Abi’s Journey: A Case Study in X Factor Manipulation

Our last article set out to help new readers understand the Sofabet perspective on the X Factor. It explained why the show’s producers want certain acts to do well, and observed that producers employ various tactics to motivate votes for those acts and demotivate votes for others.

Today’s article is an in-depth case study on the treatment of recent eliminee Abi Alton. We hope it will be an accessible introduction for newbies to the kind of tactics used to manipulate viewers’ perceptions of acts. For more seasoned observers, too, I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I believe that rewatching an act’s entire journey with the benefit of hindsight, as I did to write this piece, is always a worthwhile learning exercise. It sharpens our ability to read future clues.

Abi is a good case study because she seemed to be shown so much favour at the audition stage, the betting markets had her vying for favouritism. But by the time the live shows began, there were telltale clues that she was being treated much less favourably. As I’ll explain, this led me to risk £12,000 that Abi wouldn’t win the competition.

Room audition: “I’m not sure you’re right for the show”

Abi-room

Here’s a belief some may find controversial: I think producers sometimes start to style contestants, with their consent, even before their first audition is filmed. (Rebecca Ferguson and Ella Henderson are other examples that spring to mind). On the numerous YouTube clips of Abi’s pre-X Factor gigs, there’s a lack of flowers. Yet throughout her X Factor journey, from the room audition onwards, flowers are a consistent visual motif for Abi.

Flowers are beautiful but fragile. Associating them with Abi suggests that she is, too. Nicole even calls her a “delicate flower” in the third live show. As we shall see, right from the start, the show associates certain concepts with Abi: nervous, brave, different, unique, talented musician. It suggests to us that producers had put a good deal of thought into how they’d portray Abi even before her room audition.

(We don’t know if Abi was invited to audition or walked in off the street, although it would be surprising if she hadn’t been on producers’ radar given that she had reportedly gigged with former contestants James Arthur and Jake Quickenden).

We meet Abi and her “unpaid roadie”, her dad, and hear about her checkout job at Morrisons, and her nerves. With guitar in hand and flowers in hair, she has a bohemian, unthreatening aura. The judges reinforce this: Sharon immediately calls her “sweet”, encouraging viewers to feel the same way.

As Abi launches into ‘Travelling Soldier’ by The Dixie Chicks, we see a cutaway shot to Nicole’s attention being quickly won. Cutaway shots of judges’ reactions are an important way of suggesting to viewers how they should be reacting to the audition.

Because first impressions count, we suspect producers make sure the judges are primed on how to react – and what to say. Gary and Sharon both call her “unique”, with Sharon adding “you have a great sense of who you are”. Gary, Louis and Nicole all express worries about whether she can “project” in the arena or on a Saturday night.

At the time, we interpreted this as straightforward set up for the following night’s arena audition show: the expressing of these doubts about Abi’s ability to perform in an arena seemed intended to create tension, with the payoff of a feelgood moment as she succeeds.

In retrospect, though, perhaps the doubts were intended to prime viewers not only for the arena audition but also for the longer term – especially when Louis says “I’m not sure you’re right for the show”.

Arena audition: “A really magical moment”

Abi-arena

Sure enough, Abi duly got the pimp slot (the last to perform) in the next night’s arena audition show. The VT reminded us of her nerves and Louis’s doubts.

And if there’s a lot of repetition in these messages, that’s intentional on the part of producers. You don’t persuade your audience by telling them just once.

Abi explains that she’s had her heart broken and is going to sing a song she wrote about it: “I’m not very good at explaining my emotions, so songwriting is my way of doing that.” She again has flowers in her hair, this time white with matching singlet, shorts and shoe. White, the colour of innocence and purity, has also frequently been associated with Abi throughout her time on the show.

In the arena auditions and at bootcamp, the show uses cutaway reaction shots to audience members as well as to judges to suggest to viewers how they should be reacting. The audience reaction shots here are all sympathetic, willing Abi to do well.

Abi gets a standing ovation, and starts to cry. Gary explains: “There was a really magical moment … when everybody started to stand and your dream had come to life, what an incredible audition that was.” It all seems to be very positive, and at this point the betting markets had Abi vying for favouritism to win the show.

Bootcamp: “Different”

Abi-bootcamp

The positivity in Abi’s edits continues during her performance of ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’. There are numerous reaction shots of people looking enchanted. We see both an audience member, and Melanie McCabe waiting backstage, exclaim that she’s really good. Abi is dressed in white again, apart from a black hat with a ring of flowers on its brim.

However, with hindsight there is less positivity to the edit of the panel’s comments. There are already six girls sitting on the chairs for Nicole’s judges’ houses positions, one of whose places Abi will have to take. Louis calls the six girls currently on the chairs “amazing”, while his only epithet for Abi is “different”. We don’t hear anything from Sharon, while Gary wheels out another Abi buzzword, “brave” (he also says “gorgeous”).

Interestingly, Nicole doesn’t compliment Abi at all. She merely says she wouldn’t have chosen the song, “but I’ve listened to what the other judges have to say”. As she agonises about which of the six girls she should replace, she consults Gary, who repeats the word “different”.

The sense is that Abi earns her place not through her superiority, but because she offers variety.

Judges’ Houses: “One-trick pony”

Abi-judges-houses

By judges’ houses, there are mounting signs that Abi is now being portrayed unhelpfully. The edit interrupts Abi’s performance of Yazoo’s ‘Only You’ to go back to a VT of her talking to camera. This prevents viewers from getting into her performance; favoured acts tend to get their songs shown without interruption, as Hannah and Tamera did.

Even worse is what Abi is shown saying: “There’s a part of me that thinks I’m not good enough”. Later, as Abi waits to be summoned to Nicole’s sofa for the news, she is shown saying the same thing again: “My confidence has been knocked with people telling me I’m not good enough, playing all those gigs where people don’t listen”.

This is the “don’t think of an elephant” effect. What do you think of when someone says “don’t think of an elephant”? You think of an elephant. Ostensibly, we are being shown Abi’s self-doubt so that we can feel good about her vindication. But what’s also going on is that the show is planting the thought in viewers’ minds: She’s not good enough. Not good enough. Showing us Abi saying this once may be accidental – but twice?

After her performance, Nicole worries to celebrity helper Mary J Blige that Abi is a “one trick pony” – again, planting that thought in viewers’ minds. Mary responds, “It’s a great trick. But will it continue to work? I don’t know.”

This seemed a pretty damning way to send Abi into the live shows, with their themed weeks. As her edit at judges’ houses suggested to us that Abi went into the lives as the “gamma girl” – the least favoured by producers in the category – we slated her for a “shock” early exit in our speculative pre-live shows prediction article.

Live Show 1: “Bum notes”

Abi-live-show-one

The revelation of song choices the day before the first live show seemed to confirm that producers didn’t envisage Abi having a long run in the competition. She got Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’. A slowed-down arrangment of this iconic rock tune had been used for 2011 gamma girl Sophie Habibis in the week before she was eliminated. Producers will have known that this song had done Sophie few favours.

