X Factor 2013 Auditions Week 2: The Money’s Down on Abi

Producers continued to scrabble for ways to make the arena auditions feel like less of a fifth wheel. Following last week’s build-him-up-to-knock-him-down routine with Bieber-a-like Luke Britnell, this week they went the sow-doubts-so-she-can-wow-us route with Abi Alton – her Sunday pimp slot having been anticipated in the Sofabet comments after Saturday’s show by Gavster, R, Highlighted and Nugg, who saw her live at auditions and bootcamp and assures us her performance in the latter is comparably impactful.

The likeable Guisborough lass is bidding for a third podium finish in a row for the emerging X Factor powerhouse of Teesside, following Middlesbrough’s Amelia Lily in 2011 and Saltburn’s James Arthur last year. Just like Amelia Lily (as Stu noted in the comments), she has a Supportive Dad. Bravo, fathers of the north-east.

The Sofabet community was generally highly enthusiastic about Abi, with several commenters reaching for comparisons with surmised producer Plan As of the last two years (at this stage of the competition, at least), Janet Devlin and Ella Henderson. Boki, eurovicious and Annie mentioned the comparison that came to our mind on Saturday and was reinforced by her original composition on Sunday – Lucy Spraggan.

Lucy’s girl-with-guitar schtick won plaudits and iTunes success with ‘Last Night’ and ‘Tea and Toast’ last year, but didn’t set the phone lines alight, the Yorkshire songstress polling below average in each of her three weeks on the show. Along with the pleasant but less-than-powerhouse vocals, that makes us join stoney in being cautious about Abi.

That said, as many in the comments have argued, you could easily see Abi as producers’ attempt to have another go where they messed up (for different reasons, as Curtis notes), with Ella and Janet before her. She had her second arena song shown on Xtra Factor, and it was arguably the better one. Abi was also chosen to close the second week’s auditions, as James Arthur did last year. So is Abi our Plan A? We just worry that producers might be thinking of her as a nice-to-have credibility-booster for the artistic integrity of the show more than, necessarily, as someone they want or expect to go all the way.

What does seem highly significant, in terms of determining Plan A, is the extraordinary extent to which the girls have been frontloaded. Two shows in and we’ve seen all six of the girls in the Digital Spy forum list of acts rumoured by those in the audience at bootcamp to have got through to judges’ houses, only two of the boys, one [edit: or two, see below] over[s], and no groups.

Last week we wrongly thought that Rielle might be the “Riely” referred to in that list. Nope – turns out this week’s Relley was the spelling variant we were looking for. The Brummie housekeeper with the mint humbug hairstyle made a favourable impression in the likeability stakes on Saturday, but the brevity of her screentime and ouchiness of her vocals in the arena hardly looked like the stuff of planned trajectories to superstardom.

In the interests of ethnic balance within the category, there is surely space for only a maximum of two out of Tamera, Hannah and Relley. Indeed, only one if we’re to get Abi plus one of the two serial rejects.

On which subject, since seeing that Digital Spy list, Daniel and I have surmised that the interests of televisual drama demand an edit pitting thrice-rejected Melanie McCabe against twice-spurned Jade Richards in the final pairing to learn their fate on Nicole’s sofa. Which of the bridesmaids is finally to become a bride? Unless producers are pulling the mother of all headfakes, it surely has to be Melanie now, doesn’t it?

The treatment of the two couldn’t have been more different this weekend. Melanie got the pimp slot on Saturday and had Louis shedding tears, then she got a highly sympathetic VT and much pimping in the arena. Jade’s re-introduction felt like producers were distinctly less invested in her (to the eloquent displeasure of eurovicious) – and, as Gavster observes in the comments, Scotland has been nation non grata in Sycoland since the Jai McDowell fiasco. (As noted by Richard Betsfactor, not one of the 45 semi-finalists in this year’s BGT was from north of the border).

Dermot summed up the vibe after Melanie emerged from the room on Saturday: “Something feels different this year”.

The concern about Melanie has always been that she comes across as a bit bland, vanilla, uninteresting. However, these are also attributes one can cast in a positive light: nice, normal, girl-next-door. And she does have a set of pipes on her. There was a welcome lightness of touch in the show’s introduction of her danger-of-reposession sob story, with Louis blubbing on Saturday about “I know how much your family need it” – and Melanie’s VT encouragingly showed that she’s aware of the value of self-deprecation and self-awareness (immediately following “we don’t have a lot of money” with “as a lot of families don’t”).

The show’s producers themselves, with their three rejections, have done much to furnish Melanie with a backstory that she’d otherwise be missing, one referenced in her arena song choice lyrics: “You shoot me down but I won’t fall”. As Andy puts it, “the public will surely warm to her for her perserverance and persistance”.

It was interesting, too, that the same trick was used to introduce Melanie in the arena show as with Tamera the previous week – interspersing backstage VT footage with footage of the act preceding her on stage being rejected. Presumably this is the contrast principle at work: by immediately preceding Tamera and Melanie with brief footage of a weak and rejected act, it serves to accentuate their strength and significance in the viewers’ minds.

