At last, the live shows are here. From this point, X Factor takes on a new dimension of staging, production and thus treatment of its contestants. No more 1-16 prediction lists in our comments section can be accepted after 7.30pm tonight, because the clues start piling up.
The song choices, revealed yesterday lunchtime, are clues in themselves. There’s a brief analysis of these below, but it’s always worth bearing in mind that arrangement and production can lift what might seem like a poor song choice, or deaden an apparently great selection.
Iconic, classic songs that connect with a Middle England audience have traditionally done best in the first live show. Mary Byrne singing ‘This is a Man’s World’ was the only phone poll defeat for Matt Cardle, Sam Bailey’s ‘Power of Love’ was the standout last year.
That’s promising for Ben Haenow with ‘Bridge over Troubled Water’, and Jake singing ‘She’s the One’. More current but highly accessible hits that also look likely to suit are Paul’s ‘Ghost’ and the unnamed boyband’s ‘Roar’.
Otherwise I can see a positive strategy behind Fleur East, Chloe-Jasmine and Only The Young’s choices. Fleur is singing ‘All About the Bass’, a current American hit that follows on from what she offered us in a strong judges’ houses edit. Chloe-Jasmine’s jazzification of ‘Toxic’ was done by eventual American winners Alex and Sierra at their first audition last year. Only The Young have a cheesy but fun mashup that includes ‘Twist and Shout’, which served Olly Murs well back in 2009.
I think Andrea and Lauren have middling choices that are neither full of promise nor full of premonition. I’m not so sure about the songs given to JJ, Steph and Blonde Electra. The lyrics to JJ’s ‘Changing’ are about a person unhappy at selling out. Even if you think lyrics don’t matter, it’s a drum n bass number with a tricky pace and not an awful lot of melody, which isn’t guaranteed to delight the demographic.
Steph’s ‘Everything I Own’ may be the cod-reggae niche they are sending her down, but there are plenty of less dated and less soporific examples that could’ve been used. Blonde Electra have connection issues based on being mature women with an immature attitude, as well as sounding American, so giving them ‘Kids in America’ isn’t promising at all. It was done by One Direction from the week 5 pimp slot in 2010, and was their worst relative polling performance in the first six weeks.
I wonder how many of these song choice hunches will turn out to be near the mark, and how many way off it.
Just to confuse matters tonight, we have the wildcards being introduced and then slotted somewhere into the running order with song choices not yet revealed. Also, we haven’t been told if it’s a double elimination or not. This uncertainty is probably why only two bookmakers have given us an elimination market, neither of them offering a price on a wildcard leaving first.
Deservedly heading that market are Blonde Electra. There have been a few red flags stemming from their publicity this week. The name change was given a spurious explanation and their hair gets ever less blonde and more pink – which only reminds me of the classic takedown of Amelia Lily in week 1 of 2011 (it’s worth watching all of it here, with the hair referenced at 0:48).
Producers may want to offer up some sacrificial lambs to keep more headline-grabbing acts such as Chloe-Jasmine and Stevi from falling into last place and a possible automatic elimination – if it’s a double elimination done in the traditional way. Blonde Electra plus Steph’s song choices and treatment so far means they are the most likely candidates.
Steph seems to have built a small but loyal social media fanbase, on which measure Blonde Electra currently trail the rest of the field. So whilst there’s plenty of uncertainty about what happens in the first live show, I have taken and recommend the 10/3 with Betfred on Blonde Electra to be eliminated first.
A few words about the running order. The coffin slot in the early weeks is often number three, sandwiched by two big hitters. Last year, Miss Dynamix were given it, performing between Nicholas and Sam Bailey. It’ll be interesting to see if that strategy is repeated.
The Strictly Come Dancing overlap is a mighty 1hr05mins tonight, which means the first 6-7 acts performing whilst the more popular BBC show is on. Another big hitter may appear at the time that show comes to an end, thus persuading people to stick with ITV and not switch back for Doctor Who. However, a few acts tweeted this morning that phone lines are open from the start, which has only been done in the 2012 series, and didn’t help the smaller fish with later slots.
Lots to ponder, and answers only starting from 7.30pm tonight. As always, please let us know your thoughts below.