In contrast, 2012’s singer/songwriter female with guitar, Lucy Spraggan, had been given the chance to perform her own composition in the first live show.

On a superficial level, Abi wasn’t treated badly in the first live show. Her VT focused on her down-to-earth qualities – she called herself a “geek” and was shown being endearingly self-conscious in a photoshoot. Her staging reinforced the consistent visual motifs: flowers in her hair and on her dress, and a white piano.

We believe that what judges say in their comments after live shows is largely scripted – though not infallibly, as we shall see. This time, the comments focused on Abi’s musical talent and sense of self-identity. Louis said: “You’re a great musician”. Sharon called her “multi-talented”, Gary a “multi-instrumentalist”. Nicole said: “You’re the only one who made a song your own style… you stay true to yourself.” Louis even ventured the thought, albeit half-heartedly, that it could be a “hit record”.

So why did none of this budge my opinion of Abi being producers’ gamma girl? I believe that the first live show is the most forgiving to the contestants. There’s a sense of giving most acts a fair crack of the whip, so the producers can see who has traction with the voting public, in case that presents a surprise that changes their plans.

But there was another “don’t think of an elephant” telltale clue: Abi’s VT was edited to end with her telling viewers “I just hope that I don’t hit any bum notes.” By planting this thought in viewers’ minds just before she performed, producers were priming viewers to listen out for bum notes.

Again, cutaway shots to the judges’ reactions are important in the live shows. Here we saw Sharon looking down, uninterested. We assume that when producers show us judges looking down, or bored (a look perfected by Tulisa against acts not in her own category), they want to suggest to the viewing public that they should be reacting in the same way.

And if you’re reading this and thinking that I’m over-analysing, it may well be that sometimes on Sofabet we see meaning where there is none, but all I can say is that sooner or later the conclusions we draw from this kind of analysis inevitably bump up against reality. Hoping I’d read the clues correctly, between live shows 1 and 2 I set about “laying” Abi – that is, betting she would not win the competition. If I’d been wrong, I stood to lose £12,000.

Live Show 2: “Sexy feet”

Abi-live-show-two

The pre-show revelation that Abi would be singing Kylie’s dance classic ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ was further damning evidence that producers had no interest in her. As with her first choice, the lyrics and song offered no connection to her as an artist. There was no sense of playing to her strengths.

As a result, we tipped her at speculative odds of 16-1 to be eliminated that weekend. And, in the show, there were plenty of signs that the knives were out.

Her VT referenced her nerves, and had her saying she wanted to show everyone she could “actually sing not just go on the stage and survive”. That’s another “don’t think of an elephant” moment – planting the thought that survival is the best she can hope for.

In stark contrast to the obvious ease between Nicole and Hannah in the latter’s VT, Abi’s VT portrayed her as uncomfortable in her “superstar” mentor’s company. Nicole took Abi to “bond and bowl”, but the end of the VT still had Abi talking in the aspirational future tense about their relationship and her comfort levels on stage: “The more I get to know her, the more I’m going to feel at ease when I go out there” (as opposed to “now I’ve got to know her, I feel at ease”).

The staging was terrible: raindrops on the big screen, and dancers with pink umbrellas. It confused us at the time, as we suspected there must be some message in it but we couldn’t figure out what it was. In hindsight, here’s a speculative theory – did producers intend those raindrops to resemble tears, the subliminal suggestion being that Abi cries a lot? Her week 1 VT had included a slightly barbed line from Nicole about “waterproof mascara”.

During her performance, in which she was clearly not comfortable with the routine, cutaway shots showed stony-faced judges. We suspect it wasn’t coincidental that the choreography of the closing image had all the dancers looking anywhere but towards Abi, as though embarrassed.

A rule of thumb here on Sofabet is that strongly positive comments from the judges motivate people to vote, and unfairly harsh criticism motivates people to vote out of sympathy, but lukewarm praise doesn’t motivate votes. One variant of lukewarm praise is being nice about something tangential, which suggests that you couldn’t think of anything nice to say about the actual performance.

So we had Gary saying he loved “what the dancers were doing”, Nicole praising Abi for “not hiding behind your instruments” and looking “hot”, and Sharon referencing her “sexy feet”. Both Sharon and Gary also hit the “brave” buzzword again.

An exception to the rule about positive comments motivating votes is when the praise is obviously absurd, as with Nicole oozing insincerity as she claimed: “I much preferred your version to the original.” (Another example is the performance which landed Kye Sones in the bottom two in week 3 last year, when Nicole and Tulisa compared him to Chris Martin. Surely, in both cases, most viewers will have reacted with “Really?! I don’t think so!”)

Dermot can always be relied upon to reinforce what the judges are doing, and he too praises something other than the singing with the parting comment about her performance: “Nice to see you walking.” So, in summary: Abi was brave, has sexy feet, and walked.

Live show 3: “Put the kettle on”

Abi-live-show-three

‘Moon River’ as a song choice didn’t seem so bad for Abi. Dated yes, but whimsical, romantic and iconic. Her VT reinforced the idea of her returning to her comfort zone. She had flowers on her dress again. The staging seemed helpful at the time – though watching it back, I noticed the guitarist had a much brighter spotlight on him than Abi did on her, perhaps intended to give the subliminal impression that he was the bigger attraction.

Judges’ comments were facinating this week. Were they intended to be so mean and make her cry, which is always a good way of motivating viewers to support an act? Watching them back suggests they weren’t.

Louis, arguably the most on-message of all the judges, set the tone with textbook faint praise: “You came back fighting, you put yourself in the race, we saw the real Abi. I love your voice.” Sharon started similarly, saying that Abi sang beautifully and using that word “brave” again. We reckon that what she said next was improvised. Unwisely.

Our guess is that Sharon had been asked to suggest that Abi needs to show more charisma next week. Unfortunately, she chose to lead up to this point by saying that Abi’s performances are currently so dull, people at home will be going to put the kettle on and make a cup of tea instead of listen to them. It was a cruel thing to say, and not surprising that poor Abi started to well up.

It also made Gary’s comments feel much harsher than they actually were, if you look at them in isolation – that he used to love her, but that she’s losing him. This is when the tears start. We suspect they might not have done if Sharon hadn’t overstepped the mark.

As further evidence that the panel hadn’t intended to make Abi cry, they seemed to panic at this turn of events. Dermot went back to Sharon so the latter could reassure her that she does have charisma. Sharon sounded genuinely annoyed when she said, “don’t cry, don’t do that”.

Nicole did her best to rescue the situation: “Mrs O is only trying to help you, she sees it in you like I see it in you and we all see it”. Dermot then tried to suggest to viewers that the tears were unwarranted: “I hate to see you upset. Why are you upset? Because no-one’s questioning how good your voice is.”

Every year, after the final, producers publish the vote percentages for the series. It’s a keenly-anticipated moment on Sofabet. One of the things we’re looking forward to finding out this year is how much of a vote spike Abi’s tears gave her.

Live show 4: “I will survive”

Abi-live-show-four

At any rate, producers changed tack in week 4. They seemed to realise that in order to bring closure to Abi’s narrative line, they now had to offer her redemption.