So could Melanie be our plan A? There are a couple of nagging worries here, too – it’s been made so ridiculously obvious that Melanie is favoured over Jade, we can’t rule out the possibility that producers are messing with us. And there is a risk that Melanie could end up as our Jade Ellis or Sophie Habibis, the reliable but dispensable girl kept as backup in case of Plan A malfunction.

Tamera as Plan A, then? Saturday’s show opened with a shot of her sitting at home watching her audition air, but we’d have been much more interested in seeing her reaction at the breakfast table opening the next day’s papers. She certainly did her job of keeping the show in the news, with revelations about drugs and violence.

Sofabet commenters have been debating if producers will have known these revelations were in the pipeline when choosing to give her the first weekend’s pimp slot, and whether they portend a headline-grabbing journey in the lives or being dropped like a hot potato at judges’ houses. We retain an open mind on both counts. While still needing vocal polish, Tamera oozes commercial appeal; could producers hold out hopes of getting her across the line despite her bad press? It would be fun to watch them try.

Moving away from the girls, on Saturday’s show we saw one more of the boys rumoured to have made it to judges’ houses  in the shape of Ryan “bin juice” Mathie from ‘Ull. Ryan seemed likeable enough and had a pleasant enough tone to his voice.

He wasn’t shown on the Sunday show, but may pop up next week, as was the case with Luke Friend. Introduced in last week’s room auditions, Luke got only brief screentime in this week’s arena audition show, which hardly portends well – although Ron reports from Ireland that “Louis hinted in an interview with TV3 yesterday (recorded at Judges House) that Luke Friend is his favourite singer in the Boys category”.

White van driver Shelley Smith performed a remarkable feat in actually making a cover of ‘Feeling Good’ sound interesting, and has a very cute daughter, but is not among those rumoured to be at judges’ houses, no doubt because her ecological niche was already occupied by Sam Bailey. [Edit: many thanks to Rob and Ben for pointing out in the comments below reports that Shelley Smith may in fact be the Shelley Lewis who appears in those spoiler lists]. Also rumoured to miss the cut at bootcamp is the entertaining yodeller Barclay, who – like Shelley – would likely be trading significantly shorter than 66/1 otherwise.

Two weeks in, then, and we have three girls vying for market leadership: Tamera, Abi and Melanie. Stu predicted those three as the picks for the lives, and they are certainly the ones who’ve received most producer love in the edits thus far. We’re happy to keep our powder dry at current odds. What are you thinking?

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94 comments to X Factor 2013 Auditions Week 2: The Money’s Down on Abi

  • Rob

    That was the Shelley who makes JH we saw tonight, guys, if the DS spoiler thread is correct: http://forums.digitalspy.co.uk/showthread.php?p=68529507

  • Ben Cook

    Someone on Digital Spy reckons Shelley Smith is the Shelley Lewis in the spoilers list. Lewis is her stage name. Seems likely she will be in the top 12 given the coverage she was given tonight.

    I can’t see Melanie suddenly being Plan A after being rejected so many times. I think she’ll make the top 12 but will be voted out rather quickly because she is as you say, vanilla.

    Increasingly looking like Tamera, Abi and Melanie to go through with no room for Hannah or Relley. Unless there’s a wildcard.

    So strange for them to have shown all the girls and the two probable female overs in the first two weeks. They must really want a female win this year.

  • annie

    Next to Abi I also think Luke will go far. I didnt think much of his audition, his hair was distracting and thought his performance was rather blund, but when looking him up on YT I thought his videos showed personality, not very stereotypical song choices, his face is nice enough, he is young and good enough (and the right sex as well) to make it through to the latter parts of the competition. I might even say he reminds me of a young eggnogg quigg (cant remember the real spelling)

  • I thinks the max TPTB would plan for Melanie is a Jade Ellis/Sophie Habibis role (which would also get rid of her at last from future auditions!). Wouldn’t taking her too seriously after rejecting her 3 times suggest to the public that this series is weak?!

    • annie

      exactly! or a bit like treyc. she was much anticipated by those who knew her from earlier, but even with great pipes she was just sooo …generic. With Melanie I have the feeling she gets even more boring from year to year. I am surprised to see she being picked up, and I also see her and Jade sitting as last two on the couch at judges houses. shame. Between the two Jade is definitely the superstar and melanie pleasent but soo background. But it definitely wouldnt bother me to see either hannah or reily joing abi and tamera (those two look set to me) in the live shows. Tamera doesnt look as black that another dark skinned girl joining her would look as an overload, if you understand what I mean.

    • Hey Panos, they’ve never been shy about using the “you were right to reject me before as I wasn’t ready, I am now” approach. Viz Mel’s reply to Gary’s first question in the room audition (and I think we can safely assume she was fed the line), about why she thought she’s failed before – “I wasn’t fully myself then”.

      I think with Mel, whatever else you think about her, that’s not at all unreasonable. She’s only 19 – people won’t baulk at the idea that someone can mature a lot from 16/17/18 to 19.

      I’m actually more interested to see how they explain rejecting Joe Whelan last year and putting him through this year. The “you weren’t ready before” line won’t wash so easily there.

