X Factor 2014 Judges Houses Preview

During the last series we wrote an article about why we were finding 2013 boring, and why we thought 2010 was great. Producers evidently feel the same. The parallels between this year’s series and 2010’s are so far uncanny.

Simon is back, as is Brian Friedman. We have 16 acts, with wildcards, and presumably some potential for fun with last-minute double eliminations. We have a manufactured 8-piece boyband playing the role of One Direction. We have Chloe-Jasmine starring as Katie Waissel. Stevi Ritchie appears to be an inspired piece of casting as Wagner. We even have an eccentric Italian in the boys, albeit Andrea Faustini looks likely to last longer than Nicolo Festa. Blonde Electric fill Diva Fever’s shoes as the annoyingly chirpy double act.

But there are also some intriguing differences with 2010. Here are five things we’ll be looking out for at judges’ houses for clues as to how producers see this series panning out.

1. How are the 8-piece gelling?

All the evidence so far points to this season of X Factor effectively being a 16-week launching pad for the 8-piece boyband’s intended post-show career as the replacement One Direction. Just watch the hilariously heavy-handed use of audience and judge reaction shots in their bootcamp performance. It’s bordering on Kim Jong-Un levels of messianic fervour.

Producers have already done a more thorough job of introducing their “pieces of eight” than they’d done at the same stage with One Direction, when we’d seen Harry and Liam in auditions and seen Simon putting an avuncular arm around Zayn at bootcamp, but didn’t yet know much about Louis or Niall. All our eightpiece have now had some significant screentime at some point and are recognisable to viewers.

Producers also introduced free app voting, which you would think should benefit acts appealing to the younger demographic. They clearly want this boyband to work. The question is, will it?

2. Who’s lined up as the girl wildcard?

The girls category has already been subject to confusing spoilers this year, as it was wrongly reported from bootcamp that Kerrianne was swapped out for Chloe-Jasmine’s return, whereas it was Chloe O’Gorman who made way.

Usually by this point in proceedings the betting tells its own story, with bookmakers having pushed out the odds on acts rumoured not to have made it. But here we have Kerrianne, Lola, Lauren and Emily all trading in the 10/1 to 16/1 range, and at least one of them must miss out as it would be a major shock if Chloe-Jasmine isn’t in this for the long haul. There have even been longstanding rumours of Steph Nala making it, though this has looked less and less likely as her paucity of screentime has seen her drift to 40/1. Kudos to producers for keeping us guessing.

Arguably more interesting than who does make it is who misses out, given the reported format of this year’s wildcards: each judge chooses for the one to their right – so Simon chooses for Cheryl, Cheryl for Mel, and so on. Presumably producers wouldn’t have come up with this unless they intended to weave at least one or two of the choices into the series narrative. And having Simon be able to say “she’s your best girl, Cheryl, and I chose her for you” seems a likely contender for a recurring theme of judgely banter. We therefore wonder if the alpha girl might actually prove to be the wildcard, rather than one of the three who make it this weekend.

The likeliest contenders, about both of whom there have been conflicting rumours, seem to be Lola (given an alpha girl edit up to her bootcamp disappointment) and Lauren (about whom Simon has said nice things). They got contrasting judge reaction shots at bootcamp – rapt and smiling for Lauren, wincing for Lola. On the face of it, the edit pointing out Lola’s poor performance in this way isn’t a promising sign for her – but could it possibly be part of a narrative that sees her dramatically rejected only to be reinstated by Simon?

If this is the plan, we want the full Melanie Amaro treatment, please. Let’s have Cowell driving to South Shields, donning a disguise, entering Lola’s fish shop and asking her to gut a gurnard. As she does so, tearfully reflecting on what might have been, he takes off the dark glasses and fake moustache and tells her she’s in the lives.

3. Who are looking like the other wildcards?

Spoilers in the other categories seem to be more settled – though, of course, they could still be wrong. The three chosen in the overs this weekend are rumoured to be Jay James, Ben and Fleur, whose deeply unpromising treatment continued at bootcamp: billed again as a “nightclub singer” while introduced sitting with legs spread and singing “all I wanna do is take your money”.

Louis then chooses Simon’s wildcard, and we will be sorely disappointed if it isn’t Stevi Ritchie, the former Pontins bluecoat who gives every indication of being well up for seven weeks of gloriously ridiculous Brian Friedman performances before being sent out first to sing ‘Creep’ with no backing dancers. Here again the wildcard format offers scope for long-running judge banter, of the “why did you lumber me with him, Louis?” / “People like him, Simon” variety.

In the boys, it’s Andrea, Paul and Jake who spoilers have in the final 12, and Jack Walton joining them as a wildcard chosen by Cheryl. It’s hard to believe producers will want Jack hanging around for too long, as the act closest to the 8-piece’s niche.

Spoilers have the 8-piece, Blonde Electric and Only The Young making it from Louis’s groups. It has been claimed that Overload, the boyband rejected at bootcamp, could possibly get the wildcard here, which would be odd – partly because previous wildcards have all come from judges’ houses rejects, but mostly because why would they want another boyband? True, FYD were included alongside One Direction and quickly nobbled in 2010 – but as District3 showed two years later, boybands can survive early nobbling attempts.

In our view it would make more sense for Mel to put the manufactured girlband through as Louis’s fourth act, to fulfil the pre-Little Mix traditional function of girlbands on the show: some tabloid titillation followed by, a la Belle Amie, being sent out to perform in coffins.

4. What’s the thinking with crowding Jay James’s niche?

The big difference so far with 2010 is that there are not one, not two but four or arguably five acts auditioning to play the role of Matt Cardle. Jay James has been shown most producer love so far, but the inclusion of Ben Haenow in his category presumably indicates that producers feel the need for a backup for Simon in case Jay James fails to fly with the voting public.