So Abi got to choose the song – ‘I Will Survive’, a disco classic which at least references heartbreak and so is more suitable for a slowed down “Abi-fication” than either of the completely unsuitable choices with which she’d been lumbered in the first two weeks. She did her own arrangement. And it was a triumph. In her VT, she said that the judges’ reaction from the previous week “broke my heart”; as she completed her song, the image on the giant screen behind her showed a heart being mended.

Even in her moment of vindication, however, producers were careful to keep a lid on any positive momentum that could have been generated. The judges’ praise focused on all the familiar themes – Sharon used the word “brave” four times, and we were told repeatedly that Abi knows who she is as an artist.

What’s significant is what they didn’t say. They didn’t call her a “world class talent”, or a “recording artist”, or a “star”. Had producers been thinking of Abi as an act they wanted in the final, or who they thought could sell records, this was a performance they would have put in the pimp slot and praised to the heavens. They didn’t.

Which suggested to me that, having fulfilled the obligation of mending her heart, they would now be looking to kill her off next week.

Live Show 5: “I’m gonna roll myself up in a big ball and die, my, my”

Abi-live-show-five

We assume the show has some influence over the press – it can offer, or threaten to withhold, juicy exclusives. Hence we assume that any press coverage about acts is either planted by the show or, at least, something they don’t really mind appearing. When midweek press saw the Kingsland Road boys claiming that Abi was “not so sweet … not so innocent”, we took that as a sign that Abi’s grave was being dug.

Then came her song choice, ‘That’s Life’, which had been sung twice in previous big band weeks, each time resulting in the act – Miss Frank and Scott Bruton – being eliminated. The lyrics talk about calmly accepting failure, and conclude with “I’m gonna roll myself up in a big ball and die, my, my”. The song choice was evidence enough for us to tip Abi to be eliminated at odds of 9/4.

The X Factor is all about an act’s “journey”, and we believe that one way the show tries to demotivate votes is to suggest to viewers that the act’s journey has come to a natural end. Abi’s VT had that “end of narrative arc” feel. We were reminded she’s been gigging since she was 14, and reintroduced to her supportive dad, last seen in such detail before her room audition. As they share a meal in an empty chippy, Abi is shown telling her father in a rather teenager-ly way: “Don’t get too excited.”

Abi was put on first in the running order. As a rule, early acts are more likely to be forgotten by the time the phone lines open. Producers can make this more likely by following the act with a really memorable performance, a tactic we refer to as shoving down the memory hole. Abi was duly followed by Sam Bailey meeting Michael Bolton and giving a barnstorming rendition of ‘New York New York’. Then came fellow big-hitter Nicholas McDonald.

Even more ingeniously, between Abi and Sam Bailey was the much-hyped John Lewis Christmas advert, specially introduced by the ITV continuity announcer. The cumulative effect was to wipe poor Abi from viewers’ memories.

Styling and staging were interesting. For the first time, Abi was not wearing her trademark glasses, meaning she had lost some of her identity. For the first time she was standing on a plinth, which we suspect subliminally makes an act seem less humble and more disconnected from the studio audience.

This time, the judges pitched their comments just right, a mixture of faint praise and mild criticism. Sharon wanted to see “more sassiness”, echoing the “more charisma” line of week 3 – but rather than dwelling on the current lack of sassiness, Sharon instead merely remarked that she’d like to see more “next week”.

We believe that this kind of casual implication that an act will be here next week is used as a tactic to lull viewers into thinking that the act is safe, and doesn’t need their votes.

Gary’s comments were nothing but kind, calling Abi a “musician among musicians” – so instead of crying, Abi tells Dermot it was “my best performance and I really enjoyed it”. In my view this sealed her fate, by reinforcing the idea that she was now happy and so her fans didn’t have to keep her in for another week to prove a point.

Dermot delivered the coup de grace, as he so often does, asking about her dad and eliciting the answer “it’s his favourite song”. We then cut to Abi’s proud dad in the audience. It felt as if the words “The End” should have come up on screen, and the credits roll.

Epilogue

Nervous, brave, different, a talented musician, a delicate flower – but not, evidently, ever intended by producers to be an X Factor winner.

So why put her there in the first place? We suppose she was intended to tick a demographic niche, to give the geeky unselfconfident girls someone to identify with, to give the show a little patina of musical respectability as well as some variety, and not to pose too strong a threat to the presumed Plan A for this year, from the same category, Tamera.

And while last week’s press stories about the eliminee were all about Kingsland Road dissing Abi, this week’s are all about Abi supporting Tamera.

We have said before that, by now, people should know what the deal is when they audition for the X Factor – you get prime time exposure which you can hope to use as a springboard into some kind of career if you play your cards right, but at the price of giving up control to the show’s producers over how you are packaged and presented to the public. Abi’s journey should be a cautionary tale about how high that price can be.

80 comments to Abi’s Journey: A Case Study in X Factor Manipulation

  • eurovicious

    Good stuff.

    “It also made Gary’s comments feel much harsher than they actually were, if you look at them in isolation – that he used to love her, but that she’s losing him. This is when the tears start. We suspect they might not have done if Sharon hadn’t overstepped the mark.” – totally agree with that.

    Almost worse than the fact she started crying after Sharon’s and Gary’s criticism was the way everyone started frantically hectoring her not to cry. We all know the best way to comfort someone who’s upset is to go “WHY ARE YOU CRYING?”, DON’T CRY!”, “THE CRITICISM WAS FOR YOUR OWN GOOD!” at them in an aggravated manner.

    I was really annoyed at her treatment that week but overall I think she had a fairer swing of the bat than a lot of gamma girls and of course acts like Chris. Abi calling week 5 her best performance wasn’t helpful either as it was the performance furthest removed from her USP. Week 4, 1 and 2 were better than week 5 IMO. I seem to be one of the few people who really liked her week 2 performance and the arrangement and staging.

  • Gamblebot

    Well written! I actually didn’t notice the “bum notes” thing in Week 1. Her narrative seems to be the most interesting of all the finalists, unless they find a way to creatively take Luke down.

  • Jessica Hamby

    What was the point of the week 3 attack? If Sharon hadn’t gone ott and Abi had gone b2 she would have been against Miss Dynamix, presumably would have been saved, had a sympathy bounce week 4 and still gone week 5.

    Why, in your view, did the show set out to damage her that week in the first place? Is it just that she was always considered disposable?

    • Daniel

      Good question Jess. I think the show had displayed little interest in her from the start of the lives and considered her disposable. They would surely have preferred her to be bottom two in week 3 instead of Hannah.

      Whether she bouced into week 5, or the OTT criticism helped her get there, I think she was always supposed to go at around this stage.

      • Jessica Hamby

        Of course. I forgot it was Hannah that week. Her fall into b2 and subsequent bounce sent Tamera into b2 a week early. So La Osbourne’s impetuous outburst has had knock-on effects which still need to be managed or else Tamera could go b2 again this week, which would not suit tptb.

