X Factor 2014: Trick or Treat? Hallowe’en Staging

We take a keen interest in the staging of each song, and the interest needs to be even keener for Halloween. What might usually stand out as a hatchet job by being scary, funereal or monstrous suddenly becomes justified by the theme. Producers must love it. As occasional Sofabet contributor Dug wrote in 2012: “It’s a great theme because basically everyone dresses in apocalyptic drag and gets red-and-blacked.”

Or do they? We peeked through our fingers at past Halloween productions for staging clues amidst the zombies and ghouls. There have been three Halloween themed shows, in 2010, 2011 and 2012. And in all three, we felt at the time that producers cleanly hit the act they were targeting. Aptly enough for the theme, in all three years the victims have been young women: Belle Amie, Sophie Habibis and Jade Ellis.

Do bear in mind that it’s a small data set, leaving the chance for coincidence, and we obviously can’t guarantee any pointers will be used in the same way on Saturday. But like the Blair Witch Project, we couldn’t resist exploring further. Let’s start with the three sacrificial lambs.

2010 victim Belle Amie’s VT concluded with one of them saying “we just want to show people who we are on stage”. That turned out to be… the undead. They started in coffins, which weren’t opened early enough as the singing started. When they were finally released, it was to red-and-black lighting, messy spotlights and near-naked writhing dancers.

It’s perhaps worth reiterating at this stage why we’re interested in staging. We suspect it can sometimes – intentionally or otherwise – press subliminal buttons in viewers’ minds that make them feel more or less well-disposed to a performance, and therefore more or less likely to vote.

What is there to say about 2011 victim Sophie Habibis’s treatment that hasn’t been said already? It starts with the way her VT builds anticipation by having her talk about the excitement surrounding the show, setting up the payoff of her going into her hometown pub, where she is greeted by… one friend, and everyone else ignores her. It ends with Dermot reminding us of Louis’s “secretary who sings at the weekend” line.


But it’s the staging we’re interested in here, and Sophie appears in an arachnid hellscape with arguably the most comprehensive ever red-and-blacking. Like Belle Amie, she had semi-naked male dancers, but they writhe much more slowly in the darkness, as if caught in the spider’s web backdrop.

A year later and in 2012 Jade Ellis was another comprehensive assassination. It combined two of these earlier themes. Like Belle Amie, she was undead according to her cut-throat make-up. Dressed as a cyborg with one eye obscured by a metallic web, she was brought to life by a charged backdrop. And as with Sophie, there was a spider’s web motif in the background, this time carried through into the dancers.

Now you’re probably thinking: it’s Hallowe’en, most of the staging must have been like that, right? Well, actually, no – we YouTubed our way through the other Hallowe’en numbers as well, and there are plenty of examples of acts who have classy staging: check out Cher Lloyd’s ‘Stay’ in 2010 for example – a bit of mascara and a dead tree, but beautifully-lit, and haunting in a good way.

Or consider Ella Henderson’s ‘Bring Me To Life’ in 2012 – more dead trees, mist and a red cape. Or Jahmene Douglas’s ‘Killing Me Softly’, with a spectral cathedral backdrop. Indeed, quite a few of the stagings and stylings seem to have very little obvious connection with the theme at all, such as Craig Colton’s ‘Set Fire To The Rain’ from the 2011 pimp slot; as EM remarked in the Sofabet comments at the time, “nothing says Hallowe’en quite like a plump bloke in a duffle coat singing an Adele song”.

So did any themes of Hallowe’en staging seem to stand out from this re-viewing? Again, this is a very small data set and this was just a quick glance through YouTube, not a scientific study. But for what it’s worth, here’s what struck us.

Spiders. Apart from the web theme in Sophie’s and Jade’s staging, the only other spider we spotted was on a necklace of a Belle Amie singer, so I guess that’s 3-0 to the arachnids. Coincidence? Quite possibly, though it might be worth pointing out that a non-negligible number of people genuinely fear spiders whilst seeing other Halloween motifs, such as ghouls and carved pumpkins, as harmless fun.

We did also spot a couple of prominent cobwebs – in the staging of Mary Byrne’s ‘Could It Be Magic’ and Janet Devlin’s ‘Every Breath You Take’, both early leaders the show was trying to dampen.

Writhing naked flesh. Apparent in two out of these three kills, and if it featured elsewhere in Hallowe’en staging then we missed it. The most notable other use of this that we can remember was in 2012 for Chris Maloney’s (non-Hallowe’en) rendition of ‘Fernando’.

The undead. As far as we can tell, only Belle Amie and Jade had staging that suggested they were undead.

Death, generally. We spotted only a handful of other explicit connotations of death in Halloween staging. There were RIP tombstones for District 3’s ‘Every Breath You Take’ in 2012, on a week they were due down off their bounce and we assumed producers were after them but overly harsh criticism of their Clockwork Orange-themed routine actually helped their vote.

James Arthur’s ‘Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This’ had grim reapers holding flaming torches, but from the pimp slot – clearly it wasn’t meant to be unhelpful. Wagner’s ‘O Fortuna/Bat Out Of Hell’ mashup (and this was at a stage when producers were still very much trying to help Wagner) featured dancing skeletons. That’s about it, which seems surprisingly few examples in the circumstances.

Obscuring eye make-up. We have occasionally wondered if make-up which distracts attention from the eyes dampens an act’s vote by making it harder for them to establish an emotional connection with viewers. Jade Ellis’s garb is an extreme example, but interestingly Katie Waissel’s ‘Bewitched’ also landed her in one of her many singoffs after featuring some distinctly offputting eye decorations. District 3 were also given make-up that distracted from their eyes.