  • annie

    …speaking of stereotypical song choices … They might be the biggest downfall of Sam Bailey. All her YT clips are very overused talent show songs, which scream lack of creativity…Even if she really does them justice…It will still limit her outstandingness very much. Unless producers step in and steer her towqards fresh song choices. But I dont see them being that interested in her.

  • Nugg

    The one thing Abi fans can be assured of is another standing ovation and pimp slot in the bootcamp show , in which she appears playing a white grand piano. Because of the way the bootcamp show works they cannot tinker with the running order.

  • Nugg

    I am trying to remember but am pretty sure Abi sang last or second last at bootcamp.

  • eurovicious

    Having read this, I am now wondering whether they’re planning a Jade double-bluff. Wishful thinking on my part, perhaps, but certainly possible. The pimping of Melanie is so obvious, and Jade’s excessive drubbing is equally obvious. The judges planted the seeds of a story tonight – Jade’s lack of confidence after having being knocked back so many times. They and the edit established Jade as the underdog and Melanie as the shoe-in. From here, Jade can only go up, and after such hype, how can Melanie continue to live up to it? She can’t – she can only go down. If they do pick her, I can’t see her as anything more than a gamma girl. She has no USP apart from being Irish.

    Jade has much more of a fanbase. If they really weren’t interested in her, they could have stuck her on Xtra Factor like last year or not shown her at all. She has a highly recognisable voice that could sell records (unlike Melanie), she has a journey, and she gives good tears.

    When Melanie auditioned last year, I remember looking at a thread on her on DS and everyone was saying they didn’t think she was that outstanding. The only two acts trending on Twitter long after the show tonight were Jade and Luke Friend.

    The precedent for Melanie being rejected despite incredible pimping is Jade herself. Remember Kelly’s tearful “I had a dream” speech, her gran talking about her own singing career, the 8-minute slot etc – it was huge. She looked like a shoe-in.

    Prediction: Jade has a big comeback at bootcamp/JH (especially the latter) with much reference being made to her having overcome her demons. The show needs drama and twists otherwise it’s boring and we have a lot of weeks to get through. Melanie falters, is rejected again and self-immolates live on ITV2 with commentary by Keith Lemon.

    • annie

      would be great! jade woudl definitely add more to the show than melanie

    • Roach

      Whilst its hard to see how they can not put Melanie though to the lives after the push she’s had this weekend, I don’t think EV’s suggestion here is as daft as it sounds. Last night’s Jade section seemed to end with a ‘watch this space’ and trajectory wise, one can only go up; the other only down.

      Nicole was positive about both – was it Mel she said the “I wasn’t here so I don’t know what happened” line to? – but I sure as hell know a.) who is going to sound better on the end of the pier in Antigua (Mel would be better OFF the end of the pier imo) and b.) who Mary J.Blige’s vote is going to be for. I’ve not heard anyone else mention this factor yet, but it is not relevant? We all remember Tinie Tempah’s “She’s amazing” about Ella… a similar comment from Mary could seal the deal, right? And of course, with Jade’s raspy soul voice, she could even do a Mary track… (ok, stop me now…)

      Regardless, I expect she’ll find the painfully overrated Melanie as bland and average a voice as I do. Agree too with others above that IF Mel makes the lives, she’ll be out mid season. I’m staggered to hear people tipping her to win it.

      • stoney

        It’s worth noting that who ever ‘helps’ out in the judges house stage has no more power than the head judge, basically they will favour who there told to by TPTB

        • TommySauce

          Working on a cynical theory about the “muso-friend” input, and can’t remember, but do they ever appear to be present during the “I’m not taking you through/you’re in my three” moments?

  • Luke

    Is being on Xtra Factor a kiss of death even if you make it through to judges houses? Any examples of Xtra Factor auditions that made it to the live shows?

    • Hi Luke, off the top of my head I can’t think of anyone who went on to play a significant role in the lives having been introduced on Xtra Factor. Maybe others can? Except for solo auditionees who go on to be put into manufactured groups, e.g. Ashford of Nu Vibe and The Risk.

  • TommySauce

    You could be right about the intercutting of backstage VT with ongoing “poor” auditions intended to contrast with those TPTB want to pimp – but my initial reaction was it was just another attempt to try and paper over how pointless the room/arena audition format is. So far Sunday of both weeks has been so dull, we already know who is good from the rooms and other than a little engineered (and blindingly, boringly obvious) drama of forgotten lines or missed cues, where is the excitement? The little snap edits of rejected auditionees seems to be little more than a fig leaf to cover up the fact Sunday is now entirely Pimp Night for the chosen acts. This seems to be confirmed by the fact the judges are changing the rules when it suits them – for some acts it’s apparently right they sing in the arena to check they “engage with the audience” despite great room performances, while others are waved through despite awful arena performances because of their room audition.

