And then there were six. In the Sofabet comments this week, there has been unusually sharp disagreement among some of our most knowledgeable commenters about the elimination possibilities. Essentially there are two main camps: those who think it’s Rylan’s time to go; and those who reckon that Christopher may finally hit the bottom two and that, if he does, will be gone.
There’s also been healthy debate about whether one of the ‘big 3’ will fall into the bottom two. Rad, Queen Bea, Jake Kl, Kevin O’Reilly and Alen are among the commenters reckoning we will possibly see Ella down there this weekend against Rylan. Eurovicious and Jack think that James is a more likely big name to fall into the danger zone. The pair trade at 7/2 and 3/1 respectively to hit the singoff.
Interestingly, the one thing there seems to be a general consensus about is that Union J can bounce for a second time. Only Boki has really struck a note of scepticism here.
Let’s take these issues in turn.
Jscouser2002 summed up the case against Rylan: “He now comes to the week off the back of a bounce. There is now no need to keep him in the competition, Nicole needs to lose an act also. He also loses all sing offs, perhaps most suiting would be v Chris, if only for the storyline of Gary saying ‘justice, about time’.”
HenryVIII also felt strongly that “Rylan’s toast whoever he’s up against… I think they like Chris. He gives them publicity and he’s popular… the XF press office can write silly stories about him to feed the press with. He brings in phone votes. He’s also their anti-themachine contestant. They could teach the CIA a thing or two about creating a false “enemy” that can be controlled (to attract and corral dissenters).”
However, there are plenty who are equally adamant that if the Liverpudlian falls into the bottom two, the opportunity presented means that he will be eliminated. Among the Sofabet commmenters lining up on this side of the fence are Adam, Sarah, Jack, Dan, Eurovicious, Mick, Highlighted and Kevin O’Reilly. Jack summed up this side when he said: “Chris being saved in the B2 risks the chance of him bouncing into the semi or even to the final. If Chris falls into B2, they will get rid of him in my opinion.”
So what’s our opinion? It’s true that this is traditionally the moment when the pantomime acts are jettisoned. That’s why we had Rylan in sixth place in our 1-13 prediction before the live shows began. There have been hints from Rylan himself that this week would see the end of the journey. He says his psychic told him he would depart this week, and joked on Xtra Factor after his Spice Girls mash-up that he would eff off the following week.
Gary has half moved towards the position of accepting Rylan’s place in the competition, which is the traditional moment when the joke act leaves, as occurred with Johnny Robinson and Wagner. Last week Barlow admitted how much fun the routine was, but by slating Rylan’s role in the production still motivated the Essex lad’s support. If Gary goes the whole hog this week in endorsing Rylan, it would be a sign that producers are indeed following the script in attempting to jettison the act who is there largely for entertainment value.
However – and much as I hesitate to disagree with astute judges such as JScouser and HenryVIII – I do think that if Christopher is in the bottom two, the show would take the opportunity to get rid of him.
While EM makes an interesting case that producers might like Chris in the final, because “can Chris beat Ella has a better storyline to it than can James beat Jahmene”, that makes narrative sense only if Chris gets to the final without having touched the bottom two, so that we are all still in the dark about just how popular he is. I doubt that producers would want to see Chris in the final after a bottom two appearance – in that case (and perhaps, indeed, in any case), I expect they would prefer a more credible final line-up.
If they save Chris from a singoff this week, they run the serious danger of him bouncing to the final. Of the acts saved in the week 7 singoff over the last four years, Olly Murs, JLS and Amelia Lily all enjoyed a two-week bounce straight to the final; only the divisive Cher Lloyd had a bounce of only one week.
Could they get away with saving Rylan against Chris in a singoff between the two? I think so. As Adam explains, Tulisa and Louis have been scathing enough of Christopher to join Nicole in creating a 3:1 vote. (Which is, of course, not to say that they’d want Rylan bouncing to the final – as it would be his third singoff save, the chances of such a big bounce would seem slim).
The fact that Chris’s odds to be eliminated (3/1) are barely longer than his odds to hit the bottom two (5/2) indicate that the market also feels Chris would not survive any singoff.
The bigger question mark in my mind is whether Christopher will fall into the bottom two. As Gajy pointed out, if last Sunday’s Daily Star story is correct, Maloney may still be polling too well to fall into the bottom two anyway. Janet Devlin topped the first votes through to week 5 last year and was only eliminated in week 8 thanks to a singoff among the final five.
Our article earlier this week argued that the show is adopting a longer game in deflating his vote. An all-out frontal assault including an unsuitable song choice hasn’t yet happened. Referring to the raft of negative stories about him in the press every week has arguably become a positive by making him appear to be the victim of bullying producers.
There may be a feeling among programme-makers that another week of these headlines and speculation about his winning chances is more useful for the shows’s ratings. If so, expect some more mixed messages in his treatment and exasperation from the judges that motivates Chris’s supporters – an attempt to drag him down that falls short of an all-out push to get rid.
But if he does escape the bottom two yet again, who does that leave in the danger zone? Rylan, coming down off his second sympathy bounce, is an obvious contender and unsurprisingly short at 1/3 to feature in the singoff.
A best-priced 6/4 to be in the singoff and 5/1 to go this week, Union J do potentially have a motivated fanbase and are now the only boyband left in the competition. But their first sympathy bounce only lasted a week and the second one is traditionally less powerful. I would be surprised if producers didn’t do plenty for them this week in an attempt to help them bounce. Having said which, I was surprised that producers didn’t do more for them last week.
The treatment of the ‘Big 3’ continues to be fascinating. Only Jahmene has been consistently pimped this series. Will that continue? One has to assume so until we see any evidence to the contrary.
Whilst James always gets good comments, Jscouser2002 has made some thorough points about occasionally less than helpful productions. It has been slightly counter-intuitive to see him shorten in the win market over the last few days, and I say that as someone who plonked a little bit on him at around 7-1 before his first pimp slot. Perhaps given former favourite Ella’s weakness in bookmakers’ lists, he has become a default alternative to Jahmene.
Talking of Ella, there were signs of desperation in Tulisa’s table-banging demand that people pick up the phone to vote for her last week. This seemed to be reiterated by the Daily Star story that she was struggling just above the bottom two in recent votes. And as Rad said in the comments, her one-trick nature is becoming increasingly obvious. Will we be pleasantly surprised this weekend?
I do think that producers will want her in the final and I agree with eurovicious that they will do all they can to avoid having her face a singoff to get there – in terms of a suspenseful outcome, in an ideal world it makes for better television to have as many of the final three as possible not having touched the bottom two. On which note, it will be interesting to see if producers decide to keep singoffs after this weekend. In the early series, five acts became the point at which the public vote alone decided, though the last two years showed a readiness to introduce singoffs when necessary to jettison troublesome ladies from the Emerald Isle.
If it’s Chris who goes this weekend against Rylan or Union J, I can see producers going straight to the public vote, which should allow Rylan and Union J to gravitate naturally to the bottom and leave a final three of Jahmene, Ella and James never having faced a singoff. If it’s Rylan who goes this weekend, however, whether or not we have further singoffs may be an indication of how confident producers are feeling that they can get Chris down to the bottom of the vote.
To conclude, it’s a tight, intriguing market in which there was some early value when Rylan was priced up at 2/1 for next elimination, but in which prices have now settled down at roughly where I think they should be before Saturday’s show. I’m waiting till I’ve watched it. How are you playing it? Let us know below how your thoughts have evolved.