X Factor 2014: Is there hope for a Stereo Kick-start?

Often, in previous years, we’ve got the impression that it’s around about this stage of the series that producers are starting to assess the fate of the trial balloons they’ve floated in the first couple of weeks and decide who they’re going to throw their weight behind. In 2011, for example, the Janet Devlin takedown started in week 3, and the Little Mix boosterism in week 4. Last year there seemed to be a flirting with a Sam Bailey deramp in weeks 2-3, before seeming to accept her as unstoppable in week 4.

So we can presumably start to expect more clarity in the next week or two about who is alpha girl, which still seems an open question: this week they turned Lauren into an angel, with white dress and halo lighting, but they also continued to set up Lola for a potential journey with Simon’s “80%” comment. We should also start to get some more definitive clues re alpha male over: Ben has been treated positively both weeks, but Jay got a chance to show how well he could poll from the pimp slot.

However, you would think that the agenda will be topped by whether and how they can salvage Stereo Kicks, which has also been dominating the conversation below the line. That’s where we start this week’s midweek pivot off what you’ve been saying in the comments.

1. Why did Cheryl kick the Stereos?

EM: “Are we 100% sure that Stereo Kicks weren’t taken down this weekend? Are we using confirmation bias to support most people’s theory (myself included) that the show wants the band to go far?” David Cook: “One possible explanation for Cheryl’s comments may be that they were actually designed to get them bottom three giving them an opportunity to precipitate change in the group before it’s too late (if it’s not already).”

Producers at the X Factor are undoubtedly familiar with the principle of social proof – the idea that we subconsciously look to others for cues as to how we should be thinking – because they apply it all the time, notably in the use of reaction cutaway shots to judges or audience members. Social proof is why the infamous “Sophie Habibis in the empty pub” VT was so devastating – by cruelly implying that nobody in Sophie’s hometown was excited about her, it suggested that voters at home shouldn’t be, either.

In the past, notably with One Direction and Union J, the show has used the phenomenon of social proof to suggest to teenage girl viewers that they should be going wild, by showing us VTs featuring teenage girls going wild. Just about the most damaging thing you could do to a boyband is to suggest teenage girls aren’t interested in them. And this was exactly what Cheryl did on Saturday.

Regular readers will know that we have a working assumption that judges’ comments are scripted in advance, if not word for word then at least in broad brushstrokes. A great example from immediately before the Cheryl puzzle: Mel B reacts to Stereo Kicks by saying “I want to see you do a capella”; Dermot subsequently picks up on this by asking Chris “you’d love to do a capella, right?”; and Chris says yes, they would. This is the careful setting up of a narrative line. We assume producers don’t leave these things to chance.

Then what was Cheryl playing at? Rewatching it, here’s one very (very) speculative theory: did she have broad-brush guidance on what to say, but phrased it infelicitously? Here’s what she says: “It’s hard for me because, for me, when a boy group comes out, you normally feel hysteria in the room, and apart from the fact that you may have friends and family here, I don’t feel that…”. And at this point, some members of the audience start screaming hysterically. Which is, arguably, a bit odd: it sounded almost like they were enthusiastically cheering Cheryl’s point. Wouldn’t fans of the group be more likely to boo Cheryl than to cheer at this point?

The rest of the exchange offers hints that something has perhaps not quite gone to plan. Challenged by Louis, Cheryl has a second bite at the hysteria theme, this time mentioning One Direction. Dermot gives her another chance to clarify, and she looks flustered and complains “am I here to give my opinion or to be talked over?”, to which Dermot amusingly replies “both”. Then Dermot suggests that all this back-and-forth hadn’t been planned by irritably saying there isn’t much time left, before asking Chris about the a capella comment. Chris’s reply is interesting: he addresses Mel’s request and then pointedly says, “Cheryl, we’re not One Direction, we are Stereo Kicks”. He repeats the latter phrase for good measure.

Now, here are two questions for commenters about how cynical we are about this show. Do we believe that certain audience members might have been primed to cheer in response to Cheryl’s comment? And do we believe that Chris might have been told that “you’re doing the Dermot talk. You’re going to be asked if you want to do an a capella performance. Say yes. Also, Cheryl’s going to have said something about One Direction. We want you to say: ‘Cheryl, we’re not One Direction, we’re Stereo Kicks’. Okay?”?

If we can credit those two things, then just possibly Cheryl might have been meant to say something like: “Guys, if you were One Direction, there’d be hysteria in the room, but I don’t know, I’m not convinced yet… are people as excited about you?” Basically the same point, but then the screams would have felt appropriate and affirmative, and Chris’s comment would have played perfectly. Could it be that the original intention was to suggest to teenage girls that they weren’t betraying One Direction by also liking Stereo Kicks, but Kermit was a muppet and instead managed to suggest to teenage girls that they shouldn’t be interested in Stereo Kicks?

It’s a (very) tenuous theory, we know, but it’s the best we can come up with if we assume that (a) producers were trying to help Stereo Kicks and (b) Cheryl didn’t just take it upon herself to veer entirely off piste. So let’s challenge those assumptions. The second seems unlikely, as Cheryl generally comes across to us as on message. What about the first? Could producers actually have been trying to land Stereo Kicks in trouble?

One piece of evidence for this: another riff from the judges about Stereo Kicks which is unlikely to have been accidental, because it has featured both weeks, is about whether eight is too many. Some astute Sofabet commenters have read this as laying the groundwork for an intended cull. But that’s not necessarily true. It might simply have been intended to set up a gradual winning over of the judges on this score, as suggested by Simon’s “I’m beginning to believe” comment on Saturday.

There may well be a contingency plan for a cull, but we’re struggling to believe that producers wanted to have to bring this into play as early as week 2, or indeed at all. Because every possible way they might do a cull seems so fraught with difficulty:

  • Louis could simply dump some of the band members. But that would seem harsh.
  • The band themselves could vote to eject some of their number. But that would risk looking like Lord of the Flies.
  • One or more of them could tearfully say “I’m leaving for the good of the group”. But would it be believable?
  • After the crowdsourcing of the name, this could be another opportunity for fan involvement: “We’ve decided we need to come down to five members. But which five? You decide! Download the app…”. But this would risk alienating fans who voted for those who didn’t make the cut, and undermine the sense of togetherness which has traditionally been seen as necessary for a group to succeed.
  • The group could be split into two foursomes, each of them taking part in the competition. It would certainly generate some headlines, but would split an evidently already-small vote between them.

Some commenters have wondered if we’ve all been misreading the signs all along, and producers were never actually that invested in Stereo Kicks. But if that’s the case, why did they choose to save them? We can safely assume it was a wrench for the show to part with Chloe-Jasmine. Their willingness to sacrifice her surely implies that they see Stereo Kicks as somehow salvageable.

One thing we know about TPTB is that they like a challenge, and this is certainly a big one. Can they get Stereo Kicks to the business end of the competition? We’re sceptical, but intrigued.

2. Will the Faustini takedown continue?

Donald: “Andrea’s deramp was in full flow”. Jess: “Last week I thought he could become unassailable. This week I think a few weeks more of this and people may get a bit bored of the lack of variety.” Joe: “He’s a long way from winning.”

