It was a good night for the Sofabet hive brain, as Richard and Adam – first suggested in the comments by Andy on May 15th, and much discussed by commenters since – won the first semi-final. We’ll find out only when the percentages are released after the final, but we’d be amazed if they didn’t win it at a canter.
The winner of the first semi-final has so far never failed to finish out of the first two in the grand final. Can they continue the trend?
They certainly came across well in their VT, which heavily featured their nan. (Less positively, it also featured them referring to having sung on cruiseships. But the power of the nan beats the curse of the cruiseship, as Christopher Maloney’s X Factor longevity proved).
All in all, R&A (or Joe McElderry and Jason Manford as Chatterbox5200 called them) came across as Saturday night variety catnip: humble, good looking, talented. They could hardly have got more help from producers, with a backdrop of gold lighting. Amanda described how she felt patriotic as she imagined them representing this country in stadiums all over the world. (Do we imagine a “they’re not Hungarian” subtext here?)
The contrast in treatment with Band of Voices, pre-show second favourites to win the whole thing, could hardly have been more marked. Here we had a classic assassination job: up second in the running order; given a disjointed-looking stage backdrop of their faces moving around a big screen, making them look like a collection of individuals rather than a cohesive unit; and damned with faint praise from the panel.
To cap it all, Simon Cowell called the very next performance, by Essex dance troupe Youth Creation, the “best of the night so far”. Ouch!
With both Philip Green and Aaron Crow getting the “good, but not as good as your audition” dampening treatment, it seemed clear that producers were setting out their stall for Arisxandra Libantino to join the sandwich-makers in the final. The question was whether the hard-working-family intro (look at the camera, dad!) and the high praise from the panel would obscure how many bum notes she hit.
That’s two of our ten finalists, then – or of eleven, if producers repeat last year’s wildcard trick. Do keep the discussion going below as the week progresses and we try to figure out the rest.