X Factor 2014 Week 1 Elimination: Going Blonde?

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.

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77 comments to X Factor 2014 Week 1 Elimination: Going Blonde?

  • Heisenberg

    I agree, Steph could be in trouble, especially if viewers are reminded of her judges houses head to head with Lola who I fully expect to have a strong showing tonight as wildcard.

    The song choice isn’t inspiring and if the photo posted earlier here from rehearsals is accurate, their are warning signs with the staging.

    If you consider the act vs wildcard scenario as the most expendable is replaced, then Steph suits that role.

    Also can’t shake the thinking that JJ has somehow already burnt his bridges with Cowell – a mish mash performance tonight followed by negative comments or distracting argument tactics wouldn’t come as any surprise.

    Whatever happens, I’m very much looking forward to Steven Ritchie who, I have on good authority, does/did work at startrescue.co.uk and is a genuinely good bloke!

  • Dean

    Slightly OT but how do the ratings work? Many people are just factoring ITV, but if you add ITV HD there are still around 10m viewers for the show, and does the ratings include anyone watching on +1? (which may happen tonight) or on record?

  • Is ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ really a good song choice for Ben Haenow? It’s recognisable, yes, and he will nail it, but it’s dated and incredibly clichéd. If I remember correctly, it’s what members of Hear’Say had to sing on Popstars in 2000 in order to audition for the band. I’d like to hear him sing something more inspired and current before being convinced that producers have really switched away from from JJ in that category.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Pink hair also did for Storm Lee, although I think he may have got through week1.

    I think JJ is in frouble and if he hits sing-off territory he’s out. Something has gone on there which has put tptb off him.

    I’m with you on Blonde Electra. Someone will have to wipe fheir bum with the Union Jack to get less votes.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Also I don’t like Earth Song for Andrea. He’ll do it well but there’s something messianic and pompous about the song itself which may transfer to the singer. Is it the beginning of a long, slow deramp?

    I think Ben’s choice is great for him, as is Fleur’s and that, to me, confirms JJ’s fall from grace. If they don’t get him this week I think they’ll do him on week 3. Weird really, they must have known about him if only from the Rebecca Ferguson tour and given the fawning treatment he had up to JH he must have really pissed someone off. Maybe he was rude to one of Simon Cowell’s dogs.

  • Gamblebot

    Rumours are flying that the New Boy Band will be called Stereo Kicks.

  • I have been too busy to think about a final listing. Quick thoughts either lola or boy band to win. And the 7/4 for girl wildcard to be top girl is gigantic

  • I’m with you, looking at that song list. Blonde Electra to go, with a Wildcard act joining them in the singoff.

  • Heisenberg

    If they are serious about pimping the boy band(s) – they’re going to want to keep these two under wraps:

    http://goo.gl/Zz3vfM

  • tpfkar

    Just dropping in – not sure yet whether I’ll get stuck into betting on the series and posting again or not, but hope everyone is doing well.

    I’ve seen some of the shows but not all and I’m much more like a casual viewer this year, maybe good to see it from a different angle but not for serious punting.

    My main feel so far is that they’ve changed focus. Last 3 years, it’s been all about flogging records, and never mind how much we trash the other contestants in the process. This year it feels like they want to put on the best show they can, no stand out “producers’ favourites” lots of 20-something males who could win, and I expect plenty to happen just for ratings.

    Here’s how I see the categories:
    A) Groups.
    Pieces of 8 obviously the stand-out act, but the track record with boybands isn’t good, and I think they’re overpriced for the win. Just too much that could go wrong, a boyband has never won (has one ever come second?) and it feels like Union J with a mirror so far. Not convinced they will be finalists, particularly with Louis as mentor. If the producers want them to go far, they urgently need to get rid of Jack Walton and Overload.
    Haven’t seen enough of any of the others to comment, beyond that they all look like fodder.

    B) Boys
    3 solid picks, Paul will be the fans’ favourite, Jake the nearest to eye-candy and Andrea the artists’ artist. Any could be a finalist, wouldn’t surprise me if 2 were (again.)