Then we have two mid-20s males in the boys, too – Paul and Jake – and we can arguably even throw in 20 year old Andrea as competing for the same demographic, given that he doesn’t look likely to be fishing too much in the teenbait pool of the 8-piece.

What gives? Possibly the plan is simply to give each of them a moment in the sun in the first half of the series, keeping it interesting and rotating the momentum to ensure nobody streaks clear in the votes as Cardle did, while the boyband has time to bed down.

5. What happens with the wildcards and the betting markets?

The revelation of the final 12 on Sunday night is usually the starting gun for those looking to lay and trade on various Betfair X Factor markets. But the picture may not be clear by then as presumably the wildcards won’t be revealed until the start of the first live show, as happened in 2010.

Bookmakers have a couple of options here: just to include all the judges’ houses acts, as Betfred do in their top in each category markets. But as we’ve been told, the wildcards may not be acts rejected at judges’ houses. In which case, bookmakers may be safer stipulating “wildcard” or “any other”. Either way, careful monitoring is required.

What are your thoughts on these issues, and what else should we be watching out for at judges’ houses? Let us know below.

94 comments to X Factor 2014 Judges Houses Preview

  • lolhart

    I’m still sceptical that this 8 member boyband is going to work and this is going to turn out to be more of a Union J than One Direction situation. The thing with K-Pop boybands with 5 plus members is they work because everyone has a clear role in the group (lead vocalist, main vocalist, rapper, and dancer). It’s going to be difficult for them to get the target demo to connect with 8 members. Also, the boyband market is a lot more overcrowded than back in 2010. It is funny how they are clearly aping 2010 with the cast of characters. Fleur will probably be the TreyC who gets the boot in a controversial elimination against one of the novelty acts or Chloe-Jasmine.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Enjoyable article. One question – is there anyone there apart from the eight piece who is likely to sell a lot of records? At the moment I can’t see anyone, so if the 8 piece don’t work out it will be interesting to see who TPTB get behind.

    • Nissl

      Likely to sell a lot? I don’t think so.

      If you forced me to invest money in one of the acts from the show other than the boyband, I would still probably invest in OtY despite the disappointing bootcamp – they’re young, charismatic, good looking, and bring something not currently on the market. Unfortunately, they’re in the same category as the boyband.

      Past that I really don’t know who I would back. Ben’s pretty sexy (at least as far as I can tell as a hetero guy), but he’s also pretty old…. Jack Walton maybe, but they won’t want him to stick around either. Overload and Concept would be my other thoughts, but enough said there.

  • David Cook

    Following the weekend it seems as if TPTB really are taking the boy band very seriously and to me it looks like they will be this years plan A. I think Jay will be there as a reliable plan B if the boy band don’t take off. As Jessica has suggested above I just don’t see any other act which looks like they could go on to success after the show. The boy band don’t need to win as One Direction showed, but it would help if they did.
    Everything points to the boy band being given the best possible support to get through at least to the final. Minimal direct competion from other acts in thier own demographic whilst at the same time seemingly splitting the vote for the boys / overs.
    One other factor is that whilst you can make a case as to why Jay, Paul and Andrea (possibly Ben and Jake as well) could all win, it strikes me that all of them could be vulnerable to being de-ramped or killed off should TPTB desire.

    • Jessica Hamby

      They can damn the other acts with faint praise sequentially and nuke them all, as they did in 2011.

      Unless Little Prix turn out to sing out of tune like Rough Copy I think we’ll get to see some amazing producer tactics as week after week acts get vapourised.

      If that is the case, in terms of eliminations and b2 predictions this season could turn out to be a punters paradise.

  • KaraokeSauron

    ‘Little Prix’ – really? One of them is 14, for heaven’s sake!

    I’m all for condescension towards X-Factor finalists but personally I feel this particular epithet needs to be stopped in its tracks. (Just my opinion.)

    Other than that, some good arguments here as to why they’re likely to be very serious players. I’m currently predicting a Faustini, JJ and 8-pc rostrum – in no particular order as yet.

    Also, Quickenden at 20/1 has EW appeal… Seems like it’s a year for the boys.

    • David Cook

      Based on the present state of play I’m in agreement with your top three. I feel that they can just about guarantee the boy band a top three place even if it requires a bit of manipulation to do it. Whether the other two make it that far may depend upon how well the boy band are doing and the degree of threat which they pose.

    • Jessica Hamby

      I think you’re making a fuss over nothing. If I call somone a prick I’m not talking about his actual genitals any more than I want to have sex if I say fuck you. However I’m not here to offend so I’ll find another name for them until they get an official one.

  • qwerty1234

    I think it will be Andrea, not JJ that will be the trouble maker for the producers. He’s probably the best vocalist of all of the contestants, and he’s all anybody is talking about. If they allow him to find his feet early on, after week three they may find him difficult to deramp.

    • KaraokeSauron

      I fully agree… However, I think he may nobble himself – or be assisted in that by TPTB ‘forgetting’ to apply auto-tune at some point. I noticed that his second performance (the arena) sounded to my ears much less tuneful/controlled than his other two. That may have been for organic reasons but we know little is left to chance in TXF. The interesting thing about this second performance is that, while still good, he trilled, riffed and generally over sang in a way which reminded me strongly of Jahmene.

      Jahmene’s treatment was always very positive, but in the end his overly stylised gospel vocal mannerisms were too busy for the GB public to fully get behind. One of the beauties if the 8-pc, I think, will be a traditional emphasis on melody lines rather than said riffing – a factor I think could be crucial.

      An over-reliance on big songs traditionally sung by female divas could also scupper Faustini in the final… As with the exception of McElderry, I can’t recall an openly/overtly gay-camp winner. (And Joe wasn’t camp.)

      • qwerty1234

        I think you’re right. His personality is also dangerously novel, and if TPTB play on that too much, as you said, the camp this may hinder the public from warming to him no matter how great his vocal appears to be.

