Producers have a certain power over punters before the second live show – they know the results of the first week phone vote and will act accordingly. We can assume they want the likes of Chloe Jasmine and Stevi Ritchie to avoid polling last, or singing off against each other in another double elimination. That will mean targeting the other acts considered most disposable and vulnerable in their eyes.
Hopefully we’ll be much clearer about who that might be after tonight’s show. But amidst this caution, an elimination market initially headed by last week’s sing-off survivor before a potential bounce, followed by the two producer favourites mentioned above, has offered some value for speculative punters.
Which act you might take a chance on is very much your choice.
The one punters have latched onto is Jake Quickenden, available at 16/1 earlier this week, now down to 5/1. Despite a helpful slot and staging last week, judges comments clearly showed he was in their sights. Whether another week of further deramping is enough to get Jake to the bottom of the vote is the question. He is relying on his extensive audition screentime – in which viewers were persuaded to invest in his emotional backstory, not to mention his existing fanbase and good looks.
At the prices, there’s an argument to be made that Jack Walton, rejected in Jake’s favour at judges’ houses after much less audition screentime, who then had a more anonymous first live show in which he was shoved in the Strictly overlap at #6, represents better value at 14/1. Jack will be WGWGing his way through Paula Abdul’s ‘Straight Up’, which gives judges an opportunity to say he “put his own spin on it”, compared to Jake’s ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’, but the latter is at least an iconic 80s song that everyone knows.
Jack’s not the only double-figure price of interest in the next elimination market. Thanks to David Cook for posting this deathly version of ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 miles)’ which represents the second strange choice for Jay James (16/1) in the live shows. It ended up working out ok for JJ last week, with helpful film star staging. A regional vote and immense initial pimping during auditions may also help him through another week.
It’s worth bearing in mind that producers can use Week 2 to turn on an act they tried to fly in Week 1 with little success – or try, try again. Last year, they gave Kingsland Road a reasonably positive first live show (at #6), from which they failed to set the phones alight. Week 2 saw them sent out in colour vomit with the coffin slot of #2 in a big hitter sandwich – which put them in the singoff. On the other hand, Luke Friend, despite a similarly poor Week 1 poll result, got another helpful late slot and plenty of praise.
I mention these examples as I think producers are more likely to follow the Luke Friend template for Fleur East. This is why I pass the 28/1 on her to go, despite the fact she’s a hard sell to an audience who prefer their black women to be overly humble and completely unthreatening. There’s a lot of rapping in her song choice of ‘It’s A Shame’, which may suit her more than the viewing public. (James Arthur and Cher Lloyd didn’t suffer too much when rapping, but there’s no way to put this politely: they’re white.)
Like Fleur, Only The Young (a best-priced 12/1 in the next elimination market) serve a niche in this competition, and my guess is that they will retain enough producer favour for a second week running. Their song choice of ‘Come on Eileen’, unlike Fleur’s, is iconic and should get the audience on side. Paul Akister (40/1) is being confined to a rather predictable pub singer’s lot with Simply Red’s ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’. Still, his higher initial profile and a popular song puts him in a better relative position to say, Jack.
I can see reasons why all of the above may attract elimination punters at those prices. On the other hand, I don’t envisage any problems this week for Andrea, Lauren, Ben, Stereo Kicks and Lola. The latter’s ‘Imagine’ has had commenters reaching for the Cher Lloyd comparison, when it was used against her with poor staging. But it’s worth bearing in mind that the song has also been used to pimp Eoghan Quigg and Jahmene Douglas in Week 1 of their respective years.
This leaves us with those three initial leaders in the elimination market. Will Steph bounce, whilst can Stevi and Chloe Jasmine avoid last place? I’ve no doubt that producers will do all they can to avoid the latter, though I won’t be surprised if either find themselves in the singoff.
As for Steph, the record on sympathy bounces in Week 2 is a mixed one: Shelley Smith and Rachel Adedeji failed where Katie Waissel and Rylan succeeded. In this larger field, with a popular song that has been done in a way that would suit her (thanks Fudd, for posting this), my instinct is it may be enough. But I’ll be looking for clues that producers have decided to accept and work with the bounce rather than counter it.
Tonight’s show will tell us far more, of course. Greater caution is advised this week, but at the prices, I have backed Jack Walton at 14/1 to be next eliminated, and for the reasons set out above, recommend that as decent enough value. Let us know your thoughts below.