    C) Overs
    From what I’ve seen, JJ is fodder and gamma-over. Now, I haven’t seen anything of him before bootcamp, and I’ve read that he was seen as Plan A before that, but I don’t see it and he’s my “shock” early elimination.
    Ben is a fourth credible 20-something male finalist.
    Fleur feels to me the beta (as I didn’t notice her lack of attention earlier) but history suggests she will struggle even with producer help.
    Stevie is no Rylan or Wagner – a few weeks of entertainment but he’ll run out of steam earlier.

    D) Girls
    Lola all the way as Alpha. Lauren seems immature (as Hannah Barrett did) – likeable but not a star. Chloe seems a decent enough singer to me and nowhere near as annoying as others have said. However I have Steph as the best voice, likeable, mature, more a Leona / Alexandra than Tamera / Hannah. Again I haven’t seen her prior lack of coverage – and on what I’ve seen she’s a long run ahead of her.

    This ends up as something like: (I’ll post this bit on the prediction thread as well)

    1 BEN HAENOW
    2 LOLA SAUNDERS
    3 PAUL AKISTER
    4 PIECES OF EIGHT
    5 ANDREA FAUSTINI
    6 STEPH NALA
    7 JAKE QUICKENDEN
    8 CHLOE JASMINE
    9 LAUREN PLATT
    10 STEVIE
    11 ONLY THE YOUNG
    12 JAY JAMES
    13 FLEUR EAST
    14 BLONDE ELECTRA
    15 JACK WALTON
    16 OVERLOAD

  • Donald

    Long long show tonight and it will be tight no doubt, let’s see how show develops and thoughts but at the price Blonde Electra worth ago,

    New Boy Band name reveal more hype for them, wonder will they get the prime slot on the Strictly switch over?

    Stereo Kicks? ! Stereos are old news.. Oh Louis got to choose !Let the madness begin..

  • EM

    Quick thoughts

    – agree Blonde Whatevah are precarious. The makeover and press stories suggest they’re a target

    – Earth Song is an incredibly hard song to sing. It’s difficult to connect with the lyrics, a vulnerable verse and anthemic chorus. No words in the chorus either it’s all about the voice.

    – conversely Chloe has been getting lots of targeted press. To me that says a strategy of use her now but keep her in cos right now she’s the star

  • Jessica Hamby

    Wildcard song choices:

    Jack Walton -Only Girl In The World Overload Generation (they have a new name it seems) -I Kissed A Girl Stevi Ritiche -Livin La Vida Loca Lola Saunders -Stay With Me

  • Andrea with the pimp slot then. Just on the costumes Blonde Electra are being set up for a nuking.

  • tpfkar

    Andrea pimp slot – Stereo Kicks name confirmed. Steph 14th.
    (from phone lines)

  • Jessica Hamby

    What on earth is Lola wearing? Looks like the old Town Hall curtains.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Am I the only one bemused by Overload’s song choice?

    Brave, I calls it.

    • Chatterbox5200

      Criticism of Overload, minimal lines and camera attention for Cheryl’s “stud muffin”, and stating that they don’t really gel as a group…… all set up ready to praise Stereo Kicks (WTF?!) to the hilt and say how good they work together.

  • Jessica Hamby

    WOW! Call the police. Overload just got murdered.

    • R

      Plus Lola on before and moving straight to JJ without an ad break. Big hitter sandwich?
      I still think they have enough fans to carry them through this week.

      • Jessica Hamby

        Strong performance from JJ too. He aint going home yet, although interesting comment from Mel about “boring us” with a slow song.

    • Chatterbox5200

      Why the unexplained addition of “Generation” to their original name? Was this to make their name more difficult for the teen girls to chant, whilst making Stereo Kicks easier, or so that their initials are OG…. often recognised as Own Goal?

  • Donald

    Overload Generation well and truly slaughtered by judges.

  • EM

    The headline of the Sofabet wrap up will be “Over and Out” or “TaTa to Nala”

    I claim my £5

  • 1994 called. It wants its stage and song back.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Bad vt, coliur vomit, lost in the long shot and sounding at times like a bleating sheep, can Steph’s fan base save the day?

