How scripted is the X Factor?

Our last post sparked a healthy debate in the comments about just how scripted the X Factor is. For the benefit of readers who are new to Sofabet this year, or who don’t read all the comments (which you really should), we thought it might be interesting to summarise and add some thoughts of our own.

Nugg, who has attended many live shows, starts us off on a sceptical note:


I do feel now that there is a bit of over analysis going on these days… 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… Of course there is guidance and preparation by the judges for their comments but on nothing like the word by word basis some believe.

To clarify, we certainly don’t believe every single word of judges’ comments are scripted. Indeed, the whole point of our discussion about Cheryl’s comments to Stereo Kicks was to raise the possibility that maybe she chose her words clumsily and did damage she wasn’t supposed to. Obviously, that assumes that it wasn’t scripted word for word.

Luke counters the idea of there being no script at all:

Have you 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? 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.

Thé Ferret adds:

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.

That’s our assumption, too – scope for cock-ups, because it’s not scripted word-for-word and this is live television. Louis calling Misha B a bully is one noteable example of where we assume cock-up, because we can’t think of a deliberate explanation that makes sense.

It’s worth adding at this point that we assume Dermot is a consummate professional, always fully on-message (and with an in-ear), and that when cockups happen he will give judges a chance to put it right – though the genie can’t always be put back in the bottle.

Ben Cook adds a sceptical voice:

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”… Can you really believe Mel B would just say as she’s told?

Well, yes – that’s what she’s paid for. Our assumption here is what Luke says:

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.

And on the wider point, it seems there’s not actually that much disagreement here. Even our sceptical commenters – Nugg and Ben – are willing to believe that whether what judges say will be positive or negative must be at least loosely discussed beforehand. So we can all agree that it’s not scripted word-for-word, and nor is it made up completely on the spur of the moment. It’s somewhere between those two extremes. The question is, where?

We agree with Jess that:

There are definitely themes, metaphors and key phrases which occur and are repeated by several judges and 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.

Or as Luke puts it:

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.

That’s what we assume, too. We assume that Louis will have had a crib sheet for Lola saying something like “call her a dark horse”, and Mel for Stereo Kicks saying something like “be positive, challenge them to do an a capella performance”.

Luke makes the absolutely key point:

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.

Exactly. The question that intrigued us about Cheryl’s “hysteria” comments to Stereo Kicks was whether the gist of her crib sheet will have been more like “compare them unfavourably to One Direction” or “imply that nobody gives a shit about them apart from their family and friends”.

R adds:

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

Luke’s point applies here, too – the key is to work out what is producer-led and what isn’t. We have no doubt that we are often guilty of disappearing down the rabbit hole, and seeing patterns where in fact there are none – but we suspect there are probably also many clues we don’t spot, that could be profitably capitalised on if we did.

On that note, do please use the thread below to keep the conversation going – including on the song choices, which should be appearing around Friday lunchtime if the last two weeks are anything to go by.

80 comments to How scripted is the X Factor?

  • Martin

    I’m pretty sure that it was on Radio One last week where Mel B said that they have a weekly meeting with Simon and the production team on a Saturday morning. That’s also the day that the bulk of the VT’s are filmed ahead of the show, I’d imagine that all of the performances are show-ready by this point and so at this point the judges comments can be run through and pin pointed.

    Personally I think that the amount of scripting is done on a case-by-case basis depending on the desired outcome. I can’t imagine that they’d spend a massive amount of time on Paul script, but the “dark horse” arc for Lola seems to have been carefully constructed and is unfolding slowly. Again, when we see a full takedown I’m sure that will be scripted word for word.

  • EM

    I’d urge anyone who thinks the judges have their own opinions and stick to them to read Simon Cowell’s autobiography “I Don’t Mean To Be Rude…”

    There’s a passage in it where he’s describing the audition process where he talks about putting a girl through because of a “thumbs up from the producer” as they needed more girls in the next round.

    The judges are well aware these aren’t talent shows but huge entertainment juggernauts.

    As I’ve said before they all come from a music industry where very little is as it seems. The people you think don’t really sing the songs, they lie about their ages, their sexuality, their song writing skills, their relationships, the money, their backgrounds etc etc.

    Obviously there’s no script. Look at how they react to dodgy notes and forgotten words. But you can bet your mortgage there are storylines that the judges are expected to keep to. Storylines for the acts (dark horse, one trick pony, everyone loves you, gone as far as they’re going to go, in trouble for votes) and for the judges (I don’t get you, I’m arguing with another judge).

    This is just like a shopping channel. The presenters appear to be just ad libbing about a product and giving you the information you need to make a purchase. In reality the “presenters” are following clearly laid out sales patterns and apply all sorts of techniques to make the sale.

    Now tell me if QVC are doing it – why isn’t X Factor?

  • Heisenberg

    Here’s the complete week 1 Judge Cam collection featuring the 12 remaining acts – because often a different perspective can be the clearer perspective.

    It’s a playlist so no need for multiple links this time.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtxzqPO2wHQ&list=PLE3l3mv22sOp7rysI012wBT9GDzJ9UOnm

    Week 2 to follow. Enjoy.