  • Stu

    I think Melanie’s return to X Factor has been set up by producers, promising her a slot on the live shows (or at least hinting it to her). Her Sunday night VT was very telling. When the act before her on stage was getting rejected, the dialogue she was exchanging with the woman next to her (her mum?) seemed so forced and scripted. What she was saying didn’t fit with how she was saying it. I’m finding it incredibly difficult trying to visualise Melanie being turned away AGAIN from JHs, even with a lot of airtime beforehand. Surely it would reinforce the notion that The X Factor is becoming stale and repetitive (something the producers wouldn’t want considering last year’s ratings). The “something’s changed this year” line summed the situation up clearly in my opinion – this is Melanie’s year.

    But that’s not to say that I think she’ll win it. “Comeback kids” very rarely manage to shake off the “reject” tag. Only Alexandra Burke comes to mind off the top of my head. Rikki Loney and Rachel Adedeji struggled to pick up support from the producers and the public alike in 2009.

    Re: the Overs, I wouldn’t be surprised if both Sam and Shellie were put through to the live shows. I doubt the producers would want either of them to have huge public support in the voting polls (like Mary in 2010) so maybe putting them both through would split the vote and make them easily desposable. It would also make it easier for Joseph to be the alpha Over, if that is the plan for Sharon’s category.

    I’m struggling to see a Boy win it this year but I can definitely see Sam Callaghan(?) being the “chosen Boy”. Watching his arena audition on Youtube (fan-filmed), he may be presented as a Frankie-type wild character. Vocally, he’s not great so hopefully not another Eoghan situation.

    Interesting that no Groups have been shown yet with real potential. Only Euphoria Girls but haven’t they missed out on JHs? You should all love out for a girl-group called Xyra and BrickCity (featuring Duane Lamonte from 2009) – apparently they could be the category’s front-runners.

  • Stu

    Also about the Xtra Factor question, Ruth Lorenzo’s audition was only shown on Xtra Factor in series 5 and she managed to come 5th! But I think it is safe to say that she was never intended to be anything more than cannon fodder until *that* ‘Purple Rain’ performance.

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Last night I watched Abi’s Wembley Arena performance.
    Found her impressive.
    She modelled the same overstyled, not-a-hair-out-of-place (Lol!) San-Fransisco hippy-fairy look from the audition, but it seemed less schticky, more naturally branchy.

    I think the nerves of upping the ante to performing her own song led her into producing a more vocally fragile and organic performance. Nice to see her smiling and less robotic.

    And instead of covering an American artist, with an American pronunciation subconsciously finding its way into the vocals, her own (uncovered, uninterpreted) song produced her own unaffected vocal; she sounded more English and pleasant for it, to my ears.

    Still not mad on the euphony of her voice, or the depth of her voice, and wouldn’t consider her a stand-out interpreter or narrator of a song, but I can certainly see why some people might consider her a top three lock.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Plus; watched a YouTube clip of her playing the piano (while singing, with that almost-nasal sound of hers) and she seemed more soulful.
      Maybe she actually is genuinely shy and needs to lose herself in that larger instrument/barrier to fully express herself.

      It might be a nice idea if she had one look for the guitar and another trademark outfit for the piano.

    • eurovicious

      Ooh, “euphony”! *looks up and adds to vocab book*

      I do think she’s shy to a certain degree, not in a crippling or pathological way but just in a sort of charming way, like it’s part of her personality. Like Chiara Dubey.

  • AlisonR

    Do we know if JH are picking three or four acts this year? It has varied over the last few years. Will they risk doing what they did last year when they picked three but then a fourth to fight it out over all the categories for a Wildcard slot, because that kind of backfired as the voting public invested heavily in the wildcard, will they risk that again? Abi seems Plan A for me so far, with pimp slot, shots of her doing her day job, time on Xtra Factor as well. Melanie they keep focusing on the “everything’s different this time” so I can’t see her not going through. Relley’s arena audition was appalling but they sent her through and also bothered to film her doing her housekeeping job – why bother if she was going to get knocked out? I favour her over Tamera at the moment, who wasn’t all that, but if there’s a fourth choice or wildcard slot both of these could be in the mix. Jade to miss out again at JH imho. I don’t think she’s as good as she was in 2011. Poor old Amy Mottram didn’t even get a slot last night. I rate her better than Jade but have read the spoilers. As for the others, I like Barclay, he’s fun (although novelty). Shelley and Sam are both good though I prefer Sam. People keep talking about Joe? He never did it for me previously, if I’m thinking of the right chap, if I recall he has a way of twisting his face and the sound which was quite unpleasant. Barely any groups featured so far and none of them have got through? They clearly don’t want a group to win then this year.

  • Stu

    I’m actually wondering if the producers are going to pull a stunt in the Girls category where the favoured girl (most probably Abi) will somehow originally miss out on a place in the live shows, only to be picked as the wildcard in the same twist as last year. The producers saw that it worked wonders for Christopher since he was the “underdog” and he managed to attract HUGE voter support. If he was one of the original three Overs, I doubt he would’ve been anywhere near the top. Maybe the producers are hoping for the same effect this year, but with their “Plan A”. Nicole could use the dire excuse that “she doesn’t know if you are right for the show” on Abi, only to backtrack and choose her as a wildcard. That way, she’ll probably gain FAR MORE support from voters than she would otherwise (I’m sure her very specific style/genre won’t pick up a great deal of voters naturally). The wildcard stunt (more or less a wildcard) was also used for Melanie in the first season of X Factor USA. She was unbelievably sent home at JHs despite clearly being the best/most popular in the Girls category with a huge amount of airtime. She was brought back and went on to win the show. Maybe it’s a little far-fetched but I wouldn’t put it past the producers.