Here’s the look on Andrea’s face as Simon slides the knife in with his comments about weird facial expressions and the vocal not being as good as last week. We like to imagine that behind the charming pug-lover facade is a budding capo di tutti capi and that Andrea is pondering what breed of horse’s head would look good on Simon’s pillow.

andrea_criticism

There can be little doubt about it, the task of dragging down the early frontrunner has begun. The question is, will this attack be sustained – a la Janet Devlin (2011) and Christopher Maloney (2012) – or will producers, having dipped a toe in the water, conclude he can’t be caught and grudgingly accept him as a winner, as we suspect happened with Matt Cardle (2010) and Sam Bailey (2013)?

Our instinct is that Andrea really should be gettable. There’s so much they can aim at, and his VT contained a couple of hints. There was the use of ‘That’s Amore’ in the backdrop, the comedy Italian tune which had also been used before his room audition: there’s a fine line between loveable eccentric, which was the flavour of his treatment from the arenas onwards, and Mr Bean. And the implication that the Brits don’t know how to cook pasta was fleeting, but could damagingly be scaled up: coffee, pizza, ice-cream…

There are also aspects of the Italian stereotype they can play up to, should they wish to, notably the “combustible mama’s boy” trope. Last Friday the tabloids informed us that Andrea was sobbing inconsolably backstage after the results show because his parents had flown home; his VT this week portrayed him contentedly chatting to his mum about hairspray.

But producers will have to tread very, very carefully, because Andrea is so loveable. Just a hint too much meanness, and there is the risk of a backlash. You could see how acutely aware Simon was of that, as he interspersed criticism with “people love you, I’m just trying to give you some constructive advice”, and “I’m only saying that because I’m a huge fan of yours”. Of course you are, Simon, of course.

Better, if they can, to kill Andrea slowly with kindness: a series of diva performances that draw moderate praise but become samey; a bigging up of the acts most likely to take votes away from him, as we saw this week with Paul; a sense that his journey is towards being accepted by the British public, and that when that’s achieved he doesn’t need to win. If they play their cards right, you would think it should be enough.

If they want to minimise Andrea’s vote, they might also want to think about changing the order of acts on the app. We speculated last week that Andrea’s big green voting button appearing when you tap the “vote” tab might be helping him at the margins; this week, Andrea got one accidental vote from Sofabet due to a ‘fat finger’ error when trying to swipe.

One last thing, which is almost certainly coincidental but amused us nonetheless. Betsfactor fans! What colour are those pug cushions?

andrea_cushions

3. Differing points of the compass for Fleur East

Martin: “she was on stage dancing around a pole after being put to us initially as a “nightclub singer” (stripper?) and wearing what can only be described as underwear with a jacket on”. Gamblebot: “Forgive the language, but she looked like a slut.”

Another act whose treatment fascinated us was Fleur East. In our previous midweek article, we praised the ‘All About That Bass’ routine for being playfully sexy yet unthreatening. Importantly it wasn’t too slutty, because anything suggesting she might steal another girl’s boyfriend isn’t good for votes on this show – especially when you’re a confident, attractive black woman.

Imagine then, our open-mouthed reaction on realising that her week 2 VT opened showing a corridor flirtation with mentor Simon Cowell in front of his girlfriend.

fleur_simon

It all happened so quickly that her segment demanded later re-watching. Picking everything apart, it’s possible to take two sharply contrasting views of what the show was setting out to achieve.

The cynic in us could find plenty of red flags. Once Simon’s girlfriend had wiped the lipstick off his face, Fleur complained of her days with gigs where “where no one knows who you are or cares who you are,” to a more stoical Paul. Then, as she self-absorbedly watched herself, she told us how competitive she is – “you just really have to fight for it” – going on to reference the Hunger Games as the camera cut to her rivals. Her VT ended showing her having a private laugh with Simon about how big-headed some of those people were.

Performing from the Miss Dynamix week 2 spot of #6, just after an ad break, song choice ‘It’s A Shame’ was rap-heavy and relatively unknown. Staging-wise, we started with Fleur lying on her back, wearing high-waisted hotpants and a leopard-print push-up bra. She used what looked like a stripper’s pole to get to her feet before being joined by dancers. Cutaways to Mel B and Simon indicated the judges were less interested than they had been in week 1.

Fleur_back

Afterwards, Louis repeated what Simon had said in the VT about her “becoming a different person in the last few weeks”. Was this an implicit suggestion it had all gone to her head?

Of much more interest was Mel B pointing out the heavy use of backing vocals in the chorus, which ended with her saying: “I find that a little bit cheating.” Some felt the damaging use of the word “cheating”, which Mel had ungrammatically crowbarred in, was an indication that she had gone rogue. But if that’s the case, why did Simon repeat it five times to make sure it was hammered home? Not letting the point blow over, the ever-compliant Dermot asked Fleur for her opinion on the controversy.

All these things can be used to suggest there was a takedown of Fleur on Saturday. But why take down someone praised so highly the previous week? Perhaps we have disappeared down the rabbit hole and should focus on the positive aspects of her treatment at the weekend.

Simon introduced Fleur by saying: “Someone who I think is turning into a star in front of our eyes.” With the VT, the main concept may have been to show us how hard she was working and trying to improve. As for the staging, we got gold lighting, a gold record on stage and many more of them in the backdrop, all featuring her name in gold. The song choice wasn’t iconic, but it was suitable and had an earworm of a chorus.

Perhaps the “cheating” remark and the blow-up it caused was a way of helping us not forget Fleur, indeed to sympathise with her in the face of such an allegation. Simon finished by saying, “you’re turning into an artist, which is what this is all about”. “Artist” is one of Simon’s most positive buzzwords – he would use it later about Jay James. On Sunday, most of the judges namechecked Fleur as someone with potential for a recording career beyond the show.

Confused? We are. Some of our points may be making something out of nothing, but there were definite mixed messages. The overall impression was of a potential star and recording artist, but given a rap-heavy, slutty routine that involved “cheating”. The example of Misha B should have taught this show to be careful about what judges say to their black female contestants.

Let us know your thoughts on this, our other points, and anything else below.

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104 comments to X Factor 2014: Is there hope for a Stereo Kick-start?

  • eurovicious

    What proportion of viewers do you think will know that was Simon’s girlfriend? Was she indicated as such during the episode?

  • Daniel

    It was implied when they subtitled her comment: “Babe, what’s on your face?” before she went in and wiped the lipstick off, as Simon held his hands up like a naughty boy caught with the sweetie jar. It did happen very quickly though!

  • Robyn

    At the time I watched it, the cheering after Cheryl’s comment just seemed like SK fans who were trying to prove that they were hysterical for the group. But yeah, it was a very odd segment.

    Thinking about the “We’re not One Direction, we are Stereo Kicks” line. I think it’s more likely that SK had previously been given general guidance along the lines of “If anyone compares you to One Direction, just tell them…” etc. And here was a situation that could use that rebuttal.

    So are Team Stereo Kicks in crisis talks? It does feel like something major has to happen to the group if they are to survive in the competition. And if that doesn’t happen, it might just be time for them to leave.

  • KaraokeSauron

    I think most UK viewers would be aware that Lauren is Cowell’s ‘partner’. (Some say beard.)