A couple of counter-examples here. Wagner had a distractingly bloody eye – but then, nobody was voting for Wagner because he was making an emotional connection with them. And One Direction’s ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ had some bloodshot eyes along with neck scars, but it was rather half-hearted and merely looked like they had been clawed by an over-enthusiastic fan.

Marionettes. Not a theme that featured in any of the kills, but perhaps worth a mention as the masked puppets in Misha B’s ‘Tainted Love’ are arguably the most shiver-inducing sight in any of the Hallowe’en stagings (followed not far behind by her horned hairstyle) – and she landed in the bottom two, despite a commanding performance and a VT which was a masterclass in attempted damage limitation following the Bullygate fiasco of the previous week.

Aiden Grimhaw’s ‘Thriller’ in 2010 also featured marionette dancers. The show wasn’t much invested in Aiden at that point, but producers certainly wanted to help Misha B and also – of course – Little Mix, whose breakout performance of ‘ET’ (following the breakout ‘Insecure Jesy’ VT) featured doll make-up and puppet-on-a-string dance moves. So clearly it’s nowhere near as simple as marionettes = trouble. As, indeed, it never is in interpreting staging: all clues have to be read in context.

What do you think – is there anything worth remembering here or is it all coincidence? And have you spotted anything from previous Hallowe’en weeks that we’ve missed and that you’ll be looking out for this weekend? As ever, do let us know your thoughts below.

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165 comments to X Factor 2014: Trick or Treat? Hallowe’en Staging

  • lolhart

    I’m probably in the minority, but I feel with the Halloween performances it’s sometimes easy to over-analyse things, especially as the producers want to have a fun show that matches the theme. Jade Ellis’ could be seen as an attempt to make her more contemporary and pop-star like. Belle Amie and Sophie Habibis also had an element of self-sabotage, as they both delivered very shaky vocals. One advantage of the Halloween performances for TPTB is they allow the judges to twist things depending on their agenda. For example, it would have been easy to use the doll motif against Little Mix by saying they were expressionless and stiff rather than praising them.

  • Heisenberg

    Great observations from the archives! I couldn’t agree more, especially regarding the use of extreme or disguising make-up and the sense of disconnect that can create between act and viewer.

    With additional production elements at their disposal this week I don’t expect TPTB will forgo an opportunity to sink Jack, announcing him last in the results show suggests he’ll be in the crosshairs. He refused to play ball last week and the Castleford teenager will not be afforded any favours.

    I believe that Ben, Lauren and Andrea currently have the lion’s share of votes ahead of a crowded middle pack. Stevi is bottom of the pile in every poll I’ve seen, however, what he represents to a variety-friendly Saturday night audience must not be underestimated for as long as he continues to receive producer support – and the whole Harvester sketch with Simon looks purpose built to delight his fanbase.

    I’ve read the comments regarding Lola with interest and the red flags from last week are undeniable but I don’t see the show abandoning her just yet. She did a very good job in week 2 with ‘Imagine’ and, admittedly, had no right to survive week 3 – but the fact that she did is significant. A strong Halloween showing is her lifeline, anything less and it’s curtains.

    Paul Akister’s continuing role as understudy to Andrea is interesting but sadly he doesn’t have sufficient charisma to be considered anything other than a dead man walking. If he does perform the Meatloaf classic surrounded by winged batgirl dancers, it could be praised as a confident and entertaining performance but it could just as easily fail spectacularly – I’m stuck on the fence.

    For me, Jay’s song choice is the one to watch out for, with Simon already hinting that it was changed midweek. Jay’s a bit too ‘serious’ for his own good and silly make-up combined with an uptempo track would see him well out of his comfort zone and at risk, but of course he’d be saved against Jack.

    Happy Halloween! http://goo.gl/ZglmzK

    • Luke

      Do you have a source on Simon implying Jay’s song was changed? All I can find is an unrealitytv article making something out of nothing (referring to one of Jay’s tweets asking fans what they’d like him to sing)

  • EM

    Jack O Lantern snuffed out – you can have that for Sunday night’s headline

  • So if someone is given No Doubt’s Spiderwebs, shall we assume they’re done for?

  • Only seems like a few days ago I posted up my surprise at fleur being 3/1 for top over. Just above evens now

  • R

    The spiders idea could be significant.
    About half the women I work with freak out at the mere mention of spiders, so I can see how their inclusion in a performance could affect the voting.

  • Fudd

    How do you solve a problem like Stereo Kicks? I thought the producers had redeemed them to an extent after last week but maybe the bounce wasn’t as great as they hoped because we have another potential ‘split’ storyline doing the rounds, this time courtesy of Cheryl:
    http://tellymix.co.uk/reality-tv/the-x-factor/201524-x-factor-2014-cheryl-says-stereo-kicks-should-ditch-members.html

    I can’t imagine they would promote division and insecurity in regards to their Plan A so what are they playing at?

  • Martin

    That seems like a bit of sloppy reporting to me. The interview is from digitalspy and she did question the size of the group but did say that they can all sing and that she understands why they may have struggled because they auditioned as soloists.

    The spider theory is a good one. If a viewer has a genuine fear of spiders, which is one of the most common fears out there, I can’t imagine them feeling very motivated to vote for a performance with a lot of them in, particularly if it’s an act who are struggling anyway (Can’t remember specifics here but I’m guessing none of the three mentioned were running away with the vote at this point? May have had less of an effect if matt cardle was emerging from a coffin half way through the song covered in spiders). Have we had any performances with scary clowns in?!

  • Heisenberg

    Quick, Strictly are wiping the floor with us – we need a twist!

  • my first thoughts were acts swapping mentors — but given the “this weekend” part of the statement it appears to be more one off than that.

    So what would the twist be?

    Duets?