  • This Abi feature cropped up on Yahoo news today. Some interesting and colourful comments already. http://uk.omg.yahoo.com/gossip/the-juice/x-factor-abi-alton-emelie-sande-093738312.html

  • Dan

    Just a thought, but last year there were seven audition shows, Boot Camp weekend, and then Judge’s Houses weekend prior to the live finals. This year, X-Factor kicked off on 31st August and will finish on 15th December. If my maths serves me right, that only gives us four weeks for the auditions, a week for Boot Camp, and a week for Judge’s Houses before the ten live final shows start. Now although we get an episode on Saturday and Sunday, the Sunday arena shows are screening the same talent. Given that the Xtra Factor is mostly arsing about, further pimping of the chosen acts excepted, we’re not going to see anyone who is likely to get far in the competition there. So doesn’t that mean that nearly everyone we’ve seen on the audition shows is a shoe-in for the lives? I don’t see how they are going to fit in many more contestants than that as they simply don’t have the time – is this a reasonable view?

  • Highlighted

    Might be going against the grain but I prefer Mel to Jade personally. Have done since seeing her 2 years ago. I like Jade don’t get me wrong. From a pure betting perspective though I wouldn’t touch Jade as its likely she is cannon fodder at JH.

  • Highlighted

    There was the story for Jade, but I didn’t get it. Think it will be the crush at the last hurdle again, maybe that arena audition was there reason to say they didn’t think she was good enough in the end at JH.

    • Highlighted

      So of the 6 girls rumoured to be at JH. Relley was crap. Jade got stopped halfway. Tamera forgot her lines. Melanie wasn’t ready (that was staged IMO like Tamera). Only Hannah and Abi actually sang properly at the Arena (and Mel I suppose)

  • Boki

    Guys, when the final decision who is going to lives is made?

  • tpfkar

    Just caught up on the weekend now, and I’ve got an idea where this year is going.

    I reckon Plan A is…..

    ……

    ……

    ……

    any girl.

    we’ve assumed that Plan A has to be a person/group because it always has been. But I think something’s changed this year.

    We’ve been saying that we think they want a female winner. They often do better commercially, good ambassadors for the show. BUT – the past 2 years they’ve gone for a Plan A in this direction that hasn’t worked (Janet and Ella.) And the other girls were so obviously inferior to the Plan A that they couldn’t be turned into winners on the hoof. So I think they’ve had a change of heart, and instead of individuals, the aim is to push the whole category as far as possible.

    Give the girls to the alpha judge who got all her acts in the top 5 last year? check. Frontload all 6 in audition shows? Check. Make all 6 look credible so the chosen 3 can show what tough competition they’ve come through? Check. Plenty of females in the overs to widen the base? With 5 of the final 6 overs being female, check and check again. Have the only groups shown so far be all female to show how much better the solo girls are? check.

    For what it’s worth, I think Relley will be in the final 3. Why? Did you spot her surname? ‘C’ The only other act I can think of where the surname became a letter was Misha B who was styled as an urban diva. Looks like Relley is going down the same path urgh. Probably Abi and Melanie as well and I had the same thought about the final slot in the girls category being between Jade and Melanie. (N.B. If they go for the final wildcard option again, I reckon Jade Richards would be hot favourite, and that’s yet another strong girl in the starting line-up.)

    What we’ve yet to see is whether they will deliberately pick average boys to make the girls stand out even more. Luke Friend does make me wonder in this direction, as does giving the category to Louis.

    Might be way off of course, and my one lesson going into this year was not to get carried away with a girls category that looks stronger than it really is, but all the indications I’ve seen so far are that the category as a whole will be pushed.

  • I’m loving Stu’s and tpfkar’s thinking in particular on the wildcard and the idea of having a more even girls category, in comparison to the last two years when Ella and Janet seemed to go into the lives as the undisputed alphas in their category.

    On the wildcard, something that intrigues me is why Christopher’s support was so enduring whereas Amelia Lily’s wasn’t (top of the vote the week of her return, bottom two the very next week). One obvious explanation is that Amelia’s wildcard was midseries, by which time more people were emotionally invested in other acts.

    But I also suspect it had to do with Christopher’s nerves, something from which Amelia didn’t obviously suffer. The wildcard became an opportunity for viewers to give him personal validation, which perhaps caused them to invest more emotionally in his longevity.

    If that’s plausible, and if producers are also thinking that way, who have they set up in the girls to be on a similar trajectory? Jade? Hangdog look, obvious self-confidence issues, stopped in the arena – all in such stark contrast to Melanie “it’s different this time” McCabe. Are we heading for the Melanie/Jade final place edit, followed by a chance for viewers to reinstate Jade through a wildcard vote?