  • Nugg

    I have always been a fan of this site and it’s observations, but I do feel now that there is a bit of over analysis going on these days. My view is that the main objective of the production team is to produce a well balanced and entertaining show and secondary to find a winner who can make few quid for them. I know this goes against the ethos here a bit, but as a regular attendee and follower of XF I honestly don’t believe that this year TPTB have a major “plan A” that they are desperate to push over the line at all costs, I think they have a number of acts that they would be happy to see progress and even win, but I do not honestly believe the agenda is as rigid and clear cut as some other years.

    • Dean

      Have to agree with this without insulting those at sofabet either who are genius and have made many people a few quid over the years on commenting about the X Factor

      Over analysing will be dangerous, we need to see things as they are and take our opinion from there.

      On that point, I will assume right now that TPTB will like to get the next elimination back partially into their hands. For this reason I am sure it will be a single elimination and they will target Jake especially, maybe Jack and I believe whichever of the overs are doing the worst in the polls (maybe Jay depending on how he did this weekend?) may become dispensable aside from Stevi who they want to stick around for a while. Jake would be my bet at this moment anyway as I believe SK will get a bounce.

    • Chatterbox5200

      Hey Nugg. I said something similar in an earlier thread. The Last series was generally regarded as poor in terms of both talent and entertainment. With the return of “The God of X Factor”, I’m sure the priority for this year was to show that he could improve both, as a greater priority than finding a commercial winner. As has been shown, NOT winning the show, doesn’t necessarily prevent an act from being successful (1D, JLS, Olly Murs, and most recently Ella Henderson), sometimes even more so than the series winner.

      I feel that this year, with the App and the instant availability of tracks for sale on iTunes (did anyone else catch Simon telling Jay that they were in the top 10 on iTunes, on the Sunday show), TPTB have a great way to gauge who has the best chance of a post-show career…… and therefore who to push. By not having as clear a “Plan A” as in the past makes it easier to switch horses mid-series.

      • R

        The big thing about not winning the show not preventing an act from being successful is, to me, one of the biggest red herrings out there:

        1d – signed by Cowell, massively hyped.

        JLS – signed by Cowell, massively hyped.

        Olly Murs – signed by Cowell, flopped, became a presenter on TXF and massively hyped every week.

        Ella Henderson – signed by Cowell, massively hyped.

        That’s the pattern for who sells.
        It’s no coincidence that acts such as Matt Cardle flop as soon as they leave the Cowell label. Even Leona Lewis flopped when she threatened to leave the label and suddenly stopped getting any radio play.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Winning does produce a massive burst of publicity it’s hard to get any other way. The winner moves from showbiz to mainstream news and current affairs for at least a few days and her name is suddenly nationwide. Everyone knows it even if they’ve never heard them sing. It’s definitely an advantage.

  • Piresistable

    This is probably going to sound harsh but it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Cheryl managed to fumble a set piece move designed to help Stereo Kicks.

    Generally if the producers are looking to get a message across they use Louis. But I guess they’re his group so it would have been weird for him to try to set them up to rebuke a criticism.

  • Dean

    Also its so cynical (even if true) of Simon to kill Andrea with saying about his facial expressions. That is likely something hes done since singing as a kid, so difficult to change something like that, but of course Andrea will be wary for the rest of his time on the show and will probably make him perform worse.

    That said I would rather listen too and watch Andrea, than the gormless boyband they will probably try and push on with their full force.

  • Tabitha

    Perhaps the heavy criticism of Stereo Kicks was to get everyone focused on them and talking about them to set them up for a storming performance next week – perhaps a mashup with the boys in two ‘teams’ akin to the battle round in The Voice or something to try to really show the potential of the eight piece format and the strengths of all the members.

    I honestly can’t believe Simon would make such a thing of putting them together and have absolutely no vision for how to use them beyond having them all standing in a row looking and sounding like a choir with a soloist. All the talk of who’s going to be culled is getting people to engage with who’s actually in the group which really wasn’t happening before beyond a few dedicated fans. I always think it’s dangerous to underestimate Simon Cowell :p

  • Dean

    Sorry for multiple posts, my last one of the night. ITunes charts as of now with XF contestants, top 200

    10. Jay James (week 2)
    15. Lauren Platt (week 2)
    29. Ben Haenow (week 2)
    32. Lauren Platt (week 1)
    71. OTY (week 2)
    72. Paul Akister (week 2)
    79. Lola Saunders (week 2)
    85. Andrea Faustini (week 2)
    91. Andrea Faustini (week 1)
    95. Jack Walton (week 2)
    107. Fleur East (week 1)
    110. Stereo Kicks (week 2)
    112. Fleur East (week 2)
    140. Ben Haenow (week 1)
    146. Jack Walton (week 1)
    177. Chloe Jasmine (week 2)
    186. Chloe Jasmine (week 1)
    192. Jay James (week 1)

    Still only Monday so those positons will change throughout the week, but my take on it… Lauren Platt the stand out so far (also because of her different arrangements to the songs not being karaoke), same can be said for Jay James being 10th at the moment.

    Andrea Faustini’s 2nd performance as we knew halted him a bit as week 1 song was obviously high up and still is.

    Fleur East most interesting that her week 1 performance is higher than week 2. Ben Haenow is very high up too for his performance of Jealous Guy which surprised me looking at his YT views which are quite low, same for Paul Akister. Anyone care to give a reason on this? Demographics that use YT or buy from ITunes etc.

    Only other note to end on is that just Jake and Stevi do not have anything in the top 200 that are still left in the competition.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Lauren and JJ’s sales have come from ripping off otngr people’s arrangements. Look term it may damage them but for now they seem to be getting away with it. It’ll be interesting to hear Lauren do a song witout the etheral treatment. If she carries on as she is she could get boring.

      • Dean

        I don’t blame either for ‘ripping them off’ obviously it was producers/judges direction that made them sing those versions. I feel Lauren sung both songs well as did Jay with his version of 500 miles and that’s why they are also high up the charts, the fact those versions of the songs were not well known also made them higher.

        I also believe Lauren needs to change a bit in week 3, I already saw some comments about her being a tad boring, though most important is the judges are just calling her a star or special at the moment. I find any ‘boring’ criticism a bit unfair considering in week 1 she did well singing Happy in the slightly up-tempo part of the song, actually felt she did better week 1 than week 2 vocally.

        I remember someone put these guys into 5 categories beforehand, Category A (who they want to win), Category B (Back up plan to win), Category C (Not sure what to do yet), Category D (Derailing), Category E (Surplus to requirements). Something like this anyway

        I think after last week its dangerous to say Andrea for instance is Cat D when just the week before he was Cat A. The assessment from Simon aside from being harsh about the facial assessments was at least honest. He still wore the starry jacket though remember. I believe Andrea is still minimum Category B. As people have stated he is like the Jahmene of this competition, and people will like him. I don’t think he is so much the Janet or Chris Maloney yet.