  • Joe

    Steph a certainty for bottom 2 after those comments plus thanks to advice I read on Betsfactor from last year distracting COLOUR VOMIT!!

  • Kenneth Chow

    I feel pretty good about my predictions this far…

  • R

    Nice of Mel to point out all the pyrotechnics used for the performance boost.

  • Jessica Hamby

    This is cruel to Overload. Eye Of The Tiger v I Kissed A Girl, could they make their intentions any clearer?

    And then Simon says…..

    • Lenny

      Clearly set up to demonstrate the superiority of Stereo Kicks….make them look better in comparison in every way. Thought they might drag the “battle of the boybands” out over a few weeks, but it looks like a one week hatchet job on Overload.

    • Eye of the Tiger? Who sang that?

      • Jessica Hamby

        Stereo Twits. Two Katy Perry songs to make the comparison easier. Overload sounded a bit sleazy and sexually ambiguous (and not in the good way). It’s a ridiculous song for men to sing unless they kissed a boy and liked it (and sadly the world isn’t ready for that, despite equal marriage).

  • Widely predicted reaction there for Blazin Squ..
    Er Stereo Kicks. Definitely the chosen ones. Will Andrea get a Janet Devlin style nuking later on?

  • Jessica Hamby

    Anyone else think Simon looked angry with Cheryl at her comments to Stereo Kicks?

  • Curtis

    Hmm. I don’t think that lot can win. There really are too many of them.

  • Well there’s this year’s comedy act then…

  • Donald

    There’s eight of them and they still gave them big choir like backing track, compare that to Stephanie audio track volume and Chloe band were so loud, Audio tricks are well back.

  • Curtis

    Lauren aka Sophie Habibis. She probably delivered the best vocal performance so far and she will not go far.

  • Colour vomit, garish outfits, garish staging, annoying VT. Bet placed. A classic week one kitchen sinking.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Compared to Steph and Overboard, Blonde Electra got a pretty easy ride from the judges. Certainly won’t be going down the memory hole.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Didn’t like Ben at all. Mel was spot on.

  • Curtis

    Oh my God the finger-heart!

  • Curtis

    So remind me about Fleur’s journey. Was she a big hitter from the start or did she come from nowhere? Can’t quite remember.

  • Inly The Young then… I liked it.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Choir, fireworks, pimp slot.

    I don’t think 1000 eight-piece boybands can derail this train.

    • Face

      it’s only week 1… which is why I think he had the pimp slot so early… so they don’t need to give it to him again… and they can slowly erode whatever lead he may have… if indeed he has one

      • Jessica Hamby

        He may become uncatchable if he isn’t already. Mind you, I don’t think syco will mind. 1D ruled the world from third so Stefeo Kicks can do the same. Don’t lile the name much though.

  • Very impressive closing performance. Good first show overall if fairly predictable. Not a tough night for betters by any means.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Did Blonde Electra just get booed in the final round-up? Sounded a bit like it to me. Free money.

  • Not betting on this, but watched tonight out of curiosity. I thought Only the Young and Jay James had the weakest performances. My namesake Mr. Haenow was my favourite, but that’s just personal, I like that kind of raw power. Thought it was ironic that they told Jake to get some grit in his voice when Ben already had it. Good luck everybody.

  • Nissl

    Steph and Overload utterly destroyed obviously, everyone else pretty positive comments, with a few mixed enough for credibility. Going for ratings by keeping it positive overall. (Cheryl surely went off-script on the boyband, unless she’s the judge to be won over this series, in which case she didn’t work it well.)

    I think they will manage to get Steph but miss Overload, who frankly were significantly better than the boyband in terms of overall performance and I think got a better crowd reaction as well. That leaves us back with BE and Fleur as likely other candidates despite their later slots; I thought they were both flat and disappointing. I really wanted to like BE as much as Stevi but it just didn’t work for me. It seems Fleur really puts up a protective wall in the arena every time, and I was totally disengaged. Of the other candidates, OtY nailed their performance late imo, best from them yet by far, so I’d be really disappointed to see them B2. Support still looks like being deramped to a midtable finish though. Ok performances and modest deramping for Jack and Jake.