    There’s just that nagging doubt about the extent to which Syco have been excluding Scots recently.

    Alternatively, if we say for the sake of argument that Tamera’s line forgetting was staged, could this have been the thinking? Set up the “I can’t trust you not to forget your lines in the lives” excuse, followed by a wildcard vote? On the face of it, you would think it would be risky to put Tamera as the wildcard following all her bad press, but maybe they could use it as a kind of redemption – Tamera begs for forgiveness, Nicole is all “I can forgive you but I’m just not sure the public will… I’ll put you as a wildcard and let them decide”.

    Tpfkar, on your point about will they try to choose more average boys, the last time I wondered if they were deliberately trying to choose weaker under-24 male soloists was 2010 (Aiden, Paije, Nicolo), presumably to avoid creating direct competition for One Direction. But the upshot was arguably instead to help clear the field for a slightly older male, Matt Cardle (I know he was in the boys category, but in any other year would have been an over).

    What I’m wondering is, if they do weaken the boys, are they risking (/intending?) the same effect with Joe Whelan? Of course we’re yet to see how they’ll package him this year but I could imagine him potentially having a Cardle-esque capacity to appeal to a wide age range of the female demographic (as well as eurovicious), especially if we get some cougar flirting with Mrs O. Thoughts, anyone?

    • eurovicious

      Exactly – Chris was much more the classic Syco full underdog package/Subo template, whereas Amelia was a confident stage-school type (in the good way rather than the bad way). I reacted very emotionally to Chris’s initial audition. And I’d strongly argue the weekly drubbing/bullying of him actively propped up his support.

      Whelan could easily Cardle it and they must surely be aware of this. They must also be aware he developed a v large fanbase on Facebook etc. after being rejected last year. I just checked, the “Get Joseph Whelan back onto X Factor” page has 144,000 likes, most of which it will have acquired at the time.

      Not that I’d kick him out of bed (chance would be a fine thing, I can barely pull a cracker) but I don’t hugely fancy him, as ever I’m just in it for the smut… 😉

  • Stu

    Good point Andrew about the Joe/Matt theory IF the boys are a lot weaker this year. And to answer your question about which boys are through to the lives, I’ve heard it is Sam Callaghan, Luke Friend and Nicholas (forgotten last name). Neither of them have the full package. Sam will probably be the top boy while I can’t see Luke being pimped at all. Nicholas, going from a Youtube video, isn’t that great either nor is he very commercial. tpfkar could actually have a very valid point about the girls/boys categories. I still think Abi is the plan A but I don’t think the producers want to make her treatment clear. I can see Any Girl as being their plan A though. Anything to stop a guy winning. If the Girls category is pimped as a whole, I’ll have serious deja vu of 2008. The Alexandr/Laura/Diana combo has to be one of the most successful/popular categories ever in the history of XF. I remember when they were the top 3 with the bookies.

  • Right guys, sorry havent read alot of above so if anyone can give me reason Against Abi, im intererseted to here. She is my main pick at this very early stage. Im not financially invested too much, but right now… here goes..

    1) Previous two years Janet Devlin and Ella Henderson where early favs and I think most would agree plan A in both years. This would suggest that the producers aimed for a Girl to win originally, so this year for me its find that Girl.

    2) She already has a small following on twitter and youtube. Aswell as performing “gigs” or “open-mics” since she was 14. Experience cant have done her any harm.

    3) Writes her own songs already and has some that can be found on youtube. One of which is this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoHT3Qk9bvY&feature=share&list=UUFlTjUQVcjQHOuNFq07X7_Q

    4) From the information I can find she is confirmed as being able to play the Guitar and a Piano. (Not sure if any more) but thats a positive

    5) Can do modern and old songs

    6) Winner in all these shows normally comes from week 1 or 2. She was shown in Week 2, thats that box ticked

    7) Now this is debatable so forgive me if i’m wrong. The rumors are that she is the last girl to be given a place in the judges houses, now because of this and the new format she is going to be on Last of all girls at bootcamp. Which means she will given the pimp slot for the girls, and perhaps that show. According to rumors she performs on stage with a large white piano, certainlty memorable, and I remind that she wore all White on her audition with a white flower head-necklace (forgive me if i dont know the correct name of the item) White is a positive, i would suggest its associated with joy? for all those color theories fans.

    Finally my only concern is that she doesnt have a sob story that will keep viewers entertained til Xmas. Providing she is edited correctly and not peaking too early I cant see that being a major problem. Assuming that best is yet to come from her (bootcamp), then she wont get boring too easily.

    She is 7-1 at time of writing. If anyone suggests she may be a bigger price at some stage, perhaps so, but lets not forget the prices Janet Devlin went off on the live shows, under 7-2 and Ella Henders under 13/8

    Anyone any views, or can make a case similar to above to anyone we have seen so far?

    • R

      Fully agree that Abi is the current Plan A, although this could change during the lives.
      However, I am surprised that they’ve already had her sing an original song and she will be playing piano at bootcamp.
      Although, these options do show her to be multi-talented, I personally would have held these back until the lives.
      Suddenly pulling out a great piano performance would have been a great vote booster for her.