        I honestly could not say who is in Category A right now. The first 2 weeks were mixed signals, the only runner I believe they helped a lot was Lauren in both weeks. With her arrangements, VTs, comments, staging, everything. Lola comes close behind though I found her week 1 much weaker than Lauren, but she is more of the darkhorse. I would put Lauren into Cat A right now and Lola into Cat B, but they will see if Lauren sticks and if not Lola could become the darkhorse on her journey to being a great performer. Stereo Kicks are now certainly Cat C. I feel Jake is the main one in Cat E, maybe alongside Jack. Not sure what their purpose is on the show now.

        • Jessica Hamby

          Lola a dark horse? That’s an interesting idea. I’d never thought of her like that.

        • Jessica Hamby

          As regards “ripping off”, imo it’s not using existing material which is an issue, it’s taking credit for someone else’s creation.

          As I said, so far they’ve got away with it but the notion of cheating does make people feel uncomfortable and if it continues week after week and a newspaper or dj or somesuch decides to make an ethical issue of it, it could become a problem for the acts involved.

          What are these cheats teaching our kids? Etc, etc.

  • R

    I don’t think it is possible to over-analyse the show.

    For instance, who would have thought the comment about Janet Devlin being “a little bit boring” in week 3 would have led to the onslaught she received in the following six weeks?

    And from what I’ve seen and heard over the last few years, the whole manipulation is much more widespread than just the show. The use of other ITV shows to plant seeds and of course the leaks to the newspapers all add up to influence the public’s perception.

    • Nugg

      Have you ever been to the show R ? The idea to analyse every single word spoken by the judges is a step too far IMHO. ..there is no script for x factor and the judges have no talkback from the production teams and very limited direction from them….they may loosely plan what they will say in rehearsals but that is about it…..the only time you really see producer instructions at the lives is for the sing off votes

      • Luke

        Have you seen seen the show this week where Simon’s waving a full script or at least a full page of notes around, where Mel asks Louis “is it me now?” and Mel waves around the card that has Jake’s full intro text written on it? And Xtra Factor where one of the guests says that Mel was talking to one of the producers during an ad break?

        Just because a producer doesn’t run on stage or say a script word for word over an in-ear doesn’t mean they haven’t been briefed in regards to what to say, especially key phrases…

        I am also in the camp where you can analyse everything on the show: what the important, and therefore most scripted parts are, is the key question.

        • Spot on Luke – i spotted Mel’s card with all her crib notes on (i.e. script) because she was waving it around.

          Each judge has one for each act – but they are expected not to make it apparent they are reading – so sometimes they can cock it up (if indeed that was what Cheryl did this week with the Hysteria/SK comments)

        • Robyn

          If the contestant intros weren’t scripted, all the judges would probably turn into Britney Spears when she was on the X Factor USA – just mumbling the most basic thing.

          It’s obvious that the judges’ feedback is ad-libbed, based on the less smooth way they’re speaking. And if they refer to notes, what’s sinister about that? They can take notes during the performance, can’t they?

          • Jessica Hamby

            I doubt people like Barlow and Scherzinger would accept being told what to say but there are definitely themes, metaphors and key phrases which occur and are repeated by several judges wand vt when they want to reinforce an opinion of a contestant to the audience. Lola being a “dark horse” is a clear example – vt, then Simon, then Louis all use that phrase on Saturday.

          • Luke

            Eurovicious, all those things happened on this weekend’s show (and Xtra Factor afterwards).

            Robyn, it goes without saying that they don’t read word for word from a script during the judges comments but they are definitely told what the gist of their comments should be and given key phrases to use or points to focus on. Working out what is producer led and what is added by the judges around that is a big part of the skill in analyzing the show.

            If they don’t want to say something, I’d fully expect that’s raised in their production meetings during the week and then the producers can work out, where possible, an amicable solution. But I also believe the judges are clear as to what they’re signing up for, i.e. they do not have creative control.

            Can you take notes that are typed and printed out during a performance?

            I also can’t remember seeing a shot where it cuts to a judge writing something down during a performance – but would like to be corrected on that if someone recalls one.

            Also, this is observational, I don’t care what the show chooses to do, but knowing how they do it and why is important.

      • R

        Hi Nugg,

        No, I’ve never been to the show. I have a rule of never giving any of my money to Simon C as I find him a very unsavoury character.

        However, to add to the conspiracy theories, after the Janet year, she did a lot of twitcams etc for her fans, which I watched out of curiosity.
        One of the big things I discovered was that in Mmmbop week she was woken up by one of the production crew in the middle of the night to be told she was flying to Ireland to turn on the Christmas lights. Which of course she knew she couldn’t turn down but meant she didn’t have any rehearsal time until she returned on Saturday morning.
        She also had her iPod taken from her luggage on the flight to Ireland. It was returned to her on the Sunday by one of the show’s assistants who had apparently borrowed it without mentioning it to her. And of course we also have her sudden bout of food poisoning.

        This was beyond just having a loose script for the judges to follow and a lot of effort for the show to get rid of one contestant. If they are willing to go to these lengths, I expect the script to be tightly controlled.

        • nugg

          Hi R, the show is free to attend, although getting tickets can be a mission. It is quite a different feel watching it live and gives some different perspective on how the show operates. One of the things I was able to report Janets year was that she wasn’t well liked by the judges or production team and they wanted her out; this was long before it became obvious on tv.
          I will probably be at the lives next Saturday, maybe with Chatterbox5200 so will report back after. ….I stand by my view that there is no massive plan A this year.
          Of course there is guidance snd preparation by the judges for their comments but on nothing like the word by word basis some believe.
          I have attended many auditions, boot camps and lives over the years inc twice with backstage access and all of the last three years finals weekends. Parts of the show are heavily manipulated but the actual judges comments are not as scripted as many want to think

  • David Cook

    In relation to Fleur one could easily by asking why they chose that particular song in the first place. Surely there must be thousands of songs from the 80’s so why was it necessary to choose one from 1990. The original song featured layered vocals, which clearly cannot be replicated live without backing vocals. The point Mel made was valid in terms of what we heard, but probably resulted from the sound levels between Fleur and the backing singers not being correct – was that deliberate or an error. When Mel first made the cheating comment, Simon latched straight on to it and threw it back at her in relation to Andrea – again the point was valid, Andrea over complicated things and the backing singers helped carry the song. I’m not really drawing any conclusions from this – why construct something that ended up being damaging to both acts, but the whole thing did strike me as all being a bit odd.

  • Is it possible that TPTB shot themselves in the foot by waiting until Week 1 to give the 8-piece a name (or if the name is already determined early, reveal it)? People like the tangible and hate the abstract; a nameless boy band with too many people gives hormonal teenagers with short attention spans nothing to hold on to, no name to invest their hysteria upon.

  • Nissl

    I didn’t watch this week, but it seemed to me in week 1 like Cheryl was tasked with being the skeptical judge gradually won over halfway through the series but just managed to come over wrong. Partially it was the choice of words, but also her comments about not seeing what the other judges were, not really buying it, rang completely true. Some of that is just down to SK’s quality, but there also wasn’t that level of emotional deception that’s present whenever Simon or Louis makes negative comments. She may be ill-suited for this role in future series because of this.

    I’m really doubtful they can fully salvage SK, though surely a sympathy bounce is in the cards if they exploit some tears in the next VT. A couple saves to halfway are possible, but surely their commercial future will follow a Union J trajectory at best. Is that worth their time, given that they already have Union J (who frankly are at this point much better vocalists, and still aren’t connecting with many)?

