In each of the four weeks up till now, the post-performance next elimination favourite has been sent packing. That’s a remarkable display of punter and producer accuracy, indicating that both are on top of their game. Waiting for the show and picking up the signals from it has thus become a necessity. What should we be watching out for tonight?
Paul Akister is now elimination market leader following his song choice reveal as ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’. The number has a very mixed record on the show: it finished off Kitty Brucknell in 2011, after the setup of a VT which showed her being unhappy at having to perform Queen not Lady Gaga; Union J were criticised after it in 2012; but it was positive for Olly Murs in 2009, who was praised afterwards for being an entertainer.
On the surface, it doesn’t bode well for Paul, who was criticised last week for mardiness and more generally for lacking personality on stage – he’s being portrayed as the antithesis of Olly. Or as Andy put it in the Sofabet comments, “Does Paul have the ability to look like he is having a good time? Does Paul look like a sex machine ready to reload / Like an atom bomb about to Oh oh oh oh oh explode?”
It’s potentially a no-win situation for Paul: he obviously doesn’t want to come across as mardy again or he’ll sound as disconnected lyrically as Kitty did; but even if he pastes on a smile, it’s not exactly an obvious song to have a breakout moment with. If the judges want to be unhelpful, they could just give him faint and non-vote-motivating praise for getting into the spirit of it.
His main rivals in the elimination market are Only The Young. Their song choice ‘Blame It On The Boogie’ also has a mixed record: it ended Kingsland Road’s journey with a colour-vomit production and coffin slot in week 4 of 2013, but promoted Same Difference with a big production for its era in the week 4 pimp slot of 2007. It too can be used either way.
The fourpiece are coming down from a sympathy bounce. Two-thirds of the time, the phenomenon lasts just a week. It takes something extra to avoid a repeat singoff for longer, but that can be any number of things as recent examples have shown – Katie Waissell, Frankie Cocozza, District3, Rylan and Tamera since 2010. In each case, controversy, heavy pimping or both were used to continue the bounce.
Stereo Kicks are already facing their second attempted bounce after another bottom two appearance last week. Our commenters have noted a slew of bad headlines in this week’s press. It’s worth remembering that such stories are lifeblood to the show, and don’t necessarily indicate producers want them out, especially as the intended magnet for controversy, Chloe Jasmine, is no longer around.
Nonetheless, with their credibility as contenders currently in shreds, they’re going to have to step it up to emulate Union J, who bounced out of danger twice. It looks like Louis is going down the sombre Westlife route if rehearsal pictures for ‘You Are Not Alone’ are taken at face value. That’s not a bad idea if credibility needs restoring, but totally relies on being well executed.
Alternatively, it could conceivably suggest a continuation of the storyline of Louis not knowing what to do with them, justifying yet another controversially Waisselesque save if they land at the bottom against someone disposable.
Another candidate for the annual controversial singoff decision this show revels in is Stevi Ritchie, this year’s novelty contestant sticking around for longer than many anticipated. Some have questioned whether his pimp slot moment last week represented the end of his journey, but producers have a tradition of keeping this storyline running till later in November. His song choice of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and its potential for another big production suggests that’s also the intention here.
It would be hard to manage a Stevi save against Jay James, also mentored by Cowell. He has been given great treatment throughout the live shows, with the exception of winning over Cheryl, a journey that producers may want to bring to its destination soon. Remembrance weekend for the ex-navy crooner should theoretically play to his strengths.
‘The Show Must Go On’ is a big number. As Jessica predicted in the comments, “I expect him to run the full gamut of emotion, all the way from A to B. He’ll quiver and gurgle, his nostrils will flare, he’ll close his eyes and gesticulate and stand on one leg like a flamingo.” Nonetheless, producers have used helpful reverb effects in a few of his performances so far. Watch out for its use or not this time.
Ben, Lauren, Fleur and Andrea now dominate the outright market, and their performances are likely to shed more light here. Both Fleur and Lauren could do with a breakout moment and it will be interesting if either get the pimp slot to achieve it. Fleur’s ‘Will You Be There’ was showcased by US winner Melanie Amaro at judges’ houses, whilst UK winners Leona and Alexandra both sang Lauren’s choice, ‘I’ll Be There’.
Ben seems back in the good books and ‘Man In The Mirror’ should suit, whilst it will be fascinating to see if producers hold their fire on public favourite Andrea Faustini after a merciless few weeks. If you want to see how production and staging can make the same song deathly or uplifting, which is a running theme of this site, just compare how ‘Somebody to Love’ was presented for Janet Devlin in week 6 of 2011 with Joe McElderry in week 6 of 2009. For Janet, incidentally, it was the first time she didn’t top the public vote.
Let us know what you think and keep the conversation going below.