Here at Sofabet, we look for clues of producers’ intentions at every stage of the competition. The pantomime nature of this year’s bootcamp made things a little more difficult: much of the time we were watching audience over-reactions or Cheryl hiding her head behind her hands.
The contrivances had lost all sense of logic by the time Louis chose his final contender by ordering a singoff between three acts. But then it had all started bewilderingly by rushing through an initial cull of half the acts. This usefully meant we didn’t see the performances that got members of the eventual eightpiece boyband rejected before miraculously marvelling with their group audition.
Let’s go through each category in turn to assess the lay of the land.
Lola Saunders, with her previous alpha girl edits (5m40s and 6:44 in length, both pimp slots), fell down the pecking order in betting markets after a forced rendition of ‘Finally’. Once again she seemed beset by nerves, but unlike her arena audition, this translated into her performance which was almost too bad to be true. Could it be that once hometown mentor Cheryl takes Lola under her wing, a remarkable transformation will take place? It wouldn’t be the first time.
More entertaining was Emily Middlemas (0:54 and 2:42 screentime in previous auditions) singing ‘Anything Could Happen’. Able to play guitar and piano, neither of which were on display here, she has a certain level of versatility and a strong regional vote, but I need more convincing that the show has big plans for her.
That last comment can be also be applied to Lauren Platt (1:21 and 6:02 screentime in previous auditions), now matching Lola at 11.0 in markets after a reasonable rendition of ‘Man In The Mirror’. Kerrianne Covell (5:39 and 6:30) has previously been ignored here under the mistaken impression she didn’t make judges’ houses. She was impressive again with ‘Gravity’ but my doubt is that she doesn’t have a look the show wants in its potential pop stars.
Could the final judges’ houses showdown be between humble working girls Shoeshop Kerrianne and Fishmonger Lola? If it’s to be heartbreak for the former, producers may look for Chloe-Jasmine to be the villain of the piece. She certainly was on Friday, called back for a place in her continued Waisselfication. Meanwhile, Steph Nala got virtually nada in proper screentime once again.
The first to finally impress mentor Mel B was Jake Quickenden, who has shed more tears on our TV screens in the last month than we’ve had rain. This was another edit that suggests he makes the live shows. The same can’t be said of Jordan Morris and Danny Dearden, almost montaged in comparison, but both are in the final six. Treated slightly better was Jack Walton, who disappeared during the arena auditions having shown promise in the closed room.
The focus came down to the last two to perform, especially Andrea Faustini, who got extended screentime for his rendition of ‘I Didn’t Know My Own Strength’. He had the female judges in tears and got a standing ovation from all but Cheryl. I’ve always felt Andrea was an ideal act for the lives and find him very likeable as well as talented, but a best price of 6.0, which makes him joint-second best in the win market, seems short for someone who the show is presenting as “kooky foreign guy”.
Still, he overshadowed the shorter segment given to Paul Akister afterwards. After his rejection at judges’ houses last year, Paul came to this series with more momentum than anyone else, but this edit at bootcamp suggests a policy of gradually letting the air out of the balloon, hence his drift to 7.0. Simon Cowell may have stood up after the performance, but we didn’t even get to hear what he had to say about it.
Ben Haenow continued his profile as strong beta back-up in this category, wowing audience and judges with ‘Hotel California’. Simon Cowell once again reminded us: “This is what this show is all about …. Finding someone who for whatever reason hasn’t had a break.”
There’s no doubt who Simon’s alpha is, Jay James managing his third audition pimp slot on Saturday night. His position at the head of the win market – a best price 5.0 – reflects the fact that no one has received more preferential treatment so far.
The category is rather clear-cut with Stevi Ritchie seemingly an obvious novelty wildcard pick from Louis, whilst Helen, Lizzie and Fleur fight it out for the chance to be the gamma over. We’ve commented before that the live shows may contain a rather embarrassing lack of diversity, and Fleur would at least be a token way of addressing that.
The Brooks were first to get a seat, but were duly sent down the memoryhole by the extended explanation given to the formation of the eightpiece boyband. It may be Louis’s category, but it was made abundantly clear that Simon was pulling the strings, as he shepherded them through the process. He was the one who told the other judges, “I wanna do something crazy” in making them an eightpiece, then broke the news to the boys.
Their rendition of ‘Run’ went smoothly and was unsurprisingly followed by a four-judge standing ovation. Our commenters have largely been sceptical of an attempt to make a boyband of eight, and I have tended to agree. But in terms of looks, only Reece Bibby is incongruously baby-faced against some of the older members, whilst it will be easier to pretend there isn’t a chorus of voices on any backing track. They’re 6.0 joint-second best in the win market.
The manufactured girlband got laughably shorter shrift by comparison, but at least they made it to judges’ houses after a farcical singoff. Blonde Electric were given an edit which suggests they’re in the live shows, and they’re just the kind of act Louis loves. I like what they bring to the competition, but the twins will struggle for votes.
The final two spots went to acts who may suffer in the shadow of the eightpiece boyband – they certainly did on Sunday. Only The Young showed promise in their room audition before failing to make the edit at the next stage. They weren’t given a huge amount of singing time here. The same can be said for Concept. If this neglect continues, both face an uphill struggle if they make the lives.
What were your thoughts on the dramatic bootcamp shows and what they mean for the future hopes of each act? Let us know below.