    I wonder how invested they are in Lola at this point. I just dunno about her getting it done. Lauren stepped up slightly so should be acceptable replacement. I will confess she’s the only act I put in the background and wrote through. CJ vocals pretty solid.

    Weird pointing out the pyro budget for SK. That’s a meh name, by the way, and I really don’t see it working. The whole thing was very underwhelming. There are two acts in their category who are better right now. The show has a *lot* of work to do to get them over the top at the end.

    Really low stage support for Ben… hmm. Everything markedly similar to Jack, minus the guitar.

    Andrea best vocal performer despite not having the best core voice. He nailed that, most I have gotten him so far. Wish more acts would be comfortable throwing themselves into the songs the way he does. Think he’s being set up for an early peak, but they are playing with fire.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Andrea was clearly the standout performer of the night and unless someone else steps up it’ll be like Sam Bailey last year and he’ll walk it. You can’t deramp someone who is so obviously the best. It just looks silly, or even nasty.

      Don’t forget it’s a double eviction tomorrow. Presumably that means lowest vote (BE?) go automatically and next two sing off, so Overload can go if they hit b3. They made the targets pretty clear – it just remains for the public to play along.

      • Face

        I don’t think he was that good… nor do i see him as head and shoulders above everyone else… he is confident and passionate as a performer… but others will grow over the next few weeks… look at Alexandra… who’d have thought after week 1 she would get to mid table… let alone win…
        I see Andrea as this years Tesco Mary or Jahmene… they know people like him… and want to see him do well… but he will get pretty boring after 4 or 5 weeks of the same old shtick… so a top 4 placing is best he can hope for… imo

  • Kenneth Chow

    I feel really great about my week 1 predictions…lol..

  • The elimination market is definitely free money this week. Blonde Electra’s nuking was just too blatant. Two Shoes all over again, without the pregnancy.

  • Leroy

    Really seemed like Group sabotage night; kill them all off asap to get the 8some fixed in the spotlight and consciousness.

    • Jessica Hamby

      We’ll have to disagree then. I think he can sing anything they throw at him and other petformers will sound same old before he does. He’s one of the few I’m looking forward to hearing next week.

  • Ok clearly andrea tops the vote this weekend by an absolute landslide. But I still get the feeling they are setting him up for a fall. Way to early and last night felt like his final performance of the show rather than his first live show performance. Way ott. And will he be versatile enough to win? I think not. Having said thati think his odds are about right at the moment considering his popularity. But with the free app voting likely to favour a more teen fancied act he could certainly be wound in over the next 3 months.
    I see laurens odds have dropped a lot, interested to hear why people think she will go any better than Lucy Jones/Dianna Vickers/Ella Henderson? Lauren @6 V Lola @20 I know which one id rather take!

  • Jessica Hamby

    If any 2 of the reqiired b3 get enough votes to survive then tptb could find themselves with a real problem. Who would they save in a sing-off between Stevi and Paul or Stevi and Lola, especially if BE, the other novelty act, had already gone. You can thtow Chloe Jasmine into that mix as well.

    All speculation for now of course, but if the twitter fan bases do turn out to vote it could get very interesting.

    As for free voting, I’m not as certain that it will favour teen friendly acts as has been suggested. Firstly I’m not at all sure that they show is appealing to the younger demographic and second there are a lot of older people who would consider a paud vote a waste of money who might vote now. I’m not saying it’s definite but neither is the suggestion that the votes will be dominated by an army of teenagers. We just don’t know.

  • qwerty1234

    The free voting is all geared towards the teen audience – I noticed that every song in the strictly crossover zone apart from Steph was a recent one – coincidence? Whether it works or not is a different matter – the show must be aware of the risks of something like this but I think that although the older audience may be just as likely to use the app for free votes, they’re less likely to plough all five votes into one act and more likely to spread it them across multiple acts that they enjoyed.

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