  • Great this, really appreciated

    🙂

  • I think it would be incredibly odd for a live TV show of this nature to not prepare comments, or at least the gist of comments, prior to going on air. You would need some incredible ad libbers on board to provide worthwhile and entertaining comments off the cuff. You would also want to minimise the risk of a judge getting flustered and either spouting complete nonsense or stumbling into saying something offensive on live TV.

    That is before you even think about how you might want to guide an audience in a particular direction…

    I think the moments where things go wrong (the forgotten words, bum notes etc), or something unexpected happens (say, the audience are far more positive than they expected), warrant the most analysis, as this is when the judges have to go ‘off-message’ or are perhaps given the green light to do so from Simon/the producers.

    It is taken as read that Louis is the most on-message, but perhaps over the next few weeks if there are some unexpectedly good or bad performances we can see who else toes the party line come what may, who is most willing/able to adapt to circumstances plus what the producers’ tolerance levels are for an unexpected performance before they OK the judges to change the script.

  • lolhart

    I think the idea of a briefing (which Mel B has confirmed) and notes is definitely the most plausible explanation. I’m sure the judges are also told before the lives that Syco are looking to sign certain acts. I’ve always thought that how much of a script is needed depends on the judge. Simon doesn’t really need one. Louis of course will do whatever is “best” for the show and Simon. Cheryl more or less admitted in her autobiography that she looks to Simon and the producers for guidance. I think it’s also important to remember that the judges have their own egos, likes and dislikes and images to think of and the producers will have to work with that. For example, Cheryl will not want to say anything that will damage her nation’s sweetheart image and lose those hair endorsements. Gary was preoccupied with being seen as “credible” and Kelly Rowland seemed to get very involved with the contestants.

    As has already been mentioned, a certain amount of control is involved from a production perspective. From what I’ve seen of the X-Factor Australia and US there is less following a script and it leads to the judges rambling on or squabbling with each other. On the other hand if it looked like the judges were blatantly reading from a script, it would seem very unnatural. And there are examples of the judges saying things they shouldn’t like Louis calling Misha B a bully and Dannii bringing up Danyl Johnson’s sexuality.

    • That’s why Kelly Rowland and Dannii were my favourite judges. They were both really fair and honest and understood that these are people’s lives. Louis is my least-favourite on the same basis. I hope some embittered ex-contestant hides a remote-controlled rocket launcher in Fleur’s afro and blasts his torso off during her performance.

      • lolhart

        I liked Dannii and Kelly as well, but Dannii is actually better on X-Factor Australia. She gives the contestants decent feedback and doesn’t have to act so zany to compete with the Cheryl and Simon show.

  • Heisenberg

    Here’s the complete week 2 Judge Cam collection – even at this speed Ben easily out-grits a normal speed Jake.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4UoYQMOn3s&list=PLE3l3mv22sOoGqSlQklecTCP0qqOF0PGP

    OTY did get standing ovations from both Louis and Mel but blink and you miss it.

    Also, massive emphasis on Cheryl during JJ’s pimped 500 Miles – making her ‘odd’ comment all the more surprising.

  • Jessica Hambyh

    Timely article on what is for me the most interesting part of the X Factor. I’ve not really anything to add except that this manipulation is the reason why so many musicians hate the show and don’t want to go on it. Acts are destroyed, both in the eyes of the public (like Overload) and in terms of their own morale (like Abi last year (#prayforAbi)).

    If every time you tell a lie the baby Jesus cries then its no wonder it rains so much in October and November – the X Factor is on.

    I think the tricks are by no means limited to judges comments and the spoken word. As I said in another comment, during Andrea’s vt you could clearly hear Beyonce singing “I can see your Halo”. it stood out to me becuase it seemed so out of context. Andrea then went on and disappointed but straight after him came Lauren. With a fucking great halo of light around her noggin (in fact the music and staging was almost religious and pushed Andrea’s messianic earth song out of the mind – Lauren is our new object of veneration).

    Other things about Andrea’s performance. In his VT Mel specifically said that they had slowed the song down so that he could add his own embellishments to the melody. It didn’t work. Simon criticised Andrea’s additions to the melody but noone mentioned it had been done for him. Also that jacket…. Hideous. Yes it had stars on it, but it didn’t work. it didn’t suit him (never mind that it wouldn’t have suited anyone except a stage magician). Maybe, it was telling us, along with the other messages, Andrea isn’t quite suited for star billing. Maybe Andrea isn’t the messiah. Maybe it’s Lauren, our little angel.

    Mind you, if the John Lewispocalypse continues I think people are going to be sick of it. The demo of the viewers may be mainly older people who love shopping but that sort of arrangement is going to get very old very quickly if we have so many of them doing it every week.

    And to think I didn’t have much to say….. 😉

    Oh yeah. And lolhart, I’m totally with you about jake. Geordie Shore reject about sums him up. Sleeve of tattos? Boak.

  • EM

    And bingo, a lot of points in these comments got me thinking and Googling. Who have I found is regularly described as Simon Cowell’s best friend? Only the king of hidden suggestion, unconscious influence and neuro linguistic programming.. Paul McKenna

  • This discussion puts me in mind of something that happened here in the States during season 7 of American Idol. Each contestant was to sing twice. After the first round of songs, judge Paula Abdul proceeded to critique one singer’s 2nd round song. Oops!