    Triple Elimination? No Elimination?

  • I broadly agree with lolhart – a lot of things on Halloween week can go either way. I thought that Jade should have done far better with the Sugababes track, Sophie’s vocals and repeated mangled pronunciation of ‘awful’ worked against her, and let’s face it, Belle Amie weren’t (and hadn’t been) very good up to and including their massacre of Venus.

    But on the Halloween theme, I think that there are some things that are fundamentally negative… I think spiders are, if only because people can have such a strong, visceral reaction to them. It’s a turn-off for many people. Also, cobwebs give an impression of something dated and neglected, and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Mary and Janet got them.

    I’ll be interested to see what they do with Jay this week; I thought that the start of the Sunday show was a deramp, as he was lumped with Jake as the acts that struggled. It seemed to go against his treatment on Saturday, so it was a very mixed message for me, and the song change seems like a red flag.

    I expect Fleur will continue to get good comments for another few weeks; I don’t think TPTB can be expecting her to win (she’s female, black and enjoying herself, so, you know…) but for me, she’s the act likeliest to shift units post-show. Her music isn’t to my taste, but the British Rihanna, anyone? There is a gap in the market, so as long as they can steer her to 4th or 5th, she could be the next Cowell Cash Cow.

    Apologies if I’m covering old ground here, but did anyone else think there were mixed messages with Lola also? I hated the song choice, my first thought was that this was the winner’s song that had been bestowed upon that globe-straddling behemoth… er… Leon Jackson. Whether you recall him, or Mariah and Whitney, she was on a hiding to nothing with it. And as she biffed pretty much all of it, I can’t see her coming back. Saturday must be make-or-break for Lola.

    One final thought (for now)… it’s an old saw, but in all of the sing-offs this series, the second act to sing has gone through, even when they were toe-curlingly awful. Yes, Only the Young, I’m looking at you. It seems like old habits die hard.

  • David

    She probably just means a new live show.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Anyone else notice the way Lauren was dressed (including shoes) and the way the camera treated her in the last group song? I wanted to post about it but it metits something at length and I’m on a touch screen on a phone so I’ll just post the link. Basicallyy the can’t do a close up till the end because her shoes are so high she can hardly walk and her top doesn’t fit properly. The whole outfit has been designed and choreographed for one moment.

  • This weekend will be make or break for both Lauren and Lola I think. Lola will either pull out an absolute stormer, or throw herself under the bus without any producer help whatsoever.

    If we get more of the same this weekend, it’ll be time to back Lauren and lay Lola.

    • Jessica Hamby

      The time to lay Lola (that sounds weird when you say it aloud) was about 3 weeks ago. She’s toast. If she doesn’t choke on Saturday she will the week after that.

  • Ok so the twist is revealed as a double elimination with a difference… Bottom voter goes on Saturday night…. Sing off on Sunday for other elimination.

    This makes advance punting a lot trickier. No opportunity to reflect on the show, no chance to hedge positions etc.

    It also suggests that running order will be crucial. One would think that the SCD overlap will be a killer. No votes gained from the +1 viewer, or the time shifter. Early acts… Out of sight, out of mind?

    But is late an asset. Less time for voters to react. Dies thus mean that the pimp slot is halfway (or perhaps the act they don’t want to finish bottom)

    Giving away complete control suggests that TPTB are confident that they have someone in their sights…. Or that they are confident that all of their chosen acts will be comfortably clear of last place.

    Oh to see the voting stats so far!

    • Boki

      I expect the lines to be open at the end this weekend, actually like a flash vote from last year.

    • We’ll have no time whatsoever to analyse the show, which is going to make calling the eliminee very hard. Hopefully we can have some live commentary as we go through the evening and hope that the act in the firing line is pretty obvious. Weeks 1 and 3 were a walk in the park for betters, but as Week 2 showed, the public can’t be trusted to play ball all the time.

      Other thought is a few years ago a double elimination was bought in as a reaction to a growing online campaign to deliberately vote for Wagner with a view to having him win to wind Cowell up. Obviously burned by the previous year’s Rage Against The Machine campaign he had it derailed by bringing in a double elimination and throwing Wagner under the bus production wise.

      Is Stevi the target?

      • Jessica Hamby

        The Wagner thing is a red herring. He was never polling well enough to threaten anyone. Iirc he was pretty much just keeping his head above water each week. At no point was he any threat to Matt Cardle. There was a lot of hype about how he might win but it was all bs that brought attention to the show. Don’t be fooled by the myth. Wagner was a bit of a laugh, nothing more.

      • fused

        In series 7 a lot of people were surprised there wasn’t a double elimination in week 3 like there had been in weeks 1 and 2, and I suspect the fact they didn’t have one until all the way to week 8 was to keep Wagner in if anything. He wasn’t far off being in the bottom 3 in week 2, and he was escaping being in the bottom 2 sing-offs by the skin of his teeth. He was also on late in the running order in every single week except the week he went. I’m not even sure the week 8 double was bought in especially to get rid of Wagner. They had to have a double elimination at some point as they had too many contestants still left, and they probably considered the joke act more expendable than ones they were considering giving a record deal to.

    • Phil

      Where has the twist been revealed? I’ve seen nothing but speculation.

      Is it feasible that maybe they’ll give x amount of time after each performance to vote for that act maybe? Would help the ratings, plus give an even bigger Strictly bus to throw someone under if required.

      • Fudd

        Your first look at tomorrow’s front page. It’s an #XFactor exclooooosive.