  • Neve

    Great article as usual. I’m interested to know from the Sofabet team if there has been increased traffic this year. There seems to be a more widespread understanding of the theories and buzzwords used among the general viewer. I’ve had friends / colleagues etc. who in years past would have made no further comment than “Oh, that Sam Bailey has a great voice and isn’t Nicolas cute. Not keen on that Tamera though!”, now mention pimp slots and consider things that they would not have noticed in previous years.

  • Jessica Hamby

    I agree Abi has been done up like a kipper to the possible detriment of her future career. I also feel for Sam C who will be known as the lad from x-factor who can’t sing.

  • Heisenberg

    A brilliant read, many thanks.

    Here are this week’s Matrix Mechanics Formula rankings:

    T1: Tamera Foster 32 points
    T1: Nicholas McDonald 32 points
    3: Sam Bailey 29 points
    4. Rough Copy 24 points
    5. Sam Callahan 20 points
    6. Luke Friend 16 points
    7. Hannah Barrett 15 points

    As I thought, Luke may well be in trouble. Also, choreography has been mentioned on his Twitter – perhaps no guitar this week?

    As always, song choices revealed tomorrow will offer more insight.

  • eurovicious

    Can you let us in on why Tamera is so high up (as she also was the week she went B2)?

  • Gamblebot

    https://twitter.com/samcallahan94/status/400953431290281984 Following the lines of Hannah’s tweet last week (something about the truth coming out), it’s Cryptic Tweet Time starring Sam Callahan.

  • Ben Cook

    News from Broadcast today that ITV have bought Israeli talent show format Rising Star.
    https://www.google.co.uk/#q=rising+star+itv+broadcast&safe=off

    It’ll probably be replacement for Dancing On Ice.

  • lolhart

    A great article. I always enjoy reading the dissection of contestants’ “journey” on the show. Hopefully there’ll be some more. I thought one of the most interesting points made was how the judges’ comments and reactions are supposed to influence how viewers react to the contestants. Two of my work colleagues who are avid X-Factor viewers would often repeat Louis’ line that Abi “wasn’t right for the show” and how she made the songs in her own style (but in a negative way).

    I think another point that was alluded to in the article is how the act’s own judge treats them. Nicole expressed doubts about Abi at both bootcamp and judges’ houses and she never said anything during the lives to demonstrate that Abi had proved her wrong. Another example of Nicole’s lack of interest was as you pointed out rather than Nicole defending Abi after Sharon’s comments, Nicole defended Sharon.

  • tpfkar

    One question that’s bugging me? Why does the show build them up then knock them down? Why give Abi a pimp slot in auditions, oodles of coverage, drum up so much interest if they want to reverse as soon as they get to live shows (or even before, as you’ve said.)

    Why make Sam Bailey a powerhouse in auditions, then put her on first with clockwork and call her ScrewBo in week 2? (On that one I think it was panicking about an epic vote of hugeness in week 1)

    But if they aren’t interested in a contestant long term, why not give them an audition edit like Luke or Lorna? Little momentum into the lives so no need to go around nuking acts to kill the monster they’ve created.

    • Gamblebot

      My guess is the TPTB don’t have a clear-cut plan. They’re probably many people with their own tastes and interests to push. There are some clear-cut decisions (e.g. Tamera is Alpha Girl) and others that aren’t so clear (e.g. Who they will push in case Tamera kinda falls flat; it wasn’t Sam B until Week 4). So why not keep the options open and do crazy things?

      Also, put too many Lornas in the show and one of them will end up like Luke, possibly displacing a favoured act.

      • lolhart

        I think TPTB also like to (and have learned) to keep their options open. They may have a clear alpha and backup for each category but what if the public doesn’t fall or things fall apart? Little Mix are a good example of this. Nu Vibe were the apparent alpha group that year but they were a disaster. So focus switched to The Risk but they became a joke after the bloke from Nu Vibe was drafted in. So Little Mix suddenly became the favoured group and eventual winner that year. I’m sure they also keep a close eye on how things are going in between judges houses and the live shows in terms of media/online interest and how the acts are getting on in rehearsals.

        • Dan

          I’m sure they also keep a close eye on how things are going in between judges houses and the live shows in terms of media/online interest and how the acts are getting on in rehearsals.

          I do wonder what exactly they get up to between the end of filming for Judge’s Houses and the first live show. It’s around five to six weeks, so how much of that time is actually spent rehearsing? When do the acts move into the house/hotel? How closely do they work with the judges? How much time do the newly formed groups get to gel? As lolhart alludes to above, something went badly wrong in this time for Nu Vibe back in 2011, so I was interested in how the acts are treated and if the attitudes and behaviours of an act during this time can contribute to a move up or down the alpha/beta/gamma scale.

          Any thoughts?

    • Neve

      For our entertainment I think. At least a fraction of the viewers have to care about some of the acts that become early week fodder. Otherwise the show itself is boring. If Luke, for example, had been thrown under a bus in week 2 and followed Lorna out of the competition would many have cared at that point? Surely the bottom 2 of Kingsland Road and the more “high profile” Shelly was more of a talking point and encouraged more people to tune in again in week 3? On the flipside Luke, who was low-profile until lives can take on a different journey – one of growth and development. The show needs some semblance of variety and (false!) unpredictability to entertain.

    • It wouldn’t be much of a TV show if it was obvious to the normal viewer who was going every week and who was going to win from the start!

  • Nissl

    Regarding Sam B – not only did she probably get a dangerously large vote for so early in the series, but I’d suspect they were hoping that damping her would help Tamera and Hannah.

    As for building up betas and gammas, there are good answers already, but a couple points to add. If only the preferred 4-5 got feature treatment, a decent chunk of viewers would probably catch on, the field would seem lackluster, and they’d be forced to fill audition time with more bad auditions and/or give feature time to more late-stage rejects, which would be awkward.

  • Lia

    It’s all there, very clear. And we keep on learning more and more about it. Thanks for another great article.

  • EM

    Great deep dive into the details Daniel.

    Reading that I might have figured out the flower in her hair at the weekend, ready?

    If we were supposed to see the end of the journey then instead end of lots of little flowers scattered around we saw one big bloom, suggestive of growing up, reaching full potential.

    And what do you know she also has the same flower as Nicole, she’s got the same flower as a star, she’s made it.

    No need to vote anymore, she’s grown, she’s not getting any bigger, this is it.

    Although maybe someone just thought it looked pretty.

  • Nissl

    Having re-read on a slow workday, a couple more comments. I do think that occasionally undesirable stories come out in the media. I recall that recently Tamera got a bit of press for being difficult backstage that the show hit back at immediately. I’m not sure how the politics of the publication of that story worked out.

    While the show does give some of its mid-pack contestants a bit of a chance to shine in the first week, there’s still a target or two in an attempt to protect the rest. FYD, Nu Vibe, District 3, etc. Miss D was the obvious one this time around, and I’m guessing the producers must have figured Lorna would be likely to join them even with a modest amount of help on the week of the show.