    Obviously she was reading her notes from the dress rehearsal. Unfortunately, the show had never made it known that the judges were allowed to attend rehearsals. It was something of a look behind the curtains for most naive viewers.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Derren Brown’s thoughts on x factor.

    http://derrenbrown.co.uk/xfactor/

    • I’ve never seen any of his shows or read anything by him but that’s really perceptive and well-written. Thanks for sharing.

      • Jessica Hamby

        Hing. I’ve only read one of His shows are fascinating. Well worth watching. I’ve only read one of his books but it gave a real insight into how he does what he does. I still can’tt recognise it as he’s doiing it though.

        • EM

          Completely off-topic but beware of Derren Brown! He’s pretty much an outright magician like Paul Daniels and Dynamo but likes to pretend there’s a lot of mind reading and suggestion in play to distract from the fact he’s doing quite simple magic tricks.

          He does use hypnosis and he is extremely clever at the whole psychology thing but not quite in the way he pretends.

          Back on-topic. I’m a massive fan of Browns because he is so clever at making you think you’re seeing one thing when in fact you’re seeing another. That seems to be what he’s talking about in that post (thanks for posting Jessica).

          What he’s saying is they create an illusion that it is a fair and free singing contest. Make the audience feel emotional about it so they don’t notice the mechanics at play, use every trick you can to influence the audience’s voting and act like they have a completely free choice about who goes through but retain all the power yourself.

          That to me is what Sofabet is about. Not a discussion of who has the best voice or who has the most Twitter followers but what influences are at play and why. Yes there are some bets to be placed based on reading the audience and the trends but that’s like betting on a horse race knowing the form.

          It’s about finding those “certs”, spotting who is going to be forced into the bottom two, who is going to be saved based on all the influences you’ve seen at play.

          • Jessica Hamby

            He’s done so many different types of show it’s hard to pin him down to any single thing. Agreed he uses simple magic and misdirection, but that’s coupled with plenty of other techniques. He also exposes psychic fraudsters and faith healers and othen explains what he’s going to do as he does it, and uses it as misdirection to play another trick simultaneously (something I think the x factor has started doing as more and more people are aware of the manipulation – ie do something a bit clumsily / obviously and let people think they’re clever enough to have caught you, not realising that the real trick is the one playing in the back ground).

            There’s a lot to Derren and it’s subtle but I’m not sure I get the “beware” comment.

  • Henry VIII

    A friend of mine says that judge Sharon Osbourne on a chat show after her XF had finished admitted that she was told what to say and who to vote for in a sing off. Maybe someone here saw it. That XF it appeared that her and Gary Barlow were going off-script, they didn’t want to come back anyway.

    Then there was the time Louis forgot who to vote for in a sing off and had to have Tulisa point the name to him on a paper and producers approach him at the desk. It was announced then that the judges would be in future be wearing ear pieces. I don’t know if that actually happened. In this XF Louis reportedly said that all song choices for all acts had to be approved by Simon.

    • Dean

      That was the one where it was Carolynne v Rylan in week 1 I guess and I think Louis didn’t have a clue what to do (because they wanted Carolynne to do better than week 1, but needed Rylan for entertainment). A producer had to come out and tell him lol

      • Carolynne was doomed the moment she had to sing Nicki Minaj’s “Starships” in a country-and-western style. Target group no-one. “Lol”.

        • Dean

          True of course, but I remember at the time it was a tricky choice, with hindsight it seemed an easy one, but going into that year Carolynne was meant to be alpha over

          • There was a debate about this at the time and it was argued that Melanie was supposed to be alpha over as she was given much more time in the audition shows. I remember all the fuss the show made about it supposedly being the “strongest overs ever” when in fact it was dull as ditchwater and they were all out by week 5 apart from Chris Maloney, who the show made every effort to destroy as a performer and person. This year’s and last year’s overs are/were much better.

            Unlike the two before it and the two after it, 2012 was just an awful X Factor series 🙁

          • Jessica Hamby

            I thought last year was pretty dire.

          • lolhart

            A small part of me felt TPTB deliberately made the Overs category so dull that year to screw Gary who wanted to make it a credible category. I still think Kye was meant to be the Alpha over. He got a lot of positive coverage pre-lives and fit in with the more serious musician vibe they had going that year.

  • Nugg

    Some interesting points here, I am happy to agree that there is definate briefings and guidance from the production team about key phrases to include, the point I was trying to make is, despite this, there is still plenty of ad lib,comments in the judges summaries which are in no way scripted or planned at all, which can change voting patterns considerably.

    With regards interference from Richard Holloway, it was quite clear at the arena auditions and in particular the bootcamp shows that he has a huge amount of say in which acts went through to judges houses.

    One thing has always puzzled me though, at the Sunday shows, when the sing off pairing is announced. This is the only time you really see visible instruction from the exec producer RH, and this is ALWAYS to the male judges ie mainly Louis, but also Gary or these days Simon again, never to the girls. These instructions on how to vote, who to eliminate, whether to take it to deadlock etc are frequent and visible to the live audience.

    Now my question is, if the show is so heavily prepared and scripted before hand, why is there a need to brief in such a visible and last minute way? It would suggest to me that upto this point the bottom 2 are not known to the judges and no definate decision has been reached pre show about who to send home.