        I think their early treatment of him will be very telling. The public always gets behind a strong vocalist – many people still maintain that this is a “singing” competition and it should be treated as such, particularly the older viewers so I’ll be interested to see which tactics the producers use to try and contain him.

        • KaraokeSauron

          We’re bound to hear the following line from Louis at some point: ‘Andrea! You’re the best singer in the competition! But…’

          a) Are you what we’re looking for?
          b) Do you have the X-Factor?
          c) Will you sell records?

          Any of the above, and possibly all three!

      • Jessica Hamby

        Have to say I’m shocked at the suggestion that the Brutish don’t love camp. Have you seen Strictly? Or Simon Cowell?

  • David Cook

    I think that one of the things that is crucial to the leading acts in the ‘boys’ and ‘overs’ is song choice. At the moment I don’t see a lot of versatility, which in XF is actually quite important to maintaining momentum throughout the lives. It’s going to be intesting to see the categories and song choices each week to see if they help or hinder any of the boys.
    Choose a category that takes the boys outside of thier comfort zone (to use the XF phrase) and some of them could be in trouble.

    • qwerty1234

      I think we’ll see a suitably vague range of theme weeks like we did last year. Movie songs, number ones, best of British etc. Did we not have just one artist-specific week last week, and even that was the bizzare Elton John vs Beyonce theme?!

      It’s been rumoured that the first week is #1s, and even that is the widest of categories. Jahmene gave us “Listen” that week – I’m no chart buff but I’m fairly certain that wasn’t a #1, not in the UK anyway.

      In terms of versatility – I think the main players in the boys and overs are just different enough to keep an interest. I predict that we’ll have JJ doing big, emotional songs each week – he will be the one that repeats a few Matt Cardle song choices. Paul Akister will be shoved in the soul/Motown hole and be criticized for not “switching it up” enough. I think that will be the route they use to deramp him. Ben Haenow will be the “rock” token – if he doesn’t get “Don’t Stop Believing” at some point I will be amazed.
      Jake Quickenden is the only one that doesn’t seem to have a “lane” at the minute. I think that, if he does make it through as rumoured, he will be an early exit. He’s a bit too old for the teen demo to truly get behind and his vocal isn’t amazing. Depends how much they play on his dead brother and how many more rivers he can cry.

  • annie

    I can see the 8 piece boyband working in Real Life, post show.
    Good voices, cute smiles, pretty faces, a lot to choose from for all the teens and pree-teens out there. They will sell records, but mostly posters, magazines, dolls, perfumes. everything,.

    But I am curious how they will be able to push them forward. One of my biggest worries is that 8 people is way to much to showcase in the format of the show. Especially in the earlier weeks, segments for each act, packages as well as performances are so short, how will they manage from keeping them looking like a bad hectic choir mess or lead singer(s) and backup?

    • KaraokeSauron

      The interesting thing about this boy band is – from what I’ve heard – they can all sing. (And I’m usually pretty critical.) Not only that, but it boasts a wide range of different types of voices (compounded by the age range), some of which are very distinctive. A decent musical director will know how to arrange the vocal parts to play on each boy’s strengths; and I think this variety could be highly effective in mobilising a tween/teen girl audience – who will be anxiously awaiting her ‘favourite’, and get voting whether he is the lead featured singer or – even more so – if he was in her mind under-represented and needs to be featured more prominently next time.

      As a general rule though – I think James Graham will be the king pin, rolled out for the big, climatic lines. (As he was at boot camp.)

      I would expect a couple of early pimp slots to be used to help drive recognition, etc. And Louis in particular can be relied upon to list all their names before his critique.

  • Dan

    It is looking rather good for the eight piece at the moment. Just wait for a bit of inspired naming when the time comes to show how serious TPTB are about them. It’ll surely be more than an afterthought unlike Rythmix/Little Mix.

    One other thing I have to add is that with the eight members, TPTB really have their options open with how the thing is organised – shove a few to the back or even drop a couple mid-series if it isn’t working out. The wide age range will bring in a wider voting demographic – tweens, teens, and twenty-somethings, especially with the app and free voting.

    • R

      They could have a competition to name the band. This would get the public involved.

    • Jessica Hamby

      K-pop and J-pop big boybands often split into subgroups and release records as smaller entities while staying part of the larger group. Wouldn’t be a srprise to see Cash Cowell do the same thing.

      As for their progress, I expect every act except them to get nuked at some point. They did it in 2011, they can do it again now.

  • David

    Regarding Jay James, I have backed him but I don’t think he is as likeable as other previous winners. His personality comes across as a bit distant and vague. I’d describe his likeability as Steve Brookstein but with a better voice.

  • Daily Star have got the pictures of the final 12. Well it looks like they posted it by accident and then took it down, but here is the Google cache:

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.dailystar.co.uk/tv/x-factor/402945/X-Factor-final-12

    The girls are Chloe, Lauren and Steph, and all as expected in the other categories. I guess this must mean we won’t find out who the wildcards are this weekend.

    • qwerty1234

      I was just about to bring the link here. I think that all looks pretty spot on, the only surprise being the lack of Lola, but that opens her up for the wildcard, as many expected.

      I think Sundays show is being billed as a “surprise” – I think we can safely assume that means that the wildcards will be revealed then? Unless they’re just going to drop the bomb about a wildcard from each category and then leave us waiting until the first live show to find out who they are.

  • Jack

    Hey everyone, back this year after not focusing too much on 2013, as it didn’t really capture my attention. This year has been far more interesting and I do see a couple of acts with potential.
    Normally DS are quite accurate with their spoilers, but this year seems to be quite manic. However, according to the Daily Star, the Final 12 have been leaked: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.dailystar.co.uk/tv/x-factor/402945/X-Factor-final-12

    They are as follows:

    Boys

    Paul Akister
    Andrea Faustini
    Jake Quickenden

    Girls

    Lauren Platt
    Steph Nala
    Chloe Jasmine

    Overs

    Jay James
    Ben Haenow
    Fleur East

    Groups

    Only the Young
    Blonde Electric
    8 Piece Boyband

    This is broadly in line with most spoilers that have been seen so far. My big question is what happens if Emily is the girls wildcard instead of Lola? If that’s the case, then it could well suggest Lauren being the Alpha-girl, which would be a bit of a surprise. Obviously, not much word on the wildcards yet, but they’ll probably be revealed next week.

