Betfair doesn’t open an X Factor outright market until after judges’ houses. That’s a great shame; in its absence, bookmakers are able to offer an astoundingly stingy range of prices, with nine acts at 13.0 or under. According to spoilers, some of those don’t even make judges’ houses.
Take Kerrianne Covell: backed down to a best-priced 10.0 after an emotional audition on Saturday. That’s a terrible waste of punters’ money, according to lists that don’t have her among the six girls joining Cheryl in the south of France. A Betfair outright market, which would presumably see her trading at much longer odds, would be telling for those not otherwise informed.
Back to those supposedly through to judges’ houses and shown this weekend. We kicked off with Chloe-Jasmine, getting the whole of Saturday’s first segment, playing her posh-and-kooky role to aplomb: “I cannot believe I’m here, I cannot believe I’m here. Well, obviously I can because I am here.”
Except she couldn’t quite carry off ‘Why Don’t You Do Right’ on this occasion. Simon and Cheryl acknowledged her nerves, though the latter had smiled beatifically throughout the audition. The show clearly has big plans for Chloe-Jasmine Waissel-Monroe, but she’s singing a niche style and not doing it effectively enough right now.
We finally got to hear Fleur East singing – she’s apparently made judges’ houses in the overs category. Her VT was a reminder that she’s failed in the lives before: in 2005 as part of Addictiv Ladies, with an admission that they lost their singoff to Chico. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Simon was also shown being completely uninterested by her solo room audition.
Fleur is black, not lacking in confidence and from London. She’s described as a nightclub singer: in the context of the show, that’s like a pub singer, only sleazier. When the judges put her through to bootcamp, it’s with little more than a yes. Simon doesn’t say, “I was so wrong to write you off in the room,” but something far more muted. Can we christen her Fleurna Simpson right now?
Emily Middlemas has a strong Glaswegian accent, which is far more useful in this competition. Her rendition of Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’ with acoustic guitar was Janet Devlin to the power of Abi Alton. Simon does say: “I think this girl is seriously, seriously good.” Otherwise, her treatment is pretty vanilla. If she does make it to the lives, I’m envisaging some Abi Alton-inspired dampening tactics to counter a strong regional vote.
Next up came Steph Nala, who introduced herself as one part of BGT finalists The Luminites, and was then described as “unemployed”. Ouch! She got barely more than a montage, her treatment reeking of producers doing the bare minimum for her. This was reinforced when she was sent down the memoryhole by Kerrianne Covell’s much longer segment.
Saturday’s pimp slot went to male over Ben Haenow, whose VT reminded us that he is 29 and very likeable. He’s got an unthreatening-looking long-term girlfriend who he wants to marry eventually. His rendition of ‘Wild Horses’ had Simon saying: “One to watch … I really like you … one of my favourite auditions so far.” He also reiterated a point made after the room audition when asking, “why have you not had a recording contract?”
The overall impression is of someone unfortunate not to be discovered yet. Simon again: “Every little gig you’ve done in the past led up to this.” His treatment has beta to JJ in the overs category written all over it, but Ben is eminently relatable and makeoverable, and cannot be completely dismissed, though a best price of 8.0 is plenty short enough at this stage.
Sunday’s show gave us three of the eightpiece boyband created at bootcamp. Charlie Jones had a brief but positive segment slowing down Spice Girls classic, ‘Wannabe’, Jake Sims, with his alternative looks was told, “You’ve got lead guy charisma,” whilst Tom Mann got rather more stick for his audition, but acknowledgement that his looks will get him far.
Sandwiched between them was 34-year-old Helen Fulthorpe, a humble, single mum of two with a tendency to oversing. She’s battling to be the gamma over with Fleur.
Jordan Morris apparently makes judges’ houses in the boys’ category, but a short clip, his first sighting, was sent down the memoryhole by Jake Quickenden, who reminded us of his backstory before breaking down, saying: “I don’t like people knowing that I’m vulnerable.”
Jake Kwikfit is a handsome chap and gives good tears. Everything is positive about his edit until Simon uses the classic comment, “You’re not the best singer in the competition, but…” What Simon is signalling when he says this is: there’s a ceiling to how far you can get in the competition.
The Sunday pimp slot went to Lola Saunders, once again mirroring Jay James’ position in the show the week before. It wasn’t quite as huge a pimping as JJ – there was no standing ovation from the judges, for example. But it was another edit which suggested alpha girl, representing Newcastle and Cheryl (it turns out her Dad is former Newcastle footballer Wes Saunders).
As in the room audition, there was a slow build-up as we watched her nervously waiting whilst those before her failed. Her grandparents were all emotion. She was dressed down in a way that will make the makeover more remarkable. On this occasion it looked like nerves would get the better of her on stage, before Mel gave her a hug.
Her rendition of ‘You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman’ was better than her room audition performance, and she is now a best-priced 7.5. Simon’s final comment was: “That’s the sort of person you want to win the show.”
Given that she and Chloe-Jasmine have been given edits that suggest they make the lives, there’ll be a significant pruning of the other girls doing well in the outright market. Which means there’s plenty of room for her price to come in further should she be in the final 12.
There was no sign of Blonde Electric, Only The Young, Chloe O’Gorman or Jack Walton singing in the arena auditions. That doesn’t necessarily scupper their chances of making the lives (in Blonde Electric’s case, it’s probably wise not to over-expose them), but it’s not an encouraging signal of producers’ intentions.
Let us know how you feel about the end of arena auditions, and what you’re looking forward to at bootcamp by continuing the conversation below.