    • Jessica Hamby

      Lines are closed during the show so while they know who’s near the bottom of the poll that can change until voting ends.

      • nugg

        I can understand that Jessica but I would have thought by the time Sundays show starts it would be pretty clear from the votes already cast who is at the bottom. I wonder how much it changes between the start of Sundays show and limes closing ? Guess we will never know !!

  • Heisenberg

    For those interested, this is an extract from the Sharon Osbourne interview that Henry VIII refers to in the above comment in which she describes how Cowell controls the judging panel.

  • As a follow-up to the McKenna/Derren Brown trains of thought, I’ve noticed there a few verbal tics and tricks Simon (and increasingly Cheryl) use when making comments that I think help lead voters in a particular direction.

    “To be honest” – this immediately suggests what has been said before, often by other judges, hasn’t been honest, and what follows should be listened to more keenly by viewers.

    “Look, I’m going to be straight with you” – again, suggests that what is about to follow is the real thing, that the judge has stepped away from the artifice and is now being honest, although we all know that is not the case.

    “For me…” – Cheryl uses this a lot. It is a handy way of getting the viewers attention and establishing that this is a real, valid and worthwhile opinion worth listening to.

    I may be overthinking this, but they do seem to use these techniques a lot, and I think they do have an impact. I think most viewers will have some degree of cynicism, and the above phrases almost acknowledge that, and pretend to invite the viewer to peek behind the metaphorical curtain to get the “real” or “correct” opinion of a judge. They are also great phrases for undermining what has been said by the other judges.

    • EM

      I don’t think you’re overthinking this one. A contact I met a couple of months ago told me a story. He was working with Paul McKenna and McKenna was booked on to a shopping channel to sell his latest book. Over the weekend McKenna wrote out a script with the most suggestive language he could imagine and wrote and re-wrote it until he was sure no more would fit in.

      The result was the book broke all sales records for the channel.

      Some examples I was given were saying “by now, you’re probably very excited about this book”… The audience heard “buy now, you’re probably very excited about this book”. And “don’t reach for your credit card just yet” the inference being you are going to reach for your credit card in a bit.

      I’ve no evidence other than that was the story I was told.

      However as I’ve said Paul McKenna is often cited as Simon Cowell’s best friend.

    • David Cook

      I think that these phrases are used carefully to reinforce what the audience may already have in their own minds. It’s difficult to totally alter opinion if the judges use such phrases, and what they then say is totally at odds with what has been seen or heard. But if what they say rings true, then the impact is much stronger. I think that this is probably what was so damaging for Stereo Kicks last week. When Simon and Louis tried to talk them up it patently wasn’t true. But what Cheryl said would have struck a chord – the audience had seen a lack lustre performance and there was Cheryl actually telling them that there was a lack of hysteria in the room. It was probably extremely damaging. But was it deliberate?

  • Heisenberg

    This is really strange, it’s Fleur going through everyone’s stuff in the house whilst they’re all out…

  • tpfkar

    Very interesting discussion.

    I think Dermot does have a full script; he tweeted the first or last page of it after last year’s final. I suspect it’s rather more scripted than we might think (e.g. the judges know the exact order each will speak on each act which doesn’t happen by accident.) The question is how closely such large egos stick to the script.

  • I wish they would hurry up and reveal the song list

  • Wicked. Fluer will smash that.
    Listen gets rolled out for its annual performance yawwwwwn

  • Natasha

    I have no doubt she will however, however, how ‘slutty’ will they make her look? Not good for middle England voters! Jay James doing Skyfall……………………wow think they are targeting him this week! I can just picture his face whilst he sings through gritted teeth and squinted eyes and like he is constipated! Jake is also obviously enemy number 1 and his ‘teen’ voters will not recognise that song at all

    • Ok my theory on this is if they continue in the same formula as previous weeks it’s because she is polling well. There is no way they would want to lose her. She is the finished version of tamera. And we have no idea how app voting is going to affect the end result this year. Could be the time where a non traditional winner is found as people start swapping there phone call/s for x5 votes

      • Natasha

        I expect they will really ‘sex’ her up for that song though which probably won’t go down too well with voters? I’m still not sure on Fleur to be honest. I hope they get Jake in the bottom 2 and I hope they get rid as a 3rd win out of 3 would be awesome 🙂

  • lolhart

    Jake’s song choice will do him no favours at all. It’s a very flat song with no real moments. Skyfall landed Hannah in the bottom 2 last year and I can’t see it going well with Jay James’ nasally voice. Most of the others have songs that play to their strengths, though they seem intent on making Lola as dull as possible.

    • I think the Dirty Dancing anthem will play perfectly to Jake’s demographic. The last few weeks, he’s been one of the favourites to go and he’s still there. He has the most Twitter followers by far and I actually think he’ll be safe again this week.

      Lola and Jack have the biggest question marks over them this week for me. Jack has a naff song and Lola’s being shunted quite heavily into second place behind Lauren by Cheryl. Giving her Leon Jackson’s boring one and only hit isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement for her.

      Jay’s song saw Hannah ending up bottom two during her series and I’m not sure Jay will sing it any better than she did. He does seem more popular with the ladies though….