  • Daniel

    OFFICIAL LIST OF SONGS FOR SATURDAY:

    So feast your eyes on this impressive list and get ready for some right old classics on Saturday and Sunday at 8pm on ITV…

    Hannah Barrett – Satisfaction

    Luke Friend – Your Song

    Sam Bailey – Something

    Rough Copy – Viva La Vida

    Sam Callahan – Faith

    Tamera foster – Diamonds Are Forever

    Nicholas McDonald – Someone Like You

    • Roxie

      To be honest from this last I have absolutely no clue – who the favorites are, who’s being pimped, who’s being deramped, who’s going home, who’s not.

      First things first, who’s songs have been done before:

      Hannah’s song has been done by Rebecca before and Rebecca got a 1.3% boost in relative percentage votes that week resulting in a position change from 3rd to 2nd that week.

      Sam Bailey’s song has been sung by Mary B (likely the version she’ll be using) and resulted in Mary gaining 1.31% votes BUT falling from 4th to 5th place.

      Viva la Vida allowed Cher and One Direction to both shine when they did it to their target demographic.

      Tamera’s song actually resulted in a loss of 2.24% to Aiden’s vote count and a drop from 4th to 6th! Why on earth are they giving her this song then if they are favoring her?

      Luke’s song made Danyl drop from 3rd to 4th and lose 3% of his votes!

      Sam C’s song gained Lloyd 2.4% in votes going from 6th to 4th (but this was after a sing off).

      Nick’s song surprisingly hasn’t been done yet in the lives, so I have absolutely no idea how this will go down, but if it is anything like A Thousand Years and I Won’t Give Up then it will shine to his demographic. If he gets the pimp slot, that’s it Game Over to the producers (unless they wanted this?). Though there is the fact that it is a ‘classic’ song now – known by so many people. If he does not sing it properly (which I doubt) then there is a high risk of him falling in the vote totals. But overall, he’s sure to win with this song.

      This all further cements my understanding that Tamera was cleverly masked as Plan A. Having not given her a current/upbeat song since Ain’t Nobody/Beneath Your Beautiful (which were arguably her best performances), are the producers trying to lose her support for her target demographic (when that demographic is obviously the younger teens?).

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        I think you might be right about Nic’s song hitting a home run into his demo; similarly you may be right about Tamera’s song not speaking to her demo (though they could be trying to broaden her appeal).

        I often overlook the demographical reach of songs.

        I love your use of stats to chart previous XF effects of a song on a performer’s week-to-week polling success. This could be further refined to measure the true percentage change from week to week. Factor in the number of competitors on a particular week, to see the percentage above or below the divided average at which a contestant should be breaking even.

        Suitability of song to the performer, the message of the mise en scene, judges’ spin could also be subjectively marked in terms of plus or minus points, positive or negative scores.

        For instance, That’s Life was a deliberately bad choice of song last Saturday for a moody introvert such as Abi; Satisfaction might, I predict, might be a deliberately bad choice of song for Hannah. She been coming across as a bit aggressive as it is, without giving her a shouty song such as this to spit out at the viewers. And the subtextual meaning of the song will play as though she is blaming the viewers for not voting for her!

        Contrast this to how the female viewership would have responded to Joseph Whelan strutting about on stage, while yearning for some satisfaction.

        A world of difference, I reckon. .

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          Oh! re the retrospective, subjective positive and negative marking, you could include a measure of any contemporaneous, impactful positve or negative press and also an estimation of the vote transfer splits.

      • Young Lloyd had another thing going in his Faith week: he had a haircut that looked better.

    • Lia

      That’s the worst possible song choice for Tamera: old fashioned ballad. I think she’ll return to B2. I can think of a few reasons for this:
      1) They have given up on her
      2) They want to use her (and Hannah’s) presence in B2 to “clean-up” the unwanted targets. That will stop working if they land together
      3) More staged “shock” drama (minus a lot of the shock as we’veseen it before)

      • Boki

        I believe they would like Hannah/Tamera b2 for several reasons:
        – some great tv drama
        – Hannah should go to transfer the votes to Tamera but we are repeatably told that she’s great so going against Sam on deadlock or against Luke is not good – she should go against someone even greater and SamB/Nic are hard to get to b2
        – some more tv drama 🙂

        • Boki

          The other likeable option would be SamC/Luke for b2, as Richard mentions in the podcast, but I doubt they can get that since Hannah is a not-rolling-stone on the bottom.

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    That looks a great, dramatic song for Tamera. The song for the woman who has had it with giving her heart to men, committing to eternal love, having her heart repeatedly broken and who now places her faith and heart with diamonds, which guarantee relationship longevity.

    As I recall, Diamonds are Forever was Sean Connery’s one-shot reprise of the James Bond role. XF seem to be continuing the rebuild of Tamera.

    Also, Jay Z rapped all over the song in a big hit tune from a few years ago. It will be familiar to young ears.

    Unsure of the Rolling Stones classic for Hannah. I remember Rebecca Ferguson performing a woeful, lifeless version of it. Hannah should at least give it some welly.

    The trouble for Hannah is that the sight and sound of her shouting I Can’t Get No Satisfaction invites the rejoinder, ‘I’m not bloody surprised’.

    I think she might be done for.

    ‘Something’ is a wonderful song, and as I recall is also famous for being Frank Sinatra’s favourite song. Sam Bailey’s been given a corker of a sexy song here. I can imagine Loius saying to her, ‘Sam, there’s something in the way you sing’.

    Perplexed by Rough Copy’s song.

    Even Luke Friend should be able to sing Your Song in tune. I sing a few Elton numbers myself and can cope with this song. Maybe they can style him to put the viewers in mind of that surprisingly brilliant vocalist, Ewan McGregor.

    The sweet earnestness of Luke and his song are a match; but it could come across as a bit bland. Depends what spin the judges apply, with their comments.

    The quick-fire lyrical repeat of Faith is a mercy for the mousetrap-narrow vocal range of Sam C. Can imagine Gary being unable to resist a remark about why Sam C needs faith!

    Undecided on Nic’s song. It’s epic Adele, and the girls could love him singing this; but will an abridged version of it come across as maudlin and repetitve? He does have a lovely, tuneful tone to his voice, Nic. Think this song might be a plus for Nic.

    • I suspect Rough Copy might chuck a rap into Viva La Vida. It wouldn’t make sense for them to perform it straight. So lets prepare for lots of chest-beating, holding the microphone in strangest way possible and the least vocally effective member of the group shouting ‘yeah’ ‘c’mon’ & ‘ya know what I’m sayin’ during the chorus.

      I thought best of British week might have a more celebratory feel to it, but it’s actually quite depressing. I might have to watch Les Miserable afterwards just to lift my mood.

  • Guildo Horn Forever

    Superbly written article, Daniel – as sophisticated as the story subject about which you are explaining.

  • Curtis

    I have no idea who they’re gunning for from the song choices. Luke’s choice looks good – I was expecting him to get shafted but maybe they’re giving him a shot. Tamera’s song choice looks the worst to me, but what do I know. Tamera-Hannah bottom 2? I wonder if they’re going to purposely drop Tamera into the bottom 2 and then try and maximise her bounce next week – perhaps engineering one that can get her to the final. That’s what the song choices make me think anyway.

