The Strictly overlap returns this week which means any act performing in the first 15 minutes faces a slight disadvantage. But at least they get to perform again. That’s because we now get two songs from each remaining act. This can be a bit of a rollercoaster: remember that the running order can change during the second set of songs; and there is a chance for redemption or slip-up no matter what happens during the first song.
It means that Tamera has two chances to repeat the serious flubs in her last two performances. Those flubs may perversely have helped her clear the bottom two. It’s better to be talked about than not be talked about; and may well have motivated a sympathy vote. We know that facing overly harsh criticism from the judges can help an act’s vote spike, and once we get the week-by-week voting percentages after this year’s final, they may well indicate that the nightmare of missing lyrics had a similar effect for Tamera.
The question many of our commenters have been asking is: given her mistakes on stage, do producers cut Tamera loose as soon as she falls into the singoff, or persist with her?
My hunch is that they would do their best to persist with her, as the most commercial post-series act and the show’s major talking point. She’s been consistently pimped, with six late slots in seven live shows, and I reckon this bias towards her would continue in a singoff against a more expendable act, though perhaps not against anybody.
The most expendable act at this quarter-final stage would appear to be Luke Friend, who has fulfilled his “dark horse” description by getting this far. His treatment in both week 5, when called a “busker from Devon” by is own mentor, and week 6, when some distracting staging helped him drop into the bottom two, showed that producers have recently enough been happy to damage his prospects.
We got some smoke and mirrors last week, with the “dark horse” narrative returning and the suggestion that he could make it all the way to the final. But we’ve seen producers working with the grain of the sympathy bounce on a regular basis. They know as well as we do that it usually lasts no more than one week, unless there are exceptional circumstances. That trend has continued this year, with Kingsland Road and Hannah (twice) crashing back to earth two weeks after their singoff, and only Tamera – saved in week 4 – getting a more extended bounce. This doesn’t bode well for Luke.
This week’s song choices are not encouraging either. Bon Iver’s ‘Skinny Love’ (which we know is well known to Luke, thanks to Saoirse) and Mumford & Sons’ ‘I Will Wait’ are far less iconic for an ITV audience than those of his rivals. As I mentioned on the podcast, I’m not convinced by Tamera’s choices of ‘The First Time Ever I saw Your Face’, popularised on this show by Matt Cardle, and Rihanna’s ‘We Found Love’, but at least they are well known to viewers.
They seem the most likely bottom two before the show, and the elimination market agrees with both sharing a best price of 13/8 to go. Given my belief that Tamera would be saved over Luke, the 13/8 about Luke makes far more appeal.
It’s 11/2 bar, which brings in Rough Copy. The fact that one of their songs is a mash-up of ‘Every Little Step’ and ‘She’s Got That Vibe’ seems to confirm what Sofabet readers will have suspected, which is that the well-treated group will be given every chance to bounce from their bottom two appearance last week. A mash-up makes for a more entertaining performance, as indicated by the likes of Rylan and Wagner. I expect the boyband to be pimped hard this week, and that may be enough.
At 10/1 to be eliminated, a price that has shortened from 16/1 over the last few days, is Nicholas. He would be a shock exit this week as much as he would have been last week, but those odds are a lot less generous than the 40/1 which I couldn’t resist taking a speculative punt on a week ago, when song choices indicated it wasn’t going to be a particularly positive week for him.
This week’s song choices – ‘Greatest Day’ and ‘Just The Way You Are’ – seem more solid on paper. And one of this week’s VTs (thanks, Heisenberg) looks likely to be based around his first driving lesson, focusing sympathetically on his tender age. As was the case going into last week, you would expect his regional and demographic advantages to see him safe again.
Last week’s treatment – a largely forgettable performance from first in the running order – felt like a mild deramp, certainly in contrast to Sam Bailey’s pimp slot praise. Producers seemed to be laying their cards on the table about which of the only two acts yet to hit a singoff is their preferred winner. I expect that mild deramping of Nicholas to continue, and I’ll be looking for any indication that producers think they can go further and get him in the bottom two. It will be especially interesting to listen to Gary Barlow, who penned and sang ‘Greatest Day’ and has criticised Nick’s lack of individuality for the last two weeks.
Producers have done everything they can for Sam Bailey since week 4, and I expect them to continue that treatment this week. They do have to guard against complacency though, partly engendered by The Sun story before the week 6 show that she was “unstoppable”. Sharon did this last week by reminding viewers “not to believe everything you read in the papers”. A bottom two appearance would be a shock even among the final five.
What are your thoughts on tonight’s quarter-finals? Do keep the conversation going below.