Here we go again: our speculative attempt at second-guessing the public and producers for the X Factor live shows. The fortunes of the acts are liable to turn in directions we could never have predicted. So at this stage, a full finishing order prediction represents a fun exercise in pretending to have a crystal ball.
Read it and feel free to fully disagree. As long as you provide your own in the comments, of course (as Andy, Ben Cook, Dan, stoney, AlisonR and Highlighted already did in the comments to the last post). There are bragging rights up for grabs after all.
12th place: Miss Dynamix
After the new girlgroup made it into the live shows, lead singer SeSe told show bosses she was pregnant. She’s now nearly six months gone. That’s further down the road than Charley from 2 Shoes, who made the same revelation after getting to the live shows two years ago, only to see her group unceremoniously dumped in the 2011 week 1 twist. She had her baby a week after the final.
At a logistical level, it’s clearly something the show’s bosses would rather avoid. And if they’re going to throw them under a bus, why not do it straight away, before the frankenband have had any chance to build up a following? It’s a chance worth taking at their current best odds of 10-1 in first elimination market, still available with several firms.
11th place: Lorna Simpson
Lorna is favourite in that first elimination market, and rightly so. A lack of screentime before bootcamp marks her down as the gamma Over. She’s the epitome of the big-voiced black girl who never lasts more than a couple of weeks. Couple that with some damaging press earlier this week, and only a demolition job on Miss Dynamix may save her from going home this coming weekend.
10th place: Luke Friend
Luke was the first auditionee we saw this season. That was a promising start but it’s been downhill ever since. His arena audition was held over until the following week, he failed to impress at bootcamp and got a gamma Boy edit at Judges’ Houses. Considering the preferential treatment given to the Girls category, that puts Luke in line for being the first young soloist out.
9th place: Abi Alton
Abi is single figures in the win market with most bookmakers, so I guess this counts as our shock early exit. Abi was shown plenty of producer love at the audition stage, but it wasn’t followed up at bootcamp nor Judges’ Houses, where her edit was particularly cursory. She thus goes into the shows with far less momentum than that other guitar-playing singer/songwriter Lucy Spraggan, who ultimately struggled to pull in votes last year.
8th place: Kingsland Road
Dug has a soft spot for the band he describes at the “acid-trip hipster quintet of doom”. They’re certainly fun, but I fear that the combination of slightly dodgy vocals, cheesy dance moves and looks that may just be a little old for the tween market will limit how far they go in the competition. At any rate, they should stick around long enough to justify a place on the tour.
7th place: Shelley Smith
Shelley is allotted the Katie Waissel / Kitty Brucknell memorial position of seventh based on the hypothesis that she will be this year’s figure of fun. As with those characters, it may involve a “controversial” singoff save along the way. It’s hard to imagine a series of X Factor without it, right?
6th place: Sam Callahan
Sam is this year’s Lloyd Daniels, a young lad whose looks rather than vocal capabilities will propel him towards the later stages of the competition. To be fair to Sam, he’s a confident performer with more Twitter followers than any other contestant at the time of going to press.
Quite how producers will handle his “confidence” will be intriguing. Do they put a positive or negative spin on it? Either way, the reasoning behind placing him sixth is that he’s interesting enough to make it this far until the public and bosses feel that better vocalists deserve a shot at the final.
5th place: Rough Copy
The decent edit that Rough Copy received at Judges’ Houses, and the willingness of producers to have them enter the live shows despite two years of legal wranglings over Kazeem’s visa, indicate that they might well be the alpha Group. They bring personality and half-decent vocals to the live shows.
Quite how Middle England takes to them is open to question. As with Tamera, it’s probably for the best that damaging stories, in this case about Kazeem’s criminal record, come out sooner rather than later. But it can go one of two ways: it can be a journey of redemption or the bad press can keep coming.
4th place: Tamera Foster
We have the ante-post favourite just missing out on the final. Producers likely see Tamera as their most marketable act in this year’s line-up. They’ve certainly given her the most chances during the audition stage: a specious storyline starting off in a duo, a super-long edit after appearing to forget her words in her arena audition, and then a chance to seek redemption for the bullying stories that followed her audition – without overtly referencing them – in a chat with Nicole at Judges’ Houses.
This indicates something in itself. Producers are already aware that Tamera is not an easy sell. She looks the part but whilst her vocals are not brilliant, it’s her inability to “connect” that may hold her back most, especially when it comes down to the public vote alone, as it usually does at the semi-final stage. Hence placing Tamera in the finishing position of other divisive girls such as Cher Lloyd and Diana Vickers.
3rd place: Sam Bailey
We have Sam Bailey breaking the glass ceiling for female Overs, previously hit by Mary Byrne and Niki Evans, and making the final. Why? She’s a more interesting vocalist who has been given much greater billing at the audition stage. She’s a feelgood contestant with a feelgood returning judge. This all should have her at or near the head of affairs in the early weeks, where she will presumably be pushed as the alpha Over.
In the later stages, she may become more vulnerable to the storyline that did for the likes of Tesco Mary. The one that “you’ve already done enough to change your life”. She doesn’t have the commercial edge of some, and her demographic may not be broad-based enough to win the competition outright. But she represents much of what this show tries to promote as its positive side, and we think that can get her to the final.
2nd place: Nicholas McDonald
We do not underestimate Wee Nic at all. Not with his nice voice, his regional advantage, his obvious role as the alpha Boy and his wide demographic appeal. All that seems to add up to a place in the final, and producers must be aware of it too. As with Sam B, he seems likely to be at or near the top of the phone vote in the early weeks, especially as Scotland will surely relish the chance to vote for their own again in a Simon Cowell-produced TV show.
That can take him very far indeed, maybe even help him win the contest. Our reason for not choosing him to do so right now is the feeling that producers will do their best to help someone else over the line when it matters most, someone more credible, commerical and modern – in the Girls’ category they have pushed hardest of all throughout the audition process.
1st place: Hannah Barrett
Hannah offers that blend of credible, commercial, modern….and female. She combines the authenticity of James Arthur with the powerful backstory of Jahmene Douglas. She’s been the standout performer at both bootcamp and Judges’ Houses. Her strong voice, genuine passion for music and compelling personal story should make her standout to neutrals once more come the later stages.
There are some things to overcome: her voice and looks are not necessarily the stuff of conventional X Factor winners. But we think that will be spun to her advantage. She’s the one the show could be most proud of taking the prize; producers seemed to have realised this over the last few weeks. You can expect to see that reflected in judges comments throughout the live shows (“you can represent our country around the world” etc).
That can take her all the way. And while the fancier prices available after Judges’ Houses have disappeared, at a general 11/2 in the win market – twice the price of Tamera, and marginally longer than Wee Nic – she’s still the one that appeals most at current odds.
What do you think? Which of the placings do you most disagree with, or does our list seem reasonably realistic? Do let us know below, and if you haven’t done so already, join the fun by giving us your own finishing order.