    The more I think about it, surely they will have to help OtY at least a little next week to ensure Louis has an act at least past halfway? Playing with fire if they deramp them to make room for SK. I don’t think the voting demos for those two groups overlap much anyway. Maybe I just have my fingers crossed because I like ’em.

    In general, I think they got the groups manufacturing process wrong this year. They sped past the bootcamp rejection phase (similar to what Simon did with the failed Reckless Road on USXF last year), which is a key step in building sympathy, hearing about the members dreams, etc.

    More to the point – and this is kind of repeating myself, in the hopes of seeing something better next year – with the groups being so saturated at the moment, they need to start creating better quality. I’ve said it before, but bring in 15-20 potentials and workshop them for a day, looking for emotional and vocal chemistry as a group. Then actually show the process. That could make some good TV, and actually be something we haven’t seen before on XF. (And yes, I’m biased because easily my favorite manufactured group, Little Mix, was the result of Kelly Rowland doing a bunch of vocal group workshopping of the rejects they didn’t show. She’s talked about it in later interviews.)

  • Jessica Hamby

    It’s funny because I thought week 2 was better than week 1 for SK. The lead singer was differentiated by being in shirt sleeves with no jacket so stood out a bit plus Dermot spoke to someone with a bit more oomph at the end.

    The “we’re not 1D” comment seemed weird given the first part of the vt where a few of them introduced themselves. The only one I remember is the one who said “I’m the cheeky ladies’ man” which sounded stupid to my ears. If you need to tell us you’re not doing it right. In retrospect Harry getting dirty with Caroline Flack was a masterstroke.

    I think you’re right though. The comments from Cheryl were pretty damning. I certainly didn’t rtake them on board at the time, and in combination with Mel’s (much milder) criticism it seemed as if the judges were split with the younger, female judges against the older males.

  • Alen

    Maybe Fleur is polling so well that they are just trying to see how hard they can push her and make her sexy / current? Just to make her different from the girls? I don’t know tbh haha.

    • or making her the “strong independent woman” makes Lola and (especially) Lauren sweet in comparison, which may very well prevent an Ella to happen

    • Martin

      I’ve thought this about Fleur. Personally, I don’t think she’s that great – she covers a lot of bases with her singing, rapping and dancing but she isn’t particularly amazing at any of them.
      From a ratings point of view, if they lost her they’d lose the “performance” from the show (discounting Stevi, and perhaps even OTY) and I think they’re playing to her strengths. Like you say, seeing how hard they can push her. I don’t think her presence on the show is to be the winner, rather to give us something to watch whilst their other acts bore their way through stationary performances over the weeks. She will be bottom two at some point, but if she can survive that massacre of a performance in week two I don’t think she’ll be a serial bottom two candidate.

      Are we sure Andrea was a takedown on Saturday? The points raised point to a slight deramp – I think they were testing the water to see if they could shed a few voters with a few potentially damaging VT elements and comment, but he had a lot of positive elements. He came down from the podium, the VT, although the pasta thing was a potential disaster, was largely complimentary and endearing. Then there’s all the stars, and the pug cushions (amusingly picked up on that at the time also) – I agree that an all out assault would prompt a sympathy vote, it’s probable that this week they tested whether a few scratches would make any difference to his votes. His treatment this week will show the result of this.

      I think everything that needs to be said about SK has already been said. In terms of over-analysis I think it is possible to disappear down the rabbit hole at times but I come on here for the discussion and analysis just as much as to make money. Different users get different outcomes and it’s good to be challenged whilst discussing other theories. If my speculation helps make somebody a winning bet, I’d love to know. I haven’t bet this year, I’m testing the water myself so this disucssion does me a world of good.

      • Never underestimate the power of the black vote. Which fluer now has all to herself. If she can take a slice of the teen vote to go with it shes laughing. I don’t remember anyone calling jermaine the winner in the voice, and he was no way the best singer. Although if we get another performance like last weekend ill be writing her off. Im hoping for her to be wearing some clothes with a song that doesn’t include rap.

        • EM

          Stoney that’s a big comment, are you implying black people are more likely to vote for black contestants? Have you got evidence and proof to back that up?

          • As I said jermaine winning the voice. I’m not racist but yes I would imagine a certain% of black viewer would back an act based on race the same as a certain% of people back acts on where they come from.

          • Martin

            I suppose Jermaine is a relative example. Can’t say that this has been a massive thing for X Factor so far – Rough Copy, Hannah and Misha have all struggled although how much they played into the “black vote” could be pulled into question. Would you include Jahmene in that? He was very similar to the Voice winner.

        • EM

          Stoney two points. Jermaine did win the Voice, how do you know that was down to the votes of black people?

          Secondly how do you explain a long list of black contestants who haven’t done well?

          • Hmmm im not saying it was down to black people alone but he was no way the best singer. Last year at this point and in most years there are several black acts so it dilutes the support. Stephanie had very little support this year and fleur is going along just nicely. I’m not saying its the black viewers keeping her in but id be surprised if a large % wasnt supporting her. At least to the point of throwing 5 free votes her way.

        • EM

          Stoney, these are not singing contents, they’re popularity contests.

          I don’t doubt for a second there are regional and racial biases in the way the public votes but to say “never underestimate the power of the black vote” without any clear evidence to back it up isn’t the best way of framing it my friend.

        • I’m working on the basis that “Fluer” is bobbing along somewhere between 6th-11th. She won’t have been particularly high this week given that it was a rap performance of an obscure song. I suspect she’s getting more of a gay vote than either a teen vote or “black” vote, not that any of those are monolithic, obviously.

          I’m sure most black viewers like and vote for acts other than Fleur, just as my gay bear vote goes to Paul, Fleur, OTY etc rather than to Andrea. I’m from the north and I admit I tend to form more of a connection to (and support) contestants from the north, so I understand what you’re getting at – and yeah, there were a lot more black singers last year – but I don’t think it’s credible to suggest a large proportion of black viewers will be sending all 5 of their free votes to Fleur week-in week-out, people aren’t that tribal.

          • I agree with what your saying. And I also don’t think she is in the top 2 of the voting as of yet but she has the potential to gain support week by week if tptb choose to invest in her

  • Jessica Hamby

    One thing to watch out for, a possible Lola v Lauren set up, à la Blur v Oasis.

    Lauren was in white, Lola was in black. Lauren appears to sing effortlessly and be trouble free, Lola strains and is a bit anguished, Lauren hangs out with her mates, Lola skypes with and misaes her grandparents, Lauren is at school, Lola is a fishmonger….

    Both got the halo treatment and Cheryl made specific angel comments about being touched by an angel to Lola on Saturday while Lauren’s treatment, musically and staging, was quasi-religious (and set up with Halo in Andrea’s vt).

    Lauren’s a little lip-glossed sophisticate while Dermott asks Lola if she’s used to high heels.

    Are you for Lauren or Lola? Which side are you on? Potentially a great tool for creating and maintaining interest and a loyal fan base.

    And of course Syco owns them both. Mwahahahahaha.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Of course it isn’t as simplistic as that. Best thing for Syco is if we like them both, but they have to differentiate between them for us to do that, and presenting them as opposites makes that easy.