  • Marc

    I think this might be a big pimp for Jay if he does a version like the one that was on American Idol by Caleb this year:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-7YETZC3ow

    Was held out as a breakthrough performance and he went on to win the show…

    I think these are really good choices for OTY, Fleur and Lauren (definitely ‘delighting the demo’) and maybe Jake.

    I think Jack’s definitely in trouble based on this, can’t see how that can possibly work. Looks like the Andrea deramp continues as they continue to push him down Jahmene Mk.II territory.

    Not sure at all where Lola fits in.

    • Face

      As much as I was no Caleb fan, he is hands down a much better singer and performer than Jay is… I just don’t think Kay has the voice for a big belter like Skyfall… I also think this chopping and changing of song styles, this early on is an indication they either don’t know what genre / market / demographic he appeals to… or, they want to make sure he doesn’t appeal to a specific demographic / market…

      • I would say, seeing as Jay reached as high as number 7 on iTunes downloads, he is appealing to a specific enough demographic 🙂

        • Face

          I put the high itunes sales to the version of the song… rather than him per se… especially as his previous week’s song didn’t set the iTunes chart alight…
          but maybe you are right…

  • Aunt Dahlia

    Awesome choice for OTY

  • Heisenberg

    I don’t think Jay will have any trouble with Skyfall because he has performed it before – and he absolutely nailed it that time.

  • Curtis

    Hmm, don’t know what we’re being told by those song choices. “Listen” seems to be a winner’s song, but surely we’re all getting fed up of it by now. I’d always prefer that when someone (i.e. Alexandra Burke) has had their moment with a song that it got retired from the X Factor stock song list, and I think a number of people subconsciously agree on that.

    “Let It Go” is probably a pimping choice for Lauren – looks like the producers are trying to give her a helping hand but let’s see.

    As for the rest of them, who knows. We’ll see on the night but surely Jake is going to be the man to go (or one of the acts to go if it’s a double elimination)

  • Scott

    I am very wary of that Only The Young song. Their success so far seems to have been through being a nigh-on modern day Jive Bunny, singing older tracks that presumably an older generation is enjoying.

    Boom Clap is loud, I don’t know how well it’s known in the non-Radio 1/Capital world, has repeated references to the lyrics “Come on to me” and without good production can get a bit lost near the end.

    I could have this very wrong – I thought there was an outside chance of them going last week and I don’t quite understand who is voting for them – but it’s an alert for me.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Nice to see OTY getting something current.

    Looks like Lola, Jack and Jake are possibly in a bit of trouble – I’m not sure Jack has enough voice to make Eye of the Tiger anything but pedestrian. it has got a bit of energy to it though, assuming they don’t John Lewis it.

    I agree that the Andrea deramp continues. He’s getting all these uberdiva songs. They create great moments but he’s being pigeonholed terribly and he can do a lot more with his voice than just belt it out. I don’t think they want us to realise that though. It’ll be interesting to see running order. Will it be a female in the pimp slot this week? If so, which one?

    I think Fleur’s is a potentially great choice but there is always that worry that sexy performances alienate x factor voters. How come Miley and Gaga et al can sell gazillions of records, notch up even more youtube views and sell out world tours, but show a corset and a bit of cleavage on x factor and you become Jezebel the whore from Whoreland?

    Paul back in his Motown zone. Is that enough for him to reach the final or will he need to do something more? I’m not sure yet. Last week was a much better performance than week 1. I think he still has more to offer and he’s not going tomorrow so we shall see.

  • Face

    not the most original or inspiring song list… soooo many done to death boring ballads… ugh…

    I fear this season of XF UK will soon turn into a mix of last year (dull songs and even duller contestants) and the James Arthur/Ella season… some good to great contestants… who where given cr@ppy songs…

    thankfully OTY, Stevi and Fleur will liven things up…

    interested to see if they are busing Jack with the Survivor song… I think Skyfall is too big for Jay… is that a set up? also looks like the subtle Andrea deramp continues by giving him another diva ballad…

    Also wonder if they are now washing their hands of Stereo Kicks… a Beatles medley will hardly appeal to their demographic… and those who like the fab four will probably not appreciate an 8 piece boyband murdering 2 of their classic anthems… especially if the SK versions of LIB and HJ are as terrible as their rendition of Boys of Summer last week… fact that OTY have a very contemporary song makes me wonder if TPTB have now got on board the OTY train??

    I do think Paul, Lola, Ben, Lauren and Andrea should sing their songs well… even if I don’t particularly care for many of their choices…

  • Curtis

    I’ve been wondering all this week whether the producers just might put their backing behind Only The Young. Just looking through the list of people in the competition, I was uninspired, and I imagine the producers are as well. I think after this weekend, given the seeming end of Stereo Kicks, we’ll be a lot closer to knowing what the producers want out of this now.

  • General Hogbuffer

    Yuk – this song list is so dire and predictable, no wonder people are switching off. There are only 3 notable song selections for me:

    Let It Go for Lauren is certainly very predictable, but probably the only majorly known movie song from the last 12 months, so I would see that as a major pimping exercise. Fits with that article about her odds being majorly affected by someone betting 5k on her winning…

    Don’t know OTY song, but it sounds upbeat and current – this could go either way. I would not be surprised to have a VT that makes a big deal of them picking the song themselves (certainly not Louis’ choice, LOL) only for it to get lukewarm response. Also, would not be surprised to see this changed at the last minute by Louis – are there any Westlife songs that have featured in movies ?