        Headline is: The Exorcist – Simon showdown with ‘rubbish’ singers; Shock instant axe for extra act tomorrow

        “Simon Cowell held a pre-Halloween showdown with all The X Factor acts to tell them they were horrendous.
        “The mogul, 55, also warned the spooked hopefuls, including Only the Young, the axe will fall on the worst one tomorrow night.
        “A source said of there (?): They were shell-shocked.”

        https://twitter.com/TheSunNewspaper

        A big twist was teased earlier and tomorrow’s front page of The Sun confirms it’s an instant elimination Saturday night! #xfactor

        So the act with the least votes at the end of Saturdays show is booted off right away. Then Sunday show with a sing-off as per #xfactor

        https://twitter.com/ItsBizNews

  • OK. So that doesn’t leave a massive voting window. And how will Dermot announce it?

    • Jessica Hamby

      Vote opens
      Recap
      Adverts
      Recap
      Gueat artist
      Advert
      Vote closes.

      That gives about 15 minutes which is enough for the vote.

      Strictly crossover v important. Lola’s going to feel a lot of pressure. OTY are sort of damned by this as it was last weeks sing off that caused it. Bat out of hell is a terrible song for Paul. It’s going to be interesting.
      Lauren or Fleur for the pimp slot?

    • Dean

      I am a manager of a bookies. It’s better young people bet on X factor than play the FOBTs let me tell you that.

      But articles like this crack me up. I tell you what let’s just stop bookies from taking bets!

      • Agreed. I wouldn’t start betting on the horses and only do so on the National. I bet on X Factor because, unlike the horses, I know roughly what I’m doing and have the benefit of in-depth analysis and discussion of the producers’ intentions from sites such as this.

        • Dean

          Obviously there are people that get addicted easily in other things but let’s be fair if you have an addictive personality, if you aren’t losing money in the bookies it’s probably going down your gullet in the pub or up your nose (if you know what I mean). It’s life I guess.

  • Blake

    I’m guessing that perhaps Jack was very close to the sing off last weekend. And they are sure that with a bad VT they can get him out.
    Though I wouldn’t be surprised if Lola only just escaped last week, as it seemed odd for Simon to mention her on the Sunday night as someone likely to exit, almost though trying to get her a few more votes to keep her out of the sing off.

    Surely this twist means that Stereo Kicks got a huge bounce last week, and they’re sure they can keep them in. There’s no way that they’d lose the safety net if they weren’t confident.

    I’m a little scared for Fleur now though, she’s due an earlier slot.

    • Vülker

      That might be the case with Stereo Kicks and tptb might be forgetting about the huge bounce Rachel Adedeji had in Week 3 only to fall back down and out one week later… :/

    • EM

      I keep seeing people saying a certain act is due a pimp slot or due an earlier slot. Total rubbish. There’s no democracy in the running order, the acts will perform in any order the producers seen it.

        • Martin

          Wasn’t little Nicky’s successive death slots quite late on in the competition? I do agree that there are no rules with the running order though, and now this twist had come into play even more so. If a guess was to be made it would make sense that fleur should go on earlier as she hasn’t been on early yet, but fairness could well go out the window for this week. By rights, stereo kicks should be on at the start too, but i can’t see that happening.

          • He was consistently on from the 1st 2 slots

          • Dean

            As was Janet. I think she didn’t perform after 4th (mainly 2nd slot) after her polo alot in week 1. Andrea getting slightly same treatment I assume. I predict a running order of Jay, Jack, Andrea, Ben. Lauren pimp slot.

      • EM

        By the way “any way the producers seen it” should read “any way the producers see fit” – sorry!

  • eurovicious

    I’m not sure how invested they are in Stereo Kicks anymore. There’s no buzz. And as Tim pointed out, 1D were consistently polling 3rd/4th right from the start in the 2010 series. Realistically, Stereo Kicks aren’t even polling as well as District 3 were in 2012. And viewers at home were openly mocking Stereo Kicks on Gogglebox this week (“You could lose one of them.” “You could lose half a dozen of them!”) and saying how badly they sang in the singoff.

    • Jessica Hamby

      A pimp slot for SK in a vote like this would give them a much neesed extra week to improve.

    • Tim B

      The stats show Stereo Kicks will have polled about 2nd or 3rd last week imo. The rest of their competition will be disposed of this weekend – Only The Young and Jack – which will put them well on their way to the final four. They will need a pimp slot soon though.

  • plus TPTB have allowed Cheryl to say in an interview this week that they would be better off as a five piece maximum – does suggest that in reality they want to see them maybe in the sing-off again so that they can cull ?? Dangerous game though – bottom three but not bottom itself … they would need to kill an act stone dead (jack or OTY) while seriously boosting some of the other perceived strugglers (jack, OTY, Stevi, Lola) in order to get SK into that bottom three.

    • Alen

      If they end in the bottom 3 again I don’t think the producers would put any more effort into Stereo Kicks imo. And people would “laugh” at them for polling so bad so it would be very dangerous to try that imo.

  • EM

    Some quick thoughts on a double elimination

    1. They obviously don’t care who goes on Saturday night with the lowest votes. That suggests they’re comfortable that they can get any favoured act clear.

    As I said earlier this week a “shock” elimination wouldn’t harm the show either, someone perceived to be a good singer going while Stevi stayed would be good for the shows PR in terms of getting people passionate about it.

    2. This is a double edged sword for Only The Young. Sunday’s poor sing-off is being brought to the fore. If they give a really good performance on Saturday they’ll look like they’ve taken the pressure and turned it around, presumably gaining some votes. If they give another all over the place performance (aided by poor staging or not) then people may well think of them as a waste of time and not vote for them.

    3. Remember you can’t vote someone off the show so even if some of the audience do think Only The Young or Stevi deserve to go they can’t actually make a vote to make that happen.