      • KaraokeSauron

        Leaving responses to your own messages? Take a break, Jess, you’re cracking up.

        P.S Did you happen upon my reply to your JJ/full orchestra and a bubble machine post? 🙂

        Btw – there was a review of Banana Republic’s post-XF gig at GAY on the Mail Online this morning. I’ll link it here when I get back from work… I think you’ll enjoy the photos. 😉

        • Martin

          It’s a good theory. I missed the comment about Lola wearing heels – further points towards the “transformation” story arc they seem to have given her. I’m just glad she’s given up those awful manky trainers.

          I dont know if the competition will be as extreme as that – if they were to do it they’d offset them more against one another. It seems more than they have the “artist” type in Lauren and the traditional “classic” singer in Lola. They’ll push them both and see who the voters like more. There’s money to be made from both.

          Can I also ring the ridiculous alarm for Cheryl’s butterfly comment please? is it likely that a butterfly would have found its way into the studio and landed on a contestant?! I know a lot of stuff is constructed on this show but that’s pushing it a bit.

      • They can’t do this. It’s madness.

        • If they do this ill be lumping on them for bottom 2 this weekend. People will not back this idea one little bit

        • Hmm. I smell a rat.

          VT

          Louis: “Boys, this isn’t working as an eight-piece. I’m sacking two of you. Reece, Charlie, I’m sorry, you’re out of the band”.

          [Reece and Charlie say tearful goodbyes. The other six discuss among themselves and demand a meeting with Louis]

          The other six: “Louis, we’ve BONDED. We’ve GELLED AS FRIENDS. We’re not going on without Reece and Charlie.”

          Louis: “Well, okay, boys, if you’re sure.”

          [Reece and Charlie make emotional return. Group hugs.]

          “Louis, we will prove you wrong. We WILL make this work as an eight-piece group!”

          • Jessica Hamby

            That’s a script I can believe in. Otherwise it’s like when someone dumps her mates at room auditions. Deep down everyone wants her to fail.

          • EM

            Hmmmm possible. I’m in the camp that thinks SK are now there for storylines/pr/ratings now.

          • David Cook

            This seems to be the most credible suggestion so far. The do nothing option really isn’t an option as it’s clearly not working. But any real cull would just lose credibility. This would probably buy them some time, but it still isn’t a long term solution in itself – it just falls back to the do nothing option. If they do remain as an 8 it’s time to start addressing all the other issues: individual identity and personality, defining roles, addressing song choices and vocals, staging and choreography. So far almost everything is wrong – so they’ve got a lot of ground to make up.

  • tpfkar

    A few thoughts:
    1) Prize for most over-analysis ever on sofabet goes to the Stereo Kicks discussion. Much simpler is that they polled ok in week 1, the producers thought they were safe enough for Cheryl to talk about the lack of hysteria, teenage fangirls would vote in their millions, then after a pimp slot in a couple of weeks, Cheryl says that she can see the hysteria now.

    Union J were trashed in Week 1 last year, so it’s a tried and tested approach to an alpha boyband.

    It just went wrong. I wonder how near they were to rock bottom. Certainly worth a salvage attempt, for headlines at least.

    2) The first few weeks are usually the “bonfire of the overs and groups” (sofabets passim) This year, the overs are arguably the strongest category, and it’s the groups and girls heading home. This gives producers a couple of bonuses they haven’t had before:
    a) if they decide who their alpha girl is, they can give them a distinctive niche quickly, and get them far in the competition. The record of favoured girls falling well short of the final is significant – they can do something about this.
    b) The show can play up the “final chance” themes for the overs, show them bonding, and then get rid late when their votes won’t transfer. Feelgood factor, not risking a winner they don’t want,

    3) Where they’re failing on feelgood is Mel though – the relentless negativity reminds me of the last couple of years. Wouldn’t surprise me if she is told to bring some more sunshine (or at least subtlety.) And we found Saturday’s show plain dull with all the slowed down classics – Stevi was the only exception even if tuneless. I thought they’d learned some of these lessons – but we thought they slipped back into bad habits on Saturday.

    4) I think I was the only person who lost money on Sunday. I bet again Steph for next elimination once we knew it was a double, thinking that evens for 13 runners in a 14 strong field was value. Ah well, only peanuts.

    • Hi tpfkar, nice to hear we’ve exceeded our own high standards on overanalysis 😉

      It’s a simple explanation, but if it’s the correct one then it was incredibly unwise. That’s not how you trash an alpha boyband – you say “girls love you, but it’s not working yet”, then two weeks later “it’s working now”. You don’t say “girls aren’t interested in you” and then expect girls to vote.

  • Ben Cook

    I agree with some of the comments above about overanalysing. Whilst Sofabet has opened my eyes about what goes on on the show, I’ve always found it difficult to believe the judges’ comments are scripted. I’d lean towards them having meetings about who they want them to be positive or negative about. With song choices they are probably given a choice between two or three songs. The judges are probably given just enough autonomy that they delude themselves into thinking they are “mentoring”. Some of them are happier to play ball than others (LOUIS!)

    I suspect Cheryl knows that the producers want the boyband to do well but she isn’t coming back next year anyway so is just saying what she thinks.

    Simon pretending to have a dilemma about who to get rid of was probably just for show.

    You’re overanalysing about Fleur as well for me. It all seems too contradictory to be planned. Why would they want to portray her as a slut but also put her name on gold discs? Sometimes they must just get it wrong, and sometimes the judges just genuinely give their opinion. Can you really believe Mel B would just say as she’s told?

  • lolhart

    My own opinion is that Simon is more flexible than some people give him credit for. While he may have an idea who he wants to sign before the lives, he is willing to change sides if it will be profitable. If One Direction had failed to catch on, I doubt he would have gone to that much effort to force them on the public. Why would he have when there were plenty of potentially profitable acts to rely on that year. I think with Fleur it’s possible that they are testing her with the public, which I’ve noticed TPTP doing before. Perhaps Fleur polled better than expected in Week 1 (by which I mean mid-table) and so TPTB wanted to see how some negativity would affect her. I recall him doing this with TreyC in 2010 around the same time and Alexandra Burke in 2008. The following week was crucial for both acts, as TreyC got the messy Whole Lotta Love which landed her bottom 2 and Alexandra got her breakthrough performance with Candyman. This is all speculation of course.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Agree 100%. He’ll send his show ponies to the glue factory without a backward glance and back a different horse the same day if the polls say so.

      They’re all being tested at the moment. So far Lauren and Jj are passing. It’ll be interesting to see what Andrea does on iTunes next week. People liked Earth Song but this one not so much. Ben’s doing ok but I think Paul needs to improve to get solid tptb backing.

  • Jessica Hamby

    So who’s in danger next week?

    Jake will probably be targetted again. Jack also? If 8 Directions are culled they’ll have to handle it very sensitively and show a definite improvement or they may face a backlash (would they be saved a second time?). I’ve a feeling Stevi isn’t polling that well either. He does a nice “everyman” but he hasn’t got the oddness that Wagner, Rylan et al had that makes you want to know what they’re going to do next.