    Still think they could well be angling for a Boyband/Jay/Paul final, but I hope the girls pull in more votes than that!

  • I’d still be very surprised if they didn’t make Lola the wildcard, unless she seriously messed up at judges houses like at bootcamp. They could be playing the long game and invite her back next year I suppose.

  • Nissl

    Random thoughts.

    The big difference with 2010 for me is that there’s nobody who can sing as well as Matt or Rebecca. Nobody is consistently emotionally connected in their voice, versus “emoting”, if you follow me. The ones who show flashes of it seem to think that throwing their voices all over the place is how you *really* sing well. Consequently I’m having a hard time getting up for this year despite a field that is far more interesting/entertaining than recent ones. I actually just realized the show is coming on while writing up this post. While the field’s talent weakness would seemingly pave the way for the boyband – who might have the strongest voice in the comp – it might also make it tough for them to win back viewers, many of whom tuned in for Matt and Rebecca, not 1D.

    I don’t bet, but if I did I would be on the boyband, who I think may have the best voice in James as well as the best likability and attractiveness between their various members. I would otherwise probably be waiting for the lives for an EW bet on one or two of the Cardle-likes. As for the post-show, half the band strikes me as 1D-tier, half as more Union J, and the market is crowded. It’ll be interesting to follow.

    Will we see them make a Little Mix replacement next year, or have they concluded from their experiments with 5H and LM that it still isn’t worth it?

  • Chatterbox5200

    Not that it was a surprise, but the 8 piece boyband were introduced by name and age (unlike the new girl group), were the last group to be put through, and then the audience were given the opportunity to name the group……Hmm, I wonder which is the Alpha group?!

  • Dean

    No doubt Andrea is plan B minimum. Given the last slot tonight. Huge again

  • Nissl

    No reject/gamma montaging this year, instead they just mix the narratives of acts together so we don’t get to know them. Interesting.

    OtY – The blonde guy might have made a good boyband member. There just isn’t the individual star power or connection there with this group, despite good chemistry with each other.

    BE – Best vocal performance yet? (I didn’t say it was *good.*) I notice both of the other live acts were on early.

    Boyband – Still not quite seeing the Harry or Zayn in this group. Seeing several Liams (although a notch down vocally). Jake is the most interesting. Barclay, Tom, and what’s-his-name are the best looking. James is the best voice but he needs to look less impressed with himself. All those name reminders? Name the band? I guess the show is find with showing its hand here.

    Girlband – Good individual voices, sound very good but not exceptional together. Didn’t find any of them as instantly interesting/charismatic as say LM’s Jade.

    Concept – That wasn’t a great performance the show selected. Only the tallest white guy and black lead singer have a good bit of star power, really.

    Brooks – Meh performance to me. Agreed not ready.

    Overload – My theory (if they get the wildcard) is that they’re fodder for the boyband to build up its rep as the group that can “really sing.”

    Jack – That was a bit of a bland performance, wasn’t it? Good voice but it just doesn’t break through. Great looking, still think maybe they missed by not putting him in the band.

    Andrea – Looks like more and more of a threat, and now he got a pimp slot. I still have yet to be drawn in by one of his performances like the judges seemingly are, despite the obvious passion. So much vibrato.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Interesting name change by Blonde Electra. Louis and Tulisa still carping on the “annoying” label so they are clearly not marked for the final. Seems like a shame to me. I don’t find them at all annoying. I love them. Probably the most charismatic of all the acts left I think that if given a chance they could be very popular. Sadly they’re clearly the gamma group and going to be competing with Stevie to be top clown.

  • Nissl

    So the boyband is asking for no names with “8” in the title. Maybe it’s just after seeing what a mess the 5ive name made their reunion, but still one of the things that makes you go hmmm…

  • Jessica Hamby

    Watching on catchup I can’t help cracking up at Louis & Tulisa’s agonised conversation about whom to keep and whom to reject. As soon as you start thinking that the show is decided and manipulated from top to toe then large parts of it, especially the emotions and the agonising, start to look like set-ups and misdirection. Might as well be watching Made In Chelsea.

    • David Cook

      What do you mean? Here in maison Cook we were on the edge of our seats. Would it be the boy band or the Brookes. The tennsion was almost unbearable.

      • Jessica Hamby

        I love the way they don’t mention the names of any of the bands and the remarks are so general and vague they could apply to any or all of the acts. I suspect they had their lines written on the little cards they were holding. I bet Cheryl, Mel and Simon are given the same cards (replacing ‘them’ with ‘her’ or ‘him’) and they just shuffle them and hope the viewers don’t notice.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Andrea’s success or not depends entirely on the will of TPTB. The difficult thing for him is that there aren’t many people writing original songs for a voice like his (and those that are are either singer/songwriters or elling songs to Celine Dion and Barbara Streisand) so he’s going to find it hard to sell records. For that reason if nothing else TPTB will only favour The Octopussies over him.

  • Fudd

    I apologise if this has been said already but one thing is nagging me about the promotion of the 8 piece boyband – Louis being their mentor. Louis is the joke mentor; I think he was given the boys last year to try and dampen Nicholas’ vote slightly as the production team would have been aware he had the mum and gran vote behind him. And even then he had to be nobbled to halt momentum.

    So why give their prize piece to Louis? They often like the new mentor to win the first series and Mel B getting the groups would be rational. Simon getting the Groups and Louis the Overs wouldn’t be overly shocking either.