    • EM

      To add a bit to point one if an act gets bottom of the vote tomorrow night, no matter what plans the producers had for them, there’s no way they’re going to be a success if they can’t get support after 4 weeks of tv marketing. Hence if I was on charge I’d be willing to drop them.

  • David Cook

    This could equally be an attempt to drag an act they favor – presumably Stereo Kicks – at least as far as the semi finals. As long as they don’t finish bottom tommorrow, TPTB will be in control of who goes and who stays as they won’t need any further double eliminations if they have a four act final. It might be embarassing to have to keep saving an act they want to keep, but that hasn’t stopped them before. They could even repeat 2010 and have a sing off in the semi-final if they thought it would help them.

  • lolhart

    Re: Cheryl’s comments on Stereo Kicks. I don’t think it was a slip of the tongue (she’s not the type to not tow the party line). I think the plan now is to keep Stereo Kicks in a bit longer and then offer a development deal to 5 of them post-show. This is speculation, but it’s possible they always wanted to see which 5 of the 8 would work best together.

    • Blake

      Also, I don’t know whether it was ever mentioned at the time, but when they were looking for fans to suggest names, they specifically stated that it mustn’t include anything to do with there being 8 members. So perhaps they were considering this all along.

  • Caro

    So according to Cheryl’s twitter account “This sat on Xf 1 person will be voted off immediately after only 10 minutes of voting”
    10 minutes…. ooooo!

  • Heisenberg

    Only The Young – costume & make-up:

    http://goo.gl/s8PK1g

    • Dean

      Irrelevant comment but she is hot

      • Jessica Hamby

        May not be irrelevant. Chloe and Steph have gone and the King sisters were made as ugly as possible. Lola and Lauren, while not actively aesthetically challenged, are hardly fuel for anyone’s nocturnal emissions (despite the fine old british tradition of letching at schoolgirls). If they lose OTY then Fleur will be the only female eye candy left among the contestants. Surely that’s not good for ratings.

    • That’s her own outfit from the Monster Mash video 🙂

    • Chatterbox5200

      That looks like the same outfit that she (Betsy) wore in the video that OTY put on YouTube for Monster Mash. Coincidence?

  • Jessica Hamby

    Well I don’t believe Fleur, Lauren or the boybland will get the Strictly crossover. I expect it to be one of Jack / OTY and also Andrea. Andrea may well open folliwed by an ad break.

    If one of JJ or Ben is in there it may be an infication as to tptb faviur. I actually don’t believe either of them can win but I think JJ is probably the more commercial act. Ben may have a niche but personally althoug I like blues (casa Hamby has seen several nights that started with Jim Beam and Muddy Waters) I don’t like his voice much. I think he quacks like a duck.

    As long as neither he nor Lola win I’m probably going to buy a motorbike.

      • Jessica Hamby

        I wouldn’t touch JJ with yours Angela. He’s too marmite so although there are plenty who can’t stand him he has a lot of fans. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him in the final, especially if they can get rid of Andrea. JJ isn’t going anywhere for a while.

        Having said that I don’t think he’ll win but I felt more certainty about that for longer with Ben and Lola. Not proved right yet, obviously, but I think it will come right in the end.

  • Heisenberg

    Lauren Platt – staging: http://goo.gl/T4XArp

  • Heisenberg

    JJ tweet, maybe he knows the running order:

    “To confirm lines & x5 free app votes will be open from start of saturdays show & will remain for 10mins only after last singer has sung!!”

  • :O open from START OF SHOW!!! Big difference — those on immediately after the cutover from SCD have far more voting time than the act on last

  • uncalquera

    If lines are open from the start of the show, OFCOM should def. do something… not level playfield at all.

    • EM

      Completely level provided there is sufficient time after the final act to place your vote.

      However ofcom can’t “do something” unless there is a complaint so if you feel it is unfair get onto ofcom.

  • So oty are being allowed to bounce with monstermash. Jack has been positioned under the bus with bleeding love.

  • EM

    Songs:
    Boys
    Andrea Faustini Relight My Fire (by Take That)
    Jack Walton Bleeding Love (by Leona Lewis)
    Paul Akister Bat Out Of Hell (by Meatloaf)

    Girls
    Lauren Platt Dark Horse (by Katy Perry)
    Lola Saunders Crazy (by Gnarls Barkley)

    Groups
    Only The Young The Monster Mash (by Bobby Pickett)
    Stereo Kicks Everybody (by Backstreet Boys)

    Overs
    Ben Haenow Highway to Hell (by AC/DC)
    Fleur East Thriller (by Michael Jackson)
    Jay James Mad World (by Tears For Fears)
    Stevi Ritchie Music of The Night (from Phantom of The Opera)

    Good luck picking the bones out of that…

  • Chatterbox5200

    Song choices are out – unfortunately my phone wouldn’t let me copy and paste them.

    OTY have indeed been given Monster Mash.
    Stevi gets the much expected song from Phantom of the Opera.
    Lauren gets Dark Horse (was this originally intended for Lola?)
    Stereokicks get a Backstreet Boys song. Will this encourage a boyband comparison?
    Fleur doing Thriller – ??

  • Chatterbox5200

    Will they set Andrea on fire?

  • Stu

    Jack getting Bleeding Love? Is that going to lead to a “the song was too big for you” comment from Simon? It’s clearly going to be performed in a way how Matt Cardle and Lloyd Daniels has performed it in previous series so there won’t be any room for originality.

    I have to say Cheryl has picked some good song choices for her girls. It’d be interesting seeing how Lauren performs Dark Horse – will it be the original version which may require some actual stage movement or will it be yet another slowed-down rendition?