    Fleur’s should be entertaining, but will probably be a fairly sexed up and agressive number, especially if she’s doing MIA’s rap part. Noted Queen of Charisma (TM) Leona Lewis did this but changed the lyrics from “Voulez-vous couchez avec moi” to “Voulez-vous danser avec moi”, let’s see if Fleur wants people to sleep with her or to dance with her… could be a de-ramp, knowing how well the public likes confident black women.

  • Natasha

    Interesting. On Gogglebox they seem to usually pimp the favoured X Factor acts but Stereo Kicks are being slated by the Gogglebox couch potatoes! I’m pretty sure Sam B featured on there almost every week and they were all shown to praise her.

  • Fudd

    Medley time for Stereo Kicks then though Let It Be and Hey Jude seems like a slightly random combination; it’s going to be quite a gear change from one to (presumably) the end of the other.

    Only the Young are, yet again, on the cusp of success or disaster. I thought they made a complete mess of Come on Eileen but everything else said they were being given support. Boom Clap! should be better for them but will it stand out enough? They’re ripe for a favourite sandwich should the producers wish to deramp them.

    Speaking of deramping, surely that’s what they’re doing with Andrea though it’s a slightly dangerous game with Listen. The judges comments and staging are going to be very important and this could easily work for him.

    Paul has Andrea’s arena song – I guess it makes a difference from Paul’s previous routines being borrowed. It’s a much needed uptempo number and should make him stand out. I agree that he’s being used to pull viewers away from Andrea.

    Jack should be fine with Eye of the Tiger; it’s a song with a quite a few guitar covers on Youtube which suggests it will be in his comfort zone:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDkIp4pveXY

    I think they’re keeping him rumbling on in the background for now; they won’t want him in the bottom two against who I presume is their target as he’ll bounce. And surely, as others have said, their target will be Jake? But I have a nagging doubt – She’s Like the Wind is in his vocal range; he’s hardly going to destroy it and if he gets the atmosphere right it could take off. Again, staging and comments will be key. I can’t even figure out who they want in the bottom two with him, though.

    I can’t see it being Stevie. Footloose is another fun number where Brian and Sisco can have fun with the choreography and he can camp it up to nobody’s business.

    The other overs are treading on slightly thinner ice for me. Ben should be fine with I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing but it’s going to push his voice to the limits and a crack could see a few voters slipping away, particularly if the judges seize on it. Fleur will perform the hell out of Lady Marmalade but, as has already been alluded to, strong sexy independent black women tend to struggle to gain support. They’re treaded a fine tightrope over the past two weeks and this will be third time lucky… or unlucky. How the heck is Jay going to do anything with Skyfall? He doesn’t have the voice for it at all and I can’t see how they can can switch it up without it failing miserably. I wonder if they’re hoping to give him a bottom two bounce…?

    I highly doubt Lauren needs that at the moment. She has been given the movie hit of the year and I can just see her ending the show on Let It Go resulting to a standing ovation. When You Believe is a bit of a challenge for Lola but one she should pass – I think (unless comments and staging suggest otherwise) Lauren is definitely the alpha girl, for now at least.

  • Martin

    Wow what a load of crap. I can’t decide if Andrea is being allowed to blossom or being deramped yet again – every “Listen” performance has gone down as a “moment” apart from Tamera’s last year, which was supposed to happen but Gary did his Beyonce-lite thing. Will Andrea be allowed another week of wow, or will we see the start of “yawn, something different” ? I can’t tell – but surely if they didn’t want him to do well, they’d give him a more unsuitable song? He’s clearly going to be amazing, whatever the judges say. I’d also suggest we’ll get a request for an uptempo next week. The same with Lola. This is the third boring ballad in three weeks, surely she is capable of more?

    I’d go with the suggestion that Lauren is being pimped. It will indeed delight the demographic, it’s the biggest song from a film in recent years and I’m sure it will provide more opportunity for her angelic theme.

    The boys choices are completely terrible. Jack Walton WGWG-ing up “Eye Of The Tiger”? I am dreading it already. It would work for Stereo Kicks, it’s the ultimate coming back fighting song but this seems like Jack is our first target, as suspected. Complete novelty choice (although JJ was the same last week and look how that ended up).
    Jake has an awful choice – it will be mediocre, pretty restrictive vocally and points towards him being another target.
    Paul’s choice is good for him, don’t like the song personally but if enough people are voting for him I’m guessing it will appease them. Has he not already performed that song? (Somebody has, I’m sure of it).

    Stereo Kicks have an awful, typical Louis choice. I hate these medleys, and The Beatles one is awful. Pretty sure that JLS did it, as well as Ray Quinn and it hasn’t been touched since. It may have done well then, but times have moved on and will this appeal to their target demographic of teenage girls? Absolutely not. It doesn’t even have a message that the girls will lap up. You’ve got Jahmene’s runner up single, which will surely be cut short for a series of “na na na na na na”. No idea how they’re trying to play it – surely they’re going to have a bounce? If they want to cut it, they’re going about it the right way.