      I don’t think the lack of a sob story will be an issue. If TPTB over-use the sob stories of other acts, it could be advantageous to be the act who isn’t using emotions to get votes.

      If Melanie, Abi and Tamera reach the lives, I would expect Melanie to be Sophie Habibisised, and Tamera could easily become the new Misha B with all the bullying issues hanging over her.

      Also, female singers of the ilk of Ellie Goulding, who has just had a number 1 album and single, are very popular at the moment.

      • eurovicious

        Re: the postulated habibification of Melanie, this is what’s bugging me – almost everyone here including me can’t envision her as anything more than a gamma girl. But do you really give your gamma girl the pimp slot in audition show 2? I know Abi had the pimp slot on the Sunday but still.

        Misha B has more talent in her massive fingernail than Tamera has in her whole body…

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          Figuring who fresh-faced Melanie reminded me of was flummoxing me…until I remembered Lucie Jones.

        • I suggested on Twitter or Facebook that the X-Factor owes nothing to Melanie, and that progression to the live shows completes her journey.

          The judge’s comments were not exaggerated in presenting Melanie as a potential winner. OK, Louis got caught up in the emotion, but the narrative didn’t stray away from the ‘this girl is ready for the live shows’ rhetoric.

          So in progressing from judge’s houses, the show will have effectively fulfilled its obligation to the viewing public and Melanie.

      • AlisonR

        R – Playing the piano suddenly in the lives didn’t do anything for Laura White a few years back, and she was one of the favorites that year, and did a shock exit that week

        • Indeed – everyone who has ever played piano on an X Factor live show has been bottom 2 that week. Kitty Brucknell was another. God knows why though? Coincidence? Maybe it takes the connection away from the audience by being a physical barrier? There are certain songs as well that never fail to get acts in the bottom 2.

    • Nugg

      Hi Scouser, I think I am the only one here who attended both the auditions and the bootcamp for Abi Alton. She was my first choice from the second I saw her, also it was very clear after talking to her dad and standing around while her VT’s were shot that she was going places, this was before I even heard her sing. I can confirm that she was (as memory serves) given the pimp slot and final place in JH.also she performed with a piano to huge applause and standing ovation in the bootcamp show, this will be the climax of the bootcamp girls show when it is shown. I did try to tell people here before the show to get on, indeed I messaged Daniel back in June to say the show had plans for her, I personally cannot get on with PP so missed the 20/1 available for a short while, have got some 12/1 though. Its a long way yet and I will be looking to trade for my stake back and a free bet if she hits around 3/1.

    • I noticed the ‘everything about Abi is white’ too and I’m sure it’s not a coincidence and u r not going overboard.

  • Stu

    *Possible Spoiler*

    I’ve read that according to twitter, BrickCity and
    Kinglsand (both are authentic groups rather than bootcamp reject soloists) are both through to the live shows. I’ve heard from people who went to see the bootcamp performances that Kingsland were heavily booed when they were given a place at JHs. I think they may have been booed at the auditions too. If this is true, I wonder why Gary has put through such a clearly unlikeable band. Maybe a redemption story? Surely that’ll be Tamera’s if anyone’s. Maybe the producers will edit the boos out and pretend they are popular? Maybe they are being lined up as the “characters” of the series? Who knows. It’ll be interesting to see if BrickCity get a lot of coverage in the auditions. Surely one group has to be shown this week at least?

  • Stu

    JScouser, possibly. Looking at the JH Final 24 spoiler, there seems to be no obvious novelty act this year (maybe because of the new bootcamp format where judges can’t hide their decisions from audience). Kingsland could feel that role.

    Panos, Gary had Frankie last year. Says enough!

    I’ve also read that the third group through to live shows is StopLookListen which is made up of three rejected black female soloists from bootcamp. Maybe the British Destiny’s Child is what the producers are pushing for? Rielle (from the first audition show) is in the group.

    • Hi Stu, Just listened to a few of Kingslands youtube stuff… nothing their for me thats a novelty act, they seem quite good.

      Depending on how Tamera is edited, could see her be this years novelty/villian Katie Wesal/Misha B style.

  • Highlighted

    Before someone said the aim was a girl, any girl to win. Probably true. However, another angle to look at this;

    The bits were decided two weekends ago, no going back from who they have chosen, and track record suggests they normally do ok at this category. Get someone decent looking or with goid character and with a decent voice and that’s half the battle. The rest depends on their journey.

    With the girls it’s more difficult. They need to connect more with the public. All 6 in the JH, which is this weekend I believe, we’re already shown, and to some length. Some more than others, but all had a fair length on at least 1 of the days.

    So I think they have put them all out there to get the public reaction on them. See what the new they get on them. No doubts for me Mel, Abi and Tamera are the chosen 3, but maybe they wanted to see things like negative publicity.

    Jade getting loads of twitter mentions is the kind of thing that will put TPTB off. Could show that she may run away with the show because off her Scottish roots, but then it could show a good thing for ratings and publicity.