    The main shock on the list though is Fleur and Thriller?! That’s what Brian Friedman was talking about then when he said one contestant will be recreating one of the biggest videos of all time. I actually think this could be a turning point for Fleur much like ‘E.T.’ was for Little Mix. Fleur is a dancer so as long as her vocals are on point, this could be her breakout performance. I’m excited to see how it goes.

    • I agree with you that this could be her moment but the turning point is already well under way. Shes already gained way more momentum than little mix had by the time they performed et. She is 3rd favourite at the moment and I wouldn’t be surprised if she was favourite this time next week.

      • Stu

        Oh sorry I meant like a game-changer rather than a turning point. She’s been delivering solid performances so far but I think Thriller could be a “moment” for her. Regarding the comment below suggesting it may be slowed down, I don’t understand why they’d do that when she can dance.

  • lolhart

    Looks like the deramp of Andrea continues with Relight My Fire. That song landed TreyC in the bottom 2 and left Alexandra Burke 3rd from bottom. Not much left to say about Jack’s choice. I can’t see Lola being able to pull off Crazy convincingly. I have a bad feeling Fleur’s Thriller will be the slowed down version. Not sure what to make of Stereo Kicks choice, as it could lead to negative comparisons to the Backstreet Boys or the judges claiming they are the new BSB.

    • Why would you think that? Freidman has already said there will be a big production. And there is a picture of her being held in the air. No way is this possible with a slow version.

  • Martin

    I had a feeling somebody would get ‘Crazy’ – I’m gonna guess it’s James Smith’s version from Bgt. Not a lot else to say really, Jack could go either way. I’m gonna guess he will do more of a Lloyd than a Cardle.

    Dark Horse should be good for Lauren. JJ will be as unbearable as we’ve come to expect. I’m amazed that OTY have been allowed to do Monster Mash – will there be more cheating accusations?!

    I think those with a rough deal, staging wise, will be Paull, Andrea and Ben. Very strange choices for Andrea and Paul. Looks to me like the operation to get rid of one of the boys is likely.

    • EM

      Why amazed OTY are doing Monster Mash? What cheating accusations will there be?

    • Phil

      I’m not sure there are any rules stating that you must never have performed a song before. It’s no more cheating than Danyl singing his audition song when he landed in the bottom two a few years back.

      • Martin

        No it’s probably not in the rules, but if a judge were to comment on it being unfair that they are performing that it would be difficult to disagree.

        • EM

          As it’s not unfair I don’t see any judge mentioning it

          • Martin

            Maybe the judges won’t pull them up on it but it seems odd to me. There are acts in years gone by that have entered this competition having already done quite well with YouTube views and existing fanbases. Have many of them gone on to perform songs they’ve already covered on the live shows? I don’t know the answer to that, but I’ve not heard of it before.

            The producers are probably using the song as they’ve had flack this week for the lack of talent on the show and they know OTY can nail this, but if they wanted to cut a bounce it would be a way of doing it. I’m not saying it’s likely.

          • EM

            Cheers Martin. Too many ifs and maybes in there for it to be anything that I’d make a bet on but bon chance to you if you do

          • Jessica Hamby

            Can’t see how this is unfair in any way. Are you seriously suggesting that no act should be allowed to perform a song they already know? Or are we arguing that they’re not allowed to do something they’re good at?

            This goes beyond wtf and straight into double facepalm.

          • EM

            And there was me trying to say it nicely… 😉

          • Jessica Hamby

            Heh.

          • Martin

            I’m not suggesting any of those things, Jessica. Of course it’s an advantage to them that they’re finally being given a song they’re comfortable with and good at, so they should. The point I’m making is that Abi Alton, Luke Friend, Jake, Rough Copy, James Arthur and others all had a varying level of YouTube following pre-X Factor and it seems odd that Only The Young are being permitted to perform a song that is out there through those channels and those other acts (to my knowledge) were not. I’m not suggesting that it is unfair, obviously fairness isn’t a massive factor in the way this show is produced, it just raised a question seeing that they’ve been given this song.

          • Jessica Hamby

            I don’t think youtube views make a significant difference. I watched the video, got bored and switched off before the end. I thought it was a twee performance of a twee song and best suited to children. Doubtless there will be others who have watched it who feel the same.

            You could be right about the judges though. After Simon’s comment about donuts last week it would seem almost reasonable even though I don’t see any unfairness in it myself.

            I take back my double facepalm and my wtf.

          • Martin

            Haha much appreciated. If Mel can call Fleur out on backing vocals (which has been going on since the dawn of time) and the donuts thing can legitimately be considered as a judges critique nothing is off limits. Personally I can see a confident ‘we know this song’ vt from only the young and simon to say he felt let down and they should have been better.

          • Jessica Hamby

            Managing expectations in reverse? Could be. Losing OTY would be a mistake imo. As I said above, they need eye candy. It’s tv, not radio, and Cheryl’s lost a lot of her appeal ever since she got that ugly tattoo. I know you can’t see it but c’mon, we’ve all seen it and we all know it’s there.

            I wonder if Mr Fernandez-Versini likes the smell of roses ;).

  • A note: One of the reasons (besides Nile Rodgers performing) why the Flash Vote was axed was to save an act they wanted to steamroll through to the tour– Sam Callahan. Of all the contestants, he had the highest boost from the Flash Vote window to the total overnight vote for pretty much the three weeks. Is the return of this tactic to take down a certain teen-friendly “fit” young male contestant?

  • Martin

    A fair point. Could well be a reverse-flashover situation.

    Is it also not around week four that we get the John Lewis Christmas advert?

    I can imagine Lola getting a spider web of doom with that song.