    Which begs the question is the eight piece – who still lack an identity one week off the first live show – the true plan A or are they a backup? And if the latter, who is the true plan A?

    With the constant support shown to the ‘new’ mentor on the show each series common sense says that they’re targeting the Boys to have the winner this year. Paul has a background on the show, has a RnB vibe which is slightly more modern than Andrea and has had a complete restyle – put it this way, I don’t think he was behind that. Andrea has an ‘old’ tone and would be another winner along the lines of Sam Bailey. Jake would need to find a groove to have a chance and Jack appears limited albeit talented.

    But, as alluded to in the original article, the wildcards could gain a sympathy vote which may just push a favourite forward. I think one of the favoured acts will get this kind of support – and logic says it will be the girls as they’re getting the Sunday show. We haven’t had a ‘girl’ winner since series 5 so they may think now is the time. But they’ll have to go some to sway the public.

    • Henry VIII

      On the contrary they may want poor old Louis to have a win after 11 years. They like 1st’s.

      • Jessica Hamby

        Louis had Shane Ward in x-factor 2. I have to say, though, I think the idea that there is meaningful competition between the judges is complete nonsense. It’s a red-herring. It’s misdirection so that viewers don’t think the show, the judges comments, the editing etc are all guiding you to pick the winner they want.

        • Henry VIII

          Thanks, correction – first win for Louis in 9 years.

          The judges competition is pantomime but XF does plan which act they want to win, or do as well as possible, so then they’re also choosing a favoured judge for that year.

          • R

            This is why I’ve been interested in Cheryl’s negative editing and some of the nasty comments she’s been coming out with.

            I’ve felt that she has been deramped as much as some of the past contestants and this will impact, to some extent, her ability to gain votes for the girls.

    • Jessica Hamby

      I gots to know…. why a ‘girl’ winner. Were Leona and Alexandra only so-called girls? Were they songbots? Dod they actually have *gasp* … wait for it … Little Prix?

    • Dan

      So why give their prize piece to Louis?

      Cowell’s the bad guy and probably drives votes away from his category. He pulls the strings whatever – “New Boy Band” was his idea. One other thing to remember is the Louis has managed two very successful boy bands, a fact he’ll no doubt mention many times during the series.

    • Face

      oops… premature posting!

      was about to say that while I agree they have tried to recreate many from 2010 (i.e. 8 piece boyband = 1D, maybe Lola is this years Gamu etc..)…

      I also see similarities with other casts from other years…

      The overs category is reminiscent of 2009… that year they were lead by Simon and had 2 strong male contenders… are Ben & Jay this years Danyl & Olly?

      The Katie W impersonator aside… the other 2 supposed girl finalists this year (Lauren & Steph) remind me of 2008s Alex & Diana… but a bit lower on stage presence… though it is early days and both those 2008 girls didn’t really take off till a week or 2 into the live shows…

      OYT are this years Same Difference… will they make Andrea into this years Rhydian…

  • Dan

    Clear that “New Boy Band” are the alpha group and probable plan A if you ever had any doubts. The only possible wildcard in this category has to be “New Girl Group” – Louis stated that The Brooks weren’t ready and Concept will split the NBB vote. Why the name change for Blonde Electric/Electra also? It was completely glossed over in the show.

    Thanks to the other contributors for posting the pics of the final 12. The girls category looks incredibly weak and I’m surprised by the lack of Emily Middlemas – wildcard perhaps? Otherwise you have obvious gamma Stephanie Nala, Chloe Jasmine with a lack of versatility, and the nice, but very ordinary Lauren Platt.

    The Boys category looks interesting – I’m still trying to work out the alpha/beta/gamma positions and this is made difficult by the inclusion of Andrea Faustini. On one hand, they could treat him as the joke foreign act, on the other, he’s likable and can actually sing – a winner with the “Everymum” vote. Absolutely no idea who they’ll bring back as a wildcard as the other three contestants have been relatively anonymous.

    With the Overs, again another obvious gamma in Fleur East. An X-Factor first also being a contestant in the live finals in two series. Jay James likely alpha here although Ben Haenow is the better singer in my opinion. If Louis is choosing the wildcard then it can only be Stevi Ritchie.

    Overall then, “New Boy Band” (in whatever form it ends up in) to win. I already have money on the groups category to win.

  • uncalquera

    Hi everyone!

    For me, New Boy Band’s treatment was a little bit over the top. A little bit too much, indeed. It was almost as if the producers had a checklist of the tactics we had been saying they would use and then decided to use them all:

    Namechecking (+age): Check
    Feelgood video about their bonding: Check
    Recaps of their “incredible” bootcamp: Check
    Tulisa’s faked surprise: Check

    They even opened a competition for their name as someone said they would do! I don’t know about you, but I felt some of a collective tribute there.

    The fact is that all of this has been making my brain’s ache… might it be the case that the producers are being somewhat playful towards us trying to make us, collectively, look foolish in thinking that the Boy Band are plan A, when they are not after all?

    These cannot be considered more than random thoughts, but there they go:
    -Being over the top in their pimping during auditions to the point people get aware of it, making audience feel suspicious they are fake/manufactured.
    -Pimping at the beginning of the shows, then deramping…
    -Great final deramp the week 1D’s make their yearly visit.
    -Narrative-Objective: No one can dethrone 1D as World’s best band.

    That would explain why it is Louis and not Simon the one mentoring them…

    Over the top conspiranoia on my part? Perhaps, but everything could happen with this production team…

    • Jessica Hamby

      Why would they bother? We assume that they have a specific result in mind and bias the presentation in order to achoeve a specfic result, not that they bias the presentation in order to dupe posters on a (forgive me Andrew and Daniel) obscure tv betting website. Whay you’re suggesting doesn’t make sense because it’s not in their interests.

