This post seems somewhat redundant, in that the point of these staging and lighting reviews is to look for clues about who’s favoured and who’s not – and at this stage, does anyone doubt that producers would happily cut off Scotland’s phone network if they could? Still, though, we’ve done the first eight weeks, let’s not give up now.
In the comments, Fudd wondered if the backdrop behind the “little boy from Devon” was gold and sunny (good connotations) or a fiery explosion (bad connotations). I suppose the point is that if we can’t figure it out then it probably isn’t having much subliminal effect. After watching twice, I’m tempted just to file it under “Windows 95 screensaver”.
And any ideas on what those lights were supposed to represent? In close-up they looked like slow-motion flashing lights on emergency response vehicles, in long shot they resembled pelican crossing poles:
Time now for another game of “Where’s Nicky?”
“Told you he’d never hit that high note!”
Chandeliers for Sam Bailey for the second week in a row – the connotation, presumably, is class? She gets another Windows 95 screensaver-style backdrop of floating blue debris, and she gets lighting that you could see as all over the place (something we were told was seen as a warning signal by last year’s acts) but which didn’t come across as distracting, more like having a twinkly star effect:
This is what you’d call distracting lighting, even more so when you get the strobing effect:
As with last week for Rough Copy, it was a game of two halves – it seemed to be staging and styling in the first song with an eye to post-show positioning, and in the second round with a view to reassuring Middle England. Of course, they’d also had terrible staging in week 7, when they hit the bottom two and were saved. On which subject, Daniel texted me a Betsfactor-style observation on the styling – he remembered that in that week 7 performance, they’d had camo gear and Timberland boots:
This week, camo gear and – in one case – Timberland boots:
Phew! They’ve located the bottom of Sam Bailey’s staircase:
We had speculated in the show review post about whether shuffling the order (mixing up Nick and Luke, and Sam and Rough Copy) might have been intended to have some marginal effect on the votes by confusing a small proportion of voters into voting on second round performance order rather than first. Happy to be put right on that one by Chatterbox5200, who was in the audience:
Watching from the studio audience, I noticed how long it took the team to assemble the staircase staging for Nic’s second performance. They needed all the time of an advert break and a VT to do so. To take it apart, and remove it from the stage, also took the about the same time. As Luke’s staging for his second performance was minimal, and the time allocated was only the time left from a VT (no ad break) after removing Nic’s staging I truly believe that that this was the reasoning for the change in order, rather than any intention to confuse the audience with the voting numbers.
As Cade said in the comments, “Those were some insane wide shots for Nick. They barely focused on him.”
It wouldn’t be Nick staging without some gold spotlights, though. And that’s a nice little visual representation of their treatment of Nick throughout – so much that’s not helpful, but never a full-on assault, always leavened by something that is helpful.
Luke did indeed get minimal staging for his next performance, as Chatterbox said. He had his hair worn back for the first time since he was busker-from-Devon-ed in week 5. He got an inverted-V (in close-up) or an X (in long-shot) of light, which pulled back midsong, and another screensaveresque backdrop of what looks like slowly turning cogs:
As Fudd noted apropos Rough Copy, “The staging for the second song at the start was questionable, sitting back to back as though in disagreement”:
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Perhaps we should have been reminded of this image of District 3, which we used in our first ever headlong foray into this subliminal messaging malarkey last year:
Still, this image is much worse – the cage of light adds to the sense that District 3 are trapped and running out of options, whereas Rough Copy look more like they’re the centre of attention at a cocktail party.
Their backdrop was leafless trees festooned with lights. Christmassy? Or, in retrospect, perhaps a bit too bleak midwintry?
Onto Sam’s pimp slot for ‘Candle In The Wind’, and you could certainly make a case that this isn’t helpful, couldn’t you? Big plinth, lights everywhere:
The plinth question is interesting. The reason we have speculated – and it remains pure speculation – that plinths are generally unhelpful is that it gives a kind of disconnecting sense of “who do they think they are, up there”. If that’s the case, perhaps you could argue that there comes a point when plinths become helpful, when they are used to bestow a winner’s aura – perhaps the equation is whether, in viewers’ minds, it seems the act has deserved the right to be elevated so.
As for the lighting, it was moving slowly – unlike in Rough Copy’s first performance – and the overall effect was a dreamlike swirl of purples and blues, towards the end resembling a supernova:
Do let us know your staging theories from the semi, and generally share your news and views as the final buildup continues, in the comments section below.