  • Lauren doing Dark Horse could be her equivalent of LM’s ET moment. I think all the Overs have good choices, no obvious deramps there – they’re onboard with all 4 of them. Not sure Jack’s choice delights the demo; SK’s doesn’t either but they’ll get the full (positive) Halloween treatment (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6M6samPEMpM). Paul’s choice is good – not modern, but another standard that’s suited to him and very well-known and liked. Another gay song for Andrea. I expect OTY to bounce with that choice. Lola in danger.

    All together now: it’s a natural, natural, natural desire to meet an actual, actual, actual vampire…

  • EM

    Dark Horse for Lauren has the potential to be the most subliminal of discussions ever. Are they saying she’s the dark horse? Are they using Lauren to remind everyone of Lola who they’ve called dark horse lots. (Only joking before anyone bites)

    Subliminal lovers will also dig “like a bat out of hell I’ll be gone when the morning comes” ahead of a Saturday elimination.

    Ben’s song feels a worry to me, it doesn’t seem to sit well with the lane he’s been in. Likewise Lola’s, there’s very little in the song lyrically to connect with.

    Andrea looks like he’s been put out of his comfort zone too, it’s a worry for him but if he can nail it it could be very good.

    Most of the others could go either way. Big popular songs, if done well they’ll go down great, if they get messed up the audience won’t be forgiving.

  • David Cook

    On the three weeks of the flash vote last year Sam was the only person to improve his share of the vote everyweek between the flashvote and the total vote. He was also the only person to improve on his overnight position every week – 2 places on week and one place on weeks 2 and 3.

  • Stu

    With the Sam stats coming to light, I think it’s near certain that TPTB are really confident they can bring down Jack on Saturday. Maybe he’s been in danger initially over the past two weeks but overnight has managed to climb in the vote. The question is who will be the other eliminee? I’m still thinking Only The Young. Even with that song choice, I don’t think it’ll be enough to dodge the bottom three. Plus getting rid of Jack and OTY in a single week could work wonders for Stereo Kicks – no “pretty boy” rival and the only group left standing.

    • EM

      Really doubt that, if they want rid of Jack they could just give me a crap song, crap VT, lukewarm comments “force” him into the bottom two and kick him out on the judges vote.

      Far less riskier than deciding whoever gets he least votes goes no matter what (especially based on a sample size of one and a big assumption that Jacks votes = Sams votes and similar pattern)

      This is ratings driven. The results show is getting bigger viewers than the live show so they’ve moved some of the drama of the results into Saturday night as well.

  • Caro

    Like others I am worried for Ben with that song choice. I can’t imagine what kind of arrangement it will be.

    With OTY, if they do Monster Mash exactly as they have done it before on youTube, I agree that it should go down well with the audience and give them an advantage, but it also means that they are not growing or developing their ‘journey’.

    I am not sure how (or if) that would be conveyed to the public, but if their most successful performance is one that they had perfected before their mentor (who has had some stick for his song choices for them) got his hands on them, then what does that say about their XFactor ‘journey’ (or indeed about Louis)?

  • Alen

    What will probably be in Jacks background video….Not sure the blood will go down well? https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B1SRJv8IIAAozQl.jpg His body will though

  • EM

    Spotify have revealed the songs added most to Halloween playlists which will come as good news to Fleur and OTY!

    http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/music/news/a606874/michael-jacksons-thriller-is-spotifys-most-popular-halloween-song.html#~oUhDfDk7fcwQlv

    (Sorry to link to Digital Spy…)

  • Curtis

    My views on the song list.

    Good news for: Fleur, Lauren
    Bad news for: Jack, Andrea

    Fleur: Friedman’s got her back I think. If this comes together vocally and visually it could be a break-out moment. I think the producers would love Fleur to go a long, long way in this competition.

    Lauren: I detest the song, but going for something current and something that should hopefully be a little different to what Lauren has gone for so far should be smart. It seems like the producers are behind her for now, contrary to what I was saying after week 1.

    Jack: This is a song choice that tells me that yes, the producers are going in for the kill on Jack. It was done badly by Matt Cardle, done badly by Lloyd Daniels. Matt only just won the vote the night he did it and it was certainly a deramping. From memory Lloyd and Cheryl maybe had some kind of touching moment after Simon criticised Lloyd’s version of this that might have saved him that night, I think…I may just be making all of that up! Either way, Jack is not so lucky to have the support that Matt did, nor will he be so lucky to have a touching moment like Lloyd did, and therefore this is likely to be a clean kill for the producers.

    Andrea: “Relight My Fire”, the song choice of many a deramping over the years. Every performance of it is pretty much mediocre and Andrea’s will be no different. We know what’s going on here.

  • Not much to add. Jack is toast, Andrea is on a serious deramp.

    Remember, betters: FIRE KILLS. You can’t prevent it.

    Where are we standing on Stevi? He finally gets his ballad, but it’s a huge belter of a song. Is he for the nuking this early on? Surely they’d wait another 2/3 weeks?

  • David Cook

    For people who think Andrea’s song choice is a deramping – they should probably check out the Dan Hartman original version and listen carefully to the vocals.I think this may actually be a great uptempo song for him to sing. Dan Hartman has some similar vocal inflections to Andrea – you can almost hear Andrea singing it, plus there’s plenty of room for ad libs.
    If it is supposed to be a de-ramping this might just back fire because I think his fans at least will love this.

    • EM

      You could be right but even in the original version it’s an uptempo disco song, totally different from all the songs he’s sung so far that have gone well with the audience. If the name of the game is audience satisfaction surely they’d have given him Bleeding Love, Back to Black or just about anything, I mean what does Dark Horse have to do with Halloween!?

  • Heisenberg

    This rehearsal photo (http://goo.gl/Oumuvc) concerns me.

    The studio audience should all pray that Jack Walton doesn’t have strong telekinetic abilities like Carrie White.

