This time last year, a James/Ella bottom two shocked the X Factor betting fraternity. There’s a rather open feel about this week’s elimination battle too given that odds-on favourite Hannah has been given a fighting chance with the iconic ‘Hallelujah’. What with a large overlap with the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special, that covers all but the last two in the running order, it will be fascinating to see who producers favour with the penultimate and pimp slots.
The use of previous acts as guest mentors in this celebratory tenth anniversary edition, also promises to advantage some rather than others. When pictures of Hannah and Rough Copy going to the funfair with judges Nicole and Gary emerged this week, it seemed like a sign of favour. Unless of course it was compensation for not getting any guest mentoring at all (we know that Sam got Leona, Tamera got Olly, Nicholas got Joe and Luke got Shayne Ward).
In yesterday’s podcast, I resolved to sit this one out until the show itself. I certainly wasn’t going to get involved at short odds beforehand. However, I haven’t been able to resist a highly speculative few shillings at big odds based on something posted in our comments section later in the day.
Let’s start, though, with the odds-on favourite for elimination. I love the announcement of the week’s song choices on Thursdays at midnight, and the two days of speculation that follows about just how they’ll turn out. We’ve seen the whole spectrum of opinion for Hannah’s song choice of ‘Hallelujah’. Ben Cook and Heisenberg think it’s a potential gamechanger, Richard Betsfactor, eurovicious and EM recognise the power of the song and the Alexandra Burke version, whilst R and Guildo Horn Forever see a danger in that. As Gamblebot says, it could go either way.
Much the same could be said for most of Hannah’s elimination rivals. Tamera’s ‘Impossible’ is unfortunate timing given the recent negative press for James Arthur, but on second consideration what’s more important is that it’s a number that could suit her very well indeed, as Dean and EM state. Boki points out that it’s a recent, successful song for the franchise. Could The Powers That Be give her a sixth late slot in seven live shows? It would be amusingly biased if they did.
Luke Friend’s ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ gives him an association with One Direction on his sympathy bounce weekend. Of course, judges’ comments could play this either way as Richard Betsfactor argued, but my point in response on Friday’s podcast concerned the “dude on YouTube” doing a fine acoustic version, that Heisenberg coincidentally posted the same day. Luke looks likely to try something similar.
Rough Copy face the challenge of emulating Little Mix’s standout version of ‘Don’t Let Go’ in the equivalent week of 2011. Tim B and Nissl point out that this will be hard but that backing track help can do wonders. We’ve seen no significant let up in producer favour for them, the song choice gives them a chance to rebut Nicole’s comment last week that they were “too vanilla”, and it would be no surprise to see them get a very favourable slot in the running order.
Sam Bailey has to emulate Leona Lewis singing ‘Bleeding Love’. It’s not easy, but on the other hand, the suspense of this challenge, and her association with arguably the most talented winner of them all, could cement her position as favourite for the prize. It will surely tell us once and for all how comfortable producers are with her winning the whole shebang.
Which brings us to Flower of Scotland, Nicholas McDonald. In the podcast, I felt that regional support would be enough to see him safe this week, but the VT that Heisenberg posted of him in practice really made him seem like a poor man’s Joe McElderry, and we know how the latter’s career failed to take off in the way that Syco hoped.
The clip reminded me of the week The Risk were shock eliminees after a VT with JLS made them look like inferior wannabes. Admittedly, the boyband were coming off the back of a few weeks of poor performances and a personnel change, whereas Nicholas had a standout performance of ‘Someone Like You’ in the pimp slot and celebrates his seventeenth birthday today.
However, given that his song choice, ‘The Climb’ is the most uninspired of all – as JScouser noted, whilst Luke may be bouncing back and taking some of Nick’s softer support, I couldn’t help but grab the 40/1 with Betfred for Nicholas to be eliminated. This week is far less likely to be a positive one for him, and he may suffer the post-pimp slot syndrome that afflicted Hannah and Tamera.
Why that and not take the shorter odds on a bottom two appearance? Let’s remind ourselves that he’s not got much commercial potential. Also that the show has been rather predictable this year and is in need of a big shock. I think producers would be happy to lose Nicholas if he fell into a singoff, especially against Tamera or Rough Copy. It would also be helpfully “controversial” for them to do it against Hannah, though he might just as easily win a deadlock situation here. It would be harder to get away with saving Hannah 3-1 but they could potentially use the pretext of singoff performance.
Obviously, this is not a bet one can be too hopeful about. It’s far more likely than not that Nick will be called safe tomorrow. But betting is all about deciding to take a risk at the odds, and with a lot of question marks going into tonight’s show, I reckon Nick should probably be shorter than 40/1. It’s a value call and at those odds, investments can be kept small.
What do you think? Do keep the conversation going below.