the latter stages than seizing the opportunity of a rather bad hangover to hop past one week altogether and give her a sympathy boost the following week?
Of course, in this scenario this coming week’s VT will look exactly the same as it will have done if the illness is genuine. The fact that plenty of sceptics are willing to believe the worst reiterates the importance of that VT in conveying just how genuine Lucy’s illness has been. If it doesn’t do that job, Lucy will be in big danger of falling into the bottom two – and Sofabet commenter Stoney reckons 3/1 about this eventuality is well worth lumping on.
3. There’s a backstage rift that they’re trying to heal
Lucy’s silence has alerted the suspicions of eurovicious: “She hasn’t tweeted since 24 Oct – if she’s ill, surely she’d have said so? She’s a chatty, engaging sort, so it’s not like her… Could it be that she’s only just realised that the show basically owns all of her music now?” In response, Caro pointed to a story in The Mirror alleging just this, and also claiming that she is fed up of having to sing covers.
Each of these rumours has a counterargument. On the matter of royalties, we have Lucy pegged as a smart lass, and the fuss about ‘Last Night’ being taken off iTunes indicated that she should have realised months ago what she had signed herself up for. As she was quoted saying phlegmatically at the time, “you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, to get somewhere in life… There’s always going to be a part of me that’s disappointed about it but if you think about it in the long run, with things which could be happening in the future, they’re going to be substantially better.”
Secondly, she hasn’t had such a rough deal with the cover versions. She was allowed to put her own spin on ‘Titanium’ in week 3, and she did her own song in week 1. Surely she realised that the occasional cover version was inevitable on the live shows?
Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see whether she performs a cover or an original song this Saturday. If there has been an argument on this issue, it may indicate who has come out on top. In this scenario, how favourable her treatment is this week would also indicate how happy producers are with the outcome.
4. Producers are planning to make a Cocozza of her
Props to KaraokeSauron, who before the live shows argued that producers may have seen in Lucy a controversial figure in the mould of Frankie Cocozza. This was the girl who got the name Olly Murs tattooed on her foot for her first appearance on Xtra Factor, after all.
When a paparazzi video came to light showing Lucy and Rylan rather the worse for wear, it seemed a dangerous route for someone who has been one of this series’ most popular personalities before the live shows began. Same with all the publicity surrounding the pair being suspended from their hotel. Is this a prelude to a full-blown misdemeanour that might give the show a reason to boot her out? (Or, as eurovicious puts it in the comment linked to above, “is she being Cocozzaed?”)
This is obviously the most far-fetched of our scenarios. It directly opposes the idea we have suggested in scenarios 1 and 2 that producers want Lucy to get as far as possible. However, it would be good both for ratings and may not harm her post-show career much either. It’s implausible but not impossible.
We’ll fully admit that scenario 4 is less well baked than the others, though it has clearly also crossed the minds of the Betfair punters who have been nibbling at long prices about Amy Mottram in recent days, much as happened with Amelia Lily around this time last year. But they wouldn’t dare… would they? At least, unlike last year – when a double elimination preceded the Frankie Cocozza exit – the show still has a ‘spare’ and could still have three acts in the final if they were to lose Lucy outside of the regular elimination process.
What’s your take on the situation, and how it will impact your betting for next weekend’s elimination market and beyond? Let us know below.