    They’re obvious names because they’re also the weakest performers. Anyone got thoughts on possible surprises?

    • Alen

      I guess Jake and Jack are fishing in Stereo Kicks votes. Only The Young too but I can’t see the producers sacrificing them already. So Expect Jake and Jack to be targeted, mostly Jake though.

    • How to handle the cull sensitively: the 8 members are dangled over a giant, grotesque sausage machine and viewers vote to save as the boys sing for their lives. The two minced members are available as special promotional X Factor delicacies in the chilled section of selected branches of Tesco from Monday morning. “Want to get close to the boys? Now you can make them a part of you! NEW Stereo Licks – the low-fat boyband snack that lets you enjoy your favourite members in the flesh!”

  • David Cook

    I think that maybe they’re trying to send Andrea up a cul-de-sac. He may well be technically the best singer, and he may be popular, but I don’t think he would be first choice as a winner for TPTB. It’s all a bit Sam Bailey.
    Just out of interest I’ve followed the thread on DS where people rate the acts in order. Yes it’s on DS so it’s not representative, and yes the sample is small, but it’s interesting to see how things are moving because generally the same people who contribute lists each week.
    On week one Andrea and Lauren were top two overall, and each received about 25% of top votes. By week two Andrea slipped to 5th overall and only received around 14% of top votes. This week Andrea’s received less than 10% of top votes from people that have done lists so far. On many of the lists he’s now middle order, whereas week one he was near the top of most. So despite the good performances he is slipping in general popularity.
    This may or may not represent the general public, but I think if they don’t want him to win they will just continue exactly as they are letting him do his own thing and getting generally favorable comments. If they have a favored act they should be able to push them passed Andrea without have really needing to derail him which might risk a sympathy vote.
    As I always say – I may be totally wrong, and I’m sure people will tell me if they think I am.

  • nugg

    Regardless of the judges comments for SK , it is perfectly easy to create an hysteria for a boy band by lining the front of the stage with rows of willing screaming teen girls pre selected from the queue ….they choose not to do this for SK…..WHY ???

    • Martin

      Exactly. 1D, District3, Union J and Sam Callahan have all had this. I genuinely think that SK were comfortably safe week 1, Cheryl ballsed up this week and they fell bottom because the producers took their eye off the ball.

      As for danger zone – I 100% think one of the boys will be taken down this week. Probably Jake and Jack as main targets, but they will be targeting a boy or an over, I wouldn’t be surprised if Paul, Ben or JJ went bottom two as a “shock”.

    • stoney

      i dont get how this is possible, ive been to the fountain studios and its literally a few hundred seats filled with friends and family, i preferred the larger arenas so you could get a feel for who was generally popular with the outside world. When watching the live shows at home these days you get no idea as all the cheering is evenly spread across all the acts.

      • nugg

        About 150 public get into show most weeks along with around 50 competition winners and sponsors guests, the rest as you say is friends and family and production guests

  • Stu

    I honestly don’t think there was a “take down” of Fleur on Saturday. I think Mel was just being honest and it was a good way to encourage sympathy votes for a performance which probably isn’t the most popular when it comes to voting (rapping/half-dressed). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I’m getting Alexandra Burke vibes from Fleur. She’s always come across positively, friendly and full of personality in her VTs, performances and talking to Dermot/Sarah. Dermot asked Jessie J what she thought of Fleur’s cover of ‘Bang Bang’… I think last week was an opportunity for Fleur to show how contemporary she is (especially since the term “artist” is always thrown around regarding her). She rapped and she looked like a star – Cher Lloyd has “rapped” (I use that term loosely) on the show before (I know she’s white but still…) and Alexandra has dressed very sexually with her Candyman and Toxic performances.

  • Jessica Hamby

    For those questioning Fleur’s vocals.

  • EM

    Sales aren’t votes as we all know but here are the performances so far this series ranked by popularity on iTunes.

    Things to note
    Only The Young are the top group
    Stereo Kicks didn’t do that well in week 1
    Lauren has two of the top 3
    Jake is doing weakest, bar Stevi but you can make a case as to why no one would buy his tunes but vote to keep him on

    http://i59.tinypic.com/xnghlv.jpg

  • If it helps at all with the SK analysis and if anyone remembers them, 12 years ago the was an 10 piece boyband called BLAZIN’ SQUAD which came in in a ‘blaze’ of glory and then went out like a not so blazin’ damp squib within 2 years, but not before they had around 6 top ten hits (only in the UK though, as they bombed in the European/Irish market).

    Then, the10 members (at best) soon reduced and varied in time down to a more manageable handfuls, who (after their initial split) tried several times to unsuccessfully reboot themselves (half of them under a new name ‘Friday Hill’ and the other half as Blazin’ Squad during 2005/6). They then tried a 5/6 piece reunion in 2009 which didn’t work either.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blazin%27_Squad

    With so many members, they were a novelty at first which apparently soon wore off and which subsequently nose dived.
    SK have gone that way already and at a much escalated pace.

    XF producers and Simon will be very aware of this ‘tried and tested’ (failed business model) predecessor and will have already known (and engineered it as so) that SK just wasn’t EVER going work as an 8 piece. Historically, that many members just makes it too unreliable and unstable to back with the smart investment money involved here.

    I therefore think that all this headline grabbing (and also cruel to the lads) ‘member shedding’ controversy was well planned beforehand just to get XF more attention. I feel that even 6 members is too many to control properly and it will still look confusing and messy on stage, hence I think there will be a further ‘cull’ to the 4 or 5 best singers/personalities.

    It’s either that as a ‘master plan’ to hone them into a lean mean fighting machine to pimp them through into the final, or it is all just one big ‘red herring’ as part of some other ultimate plan (in true XF sleight of hand fashion). Supermarkets are well known for using a famous cut-priced product as a ‘loss leader’ just to attract more people into the shop (where they can then bombard them with other more profitable products).

    • I vaguely remember this lot and I remember being baffled by the concept – the number of members plus the “chav chic” of trying to flog fake “lads off the estate” to girls as sex symbols. It says something about UK culture, I’m not sure what, but some sociology/cultural studies type could have a field day with it and probably already has. Just like all the “chav chat” lines in the back of UK fag rags like Attitude and Gay Times but that’s another story. Cannot relate.

      I remember Blazin’ Squad having a big first hit then basically fizzling out after that, various appearances on kids’ TV notwithstanding. Funnily enough one of their later songs (the only one I could name) was covered by a Korean boyband and was a big hit there.

  • Jessica Hamby

    How big an advantage is it for Fleur that she can dance? In terms of winning surely it’s a big deal if she gets thtougj the next few weeks. Apart from Stevi the others stand in one place. Lauren is probably the most immobile of them all. I can’t get away from the idea that if I wanted a ready-made popstar who required minimal investment, Fleur is the one.

  • AlisonR

    SK are toast. They go week 4, like KR. Fleur’s tune is the only one I’ve had earworming around my head the last couple of days. She has a good shot I think, is at least category B

  • Heisenberg

    “Because they apply it all the time, notably in the use of reaction cutaway shots to judges…”

    Great point Andrew – here’s Judge Cam to offer a different perspective on the boys’ performances so far.