      • UnCalquera

        I was suggesting (or, better worded, shamelessly conspiranoiing) 2 different things:

        1. Boy band is not plan A, but only an illusion of a plan A, designed to fail and highlight 1D grandness by comparison.

        2. In their designing a red herring, the production team are cracking a laugh at us (not us-sofabet, but us-everyone analysing their machinations), in a meta-game of outdoing the analysers.

        Yep I know Ockham wouldn’t be proud of this. My fault. But I still think it was way too much.

  • The New Boy Band look like an experiment. Social media was smaller during the time of 1D and their following blossomed into something bigger than anything before them (including Justin Bieber imho). Now, they may be hard-pressed to get that same amount of support because there’s too much going on in the real world, especially if they overlap with boy bands that are established already.

    They could very well zoom to the top; they could also be a decoy for their real favourite and we will see them thrown under the bus soon. Being pimped now could just mean being set up for the big fall soon.

  • Natasha

    After seeing Andrea’s performance at judges houses last night, he is still the one i see winning for reasons which I have previously stated

  • Nissl

    I don’t really have that much to say about the boys. Danny and Jordan (who I just caught on Youtube due to missing the start of the show) were both pretty good, frankly. Stage career for Danny? Jordan is a little gawky so I would advise him to try to do something “authentic” outside XF, probably. Go start work as a vocalist for some EDM producers maybe. Also I “got” Paul a little more this performance, I guess. He’s dangerous.

    In the overs… I’m kinda surprised they gave Ben pimp, and didn’t try to paper over Jay’s performance a little more. I mean, it’s what I would have done with the category based on every performance so far, but the show usually has its own mind about these things. Between Lola and Jay that’s a lot of wasted audition pimp slots, so maybe they’ll get redemptive arcs. At the risk of repeating myself, Jay’s problem for me isn’t really nasal singing. He’s got all this technical ability, but at some level he is using his flourishes to distance himself from the song. Pretend emoting, not actual connecting.

    That was Fleur’s best. If they have her do more aggro stuff like that in the lives she could put on some entertaining performances and maybe get to near halfway without threatening the favorites. Give me Misha B flashbacks, please.

    I keep thinking there’s *something* there with Lizzy. Not an XF popstar, but something on TV or stage, maybe? She’s very likable and good looking. I’ve ben gripped when she chats with the judges, then tune out when she sings. How has she not wound up with at least a modest acting career?

    • KaraokeSauron

      For the reasons you state, I think Lizzy would have made the lives if she’d been more willing to trade on her familial connection.

      Look at her first audition… Cowell is clearly trying to extract the details (‘Do I know you from somewhere?’, etc) – and looks dismayed by her refusal to play ball.

      I think you’re right though that even if she had got through the XF is not the vehicle for her. Good XF contestants need a touch of tragedy, a whiff of the underdog, about them. Lizzie’s effortlessly cool and slightly entitled air (perfectly understandable considering her social mileu) would offer viewers no motivation at all to get behind her.

  • Dean

    Tonight already detailed anyone thinking Jay as plan A

  • Jessica Hamby

    I see Andrea as winner and Little Prix as top 3. Other top 3 remains open but Paul, Ben and (perhaps because I want to be the filling in their sandwich) Blonde Electra all as possibles. OnlyThe Young might make it but they’re a little bit Kings Singers for my taste, too trad and boring.

  • Andrea is the undisputed alpha Boy; he had Italian while Paul had “not just about the voice” and Jake had “not the best voice”. That said, they are still derail-able at this stage

  • JJ could hog a lot of votes, but it’s clear he’s not the chosen one. I’m not convinced that there are plans for Ben or Fleur; maybe they were promoted more here to take some spark away from JJ.

  • sistermym

    Just caught up with JH so far. The only one that actually impressed me was Fleur. She not only looks cool but was the only one sounding current. Slightly worrying though that Simon Cowell doesn’t know why he’s got the overs but I felt his category was the best so far. Boys were bland and potentially forgettable and the groups car crash tv at best. The boy band is so manufactured it made me cringe to watch, I was too busy trying to catch Tulisa botox face.

  • Dean

    I’m the boys category I’m saying andrea is alpha, Paul is beta and jake gamma but I feel they want all 3 to go midway minimum so the wildcard Jack will be out by week 3 given his rather poor edits so far

  • jessica Hamby

    The show needs variety to be entertaining. There are only so many weepy moments you can have per episode before it gets boring or even embarassing to watch. Equally there are only so many power ballad / torch song type performances you can watch before it gets dull.

    Fleur and Blonde Electric are the only acts to try a bit of R&B and Stevie’s effort at the Monkees was at least uptempo, whatever else you might have thought of it (he’s clearly embraced his role as Mr Over-the-top and I would love to see him doing Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen). They’re going to need to keep at least two of them in for a while to stop us dozing off.

    Depending on how the first live show votes pan out I think JJ may turn out to be the gamma over for tptb. He’s got a great back story but he fishes in the same pool as too many others and is a significantly inferior singer to Andrea, Paul and Ben. Underneath all the emoting and affectation his voice simply isn’t sweet to hear.

  • Jack

    Think it’s too early to call Andrea the alpha-boy but he is the best vocally. Andrea could still be shoe-horned into novelty if the producers wanted to but with Blonde Electra, Chloe Jasmine and (apparently) Stevi all set for lives, I guess that they don’t really need another novelty act (unless they want 1 per category!) Paul was better than I had previously thought but not convinced that he’ll fly to the Final, still don’t think he has the charisma or creativity of Cardle. Jake was average IMO, could easily be an early exit, but he does have the son story.

    Bewildered by people suddenly claiming JJ is now the gamma over after one poor edit. With all the show have invested, think last night was more about giving Fleur and Ben some focus and helping JJ’s narrative long term. Sill don’t think he’s Plan A, but is still the preferred over IMO. Fleur and Ben were both really good for me, best we’ve heard from Fleur, whilst Ben continues to be the best over vocally IMO. He COULD transform ahead in lives but I think that producers see him as the Beta for now.