  • Gamblebot

    re: song choices

    Someone Like You is harder to connect with than A Thousand Years (my God just imagine some Twilight fantasy and you can nail this). This could be the perfect derailing for Nicky or it’s the “game over moment” for everyone else because…

    … Something is a tender song that (given what we’ve seen so far) Sam Bailey will struggle with. You can put all the gushing praise you want, but that never helped Rebecca beat Matt in the polls.

    Luke’s isn’t good because it’s another tender song for a singer who can’t do tender very well. If he doesn’t rearrange the song Luke style and gets pedestrian styling, he can go home.

    Ditto for Rough Copy because it’s too far away from their style. Unless Gazza makes another genius arrangement, an early slot can easily pull them down.

    Here’s where it gets interesting. Tamera’s needs rearranging more than Luke’s because straight up Shirley Bassey will take her down. If they make it current (read: add Kanye), she will shine and possibly make a push for the win.

    Sam C’s could work because Lloyd did it 4 years ago and nailed it. It’s safe to say that Sam is cheekier than Lloyd and injecting his personality can really make this work. That said, if he gets another set of dancers that hover around him, he won’t have his moment and he can leave.

    Last but not the least is Hannah. This is a good song for her… on paper. That said, she’s been getting good songs but the public isn’t connecting with her. This is her first real uptempo but the sixth song in six weeks that she can shout her way through. Shouting will literally remove the “cool factor” Mick Jagger has when singing this song, so she might just leave.

    P.S. George Michael is gay. Are they trying to plant thoughts into people’s heads? 😀

  • Natasha

    I’m relieved Wee McNick has a decent song choice this week! I think he will do it justice and the pimp slot would make it even more magical IMO. He’s singing before the Scotland v USA game today which surely would bring in more votes from fellow scots by way of promoting himself?

    • Problem with Nick is its so easy for producers to use the word English either by the judges or in the VT, that will harm him.

      If they do want to de-ramp him, this is the week to do it

      • Natasha

        They could be lulling us (voting public) into a false sense of security with this song choice maybe? And then wham, Mrs O could replace saying the work ‘sexteen’ repeatedly with the word ‘English’

  • eurovicious

    What is “Something”? Not the Lasgo one? Andrius Pojavis?

    Why can I see Nick being criticised for not being mature enough to do Someone Like You anywhere near proper justice? I think the song is too big for him – I’ll be happy if he proves me wrong.

    Excellent choices for Sam C and Tamera. I can see Luke murdering Your Song though. Viva la vida could go either way.

  • Gamblebot

    I have to ask: who is the target this week? The last three targets have been crystal clear (at least for their target to go home, not necessarily for the act joining them) and they were nailed with one shot. This week feels noisy, in comparison.

    Will they give Hannah the Kitty Brucknell treatment, leaving the show with the two girls they want? Will they kill off Sam C so the 10th anniversary special can be seen as a “serious” competition? Will they kill Luke because he’s run his course and taking him any further can destroy their plans? Is this week set up as the “shock week”?

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      I agree with ev that Sam C and Tamera have excellent song choices.

      Based on song choice alone (just on that), I think Sam C, Tamera, Sam B and Nic are not being targeted.

      Gamblebot makes a good point about Satisfaction being an uptempo song – that could be a positive.

      But overall, I think it’s Hannah being targeted, based on Sam B being given a Beatles song. Sam B will “outsing” the original classic, as performed by George Harrison. Hannah will be singing a classic by that other iconic 60s group, The Rolling Stones, and her vocal performance will be below his, and her stage strutting will definitely be below par compared to Mick Jagger. I don’t imagine Hannah being a good mover, and I doubt any stage movement will help with her vocals. But if Hannah stands still it will utterly distract from the restlessness driving the lyrical content – plus everyone has seen Mick strutting around to Satisfaction. How can you not make the comparison? It’s natural to expect a performer of this song ‘to move like Jagger’. If Sam B follows Hannah, the connection and comparison will be drilled home.

  • Boki

    Struggled with flu this week and have a lot to catch up but regarding the song choices first strong impression is: wtf Tamera!?
    She will perform it well, no doubt, but is it a great choice to get similar slowed-down stuff week after week and reinforce her out-of-this-world-elegant-diva status? This is going to drag her b2 again imho and they probably know it.

  • Rob4

    first post for what seems like ages as I didn’t bet on last series.

    the song choices seem set up for a Hannah v Tamera sing off, although possibly Luke is looking exposed as well. Rough Copy’ song choice is just weird but the popularity of the song should see them safe if they don’t completely murder it.

    tbh I’m struggling to see a value bet this week. but if I was a betting man… ahem… i’d go for Hannah for elimination.

    • Guildo Horn Forever

      Yeah, I don’t understand the producer logic of handing a vocally suspect group a Coldplay song. It’s perplexing, a bit baffling. I’ve only heard a handful of people on the karaoke circuit sing a Coldplay song; just like I’ve only heard one or two people try a Mika song.

      Chris Martin has that unique breathy tenor-head-voice-falsetto vocal sound going on, and asking the Rough Copy guys to aspire to that vocal delivery and try to match the emotion Chris Martin pours into his vocals is one Hell of an ask.

      The foreign words in the title might also diminish the emotional connectivity to the song for some viewers.

      • Guildo Horn Forever

        For prime B2 contenders I’m finding it v hard to get away from Hannah, Rough Copy and Luke.

        Hannah plus one from RC and Luke.

        • Guildo Horn Forever

          If Hannah doesn’t B2 I think I’ll have some serious egg on my face, as I’ve been rattling on about her going all week!

          Bit worried now!

      • Jessica Hamby

        It’s their biggest song apart from Fix You, it’s not vocally demanding and it’s got some very catchy woh-oh-ohs in it. I think the Coldplay song is a good choice for Rough Copy.

  • eurovicious

    I figure if Shelley can’t bounce from week 1 to week 2 despite being awesomeballstastic, Hannah can’t bounce this week. They’ve already thrown pretty much everything they have at her. They could still give her a full-on sympathy VT, but with that song choice, would there be a point? Compare Misha B’s emotive “biological mum” VT with Kelly then her stellar performance of I Have Nothing. No way can Hannah pull off something similar with Satisfaction. It doesn’t delight the demo, although I think it’s clear from her B2 appearances that she doesn’t really have a demo.

    • Rob4

      agreed euro, even the kitchen sink has failed to stop her b2’ing. been looking at the market again since last post and I think anything above evens for elimination on Hannah is value. she will shout the song and I also think she will be early in the running order. I’m in at 2.75

  • Will

    The X Factor has just been renewed for 3 more years.

    At first I thought this shortened the likelihood of Sam Bailey being the producers’ choice winner this year (10th year, back to basics, Sharon’s return, Overs reignition, nostalgia, diversity from James Arthur/Little Mix/recent winners) but now I think it actually strengthens it.

