For those of you not suffering from X Factor fatigue, the first live show of the US equivalent begins Stateside at 8pm ET tonight. Unfortunately, the UK will be an unnecessary week behind when broadcasting the shows from 8-10pm Thursdays on ITV2. If you’ve missed the audition process so far, there’s a quick primer below and YouTube should bring you up-to-date pretty quickly. The standard is very high.
One minor tweak is that three of the four categories are age-based. Britney Spears mentors the strongest-looking category, the teens; Demi Lovato is in charge of the most intriguing category, the young adults; LA Reid has the Overs; and Simon Cowell the groups.
Sixteen finalists remain. There is no public vote in the first week. There’s not been official confirmation that, like last year’s US and UK shows, each judge will choose a member of their category to drop instead, but this article proceeds under that assumption. Odds are available for the win market already and, when the time comes, British punters should be able to get odds about who goes each week.
Win market odds: 7-2 Carly Rose Sonenclar, 5-1 Diamond White, 15-1 Beatice Miller, 20-1 Arin Ray
It’s no wonder Britney Spears is odds-on favourite to be winning mentor. Her acts have the advantage of matching vocal prowess without any emotional baggage, which can’t be said of some of their rivals in the other categories.
Overall favourite is 13-year-old Carly Rose Sonenclar, who was certainly pimped like one for her audition performance of ‘Feeling Good’. Her strength may also be her only weakness. With extensive musical theatre experience already, she’s the finished product. American audiences don’t mind the kind of precocity and confidence she displays, but the lack of a journey may still be a chink in the armour.
Also just 13, the brilliantly-named Diamond White is a bit rougher around the edges as a performer, but she does have a backstory of deprivation and more of a sense of a journey to go on. As a result, bookmakers have her second favourite in the win market.
Rather overshadowed in this category are Arin Ray and Beatrice Miller. The former competed last year as part of the group InTENsity. I don’t seem him being strong enough to reach the latter stages, but he offers some eye candy for teen girls. Beatrice performs in a rather mature way for a 13-year-old and against two rather similar rivals looks likely to be a sacrificial lamb in this category.
The Young Adults
Win market odds: 8-1 Willie Jones, 9-1 Jennel Garcia, 9-1 CeCe Frey, 28-1 Paige Thomas
The main narrative in this category has been the rivalry between Paige Thomas and CeCe Frey. The former, a Rihanna lookalike, is more fragile and slightly less confidently vocally. The latter, with her distinctive leopard-print make-up, has been portrayed as a ruthless bitch. As part of that storyline, CeCe and the show are now trying to tell us that we will grow to like her but I fear the damage has been done, despite her vocal strength.
Otherwise we have young black country singer Willie Jones, whose USP is that he’s a country singer and young and black. I’m not sure if that’s going to get him enough of a demographic to go far. Finally we have my personal favourite Jennel Garcia. Think Britney Spears’ Latina younger sister. She’s excellent vocally and a sultry performer. My fear for her chances is that the American audience prefers wholesome to slutty, and Jennel tends towards the latter when on stage.
I can’t see Demi getting rid of either CeCe or Jennel right away. Willie provides variety so I’m guessing it’s going to be early heartbreak for Paige.
Win market odds: 10-1 Lylas, 10-1 Lyric 145, 12-1 Emblem3, 33-1 Sister C
Simon Cowell takes over this category after its poor performance last year which saw groups fill the bottom two places in the first two public votes and all sent home after four public votes. His boyband are Emblem3, a trio of California surfers who might be better described as a dudeband. There are two girlbands, a manufactured one called Lylas who Simon is pimping and Sister C, who are clearly their poorer relations as far as the show is concerned. The category is completed by manufactured urban act Lyric 145.
I think Simon is going to struggle despite his best efforts. I’m pretty confident he will ditch Sister C early. I don’t see Lyric 145 being any more popular than last year’s urban act Astro. Emblem3 are unremarkable. His great white hopes are Lylas, who are vocally strong enough but hardly relatable at the moment, which will make it difficult for this girlband.
Win market odds: 12-1 Vino Alan, 16-1 Tate Stevens, 33-1 David Correy, 40-1 Jason Brock
As the odds indicate, the strongest act in this category looks to be Vino Alan, a rough diamond father-of-one in the Joe Whelan mould. He has a strong, soulful voice. His bootcamp duel can also be described as an ink-off with the even more heavily tattooed David Correy, who as a weaker, less interesting version of Vino looks the most likely for an early exit within this category.
Otherwise we have Tate Stevens, who looks and sounds like you’d imagine someone filling the traditional country niche to do. The cowboy hat won’t come off, I’m willing to bet now. Finally there’s the token flamboyant one, Jason Brock. I hope he’s not killed off straight away because based on entertainment value alone he’s worth a few weeks in the competition proper.
It’s a very young, girly place at the top of bookmakers’ lists. Much as I like Jennel Garcia, and 9-1 is reasonable value, I think she might suffer in comparison to her younger, more innocent-seeming rivals. In these circumstances I’ve plonked a few quid on Vino Alan each-way at 12-1 to follow a similar trajectory to last year’s grizzled runner-up Josh Krajcik.
Are you watching? As ever, do share your thoughts below.