    Looking forward to the girls tonight and in particular Steph Nalas edit and to see if we can tell whether Lola or Emily will be the wildcard.

    • Jessica Hamby

      I’ve never liked JJ’s singing. I think he’s got a limited set of vocal tricks which he uses over and over again to convey emotion because he hasn’t got the vocal ability to do it any other way. The more you hear him the more hammy and contrived he seems imo. I’ll be watching for a red and blacking or a blazing fire behind him from week one.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Watching the rerun of last night’s show it’s jarring quite how bad JJ is. He’s truly awful.

    Fleur, on the other hand, was brilliant. You could also see it on the faces of the backing singers, starting with little nods of approval and ending with all3 of them smiling and clrarly enjoying the performance. Certainly the freshest performance of the overs by some distance on second listen.

    • KaraokeSauron

      I’ve been saying that since his first audition. Yes, I was warming to him (a bit) – but I was consistent in calling out his total lack of musicality. It was only a matter if time before he blew up; I just wasn’t expecting it to happen so soon, or so comprehensively. He blew it – and for once I don’t think Cowell was acting. He looked genuinely angry and embarrassed – and had every right to be. He was watching his franchise being torched – not just by JJ but by everyone bar Fleur, Ben and (bizarrely) Stevi.

      You’re right about the backing singers… I noticed that. They’re all much better singers than the ‘talent’ – and only Fleur and Ben seemed to elicit any respect from them.

      One interesting by-product of JJ’s self – immolation is that it effectively despatches Lola’s epic fail at boot camp to the memory hole. She’ll be easier to redeem now that Jay has set the bar for disgraceful vocal performances at a new, subterranean low.

      I thought it was Adam Sandler singing at one point… Doing a comedy skit about a really angry wedding/bar mitzvah singer whose hysterical performances mortify his audiences. I honestly believe Sandler could incorporate a recording of JJ doing Everybody Hurts into one of his gross-out comedies and have it hailed satirical gold (for a Sandler flick). That’s why Cowell humiliated him with the line about singing through his nose… Simon has been avuncular so far this series, offering constructive, well-judged critique (in the main). But a musical turd like that was just begging for evisceration by Cowell’s dark side, and that’s exactly what happened.

      Haenow has been promoted to alpha over now, I think…

  • JackB

    Just about to catch up on last nights episode, so maybe there’s a reason I don’t know about, but is there a reason Jake is at 28 on the betfair winners market? I’m not saying I think he’ll win it, but I’m just curious why he’s even longer than Only the Young (currently 24)?

    Just curious really.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Presumably people aren’t betting on him because they don’t think he’s going to win. The boys and the male overs are almost a single category of five and he’s had the least attention and pimping of any of them. One gets the impression he’s a bit of a filler because apart from his backstory he doesn’t particularly stand out. Personality wise he just seems to cry a lot and vocally Andrea and Paul are clrarly stronger. Right now he just doesn’t look like a winner and it’s hard to see any incentive for tptb to get behind him instead of one of the others.

      • KaraokeSauron

        I could see him assuming the ‘torch singer’ role previously occupied by JJ. Not a winner, definitely not – but third or fourth place?

  • Donald

    Be interesting how they treat the girls tonight and amongst them Lauren Platt.

    Hard to know what to make of this new boy band, ID have new album DVD etc. coming out and 5SOS are well popular already as an alternative. Can the new group reach the same dizzy heights?

    As for the rest a serious mash up of very similar easy disposables as the lives progress.

    Song choices at judges houses been far from inspiring and no stand out moment at all yet for any act really.

    Surprise night tonight, that will be a change from weeks of very predictable viewing and editing.

    Wildcards going to add some more editing games…

    Has anyone heard a whisper of a big rough with one act behind the scenes already with producers?

    No clear winner has emerged for a punt yet in my books.

    • R

      I don’t expect the winner to come from Cheryl’s Girls or from the Overs this year.

      From the Groups I only see BoyBand challenging. From the Boys only Andrea and maybe Paul.

      There may be big changes in the weeks ahead but the editing so far has been more favourable to Boyband & Andrea over all the others. The change in voting also benefits the Boyband.

      • Jessica Hamby

        The free voting may not have the effect you think. My understanding is that teens don’t watch the show in especially high numbers. It may benefit the older styled acts because there are a lot of older people, the ones that stay in on a Saturday night, watching.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Bermuda, Mexico, Los Angeles and France. Now I love France but I can’t help but wonder if Cheryl’s done something to piss Simon off.

    • R

      I’ve been saying from the start that Simon doesn’t forgive past discretions, he likes to “teach people a lesson”.

      This explains the terrible editing she’s had so far to make her come across like a bitch – would they really show her bad attitude towards Raign if they’d wanted her to come across as the twee princess?

      I was also reading Steve Brookstein’s tweets this morning about the show offering Showbiz reporters free holidays to Judges’ Houses in return for favourable write-ups etc.
      I’m guessing a trip to France won’t buy as many favours as a trip to the other three locations.

  • Well if I could bet on Lola being the wildcard I’d now bet the farm on it. “Lola” and “What is Cheryl” (thinking) trending. So clever. I still think she’s Plan A over the boyband honestly.

  • Nissl

    So… Lola rejected for an emotional wildcard slot, right? Don’t think it was worth it. Perhaps they genuinely both want her for alpha but are also scared of her nerves. Very good vocal from her there, stayed in control.

    Lauren was solid again and could probably be pimped to a top 6 finish that avoids embarrassing Cheryl if Lola just can’t do it. Otherwise I’m still worried about the blandness.

    CJ gave her best vocal but I’m putting it down to studio trickery until we see her live. Feel better about giving her the Katie Waissel memorial slot now.