    Not sold on “Boom Clap” for Only The Young either. Sure, it’s current and will appeal to the younger voter – it’s from one of the most successful films of the year but the song itself is pretty flat. Midtempo, no real message behind the song, no real build up. I’m sure they’ll do a good job, but it won’t be a show stopper. As somebody else has mentioned (forgot name sorry) – the production needs to be good or they will be lost.

    Dreading Jay. I dislike him more and more each week and I pray that this will stick the knife in but I can’t see it. “Skyfall” failed for Hannah, and I have no idea why but it will be interesting to see whether they use the flames with Jay like they did with her. Jay will also be called “our very own James Bond” or something to that effect, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see lots of sexy bond girls sent on stage, complete with his back-of-stage lighting he seems to have been given with his “film star” thing. Can’t see them changing that route to be honest.
    Disappointed with Ben’s choice – sure it will be good, seems like they’re paddling along with this gritty rock thing. Again, won’t be a show stopper but won’t blow anybody away.

    Fleur will be interesting. She’s one of the main discussion points for me. I’m not a massive fan of her, to be honest she’s exactly the type of artist I dislike in “the real world” and I’m astounded that she appears to be doing well. I’d be interested to know how she is doing in the votes. Has she been polling high, so they’re continuing her sexy-for-a-saturday-night routine? Or is she stuggling, so any week now she will fall into the bottom two – it’s just a matter of continuing what they’re doing and the damage will do itself? All the classic X Factor tactics are there to suggest the latter – the confident black woman, steal-your-boyfriend styling, rapping, sexy song choices. Perhaps this year it is the time for an act like this to connect with the public, I have no idea. I’d be worried about that song for her though – she will be wearing a corset and fishnet tights (remember that girlband of strippers that Cheryl ripped into?!), singing about taking somebody to bed, and if she performs the rap there is a good chance that the lyrics “We’re independent women, some mistake us for whores” will sneak in there. There is all the evidence to suggest that this should be damning for Fleur, but in my opinion, last week should have been too so I can’t be sure enough to suggest that she’d be bottom.

    At this point I’d go with the flow of the week and say Jack and Jake will be in danger.

  • Fudd

    Past song use and voting position for that week:

    Listen – 3 (S5 WK8 – two performances – Alexandra Burke 1st 24.53%; S9 WK5: Jahmene Douglas 2nd 16.9%; S10 WK 3: Tamera Foster; Flash Vote 4th 7.7%, Overall 4th 7.3%)

    Try a Little Tenderness – 1 (S3 WK2: Robert Allen 10th saved in sing off 2.8%)

    Let It Be – 3 (S2 WK9 – two performances – Journey South ‘safe’; S7 WK7: Paije Richardson 7th eliminated 9.37%; S9: Jahmene Douglas – his winner’s song so part of 4 performances – 2nd 38.9%)

    Hey Jude – 2 both as part of medleys (S5 WK6: JLS 5th; 9.91%; S7 WK7: Wagner 6th 9.90%)

    I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing – 4 (S1 WK4: Tabby Callaghan 1st 27.8%; S6 WK4: Danyl Johnson 1st 36.2%; S7 WK5: Treyc Cohen 9th 3.53% eliminated)
    Girlband were eliminated in series 5 after singing this in the sing off.

    Lady Marmalade – 3 (S1 WK4: Voices with Soul – 5th eliminated – 15.0%; S3 WK7 – two performances – Leona Lewis 2nd 25.53%; S4 WK2: Hope – 7th 5.3%)

    Skyfall – 1 (S10 WK3: Hannah Barrett Flash Vote 7th 6.2%; Overall 9th 5.9% saved in sing off)

    None of the others have been used before as part of a live show except When You Believe which was the winners song in series 6. The series 2 voting figures aren’t on wikipedia.

    Of course, these are purely the song choices. The run up to these weeks and subsequent producer intentions aren’t clear on the face of it; for example, Danyl’s 1st place for I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing came off the back of a bottom two appearance in week 3.

    Listen – the song gave Alexandra her first 1st place in the public vote; she had polled 4th in the previous two weeks. Jahmene had been steady in second since week though it did give him his highest share of the vote to date. Tamera saw a levelling off from week two (when she finished 4th in the Flash vote but 5th overall) though pulled in a bigger share with Beneath Your Beautiful.

    Try A Little Tenderness – Robert lost momentum from a 4.4% share for week one (All Night Long) when he performed first.

    Let It Be – We can’t read much into Journey South except that the didn’t fall into the bottom two. They performed You’re In My Heart (The Final Aclaim) alongside Let It Be. Same with Jahmene really though maybe Let It Be wasn’t as attractive a proposition as Impossible as a winner’s single! His other numbers were Move On Up, The Greatest Love of All (with Nicole Scherzinger and Only Boys Aloud) and Angels. In relation to Paije, he had polled constantly around 7th place though it did help him pull in his highest share of the contest despite elimination.