    My first observation is that Paul has zero reaction shots (excl. ovations). It’s very obvious in comparison to Jake, Jack and Andrea – perhaps they’re just keeping him neutral, for now.

    Boys – Week 1

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hK4I2XERZBI

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KK8wtx3LuEA

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZWrEETAcgU

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2XbCgq0eoY

    Boys – Week 2

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoFFXF1Z04Q

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X91Yrfv7h5I

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRHED3L-0sc

    • Cheers Heisenberg! Another observation – Mel has a fantastic line in facial expressions that say “obviously I have to smile loyally but I’m really not enjoying this”.

      Jake week 1 is a great example of the genre. Also features two shots of Cheryl looking bored and sceptical, and a speaks-a-thousand-words post-performance shot which has Mel as the only one applauding, Simon averting his eyes and Louis with a rictus grin.

    • Great effort do them, very interesting.

  • posted this on the other thread but it truncated ….

    (obviously sanctioned) tweet from Stero Kicks account yesterday …

    “Ok, about the ‘8 members to six’ story… This is not true…it is completely made up – we are an 8-piece!!! …. reece”

    so if TPTB are not juggling about with the line-up then what are their plans? surely they are not jkust going to sit on their hands – i cant see the point in sacrificing (media gold) Chloe if that is the case?

  • David Cook

    Maybe all we get is a watered down version of Andrews suggestion. The VT might show Louis talking to them about the possibility of cutting down the band, possibly even telling them he wants to do it, but they decide that they all want to stick together – they’ll make more effort, work harder etc.
    I guess the success or failure would then just depend on whether this actually tranlsates into improved performances.

  • Heisenberg

    On Saturday they literally smashed him to pieces…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Feh7U4EZ7Q

    Today this video showing previous TV presenting is doing the rounds – I get the feeling Jake could be in for another rough weekend.

  • Heisenberg

    Performance clue from JQ – “keeping it simple” – stripped back perhaps? Another opportunity for judges to stick the knife in about vocal ability?

    http://goo.gl/qHQhPy

  • Jon

    I had that feeling also! I have backed him at 9/4 to go (still available), as I struggle to see who they would save him over, assuming he is in the bottom two (and just the one elimination this week). I would be surprised if that price doesn’t shorten, as I would assume last week’s treatment of him is a harbinger of things to come. Being new to the world of X Factor betting do people prefer a strategy of waiting until the Saturday night performance before placing a bet, at the risk the price collapses?

    My overall bet of Lauren backed pre-lives (14s) is still looking pretty and I have laid off my exposure there. Just a question of whether to hedge further. I struggle to see a winner outside of the top 3 in the betting at the moment though.

    • Heisenberg

      My main concern would be his social media fanbase – he has 260K Twitter followers, more than double any other contestant.

      How many of those followers will vote? Difficult to predict – but it’s definitely a consideration that makes me unwilling to chance elimination odds of 2/1.

      We saw this same scenario with Sam Callahan last season – told week after week he’s not a good singer, yet managing to survive when it seemed unlikely.

      • I fancy him to go this week. I bottled it last weekend and switched my bet which turned out to be the right decision. Can’t see him evading the bottom 2 this weekend

        • lolhart

          I think what kept Sam around was the Sam v Gary Borewlow narrative. I didn’t follow last year so closely, but I think he went out the week Gary refused to play ball.

          On a non-betting note, as a woman Jake does not appeal to me at all. It must be the Geordie Shore reject look.

      • Tabitha

        Overload had over 200k twitter followers too coming into the lives…

        If they can get him into the bottom two I can’t see them saving him over anyone else. It does seem as though they’re trying to get rid of him: lots of very lukewarm comments, constant references to being a weak singer and only there for his looks (what looks?!), a terrible song choice last week that he really mangled, called safe last both weeks 1 and 2 to perhaps create the impression that he’s not popular.

  • Jon

    Fair point. Not many of his followers seem to back up their support with an itunes purchase, but I guess it costs nothing to vote on the app!

  • Curtis

    Do we know if it’s going to be a double elimination this weekend? Because for me that’s a big part of whether the odds on JQ to go next are good value. I’m pretty sure he’ll finish in the bottom 2 and then be sent on his way, but if it’s a double, can I be sure he’ll finish bottom of the vote?

    • lolhart

      I’m not sure who they would save Jake over. He’s not bringing in the tabloid headlines and there would probably only be outrage if he gave an awful singoff performance (very likely) and was saved over someone like Fleur or Lauren. Perhaps they would save him over Jack, as they can easily get rid of him later. I’m going to be Mystic Meg and predict that if Jack and Jake are bottom 2, Mel B will not abstain when asked to vote.

  • Martin

    At this point, without seeing song choices and whatnot I’d predict a very straight up show on Saturday. I think all of Stereo Kicks competition will be targeted – mainly Jack and Jake, clearly and directly. With the shit going down this weekend, I think they will be a lot tighter this weekend – no doubt that it will be a single elimination, the bounce for SK will be worked with, and the knives out for Jake and Jack. Jake will be laid on thick with a song too big for him, I’d suggest that they will pull a Sam Callahan and put him in a long sleeve, baggy shirt (what muscles?!), and further comments suggesting that his vocals “aren’t the best”, but with no mention of his good looks. Just enough to point it out, not enough to spark a sympathy vote.

    With Jack, I think they just need to give him a predictable song, take away his guitar, a distracting stage arrangement – basically give him Luke’s “Your Song” performance from last year and he’ll be in danger too.

    I’m not sure they’d want them both in the bottom two, as one would have a bounce the week after but I’d think one, if not both, will clearly be targeted this week, and successfully.

    I don’t think the objective at the minute is to get Stereo Kicks to win, they’ve backed them heavily so far and they took their eye off the ball last week, so right now I’d suggest that they’re chancing a recovery and see if they can pull that one off successfully. Although their treatment this weekend will be very telling.

  • Henry VIII

    Interesting article as always. I think they had high hopes for SK. That’s why they put the best vocalists in SK and not the Boys category. Whether or not they still have high hopes for SK I can see them culling a couple. Shattering people’s dreams apparently makes good TV. Like with the bootcamp chair game, reminiscent of a gladiatorial arena with the audience hand gesturing their wishes to the emperor.

    Occam’s Razor would say that if it is good TV it may not be a takedown. Like Fleur’s VT. I thought her interaction with Simon was harmless anyway. The rotating head behind Steph in W1 was an example of bad TV.

  • I’m going to make an early prediction here. Stereo Kicks to get a producer pimping, maybe even the pimp slot. However my early tip is on a Fleur East bottom two.

  • Interesting article!

    I’m a One Direction fan myself and I know it wasn’t due to low votes that they ended up 3rd. I think they had a large enough fanbase to get a 1st place win, but by finishing lower in the rankings, it would make the boys want a career even more and be even more willing to sign any contract. And it would allow Simon + Syco to create a much different contract than the winner’s contract for One Direction. It also gets the fans wanting to support the band even more because they didn’t even win TXF.

    My original thinking was that Stereo Kicks wouldn’t win and pull a 1D but they went home a lot quicker than I expected – I think that was because of the drug scandals surrounding one of them. Now they are signed to a new management not TXF backed I believe.

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