  • Heisenberg

    If you’re going to take away his guitar, cover him in blood and make him sing Leona – why not throw in a healthy dose of ‘red and black’ for good measure:

    http://goo.gl/x0gkmW

    • EM

      The green screen would suggest they’re shooting the backdrop visuals. Still it’s pretty gory and he has an axe, doesn’t seem at all favourable.

    • EM

      Oh the axe has been added by a whacky prankster. Ok.

    • The one on the right looks just like a photoshoot/VT shoot? Clearly the one on the left is the studio rehearsal.

      • The studio rehearsal looks like Jack is a strong target this week. In addition to the extreme red and black staging, the female dancer walking away (see Nicholas McDonald week 2, Wagner week 7 for some previous examples) subliminally suggests that females should abandon him in the vote. Also, he doesn’t have his guitar and so the judges could say it didn’t work, he was out of his comfort zone etc. etc. In short, he’s not making it through this weekend.

  • Shoulders

    Off topic, Goggle Box (which is getting higher and higher ratings), I think X Factor must give permission to Channel 4 and Google Box which clips to use, If that’s the case this week they are sort of promoting Andrea (although the posh couple did say “look at the fillings” on his ‘extreme’ close up) but it was unanimous negative comments for Stevie, no other contestants were mentioned worth a note I think, Google Box and X Factor both reality TV plenty of cross over audience?

    • I noticed that too, I was surprised people weren’t more positive about Stevi this week. And everyone really loves Andrea just like they loved Sam Bailey last year.

      As I understand it, the Gogglebox producers decide which clips they show the viewers, so in this case (just) Andrea and Stevi.

  • With the return of the Flash (ahh-ahhhhh!) vote, does anyone know if we will get two sets of free votes, or if we’ve blown our load, so to speak, on the Saturday night, will that be it in terms of free votes until next week?

  • Donald

    Playing catch up on the goriest Sofabet thread ever is a great way to spend Halloween 🙂 Great comments and article.

    Noticed on the pictures of Jack rehearsal above that they have a skull on the microphone so that look will be a first for camera angles.

    They do seem to be going for him, song choice, staging etc. but he is proving a hard nut for them to crack. with the dross that is still around can they really achieve it? They are no real indications of how good or bad he is doing and as I have said before very hard to figure out. Maybe Jack polling well and they have had to go on a serious sustained attack?

    Thriller is an odd song, not really a huge vote getter in my books.

    Andrea deramping continues.

    Ben has an odd song choice, who will get the most fire in production tomorrow Andrea or Ben?

    Will Stereo Kicks come down from bounce into bottom three, if they do they in the sing off again, more controversy and an opportunity to split them up and have another double elimination later. Stranger things have happened.

    Running order going to be everything and app free voting will dominate and they already will know exactly if the strong acts are put on early if they use up all the free votes there and then so tomorrow night will really start to show how app voting affects what they do.

    Running order everything tomorrow.

    Wonder are Stereo Kicks worth an early smallish punt just to go there and then, song choice far from good, they are coming down from bounce, they will be totally lost in production and there is very little positive buzz about them at the minute. Maybe Simon just put them away and bring back the good two guys next year. Hard to believe just wrote that but it is a possibility if the bush wire is to be believed. Value has to be Lola or Stereo Kicks before show starts and trade from there. There are two nights to trade from there.

    Intriguing weekend ahead for sure.

    • I’m not sure Jack is proving a tough nut to crack really. He was given an ever-so-slight de-ramp two weeks ago with the ‘Straight Up’ song choice and death slot, then last week came the proper de-ramp with ‘Eye of the Tiger’. Therefore this week they can go in fully for the kill. I bet he wasn’t far off the sing-off last week either, so he should be within easy reach imo.

      • Donald

        Logic says he should be but they had a serious go last week and failed to get him in the bottom two. They got their man last week, maybe they better this year than I giving them credit for.

        On another note all not well in the camp all week heard re scheduling for 2015 and Rugby World Cup. Live shows may be going to Sunday nights…

        • Tim B

          Y’see, I don’t think they did particularly want Jack in the Bottom Two last week. Jake and OTY seemed more screwed over, to me at least.

          • Donald

            Fair point, maybe it was de-ramp to make sure for this week.
            One thing for sure judging by the pictures from rehearsals it looks like one serious bloodbath for Jack, it seems very extreme to the point of over the top, even I doubt Jack has any chance of surviving that.
            Wonder where in running order they will put him for maximum effect, The act coming after won’t benefit from it either, might even go to a break and come back to a shocked panel after Jack saying how horrible it was.

          • Fudd

            I agree – they did enough to de-ramp without giving him the opportunity to bounce this week.

            As for a potential headlines today, how about Jack (Gone in a) Flash?

  • Heisenberg

    Spider web alert!

    This is confirmed costume for an unnamed act – my guess would be Fleur (Thriller).

    http://goo.gl/aHZ47S

  • Babit

    Louis Tomlinson just tweeted asking people to vote for Jack and even made sure to mention Yorkshire in the tweet, although his timing’s a bit off and I doubt there are many people awake in the UK.

  • Jessica Hamby

    Paul has a tough song. Can you imagine Marvin Gaye or Al Green doing Bat Out Of Hell? It’ll be Acacia Avenue, not Electric Avenue

    • Jessica Hamby

      Also expecting more soporific warbling and pant wetting self indulgence from JJ. I’ll try to explode him with my mind powers and he’ll get a judges’ ovation.

  • Cath

    Not sure if anyone had mentioned this yet, but apparently you get 5 free boots on the app tonight and 5 more tomorrow. So perhaps we should be looking out for signs of manipulation at the start of tomorrow’s show, likely to be more influential than normal.

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