    SB proves the point that Overs are still relevant in the competition. Next year a combination of Simon/Dannii/Cheryl/Sharon/Louis/Nicole is the panel and they can then do a ‘comeback’ after the year that produced the 35-year old, most likely to be irrelevant after a year winner and have a young, fresh winner again. It’ll be the sign of a new Golden Age for the show, with the Overs triumph this year being some sort of Steve Brookstein hark-back/re-birth.

    I don’t know if this makes any sense, but basically I’m pretty sure SB’s on her way to 1st, or at the least 2nd, place.

    • eurovicious

      That does actually make considerable sense to me.

      Christ knows how they’re going to keep people interested until 2016 with the format dying as it is. Gunge tanks at bootcamp and poena cullei for rude auditionees?

    • Gamblebot

      Sam Bailey will put the spectre of the other SB to rest. Finally the show will have an Over winner to be proud of.

      Ditto for Nicholas after Leon ruined the image of Scottish winners. 😀

    • sistermym

      Exactly my thinking from the start and as I have stated in a previous thread.
      I think Hannah is on her way out and I am looking at B2 versus Tamera, whom they will save. Actually they will save anyone against Hannah if she is in the B2 again, even Sam C

  • Curtis

    I kind of presume that Sam B will be doing the Shirley Bassey arrangement of Something, much like Mary Byrne did a couple of years ago. It would be far more interesting if she took it on Beatles styles, but that’s clearly less likely to work.

  • Heisenberg

    Something Sofabet has alerted me to recently is the significance of the Dermot Post-Performance (DPP) chat with the acts and how it is used as an additional method of influencing viewer sentiment. I think we all agree that Dermot is given real time prompts from TPTB – but for what purpose, exactly? The obvious explanation is that it attempts to shape the audience’s immediate reaction in order to attract or discourage votes for a particular act. Usually this is achieved by echoing specific aspects of judges’ comments or reengaging a judge into the conversation to elaborate if perhaps the message wasn’t sufficiently compounded first time around. As Daniel says in Abi’s case study, “first impressions count” – so what better time to manipulate them?

    At the risk of overanalysing, I watched back Saturday’s Big Band show paying particular attention to Dermot’s involvement and tried to establish if any of the DPP chats contained any more subtle clues designed to alter our longer term perceptions of an act, that is to say something that wouldn’t necessarily influence that week’s vote but rather a more hibernated thought planted in the mind to be activated at a later date.

    Sam B: Dermot began with “Not much you can say” which was a reiteration of Gary’s “running out of things to say” comment. I wouldn’t be too worried if I was a Sam B supporter, however, where does someone turn when they’ve run out of good things to say – oh yeah, to bad things. For me it boils down to whether the preferred finalist is Sam B or Nicholas and I believe it’s the former – their demographic is too similar to push both into the top 3.

    Nicholas: If you stitch together the judges comments we are reminded that sixteen year old schoolboy Nicholas is only sixteen with Nicky blue eyes but because he’s a little crooner who’s only sixteen he’s never heard of any of the songs the X Factor has thrown at him because they’re way before his time. But Scotland is really proud of him – interestingly no voting reference, just that Scotland is proud. Dermot jokes that Nicholas barely remembers the 90s and that there’s no chance he’ll ever get to sing anything he’s familiar with. This week, more than any previous week, Nicholas’ young age was highlighted and in particular his generational detachment from the songs he is performing. Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ is a song all about connecting with the lyrics and telling a story, something Gary likes to mention in his critique from time to time. Nicholas will have no problems with the vocal performance but last week’s DPP emphasis on youth may have been planted with this week’s song in mind. There’s a chance that “you’re only sixteen” could be used against him when singing about having loved and lost and the heartbreak that ensues. Beyond his years indeed. As an aside, he’s singing ‘Flower of Scotland’ tonight at Hampden Park for the Scotland v USA friendly which doesn’t leave much time for the editing team to wedge into the VT, but if it serves a purpose one way or the other I’m sure they’ll make the effort.

    Luke: Dermot isn’t kind when he says that the Big Band is a big thing to throw at someone used to busking in Devon. I’ve been commenting on the severity of the busker statement all week – and on re-watch I realised that Louis actually uses the present tense, “You’re a busker from Devon,” suggesting that he’s now probably fighting above his weight at the week 5 stage of the competition. When Luke sang what Gary described as a ‘folk rock’ version of ‘Every Breathe You Take’ in the first week I thought that was going to be his signature sound – it suited him. But nothing of the sort, we’ve had nothing similar from Luke since. Is it possible that it sounded too similar to the new single from Barlow & Sons:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeD3AmSlmIs

    Hannah: It’s no wonder there’s little audience connection when judges litter her comments with words such as, growling, rasps, steel, cool as a cucumber – Sharon also asked her to smile which reminded us how miserable she looked on stage after Skyfall in week 3. Dermot told us she was confident again and smiling but the ting ting slang overshadowed any meaningful DPP message. As much as I try and I try and I try and I try, I can’t get no confidence about her song this week – it has messy choreography written all over it. This could be the inevitable Hannah Banana skin.

    Rough Copy: Dermot reinforced judges’ message by again name checking the final. He also emphasised that it was Nicole, not their own mentor, who thinks they’ll be top 3. The word ’embrace’ was used repeatedly by judges and this is the plea to the audience, please embrace these boys – even Nicole thinks they’ll be top 3, they will win you over too. Note, studio audience chanting, “RC, RC, RC…” in the background. The song choice this week suggests much of the same that has worked so far, they should do a much better job than One Direction managed.

    Tamera: Interestingly in judges’ comments we were again reminded about little Nicky being only sixteen and Dermot told us Tamera was in the B2 last week and she’s fighting for her life. ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ is perhaps the most iconic song of the week and should be handled competently enough by Tamera. I expect this performance (unlikely to be a pimp slot) to be strategically positioned in the running order directly after one of the boys.

    Sam C: Dermot stated it was a good week for Sam because it was all about the performance, i.e. takes the focus away from his singing. Sam’s rendition of ‘Faith’ is the performance I am looking forward to the most if I’m honest. I won’t have to wait too long though as I’m very confident he will be first to perform.

    Only Luke and Nicholas haven’t had the pimp slot yet – do you think there’s a chance neither of them will get it this week?

  • Keeping it simple this week – If Hannah is bottom two she goes

    a) she’s finished below everyone in the PV last week
    b) 2nd bounce is less
    c) nobody inside the M25 likes her

    who’s going to join her? I’m not sure but Tamera isn’t like and she’s been given a well known song but one which doesn’t really go anywhere. It’s not a song that shows her at her best, works for her demo and imo she should be singing something by Adele or Lily Allen.

    I’ve back Hannah to go at 2.38 as she really should be odds-on and I’ve added Hannah/Tamera B2 Combo at 7/1.

    http://www.cherryanalysts.co.uk/2013/x-factor-week-6-no-satisfaction-for-hannah/

    • eurovicious

      Agree with you on the provisional B2 and on the mishandling of Tamera.