    Hey Jude – It’s harder to judge the impact as both performances were medleys. Wagner pulled in his highest share of the series to date with the Beatles performance, albeit finishing only one place off the bottom two. (As an aside, Katie Waissel jumped from the bottom two to second when performing Help! that week. Makes you wonder whether they would have given Stereo Kicks that if they wanted to try a proper bounce?) It’s surprising to see how JLS were performing in the mid-stages of series 5; 5th was an average position for them then but it was a lower share than the previous three weeks (they finished 2nd with a 17% in week 4 with Working My Way Back to You/Forgive Me Girl). No wonder they were given a bottom two bounce the following week…

    I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing – I’ve already commented on Danyl’s performance above. Tabby recorded his highest share of the series with this but ended up in the bottom two the following week (Sweet Child O’Mine). TreyC had always been in trouble – share wise she did better in week one, when she finished the show with One, but the die was cast at that point.

    Lady Marmalade – Voices of Soul had finished in the bottom two twice already (Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and Bridge Over Troubled Water) before being pulled down again by Lady Marmalade. It was an odd week, though, with everyone seemingly sucking votes away from G4 (Circle of Life), who propped up the rest in the public vote. Voices of Soul nearly doubled their share despite being sent home. Leona and The McDonald Brothers were switching places during the middle weeks of Series 3 and this was no different. Her other song was I Will Always Love You which suggests the producers were nervous that Lady Marmalade may hurt her. Hope’s vote share saw a drop from week one (Umbrella) to week two though they did go last with Umbrella and first with Lady Marmalade. Their seductive performances certainly didn’t endear them to the voting public, though.

    Skyfall – After a strong start (5th/5th for What’s Love Got To Do With It? and 3rd/3rd with Beautiful) disintegrated in week three; from an overall share of 10.4% to 5.9%. She performed between Sam Callahan and Nicholas which you wouldn’t think was the most dangerous sandwich ever but fall it did nonetheless… bad signs for Jay?

    In the great scheme of things this probably means very little and is just a waste of space so I apologise for that – but it passed some time anyway!

    • Phil

      Re: Danyl Johnson’s first place for Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing – didn’t he sing that horrifically out of key? I seem to remember that being a car crash and, being that it followed a bottom 2 the previous week, I don’t think there’s much to be read from it.

      Otherwise, LOVE this detailed analysis. My friends tell me I’m obsessive about the show but this is something else!

  • Heisenberg

    Poor old Jack looks a bit bemused in this rehearsal photo with everyone around seemingly having a laugh at his expense.

    http://goo.gl/EjqVDH

    Maybe they’ll take away his guitar, or worse still, imprison him in a smoke filled cage like ‘Sardi’ in X Factor Albania.

  • Boom Clap for OTY reminds me of one song choice from last year: Kiss From a Rose for Luke Friend

  • M.G.M

    Long time lurker, first time commenter, have to say this site and its analysis is one of the main things I look forward to about X Factor season.

    Stereo Kicks’ song choice stood out as odd to me. While a Beatles medley initially sounds positive, Let It Be with (presumably) the reprise from Hey Jude shoehorned onto the end surely suggests a swan song? This coupled with positive but non-motivational comments about ‘proving the doubters wrong’ etc. could see them in trouble again. I’d need to see the show tonight to be sure, but looking at the song choices alone I think they may be trying to clear the way for Only The Young to be alpha group. I agree Boom Clap is not the most well known song of all time, but it plays exactly to the type of people who already like Only The Young (ie, the type of people who discuss X Factor on internet forums and will now vote because its free) and, crucially, to teens, as The Fault in Our Stars was surely the biggest non Hunger Games teen movie of recent years.

    Its far too early to say this, (but I want to call it now in case it does happen) if this weekend goes well I can see a Little Mix style ‘out of nowhere’ trajectory towards the final being set up for Only The Young.

  • Donald

    That will be Lauren top at iTunes after tonight, pretty decent song choice for her.

    More than can be said for Stereo Kicks, I’d say they are letting them run their course at this stage. Comments about song choice directed at Louis.

    The rest much of a muchness, some better that others, Jay trying to be Adele, not too sure how that will go down.

    Fleur song choice far from good in my books, that is a deramp song amongst other choices for tonight and doubt if it will get many votes, They need to go for a few tonight to ensure Stereo Kicks do bounce, a trashy staging and Fleur could be in real trouble.

    Jack for me seems to an odd one overall to figure out in the context of the show, not setting the world on fire but seems to be paddling along quietly, very varied views here on Sofabet but worth keeping a closer eye on maybe. If he were to be given an Ed Sheeran song the game could change. Odd contestant and they way it being rolled along.

    Tonight is big night for Andrea, will his forward path be frozen even more.

    Elimination not so sure, I reckon if they have any chance to get SK moving they will have to do some serious numbers on a few acts tonight, otherwise they run the course.

    That OTY song not great either.

  • annie onymous

    Firstly, how stupid do you think teenage girls are that they don’t recognize and appreciate The Beatles? Have you forgotten who the original driving force for the Beatles’ lasting legacy of superstardom even was? It was teenage girl fans. Teenage girls love it, and loved Stereo Kicks’ cover. THAT was the top iTunes sale for the week of Movies Week, and has remained one of the top-viewed Youtube videos out of this season.

    OTY are cringe. They don’t appeal to teenage viewers — they appeal to small children. It sounds like they should be singing about potties and alphabets.

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