    Lets see.

  • I’m expecting great coverage of Nicolas tonight, having being told to come back next year during yesterday’s show by Gary.

    The spoilers indicate that Nicholas is through to the live shows and if you read some of the spoiler comments, he’s held in very high regard.

    In my opinion, Nicholas fill the Joe McElderry role; shy, unassuming and likeable to the large mum and granny demographic. What’s more, he’s Scottish, so will command a strong voting bias.

    One to watch!

  • Highlighted

    Yep if Nic is in it he could well take the Scottish vote and his current price and rather tasty. Think it will be less after tonight, but he won’t go into this as alpha boy IMO

    • I reckon Nicholas’ price will lengthen further next week. Sam’s audition is still to come and he’ll be given the alpha-boy treatment by the judges. I believe Nicholas is the alpha-boy and Sam will be cast as a villainous Danyl Johnson character.

      • But the fact that Sam hasn’t been featured until at least week 4 of the auditions doesn’t bode well for him. Louis has apparently said that Luke Friend is his favourite of the boys, for what it’s worth.

        • Think the Boy category this year will be the worst, dont expect Louis to win. Dont like the little airtime Luke got for Arena. Dont like Nicholas’ in general, and yes tim agree with you. Not good that he hasnt been featured until week 4 for his winning chances.

  • Highlighted

    Always dangerous because 1 boy gets some support in the end

  • stoney

    especially if hes good looking, the power of the teenie vote has been ever present the last few years, and we are also well aware of girls reluctance to vote for girls

  • Mark

    What an awful start to tonights show…

  • stoney

    im amazed there letting rough copy go again this year, theres a clear gap in the market been left by jls and these guys could fill it

  • stoney

    Also at this stage i would feel more inclined to back nicholas to win than abi alton

  • stoney

    i cant believe they will risk putting him into the lives cos he would beat any of the girls with the scottish/granny/teen vote

  • Tim B

    Sam Callaghan reminded me of Olly Murs at the arena auditions – very confident, good looking, but with only adequeate vocals.

  • stoney

    Nearly just backed nicholas at 7’s but ill wait til next weeks episode to see if this sam can change my thinking. Everyone seems to be sure that TBTB are intent on getting a girl as a plan A, but im not sure they can pull it off, the demographic has clearly shifted since leona and alex burke won the show, and none of the girls are making me want to risk my money on them.

    • Mark

      Little mix won it the year before last? Nicholas had a good voice but there is nothing that really makes him stands out. Don’t really see him or anyone else from the program tonight making it far. Was a very average show tonight in my opinion.

      • stoney

        Yes littlemix won it, i was at the final the night they won, and the amount of screaming little kids there cheering them on made it obvious to me that they would end up winning, similar to james arthur at last years final. Most people myself included believe that TPTB didnt plan on little mix winning the show until around midway into the lives though

        • stoney

          I just dont see one of them 3 girls getting the teenie vote which is the key factor in winning this competition

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Hi Mark,

            You may be right about Nicholas having a good voice but being nothing special – but then you could have said the same and more about Leon Jackson!

            One of my favourite X-Factor performances came from that year (2007). Rhydian Roberts singing ‘You Raise Me Up’.
            Youtube: X Factor 4, ep 14, Rhydian (itv.com/xfactor)

            I must have replayed that clip a hundred times or more, so I could (try! lol) to produce a slavish copy of his performance.

            There’s a bit (2:08 – 2:10) at left of the screen where you can see from Sharon O’s and Danni’s different reactions (fighting back the emotion; and gleeful pride; respectively) that they both realise that he’s probably set to win the entire series.

            Imo, he didn’t because people still remembered his first audition.
            Youtube: Rhydian’s First Audition
            As much as I loved his Raising Up, I never (quite) forgave him for that first impression.

            Come the final 3 or 4 in the compo, I remember Leon being in the the 5/1 – 11/2 range to win. I had a small bet on him because I thought hot favourite Rhydian was beatable. Leon was popularly supposed to have won at the time because in the final some of Kylie’s star power and sex appeal rubbed off on him, a la Ginger Roger’s style.

            Leon was very boring, a bit slimmer than Nicholas, a bit better looking, and equally Thumbelina-looking sized.

            It could happen.

            I wish I’d had a bet on Nicholas at the fancier prices because he did remind of Leon – but I didn’t, and haven’t backed him, yet.
            I figured that if I could remember the similarity to Leon, then as sure as eggs is eggs the X Factor producers would be remembering.
            I was thinking they might want a more special winner to mark their 10th anniversary? Maybe?

            N.B. Back in Leon’s year, there was something smoking hot about that girl from Same Difference!

          • Guildo Horn Forever

            Christ! Just rewatched the Kylie and Leon duet. Not only was he ‘very boring’ (dull, one-note face), but he was out of tune and flat for the first third!
            And they looked like a pair of kids playing.

            Much more interesting to check out that fox of a pianist!

  • Boki

    Didn’t watch tonight right from the start, what happened to Giles Potter?

  • annie

    what happened to this weeks article?

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