      I know I’ve been harsh on Hannah in terms of her shouty performances and crying, and I poke fun at James Arthur all the time, but writing about Hannah “her face always looks like she’s […] about to commit a robbery”, “The girls own mum doesn’t even like her”, “she is the type of girl that you’d see hanging around West Croydon bus station, throwing chicken bones on the floor” is a bit excessive, no?

      • May seem excessive but those are exactly the comments that people who are from Croydon have been making…

        I was shocked at how varied the responses to her have been depending on geographical location. I speak to a lot of people from Peterborough and Essex and they love(ed) her, with many tipping her to win.

        All of the people I have spoken too from London, many of those from Croydon and the surrounding area, were never able to connect with her…

  • Jessica Hamby

    Interesting song choices for this week.

    Hannah – Satisfaction. Doesn’t play to her demo. Not a good choice at all imo. Yes it’s well known but it’s not popular in the sense that you hear it a lot even on the Gold and retro channels. Will she be able to express the sexual subtext? I suspect people will hear it as her moaning about something. I think this spells trouble for her.

    Sam C – Faith. I think it’s a good choice for him vocally. It’s not particularly demanding, it’s nice and rhythmic, he should be able to pull off a bit of sexy dancing. Like all the songs on the list it’s hardly modern but it should be well known enough to please his demo. From this choice I’d say he’s safe this week.

    Tamera – Diamonds Are Forever. I think this song is too big for Tamera. Also, it’s very dated in a particular adult diva style. I don’t think she’ll be able to pull it off. They must be mad to give her this song with Sam B on the same bill – unless they’re separated by a lot of other acts.

    Luke – Your Song. I don’t think this is a kind song for Luke. Why would they give him a ballad that requires a certain softness and sensitivity? Something by Oasis would have been much better. He’ll be in tune and get around it but it won’t be stellar. His voice simply isn’t sweet enough.

    Rough Copy – Viva La Vida. Great choice for them assuming it has been appropriately arranged for 3 voices. Anthemic style will suit them well.

    Nicholas – Someone Like You. Huge, iconic song. He’ll hit all the notes but I don’t think he’ll hit the tone. He’s too soft and sweet for this. This is a song sung by someone who’s haunted by rejection to the [point of near madness. I just don’t see Nick getting it.

    Sam B – Something. Not entirely sure which song this is, however she’s been on the money and improving every week so far so it’s hard to see her dropping the ball now.

    To sum up, I think Hannah has a very poor choice. I will be surprised if Tamera can give a convincing performance – but if she can pull it off then kudos to her. I think Luke will struggle to convince. Obviously arrangement, running order, staging and judges comments are still to come and they may change things but on the basis of these songs, they are the people I’m looking at.

    Unlike last week I haven’t yet committed to anyone. I will probably wait until the show before I place my pretend pennies anywhere.

  • Jessica Hamby

    If Tamera can be kept our of b2 till next week she should get a sympathy bounce that will take her to the semi-final so I can see tptb pulling out all the stops for her. Mind you I still think it’s a dodgy song for her.

    It’ll be interesting to see the running order.

    • sistermym

      Just for fun this is how I would like this week’s song choices:

      Luke Friend– Satisfaction

      Nicholas Mc Donald – Your Song

      Sam Callahan– Something

      Tamera Foster– Viva La Vida

      Rough Copy – Faith

      Hannah Barrett – Diamonds Are Forever

      Sam Bailey – Someone Like You

  • Hannah’s singing “Satisfaction”? Youch!

    Now there’s a song choice designed to show off the delicate interplay of light and shade in her voice; to express her vocal range and ability to connect emotionally with the audience; to demonstrate the fact that she’s not just a sulky teenager; to silence those who accuse her of being “shouty”.. oh no wait, I’m thinking of every other song written ever.

    Can’t help feeling a bit “look-out-for-that-bus-Hannah” about it. That said, who knew “King of the Swingers” wouldn’t make Katie Waisell a shoe-in for the bottom two?

    As for Tamera, I actually think she could do pretty well with Diamonds… It’s a show-boaty kind of song, without being terribly vocally demanding.

    BTW, what the hell is the theme?! Songs played at 6 in the morning by Magic.fm?

  • Izzy

    *newbie wave*

    This weeks song choice for Tamera confuses me. I honestly can’t see her doing Diamonds justice. She’s only 16… how could she sing a song with lyrics like that, with conviction? I also don’t see how the song is suited to her vocal tone. It is a very low song and would suit the “raspy, hot chocolate” (thanks Sharon) tones of Hannah or the commanding diva voice of Sam B much better. Tamera’s voice just does not yet have the depth to pull it off imho.

    Tamera can definitely sing, but I don’t think this is the right song to play to her strengths. Surely something more modern would have been better?

    I can see her going B2 after this.

  • EM

    Unless the powers have a plan up their sleeves this song could be a disaster for Tamera.

    The lyrics are Bond theme daft, no depth, there’s no big peak in the melody, it’s a song for a woman of life experience. Coupled with Tamera’s usual style the whole thing screams disconnect.

  • Heisenberg

    I saw this great quote about Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ and I would encourage Nicholas to read it many times before his performance tomorrow: “The song’s subject – Adele mentally addressing an old lover who has since found happiness elsewhere – is familiar, but the detail she colours it with are vibrantly tactile and resonant, from the sense-memory setting of ‘we were born and raised in a summer haze’ to her recollection of his cruel kiss-off line ‘I remember you said, sometimes it lasts in love and sometimes it hurts instead’ and how she comes to take solace in the statement as an empowering mantra.”

    A teenage boy is simply not capable of projecting the emotional weight carried within the song’s lyrics – it’s a flawed concept – and I would love to hear the judges recognise this in their comments.

    I submit this evidence for your consideration:

  • Jessica Hamby

    The more I think about this list the more absurd it seems..

    Hannah, wannabe Torch Song singer is given a lighthearted ditty about a guy who realy realy realy wants to just get laid. If they wanted the Stones they could have given her “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” but what they want is to get her out. Unless they’ve discovered that her demo is fat white middle-aged men who ride Harleys at the weekend.

    Nick is given the uber Torch Song of our time. From the arms of an angel to the embrace of a jealous, obsessed nutjob. Yeah it’s a great song but does it delight his demo? I don’t think so. Deramping going on there.

    Luke’s song does nothing for his demo either. His fans are the indie kids, the arty kids, the slightly alternative crew. Once again a nice song but not suited to his voice, his style or his demo.

    Tamera. Wtf? Is she going to attempt to do it like Shirley Bassey? Dated and also very difficult to pull off. If there’s a modern r&b or hiphop version they surely must be doing that, which would kick all the others in their foo-foos because it would be the only modern song in the show. If she’s doing a version similar to the original my gut feeling is she’s b2 even if she does it well because it’s nt a very good song.

    There’s a reason why you never hear it on the radio. Noone liks it enough to want to hear it.

  • If Sam C gets another late slot and gets Gary to break his silence and his mean streak, I’ll call him safe and bet that he’s leaving the following week.

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