    Steph has the most gamma-tacular edit of anyone in lives. Her performance had some exquisite bits and she has the look (other than the bags under the eyes) but her voice is a bit thin.

    Kerianne gave a decent performance, with a few cracks. I can’t see her succeeding commercially and she might get too much of the audience rooting for her. Sorry Kerianne.

    Emily was incredibly forced and irritating there, that makes 4 performances that have all hit me very different. Something a little icy about her too. Good to get more dev time.

    There are really doubts about every act this year. What’s been bugging me after sleeping on it is that the boyband may have the best looks and maybe the best voice, but I don’t buy them as a unit at all yet nor am I really rooting for any of them. Leaving in the comment about splitting up if they didn’t go through was a mistake. Asking the audience to pick a name might have been as well, makes it look like it isn’t clicking yet. I suppose that is their trajectory for the lives.

    Wildcard predictions Stevi, Lola, Jack, and eh… some turbo-chaff group. I’ve seen rumors they actually bring Overload back, but would not be surprised at Concept or the girl group either.

  • Saoirse

    A pic posted on twitter which looks like Lola in the house…

    https://twitter.com/AdamLake/status/518868720220114944

    Also looking at the girls’ tweets tonight is quite telling…

    Emily..

    So tonight the X-Factor journey ends for me but I would like to say thank you so much for the support! Good luck to everybody in the lives❤️
    I love you all so so much! Thank you

  • Saoirse

    Kerrianne…

    I’m so gutted guys!

  • Saoirse

    Kerrianne…

    .. but hopefully this is only the beginning

  • Saoirse

    Sorry there posters. I tried to paste the tweets in but only the first line came through, so apologies for the duplicate posts. Basically the point I was making is that both Emily and Kerrianne tweeted re. end of their xf journey while Lola tweetd commiserations to them and congrats to the 3 who got through. She didn’t mention the end of her own journey.

  • David Cook

    My conclusion from the weekend is that the boy band still look like the big hope for this year. To provide a reasonable launch for the group I think they’ll want them to reach the final at the minimum. We know that it will still be difficult for them to win, but the way the mix of acts has been put together, the editing and the changes to the voting look designed to give them the best possible chance.
    Beyond that I have a feeling that the fortunes of the other acts may be inextricably linked to that of the boy band and how well they are doing. I think that an act other than the boy band will only win it if the gap makes it impossible to bridge. If it’s close I think they would probably sacrifice any of the other eleven.
    Other than that I’m really not buying the Lola edit at all. Out of the girls she managed the most controlled, technically competent and connected performance despite the obvious nerves. She looks like the alpha girl as I assume well be seeing next week.

    • KaraokeSauron

      Obvious? To me, it’s Chris Maloney all over again…

      She’s the stage school-educated daughter of a former professional footballer (Wes Saunders), with a *part-time* job in a fish shop. You may well be right about alpha girl – and I think you are – but something about her schtick annoys me more than any of the other contestants.

      Not Plan A, though, surely?

      • Jessica Hamby

        Favouring someone who has crumbled under pressure is a risky strategy. They did it last year with Tamera after she forgot her words in the early rounds and she did the same thing again later, twice. Another performance or two like Lola’s 6 chairs effort is not at all unlikely.

  • When acts are grouped for the decisions, the act that goes through usually gets shown last, but the last two “pairs” (Lauren and Kerrianne; Steph and Lola) were exceptions. It’s quite deliberate for them to end JH with Lola being rejected.

  • Just a quick look at the poll on Digital Spy shows Andrea as the firm favourite, with Paul second and the new boy band lingering third from the bottom. DS has a track record of being utterly out of step with the voting public but will this change with the free voting (probably not). For me (and me alone it would seem) Ben Heynow! is the best performer, or at least the one I enjoy most and I could see his trajectory going in one of two directions: either Cardled to the final or made to look like an irrelevant Mowtown tribute act. What interests me is the treatment of the boy band (8 or them? Really? 8? Can we identift with 8 different people at once?) whom we didn’t see much of before the creation of the group (unlike 1D) but who can undeniably deliver. It smacks of “experiment” to me, I’m not convinced they’re Plan A. The other question mark I have is over Lola. At the risk of sounding rude, here is a very pretty girl who seems to be contracually obliged to dress and take on the air of a depressed dinner lady. Couple this with her shaky nerves and the stage seems set for a Leona stylee emergent butterfly act. The public already love Andrea, he’s a teddy bear of a man with an amazing voice, what’s not to love, but what space would he fill in the real world? I can’t see him being a commercially viable pop-star. But does that matter? The show’s biggest commercial successes are very rarely the winners, but a win for someone lovable does create the “feel-good” factor. The show has been decidedly less mean so far, with Simon turning into everyone’s favourite uncle (I suspect there’s a bag of Worthers Orginal on his person at all times) and Cheryl filling the Sharon Osborn “oooh isn’t she ‘orrible?” spot, but I feel we are being invited to critize her rather than think she is right. Even Mel B’s “neeer that was ahful”s have been replaced with hugs. I think I might be rambling now but I expect to see the boy band being allowed to succeed or fail on their own merits, Andrea being allowed a Sam Baileyesque win and Lola being groomed for a post-show career.

    • How is Andrea winning a feel good win? He has a fun personality but he makes me laugh, not feel better about myself.

    • UnCalquera

      Agree pretty much with everything, but not sure if Andrea is to win. I think it is Ben that is this year’s Matt Cardle, although for me he’s much more likeable (Matt had that permanent ‘I’m suffering’ look which made him painful to watch sometimes.)

  • Interesting to see how it pans out. I agree that Ben is a more likeable everybloke than Matt Cardle (I just wish we were told what he does for a living… or where he does it…) Andrea seems to be out of the gates an early favourite and I suspect the show will want to avoid a winner that is obvious from the start as it loses all pretense at dramatic tension. This could actually prove to be a pretty interesting year. (Why do I feel like I will regret having said that?)

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