Props to producers. With the announcement of this weekend’s double elimination, intrigue levels in our comments section went through the roof. There’s not a scenario or exit that hasn’t been considered (with the exception, perhaps, of a Fleur departure).
Playing devil’s advocate here, it is possible that there’s no grand plan for the double elimination beyond a short-term ratings chase. When last done in week 4, that was arguably the case beyond the targeting of Jack Walton. We’ve reached a stage of the competition when previously producer-favoured acts have left but got a record contract anyway (Ella, Tamera), and you can make a case for keeping each of the contestants in the competition another week.
Of course, the evidence of tonight’s show could prove very different. Producers have been so ruthlessly effective in getting rid of their targets that we would rather wait for their cues. The song choices in themselves don’t suggest an obvious target to us, in that each could be spun either way. Nonetheless, here’s a primer on what we’re looking out for tonight.
Stevi Ritchie is the hot favourite for next elimination, priced generally around 4/6. Brian Friedman has talked of a big effort for ‘I’m Still Standing’, and why not give the remaining novelty act another huge, fun production whilst he’s still in the competition? It’s what he’s there for. Now that he’s been in the bottom two, and it’s still not the end of November, there’s no need to nuke him by giving him something akin to Wagner’s ‘Creep’.
If he was tonight’s target, I’d expect something more like the colour vomiting and Blonde Electra-style costumes they gave Rylan’s Week 8 Supremes medley in 2012. If they are trying to help him bounce, they might give him more gold and purple, and a chance for plenty of banter afterwards of the kind that rescued Rylan in Week 7.
The two groups come next in the elimination market. We want to reiterate the message in our midweek article that there’s still everything to play for here. We’ve preferred the staging given to Stereo Kicks in the last few weeks but Simon’s positivity about Only The Young has been stronger than necessary. Mel’s comment last Saturday about still not knowing the individual members of Stereo Kicks teed up a name-checking VT this week. It’s been long enough coming as it is. To a lesser extent, it would be useful for Only The Young too. If either group got it over the other tonight, that would be a sign of producer preference.
Stereo Kicks have ‘Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me’ which is promising for them, having previously been Joe McElderry’s Week 7 pimp slot. Having said which, Stacey Solomon had the Week 8 pimp slot for ‘Something About The Way You Look Tonight’ which Only The Young will cover. It was their acclaimed audition song, which is a positive, though a slight departure from the all-out fun they have offered in their best moments on the live shows. Judges’ comments suggesting they have lost their fun factor would be a red flag as far they’re concerned.
The flash vote allows producers two opportunities this weekend to leave Only The Young hoping they are last announced safe. The cup may truly runneth over for their shouty supporter.
It will be fascinating to see how Lauren’s return to her audition-acclaimed ‘How Will I Know’ turns out. We’ve been promised some sort of surprise, which suggests they will change up her slowed-down version in some way. It feels like a make-or-break moment for Lauren, given her poor treatment last week, discussed at length in our midweek article. Again, judges’ comments promise to be very revealing. Louis has previously name-checked her as a finalist, so any doubts from him should be seen as a warning sign, as would any Devlin-esque suggestions that she’s better off sticking to what she does best (singing whilst sitting down).
Ben got a mild version of that critique for last week’s ‘Cry Me A River’ which seemed at odds with the exemplary golden staging it was given. ‘I Will Always Love You’ strikes us and many of our commenters as the song choice with the biggest potential to swing wildly in either direction, in that it gives him a chance to have a “moment” or fall flat on his face. We do think it’s for the best that song choices haven’t pigeonholed him as a rock performer – their record in the contest is Jamie Archer levels of mediocre.
It’s worth bearing in mind that he’s been quoted earlier this week as desperately missing his fiancé. Any sort of VT dedicating the song to her, and further reference to their relationship after the performance would play right into his demographic.
Andrea is doing Whitney once more with ‘I Have Nothing’, which as has been noted by our commenters, sets up the possibility of “one-trick pony” accusations. Producers have blown so hot and cold on Andrea that they could have anything in store for him this week. We maintain that week 5 was a positive: Mel’s tears at the end of her comments, reiterated by Dermot, were one example. If the knives are out for Andrea tonight, Mel could do with borrowing one of them to chop some more onions before she speaks.
That leaves Fleur doing ‘I’m Every Woman’ on the back of her extraordinary pimping last week. As one astute commenter noted, given tonight’s flash vote, it may be the best moment to put her on first instead. Her only other early slot in the running order came for the previous flash vote in week 4. We expect nothing but positivity for Fleur, and the treatment of her main rivals might tell us more about how she polled last week. If they all get deramped again, it would be a sign that Operation East is still in full swing.
Tonight’s show promises to be an intriguing one indeed. Let us know your continuing thoughts below.